Tragedy: chopper crash claims Kenyan ministersUpdated Monday, June 11th 2012 at 00:00 GMT +3
By Cyrus Ombati
Friends they were and together they held onto the taut rope of friendship until snapped by death minutes into their flight.
The police chopper came down while former Internal Security minister Prof George Saitoti overflew his constituency, probably pointing out familiar landmarks to his fellow fliers.
Their destination was Homa Bay for a church fundraiser and the host was Saitoti’s long-time friend and Assistant minister Joshua Orwa Ojode. He too died. And as their bodies burned next to each other, horrifying as it were, the flames flickering like it were from a candle in the wind, seem to pay tribute to their friendship.
Their deaths shocked the nation, led to cancellation of rallies across the country by leading presidential contenders, and eerily happened exactly on a date and month when Kenya also lost Cabinet minister Kipkalya Kones and former Sotik MP Lorna Laboso.
The cordial relationship between Saitoti and Ojode was best exemplified in Parliament where the professor delegated critical responsibilities to his assistant.
Ojode was a cut above other Assistant ministers and was nicknamed ‘Serikal’ (Luo slang for “government”) by his colleagues. Even in death, given their tall body frames, no one could distinguish Saitoti’s mortal remains from that of Ojode, or even the others in the plane for that matter.
Until DNA results are out, they will lie at the Lee Funeral Home’s cadaver trays, and those coming to pay tribute would, while walking in, have to contend with the fact they may never tell which body is George’s or Joshua’s.
We use their first names here because that is how they referred to each other, even though the Professor of Mathematics, who rose to be Kenya Commercial Bank Chairman, Cabinet minister and then Vice President, was 13 years older than the Ndhiwa MP.
Saitoti survived poisoning after 1990’s killing of former Foreign Minister Robert Ouko, while Ojode beat death in a previous police helicopter accident and a road crash.
But the grim reaper finally caught up with them as they flew underneath a heavy cloud blanket that obscured the usually azure blue skyline. He was Vice President for 13 years and was literally a breath away from the Presidency, but died as he campaigned for the seat.
Also burning were the wads of Sh1000 notes the two MPs were taking to the fundraiser at Nyarongi Catholic Church. Just like its owners, the money never reached its destination and at the church tears flowed as news arrived that the Guest of Honour and their MP were dead.
Also gone in the loop of friendship in the helicopter accident in Ngong area was Inspector Joshua Tonkei who for years was part of Saitoti’s life, given that every newspaper picture and TV footage of the late Kajiado North MP bore his own.
Lurking in the shadow of the former Vice President was Tonkei, a man whose burning stare seemed to confirm he could actually literally take a bullet on behalf of his boss.
But Sunday, death struck without warning and it was instantaneous. Tonkei suffered the same fate as his boss. Later, from the smouldering debris, they recovered his pistol, seared and crumbled by fire, as it too had completed its work, and the owner would never use it again in this life. Also gone with his boss was Sergeant Thomas Murimi.
In the same way, Captain Luke Oyugi and his co-pilot Nancy Gituanja literally went down with their helicopter. Their unidentified bodies were among those smouldering in the fire whose cause is still a matter of speculation.
Those who saw the helicopter zigzagging in the air reported that behind its tail was a billow of heavy smoke. One could have mistaken it for one of those aircraft that used to thrill Kenyans during airshows and national days, only that it had turned into a harvest tool for the grim reaper, otherwise called death.
12018 World Cup first round qualifier: Wanyama happy with results Southampton midfielder Victor Wanyama has expressed his joy at Harambee Stars' 5-2 victo...
2Maid caught bouncing on an 11-year-old private parts admits: ‘I fall in love too quickly’ A female babysitter who had sex with an 11-year-old boy has admitted: "I fall in love too ...
3Research reveals what half of all women feel after an intimate session The feelings described by 46% of women surveyed after they experience intimacy may come as...
4Jicho pevu: Je Seneta Muthama alikosea, ama ni vile aligusia jina la Waiguru? Wanajubilee walisahau kuwa kuna tofauti ya kubofya embe na kutomasa embe. Ama ni kwa vile ...
5Uchumi Supermarkets shuts down four outlets Uchumi Supermarkets has shut down four of its stores in Kenya and Uganda as part of a turn...
1Chaos mar Orange party grassroots elections Violence and disputes marred the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) elections in Kisumu and Siaya coun...
2County distributes 38 tonnes of seeds in semi-arid regions The county government has started distributing over 38 tonnes of maize, millet, sorghum and cowpeas ...
3We are facing cash crunch over Treasury's delay, says Governor Ruto "My staff are going without last month's salaries, not because they are on strike but because the Tr...
4Wholesale, retail trade grab bulk of foreign direct investment Foreign investors are placing most of their money in the country's wholesale and retail trade sector...
5Kareke asks EACC to probe Sh45m allegedly misappropriated in Mitheru ward Maara MP Kareke Mbiuki has asked the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission to probe how Sh45m was us...
1Take care when waxing ‘sehemu nyeti’ Some people don’t like being hairy. And it can be quite embarrassing moving round with unwante...
2I will care about Chris Brown until the day I die-Rihanna finally opens up Grammy-winning R&B singer Rihanna said she once felt she was strong enough to take back boyfriend Ch...
3Jicho pevu: Je Seneta Muthama alikosea, ama ni vile aligusia jina la Waiguru? Wanajubilee walisahau kuwa kuna tofauti ya kubofya embe na kutomasa embe. Ama ni kwa vile aligusia j...
4KDF widow crying for husband’s cash Peter Otieno Nyateya was part of the Kenya Defence Forces contingent in Somalia where he was hurt in...
5Popular Kalenjin Singer Diana Chelele recovering after attempting suicide Renowned Kalenjin singer Diana Chelele was admitted to Nakuru General Hospital on Saturday after an ...