How Odinga’s friend, Jomo, turned against him

Like many Kenyans Jaramogi recognised the fact that the "Release Kenyatta" crusade he had spearheaded in 1958 from Legco had been an effective rallying call, which hastened the process of securing uhuru from the British colonial authorities.

His loyalty to Kenyatta was not by word alone; he proved it by deed when unveiling the Kenyatta Statue in the precincts of Parliament Buildings on December 14, 1964. Jaramogi lauded Kenyatta, describing him as a "living legend."

"He is God’s masterpiece…the man who was at one time described by the imperialists as a leader to darkness and unto death."

Struggle clichÈs

In that emotional speech, Jaramogi lauded Kenyatta with all manner of praise, revisiting his earth-moving remarks in 1961 in Nyeri when he described Kenyatta as second to God, saying: "The unveiling of this statue marks the end of the first phase of our history."

Revisiting the liberation struggle clichÈs, he observed that "the tree of uhuru planted by Mzee Jomo Kenyatta and watered by blood, sweat, toil and tears is now fully grown".

The year 1965 was not the best for Jaramogi in his relations with several politicians. Already, there was a crack emerging between him and Kenyatta. The designs against Jaramogi by the West were now apparent as they stepped up their campaign against the man they regarded as a communist apologist.

The core of the rift between Jaramogi and other Kenyan politicians’ unseen and unsubstantiated accusations was narrowed by the West to Jaramogi’s designs to overthrow Kenyatta.

The campaign was intense and fiercely cunning to the extent of even Kenyatta himself naively believing that Jaramogi was actually plotting against him.

It was now obvious that Kenyatta, through his protÈgÈs, was quietly encouraging anti-Odingaism in the Government, citing the Lumumba Institute as one that taught Kenyans foreign ideology.

The murder of Pio Gama Pinto in February 1965 stunned Jaramogi. A confirmed scientific socialist, Gama Pinto got on very well with Jaramogi.

Crocodile tears

He was deeply disturbed about Da Gama Pinto’s assassination.

In a private conversation with him one evening, he admitted to me that it had dawned on him that the system may have been involved in the murder, and that statements emanating from some Government officials were mere crocodile tears.

Towards the end of 1965, Kenyatta’s hostility towards the person who had one time described him as "second god’, was now common knowledge.

A public humiliation of Jaramogi was consummated on the October 23, 1965 at a ceremony to mark United Nations Day outside the Kenya Police Headquarters on Harambee Avenue in Nairobi.

The Minister for Internal Security and Defence Njoroge Mungai took the salute during the march-past by security forces in the presence of the Vice-President.

By early 1966, an anti-Odinga group led by Kenyatta himself and his trusted foot-soldiers, Jaramogi’s nemesis Tom Mboya, secretary general of Kanu, appeared to be on top of things.

In order to deal a final blow to Jaramogi and political dissidents mainly allied to him, Kenyatta in collusion with Mboya decided to call a Kanu Delegates Conference to "reorganise the party and its constitution".

Divide country

Two weeks before the conference, Mboya issued a statement outlining what was expected there.

On Saturday March 12, 1966, a Kanu reorganisation committee went into session at Harambee House. A parliamentary group meeting chaired by Kenyatta also met ahead of the Delegates’ Conference.

Jaramogi was the notable absentee at the Harambee House meeting at which it was decided to abolish the post of Deputy President of the party, Kanu. The holder of the office was Jaramogi. Come the delegates’ conference in Limuru, the overwhelming vote was 85 for and 30 against the resolution.

Before the vote was taken, Jaramogi was invited by Party President Kenyatta to make his remarks, which were moved by (what appeared to be pre-engineered) heckling.

Addressing Kenyatta directly Jaramogi said: "We fought for your return from detention and now you are leading this nation. But the present unconstitutional conference can only divide the country into two."

Walked out

Having witnessed the sweeping majority with which the amendments scrapping his formerly held position were passed and since he was not proposed for any further position in the party, Jaramogi walked out.

In a private conversation I had with him in 1967, Jaramogi felt that Kenyatta was basically a strong character but feared his long incarceration had taken toll on his resilience.

Following the events that afflicted him since December 1964, it did not require tremendous political intelligence to realise that a final break between Kenyatta and Jaramogi was imminent and that came to pass in March 1966.

— Excerpts by Stephen Makabila


© Odinge Odera 2010

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