General Ogola has left indelible mark in our military's history

Chief of Defence Forces General Francis Omondi Ogola. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

The chopper crash that claimed the lives of the Chief of Defence Forces General Francis Omondi Ogola and eight other senior military officials has driven a very sharp pin through the lung of this nation.

That OG, as he was known in military circles, was a distinguished officer is an understatement. He rose to the top of Kenya’s military through sheer brilliance and hard work.

The very symbol of professionalism and patriotism. He interacted with the junior-most servicemen with the same grace and firmness with which he handled the top brass of the military.

At this very moment, I send my most sincere condolences to the Commander-in-Chief, for the times ahead are going to be a bit bumpy. There are members of the political class who have already lurched at this unfortunate incident to inflame ethnic and political passions.

Some armchair analysts have also taken to social media, drawing parallels between this incident and other unrelated incidences in a manner that makes us all realise that indeed, we live in a post-truth era.

As our troops mourn their highest uniformed commander, I extend my steadfast prayers to them.  

It’s public knowledge that General Ogola was committed to modernising our military hardware so that we have a fighting force that can neutralise any threat against our sovereignty. Militaries in developing countries have been saddled with expensive yet obsolete technology, which has proved unfit for purpose. It’s a misnomer the good general was prepared to deal with.

The lanky boy joined the military at the tender age of 22, first  trained as a fighter pilot before eventually being an instructor pilot with the Air Force. The less than correct ethnic background notwithstanding, he demonstrated skill, virtue and rare dexterity that saw him become an expert in military intelligence, counter-terrorism and accident investigation.

Added to this is his academic excellence that saw him graduate on top of his class with Bachelor’s degree in political science, armed conflict and peace studies from the University of Nairobi and then a masters in International studies from the same institution.

General Ogola also had a diploma in international studies and military science from Egerton University. He was also a graduate of the prestigious Ecole Militaire de Paris as well as the National Defence College of Kenya.

These trainings and academic exposures prepared him to be an effective team leader and team player in different capacities. Chief among them include being deputy commander Kenya Air Force, Base Commander Laikipia Air Base, Commanding Officer of Tactical Fighter wing, Chief Flying Instructor at Kenya Air Force Flying Training School among other positions of trust and responsibility within Kenya’s military.

Away from the rigours of the military life, Gen Ogola was a charming son, brother, father, and a big brother to many. He had a spring in his steps which I suspect he would have had even if he didn’t join the military. I mean, what would one expect from a man who is born around the Lake region? If you meet one without presence, then you could be dealing with counterfeit.

Alego people like their Sakwa counterparts are known to bear sons with both physical and mental agility of a very rare extraction. As a good member of the society, he was chairman of the Christian military fellowship for over 20 years. He was also co-chair of African Air Chiefs from 2018 to 2019.

For a man whose other love interest was golf, he hang his golfing club when he was named as Chief of Defence Forces so as to concentrate wholly on this assignment with singular focus.  As the principal military adviser to the president, Gen Ogola earned the respect and admiration of his boss, the Commander-in-Chief.

To honour him, let his unfortunate demise give us the courage to truly “leave no stone unturned” in pursuit of truth and national healing. The people of Kenya and the family of General Ogola deserve to know the circumstances under which the chopper carrying the top gun, Omondi Jalego, dropped from the sky. Rest easy top gun. Rest easy the real OG.

-Mwaga is the Convenor, Inter-Parties Youth Forum

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