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When Kenya and Uganda behaved like real sisters

By Amos Kareithi | May 17th 2021
President Milton Obote opening Uganda Hall at Egerton College in Njoro, Nakuru. Looking on is the principal of the college William Odongo Omamo. Nov 1968. [File, Standard]

It is not every day that a university dropout secures a job as a labourer. Strange still is a labourer working his way to the presidency. There was a time Africa was full of promise and children born during this golden age could be whatever they dared to dream. This promise and validity of peasants’ dreams are epitomised by Dr Milton Apolo Obote.  

Although he had been born in the remote Lira region, Obote had worked and ended up at Makerere University. He, however, dropped out of university in unclear circumstances and later showed up in Kenya as a labourer employed by Mowlem.

Unknown to his employer, Obote had a knack for stirring unrest for as soon as he started agitating for the worker’s rights, he had a huge following but ended up jobless.

On this day, he came to Egerton College, the oldest institution of higher learning, to open Uganda Hall. On hand to receive him was the principal of the college, William Odongo Omamo, who would also become a prominent politician. 

Three years later, on January 25, 1971, he was toppled by Iddi Amin while attending a conference in Singapore. He bounced back to State House in 1981, only to be forced to flee to exile in Zambia, where he stayed until his death in 2005.  


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