Clock in the heart of mining town a constant reminder of its heroes

Former President Daniel Moi talks to former football star, Peter Dawo. [File, Standard]

In October this year, Siaya County hit news headlines after the county government unveiled a new roundabout in the heart of Siaya town, - in form of a city clock.

The roundabout was part of an Sh25 million grant given to Siaya Municipality by the World Bank to help give the town a facelift.

The brand new city clock generated mixed reactions from residents of the gold mining town; with some terming it as a step in the right direction, while others critiqued it.

But for other patriotic residents, the clock is a stark reminder of the gains made by heroes and heroines hailing from the small town.

On one side of the clock are inscribed words 'Siaya Municipality - Land of Heroes'.

Indeed, for the older generation, Siaya County is home to several heroes and heroines whose stories evoke fond memories among the Luo community.

It is in this county, for instance, that Apollo Ohanga, the first black Kenyan Cabinet Minister in the colonial period was born at Got Regea.

Another figure is Peter Dawo who, born in 1964 in Rarieda sub-county, grew up to become a legendary football player. Dawo began his football career in the local league for MTI. It is from here that he was noticed and signed up by Gor Mahia FC in 1987. Dawo played for Gor Mahia between 1987 and 1991 as a prolific striker.

His gift of scoring goals using headers was crucial in helping K'ogalo win the Mandela Cup in 1987, the first and only continental trophy to be won by an East African Club.

Dawo was named the seventh-best African player in 1987 ahead of Ghana's Abedi Pele and Cameroon's Roger Milla.

On Wednesday this week, Siaya MCAs adopted a motion calling on the Executive to initiate a process of identifying and honouring heroes like Dawo. Through the motion by nominated MCA Dorothy Oinga, the House agreed that naming of major roads, public spaces and buildings after the county's heroes and heroines will be an indication of the county's collective appreciation for their contributions to society.

"Siaya county boasts of being home to several living and deceased heroes and heroines who made tremendous contributions to both the county and the nation," said Oinga.

She said naming of landmarks is one of the many ways through which the county can honour and restore their dignity.

North Ugenya MCA Benard Adalla said the simple act of recognising and appreciating their efforts helps to preserve the county's history.

One such hero, said nominated MCA Rose Rabinya, is the late Jaramogi Oginga Odinga.

"We should immortalise him with a massive statue in one of our major towns," she said.

Other heroes mentioned are David Peter Simon Wasawo from Gem, who became the first East African to receive a degree in science.

Upon his death on February 4, 2014, former Prime Minister Raila Odinga hailed Wasawo as "an icon who promoted science-based education and lifted the country's reputation internationally from early days of independence".

Siaya has also produced music heroes including legendary Gabriel 'Gaby' Omollo who became the first Kenya musician to be awarded an international Golden Disc for the sales of his single, Lunchtime in 1974.

Other notable heroes and heroines are Argwings Kodhek, Achieng' Oneko, and Siaya Kababa hit maker Musa Juma, among others.

In his speech during this year's Mashujaa Day celebrations, Siaya governor James Orengo promised to reward hard work and excellence by introducing an Annual Award Scheme towards exemplary performance in various sectors.

"This will be an incentive scheme to promote hard work, patriotism and commitment to work by all of us; farmers, professionals, public officers, investors, sports personalities, the academia, among others," said Governor Orengo.