Ogolla's wedding ring handed over to family

President William Ruto signs a condolence book for the late Chief of Defence Forces (CDF) Francis Ogolla at his River Side Residence Nairobi. [PCS]

The Kenya Defence Forces handed over General Francis Ogolla’s wedding ring to his family, the only item recovered from the ill-fated aircraft that burst into flames in Elgeyo Marakwet.

The ring, a symbol of love and commitment cherished by the General, was presented to his family by KDF’s senior officials during a solemn moment on Thursday at the family’s Nairobi home, before a visit by the Cabinet the following day.

The item was handed over to Ogolla’s widow, Aileen, as funeral arrangements were set in motion ahead of his burial today at his Ngiya village home in Siaya County.

Ogolla, who always carried a Bible, tragically lost his life alongside other members of the military: Brig Swale Saidi, Col Duncan Keittany, Lt Col David Sawe, Maj George Magondu, Capt Sora Mohammed, Capt Hillary Litali, Sr Sgt John Kinyua, Sgt Cliphonce Omondi and Sgt Rose Nyawira.

“The military bosses handed the ring to the family today (Thursday). Allow me not to describe his body after the accident,” a top military official told The Standard.

After military the handover, Kenya’s highest administrative organ, the Cabinet, visited Ogolla’s home in Nairobi to condole with the family. 

Composed demeanour

Defence Cabinet Secretary Aden Duale, said the Cabinet stands with the family. “In a gesture of solidarity, this afternoon, I joined a government delegation led by President Ruto and Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua to offer our condolences to the grieving family,” said Duale. 

“We stood united in shared grief as we mourned the tragic loss of Gen Ogolla and nine other brave KDF soldiers. Gen Ogolla’s legacy of leadership, encapsulated by the mantra ‘One Force, One Mission,’ will forever inspire us as we honour his memory and mourn his passing,” said Duale.

President Ruto expressed profound sadness at the loss, saying the General had been briefed on the security situation before the fatal flight.

General Omondi’s son, Joel Rabuku, astounded mourners with his composed demeanour as he paid tribute to his father surrounded by an upheaval of emotions.

Rabuku, who took the podium to welcome State officials led by President Ruto at their Riverside home, courageously urged mourners not to be sad but to celebrate his father’s legacy. Rabuku fondly remembered him as a cheerful and light-hearted individual who would have been surprised by a display of sombre faces and low spirits at his death.

Instead, he shared that the General had always prepared the family for his passing away, encouraging mourners to find joy in remembering him as a fun and cheerful person.

“I am seeing very many sad faces, but General would just be wondering what people are sad about, especially since he has for a long time prepared us for this day,” said Rabuku. “You guys should look a bit happier because we as a family are leaning on his faith, on our faith, and that of Jesus Christ which was his cornerstone for everything”.

Rabuku went on to remember his father as a witty person, especially when in the company of his sister Peris. He reminded mourners that even in his death, General Ogolla was still wearing a smile as he looks down from above. 

“General is in a good place. I got to see him yesterday and today as I was going to get his belongings... I can tell you that he is resting right now with a cheeky smile on his face. Msivurute sura sana na yeye in death, anashangaa, what is the issue? It is going to be well for us,” he said.

The sudden loss of General Ogolla, who assumed the role of Chief of Defence Forces only a year ago, sent shockwaves through the nation.

The President said the General’s tenure, albeit brief, witnessed efforts to enhance the capabilities of the Kenyan military to assure national security. Ogolla’s brother, Canon Hezekiah Oduor, said the General had a packed weekend ahead of him, with a planned visit to their rural home to celebrate their father’s 100th birthday on Saturday (yesterday). 

Final journey

“He was supposed to be in Kisumu, then join us here at home in preparation for the Sunday service of the consecration of the church,” he said. 

“We were making arrangements here for the 100 years of Mzee on Saturday and also moving to the church for consecration service. It was a very big shock and a big surprise,” said Oduor. 

Ogolla, 61, will be buried today at his home in Mor, Alego, as per his wishes. He is survived by a widow, Aileen, two children Rabuku and Lorna. He also leaves behind a daughter-in-law and a grandson.