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Karachuonyo set to commemorate Ojijo Oteko, pioneer freedom fighter

Karachuonyo set to commemorate Ojijo Oteko, pioneer freedom fighter

This August will mark the 74th Anniversary of the assassination of pioneer freedom fighter Ojijo Oteko whose remains were transported from Nairobi to Homa Bay under tight security in 1942, some two decades before independence and just a decade before the declaration of Emergency.

His coffin was never opened in adherence to Luo burial rites and his grave was dug 10 feet below the ground, prompting speculation that the colonial government had mutilated his body beyond recognition.

A week before his murder, there were claims Oteko had met Harry Thuku, the Kikuyu Central Association renegade then giving the colonial government too much trouble. Oteko had himself founded Kavirondo Taxpayers Welfare Association.

In Nairobi, a road in Parklands area is named after him. In 2009, unknown people attempted to dig up his grave but their motive has never been known. 

The Kenyan weekly received the following information ahead of anniversary ceremony:

The countdown to the 74th anniversary of the assassination of pioneer liberation hero Ojijo Oteko begins. But this event, scheduled for August, this year, is not about one man of courage, who stood against the colonial established about a century ago. Alongside Ojijo Oteko, acknowledged as the most memorable son of Rachuonyo, and foremost freedom of his age, we shall also recognize other leaders whose contributions have shaped the Rachuonyo people. 

   The event unites three constituencies that once made up Rachuonyo District, with Kosele as headquarters, under the repealed Constitution. Karachuonyo, Kasipul, and Kabondo-Kasipul are part of this great heritage that stands the risk of being buried under the debris of history. 

       As a champion of the freedom movement, a fierce critic of colonial exploitation, especially taxation without representation, the icon is remembered through Ojijo Road, linking Parklands and Westlands in Nairobi. The late Ojijo Oteko was a student in the United States in the 1930s. He remains one of the few to have had that kind of exposure so early in colonial Kenya. 

   In Ojijo Oteko’s ancestral home Kochola Sublocation, Kanjira Location, Karachuonyo, Homa Bay County, stands America SDA Church, in memory of this historic event. This ingenious man left his village as an employee of the Postal Corporation, and returned to be the rallying point against colonial exploitation. History records President Barack Obama’s grandfather, Hussein Onyango Obama, as one of his known allies.

   Ojijo Oteko Secondary School has been named for a man who sacrificed his life in laying the ground for the struggle for Uhuru. Rachuonyo people, at home and in the Diaspora, are encouraged to be part of this initiative, to develop an institution that celebrates the life of a pioneer freedom fighter. 

                                             Justification 

Every community has its heroes and heroines. Communities use history as a basis for mobilization for development, identity, role modeling and inspiration. This unity has a definite socio-cultural, economic, and political value. 

   The anniversary is also a national bridge-building event. Ojijo Oteko’s allies in the struggle included members of the Kikuyu Central Association. Anti-tax without representation movement along the Kavirondo Gulf, which Ojijo Oteko, Ezekiel Apindi, Jonathan Okwiri, and Paul Olola championed, had echoes across the country where anti-colonial sentiments were growing. Some senior national leaders have agreed to consider participation in Day Two, and Day Three events.

                                       Memorial Activities 

Day One: football, and netball competitions by selected schools and teams in Karachuonyo – bringing together four divisions of the  constituency: Ojijo Oteko Secondary School.  Kochia- Kagan Dancers are also on stage. IDS will also be issued on site.

Day Two: Fund raising for Ojijo Oteko Secondary School. Venue: Ojijo Oteko Secondary School. Ojijo Oteko Secondary School fundraising committee. The school is located in North Rachuonyo sub-county, Kanjira location, and Kochola village, and about 20km from Kendu Bay, in Homa Bay County.

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Written by The Kenyan Weekly

The Kenyan Weekly newspaper is a fresh general-news publication published on newsprint once a week.

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