R.I.P Otieno Kajwang – Mapambano

This man was probably one of the strongest supporters of ODM and CORD.

He will be remembered as one who never changed his stance, never wavered even once in the face of massive cash being offered to the opposition to abandon the CORD and support Jubilee. ODMers and CORDashians could rely on him at all times because he worked tirelessly for them. He might have had his flaws but the man was a towering figure in Kenyan politics in general. Most people remember him for his oratory skills at the public podium. But Kajwang had two different personalities. As much as he would entertain the crowds with his mapambano songs and look almost clownish, he exhibited a second personality when debating in parliament or discussing issues on a TV or radio studios. Then you could see and feel his intellect and eloquence.

He will be missed greatly and South Nyanza politics might not be the same without him. Rest in peace Kajwang.

By Mzee Posted in kenya

4 comments on “R.I.P Otieno Kajwang – Mapambano



    I first met the late Senator Otieno Kajwang sometime in the year 1991 through his younger brother Hon. T.J. Kajwang. Both of us were then students at the University while the senior Kajwang was a practicing lawyer and part of a team of youthful activists of the Forum for Restoration of Democracy (FORD) that was agitating for multiparty politics. For some of us who knew, interacted and worked with the late Gerald Otieno Kajwang, his sudden death has indeed caused us great anguish and irreplaceable loss. In the ODM Party, where Kajwang was a senior member, his demise has been felt with sorrow and sadness all over the Country especially among party members whom he endeared himself to through his witty political rejoinders as well as his unique expertise in mobilizing and rallying party members through the ‘Bado mapambano’ clarion song.

    There is no doubt in my mind that Mr. Kajwang was more than a loyal member of ODM Party per excellence, he was also an asset to the party as its ideologue, trouble shooter, rubble – rouser, orator, legal advisor, apparatchik and think tank. Many party members will remember him for years to come for his skills in mobilizing them at major political rallies and similar events through the clarion song ‘bado mapambano’. He was undoubtedly steadfast in party politics and firmly stood with the party and its leadership at times of political crisis.

    The late Kajwang started off in politics right from the time he was a student at the University of Nairobi. He was among a group of young politicians – dabbed the Young Turks – who fought hard for change in the Country during the second liberation, thereby putting him in the frontline for the struggle for reforms in Kenya through the formation of FORD, and later FORD KENYA, NDP,LDP,NARC and ODM. During his stint in all these political parties at different times, he displayed unwavering loyalty to his party and its leadership, and espoused consistency and principled approach to the ideals of democracy. He was an excellent team player in all these efforts. Indeed, he never fell victim of defection baits which characterized Kenyan party politics at the material time and caused the downfall of many unprincipled and unsteady politicians. The late Kajwang will be particularly remembered for his courage to challenge the government on critical issues of public interest within and outside Parliament whenever circumstances demanded. His contributions to the debates in the two Houses of Parliament, that is, the National Assembly and the Senate will be greatly missed.

    On a personal note, I must say that I interacted and worked closely with the late Kajwang during my tenure as Honourable Raila Odinga’s Chief campaign manager in the 2013 Presidential Election Campaigns. During that period, I had the rare opportunity of interacting and discussing critical public issues with all cadres of ODM Party and the CORD Coalition members. But among those who inspired me most with their dedication and commitment to ODM Party and its leadership was the late Otieno Kajwang. To him ODM was the best ship to political power and he truly understood the significance of being loyal to one’s political party of choice including its ideology and leadership. He will no doubt provide a model case for study in political party loyalty and discipline, and could be a source of reference to upcoming politicians who often rebel against their own political parties on the basis of personal interests and gains. Such politicians fail to understand that unless one is elected to a public office as an independent candidate, he or she is expected to toe the policies of his/her party otherwise, his /her loyalty to the party would be in doubt.

    Last but not least, I hasten to say here that I had a thirty minute telephone conversation with the late Kajwang at about 1.00 p. m on the day preceding the night of his death and we agreed on a follow up meeting at 11.00 a.m the following day. Little did I know that this would not be possible, how I wish I pursued that day’s conversation with him to a logical conclusion. As I join his family, the people of Homa Bay County and Kenyans at large in mourning him. I have no doubt that he has left behind a huge gap to be filled. And in this regard, I do hope that in the subsequent by-election,the people of Homa Bay County will honour him by electing a person loyal to his ODM Party and its leadership to fill the gap he has left.


  2. Sad loss for the ODM family

    Kajwang was a true fighter for democracy

    Adongo you nail it when you mention those fake mourners who at every turn wasted no opportunity to bash Kajwang, Its these people who keep us away from the real mourning of the passing of a spirited fighter.

    R.I.P Kajwang


    • Folks,

      It is sad to see the big guy gone. Kajwang’s greatest asset and gift to the country was his sense of humour. He had it in spades. He was ahead of us so I never really got to know him as a person but the one event I remember vividly happened at the Constitutional battle at BOMAS.

      Things were smoking hot. This was in 2003. Kibaki had turned his back against the battle for a new constitution after promising to have one passed in 100 days after the historic 2002 elections. At Bomas even the once big fighters for a new constitution like Kivutha Kibwana had become errand boys for Kibaki. People like Koigi were loudly defending something they called the Kikuyu presidency. It was a nightmare. Strangely it was the defeated Moi boys like William Ruto who had now joined Raila to fight for the Wanjiku constitution.

      I attended one heated meeting where the final resolution had to be made as to whether the position of prime minister would be created in the constitution. The worshippers of imperial presidency had turned the argument into a war against Raila claiming Raila wanted to take the presidency from the back door. Some argued the fight to tame the presidency was useful when they were fighting to remove the bad Moi and now they have a good president. Usual rubbish.

      This is when Kajwang’ took the podium. He told the delegates that those who were saying they have a good president are just stupid. He asked them what they would do when he, Otieno Kajwang’ becomes the president. He told them he would cane them in public. He would detain them even with their parents. He would beat people up and he would be the big president who is above the law. “What would you do when Kajwang’ is your president” he asked and everybody fell down in laughter. I was hilarious. In the end the resolution to keep the imperial presidency was defeated. That was pretty much the last nail to the coffin of the Bomas katiba leading to the mongrel Kibaki constitution which the same Kajwang’ helped to defeat. Good legacy.

      What I find barely funny is the rush by those who have fought Kajwang’ all there lives to be shedding ugly crocodile tears about him. Reminds me of what James Orengo said at the funeral of Jaramogi when he told the crocodile tear shedders to shut up.


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