Onyango Oloo – Gone Too Soon RIP

Its a very sad day. One of the great heroes of human rights is gone to rest with our Lord.
My he rest in peace. I loved Oloo´s brain power. The way he could composed articles with all manner of references left you in awe. You understood that this was a very smart guy. He is one of the unsung heroes of our time. Kenyans love those who walk around with gunias of money, not ideals like OO.

 

oloo

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16 comments on “Onyango Oloo – Gone Too Soon RIP

  1. First of its very sad for such a visionary and principled comrade, to leave us at such an early stage. Condolences to his family, friends and his social media family as well.

    The article that Adongo posted from the DN penned by Miguna is the best and befitting tribute to this gentle giant that has fallen and I think its best to capture it here for posterity

    Article appears in the Daily Nation

    https://www.nation.co.ke/lifestyle/weekend/Tribute-to-Onyango-Oloo/1220-5166716-155geltz/index.html

    By MIGUNA MIGUNA

    “Activist. Blogger. Poet. Organic intellectual. He is not the TNA guy.” That is how Onyango Oloo described himself on his Twitter handle @OnyangoOloo. Perhaps due to Twitter’s character restriction, he was unable to add “Communist” to that description.
    My comrade Onyango Oloo was an unrepentant global citizen in the mould of what Thomas Sankara had called “The Upright Man”. He was ideologically radical, pure and committed.

    POLITICS

    A prolific and dogged debater, writer and activist. He read voraciously and published long essays, poems and commentaries on everything from Marxism, Pan-Africanism and imperialism to music, world politics, feminism, globalisation and the environment.
    Although he was named David Onyango Oloo, he had dropped “David” after leaving prison in 1986. Before seeking exile in Tanzania in the late 1980s, Kenyan newspapers had named him a member of the “Kenya Revolutionary Movement” together with Raila Odinga.
    The ensuing propaganda against the KRM precipitated Oloo’s flight into exile. Soon, Raila Odinga also fled to exile in Norway using a Ugandan passport.
    After the collapse of the Soviet Union, most African socialists opportunistically opted to redefine themselves.
    They avoided delicate ideological debates and rebranded themselves as “social democrats”.

    COMMUNISTS

    In the early 1990s, it was distressing for committed communists to watch those they had considered their compatriots — who had proudly worn long beards, called themselves socialists and who had engaged in radical opposition to imperialism — jump into the capitalist bandwagon overnight without much compunction. Not Comrade Onyango Oloo.
    “I’m a communist. A Marxist-Leninist,” Oloo continued to proclaim defiantly until he travelled to join our ancestors. He resisted the life of privilege, materialism and conformism because that always meant diluting his principles in exchange for temporal opportunism.
    As fate would have it, I met Oloo in Canada; not in our native land, Kenya. I was introduced to Oloo in Toronto by Adongo Ogony, who had served as the secretary-general of the Students Organisation of Nairobi University (Sonu) in 1982. This was shortly after they had arrived in Toronto from Tanzania, with Omondi Obanda, James Mwangi and Githirwa Muhoro in November 1988.

    ASYLUM

    I had been granted asylum in Canada in June of the same year, together with former Sonu leaders Peter Mutonyi Gakiri, Munoru Nderi, JTO Ogola, Omill Oloo and former University of Nairobi third-year law student James Anampiu.
    We had quickly established an exile pro-democracy movement called the Committee for Democracy in Kenya (CDK) and rallied Kenyans living abroad to champion for the reintroduction of multiparty democracy in our motherland.
    During this period, the majority of Kenyans in Ontario were foreign students — mostly children or relatives of ruling party Kanu mandarins or their business associates. But there were a few other political exiles like James Karanga, Kamonji Wachiira and a man we only knew as Kamotho.
    Dr Willy Mutunga, who was completing his doctoral studies at the Osgoode Hall Law School of York University, also joined the CDK.

    REFUGEES

    Oloo worked as a radio broadcaster, community programme manager and consultant for a number of non-governmental organisations.
    He also assisted many refugees from numerous African and Latin American countries to prepare and present their cases for asylum.
    Whenever he was confronted with difficult choices between remaining loyal to his political principles or fitting in so that he could keep a job, for instance, Oloo always stuck to his principles.
    Many of his critics considered him an unrepentant idealist. A stubborn fool. They dismissed him as a man who had refused to change with the times.
    Those critics preferred dishonesty, opportunism and hypocrisy to strong principles. They considered people like Onyango Oloo who believed that the world needed to be transformed through a socialist revolution for everyone to have equal opportunities and to have control over their means of production as dreamers. They contemptuously referred to him as an “activist who had refused to grow out of his university mold”.

    BLOGGING

    In the 1990s, before blogging became popular among Kenyans, Oloo was already a veteran blogger who traversed Kenyan discussion platforms like a colossus.
    He was ubiquitous on platforms such as Kiseru, Kenyans Online, Kenya Community Abroad and Kenyans in Ontario before he founded the iconic Jukwaa: Kenyan Discussion Platform around the year 2005 as a forum for the Kenya Democracy Project, which he had co-founded with Ogony.
    They had also founded a publication they called Haki, an organ of the Kenya Human Rights Organisation we had also founded during the same period.
    Whenever anyone confused him with the TNA/Jubilee secretary-general, he would quickly quip, “I’m The Onyango Oloo. Not the TNA guy!”
    Oloo returned to Kenya from exile in Canada and worked briefly as the national coordinator of the Kenya Social Forum 2006, in addition to many other civic organisations he would be affiliated with over the next two decades.
    He is the only genuine male feminist I have ever met. He understood power and power dynamics. He eschewed faddism.

    FEMINISM

    He believed in substantive equality between races, ethnic groups, religions and sexual orientations. He was fully committed to the establishment of a classless society. He fought gallantly against artificially constructed structural and institutional hierarchies.
    In the end, despite his many skills, abilities, ideological commitment and tenacity, Oloo’s efforts were consistently thwarted by entrenched neocolonial interests and merchants of impunity in Kenya. Oloo reminded them of their ideological limitations and moral weaknesses.
    Had Kenya been a merit-based society, Comrade Oloo would not have died a painful, neglected and lonely life. The challenge is on us to honour his legacy and seek the transformation of Kenya so that true heroes like him would be treated humanely here on earth.

    VALUED FRIEND

    Onyango is survived by a son, Sankara Onyango. God willing, Comrade Oloo, we will soon be able to build monuments in your memory!
    You were my revolutionary comrade, trusted confidant and valued friend.

    Rest in peace Jak’Agola. Owadgi nyiri kombe laro. Agulu kitwang’.

  2. Salif in the House for the comrade.

    The continent has really produced some good brains. Oloo is there and Salif is there too.

    Here he is.

  3. Mzee,

    Thanks for those thoughts.

    Tough day today but good.

    I had private conversations with the OO family here in Toronto.

    We are all trying to figure it out.

    When we are done I will do everything in my power and out of it to tell the world and anybody who can listen that we just lost one of the best minds in the world.

    They don’t come cheap for themselves. They don’t come everyday. And he was a great Kenyan patriot and thinker. There is no bigger badge to wear than that for me. But then again who is me?

    Let me tell you a story.

    Oloo was arrested at Voi Station after the August, 1 1982 coup after which campus was closed and we were ordered to go home.

    He was the first student arrested. They checked his bag and found an essay entitled

    “Plea to comrades”.

    It was in handwritten paper. Those days there were no smartphones and face book and twitter.

    If you had a thought however subversive you had to write it down in hard paper. With ink.

    But OO did not have any subservice thoughts on this.

    He was writing an essay for his class program on history.

    The cops say the title to the essay is part of the students support of the coup.

    It was just nonsense argument from the Kenyan security forces.

    And then we went to jail for the first time, OO had been there for a while.

    Then we arrive in court and Francis Kinyua raises the traditional campus power fist sign. He was the first guy to be killed after we left jail in 1983.

    In jail OO who had been there for three months told us now we were property of the state. And we asked him what that is supposed to mean. He said state agents can do anything they want with us.

    The guy was like 20 years old and there he was trying to figure out how the students (67 of us) were going to fit in jail.

    Then we tried to bully our way out of there after OO was sentenced to 15 years, five each concurrently. Then we realized the Kenyan prison system for political prisoners is deadly. You need to get out of there alive.

    So I think OO is fine.

    He gave his heart and mind to the nation.

    Jamhuri is very safe with people like Onyango Oloo.

    All the time.

  4. I got this news today from comrades at home and it is very sad day for the nation.

    Onyango Oloo is one of the most honest human beings I have ever had the pleasure to meet and to know. And he has some guts and amazing talent as a writer and thinker. He has no peers in that department.

    We came to Canada together as a group of three Kenyan refugees arriving in Canada on November 29, 1989 from Tanzania. We looked foolish. We had no jackets and it was bloody cold outside. Then they gave s parkas. I mean now we really looked like clowns. But warm clowns thank you.

    The other guy with us that day was another writer Githirwa Muhoro. He was a teacher before feeling the Moi madness. Muhoro killed himself in 1995 here in Toronto.

    Same thing happened to another comrade Mwakudua Mwachofi who went to the US as an engineer from Kenya. He decided to study law. Graduated and got a job as a lawyer. Then he drove his to a bridge in California and shot himself in the head.

    So I am kind of feeling lonely loosing all these really wonderful people.

    I hope we are able to keep OO’s legacy by preserving his favorite website Jukwaa. When he founded that thing nobody had any clue how powerful social media and the internet was going to be. That is the kind of visionary the man has been. It will not be enough to just miss Oloo with our hearts and prayers. We need more than that.

    We have to keep doing the things OO loved in life. That is fighting for social justice.

    Rest In Power my friend.

    https://www.nation.co.ke/news/Former-political-detainee-Onyango-Oloo-dies/1056-5160472-oiie0d/index.html

    • Einstein and others,

      I have no log in services for Jukwaa which Oloo founded. I feel sad that it is just going to be buried and dead. There is a group of Kenyan writers working with Ukombozi Library trying to put OO’s work together. The man has more than 10,000 pages of revolutionary writing and thought.

      Can you figure out how to get back to Jukwaa and save it. Please get back to me on this. That is a historic website until some people came there and just killed it with nonsense.

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