Kenya: Nyanza people want the new Kisumu Airport be re-named Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Airport

Commentary By Leo Odera Omolo In Kisumu City

The people of the now defunct Nyanza Province, which has been split into four Counties, have unanimously of the opinion that the newly expanded and modernized airport be re-named as Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Airport.

Members of the Luo community have agreed in principle that this would be the most fitting facility in the memory of the late Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, for his immense contribution to this country, dating back to the early 1940s, especially during the struggle for independence by Kenyan people against the mighty of forces of the colonialists.

The communities are unanimous and want to see an important public facility, like the new Kisumu Airpot, named after the man who had championed the struggle for independence, and later led a protracted war of the second liberation of this country.

A prominent building contractor, Mr Gordon Kaoko, suggested that a tourist class hotel should also be established in Kisumu and named after Jaramogi Oginga Odinga. Businessmen, farmers, teachers and civic leader in all the four Counties of Siaya, Kisumu, Homa-Bay and Migori are unanimous that the facility be named after Jaramogi, to color his distinguish service to the mankind.

The airport, which has been modernized with billions of shillings, would soon be taking in bigger aircraft, including international passenger flights, that would make Kisumu to be the true gate-away City to East and Central Africa.

A cross section of people interviewed within Kisumu City and its environs were all unanimous that the new airport be named after the late Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, who had served this country as its first Vice President of the Republic of Kenya.

It is true that the Luos are the most democratic people, who are always very vocal and outspoken on issues of national importance. But when it come to the question of remembering their past heroes, who had made sterling performance and immense contribution in history, this particular community is well known to be people with short memory of past events. And particularly when it comes to the time of remembering heroes, this community is known to insensitive on this.

It is therefore my passionate appeal and suggestion that our leaders should make a representation to the government, particularly the relevant Ministry, to have the name of Kisumu Airport changed and be re-named after the late Jaramogi Oginga Odinga. I am indeed, directing my appeal to the cabinet Ministers from Luo-land and our legislators in the 10th Parliament, to brainstorm together and initiate the talks with the relevant Ministry over this burning issue.

Alternatively, the new facility should be named after the pre-colonial Luo hero and Warrior, called Okore Kogonda, who had led the Jo-Kisumu sub- clans of Jokorando and Jokogony to overrun the forces of Nandis and Teriks, who were the first settlers in what is today called Kisumu. The Airport is just a few meters away from the grave of this hero who, was eventually ambushed and killed by the Nandis, after he had claimed the entire land in the area and settled his people at around 1820.

Okore Kogonda, the hero, is also said to have chased the Maragolis from the plains and land around Tieng’re and G.K Kodiaga Prison, to the Maragoli Hills, and chased away the small communities of Jo-Gem community and Jo-Kajulu, who later settled around Gem Rae in Nyakach and what is today called Kajulu along the Nandi Escarpment. He eventually kicked out the Kano groups, forcing them to make peace around Nyamasaria River, though the original boundary between the Jo-Kisumo and Jo-Kano was at Kisat River, which is located next to the Ksumu Golf Course and the Aiport.

It is even said that there are three major institutions of higher learning in Luo-Nyanza, but none is named after any Luo hero. These institutions include the Maseno University, Bondo Univesity College and Mit University College in Rongo district. These institutions should be renamed after some of the modern day Luo heroes for prosperity.

In other Kenyan communities (by saying this, I have the Kikuyus in mind) even the colonial chiefs, who collaborated well with the colonial administration during the Mau Mau War of independence, have had some ultra modern schools in Central Province named after them. An example is the late Senior Chief Njiri wa Karanja.

In the middle of 1953 at the height of the Mau Mau uprising, Chief Njiri wa Karanja boarded a Royal; Air Force plane and flew low over the villages, while armed with loud speakers, urging the Mau Mau fighters to lay down their arms and co-operate with the colonial government. He was one of the most distinguished collaborators with the colonialist. But today Niri High School stand magnificently in Central Province as one of the best schools.

Various institutions are named after Senior Chief Waruhiu, who was murdered in cold blood by the Mau Mau fighters, and also Chief Nderi of Nyeri and many other leaders who contributed towards development in kind. The same could be said of Chief Josiah Njonjo and Bishop Obadiah Kariuki of the Anglican Church who publicly denounced Mau Mau oaths and killing of innocent people.

In Kisii region of Nyanza Province, the late Ex-Chief Musa Nyandusi Ayacko {Manwar}, was the biggest example of collaboration with the colonialist. But today most secondary and high schools in Nyaribari had either dormitories or football field named after Senior Chief Nyandusi in recognition of his contribution to the regions immense development and education.

The same is so with Ex-Senior Chief Cheborge Arap Tengecha, of Location three in Kericho district He was well known for his draconian rule and collaboration with the white settlers and colonial administrators.
Tengecha’s name is applied to some of the best educational facilities is not only in Buret location where he ruled with an iron fist but in the entire Kipsigis region.

In the greater Southern Nyanza region, the late Mzee Paul Mboya, who had played the biggest role in shaping up the region’s development when he started from an humble location Chief of Karachuonyo, a pastor with the SDA church, and the first Secretary to the African Local Native Council {ALNC}, which was later transformed into the African District Council {ADC}, and eventually the County Council of South Nyanza, has not even a nursery school in his own native Karachuonyo named after him.

Again in the Southern Nyanza region, the late Ex-Senior Chief Gideon Magak of Kasipul-Kabondo, who served his people between 1927 and 1954, though with an iron fist, is still being remembered for having introduced forced education of both boys and girls. The chief, at times, is known to have paid school fees for students from his location using his own money, and consigned to jails big headed parents who refused to educate their children.

Against resistance from religions and churches, Magak initiated the District Education Board Schools, such as Agoro Sare High School, Oriang; Girsl Secondary School, Ober Secondary School Saye Secondary School, Nyang’iela Secondary School, and many others, which are today serving as some of the best educational facilities in the region. But the residents of the region have refused to have any of its schools named after him. There is not even one primary school in the region named after the man to serve as his legacy. Is this the case of jealousy?

In Siaya, a man of Ex-Senior Chief Amoth Owira’s stature should have by now have several schools and other public utilities named after him, in recognition of his immense contribution to the development of the area. But there is nothing on the ground in Siaya called Amoth Owira, leave alone a dispensary or a nursery school. Why not?.

In the neighboring location of Ugenya, the late Chief Miganda Opapo, who made the history. In 1941, a battalion, made of Kenyans fighting in the Second World War, under the auspices of King African Rifles {KAR} in the Indian Ocean Island of Madagascar, mainly Luos, mutinied, laid down their arms, and refused to obey their superiors’ orders.

At first, the Late Paul Mboya, was flown to the Island in an attempt to have him calm down the rebellious KAR soldiers. But the soldiers almost assaulted Mboya. It was then decided that Chief Miganda be flown in by the Royal Air force to Magascar. And because the majority of soldiers were from Ugenya, they obeyed their chief and agreed to resume fighting.

The late Sir Michael Blundell, a Kenya leader of the white settlers, who in his later years turned politician and served the colonial government as the Minister for Agriculture, who was then the commander of the Madagascar garrison under the name of Major Blundell, had confided to me before his death that the situation was so pathetic and hopeless. Imagine close to four soldiers laying down their weapons and even refusing to eat for a coupe of days. This, Blundell told me, was due to political agitation by the black African soldiers that they did not actually knew for whose interests they were engaged in fighting the Germans – – the British crown or black Kenyans,

Blundell, who was so influential in Dho-Luo vernacular, told me that Chief Miganda was a genius person.

In Central Nyanza in general, the late Mzee Joel Meshack Omino, who served the ADC Central Nyanza as its Secretary for close to 40 years, was the architect for the building of various schools and other facilities. But apart from a street road in Kisumu Municipality, nothing is on the ground bearing the name of Joel Omino.

Luo-Nyanza is well known as a fertile place for academic giants. Three members of the community who pioneered in university teaching, deserve to have named after them some local schools and other educational facilities.

These academician giants are Prof. David Wasawo, Prof. H Ominde and Prof. Alan Bethwell Ogot. Wasawo and Ominde became the first Kenyans to be engaged in teaching at the Makerere University in the early 1950s. This was at the time when Makerere was serving the East, Central and Southern Africa as the only full fledged University taking in students from far field like Nyasaland, Tanganyika, Rhodesia, and other countries. Ominde has since died, but Wasawo and Ogot who are relatively much younger, are still alive. Applying the Names of these people to some of the school would serve as incentive to the younger generation and inspire them to work hard.

Back to politicians, there are four important political names, that are closely associated with the development of politics in Nyanza between 1940s to early 1960s. These names incldude Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, Tom Mboya, Ramogi Achieng’ Oneko, and Walter Fanuel Odede. And to a lessesr extent there is C.M.G.Argwings-Kodhek.

Jaramogi single-handedly built Nyamira Girls Secondary School, which is close to his rural Kang;o Ka-Jaramogi home in Central Sakwa in Bondo district. There is another adjacent School called Maranda High School which has taught so many people. The two schools should be named after him.

Tom Mboya single handedly established Homa-Bay High School in Homa-Bay Town and the neighboring Uganda Girls Secondary school before establishing Tom Mboya Secondary School Rusinga Island and also contributed immensely towards the construction of Mbita High School at the Mbita Point on the mainland.

Women leaders in Luo-Nyanza, who have played the leading role in shaping the country, also deserve a respectful place of history. And this could only be done if such woman have their names given to some important institutions and facilities.

In this context, I have in mind the likes of Mrs Grace Aketch Onyango, the first African Mayor of Kisumu, and the first African to be elected to Kenyan parliament with the majority and popular votes as the MP for KisumuTown in 1969. Mrs Phoebe Muga Asiyo, the former MP for Karachuonyo, Mrs Roselyn Onyuka , the first woman PEO in Nyanza, Mrs Damaris Ayodo, Mrs Grace Ogot, Nrs Esabella Abura and many others who had championed the cause of human rights and development.

Let the Luos learn how to respect their fallen heroes like any other communities in this country. We should make the history an incentive to the younger generation. Both men and women who have played a pivotal role in the development of this country, particularly in Nyanza, should be included in the roll call.


14 thoughts on “Kenya: Nyanza people want the new Kisumu Airport be re-named Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Airport

  1. ojuok ogutu

    I concur with the preamble and contents of this article and wish to thank ‘Jokanyanam’ who were interviewed and staked up the issue. Indeed the greatest of the honours we the Luo community can posthumously accord to Jaramogi Oginga Odinga is to rename the kisumu airport after him. Jaramogi will always remain our hero since he did not grab land, despite the powers he had at independence at the country’s second in command. If he had grabbed our land ,Luos would not be together as we are today(wish you know the root cause of mungiki). Is there anything better than a cohesive community always charting its path together?

  2. NDEDA

    sent to jaluo dot kom by Leo Odero Omolo (L.O.O.)

    Sent to L.O.O. by corporateerrands@ . . .


    Hallo, sir.

    I have read many of your articles for many years, and I’ve noted that you have vast knowledge of history, especially Luo history. I also read your recent article in, in which you castigated members of the Luo community for only idolizing one Luo hero in the name of Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, at the expense of other equally-deserving heroes and heroines. I think that assessment is quite true.

    But if our generation have no recognition of their heroes, it is elders such as yourself who are to blame. Our future generations cannot honour their heroes if the older generation do not impart that culture and knowledge into them today!

    I would be delighted if you would make your contribution by writing a book about famous Luo heroes/heroines.

    God bless,


  3. Odhiambo Anyango

    Jaramogi remains my political hero but he did not perform alone. Remember his support cast: Ramogi Achieng Oneko, Thomas Joseph Odhiambo Mboya, Lawrence Oguda Kokwiri, Tom Okelo Odongo, Japuonj Samuel Onyango Ayodo, Luke Obok Rarieya, Ker Paulo Mboya, Jadolo Shadrack Osewe, Owino Ja Shirati, Prof. Daudi Wasawo, Prof Ogot, Dr. Warambo. Yuko Otange, Chiedo Mare Gem Argwengs Kodhek. Remember they did not have to be all politicians or on the same side of the fence to qualify to be reward worthy. How about those that preceded them: Gor Mahia, Okore wuod Ogonda, Mien Wuon Olanda, , Odera Kang’o, Ogutu ‘Raruoch’ wuod Kipapi. Kwarwa Ramogi. The list is long. How do we pick whose name to hold high? VOTE. THE COMMUNITY WILL SOLICIT NAMES AND THEN VOTE.

  4. John forbmanagement

    Kisumu town was initially named Port Florence in the early nineteenth century by one of lead engineers of railway construction. The name Port Florence emanated from the name of the lovely wife of the engineer Florence who was a dear darling to the engineer. On reaching Port Florence after long struggle with hurdles faced by the Nandi worriers the engineer had a passion for the Port as the love he had for his wife Florence and named the Port, Port Florence. This name Port Florence should always be remembered today, tomorrow and the foreseeable future as the historical event of the Port which created gateway of western Kenya to the rest of the World.

    The town is strategically located at the shore of Kavirondo gulf of Lake Victoria which is the second fresh water lake in the World after Lake Superior in United States of America. The lake covers 27,000 square miles connecting both Republic of Tanzania on the Southern side and Uganda on the Western side.

    In early 1970s up to mid 1980s during the period Uganda had political problems over leadership, majority of Ugandans used Kisumu town as their source of supply of food to major towns like Jinja, Entebe and Kampala City.

    Due to its strategic position, the government should have considered the viability and the potentiality of expanding the airport to meet international standards three or two decades ago as this could have been another source of income generating project to the government. Nevertheless it eventually came regardless of the bottlenecks which were in the government systems of the two former regimes

    Local residents have highly welcomed the government move to finance the expansion of the airport to meet the international standards. Once commissioned, the entire western Kenya, Nyanza province, Western Province, North Mara district Tanzania, Eastern Uganda, South Rift, and North Rift Valley will have international connection to the rest of the World.

    However, locals have different views on renaming the airport. Recently it was quoted in the press that the former Great South Nyanza which comprise of Luo community, the Kisii Community and Kurai community together Luo Community in Central Nyanza have unanimously passed that the airport be renamed after the Late Jaramogi Oginga Odinga as Jaramogi Oginga Odinga International Airport (JOOIA)

    This is highly criticized by different communities, majority of the Luos in South Nyanza, the entire Kisii community and Kuria community for lack of consultation. They have highlighted that the airport will not benefit only residents of Nyanza Province but the entire Kenya as a whole and mostly residents of both South and North Rift Valley the Masais, Kipsigis, Nandis and Western Province the Luhya community for horticultural export

    In view of the above, they are of the opinion that serious consultation amongst the communities which are beneficiaries of the airport are imperative to ensure that the new name given is acceptable to all. Other people have also come up with different names like Port Florence Kisumu International Airport (PFKIA), Port Florence International Airport (PFIA) Kavirondo Gulf Kisumu International Airport (KGKIA). The idea is change from usual Kenyan traditional norms of naming the International airports after individuals in power like Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) Nairobi and Moi International Airport Mombasa and give it a different outlook


  5. Yogo Mlanya

    Bob kindly note that Jomo Kenyatta International Airport though opened for business when Mzee Kenyatta was still alive,was simply known as new airport until its official opening in October,1978 after Kenyatta’s death that it was given Kenyatta’s name so it not correct to say that it was named after someone who was in power.As for renaming of Kisumu Airport.I dot see anything wrong with it being called Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Int.Airpot.My reason for this is to compensate for the fact that nothing is named after Jaramogi in Kenya’s capital city of Nairobi!

  6. Otieno Agwanda

    Let the Airport be Kisumo International Airport. Lets name Nyanza Provincial Hospital, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Provincial Hospital (JOOPH). Also, Moi Stadium Kisumu MUST urgently be renamed Job Omino Memorial Stadium.

  7. Yogo Mlanya

    Otieno Agwanda,I agree with your sentiments except that we no longer have provinces under the new constitution and therefore there will no Provincial Hospitals!


    I totally agree with your concerns. However, i would be even more glad if these heroes were named after places outside Luo Nyanza since they are National heroes. For example, we should have ‘Raila Sports Ground’ in Nairobi or even Nyeri and at the same time ‘Kibaki museum’ in Kisumu. Otherwise naming our heroes in our home alone can lead to marginalisation of the Luos and making a City like kisumu a ‘Luo city’,diminishing its outlook. If our heroes are recognised nationally and internationally we will be more proud, Just like there is Oginga Odinga road in Eldoreand Jomo Kenyatta Street in Kisumu. Please do not make Kalenjins change the name of Oginga Odinga Road in Eldoret to ‘moi Road’ I also believe that some of the places named in Kikuyuland and Kisii that were mentioned above are private properties. Let us not rename the places that already have names but develope new places and give them names of our heroes. thank you.

  9. fred odhiambo

    Please stop sleeping.

    Find institutions that u can just name after ur so called heros and villains. Kindly build them or even participate in building a few. You can then distribute the namings as you so wish. INSTITUTION ARE NOT BABIES THAT WOMEN CARRY TO TERM SINGLE HANDEDLY THEN PASS OVER TO THEIR BUSSY ELSEWHWERE MEN TO GIVE NAMES THAT ONLY THEM, THE HUSBANDS, CAN EXPLAIN.

    Wake up jaluo.

  10. Jandege

    My humble view is that the management / performance of the institutions is where emphasis needs to be laid. A mere name does not really contribute towards the success of an institution, perhaps only preserving communal heritage (remember the Nyayo/Coca Cola Stadium naming saga!). Let us reorder our priorities and redirect our energies to those matters of significance.

  11. Ojo Rateng

    Well spoken,well thought out though I beg to differ abit.
    Kindly let’s give names by contemprorary evaluation such that Jaramogi’s name be scripted on a landmark probably of his time and achievements i.e Nyanza General hosptial or a great Luo cultural/museam-conference centre or even rename Riat university to Jaramogi’s among others….. Kisumu airport as a future hub to entire East Africa should bear heritage cover to neibhouring countries, let alone tribes around it. I suggest Kisumu Intl Airport….simple as such!..thanks.

  12. fredrick odhiambo

    Thanks for differing a bit, but lets encourage the luo nyanza to build structures. Honestly a casual glimpse at Kisumu reveals a town with great potential but remain highly and largely untaped.I have bought a small plot in Kisumu I look forward to demonstrate what am talking about.I wish each other KISUMIAN could arm himself with that kind of thought.

  13. james otieno

    I agree with all of you who say Kisumu International Airport. Our orientation must always be institution based, system based and not hero worshiping. One man’s hero is another man’s villain and I will want to stop and take stock of the true value to society of some the names we hear flaunted all over the place. I dare say that our degree of hero worship in Luo Nyanza has been one of the biggest contributors to our regression. We look at people in relation to their family lineage and not individual capability. I think that time has come for us as a community that has given heart and soul to some individuals for so long to ask them to account for the time they have been in leadership and how their “leadership” has elevated the Luos to economic power, academic power, etc. Who does not know that the “Luo Nation” was the academic leader in this country and that instead of using this to build economic power, we have been relegated to the bottom of education, under the watchful eye of so-called heros.

  14. Justin

    I have known leo from the time I distributed kenya times, daily Nation,people . Weekend mail , taifa lleo and other periodicals. I am historian myself and came across this piece of information when I was trying to research on my Grand mother Esther Nyakerario Nyasinga who had A suba ascentry , and she worked as a nominated counillor seven years at the African local native council and she was nominated by the late Musa Nyandusi Ayacko .My grand father was pastor the whole of Gusii land and was among the founders of SDA church 101 years ago he was born 1889, paul is 1891 they were about the same age. If you have further information about my grandmam kindly submit to me. How ever I concur with you that all those you have indicated should be honoured by the county governments have institutions named after them. And more so immidiate arrangements should be put in place to implement .thank you Justin Omari Nyarangi Nyamira county

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