When Kenya’s first Vice President, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, died in 1994 at the Aga Khan Hospital in Kisumu, the family sought the government’s assistance in airlifting his body to Nairobi.
Current Siaya Senator, James Orengo, broke the news to the then President Daniel Moi who promised the government’s support.
The assigned aircraft arrived in Kisumu from Nairobi at 12.24am and by 1am, it was again airborne with its sad cargo of Jaramogi’s body, accompanied by his doctor, Orengo and other family members.
Raila and his wife, Ida, accompanied by other friends and family were waiting at the Eastleigh Airforce Base, where they had been told the body would be brought and further instructions would follow.
“After about an hour, an official car with a driver and passenger came out through the gate and passed us without a glance.
“Shortly afterwards, an airbase official came to the gate and told us to go home, as there was no body coming and we had been given false information,” Raila recalled in his memoir, The Flame of Freedom.
When one of Raila’s friends contacted Orengo, who they expected was aboard the plane with the former VP’s remains, he answered the call in an ambulance headed to Lee Funeral Home.
“The plane had apparently come to a halt at some distance from the terminal building, where the occupants had been surprised to find no family members waiting for them,” Odinga narrated.
When Raila and company arrived at the funeral home, they were astonished to find the same officer who they had spotted passing them at the airbase.
“He was clearly drunk and could only demand belligerently, “What’s your problem?” of disgusted mourners who railed at him.
“Clearly, the problem lay on the side of a very jittery government, nervous and flailing about how to handle this very significant political event,” Odinga protested.