ODM leader Raila Odinga says he is looking forward to meeting Robert Njura, who was a form three student at Makunda Secondary School in 1991 when he helped the ODM leader escape assassination from the then Moi’s government.
In a social media post that has since gone viral on Tuesday morning, Odinga said the journey to a new Kenya has been rough, reminiscing on how Njura steered him in a rickety boat across Lake Victoria into Uganda on his way to Norway.
”The journey to a new Kenya has been rough. I am looking forward to meeting Robert Njura shortly, a then 19-year old form three student at Makunda Secondary school in Budalangi who steered me in a rickety boat across Lake Victoria to Uganda as I fled to exile in Norway in 1991,” Raila said.
Travelling under different names, sometimes dressed as a priest and other times as a Sheikh, Raila staged a dramatic escape from Kenya by boat at night, through Lake Victoria to Uganda then to Norway, to avoid arrest just before a 1991 Forum for Restoration of Democracy rally at Kamukunji, Nairobi.
That day, Odinga was introduced to Kisumu and Ugenya as Father Augustine from Machakos, complete with a priest’s robe. He arrived in Uganda under the name of Joseph Ojiwa Wadeya. By the time he was leaving Uganda for Norway, his name had changed to Haji Omar, going to Mecca on pilgrimage, complete with a kanzu and a fez. The Lang’ata MP would probably be dead today had he not made this dramatic exit.
Raila remembers in his biography that as the Ford Young Turks and the six elderly men were mobilising for the Kamukunji rally, a US Embassy official, Alan Eastham, told him they had intelligence that the Government was panicking and blaming Raila for all the tension that had gripped the country then.
According to the US Embassy, the Government believed Raila was the man behind the movement despite the fact that Raila held no leadership position in Ford. The Embassy told Raila that he was likely to be arrested two days before the October 5, 1991 rally. It was not going to be an ordinary arrest.
“The Moi Government had concluded that Raila no longer feared detention and Eastham warned that they could do him physical harm or assassinate him. The advice was that Raila should take care,” the biography, Raila Odinga: An Enigma in Kenyan Politics, says.
Police raided Raila’s offices in Agip House, but missed him, as he had gone to lawyer James Orengo’s office within the building. A team of lawyers, including Martha Karua, Japheth Shamalla, Martha Koome and media houses were soon at hand to witness the siege.
The raid was foiled. But the struggle was not over. It was after this that Raila, Orengo and Anyang’ Nyong’o decided that it was too risky to play games with “a desperate enemy”.