If there is one week I would want to forget quickly it is this.
A single tragedy turned what could have been an ordinary week into one that left me in shock, sadness and nostalgia.
The sudden death of ODM legislator Otieno Kajwang’ at the prime of his political career stunned me.
As one who doesn’t believe in everything I read in social networks, I had to wander to alternative sources to confirm news that indeed the king of mapambano had exited the stage.
And being away from home and cut off from purveyors of instant information, it took me time to consume the news and accept the inevitable.
I knew Kajwang’ in 2002 when I joined the Liberal Democratic Party straight from the corridors of the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation. Even then, he was a dogmatic oppositionist. Always energised and ready for any type of kerfuffle – whether of a verbal or a physical nature – Kajwang’ was the engine of the party when we battled Mwai Kibaki after he reneged on the power-sharing agreement with LDP. He ranted and harangued but Kibaki never budged.
Except for the period in Kibaki’s second term when he held a Cabinet position, Kajwang’ was always the vanguard of opposition ranks both in and out of Parliament, playing his role with copious enthusiasm until death suddenly found him. He was an ebullient debater; and an argumentatively stubborn back-bencher in the august House.His stint in the Senate was short and undramatic.
I am convinced Kajwang’ loved politics more than anything else. He was thoughtful and calculated behind closed doors but noisy and vivacious before crowds. When he spoke, he was proverbial but not sententious; blunt but not condescending; contemptuous and bombastic most of the time, but not to an extent of wishing harm to anyone.
Kajwang’ was just Kajwang’. Many didn’t take him seriously because of the way he clowned in public. He had an innate sense of personal pride like so many of his kinsmen from the lake region, but who says pride is odious. If he appeared somewhat obstinate it was because he didn’t care much about what others thought of him.
Yes, he was a political irritant to the ruling élite but he was also a patriot, a democrat and a principled and consistent leader, one of few politicians whose support for party leader, Raila Odinga, remained intact to the end.
Those who expected more from this son of Mbita were disappointed.
But if there is one disillusionment Kajwang is taking to the grave is the fact that he never lived long enough to enjoy a Raila-led Administration, something he fought so hard, and for so long, to achieve.
May God rest his soul in eternal peace.