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Why Hon Henry Obwocha Commandered Respect In His Nyamira County and Beyond

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FARE THEE WELL HON. OBWOCHA
Am saddened to learn of the death of Hon Henry Onyancha Obwocha, those of us who grew up in rural Nyamira county in the 90s can attest to the fact that the former minister was in his own political class.

My peers from Nyamira township and its environs will remember a lot of things about waziri but the most remarkable is that one Saturday morning in 1991/1992 when he (Hon Obwocha) hosted Jaramogi Oginga Odinga and the young turks brigade of kina James Orengo, Raila Odinga, Abuya Abuya, Paul Muite etc and for the first ever pro-multi party public rally that was addressed by national leaders. Although we were in primary school, we gathered courage, sneaked out of Church service to attend the rally, you guessed it right, it was a very risky venture, police dispersed the crowds and we tasted tear gas for the very 1st time and gunshots in the air hahahaha

As an MP he passed by our school, yes that big might village boys school hahaha and he inspired us some of us to venture into economics, accounting and management as possible career paths. He made politics look easy and interesting.
Well, back in the days (mid 90s) we composed songs for him during the many harambee meetings he presided over in the constituency, I remember one time he invited Hon. Shadrack Manga, Charles Nyachae, Moses Ntimama (RIP) among others to contribute towards building of a church among other fond memories.

Hon Obwocha was a top debater in the 7th and 8th parliament and a headache to President Moi’s regime to say the least. I remember late 90s when Mzee Moi was busy buying opposition politicians and this son of the soil told him off to his face at a public rally in Nyamira, the events of that day will later get another son of the soil one Tom Openda then chair of some nondescript state agency into trouble for misleading Mzee that Obwocha was ready for ‘business’. (Openda is deceased if I am not mistaken?)

Hon Obwocha just like his counterparts; Governor Kiraitu Murungi, H E Mukhisa Kituyi, H.E Raila Odinga, James Orengo SC, the late VP H.E Wamalwa Kijana among others realized that all politics is local and thus in 2002 he joined the rest of OmoGusii in campaigning for H.E Simeon Nyachae to be Kenya’s 3rd president (ofcoz Simeon Nyachae was the best President Kenya never had) and emerged 3rd overall (Bronze medal, not so bad).

After 2005 referendum, he hit political menopause and was unable to read the mood on the ground and also failed to optimize his position; for example how can a sitting minister lose a parliamentary election by less than 400 votes? Were he not a democrat he would have recaptured his parliamentary seat in 2007 by use of state machinery but he was a man of honor, he accepted and moved on.

Waziri was ‘a warm’ person and always sober, he was never personal in matters politics, I remember in 07 while he was in Kibaki’s presidential campaign team I on the other hand served as mtu wa mkono kwa Raila’s ODM pentagon, we met over lunch somewhere in Kilimani area (lenana road) by chance and had healthy argument to which he concluded with a remark kina obirore okage mbinde, that loosely translates ‘go slow to earn your experience’. Well, we met a few months later in 2008 just a week before my flight to Europe for studies, he laughed hard when I confessed that RAO’s men had ‘rukaad’ read shortchanged us but waziri William Ruto had offered me a job in one of the parastatals and that I had opted out to go for further studies instead, he told me that was a good decision…..

To many of us Waziri Obwocha was only second to Hon. George Moseti Anyona since Semion Nyachae was in a league of his own with kina George Lawrence Sagini, Zachary Onyonka and Prof Ongeri. Waziri become the first to hold a full cabinet position from Nyamira side of the larger Gusii.

His humble background was something that many of us village boys and girls identified with, his school fees was paid from proceeds of Busaa/Changaa brewing (a traditional alcohol) while for some of us it was via selling sugarcane, guavers and terere/vegetables omena and Githeri/nyonyo plus porridge to fundis and handmen who were employed by Muhindi to construct Nyamira District headquarters…

Two weeks ago I found myself seated next to Hon Obwocha at a funeral in Kijauri, Nyansiongo, waziri looked a pale shadow of himself, very frail, he told me that he had been ill and that God’s miracle was working, i felt sorry and did say a brief prayer for him silently.

Fare thee well waziri, my all-time favorite Gusii MP. May God comfort his family and the great people of Gusii and Kenya kwa jumla!

By Jeff Nyamboga

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