Raila: How I escaped an assassination attempt

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Raila Odinga

“Someone attacked me attacked in front of my house which led to my admission to Nairobi Hospital. It’s while receiving treatment that someone was after my life,”

By Doreen Anne Sitati and Fidel Mbaraka, Kakamega

Raila Odinga is loved and loathed in equal measure. He has fought many battles spanning three decades in the struggle for the second liberation during the oppressive Kanu regime.

Raila was a fierce critic of the late former President Daniel Arap Moi who ruled with an iron fist.

Government officials were unhappy with Raila’s activities wanted him dead on grounds that he was a threat to national security.

Raila Odinga

But Raila got wind of the plan and was whisked out the country by the Catholic Church to Norway through Uganda.

In a tet-a-tet interview, Raila narrates how he escaped from the country to Norway when it became apparently clear that his life was in danger.

“Someone attacked me attacked in front of my house which led to my admission to Nairobi Hospital. It’s while receiving treatment that someone was after my life,” said Raila

“That evening, I was transferred to Rang’ala Catholic Mission in Ugenya. No one knew I was around. Later in the evening, i was taken to a deserted beach in Bondo, Sirongo Beach, from there we boarded a paddled a boat to Ndende Island,” said Raila

The Azimio la Umoja leader tells of a harrowing experience of how he was evacuated through the grace of the Catholic church by Father Mark Opiyo and Sister Dian who was from the United States.

He said Father had a collar on and the sister was dressed in white, he was also given another collar and after putting on, his name changed to Father Augustine from Machakos.

“That evening, I was transferred to Rang’ala Catholic Mission in Ugenya. No one knew I was around. Later in the evening, i was taken to a deserted beach in Bondo, Sirongo Beach, from there we boarded a paddled a boat to Ndende Island,” said Raila

Raila Odinga

 It’s from there that he came across Robert Njura, a teenager who saved his life in 1991. The late Hezron Orori was the one who made arrangements for that mission.

Raila said that he met some Ugandans businessmen who had come to Kenya to bring timber and going back with manufactured products like mattresses, sugar and clothes.

These men were not only businessmen but they also had a human heart. They gave Raila and the others a ride on their boat. Since it was at the night, they used the moon and stars light to navigate through.

 They sailed and passed the Marketers Island. They reached Ugandan waters and rain started pouring. In the boat there was a lady who was unwell, from the kindness of his heart, Raila took off his jacket and covered the sick lady. They spent the night in the island.

“There was an inspection at the entrance of Owen Falls Bridge and everyone was being asked for his identification documents. I had also tax certificates that showed I had paid my taxes for the last three years. We were allowed to proceed to Kampala and was welcomed by my longterm friend, Shem Luanga,” said Raila

The following morning, these men helped Raila get his papers and later in the afternoon they resumed their journey and at this moment, he was travelling as Joseph Ojiwa Wadea.

While on lake it started to rain again, so they were forced to go into another island and there they found one man who was living alone with his family. This guy was a Kenyan and a relative of the late Robert Ouko

“This man was so kind to us. He gave us shelter despite being strangers. After the heavy downpour, we continued with our journey,” said Raila.

RAILA ODINGA

They docked at a shore which was next to Ugandan town, Iganga. Since they arrived there at 2am in the morning, they were forced to spend the night there.

The following morning, they went to Iganga and took a taxi and drove up to Jinja where they took another taxi.

“There was an inspection at the entrance of Owen Falls Bridge and everyone was being asked for his identification documents. I had also tax certificates that showed I had paid my taxes for the last three years. We were allowed to proceed to Kampala and was welcomed by my longterm friend, Shem Luanga,” said Raila

He said he spent some time in Uganda whilst being registered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), saying he they managed to find him a country of adaptation and through the aid of a good Samaritan, he was able to get an air ticket to travel to Norway.

ODM leader Raila Odinga

 The search for this man did not stop there. They continued to look for him again in Uganda, this forced him to be camouflaged again and he departed as a Ugandan Muslim, dressed in a kanzu and went by the name Hajir Omar. That’s how he boarded the plan from Entebbe to Amsterdam then enroute to Norway.

On his arrival in Norway, he was adapted there and given an office by the Norwegian government for handling the Forum for Restoration of Democracy (Ford) external offices.

Raila became the voice of reason for the FORD leaders that remained in Kenya through a series of interviews in BBC and Voice of America trying to seek international support to restore democracy in Kenya.

 Raila drew the international attention on what was happening in Kenya and was able to mobilize a lot of support for the struggle towards second liberation.

End

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