President Jomo Kenyatta turned to America to buttress his stuttering government against the surging Oginga Odinga. 50 years later, his son, Uhuru, has rushed to China and Russia to salvage Kenya’s fltering fortunes while Oginga’s scion, Raila, is cozying with te Americans.



Two noisy events in the past year could rewrite Kenya’s political landscape in a big way.

Uhuru has gone East (China and Russia) to seek the economic benevolence the West (America and Europe) has denied Kenya. Within a year, he has travelled to China and Russia and attracted “goodies” worth hundreds of billions of shillings – including the controversial Sh342 billion Standard gauge Railway.

The trip last May by Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang was symbolic – not just because of the finances he left in its wake. It sent a message to America and Europe – and his opponents too – that he, Uhuru, is politically resilient. His allies are not necessarily in the West.

Meanwhile, Raila Odinga’s three-month sojourn in the United States appears to generate much heat on the political front. Adversaries believe he used the trip to amass requisite resources and skills to oust the Jubilee government of Uhuru Kenyatta.

In fact, cynics are in haste to link him to the series of bomb blasts and militia killings that have rocked the country.

On his part, the leader of Opposition, trashes the accusations. His allies in t are convinced the Jubilee Coalition’s “rope of failure” is being used to hang the government. Jubilee is looking for a scape-goat, they say.

Nevertheless, political analysts are now drawing parallels between the current happenings and the political schemes that defined Kenya in the early 1960s.

Uhuru’s camp appears to be accusing rally of acquiring funding in the US to frustrate the government. Ironically, as will be seen below, 50 years ago, the Kenyatta government accused Oginga of seeking USSR/China’s hand to destabilise Kanu government.

It is about echoes of the past.


Indeed, exactly 50 years ago last month, the then United States Ambassador to Kenya William Attwood called for emergency talks with Prime Minister Mzee Jomo Kenyatta.  The previous month Vice President Jaramogi  Odinga and Cabinet Minister Joseph Murumbi had just arrived from United Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) and China armed with financial, military and technical goodies.

Of course there was heightened tension between the then two World superpowers, USSR (which later disintegrated into Russia and satellite states) and America. China was an USSR ally. The two nations, America and USSR, sponsored terrorist activities in Africa in a veiled strategy to destabilize the other’s influence.

During the trip, Oginga Odinga (Double O, as Attwood used to call him) made his Russian guests aware that he was at home with socialism, a euphysm for Communism. USSR gave him arms to fight the shifta, and funds (to develop Russian hospital and equip Kenya Broadcasting Corporation).

Indeed, not only had Murumbi and Odinga been ‘‘lavishly’’ entertained throughout the month long trip to USSR and China, they had also acquired arms apart from the possibility that they may have increased their knowledge about communism and its practices

The communists were all aware that they had an early in Double O. Two years earlier, he had told the media thus, ‘‘It is currently apparent that socialist education in Russia has generated faster progress than capitalist education in America ’’.

 ‘‘Odinga was chosen to visit Soviet because the communists thought that one day (he) might occupy the highest (office in Kenya)’’, Alan Hutchinson wrote in his book, China’s African Revolution.

After the meeting, the two – Kenyatta and Attwood – agreed on a plan to tame Odinga. But Kenyatta demanded that the Americans stop financing Tom Mboya, because the Economic Planning Minister’s controlled Kenya Federation of Labour (KFL) was enjoying funding from the CIA-backed American Federation of Labour and International Confederation of Trade Unions (ICFTU). KFL was later renamed COTU.

Mboya the eloquent political schemer was rumoured to be close to the world-revered Kennedy Family of the United States. Kenyatta was concerned that the 34-year old Mboya was coveted the presidency

 ‘‘For balance, Kenyatta assured (the Ambassador) that Russian and Chinese aid to the leftist leader, Odinga, would also end ’’, says RAMPART, a CIA-sponsored publication.

Odinga’s allies were Bildad Kaggia, Pio Gama Pinto, Achieng Oneko, Munyua Waiyaki, John Keen, Dennis Akumu. In fact, Ken had once planned to form the Communist Party of Kenya.

‘‘I knew the effort (to create the party) would be against the hill because of the American and the British. Naturally, I had a number of recruits whose names I cannot divulge now but certainly Odinga and Pinto were at the helm … In the absence of democratic principles, institutions of violent revolution would have been an alternative course of action. That was at the back of our minds’’.

Attwood warned Kenyatta that his rule was under siege. In fact, the dreaded Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had picked up some disturbing signals. The communists were targeting Kenya, and Odinga was a key cog in their plans, the diplomat warned the 79-year old Kenyatta.

More disturbing to the Americans was that Kenya’s position was strategic to Soviet design of transferring weapons to countries such as Congo (later renamed Zaire and back to Congo).

A year after the meeting, Gama Pinto was assassinated. And three months after the killing of the young politician, Kenyatta warned suspected communists. ‘‘To us communism is as bad as imperialism … it is sad to think that you can get more food, more hospitals or schools by crying ‘‘communism’’, Kenyatta said in his Madaraka Day Speech, 1965.

‘‘It is naïve to think that there is no danger of imperialism from the East. In world power politics, the East has as much designs upon us as the West and would like us to serve their own interests. This is why I reject Communism … ‘I speak plainly on this subject today because time has come for us to do so in order to leave no room for confusion.’’

(According to Collins English Dictionary, communism is ‘‘the belief that private ownership should be abolished and all work and property should be shared by the community’’. On the other hand, Capitalism is an ‘‘economic system based on the private ownership of the means of production and distribution’’)

By 1967, Attwood was a happy man. ‘‘Odinga and the demagogues were out of office. The men moving up … were unemotional, hardworking and practical minded’’, he was quoted by RAMPART. Following CIA machination, Murumbi dumped Odinga and when Kenyatta sacked his vice president, he opted to replace him with the former.

In 1969, Israel Otieno, a student KANU government claimed to be sympathetic to the KPU was charged with planning to topple President Kenyatta. The choice of a Luo person didn’t miss the eyes of political analysts.

Fifty years later, the uhuru government is convinced Oginga’s son, Raila, is out to topple the government. Uhuru’s allies in Jubilee have even gone ahead to isolate Raila’s ethnic community as “trouble-makers”.

Fifty years later, things have come full circle. Engineer Raila who schooled and trained in the then East German, a communist nation, now faces West. Just before the elections, a leading British newspaper headlined, “If Raila Odinga wins Kenya’s elections, Britain’s interests are secure, but if Uhuru Kenyatta wins…”

Last year, he was quoted by, thus “I think governments in Africa should define the relationship with China because China is, of course, interested in a number of things in Africa.” “We’re not going to import retailers … people who are coming here with textiles and so on to come and sell here because we also have got an abundant labor force in our country, which is able to do all this petty trade in our country.”

Kenyatta’s scion is fond of the Russians and Chinese. He warmly welcomed Li Keqiang yet his father gave the then Chinese premier Zhou Enlai a very cold shoulder during his Africa visit in May 1964.

During visit last month, Uhuru Kenyatta was all lyrical. “Kenya and China’s venerable friendship has reliably yielded mutual advantage. China also, as we all recognise, possesses substantial political, diplomatic and financial assets, which, if fully applied, would be a game-changer in the region’s peace and security effort. ”

“Premier Li’s visit coincides with the anniversary of a historic visit to Africa by His Excellency Zhou Enlai, one of the great leaders of the last century – remembered in Africa, and elsewhere, as a statesman of wit and subtlety, remarkable administrative ability, and outstanding foresight.

“Zhou Enlai brought a timely revolutionary message, stressing Asia and Africa’s common struggles against imperialism and colonialism. He reminded us that it was also our shared objective to slay the dragons of poverty and underdevelopment.


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