Meet the quiet man who sacrificed his political seat for Raila’s father, Jaramogi

Jaramogia and Ougo
  • Ougo stepped down in 1981 in a gamble to enable Jaramogi, capture the Bondo seat
  • It was terrible disappointment for Ougo after Jaramogi was barred from contesting
  • This was after Jaramogi inadvertently referred to Mzee Jomo Kenyatta as a land grabber

He enjoys the dubious distinction as perhaps the quietest legislator who has walked through the doors of Parliament Buildings. 

Apart from his quiet nature, the late Jonah Hezekiah Ougo Ochieng', a former MP for Bondo is also easily the most selfless legislator the country has ever had.

The 86-year-old Ougo was a prominent member of the Luo Council of Elders when he took his final bow at Kisumu's Avenue Hospital

So economical was Ougo with his words that songs were composed to celebrate his peculiar style.

Quiet demeanor

One of the songs composed by a traditional nyatiti artiste had a particularly memorable line about his quiet demeanor.

The line went thus: Ougo wuod Ochieng' ling' berne, ling berne ling ber nOugo (Ougo son of Ochieng loves keeping quiet, silence is Ougo's relish).

Ougo resigned as the principal of Friend's School Kamusinga to go into politics in 1973 when his friend Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, his teacher and mentor, was barred from contesting the 1974 General Election on the pretext that he was not a loyal Kanu member.

Jaramogi threw his weight behind Ougo in the race and, as would be expected, the former teacher easily beat his closest challenger William Odongo Omamo. He would repeat the feat in the 1979 elections.

But is a move that caught many by surprise, Ougo stepped down in 1981 in a gamble to enable his mentor, Jaramogi, capture the Bondo seat.

It was terrible disappointment for Ougo and the Luo community in general when Jaramogi was barred from contesting the subsequent by-election.

This was after he inadvertently referred to founding President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta as a land grabber at a public function in Mombasa.

The unexpected turn of events saw William Odongo Omamo sneak back to Parliament.

Ougo once said of his selfless move: "I was not bribed or coerced. I just opted to sacrifice my political ambitions for this man who was my teacher and mentor. I honestly believed that Jaramogi was going to liberate Kenya."

Ougo, an alumnus of Maseno School and Alliance High School, went to Makerere University College where he majored in education and returned to teach at his alma mater, Maseno School, in 1951.

Hussein Obama

Among his students was Barack Obama Senior, the father of US President Barrack Hussein Obama.

He also had teaching stints at Ambira and Maranda schools before he proceeded to the US and Australia for further studies.

His students at Maranda where he rose to the position of principal included former Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

According to his younger brother Dr Nelson Auma Ochieng, Ougo returned from Australia in 1965 to become the first African principal of Siriba Teachers Training College (now part of Maseno University). He also served in a similar capacity at Friends School Kamusinga.

His friend and confidant, Okiri Pacho, says Ougo talked little in Parliament because he perceived most of his parliamentary colleagues as sycophants.

  "He once confided in me that he found the quality of debate of many of his colleagues was unimpressive," recalls Pacho.

 He is survived by a widow, Mrs Alice Atieno Ougo, and five children.