top of page
  • Writer's pictureStephen Osieyo


Updated: Sep 6, 2020

In every true story there is always a chapter or two that nobody wants to deal with so it is very quickly forgotten. I have nicknamed such chapters deleted chapters. When I picked Dr Auma Obama’s Memoirs, titled, “And then Life happens”, I was expecting It to be life in Germany but it is closer to me as a Luo than I thought. Actually it is so close to us and makes us all guilty by omission of not entering any written aspects of our lives. The book is not about the PhD holder only . It is about the nyar Jaluo in independent Kenya. I even identify with some of the life challenges and great times Dr Auma Obama went through. I think Kenyan women will see themselves in Dr Auma Obama memoirs more than in Michelle Obama culturally and geographically removed book or professor Wangari Mathai earlier generation biography. If it was left to me I would make a compulsory reading set in all schools in Kenya because it talks about the challenges of the now and here Kenyan woman and generally young Kenyans caught in a cultural transfer from a yesteryear lifestyle they are not concerned with but much involved in/with. The beauty and a lesson to learn is how Dr Auma Obama deals with that part of her environment. For example when she talks about the funeral and the cultural issues that arose say with regards to her late step mother, she does it without patronising. She does like somebody talking about baptism sunday in church. Not judging Africans and yet having married in Europe and working with a powerful NGO she could arrogate herself the role of whipping Africans or Luos.

In Haiti they have a proverb that says, “there are secrets that you keep away from yourself”. The equivalent in dholuo seems to be “Dug meru kata ineno to ok dipim ni ng’ato” (you never talk of your mother’s weakest moments). However, I expected something much more like the years his mother left them and moved on. How she dealt with the fathers killing was amazing. It is not the diatribe of “we waz robed”. No she dealt with these issues very scientifically. Even the much maligned marriages of the Luos, Dr Auma Obama deals with them the way a European would deal with their own European culture. I love her just for that.

But then again how many Luos have been killed in Kenya and it was just brushed aside as the usual Luo cry-wolf business. After Independence Kenya resembled South Africa now or South Sudan now. A country dealing with an all-powerful former violent people jubilantly in control and roaming the country with a readiness to kill. There had been no rehabilitation. Probably it is the killing that has persisted to date. The stories of perceived killings that are never concluded. Maybe this is what drove Dr Auma Obama to deal with this subject differently but firmly.

Dr Obama’s death passed without anybody suspecting foul play except the very inner family and no word got around until reading of one of the books coming out during President Obama’s run to US presidency. Sometimes you group it with many conspiracy theories in Luo land. It is only when Dr Auma Obama methodically pulls it apart piece by piece that you begin to appreciate that this was not an ordinary death.

Then your mind races to what if Tom Mboya had been subdued on 5th July 1969 in that chemist together with the Asian family without violent gun shots? It would have been explained away so easily. What if Dr Oukos death had been stage managed on Kisumu Busia road around marijuana smoking Bunyore tribesmen of Luanda market as a road traffic accident? With the notoriety of violence amongst the marijuana smokers of that area, the violent death of Dr Ouko would have been easily explained. In fact, much more easily explained than Dr Ongili Owiti and Mr Aggrey Ambala of Gem.

Then your head begins to run through a roster of deaths that had had foul play symptoms written all over them as murder but nobody followed up. People like General Ohonde of Ukwala with an unusually longer twisted neck than necessary; Father Isadore Onyango and even easy to place cases like brilliant lawyer Akoko Mboya and footballing ace Nicodemus Odhiambo Arudhi. How many Kenyans have lost their lives because we inherited a bloody nation without cleansing our bloody hands unlike our neighbours that never shed blood and still attained Independence? For every conspiracy death you have heard of, take a closer look, you might just end up with restless grave like that of Dr Obama Senior.

The Killing of a Harvard graduate.

I really enjoyed Dr Auma Obama's easy and laid back writing. Dr Auma Obama does not take the long way round. She talks like a Nya Ugenya Kager fondly known as nyager Oloro tweyo ga otamba maber. Coincidentally Dr Auma Obama also just like nyager oloro has no time for well-done headscarves, trendy European wigs or hair do, Congolese peroxide but by the time she finishes with you in this book, you will know she has been working on you and anybody in her path.

In tracing her father’s death, she picks up on hard evidence that even a naked body of a woman laid beside him like Chris Musando's body will not have helped. Dr Obama Senior is always given the image of a drunkard, has accidents etc but would such a person occupy such a high position and still leave an indelible mark.

Scene of accident.

The Elgon road accident like Argwings Kodhek’s death happened at some place in the upmarket part of Nairobi in a straight road where it is alleged the vehicle hit a tree and without any damage to the car or the tree or even the body of Dr Obama himself. He died on the spot of internal injuries

Where Dr Obama had the accident was very near the house of a cabinet minister with state security. Now none of the state security officers or the sentry or the support staff went out to investigate that an accident has taken place 100 yards near the house they are guarding and maybe it is a tanker set to blow up or maybe it was a visitor headed up this way. And for two days the intel set up to eavesdrop on the government ministers did not pick anything. Dr Auma Obama is spot on here. This is no ordinary accidents because no accident took place here. The way it was being ignored meant that something big has happened here.

Eye Witness

Apparently a public transport vehicle noticed a small group at about 100 metres near the cabinet ministers house and drove on without stopping. Maybe they wanted to stop but were urged to keep moving but that is not important. What is important is the security to Vip does not recall such an incident.

Worse still the top brass Kenyan security in charge does not see anything wrong that a senior government officer dies within the vicinity of a government minister and his own staff has no record of that incident for 48 hours. Who really was in charge of the intel in that area?

Don’t be fooled that they were too busy. Let me tell you a story. I was once in charge of running football team. I was like the chief administrator. Then my team manager who also doubled up as "Kenya's Scotland Yard" officer had just been to the laundry one morning during tea break and packed his suits in the boot and went back to the office around Kenyatta avenue. When he went to pick his vehicle to go for lunch, he checked the boot and there were no suits. So unmoved he proceeded for lunch as usual. He came back and parked the car on the general area near Kenyatta Avenue and went back to work as if nothing had happened. By the time he was leaving the office at 5.00pm to come to our Jamhuri training ground a miracle had happened. The person who stole the suits before lunch had returned them.

My team manager opened the car boot and saw the suits and was so disgusted at the violation by the thieves that that he did not bother to check. For over 2 weeks, he drove the car with the suits and parked the car at the same spot and nobody ever touched the car. It is only when we were going away on away games that that he moved them so that they collect dirt on dusty away trips. My point is that if Kenyan security had a register for wrong guys on a Nairobi street like Kenyatta avenue, Nairobi then surely they knew the hoodlums around Dr Obama’s scene of crime. Unless the hoodlums had been cleared for a security operation. In any case any serious person would ask around what happened at the accident.

The Undisturbed body

The body lying at the mortuary had no visible signs. Of course by now it had been drained of blood but was covered with some grey film of powder, the one that resembles finger print dusting powder. Reason being that it was internal injury that never bled. Remarkably his expensive watch was untouched even by body snatchers before the mortuary. And even the good Samaritans who chanced on his body and left it untouched and his property secure had left his personal property untouched. Don't ask about the meeting papers. Somehow there was something so untoward of his body that nobody wanted to steal anything. Besides the internal injuries does not normally kill somebody instantly on the spot. The vehicle like Argwings Kodheks vehicle had allegedly been towed away so soon. But a Miguda-Alila also a top administrative servant told me at lunch time that he saw the vehicle still at the scene. It’s a long time ago, don’t rely on my account. May be there has been anybody like Miguda- Alila seconded to Research Institute in Industrial area. Maybe there is even no research para-statal KIRDI. Maybe I never worked there if it ever existed. These are maybe just figments of my imagination.

World Bank President

Norfolk Hotel had been the scene of an alleged bomb attack left there for fun by a Maltese terrorist in 1979. As the Kenyan intelligence wants Kenya to believe this terrorist who stayed at the Jewish owned Norfolk Hotel near VoK was so upset that he had stayed in a Jewish hotel that he blew an empty room. The usual verbal diarrhoea by a Kenyan poor spinning.

You see bombs like a bees sting or a snake’s poison are expensive stuff. You just don’t waste it on hotel furniture. Even a bee would never sting a tree. Same with snake. It knows the poison is expensive arsenal, so why waste it on trees or when you are not in striking distance. Besides a bee dies after stinging you. There was no Maltese bomber at Norfolk Hotel. It is only after you factor in that Norfolk Hotel was a Jewish investment and was a place of interest for a Middle eastern siasa kali that you realise this could have been a cat and mouse game between Mossad and Palestinian siasa kali.

The evening of his death Dr Barack Obama had a meeting president at the Norfolk. His family knew about it. Whatever had been said at that meeting must have been so at odds that someone had to kill him is my guess. People die for information all the time. Sometimes for no reason. Sometimes the threat of a meeting gets others killed. Congolese Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba travelled all the way to Washington for a meeting that never took place and was killed. Dr Robert Ouko died for a meeting that never took place. Here we have meeting at Norfolk Hotel Nairobi that became the last living meeting that Dr Barack Obama attended in his official capacity.

So what really happened at the meeting. This was at a time when even Great Britain was lingering way below in economic powers and Prime Minister Margret Thatcher had to go begging the World Bank for money. I remember by then UK lagged way below Italy in economic table. London was a deserted cold dour place place that at a stop over at Heathrow airport not many people wanted to get out. Here was a person Margret Thatcher had to schedule a meeting to meet. Presidents all over the world celebrated just the mention of his name and their name in one sentence. However, Dr Barack Obama was meeting the World Bank president alone for dinner at the Norfolk Hotel. I know people who would die to see such an important person walk into the hotel, let alone dine with them. Dr Obama had just catapulted himself into shark infested Kenyan waters of get him before he gets us.

Work place

The environment at the Central Bank of Kenya was toxic, though the current Nairobi lingo is "septic" after the disappearance of a rich Kenyan man in septic tank. President Moi had just dismissed the Central Bank governor. It must have been clear that Dr Barack Obama was the most qualified appointee but someone forgot to read the script or someone read it "too well" and stopped it from happening.

The other theory is that someone knew as loud as Dr Obama must have known why this Central Bank of Kenya governor was unfairly treated and must have been grumbling. In all complaining to a European about African politics is always a waste of time. They will never help. They usually stick to their rules of their permanent interest not permanent alliances.

I also know that shortly before this visit by the World bank president a sprawling Nairobi estate had been concluded in Nairobi. It was funded by the World bank. During its construction a World Bank representative expatriate Engineer had disagreed with the son of the soil, Mr Mwenge. Mr Mwenge hit the World bank engineer with a crow bar in argument at how poor the housing was and nothing near the money World bank was investing. And true if you look at the estate and look at those sprawling slums that were used to dump black South Africans during apartheid years, they look so similar that it is shocking and surreal. In fact the open field savanna grassland is so much a South African vegetation. It is also said that the World Bank President who had taken this project personally could not believe what he was seeing when he came to visit. He was so disappointed that he cut short the tour. I remember this was the same time Ethiopian strongman Mengistu Haile Mariam (wuod Mary) was visiting Kenya. Needless to say the Mr Mwenge later rose in Kenyan politics especially after the departure of Attorney General Charles Njonjo.

Reading from Dr Auma Obama excellent pealing of Dr Barack Obamas last days on earth of (events before her father’s death), this meeting is what got Dr Barack Obama killed. And he could not have been drunk because this was a career changing meeting where he threw his all at the meeting. I have always wondered why this World bank chief stayed at Norfolk instead of the trendy Intercontinental, Serena Hotel etc. If he was paying some allegiance by staying at the Norfolk Hotel, then this is the man who betrayed Dr Barack Obama. However, the ownership of Norfolk hotel ensured him of some level of security beyond the reach of Kenyan Ton Ton Macoutes. He must have been running from the uncouth Nyayo men because as tough as Nyayo was, an Israeli mossad friendly hotel was no place to try that dirty game. Therefore, the easiest link and softest who was very exposed was Dr Barack Obama.

Dr Auma Obama also deliberately but in a way you might think this is not important touches on a previous government mission to Libya where Dr Obama suffers eyesight problem and had to be flown back before the mission to OAU delegation. Even though Dr Auma Obama says no more, I will say more. There were two places Kenya being saddled by Ronald Reagan and the western powers during cold war that they would not let you visit. That is Cuba and Libya. These are two small nations but did not care for US or USSR interests. They were rogue states when it came to righteousness. Also previously Libya had just bought an Embassy building opposite Kenya’s own Nyati house, the Nairobi spy nerve centre and Kenya only discovered two years later when opposition doyen Jaramogi alerted President Moi. That eye ailment that cut his tour short is out of place in my opinion and is one of the incidents before his death that raises eyebrows.

Dr Barack Obama that I knew

What do I know about Dr Obama? First with what Dr Auma Obama has eloquently written, it is my conclusion that Dr Barack Obama was a high interest political assassination. This is obvious and I think at least on two other occasions namely when he lost his job and earlier when in the company of my brother and four others they rubbed someone the wrong way with their exuberance.

Did I know Dr Obama in person when he was at about 18 years older than me? Yes, I did. It was easy to pass on Dr Obama as a drunk but some of the people who worked with him could swear that alcohol never stopped Dr Obama from producing the best. If anything alcohol brought the best out of him that is why people like cabinet minister Dr Gikonyo Kiano loved his company in international Kenyan delegation. It is a fact that even President Mwai Kibaki while eulogising him reiterated that some of Dr Obamas papers would take Kenya for years to come.

I am not ashamed to say that the first time I met Dr Barack Obama in 1973/4 as a holidaying student form Homa Bay High school I even looked down on him. Dr Obama and my brother John were among the first technocrats in the early Kenyatta government. John Nyawallo Kosieyo ACCA, FCA, FBIM, AMBIM was Personal assistant to the Prime Minister of Kenya in 1963. By the time the Prime minister became the president, John and several of their seven friends had left the civil service or were busy leaving. There was one top politician who was so at odds with John that he felt personally threatened and left for Ottomans Bank. How this top politician could single John and leave the 6 friends is not really clear? I really don’t think he did leave the others. In fact one of the friends Mr Cods was later to meet a freak accident in London when serving in a technocrat working mission. This accident has never been explained because he was paralysed for ages. He has now recovered substantially after decades of rehabilitation is probably the one single living source of oral history of Dr Obama’s time. There was a Mr Otti and a Mr John Louis but I am not sure they are still with us.

When I met Dr Obama he had a habit to come and sleep on the Sofa in Johns office in Third floor Mercury House on Tom Mboya street by then Victoria street because the accidents left him struggling sitting down for a long time. Even when he re-joined the government he would sometimes come and enjoy his lunch break on this sleeper-sofa in Johns office. In the evening they would pass by Swanga pub on Park road Nairobi for their usual drinks.

My beef was why is this man sleeping in my brother’s office, a place of business. Then it was whispered that it is the Dr Obama of Harvard. The “PhD Dr” sobered me but Harvard did not make sense for me at that age. Much later I met him on the streets near Harambee house where Aga Khan walk crosses Harambee Avenue and he told me he going to visit my brother, John. It was a few days after the budget day of June,15 1978. Patronising then discussed the Economics unit that made the courses I was taking at the college. He then told me somethings that was prophetic on discussing government wealth. I think I had started by asking him why a government would employ people to dig them and fill them. He then gave me scenarios where a government would need to reactivate an economy during recession and ended up pointing an accusing finger at Accountants. He said accountants are not doing a good job and will one day bring the whole world down. That was in 1978. Why? He said look at the worthless government stock of stalled vehicles in government yards. How can such assets be used to support government stock? He said if this continues and the private sector start using paper worthless valued assets to support stocks, mortgages etc. then the world will be walking on a time bomb because accountants are very fictitious in their balance sheet valuations.

Much after Dr Barack Obama’s passing on 1990 John was writing about this stock valuation and presenting papers all over the world about the mess accounts are feeding the world. I remember he even did a Vok broad cast where he was being interviewed on this concept started by Dr Obama.

On the first Saturday of January 1993 when John passed on in Bungoma we were looking at the nation newspapers with my cousin Advocate Maurice Omuga. Both the Daily Nation and the Standard newspapers did a covering of the same mess Dr Obama had talked about and now presented by his friend John Kosieyo. Ironically the standard in newspaper in the column of news from the regions also reported of the death of an accountant in Bungoma without linking the two stories.

Much later in 2003, ten years later I completed my Msc program with the sole purpose of turning this concept into a readable after my PhD as the to reckless valuation of government stocks. Then while still procrastinating, Dr Barack Obama son President Barrack Obama shows up to run for the presidency. And I remembered this and said to myself “ahh this is the time to do my PhD and the book because it will really sell”. How wrong could I be!

In the very year of 2008, exactly 30 years almost to the month from the time Dr Barack Obama talked to me about how poor stock valuations will bring governments down, the world economy came tumbling down and the laid the mess right at the door step of young President Barack Obama. And President Obama ended up saving employers (digging holes and filling them) like the mid state auto industry to stem of US recession.

Why fore should I do my PhD or write about Dr Barack Obama’s premonition. Is it not a little too late for that?

If walking on the streets of Nairobi, he can meet a very junior Accountancy student barely out of his teens and conjure a conversation of an apocalyptic level that that comes to pass and rock the world 30 years later, surely What manner of a man was Dr Barack Obama? And what were these documents that President Mwai Kibaki ominously talked about? Who is keeping them?

Who is Who of that generation

One thing I need to point out about Mercury House on Tom Mboya street is that it housed young technocrats of about the same age. John Cods, Advocates J J Odhiambo, Advocate Michael Owuor, Advocate J Otumba, Advocate Owino etc from 1st Floor to 3rd Floor. It was the new independent Kenya and these were young professionals. When these days I read books throwing aspersions on of them I just smile to myself because if I ever were to draw a curve of their lives in the changing Kenyan economy and new post-independence Kenya, I will constantly find the same curve. You could substitute any Luo professional whether in Mombasa, Nairobi or Kisumu and the curve is very similar and you will end up throwing aspersions on all those Luo professionals of that generation. If that is the case, then the likes of Obama were in circumstance. As evolutionists have told us time and time again Habitat determines habits. The Kenyan Habitat of a young Luo professional had a lot to say about how their lives turned out. The Who is Who of Kenyan Luo had a similar lifestyle with similar graphical curve.

In keeping with my blog, I want to venture a bit into folklore if you will permit and this is no slight on the people of Seme Clan of Luo land. It is the same way I am in praise of their conveyor belt of supermodels from Owege of 1900s, Otondi ma nyar jo-Seme of 1930s to Lydia of 1960s to Lapita Nyong’o 2000. The above Mr John Aggrey Ochola Cods is from Seme Kombewa. He worked as the African Regional Manager of BOC in those days. Then in an event reminiscent of the Seme folklore hero, Migele of Seme Kodongo, Cods secured an interview with East African Airways in London beating colonialism, racism and bigotry by anglicising his name. I tell you there is method to this madness of Luos anglicing words just for banter. The legend of Migele is that he was a nonviolent cowboy. All Luos are descendants of hundreds of years of cattle and wives rustling. Just ask President Museveni of Uganda. Don’t be misled by this latter day political correctness verbosity. Folklore and legend has it that Migele would hassle your stock and even the best anti-stock theft would never catch him. How? Migele was evidently the first plastic surgeon. He simply swapped the horns of the cows. In my primary school years we never sycophants to politicians and rich selfish bafoons. Instead praise songs were for true legends. There was a song in praise of Migele of Seme (the first plastic surgeon) that was primary school compulsory rhymes up-to standard 7.

Seme yaa Kodongo ya ka ocha un jok ma nadi?

Seme yaa Kodongo ya ka ocha un jok ma nadi?

Seme yaa Kodongo ya ka ocha un jok ma nadi?

Seme ya Kodongo kokwalo dheri to tunge ema chachi

Seme ya Kodongo kokwalo dheri to tunge ema chachi

Tunge ema chachi

Tunge ema chachi

Tunge ema chachi

Tunge ema chachi

Tunge ema chachi

Tunge ema chachi

In the first two verses you sing normally in a falsetto. Then at the chorus of Tunge ema chichi, you bigin in a loud deep bass almost cow bell drum like, then deep dapi ( water pot) sound. You keep dropping down the sound until it is like a hum. It is like somebody in a dream while Migele is making away with your cows. Then you stop to brouhaha like Migele is gone and the kraal is empty and there is nothing you will do because it is Migele in charge.

The Migele song and legend is the oral literature of yester years. Sadly enough for me the legends of my time have no recorded or oral history. A compilation of the Who is Who in every Luo clan takes me 6 months each because we are losing the history of our times very fast. Thanks to the likes of Dr Auma Obama who have decided to stop talking about it and are doing something about it.


And Then Life Happens, A Memoir, is a biography by Dr Auma Obama nyar Alego Kogelo, Siaya District Kenya. Dr Auma Obama is the daughter of Dr Barack Obama who is the father of President Barrack Obama. Any misstatements pretending to quote Dr Auma Obama are mine. Of course the hyperbole as usual are mine. The stark graphical writing is however Dr Auma Obama's writing in this St Martins's griffin publication. I have retold heavily on chapter 15 covering Dr Barack Obama death.


Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page