Saturday, November 3, 2012



SHEM ONYANGO KWEGA LYING FATALLY WOUNDED IN HIS CAR By Jerry Okungu Nairobi, Kenya October 31, 2012 In one short week, three murders of no ordinary men have taken place in Kisumu. One, a medical researcher with the American Center for Disease Control, followed shortly by the brutal murder in broad daylight of my long time friend Shem Onyango Kwega. However, while the city was still mourning the deaths of Dr. Odhiambo and Aircraft Engineer Shem Onyango, another murder of a prominent businessman took place in Mambo Leo in the outskirts of Kisumu! The police in Kisumu may find it easy to dismiss these murders as pure robbery with no political connections however, if they are serious law enforcement officers, they may need to see the connection- the frequency, timing and location. Odhiambo was murdered in his house in Tom Mboya Estate one evening just a few days before that of Eng. Shem Onyango. Incidentally, Shem has his petrol business next to Tom Mboya Estate. The third murder took place just down the road past Kondele in Mambo Leo area. All these three people were men of means. As for Shem, they took off with cool 1.2m in cash. This trend; this sudden murderous thuggery is strange to the Lakeside City. Yes, we have had our share of crimes but they have been of a petty nature. Most of the residents of Kisumu have no culture of murdering people in cold blood. This type of violence is foreign to Kisumu. The more reason the provincial police department, if it is keen on apprehending these criminals, it shouldn’t take them long. As these murders are taking place, we cannot turn a blind eye to the political campaigns taking place all over the country. Strangely enough, crime has suddenly surged in Nyanza, Coast, Tana Delta and North Eastern regions. Suddenly the usual hotspots such as Molo, Elburgon, Burnt Forest, Eldoret and volatile borders between Kisiis and Maasais are quiet. The National Security Intelligence Service, the custodians of information about security situation in Kenya should explain to Kenyans what this new pattern is all about. And as political players, more so those campaigning for governor, senator, MP and representatives go about their campaigns, security for the residents of the county should be top on their priority list now that these criminals have claimed one of ODM’s prominent leaders in the county. At a personal level, I have fond memories of Eng. Shem Onyango ever since I first met him nearly four decades ago. At that time, we were just coming out of the university but Shem and his fellow airmen were already established socialites of the Nairobi City. In his company were the late Joash Onyango Oyugi and Abil Okello Jua Cool, the three of them being what were then called Flight Engineers of the East African Airways and later to be absorbed into the Kenya Airways when the East African Community collapsed. One other thing, they were all graduates of the then prestigious East African School of Aviation in Soroti, Uganda. The y used to hang out with three equally flamboyant pilots- the late Steve Rapuoda, Joe Opere and Jim Ouma who all went on to become Chief Pilots of Kenya Airways in the 1990s. There was something about this group; for their age and in our opinion just coming out of college, these young professionals were all bachelors but had tons of cash to spare. This means that they were the most sought after singles by members of the opposite sex. And for some reason, they were humble, unassuming and generous to a fault. It never went into their head that they had money and a sizeable following. Strangely enough, jobless as we were, they took us in, entertained us and made us feel like their kinsmen. Soon after the breakup of the East African Community, Shem did not work long. He took an early retirement and came from Nairobi to set up base in Kisumu. And it would appear that the bug of the transport industry had bitten him. Instead of being an airman, he took to the ground transport with zeal. Very soon sleek Kwega buses were plying Nairobi Kisumu highway with gusto. However, the madness of our roads, bad roads and expensive spare parts for his fleet put paid to his transport business. Onyango Kwega was to settle in the oil business at his Kwega Petrol station where he set up a superb mini auto garage that he supervised with rare attention. The more he settled in Kisumu, the more he started cultivating interest in local politics. And for the last 20 years, he has contested every election for the Kisumu West seat ever since the advent of multiparty politics. And much as the people of Kisumu loved him, he always found himself in the wrong party especially during the Moi regime. Being a long time KANU representative in Kisumu, he lost every election to Ford Kenya, Narc and ODM. At the time of his death, he was on the road to an elective post in Kenya’s parliament considering that during the ODM party elections; he trounced all his opponents and emerged Kisumu East ODM Chairman. For those of us who knew Shem, we will dearly miss his humour and humility as we wait for the police to find and punish his killers.