, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 27 – Veteran politician and former long serving Cabinet Minister William Odongo Omamo is dead. Sources close to the family say he died on Tuesday morning.
The 82-year-old politician will be remembered for his rib-tickling humour and eloquence in the 1980s.
Kaliech (elephant) as he was fondly referred to in Bondo, has been ailing for a long time.
The late Omamo, born in Sakwa, Bondo has held long-standing political hide-and-seek with the Odinga family.
Mr Omamo began his political career in 1969 when he quit as principal of Egerton College to contest the Bondo parliamentary seat.
He won the seat previously held by doyen of Kenyan politics, the late Jaramogi Oginga Odinga.
Mr Omamo took sides with Jomo Kenyatta and spurned Mr Odinga\’s leftist politics.
He became a confidant of Mr Kenyatta and was appointed Minister for Environment in 1975.
He can be aptly described as orator par excellence.
Prime Minister Raila Odinga says the death has come as a shock and a surprise to him and the whole country.
“Dr Omamo was a pioneer in many ways. As the first African Principal of the then Egerton Agricultural College – the modern day Egerton University – he set the institution on the firm foundation that has made it what it is today,” he said.
He added that Dr Omamo dedicated his life to public service as a pioneer agronomist, a scholar and politician.
“His death is particularly a loss to the people of Bondo where he began his political career and Nyanza, where he was part and parcel of the political landscape from the time country held the second general election in 1969.”
He said Dr Omamo contributed to the making of the Kenyan nation as Cabinet Minister in various ministries in independent Kenya. “It is sad that the nation will not benefit from his wisdom as we embark on the final leg of our long search for a new constitution,” Mr Odinga said.