11 July 2004

Kenya: How CIA Thwarted Odinga's Quest for Political Power


Nairobi — Three days after the first batch of students reported to Lumumba Institute, Western intelligence - but mainly the US Central Intelligence agency - delivered a small note to Jomo Kenyatta through US ambassador William Attwood.

If the institute was to have any meaning, it had to axe the Russians from running the Lumumba Institute and its control taken away from Odinga and his allies.

Although politically Kenya was masquerading as non-aligned it was known that Tom Mboya, one of the CIA's pointmen, and a bevy of US-trained politicians who had just entered the government - and led by Dr Julius Gikonyo Kiano - were sympathetic to the capitalist West.The West knew it was too early for Odinga to come out and confront Jomo Kenyatta before he had trained the party cadres.

The chairman of the Lumumba Institute, Mr B. M. Kaggia , walking near the statue of Patrice Lumumba accompanied by the secretary and registrar B. F. F. Oluande Koduol.

But Odinga was surprised when on March 25, Narok East MP Justus ole Tipis gave notice of a motion urging the government to take over Lumumba Institute and place it under the Ministry of Education "like any other institute".

Tipis also wanted a new board appointed "with no political mandate".

The communists - Russians and Chinese - in the city panicked.

Two student leaders, Mr David Munyendo (secretary general) and Mr G Mwitumi (chairman), were immediately dispatched to the city centre from Lumumba Institute to issue a "strong" press statement: "We wonder why [Tipis] has not moved such a motion calling upon the government to take over the bus services or Kenya Breweries." Behind this confrontation were lecturers at Lumumba Institute. Odinga had recruited a close ally, Mr Oluande Koduol as the new registrar. A graduate of India's Aligarl University, Koduol was the perfect match for the job. He started off by organising seminars but was always restless.

"He didn't look like a serious man," says Wanguhu Ng'ang'a, some 40 years later.

The first salvo against capitalism was fired on April 8, when Koduol invited Mr Okello Odongo, an Assistant Minister for Finance, to the institute to deliver a speech that was to test the waters and lay the groundwork for the bitter feud between Odinga and Mboya. It was here that Odongo said: "Uhuru would be meaningless if economic power was never transferred."

Tom Mboya hit back at Odongo and Odinga in a lengthy article publsihed in the local papers. He wanted the institute closed and from then on the plot to inject Communism into Kenyan politicians started to face a major test. Odinga's allies had to do their best to save the institute from a possible closure. Even Mr Ronald Ngala, the Kilifi South MP, demanded openly that the government either take over the institute or just close it.

Although Odinga did not quickly show his face, his loyal lieutenant, Mr Luke Obok, harsly criticised Ngala, saying: "If Mr Ngala is upset by the presence of some Russian teachers on the staff of the institute, as a good nationalist he should also demand and agitate the nationalisation of several other institutions in Kenya which are run and controlled by Americans, the British, Germans and Israelis." The institute's student leader, Mr David Munyendo also defended the two Russians, saying they "were not teaching foreign ideologies. They teach principles ..." It was Munyendo who did the dirty work, saying what the West did not want to hear.

"We know the Lumumba Institute is a stab in the back of neo-colonialism and capitalists who would like to see the institute in the hands of an administration that has American Peace Corps and CIA," he said. "American and British bootlickers are ganging up to defeat the institute". That was on April 29, just a month after they had registered as students.

At a meeting held on April 30, 1965 at the institute, it was agreed that students marshal support and attend the parliamentary debate on April 31 and listen to the private members motion moved by Tipis. Mboya was prepared for them and he said he was worried that "the country had started to see things which had completely distorted the original intention of President Kenyatta".

Although he never mentioned Odinga by name, Mboya said it was "bad" that "someone should begin to transform the institute into a place where party officials and organisers began to think they were a class above others the moment they took studies there, thus departing from the policies of Kanu, its manifesto and its leaders."

It was a clear reference to the Communist nature of the training the students were undergoing.

Mr Waira Kamau, the Githunguri MP, and one of the registred students, warned that "as an insider if the government will not take over the institute, not long will pass before there is fire and bloodshed in the country".

With those warnings, the private members motion by Tipis was passed and Lumumba Institute was to be registered under the Ministry of Education and its syllabus vetted.

The Communist plot was now on its knees.

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