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Thursday, May 26, 2022

Raila’s Sister Who Made History in Zimbabwe

  • Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party leader Raila Odinga’s remarkable journey in the political realm mirrors the victories and struggles over the past decades. 

    Not one to be left out, his sister, Beryl Odinga, made a historic achievement in the 1980s after she became the first African to hold the town clerk position in Zimbabwe’s third-largest city, Mutare. Beryl was also the first female to hold the office.

    In Raila’s 2014 biography titled The Flame of Freedom, the former Prime Minister narrated how a dark season in Beryl’s life led to a historic moment in a foreign land, away from home.

    ODM party leader Raila Odinga (left) poses for a photo alongside his sister, Beryl Odinga.
    File

    At the time, Beryl had been married to aspiring legislator Otieno Ambala – a relationship that was disputed by the Odinga family.

    According to Raila, Ambala sought to charm his way into the family in order to secure his political interests. Ambala, however, failed in his first attempt at the Gem Parliamentary seat in 1974 but won in the subsequent elections after Beryl convinced her family to rally behind him. 

    No sooner had Ambala won the seat, than cracks began to emerge within their union. Raila termed the relationship as abusive and sought his sister to find a way out. 

    Unknown to her husband, Beryl and her two children, Auma and Chizzy, escaped to Zimbabwe. Their fortunes were, however, curtailed after Ambala filed a motion to have Beryl extradited to the country and have custodial rights of the kids.

    The case was ruled in favour of the politician which led to Beryl’s passport being confiscated and Ambala being granted custodial rights. 

    “Because of Ambala’s position in the Kenyan government ( he had been appointed as Assistant Minister became alarmed and Beryl was notified that without proper documents, she would be unable to live or work in Zimbabwe,” an excerpt from the book. 

    Raila is reported to have devised a tactic for Beryl to get a Ugandan passport which successfully led to Beryl travelling back to Zimbabwe. 

    “Beryl kept her Ugandan passport for five years until she applied for and was granted Zimbabwean citizenship, which she retains to this day. Her first job in Zimbabwe- where she was also the first African in the post was a town clerk in the country’s third-largest city, Mutare.”

    “I (Raila) went over for the induction ceremony and was pleased to see that the old Beryl was returning and my sister had begun to rebuild her life. She settled in Mutare and bought a house there, before later moving to work in Chirungwiza, and then with the Housing Corporation of Zimbabwe, where she was company secretary. ”

    At the time, they finalised the divorce process and she got remarried to John Mugawiri, with whom they bore a child named Raila Mugawiri in honour of her brother. 

    Ambala, on the other hand, went on to lose the Gem parliamentary seat to his friend and best man at his wedding, Horace Owiti, during the 1983 general election. He also lost the by-election after filing a petition. Owiti was later found dead with Ambala treated as the main suspect. 

    Ambala is reported to have suffered a heart attack while in prison. 

    Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya Alliance presidential candidate Raila Odinga uring a meeting with stakeholders in the petroleum industry at the Panafric Hotel on Wednesday, April 6, 2022
    Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya Alliance presidential candidate Raila Odinga during a meeting with stakeholders in the petroleum industry at the Panafric Hotel on Wednesday, April 6, 2022.
    Raila Odinga
    dead armed suspect armed
  • Source: KENYAGIST.COM

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