Saturday 22 June 2024

1971 Kenyan History from Odhiambo Levin Opiyo

Former Kenya Air Force pilot Captain Frederick Omondi is brought to court to answer to charges of planning to overthrow Mzee Jomo Kenyatta in 1971.

Omondi, only 27, wore a nice suit and was calm and composed, occasionally smiling to members of the public who had thronged the courtroom.

As soon as magistrate Sachdeva read the charges, Omondi without  any hesitation  replied "Guilty as charged."

Deputy DPP Mr James Karugu prosecuting,  told the magistrate that Omondi was married, with three children, and that his parents were still alive.

Karugu further told the magistrate that Omondi became involved in the plot after becoming dissatisfied with the conditions in the military  and the political situation. He also added that Omondi had cooperated well with the Special  Branch during interrogation.

Giving a brief history of the accused, the Deputy DPP told the court that Omondi was  one of the pioneer military pilots in Kenya. His journey to join the military began when he submitted an application for further education assistance to the KANU education Committee just after he had completed his high school education at St Peter's Seminary Kakamega.

Luckily KANU had received some slots from Israel which had requested to secretly train pilots for the future Kenya Air Force. Omondi  was allocated one of the slots and in January  1963 travelled to Israel via Dar Es Salaam. In January 1964 he joined the newly inaugurated Kenya Air Force and underwent an intensive flying course after which on February 7, 1965 he qualified as the best cadet and was consequently awarded a sword of honour by Mzee Jomo Kenyatta.

In March of that same year, he left Kenya for  further training at the Royal Air Force Officers  College Cranwell UK. On his return he became one of the founders of Kenya Air Force Beaver Squadron.

The Deputy DPP further told the court that as a military pilot, Omondi fought gallantly in the shifta war and was injured during one of the operations when his aircraft crashed  in 1967.

He told the court that Omondi was recruited into the plot of overthrowing the government  by Daniel Owino, a former Kenya Army military  officer. According to Karugu, Omondi joined without questioning and went on to recruit  more people into the scheme.

Karugu said that Omondi had turned  against  the government that had invested in him by offering him the opportunity to train as a pilot at a very young age of 18. Omondi was later sentenced  to 12 years in prison in a plot that implicated the Chief of Staff General Ndolo, the Chief Justice Mr Kitili Mwendwa among  many other senior officials.

He was Born on April 13, 1945, at Nyabondo  Mission Hospital, then attended Kabete Primary school between 1953 to 1954 when  he was transferred to Onjiko primary school.  He was again to return to Kabete where he sat for Common Entrance exams. He then proceeded to Thurdibuoro between   1958-1959, Nyabondo Intermediate School  1960-1961. He joined St Peter's Seminary  Kakamega after sitting for his Kenya African  Preliminary Examination at Nyabondo.

After serving his sentence he became  involved in politics at one time serving as a Councillor in Kisumu. He said promotion on tribal lines and the political happenings such  as the assassination of Mboya fuelled the plot  that also involved senior government officials mainly from the Akamba tribe and intellectuals. General Ndolo had tried  to recruit Mulinge the  Army Commander but he refused. After the plot was unearthed  Ndolo and Chief  Justice  Kitili  were forced to resign. 

#Africa #Kenya

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