Inside General Francis Ogolla’s final journey

Sunday, April 21st, 2024 14:17 | By
Members of the Kenya Defence Forces carry the casket bearing the body of CDF General Ogolla at Ulinzi Sports Complex in Lang'ata. PHOTO/Adan Duale (@HonAdenDuale)/X
Members of the Kenya Defence Forces carry the casket bearing the body of CDF General Ogolla at Ulinzi Sports Complex in Lang'ata. PHOTO/Adan Duale (@HonAdenDuale)/X

Thousands of residents of Kisumu turned up as early as 6 am at the Kisumu International Airport to view the body of the late Chief of Defense Forces General Francis Ogolla while on transit to his home in Siaya.

They blocked the Kisumu-Kisian-Bondo Road, wailing some of them carrying green twigs as they waved at the Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) personnel transporting the body to his home in Ng'iya, Alego Usonga, Siaya County.

It forced some of the security officers to disembark from the military Landcruiser they were driving in, to clear the crowds that surged towards the hearse, some shouting Rip General! Rip Wuod Alego! Rip Wuod Luo!

The body arrived shortly two minutes past 9 am on Friday in Kisumu aboard the Kenya Air Force plane. It was then offloaded into an awaiting hearse for transportation by road to his home.

There was tight security in and out of the Kisumu International Airport. The body was to be transported to his ancestral home, with a first stop at the church and then Senator Obama Kogello primary school.

But it was not Kisumu County alone where residents lined up on the streets to have the final glimpse of the body. There were huge crowds also seen on the Bondo-Kisian, Ndori- Ngiya roads. Military police led the convoy.

There were three military bikes, two vehicles reportedly armed with military artillery and a bus carrying members of his family and close relatives.

Police and military motorbike outriders were in front and at the back of the convoy transporting the casket home, clearing the traffic way and also leading the way to the venue, with Nyanza Regional Police Commander Patrick Tito on the beat.

The cellphone network was very intermittent, with on and off-network reports, most of the time hindering effective communication, especially for the media fraternity on stand-by for updates to their various media houses.

President William Ruto and First Lady Rachel Ruto arrived at Senator Obama primary schools at Senator Obama Kogello primary school in Ngiya on time at 10 am, much earlier even before the body arrived via road.

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua and Defense CS Aden Duale arrived 30 minutes later after President Ruto's arrival. President was welcomed by Interior PS Raymond Omollo and CS Eliud Owallo and military orderlies

The main event was being held at the Senator Obama Kogello primary school, named after the 44th US President of the United States (POTUS), Barack Obama.

It is recalled that the late General has singularly built St Thomas Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK) Nduru, which neighbours Nduru Primary School, using his own material resources.

It is in the ACK church that he had planned to open during the celebration of his father’s 100 birthday on Saturday, before death cut short his ambitious goal, with the church remaining the epitome of his goodwill to the community.

Security was tight, with a combination of both the armed forces and Kenya police beefing up the patrols just to ensure that all went according to the scheduled programmes to give the General a befitting send-off.

Only designated mourners were to be allowed to access his homestead. It was limited to the President, a few dignitaries, top military personnel, and close family members only.

For the better part of the morning, Kisumu to Siaya air space was jammed with flights flying to the venue in and out. There were arrivals of international flights at the Kisumu International Airport as well.

Yesterday, Major General Paul Otieno told the media in Kisumu that they were expecting many Generals from across Africa, who had called and confirmed attending the final rites ceremony of General Ogolla.

He rose through the ranks to become the new Chief of Defence Forces in changes in the military in April 2023.

General Ogolla took over from General Robert Kibochi who departed after attaining the mandatory exit age of 62. Before the appointment, General Ogolla was the Vice Chief of the Defence Forces.

Ogolla's education

CDF Ogolla was a graduate of ÉcoleMilitaire de Paris and the National Defence College of Kenya. He served as the co-chair of the Association of African Air Chiefs between 2018 and 2019.

He graduated with a Diploma in International Studies and Military Science from Egerton University, a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, Armed Conflict and Peace Studies (First Class Honors) and a Master of Arts in International Studies from the University of Nairobi.

General Ogolla rose through the ranks to become a Major General and was appointed the Commander of Kenya Air Force on July 15, 2018, a post he has served for three years.

Previously he held various appointments in Training, Command and Staff including Deputy Commander at Kenya Air Force, Base Commander at Laikipia Air Base and Commanding Officer of Tactical Fighter Wing.

General Ogolla had also successfully served as the Chief Flying Instructor at Kenya Air Force Flying Training School and as Operations Desk Officer at Kenya Air Force Headquarters.

He also served in the former Yugoslavia as an Observer and Military Information Officer from 1992 to 1993 and as chairman of the Military Christian Fellowship from 1994 to 2004.

Ogolla died in a plane crash on Thursday, April 18, together with nine army personnel who were on an official tour of the North Rift region when the military chopper they had boarded crashed in Sindar, Elgeyo Marakwet County.

The nine officers killed in the crash were Brigadier Swale Saidi, Colonel Duncan Keittany, Lieutenant Colonel David Sawe, Major George Benson Magondu, Captain Sora Mohamed, Captain Hillary Litali, Senior Sergeant John Kinyua Mureithi, Sergeant Cliphonce Omondi, and Sergeant Rose Nyawira.

The funeral also united both members of the ruling coalition and the opposition leaders led by Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka, former Defense CS Eugene Wamalwa, and a host of MPs were in attendance

Several governors across the country led by host Siaya Governor James Orengo were also in attendance as well as MPs, Senators and MCAs among thousands of mourners.

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