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Footsteps

Hon. Kenneth Odhambio Okoth, 1978-2019

Volume 16, Issue 2  | 
Published 31/10/2019
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In 2016, Hon. Ken Okoth participated in the SAMOSA Festival held in Eastleigh, Nairobi. The topic was ‘Citizenship and Identity – Who is a Kenyan?’ and his contribution as a panellist was greatly appreciated by the audience. (Strangely also one of the other panellists that day was the Late Adam Hussein, also from Kibra). Ken very much wanted that the entire Festival be held in Kibra and the organisers were planning this for 2020. But alas!

AwaaZ has put together a list of the organisations which he was involved in and attached very brief comments from each of them. Hon. Okoth is one of the most remarkable politicians Kenya has ever had – he exemplified the notion of ‘servant leadership’.

The Kenya Legal & Ethical Issues Network

The late Hon. Ken Okoth was extremely vocal around matters of health and human rights. He was not afraid to vocalize reproductive health issues which are largely unpopular among politicians.

Nubian Rights Forum (NRF)                                                                                                 He was a great leader who championed for the rights of the Nubian community especially on citizenship, land issues and addressing forceful eviction. His memory will forever remain in our hearts and we will keep him in our prayers.

Center for Rights Education and Awareness (CREAW) and Women's Empowerment Link (WEL)

His agency in transforming communities, supporting women’s empowerment, especially political empowerment, and ending violence against women and girls is unmatched. Ken was instrumental in the passage of the Protection Against Domestic Violence (PADV) Act 2016.  He supported us in the operationalization of the two-thirds gender principle as espoused in the Constitution of Kenya.

Gender Violence Recovery Centre (GVRC)

The late Hon. Ken Okoth has been at the front line in fighting against gender based violence, for women's rights and equality for everyone. He partnered with Gender Violence Recovery Centre (GVRC) in various activities. We have lost an anti-gender based violence champion and a great man.

Young Women Leadership Institute (YWLI)

He upheld service for humanity specifically championing on ending child marriage and for access to Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights services.

Kenya Parliamentarians for Human Rights (KEPHRA

A feminist at heart - in word and in deed – Hon. Okoth was a Feminist Champion of the rights of Women and Girls. As the co-convenor and founder member of the Kenya Parliamentarians for Human Rights (KEPHRA). His standards of accountability and integrity were exemplary. Ken strongly believed in the rights of women and girls to access the highest standards of health, taking on the campaign for the realization of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) with admirable zeal. In 2016, when I worked at the Centre for Reproductive Rights, Ken and I convened the first ever community and policy makers dialogue on unsafe abortion  He selflessly gave his all, he gave his best to the last possible moment. Ken remained connected to people- keeping his communication channels open even when he was battling with chemo and all he made time to connect. . Ken made sure he planted the right seed – the Centre for Community Development and Human Rights,

Carolina For Kibera| (CFK)

Through his tenure, CFK worked closely with him and his office to use sports and music as a tool to champion education which is one of the most powerful tools we can use to change the world.

PEOPLE AND HUMAN RIGHTS CENTERED LEADERSHIP

He was a forward looking and inspiring human rights leader, an outstanding man of principles and a true believer that every Kenyan should stand a chance to live a life of dignity and rights.  He played a central role to pass critical human rights legislation. He fought against torture, forced evictions and impunity. He was a passionate advocate and implementer of the right to education. When I visited Kibera and the secondary school he had just managed to build, I witnessed the profound respect the community had for him. He worked assiduously to mobilize other Members of Parliament over the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), for which he led the vision to create a dedicated parliamentary group.

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR)

Hon. Ken Okoth was a man of valour, dignity and vision. We at Physicians for Human Rights (under the KTJN banner) truly benefited from his selflessness, passion and wisdom. During his tenure, the Human Rights sector had a partner in the Legislative that we could count on.

Public International Law & Policy Group

We discussed the collaboration on a project that is promoting access to justice for Kibra constituents.

Kenya Parliamentary Human Rights Association (KEPHRA)

A few months after the General Election in 2017, we received communication from the late. Hon. Okoth that he had initiated the SDGs and Business Parliamentary Caucus. The SDGs and Business Parliamentary Caucus is here today due to the Late. Hon Okoth's  proactiveness and visionary leadership.

Kenya Human Rights Commission

He was blessed with a remarkably open and tender heart, and humble and contrite spirit that loved and cared about human kind with much intensity. The Human Rights-Centred Leadership: You were truly a democrat with a transformative political cause and conscience that enabled you to serve people with incredible humility, integrity and dedication, You demonstrated respect and regard for the people; brought honour and splendour to the nation; fostered dignity and public confidence in your life and office. Rise in Power Comrade.

Amnesty International Kenya

Amnesty considered Hon. Ken Okoth as a wonderful human being who epitomized servant leadership and truly embodied the aspirations of Chapter 6 of the Constitution of Kenya. We also commit to pressing for the operationalization of the Prevention of Torture Act and the National Coroners Service Act, two of your legacies to Kenya.

Independent Medico-Legal Unit (IMLU)

His wisdom and ability to think on his feet made him a darling of many as more often than not, he proved to be a problem solver. Through Mheshimiwa we rallied our push for the enactment of the Prevention of Torture Bill and the National Coroners Service Bill which had suffered several setbacks then owing to the different political ideologies that played out in parliament. But Hon Okoth rose beyond that. He ensured that today we have the two important pieces of legislation that are critical in the fight for human rights. His love and commitment to human rights for instance saw his office partner with IMLU in commemoration of the UN International Human Rights Day, 10 December 2016 in Kibera. Mheshimiwa too was very engaged on citizen participation in policing and through the Police Reforms Working Group-Kenya (PRWG-K) provided input from time to time in the whole police reforms agenda and Community Policing as a critical component to a people-centred policing that enhances trust, cohesion and partnership.

Civil Society Organisations

Hon Kenneth Okoth –The Icon of hope that Political leadership can be transformational! I will mainly speak to his role as a legislator and providing oversight. A first time MP in 2013, during the life of the 11th parliament, he made a total of 979 contributions in Parliament. Ken’s mobile number was no privilege or secret it was available to everyone who had a heartbeat and voice. His desire to understand issues facing Kenyans was truly admirable. He was instrumental in the enactment of at least 15 pieces of legislation.  He joined a vigil to mourn policemen who had been killed in Kapedo.  He joined Boniface Mwangi in pushing for the reclamation of Lang’ata Primary School ground. He faced a lot of criticism but he is one MP who I saw on the streets not for his allowances but for people’s causes. He pushed for justice for young Kwekwe from Kwale, he visited Kakuma and Daadab refugee camps to understand what he could possibly do to help refugees who had fled their homes because of persecution. Ken loved the people of Kibra. He was not just a visionary, he was a missionary with very high levels of education and integrity. I am honoured to have known the greatest leader of my generation at a time when our political leadership is mostly disappointing.

Kenyans for Peace, Truth and Justice (KPTJ)

It is simply impossible to summarize in a paragraph all what our departed Hon. Ken Okoth meant to us at the Kenya Transitional Justice Network (KTJN). The champion for transitional justice and ardent human rights defender partnered with KTJN to push for the implementation of the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) recommendations. Hon Okoth formed the TJRC Action Team Whatsapp group. Ken assisted the National Victims and Survivors Network (NVSN). He would take part in Commemorations of the International Day of the Right to the Truth and candle lighting memorials for survivors of sexual violence during the 2007 PEV. Hon. Okoth well understood that it is in addressing the root causes of violations and impunity in Kenya that will entrench a lasting spirit of peace, national unity, dignity, healing, justice and reconciliation for a prosperous nation devoid of human rights violations.

Rights to Artistic and Cultural Expression

The late Hon. Ken Okoth inspired us all to live life to the fullest and to love without reserve. He had a passion for performing Arts and under ‘Elimu Kwanza’ as his slogan, performing arts became viable for employment creation and nurturing of talent . He started a Kibera Music Festival which takes place yearly and aims at bringing youths together to showcase their potential in the Artistic Arena. Through his office he nurtured many youths and Kibera performing groups by looking for opportunities to  showcase their talents in different arenas . His death is a big blow to Kibera Youths and Artists.

Business and Human Rights

This saw him form and be the Convener of the Parliamentary SDGs and Business Caucus in the National Assembly; and also participate in the development of Kenya’s and Africa’s first Government led National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights led by the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights. He engaged with several private sector associations to promote economic growth. He will be remembered as a champion of promoting economic empowerment and non-violent protests during election processes.

Centre for Community Development and Human Rights (CFCDHR)

The Centre is an actualisation of a dream Hon. Okoth held for years, and a legacy that he leaves to us, the human rights community in Kenya, to remember him by.

Campaign to legalise marijuana in Kenya

Firstly, legalisation would allow individuals to benefit from the proven and attested medicinal attributes of Marijuana.  He was categorical that smoking marijuana is a ‘victimless crime’ where only the user is taking any risk. It is immoral to imprison people for taking marijuana. Ken believed that regulated and legalised marijuana would open up Kenya to many possibilities including billions in revenue from growing, processing and selling marijuana products domestically and internationally.

 


Poem by Ndungi Githuku

 

Whence shall we get another

Mwenye kaa Pio Gama Pinto

Alipeana his all

Ken alipigania haki and Freedom for all

For sure Ken alikua on a league of his own 

 

In parliament Ken alikua kaa some fire fly in the dark

Ken aki attack poverty wenzake walaibaki waki bark

 

Just like JM Kariuki ali speak his mind na kupigania economic justice

Wengine wakiitisha higher salaries yeye alishughulikia more and more bursaries

 

Wenzake wakipiga politricks

Ken alishughulikia political sanity 

When shall we get another

Kama Comrade Ken Okoth 

Mwenye alifanya Kibra ku shine in Kenya and beyond  

 

Ndungi Githuku

 

Last modified on Wednesday, 06 November 2019 18:20

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