Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga has eulogized the deceased former presidential aspirant in Uganda and ICT minister Aggrey Siryoyi Awori who died on Monday at TMR hospital in Nalya.
In a letter to the family of the deceased, Odinga labeled Awori a family friend with a true manifestation of the spirit of East African Integration and Pan-Africanism.
He thanked Awori’s service to the people of Uganda and Kenya.
It should be noted that the Awori family has had political wings in both countries, with the deceased having started a political journey in Kenya, before crossing over to Uganda.
Unlike Aggrey, Moody Awori, Aggrey’s brother continued operating in Kenya’s politics and has since served as Kenya’s Vice President.
Moody also run as a presidential aspirant in the Kenyan opposition primaries in 2002 but lost the flag to Mwai Kibaki who eventually became President.
A year earlier, Aggrey Awori had stood as a presidential candidate against President Museveni and will be remembered for introducing a chopper as a means of the campaign, alas, the chopper never appeared at any of his rallies.
Despite holding onto the Ugandan roots, Aggrey Awori had strong ties in Keny, and Raila Odinga says was his closest friend out of the extended Awori family.
“As a young boy, I witnessed Canon Awori as a constant presence at our home to offer prayers whenever Jaramogi had a function. Out of the large Awori family, Aggrey became my closest friend out of these initial ties,” Odinga said.
Odinga and Aggrey worked together during their study at Nairobi University and the former appreciates the latter for being an avid debater on issues of the day in Kenya and Uganda.
Aggrey lived a double life, even though his siblings took the Kenyan roots, he instead wanted a Ugandan life, and even represented Uganda in the Rome Olympic hurdles in 1960 and Japan summer Olympics in 1964 but did not turn out a medallist, perhaps the explanation as to why he joined politics a few years later.
In 1967, Aggrey was appointed the first local director of Uganda Television (UTV).
In 1971 Awori was jailed for two months after Idi Amin’s coup, because during Amin’s first coup attempt, he didn’t broadcast a speech Amin gave, lying to him by saying that they were live on air.
He went into political exile in Kenya where he taught political journalism at the University of Nairobi until 1976 and then traveled around Africa visiting Tanzania, Liberia, and Senegal and returning to Nairobi in 1979.
“A strong believer in strong political parties, Aggrey returned to Uganda in the 1980s following Amin’s ouster and embarked on the reorganization and strengthening of Milton Obote’s Uganda People’s Congress (UPC). His activities encouraged us back in Kenya to reorganize and seek for change,” Odinga writes.
Aggrey was later appointed Ambassador to the United States, until being transferred by Tito Okello Lutwa in 1985. He served as Uganda’s Ambassador to Belgium from 1985 until 1987 when he was dropped by Yoweri Museveni.
He became a rebel against Museveni briefly and in 1993 was elected to the Constituent Assembly. He also was a member of parliament for Samia Bugwe until 2006 (from 2001).
A year later, he abandoned the UPC and joined Museveni’s National Resistance Movement (NRM), and was a party member until his death.