Raila meets ‘cheeky’ prison warden
Opposition leader Raila Odinga has promised to support a man who assisted him during his time in prison.
The influential politician met the man, namely mzee John Mwavuda, while on a visit to Taita Taveta County on Tuesday. He says the two first met when he was detained incommunicado at the Manyani Maximum Prison decades back.
“He was kind enough to smuggle in pieces of toilet paper that I would then use to write letters on to my loved ones,” said Odinga, who served as the country’s Prime Minister between 2008 and 2013.
“Mwavuda also doubled as the official courier for the prison and I would deliberately write official letters which would later trigger his transfer to Nairobi. He risked his life and selflessly delivered messages to key contacts for me during these official trips,” The 76-year-old politician further explained.
“Mzee John Mwavuda is a person I will be forever indebted to and I will support a project that is close to his heart that he has told me about, to come to fruition.”
“He has now lost most of his close family members. Let us pray for strength and comfort for this selfless man.” He wrote on Twitter.
Odinga was arrested after evidence seemed to implicate him along with his late father Oginga Odinga, for collaborating with the plotters of a failed coup attempt to overthrow the former President Daniel arap Moi in 1982.
He was also placed under house arrest for seven months.
Among some of the politician’s most painful experiences behind bars was when his mother died in 1984 but the prison wardens took two months to inform him of her death.
In 2016, when the world was celebrating Mother Day, Raila said on Twitter he was given the news of his mothers’ death while in detention at Shimo la Tewa prison.
In the message, he narrates how his mother had sent him a special message written on a smuggled piece of toilet paper.
“Unfortunately the official news never reached me until two months later after her burial,” Raila said.
The tweet further says his mother was graceful and strong woman who never left things halfway done.
Speaking during Ida’s 70th birthday celebration, he said Ida would in turn reply to the letters through the same officer.
Raila said, at one point while in Manyani prison, he went on a hunger strike causing his health to deteriorate.
He left prison in 1991 and has since become one of the most influential and popular politicians in Kenya.
His first bid for the presidency was in the 1997 general elections, where he finished third after Moi and Mwai Kibaki.
Odinga served in the Ministries of Energy, Roads, Public works, and Housing, and as executive Prime Minister.
He is the current African Union High Representative for Infrastructure development after being appointed in 2018.