FLASHBACK: Was political icon George Morara ahead of his time?

Gusii political icon (late) George Morara. PHOTO/Courtesy.

He served as Member of Parliament for West Mugirango for nine months but his name is being immortalized over fifty years later.

George Justin Morara, a promising young and vibrant politician met his death in a suspicious road accident in September 1970.

He campaigned using a trademark of Egesora Nyabirore (a spectacled dragon), a name that resonated well with the voters.

Thus, Morara may not be a national name but in the larger Gusii region (Nyamira and Kisii counties) the name Morara is nearly in every village and clan.

Barely 48 hours to his death, Morara had given the government an ultimatum to come out clean on who was behind the death of Tom Mboya, a cabinet minister who had been gunned down in downtown Nairobi.

Apparently, there was suspicion of cover-up that the Mboya assassin had been convicted, only for Morara to claim that he saw the suspect during his trip to Zambia.

Morara’s popularity rose quite fast before his life was terminated in a manner that was never conclusively investigated.

Hundreds of male children born soon after and in the early years after his death were named after him.

Just like many African communities, naming children took an intricate process but there are some names that transcended sub-clan and lineage.

It was recorded that Morara died in a road accident on his way back to Kisii from Kakamega.

He reportedly had a head-on crash with a police land rover which was being driven from the opposite direction.

This was on the sharp corners of Nandi Hills as one descends down towards the plains.

During that time, he was the Chair of the Public Accounts Committee in Parliament.

He had attended a meeting related to his job in Kakamega.

His family is still struggling to understand why the patriarch and emerging community and national leader lost his life in such a questionable way.

His death remains a mystery and provides lead for occasional coverage by the media.

“His daughter who was barely one year old when he died is still struggling to understand why her father’s death is still shrouded in mystery,” wrote Joshua Araka who is an editor with The Scholar Media Africa.

Many would ask in the contemporary world whether those named after him partake after his good traits.

One may ask also if the children named after him who are now adults aspired to be as ambitious as he was.

Alex Migika, the Director of Livestock in Nyamira County believes that there is need for some research to be carried to find out what is in a name.

“The research should also establish whether there is any power in a name in relation to the ‘big’ name the deceased legislator left behind,” Migika says.

Commissioner Jeremiah Matagaro who is the Chairman of States Corporations Advisory Committee of Kenya adds: “There have been only two great sons of Omogusii who the newly born were named widely irrespective of the clan in the greater Kisii (Nyamira and Kisii Counties) and these were Henry Nyabuto from Masige clan in Bobasi who was killed in a car accident involving an East African Breweries lorry while driving with friends at night from Home Bay to Kisii, and Justus Morara aka Egesora from Bonyamatuta clan in West Mugirango.

Nyabuto was a respected academician and political leader, who along with Lawrence Sagini, James Nyamweya, John Kebaso among others were recognized by the national leadership as part of the budding leaders of Omogusii.”

Morara is said to have initiated projects which continue to serve the people of West Mugirango and beyond.

“While staying at Nyabite, I was informed that he was at the centre of pushing for the growth of Nyamira as a trading and administrative town,” Nyariki Nyang’au, who is an administrator in Kisii County, says.

“He also initiated the start of Nyamira Hospital, which has since grown to be the county referral hospital for Nyamira County.”

In a lengthy conversation on ScholarMedia Digital, which is a WhatsApp group bringing together professionals and academicians from across Kenya, many participants said the renowned legislator was industrious, focused and development-conscious.

CORNER-T

Morara’s home in Gesore in the outskirts of Nyamira Town is a stonel-throw distance from the famous Konate junction along Kisii-Chemosit Road.

Konate is the local dialect’s version of Corner-T.

Great names have since emerged out of that place.

The homes of the late independence Senator George Kebaso and Senator Mong’are Bwokong’o (who served between 2013 and 2017) come from the area.

Retired Chief Justice David Maraga, retired athlete Tom Nyariki, the late first governor of Nyamira John Nyagarama, among others all hail from the area.

Dr. Matunda Nyanchama of Nsemia Publishers says that besides Morara lobbying for the construction of the Kisii-Chemosit Road which was finally built under the NARC regime, he pushed for the upgrading of Nyamira Division to sub-district status.

The elevation to this status happened in the 1990s.

It eventually led to creation of Nyamira County.

Along with that came Nyamira District Hospital, now a referral hospital, and the Nyamira Water Project that now serves the people of Nyamira and beyond.

Alfred Nyagaka Nyamwange, a teacher and author of The Blood Stains, says that even though Morara died in the youthful age in 1970, what he lobbied for is benefiting Kenyans to date and his footprints will be there forever.

“Up to the mid 90s, the road from Nyamira to Kisii was a meandering, long, muddy stretch,” Nyamwange recalls.

“Women used to pay more than men because the latter would be pushing the vehicle any minute it got stuck.”

He says this was a hell of traveling experience that made one so dirty and exhausted.

“I regularly used the route due to the nature of my work and the experience is in my mind,” he adds.

“Perhaps the road would have been completed earlier if Morara had lived longer.”

Development appears to have stagnated over the years in the area as it does not have facilities like a sewer line and institutions of higher education.

Dr. Matunda adds that Morara was a visionary leader.

“He was influential for the short time he served,” he recounts.

“He was the secretary of the Abagusii Parliamentary Group.

Other parliamentarians from Gusii at the time included Atebe Marita, Zachary Onyonka, Makone Ombese and Zephania Anyieni.

“Naming a road or public facility after Morara will not cause any harm,” Dr Matunda adds.

He notes that the late Morara was a friend of people like JM Kariuki and GG Mutiso.

The leaders also came into trouble with the government of the day.

“I recall that JM not only paid for the roof of 4 classrooms for the nascent Kebirigo Secondary School built in a place my grandma and her peers called ‘Maeri’, but also contributed to the building of Motagara Secondary School,” remembers Dr. Matunda.

“My side interest is history as a subject; it is great and shapes the future.

I still can tell you the historical development of penicillin drugs… every present has a past, the future draws from the present and past,” says Prof Ratemo Michieka in relation to the need to recognize our past and the leaders that shaped it.

Prof. Herman Kiriama of Kisii University adds that Morara moved a motion that required government to establish an institute of technology in each district back then.

Nyamira was under Kisii at the time.

Kisii is home to Kisii National Polytechnic, which started as Gusii Institute of Technology (GIT).

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