Joseph Otiende: Kenya’s First Education Minister Dies Aged 100


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One of Kenya’s pioneer Cabinet Ministers, Joseph Otiende, died on Wednesday morning at the Avenue Hospital in Kisumu. He died at the age of 100.

Otiende who was fondly called J.D by his peers had been undergoing treatment at the hospital for about a month.

Family members confirmed Joseph Otiende’s death with his son Mr. Maleya Chanzu providing the actual time of death as 4.30am.

Hospital officials have confirmed that his body is lying at Avenue Hospital mortuary.

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Late Joseph Daniel Otiende, born in 1917 at Akelo village in Vihiga County was a Kenyan nationalist and a prominent figure in Kenya’s fight for independence.

He attended Maseno School in 1926, alongside Kenya’s first Vice President and father to Raila, the late Jaramogi Oginga Odinga.

Joseph Otiende was among those appointed to the first Cabinet by Kenya’s founding President, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta soon after the country won independence from Britain in 1963. He greatly contributed to the nation’s building and development.

He was accredited with laying the foundations of the health and education services and held in high regard as one of the few Kenyan politicians to shun the theory and practice of corruption, and for bowing out of politics at the right moment.

Otiende retired from active politics in 1969 after losing his parliamentary seat.

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He will be remembered for his witty and scholarly contributions during Parliamentary and Cabinet meetings.

Many current leaders including Raila Odinga, Musalia Mudavadi, Moses Wetang’ula and former Speaker Kenneth Marende, visited Mr. Otiende in the hospital.

Nasa leader Musalia Mudavadi condoled with the family describing him as the hero of Kenya’s independent cabinet who set the pace for Kenya’s education system.

“Mzee Otiende was a diligent elder whose advisory services were enriching and sought after widely. With his passing, Kenya has lost part of its living history,” said Mr. Mudavadi.

May his gentle soul rest in perfect peace, Amen.