Kenya’s first education cabinet minister Joseph Otiende. This was during his hey days when he appeared at a function in Mbale town. He died on March 8, 2017. [PHOTO: ERIC LUNGAI/STANDARD]
Kenya’s first Education Cabinet minister Joseph Otiende was on Saturday laid to rest in a solemn ceremony that was attended by senior politicians.
Opposition leaders led by NASA co-principal Musalia Mudavadi and Moses Wetang’ula eulogised Otiende as a pragmatic leader who fronted key reforms in education and health sectors.
“Otiende set up the health and education infrastructures and brought these services closer to our people through his innovative campaigns and advocacies. His handling of these key dockets at Kenya’s formative years gave the nation an edge that it enjoys to date,” Mudavadi said during the requiem mass at Kegoye Secondary School in Vihiga County.
In a speech read on his behalf by County Commissioner Pauline Dola, President Uhuru Kenyatta said Otiende was a great son of Kenya who leaves an indelible mark.
Mudavadi described Kenya’s pioneer education minister as a diligent elder whose advisory services were sought after widely.
“He is the hero of Kenya’s independent cabinet who set the pace for Kenya’s education system. With his passing, Kenya has lost part of its living history,” Mudavadi said.
Wetang’ula mourned a political mentor and adviser.
“I have personally known Mzee as a crucial pillar and adviser. I extend my deepest sympathies to the family, relatives and Kenyans at large and pray that his soul be at peace with our heavenly father,” Wetang’ula said.
Otiende who died last week aged 100 years, was the first Education Minister under founding President Jomo Kenyatta from 1963 to 1969. He also served as minister for Agriculture and Housing.