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UoN Racism Episode That Almost Brought Raila to Tears
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|UoN Racism Episode That Almost Brought Raila to Tears by Kenyans247(1): Wed 09, December, 2020 08:42pm|
A racist incident at the University of Nairobi (UoN) brought Raila Odinga to the brink of tears as he struggled to contain emotions of rage and sadness.
From his book The Flame of Freedom, the ODM party leader recounted his time at the university in the early 1970s.
After joining the mechanical engineering department at the university, Raila also took up lecturing production technology, the theory of machines, material science and technical drawing.
His class comprised of Africans and Asians from Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania."I had my first experience of the departmental board of examinations. Each department held its own board meetings where the student's exam results were looked at to decide what the pass mark would be. There were 16 of us on the board,
"When we looked at the marks, one student had scored very highly in all his papers. I was therefore astonished to hear one lecturer remark that the student had done so well that, if he had been an Asian, he would have been awarded a First Class Degree. I felt sick to my stomach and adrenalin was racing through my blood," he recounted in his autobiography The Flame of Freedom.
An emotional Raila was even shocked moments later when the board approved the decision to grade the student poorly based on his skin colour, "Which world were we living in here, I wondered. Surely this was not independent Kenya."
Despite being a junior member of the board on his first meeting, Raila's emotions got the better of him and he rose to speak out of turn.
The room fell silent as the other board members struggled to understand what the rookie was up to.
"Mr. Chairman, I beg your pardon. I'm new here - this is my first meeting - but this discussion sounds to me like a debate in the South African parliament," he asserted.
"If this man has acquired the marks qualifying him for a First Class degree, why should it matter whether he is Asian or African," he questioned.
His unexpected speech left his senior colleagues speechless and they quickly voted to reverse their initial recommendation.
During his time at the renowned university, Raila confessed to constantly spotting Special Branch officers trailing him during his entire stay there.
"My situation was worse because I had been educated in East Germany, adding more suspicion about me," he narrated.
Word on the street at the time was that he was undergoing military training in Germany, a rumor he has denied to date.
The constant surveillance at the time forced him to shelve his political aspirations as he felt that he was placing his family in danger.
"My movements were watched and there was a trail about what we had been discussing. It was a very difficult and weary time for me," he disclosed.
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