Duo opens window into Aworis’ little known family life

The book tells the story of a huge family of achievers spanning 230 years

Odhiambo Orlale

It is one of the most influential families in the East African region.

It has a recorded history that spans 230 years. Yet, very few know much about it. It is the Aworis.

But thanks to a new book, Seizing The Moment, the rich history that starts the oldest known Awori patriarch, Nambanja Muka, who was born in 1785, the world has an opportunity to glimpse into the famous family.

The 307-pager is authored by Horace Awori and Kondia Wachira, and is an amazing story of The Awori Family, that has produced some of the most prominent figures in and outside government both in Kenya and in neighbouring Uganda for the past half a century.

It is a compelling story about this large family of 16 siblings led by the first Anglican Church of Kenya Canon, Yeremiah Musungu Awori. It is a family that spans two countries, Kenya and Uganda, and has defied odds, reading the signs correctly to become great achievers in both nations.

Indeed, the most remarkable was when two of the Awori brothers were a breadth away from the presidency in Kenya and in Uganda at the same time.

They were Moody Awori, also fondly referred to as ‘Uncle Moody’, during his tenure as Vice-President of the Republic of Kenya, 2003-07 under President Mwai Kibaki’s government; and Aggrey Awori, who was also bitten by the bug of politics in Uganda, where he served as a Member of Parliament for many years.

He then made history in 2001 by daring to vie for the presidency against powerful incumbent Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, and came third in the poll.

Moody, had previously served as MP for Funyula in Busia county for 25 years, and as Kenya’s longest serving Assistant Minister before his elevation to VP; while Aggrey served as MP for Samia Bugwe in Uganda before joining Cabinet in charge of Broadcasting and Information Technology ministry.

The two brothers are among the 16 children of Canon Awori who is described in the book as “a great leader amongst the early Anglican priests in Western Kenya and Eastern Uganda”. He also became the first Luhya to be ordained as a priest in Western Kenya, a role he used convert thousands of residents in the region.

Before writing the book, the authors reveal that Afritell Publishers had first stumbled on the Awori story in the run up to the 2013/14 edition of the Kenya Book of Records series when it was decided to seek and highlight top families in Kenya in terms of collective family achievements.

Good story

“We spent a considerable time researching the Aworis, visiting them in their Nairobi homes and fact-finding in their respective rural homes. We now believe that we have a good story to tell – a positive story that will inform, entertain and challenge at the same time,” the authors say in the prologue.

The duo has called it a “famography,” essentially an interrogation of several generations of a family, in an attempt to separate time, familial and circumstantial dynamics that help determine how a family “grows,” interacts and transmits from generation to generation.

They say the fruit of Canon Awori’s efforts together with the inculcation of strong Christian virtues in the 1930s has seen his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren record spectacular success in various fields in the public and private sector.

Among the long list of known household names are: Dr Nelson Awori (pioneer transplant surgeon and kidney specialist); Dr Mary Okelo (first female manager at Barclays Bank and founder director of Makini Schools); Hannington Awori (former board member of several many blue chip firms and is an ex Technical Director East African Industries (EAI), which has since been renamed Unilver); Prof Judi Wakhungu (former Environment Cabinet secretary).

Others are  Jeremy Awori (Barclays Bank Kenya MD); Horace Awori (journalist); WWW Awori (former Nominated Member of the Legislative Council in 1952 to represent North Nyanza, later renamed Western province, and is an ex-Editor of Hansard, verbatim reportage of all parliamentary proceedings.)

Others are Joshua Awori (Commissioner of Anglican Church of Kenya); Denis Awori (Kenya’s Ambassador to Japan); and Wasio Awori (architect).

The patriarch of the Awori family had also served as a member of the coveted North Kavirondo (Western province) Local Native Council.

However, his greatest legacy is that eventually, as a model Christian Anglican Christian, he and wife, Mama Mariamu, brought up a large family comprising some of the most successful people in Kenya and Uganda.

A family made up of top notch lawyers, engineers, politicians, surgeons, journalists, educationists, athletes, and diplomats among others.

The reviewer is an editor at African Woman and Child Feature Service

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