THE UNSUNG HERO – The story of Titus Adungosi

*Concerned Comrade John Gwambo*

Soft spoken and steady shooting Titus Adungosi was arrested along Kenya Air Force personnel on the grounds that he had played a key role in the 1982 attempted coup. To him troubles had just began immediately he was elected SONU chair at a time the government was trying to steady a ship of a cowed nation while the radicals were fighting for a democratic space.

Andungosi was picked by a special branch police officers at the premises of the University Of Nairobi for questioning at Nyayo Chambers and subsequently remanded at Kamiti Maximum Security Prison. He was later taken to court in the same month he was arrested on charges that he took part in the aborted coup. He denied any involvement in the coup but made a confession that was viewed as self-incriminating. He said “Yes I made a statement that the students supported the government of today, I had to do that in the safety of students and myself.”

The first Bomet governor Isaac Rutto who was Titus Adungosi’s personal vice chair in the leadership of SONU, says that the statement was interpreted to mean that, the government of the day was that which tried to overthrow Moi’s regime led by Ochuka, the then Kenya Air Force Commander and therefore Titus Adungosi was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment.

One year later Titus was back in the corridors of justice with an appeal but this time again he was not lucky as the highest court in the land dismissed the appeal. He was back at Kamiti Maximum Security Prison to serve his 10 years jail term. All along Titus Andungosi had maintained that there was no conflict between the student leadership and the state but their debate was more of ideas than as to the persons.

As a matter of fact, he was the only student leader who had the portraits of former president Moi in his room, smarty-colored but this did not count before the law. By the time Titus was almost completing his 10 year jail term, he was transferred from Kamiti Maximum Prison to Naivasha Prison.

The third year student at the University of Nairobi was hopeful that upon completion of his jail term he would return to Nairobi to pursue his political ambitions and champion for a democratic space, a dream that never materialized. A few weeks before his release, his family received the sad news of his demise. He had died under circumstances that still remain shrouded in mystery up to date.

His death had been kept a closely guarded secret by the prison authorities for almost 40 days. His body was then transported to his rural village in Busia County under tight security. The family says that there were more police officers than mourners – they were not allowed to view the body of their kin and within 4 hours the body had been buried and mourners commanded to leave the scene. It would latter emerge that Titus Adungosi was tortured and denied medical attention while in prison, a condition that deteriorated his health.

His story paints an image of a young boy who went to a local secondary school and later become one of the biggest name in country’s struggle for second liberation. For him, his was a short stint at the helm of student leadership, shunned by the system, never had a chance to become a politician leave alone staying in the capital city as he died a mysterious death that had never been explained by the state to date. We only pray that that even though the wheels of justice move slowly, the family will one day be served with justice.

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