Every time I look at our soldiers and the sacrifice, they’ve put forth risking their lives to protect our freedom, I see a selfless act of valor done without asking anything in return. Their love, passion and resilience to serve the nation reminds me of one Gusii legendary Otenyo, whose courage saw the death of a yesterday ruthless British leader during the colonial invasion in Gusiiland.
Otenyo Nyamaterere son of the Bogeka clan was a brave Gusii warrior who led his people in the resistance against the colonization and through him the Gusii warriors were feared among the natives because they won all their battles and were fearless hunters. His resilience against colonization and the protection of his people, land and possessions earned him respect from his community and beyond.
Due to the Abagusi’s constant rebellion to the British administration, in 1905 the British, led by Geoffrey Northcote a British colonial officer, waged a terrible attack in what was then known as the Gusiiland. They seized livestock and destroyed crops while ruthlessly killing women and children who resisted. The British did not realize that their attempt to silence the Gusii people would bring forth an unstopped hero who would be willing to fight them to the bitter end.
Amidst brutality and blood shed the Gusii people experienced, they remained resilient and were ready to face and fight their monster at all cost.
In 1908, the Kisii people resolved enough is enough and the young warrior Otenyo Nyamaterere who was deeply angered by the British brutality led a group of warriors on a counterattack. His main target being Sir. Geoffrey Northcote otherwise known as ‘Nyarigoti’ by the Abagusii people and whom they viewed to be their terror. This came after Otenyo’s aunt Moraa, a revered woman believed to be a prophetess foresaw Otenyo’s greatness and success in the fight against their oppressors. After blessings from Moraa, Otenyo and other warriors were set, ready to battle the metal gun armed British with only poisoned arrows while defending themselves with spears. When the hour came, the Gusii warriors hid behind leaves and Otenyo hit Nyarigoti’s neck bleeding to death which resulted in jubilation in Abagusii land.
Otenyo did not go down without a fight and when the angry British colonizers sought to retaliate during one of the many brutal battles, he was speared down by a British official and captured, tried in public and executed by a firing squad at the Kisii stadium. His head was later cut off and sent to Britain while his body was found beside a bridge with many gunshot wounds. His capture was during the fight between the British and the warriors in what is now present-day Manga in which many brave warriors sacrificed their lives to save their communities.
Otenyo died a hero and his spirit still flows in the bloodstream of our gallant soldiers who fight tooth and nail against those who threaten our peace, not blinking an eye when pursuing terrorists in their hidden cages in a bid to protect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of our Republic. Furthermore, their assistance and co-operation with other authorities in situations of emergency or disaster and restoration of peace in parts of Kenya affected by unrest or instability is immeasurable.
It goes without saying that our soldiers and heroes like Otenyo Nyamaterere deserve respect and honor for their sacrifice, commitment, professionalism and patriotism. Our security officers most of the time are away from their families in line of duty, they are our heroes.