By James Carlos Kilai
In 1963, Prime Minister Jomo Kenyatta appointed C M G Argwings-Kodhek an Assistant Minister for Defence.
Three years later, he was promoted to head the Ministry of Natural Resources and eventually in 1967 the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
He was a true hero of the independence movement whose personal sacrifice, determined resistance and unfailing courage are good examples for the youth.
Argwings-Kodhek was the first Member of Parliament for Gem in Siaya, serving from independence in 1963 to 1969.
He was a human rights’ lawyer based in Nairobi, where the bug of politics bit him shortly after returning to Kenya from London where he had graduated with a law degree.
He was the first Kenyan to qualify as a lawyer, be called to the bar in UK and open a law firm.
The colonial authorities branded him ‘a hot head’ for his activism and human rights campaigns for his defence of Mau Mau freedom fighters like Waruru Kanja (who later became Nyeri Town MP and Cabinet Minister), among other nationalists.
While working in Nairobi, CMG launched his own party, the Nairobi Congress Party, to fight it out with Tom Mboya’s Nairobi People’s Convention Party.
The initials CMG stood for Clement Michael George which he twisted to ‘Chiedo Moa Gem’.
Kodhek used the initials as a political nickname in his Dholuo language.
Chiedo Moa Gem literally means ‘fried – or cooked up – in Gem’ but his critics mistakenly accused him of being brainwashed by the British during his student days.
When Jaramogi Oginga Odinga left Kanu and founded the Kenya People’s Union in 1966, Kodhek stuck with Kanu.
He served as Foreign Minister for two years — 1967 to 1969 — until his death in a mysterious road accident at Kilimani, Nairobi on Wednesday January 29 1969 – exactly fifty years ago.
Today, the road bears his name.
It was a sad coincidence that Argwings-Kodhek died just months before his former rival, Thomas Joseph Odhiambo Mboya.
He was 46.