Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) is set to demolish the old house of the late Jaramogi Oginga Odinga in the Jerusalem estate.
The house of Jaramogi is among the 1,500 houses earmarked for demolition by NMS to pave the way for the urban renewal program.
NMS plans to erect six-to-16 storey residential buildings in that same spot to benefit the residents of the Eastlands area.
The house is orange in color and stands out among other sturdy concrete buildings in Jerusalem which border Jericho estate. It is supposed to be flattened by August.
The estate was built in the 1950s, housing prominent leaders and civil servants. Jaramogi, who served as the vice president to Mzee Jomo Kenyatta after independence stayed there.
But NMS has decided it is time to say goodbye to the old structure and bring in a new face to Jericho and Jerusalem estate.
The residents are not ready to let go with some claiming that the houses are still strong. The original inhabitants may be long gone, but the sentimental value their relatives have attached to their homes is palpable.
At the Jaramogi house, Everlyne Awino Agola, the current occupant, says she is comfortable staying there. She is the daughter of Ngire Agola Odinga, a younger brother of Oburu Oginga, and ODM leader Raila Amolo Odinga.
According to the mother of four, the house is more than a home to the Odingas, partly because it reminds them of Jaramogi’s “humble personality, who preferred living the simple life” and partly because whenever her uncle, Odinga is on the campaign trail, he stops by “for blessings” and to receive supporters and treat them to a cup of tea.
Jericho estate, according to the chairperson of Jericho residents, Jane Achieng, has about 1,350 occupants. Jerusalem has 600 households.
The residents will lose a part of their identity — the place they once called home.
The Odinga house is still registered under Jaramogi’s name as a way of honoring him.
According to the chairperson, a vital part of history is just about to be erased.
“Notable names in Kenyan politics, including former presidents Daniel Moi and Mwai Kibaki, and several others, lived here,” she said. “We don’t want to lose that history. It gives our country its identity,” she told Daily Nation Africa.
Daily Nation Africa further reports that the residents are opposed to the urban renewal plan by NMS claiming that it will wash away their heritage.
The National Museum of Kenya is yet to give its thoughts about preserving the houses for monumental use.