Raila meets guard who smuggled his prison letters to family

ODM leader Raila Odinga on Tuesday praised Mzee John Mwavuda, the prison guard, who help him to smuggle letters to his family members and friends during his detention days in the 1980s.

Raila who met Mzee Mwavuda in Mbololo, Taita Taveta County, took to his Twitter account to share their times at Manyani Maximum Prison with the guard.

The ODM leader revealed that it was Mzee Mwavuda who helped him to deliver the letters he had scribbled in the tissue papers to Nairobi.

He said that were it not for the letters he sent and received from loved ones through Mwavuda, he would have lost hope in detention, adding that Mwavuda risked his life for him.

“He doubled up as the official courier for the prison and I would deliberately write official letters which would trigger him to be sent to Nairobi, he risked his life selflessly by delivering messages that kept me going during those dark days.”

He also revealed how Mzee Mwavuda smuggled in pieces of toilet and scrap paper for him which he used to write to his family members and friends while in detention.

“John was a special man, kind enough to smuggle in pieces of toilet and scrap paper that I would then write letters to my loved ones on,” Raila said.

Raila pledged to support a project identified by Mzee Mwavuda as a way of appreciating him for what he did to him during his tough times in jail.

I’ll be forever indebted to Mzee Mwavuda and I will support a project that is close to his heart that he has told me about to fruition,” added the former PM.

Raila urged Kenyans to pray for Mzee Mwavuda, describing him as a hero who deserves better.

“He has now lost most of his close family and let us all pray for strength and comfort for him. Hongera Shujaa Mzee John Mwavuda.”

ODM leader Raila Odinga with John Mwavuda at Manyani Maximum Prisons during his detention in 1980s. [Courtesy]

Raila began his four-day Coast trip today amid fears that the ODM leader is losing grip of a region that has always supported him over the years.


Raila was placed under house arrest for seven months after evidence seemed to implicate him for collaborating with the plotters of a failed coup attempt against President Daniel arap Moi in 1982 before being charged with treason and detained without trial for six years.

Among some of his most painful experiences was when his mother died in 1984 but the prison wardens took two months to inform him of her death.

He was released on February 6, 1988, only to be rearrested in September 1988 for his pro-democracy and human rights agitation.

He was released on June 12, 1989, only to be incarcerated again in July 1990, together with Kenneth Matiba, and former Nairobi Mayor Charles Rubia, multiparty system and human rights crusaders

Raila was released in June 1991 and managed to escape the country to Norway amid indications that the government was planning to assassinate him.

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