Perhaps as a herald of a future stellar career in the legal field, Godfrey Hillary Oduor Awino wrote a brilliant composition while a pupil at St. Lwanga Primary School in Mombasa titled ‘The Bell of Justice’. His teacher, seeing such a unique composition in her teaching career, had to consult her colleagues in the staff room on how to grade the piece of work.
This finesse in whatever he set out to pursue would be the hallmark of Oduor’s life whether in academics or later professionally. Going through life with the nickname Mzee (elder), Oduor would leave milestone after milestone. Oduor who was born on 15th February 1975 , was the firstborn among five children to the late Shadrack Awino Ong’or and the late Rhoda Aomo Awino. He was fondly known by many nicknames; Mzee, OD, Godi, Martin and others are just a testament to the width and depth of relationships he formed with everyone from all walks and stations of life.
The nickname elder was a fitting description of the leadership qualities he exhibited from a young age from his primary school days. His pioneering spirit led to his participation in many extra-curricular activities and clubs making him get opportunities like participating in the opening ceremony of the 4th All African Games in 1987. After primary school, he proceeded to Shimo la Tewa High School in Mombasa before being transferred to Kenyatta High School – Mwatate.
Always the excellent student, he was admitted to the University of Nairobi, Parklands Law Campus, where he graduated with a law degree with the Class of 1998 (aka Makorrigs). Godfrey had unique and wide range of interests; always an artist and a poet at heart, his poems an expression of his deepest reflections only a few had the privilege to see, he had a deep love for books, his bookshelf a small library, his music collection could cater for all genres , he loved being in nature and travelling and would be in complete tranquility at game park, a lake or beach side, engaging his company talking about different philosophical concepts as he enjoyed the peaceful environment.
Born into a strong Christian family Godfrey attended confirmation classes and was confirmed at the then CPK Changamwe, later in life he would profess his Christian faith and would take all opportunities to encourage his family and friends in the journey of finding meaning for this life. Oduor had a stellar career in the Judiciary, joining them in 2001 as a District Magistrate 2. He rose quickly as a result of his meticulous performance to the position of Chief Magistrate with his last station being in Kisumu, having served in Kibera, Keroka, Kisii, Limuru and Nakuru Law courts, a lot of times as the head of station. The number of friends he formed amongst his colleagues and in his profession a statement of his professional etiquette. Always willing to sacrifice his own personal ambition and comfort, Godfrey followed in the footsteps of his late father when he had to put on hold a big part of his own life to take the role of parenting even before entering into employment with such grace striving to ensure all his siblings were well taken care of. Even with these responsibilities, he was generous to a fault and always shared whatever he had, giving both in deed and of his time to make others feel supported through all seasons of life. A stickler for social justice yet always a diplomat, he was always willing to advance and give opportunity to amicably solve any conflict be it from close family members, friends or complete strangers.
He met the love of his life, the Late Becky Mwangi with whom they had their traditional wedding on 9th January 2010 in Mukurweini. They enjoyed a loving relationship which was tragically cut short with the sudden passing on of Becky in February of 2015 as he rushed her to hospital after a sudden heart attack. Even in the face of personal tragedies, he found the strength to soldier own, always shielding those who were close to him, those who looked up to him, wanting to take it in his stride, even when everything seemed to crumble, he kept faith , a confidence in the things he hoped for, assured that he would see them, his only cry for help was to his God to remember him, not to forsake him. We remain trusting that our God is faithful. Today we celebrate a true son, a selfless brother who quickly had to transition into a parent, we celebrate a poet and an artist, a philosopher, we celebrate a husband, a colleague, a mentor and a loyal friend, the list could be as long as the people represented here. We celebrate a good man. and a loyal friend, the list could be as long as the people represented here. We celebrate a good man.
As I reach out for the right words to express my thoughts about my brother. I remember the many valued and meaningful roles you played in my life. You were remarkable in so many ways and touched the lives of so many during your time here with us. Bro you were a comfort to me in times of sorrow always putting on a brave face in order to keep me strong. My life’s best gift, someone to treasure all life through. You were caring thoughtful and true.
Someone who holds a special place in my heart. A brother, father, mentor, confidant and a friend. Someone whose love you could depend on. You always had my best interest at heart. A blessing, a gift and a treasure like no other. I can’t say goodbye and unable to accept your death. You will live in my heart to my last breath.
Rest in peace Bro
I got to know Godfrey as my pupil at St. Lwanga Primary School in Mombasa. He later became my nephew when I got married to his Uncle in 1986. Godfrey was a very brilliant boy in class and I knew he had a bright future. He once wrote a very nice composition entitled “The bell of Justice”. The composition was so good that I had to consult other teachers before awarding marks.
Years later when he joined university to study law, I remembered “The bell of Justice” Mzee as we used to call him was a very calm person and had very few words. He was very caring to his siblings and other people. When I lost my brother, he sent me airtime and told me “Auntie ang’eyo ni ibiro goyo simu mangeny” (Auntie I know you need to make a lot of calls). Surely death has robbed us of a focused young man who had a bright future ahead of him
“Rest in Peace Jarae”
Tribute to my brother the late Godfrey Hillary Oduor on behalf of Vera, Wycliffe and on my own behalf I have always called him Mzee, that is what I found my parents calling him. Whether in childhood or later in life ,he was always a worthy example in the most difficult situations it would be well worthy to wait for his cue. Instinctively protective and selfless, l knew we always came first even at great personal cost, stoically standing up to family responsibility that others who society would have imposed it on furtively shied away from, a bulwark against an onslaught of naysayers whispering in fluttering shadows. I will always owe you a debt of gratitude for staying put and letting us grow, steadfastly breaking the waves of life’s harsh realities like better the wounds of a friend than the kisses of
I stay challenged by the genuineness of his friendship, relationships forged in times gone by he always kept warm, always encouraging to forgive even when nature screamt do not forget. Always jovial, always looking for the sunny side, making sure everybody’s anniversary or birthday was remembered, a card signed, a gift bought, Christmas chapatis cooked, trying to make our lives as normal as it could ever gave possibly been. We grew up, he released us one after another me to my own family, others by the dealings of death’s grim reality, never asking for a return on his labor or for someone else to take their turn, and when it was my turn I finally understood what it might have felt to be in his place. Today as I take my turn to release him, a strong yet gentle spirit , I trust that his labor of love shall not be in vain for God is no man’s debtor.
Uncle Dan (Dan O. Ong‘or)
You were born and called Mzee. My father and I saw you grow, almost like my younger brother but of course a nephew. The days went by; Luanda, Maseno, Changamwe, Mombasa and later Nairobi. You helped restore the stars of your father and let his home remain “standing”. Life experiences broke your heart, albeit the thoughts about them but fare thee well. May the Good Lord guide your siblings to continue restoring the glowing stars of your father, Shadrach.
A tribute to our dear brother Godfrey, Jatelo, Sirkal.
Our handsome big brother, our joy, our ride or die, our peace maker, our dear judge,my best friend. God looked down upon the earth and saw your tired face, He put His arms around you and lifted you to rest. We will never be able to replace the massive empty feeling we have now in our hearts and it breaks and saddens us because we can no longer tell you how much we love you. you have always been our inspiration and we have got so much strength from watching you winning the challenges you faced, you were loyal and was always there for anyone who needed you no matter what. You were a humble, polite, down to earth person who mingled with everyone.
It’s sad that you gave no one a last farewell, nor ever said good- bye. You were gone before we knew it, only God knows why. A million times we will miss you, a million times we will cry. If our love alone could have saved you, you never would have died. In life we loved you dearly, and in death we still love you. It broke our hearts to lose you, but you didn’t go alone, for part of us went with you the day God took you home. You are absent from the body but present with the Lord. We will meet again someday in a better place. We love you so much brother.
May your soul rest in peace Nyathiwa!!