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The story of Ombima and MV Uhuru at the Kisumu Pier


MV Uhuru is a cargo vessel which was acquired by the East Africa Railways and harbour for its inland Marine service based in Kisumu.

One sunny evening in 1967, the captain realized he couldnt start the ship which was supposed to make a scheduled voyage to Mwanza.

During those days most Marine engineers at marine division Kisumu were British except for a young Tito Ombima who was the only African.

In a bid to bring the engines to life 3 British engineers entered the ship’s engine room without Ombima who was asked to stay outside.

After spending almost 4 hours in the dark engine room of this newly built ship ,the Brits still couldnt figure out where the fault was.

With desperation now creeping in as the time for depature fast approached, Ombima boldly approached the three British engineers who were his seniors and asked them to give him a chance ,which they did reluctantly.

It didnt take Ombima more than 20 minutes in the engine room before MV Uhuru’s engines started roaring.

Most people including my dad who was working at the marine division at the time ,believed Ombima who was known to be clever but also cunning, intentionally created a secret fault to beat the British who had always sidelined him at their own game.

Stalled MV Uhuru at Kisumu pier
Currently Stalled MV Uhuru at Kisumu pier

Ombima later rose to become the first African superitendent Marine Engineer Kenya Railways.

Story by Odhiambo Levin Opiyo, via Facebook

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