Prof Ogot 94, honored for promoting African history and archaeology in his works

Education Prof Bethwell Ogot
Prof Bethwell Ogot Photo By Fredrick Odiero

Renowned scholar professor Allan Bethwell Ogot has been honoured by an organization due to his exemplary works in the promotion of African history and archaeology and in education at large.

Ogot was feted by the African Higher Education Research Institute (AHERI) in Kisumu during the annual conference of the Tropical Institute of Community Health (TICH).

His son Madara Ogot received the award on his behalf.

Among those who attended the occasion are the CECM in charge of education in Kisumu John Awiti and Professor Chacha Nyaigoti Chacha, university don at Maseno Owen Mac Onyango and a host of scholars who passed through Ogot’s hands.

The award was given by AHERI director Robert Owino who also feted former Great Lakes University Vice Chancellor Professor Dan Kaseje.

Ogot is an accomplished Kenyan historian and academician whose works tell African history like no other.

Born in Gem, Siaya County in 1929, Professor Ogot is an alumnus of Ambira High School, Maseno School, Makerere University College, the University of St Andrews, and the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, in the United Kingdom.

During his time in London, Ogot served as leader of the Kenya Students Association, hence getting an opportunity to assist nationalists, such as late Vice President Jaramogi Oginga Odinga during the 1960 Lancaster negotiations ahead of Kenya’s independence in 1963.

He was the President of the International Scientific Committee for the preparation of UNESCO’s General History of Africa, besides editing volume 5 of UNESCO’s History of Africa.

He takes us down memory lane on how he landed the jobs, and what it was like working for UNESCO, for 20 years.
According to Professor Ogot, former Libya President, the late Muammar Gadaffi was a supportive figure during his time at UNESCO.

After that, he did another major project for UNESCO – Producing the history of humanity, granting him an opportunity to learn about world history.

His teaching journey includes lecturing and holding administrative positions at the University of Nairobi, Makerere University, and Kenyatta University and serving as Moi University Chancellor up to 2013, with tens of Professors around the globe having gone through his able hands.

He remains Professor Emeritus of Maseno University, in Kisumu.

He shares experiences from the Universities, both negative and positive.

One of his low moments, he says, was being sacked crudely while serving as chairman of a government parastatal.

He was sacked by former President, the late Daniel Moi over the radio during lunchtime news, as he dined with the then Head of State at State House, Nairobi.

Professor Ogot whose sense of hearing seems to be failing him in old age says nothing much has changed in how the Country is being governed, since 1964.

The good old Professor has written his autobiography, ‘My Footprints on the Sands of Time,’ with African history being at the centre of it.

Some of the notable honours and accolades that came as a result of his works are the Distinguished Africans Award, UNESCO’s Gold Medal and Elder of the Burning Spear.

He is celebrated for his numerous works, which range from History of the Southern Luo: Volume I, Migration and Settlement to Who if anyone owns the Past? Reflections on the meaning of “Public History.”

His wife, Emily Grace Akinyi, a politician, writer and health specialist died in 2015.

The 94-year-old currently enjoys his sunset years at his Yala home.

By Fredrick Odiero

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