Sunday, 28 December 2014

John Okello (Field Marshall)

The Field Marshall who liberated Zanzibar and Pemba

On January 12, 1964, with popular support from the Island’s oppressed native African majority, Okello and his men fought their way to the capital of Zanzibar, Stone Town, where the Sultan lived. Even though they were poorly armed, Okello and his men surprised the police force of Zanzibar and they took over power.

The self proclaimed Field Marshal there after created the Revolutionary Council and named the leader of the Afro-Shirazi Party, Abeid Karume as President. Karume was residing in Tanganyika, but returned to Zanzibar, where he was welcomed by Okello. Afterwards, Okello appeared to be too unstable to play any role in government of the new country and was quietly sidelined from the political scene by President Karume, who only allowed him to retain his title of Field Marshal. But after two months, he was captured and declared a prohibited immigrant while he was in Tanganyika, then later sent to Kenya. He was incarcerated multiple times and was allegedly last seen with the Ugandan President Idi Amin in 1971 and vanished afterwards.

Killed by Amin:
In the book “Revolution of Zanzibar”, written by Don Petterson, 
Idi Amin saw him as a threat (after Amin promoted himself Okello reportedly joked that "now Uganda has two field marshals" and had arranged his assassination.

Okello is a born of Iyama village, Alebtong Parish, Aloi Sub-county, Moroto county, Alebtong District (Formerly part of Lira District), Lango Sub-region. He is survived by two wives and children. According to family sources, he left his home village at 15 and set out on his own and found work in several places within East Africa. Okello left for Pemba and Zanzibar in 1959 and 1963 respectively where he lived and worked as a clerk, manservant, gardener and later on a police officer.
More importantly, the dependants of the late Field Marshal Okello live in chronic and abject poverty. I therefore appeal to the Government of Uganda in conjunction with the Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar to honestly come in and extend a hand of help aimed at salvaging the plight of Field Marshal John Okello’s dependants.
The writer is MP for Ajure County

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