For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus
  • 80 years old
  • Born on February 20, 1936 in Kenya.
  • Passed away on November 1, 2016 .

This memorial was created in loving memory of our father Professor Washington Aggrey Jalango Okumu of Sakwa Wayendhe, Siaya County, who passed away peacefully on 1st November 2016 in his ancestral home "Dala Kwe" (Home of Peace), Nyang'oma near Bondo, Sakwa, Siaya County in Kenya.

One of Africa's foremost development experts and international diplomats, he was an internationally renowned mediator on peace, educated in economics and finance at Harvard and Cambridge, a tour de force and leading intellectual.

During his career Professor served in many important positions dealing with African political and economic issues, subsequently becoming a specialist in industrial development in the Third World based at the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation in Vienna, Austria, where he served for 15 years as an international civil servant and diplomat.

He came to international prominence through his intervention in South Africa in 1994, when he mediated between Nelson Mandela of the ANC, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi of Inkatha and President F.W. de Klerk of the National Party in the run up to the first non-racial democratic elections in that country. He continued to play a key role in conflict resolution and as a mediator throughout Africa, lecturing widely on peace and development issues.

Professor Okumu was the son of the late Joram Okumu and the late Mariam Okumu and Grace Okumu; husband of the late Rispah Achieng Okumu; father of Martha Okumu-Oshomuvwe, Dorothy Okumu-Miller, Edith Okumu-Neeley, Caroline Okumu, Sara Okumu, Rosslyn Okumu, Isaac Okumu and David Okumu; father-in-law to Dr Joseph Oshomuvwe, Brian Miller and Darrin Neeley; grandfather to Belinda, Rene, Benjamin, Fiona, Lydia, Alexander and Davina; son-in-law of the late Patrick Agol and Zilpah Agol of Seme, Kombewa, the late Dorkas Agol and Wilikista Agol; brother to the late Richard Ataro, Helidah Anyango, Godfrey Ajuong, Frederick Ouko, Jane Riako and the late Morris Awino of Sakwa, Francis Okumu, and Pamela Adhiambo; uncle to Ruth Oliech, Nickolas Odhiambo, John Omondi, Dick Okumu, Robert Okumu, Paul Okumu, Mariam Berry: nephew to William Odhiambo Okello, Murulo Okello, Francis Okomo Okello; brother in-law to Mama Jane Okumu, Deborah Okumu, the late Charles Otieno, Martha Onyango, Susan Mbori, Elizabeth Akoro and Dick Otami. He  was cared for in his final days by Josephine Owiti.

We have lost an incredible treasure. Larger than life in every sense of the world, his public life spanned 56 years; a man of great influence who shaped us in many ways and inspired us to want to achieve the extraordinary in our own spheres of influence. To his family, however, he was much more than that: a son for 80 years, a husband and best friend to our mother Rispah for 53 years, and our father for 57 years.

Daddy you will be sorely missed. An idealist right up until your passing, your gift and belief in peace and mediation was evident in all that you did. You will remain  one of Africa's proudest sons with indelible spoors in the sands of the continent you once stradled in the diplomatic sphere like a colossus. We love and honour you. May your memory live on forever.

Your prayers and donations are greatly appreciated.


Posted by Dr. Ralph Zieff on 1st November 2018
It is hard to believe another year has passed without our world being blessed by the towering presence of my Sophomore Harvard roommate and dear friend, Wash Okumu. In our world today in the U.S., our country desperately needs the voice of a Professor Washington A.J. Okumu to help us avoid the horrors that accompany the rise of another world despot, in this case, Donald Trump. Knowing how intensely he believed in the future of his beloved Africa, I can only hope Trump`s words about "s---hole countries" did not reach Wash`s ears in heaven. If he, the Professor Reverend Doctor Okumu ever heard such a thing, I can just imagine his articulate, perfectly enunciated and brilliant words of opposition coming thundering down to the White House, and shaking Mr. Donald James Trump to the core. The world is missing who you were, Wash, more than you might ever believe. Lovingly, Ralph Zieff
Posted by James Nohrnberg on 8th July 2018
Washington was one of my three roommates my junior year in Quincy House at Harvard College (1960-61), when I was nineteen years old. I met both his wife and his British sponsor--a head of education--from Kenya during that academic year. Washington, in turn, knew my future wife, a regular visitor to our suite in Quincy 312 and he was inevitably courteous to "Miss Stephanie." (Our roommates Milton Anastos and Ron Quinn were also very kindly towards this honorary fifth roommate from Lesley College, whom I'd met through Milt, who arranged a post-HarvardYale game party for this purpose and in honor of his government teacher and our guest Henry Kissinger.) We heard from Washington of Tom Mboya, his relative/uncle, and as President of the African Students Association he received a telegram from Egypt's leader Gamal Nasser. Decades later I heard of Washington on the news about the negotiations that were creating the new South Africa, and I once met a Harvard admissions officer who had followed Washington's career in Kenya with attention (something about an office in transportation?). These traces naturally fascinated a former roommate, who knew from of old that Washington was an innately noble human being, with great dignity, presence, and kindness. At our graduation from college in May 1962 it was announced that he was being appointed the new state's ambassador to the United Nations. I do not know if this was accurate, but it sounded entirely believable to me. I remember him fondly.
Posted by M Oshomuvwe on 20th February 2018
Happy Birthday Daddy.
Posted by Patrick Kimura-Macke on 11th November 2016
I met you once, my father met you the once too. In 1985. He waited in your home while I went for a run with Sara. Met your two young sons and of course your wife who fed us well during that short visit. I met all of your daughters, some of them many times. Though my father is sixteen years your senior he is not ready to join you yet. Thank you for helping Madiba. Thank you for your peace.
Posted by Naftali Onyango on 10th November 2016
Rest in Peace. I managed to meet him on few accessions during family meetings. Your contribution to global peace is amazing and unmatched. Your contribution to a better world is indeed an everlasting legacy. A foundation would be a great way to honor professor and bring to reality his dream of a peace institute
Posted by Lilian Obaze on 10th November 2016
Never met you in life but met your daughter Martha, who also is a peace loving creature. Rest in peace Prof. Okumu..

Leave a Tribute