By Oscar Obonyo
In an eyebrow raising gesture, Justice Minister Eugene Wamalwa recently returned from Geneva where he was on official duty and headed to Kogelo village to meet President Barrack Obama’s grandmother, Sarah.
Contacted by The Standard, the minister declined to confirm or deny whether he was unofficially in contact with US officials at the UN meeting and if indeed he had a message for the Obama kin. But, Wamalwa maintains he is a friend of the Obamas, especially the grandmother.
“My closeness with Mama Sarah began in January 2008, when we were on the same flight to Washington for the swearing-in of Obama, as the 44th President of the US. We shared a lot on the long flight and were together again at the National Mall on the D-Day,” explains Wamalwa.
The minister, a presidential aspirant, regards the US President who has Kenyan roots and the late flamboyant Justice and Constitutional Affairs minister Tom Mboya as role models. The two are of Luo descent.
Following what he describes as a cordial encounter with Obama’s grandmother in Kogelo last weekend, the Saboti MP has this weekend toured Rusinga Island, home to his other role model – the late Tom Mboya.
The visit by Wamalwa to the Mboya Mausoleum followed a chain of activities, including meet-the-people tours, closed-door consultations with New Ford-Kenya party officials, local leaders, and a rally in Mbita.
By fronting an Obama-Mboya connection, Wamalwa may be trying to get a foothold in Nyanza politics, otherwise considered a locked zone for Prime Minister and Orange party leader, Raila Odinga.
But Wamalwa’s efforts to endear himself to voters in this region do not stop at mere politicking. The minister, who went to Gendia High School in Homa Bay for his ‘A’ levels, is spearheading a funds drive for a shcool bus.
Either because of these concerted efforts to woe voters from the region or other considerations, the presidential aspirant has considerably won favour among the locals.
Last weekend as he returned from Kogelo, for instance, cheering crowds along the streets of Kisumu stopped his motorcade demanding to be addressed.