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The sky is the limit for blind aspirant who won MCA seat

By Silah Koskei | Published Wed, August 16th 2017 at 08:08, Updated August 16th 2017 at 08:18 GMT +3
Joseph Epuu Elim, MCA-elect of Letea ward in Turkana County.

In summary

  • Joseph Epuu Elim 34, visually impaired trounced four candidates to win Letea ward seat in Turkana county on an independent candidate.
  • The MCA candidate says he was disappointed by able leaders who offered residents no solutions
  • He garnered  957 votes, beating four other competitors angling for the MCA position

Attempts by his political competitors to dismiss his candidature on grounds of his disability did not see the light of day as he went ahead to clinch the Letea ward seat in Turkana West.

Although blind, Joseph Epuu Elim put up a spirited fight to garner 957 votes, beating four other competitors angling for the position.

And to ensure he outwitted them all, Mr Elim chose the ostrich as his symbol, which he says denotes unity and relates well with the community that voted for him.

The ostrich

"When faced with a challenge, the ostrich puts its head down as it seeks a solution. It later raises its head and forges on. I wanted the community to understand that we can put all our issues together and get a solution," he explains.

Elim is from the Ateker clan, which includes members from the Karamoja of Uganda and the Toposa of South Sudan.

He lost his sight in 1988 when he was in Class Three after a measles attack but has now risen above all odds to become the new member of the county assembly in the community that values pastoralism.

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He joins other persons with disabilities who have gone against the grain to clinch political seats instead of waiting to be nominated by political parties.

Speaking to The Standard after being declared winner, Elim said his dream of representing marginalised citizens has finally come to pass.

"The elections has been a tough struggle for me, especially being a person with a disability. The political elite chose to discredit me based on my disability instead of my ability to become a leader. Many dismissed me saying that a person who cannot see should not lead, but I am going to prove them wrong. I will lead from the front," said the elated Elim.

He fought the contest on an independent ticket after being locked out in the Orange Democratic movement (ODM) primaries.

The 34-yea-old maintained that his push to represent citizens was backed by the failures of his able predecessors.

"They have been in power since independence but they has never provided solutions on how to bring water for livestock and household use. They have also failed to address insecurity, illiteracy and health, yet they can see. They are blind and not ready to provide solutions to the citizens," he explained.

Asked how he was able to traverse the ward despite his condition, the MCA-elect maintained that he received a lot of help from residents, who took him around as he sought votes.

"Luckily I know the ward well because I was born here and all through my campaigns, I did not encounter any stiff challenge such as being despised. It was competitive politics and I sold my policies," he added.

The father of four looks forward to providing alternative leadership, which he said is premised on transforming the lives of the marginalised.

He said he would focus on improving the road network and bringing an end the perennial cross-border conflicts in the region.

"I was competing against candidates from Kanu, ODM, Chama Cha Mashinani, and Jubilee Party but I was determined, thanks to my able supporters who still have faith that I will make an impact... I have invited my competitors who lost so that we can work amicably in community building," said Elim.

Elim has a Master's degree in political science from Kenyatta University. His studies were facilitated by a scholarship from a German organisation.

He also holds a Bachelor's degree in special education from the same institution.

Before he entered politics, he was the chief officer in the Department of Energy at the Turkana County government.

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