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Why Nyanza must embrace Simba Arati for future, bigger role

Simba Arati when he was sworn in as the Kisii Governor on August 25, 2022, at Kisii Stadium. [Sammy Omingpo,Standard]

Kisii Governor Simba Arati should prepare for higher calling in Nyanza and Kenya at large. At 40 years, he has proved he has the mettle and capacity to run against the wind.

In months leading to his win, the man ran a campaign that confounded both friend and foe, completely changing the dynamics of Kisii politics.

By the time he was done he had left a trail of choirs singing ‘Simba Netaya’ meaning Simba is the light - a light that seems to have been embraced beyond Kisii boundaries.

When he started endearing himself to the Kisii electorate calling himself the Kisii spokesperson two or so years ago, many including myself, dismissed him. I didn’t expect a politician who had cut his teeth in city politics to upset veteran politicians well versed in local politics in such a short time. I took it as a great political risk to abandon his seat at Dagoretti North for Kisii County. Yet he did. He first shoved aside two possible contenders for the ODM ticket; Prof Sam Ongeri and former Kisii Woman Rep Janet Ongera.

Then he defied machinations of his predecessor James Ongwae who was not keen to be succeeded by him. Eventually, at the ballot he successfully took on veterans Chris Obure and Ezekiel Machogu.

Simba Arati seemed to have picked and ran a campaign similar to that of President-elect William Ruto – who I consider a yardstick in bare knuckle politics. Both invested heavily in terms of money and time in their campaign and seemed aware that power is never given but taken. They scoured every inch day in day out.

When Ruto first indicated readiness to yearn for the presidency in 2007 through ODM, not many people gave him a chance. Yet, several years later only the Supreme Court sits between him and the State House. There is thus no reason to believe a man that shares the same will power cannot replicate the same.

However, the main reason why I am looking at Arati for political kingship in Nyanza and later presidency, is the fact that in the next few years; regardless of the Supreme Court outcome, the man that has straddled Kenyan politics like a colossus for over 30 years, Raila Odinga, will have to handover to youthful politicians.

To prepare for that moment, Nyanza must embrace Arati. He offers the best chance for the region to have a say in national politics. Just like Raila, Arati honed his politics in the cosmopolitan city.

Arati is a combination of ingenuity and tenacity of ODM and Azimio leader Raila Odinga and the energy, drive and self-belief of William Ruto. With such qualities, the way can only be up. However, he must start by proving himself as Kisii governor in the next five years. I hope he doesn’t make me change my mind about him. 

The writer is anchor at Radio Maisha. [email protected]