Roots party deputy presidential running candidate Justina Wamae wears a wry smile that can easily disarm her interlocutor. When her boss, presidential candidate George Wajackoyah introduced her to the public, many did not know much about her, never mind that she had been in the political space for a while and even ran for a parliamentary seat in 2017.
On stage, she comes off as confident, soft, articulate and in control of the moment. She is a contradiction of her party leader.
Prof Wajackoyah, on the other hand, is quite a character. The durag wearing ‘ganjaman’ takes no prisoners in his pursuit for a course he believes in. For instance, he will tell off naysayers sceptical about his plan to ensure the country settles most of her debt obligations through export of marijuana and snake venom.
To be fair, Wajackoyah’s entry into the race for the presidency injected a good dose of excitement into an otherwise boring and predictable contest. His eccentric approach to issues and choice of dressing is in contrast to a man he was months before the election. A lawyer, you’d often run into him in well-pressed tailored striped suit, ready to put up a good show in court.
His clarion stand on marijuana seems to have earned him a sizeable bandwidth on social media and excited some youths.
However, many saw in him a man oblivious of the menace of drug use and addiction affecting the youth. But he nonetheless has explained that his plan to legalise marijuana is purely for commercial use just like growing tea in Kericho or miraa in Meru. While penning this article, Wajackoyah was a distant third in the presidential contest.
Back to Justina. While on TV debates and the campaign trail, Justina came in handy for Wajackoyah. Selling a manifesto such as that of Roots party is no walk in the park; it needs a balance of sheer intent and understanding that you’re dealing with an audience that could be averse to unconventional policies. Pressed to debunk most of the ‘interesting’ policies in their manifesto, she gave a good account of herself. Even whenever her boss would take a complete detour on a subject on-air, she would promptly fix the mess. Such a natural.
Now, long after the dust has settled on this election, she will not fade away; her understanding of public policy and the hanky-panky of Kenyan politics would make her a great asset to any of the two leading coalitions. And she seems honestly passionate about the youth.
Shortly after she voted in Syokimau, she tweeted about her dismay over the low youth turnout which is turning out to be a big problem. Even after the numbers showed they were far off the mark, Justina took it in her strides while impressing upon the youth on the importance of the vote and what it can do to turn their fortunes around.
Finally, I was not surprised to see why she has fire in the belly; she’s a product of Akili Dada, an award-winning international incubator teaching African women why it’s crucial to be part of key decision-making.