The making of Nairobi Senator Mike Mbuvi 'Sonko'

By Mwaura Samora

NAIROBI, KENYA: He is known as much for his bling and flamboyant lifestyle as for daring political stunts that vary from boxing a metallic gate, and sleeping on the tarmac during a protest to negotiating with the dreaded Mombasa Republican Council.

It’s all in a day’s work for Nairobi Senator Mike Gideon Mbuvi Kioko Sonko, known simply as Mike Sonko.

On a recent visit to the his office on the 20th floor of the Kenyatta International Convention Centre, The Nairobian was let into the life of the politician, whose national profile has grown beyond the three years 

Bring the bling

Gold rings on eight fingers, a gold bracelet and an excessively big and intimidating silvery watch on his left wrist. He is in a casual jacket and his hairstyle, carefully shaved to read ‘PEACE’, stands out.

Asked about his flashy style that some say is out of step with his standing, the Senator says that is not about to change.

"When I was first elected as a member of parliament for Makadara my dressing style was casual, and included jewellery. I vowed never to let politics change me or my lifestyle," Sonko explains while holding a gold plated iPad, whose Apple mark is inlaid with diamond crystals.

He adds: "I dress and live the way I do to resonate and relate with the youth that I represent. Young people should be made to know that leadership is not a preserve of men in stiff black suits."

A man of the people

The corridor to the Senator’s office is filled with so many people that one has to struggle to find a way through.

"From the time I walk in the office at six o’clock to the time I am leaving at around midnight, I usually see between 1,000 to 1,500 people, on a daily basis," he says.

Even though he does not give the exact figures, Sonko is said to dish out millions of shillings daily during these ‘consultations’.

The affluent politician says although he receives people as far as Kisumu and Mombasa counties priority is always given to Nairobians. The only thing that one needs to do to see the senator is getting to his office early enough to be among the first on the cue.

And he seems to thrive where many of his kind would not dare.

"There is no way I can sit and watch the youth and small scale traders who voted for me being harassed, mistreated and denied a chance to earn a daily living by greedy people," Sonko says of his recent battles against the eviction of mechanics and traders from Grogan and NCCK land in Buruburu estate respectively. “I will defend them to the very bitter end, whatever it takes".

 He says the Grogan mechanics have been at the site for 30 years and have the legal right to compensation.

"I decided to settle this issue once and for all by bringing together the warring functions," he says.

"I negotiated for mechanics and they were given a five-acre piece of land worth Sh200 million whose title deed I have," he says. He adds that he intends to get more land for the mechanics, where he will also seek government and private funds to build an eight-storey Grogan Jubilee Centre for them.

The Senator says the proposed ultramodern centre will be designed in such way that the ground floor will have sheds for various car brands while the top floors will house a mega motor spare parts store.

On the land tussle between the National Council of Churches of Kenya and Buruburu traders, the senator claims the church organisation is only a trustee hence it has no right to evict the more than 20,000 jua kali artisans who operate there.

Beef with Cabinet secretary

The politician confirms that he nearly beat up Transport and Infrastructure cabinet secretary Michael Kamau during a recent trip.

"I was so angry with him. How can he demolish houses in Lang’ata without a court order, or even giving notice? That’s so unfair. I can say over and over again, Kamau is an idiot and I won’t rest until justice is delivered," said sonko.

He further accuses Kamau of engaging in two sets of justice: One for billionaires, and another justice system for the poor.

"There are buildings on Mombasa Road which are on road reserve, why couldn’t he demolish them/ Why demolish buildings belonging to poor people? What impression is he trying to portray of the Jubilee government? The Lang’ata demolition is illegal and I will stop at nothing until I ensure the people have been compensated," says Sonko, adding that he remains loyal to Kamau.

Meal time

The interview is abruptly interrupted after his personal assistant rushes in to announce that Governor Evans Kidero is on his way.

"Tokeni, mkubwa wangu ameingia (You people get out! My boss is here)," the Senator orders us out as he hides the Johnnie Walker bottle in a drawer and shoots to his feet to shake the governor’s hand.

As we go back to the interview, Sonko is served dinner. And the man’s culinary tastes are apparently as diverse as his bling. Apart from a plateful of chicken curry and sausage, there is tea, four toasted slices of white bread, two small packets of yoghurt and a glass of whisky.

"This is my breakfast, lunch and supper combined since I rarely have time to eat. I usually take a few bites, keep the food in the fridge, warm it and the cycle keeps on until am done,' he explains while nibbling a chicken drumstick.

Porn case

The senator is also currently involved in a case in which a relative, Peris Ngina, is in court on pornography related charges, including allegedly inducing Sonko’s daughter to expose herself indecently and sending the pictures to diplomats.   

"I must bring all the culprits to justice and since the syndicate involves some mzungus who fled to Canada, I am willing to sponsor police officers to pursue them there,” Sonko vows. “Justice must be done for all the victims”.


Sonko is currently for a degree course in business administration at Kenya Methodist University. He proudly shows us his ID card. But unlike many of his college mates, the senator studies in his office and only goes to class to write his exams.

Moving from Eastlands to Runda

On why he has moved from Buruburu to Runda after being elected senator the politician is categorical.

"Runda is still in Nairobi County so I am still living among the people that elected me," Sonko retorts. "After all my father and in-laws still live in my Buru Buru house and I occasionally spend the night there, so my critics should hold their tongues".

Political future

On his political future the Nairobi Senator is very elusive, hinting that for now he is glad to serve Nairobians as a senator.

"I will vie for the presidency after Uhuru and Ruto are done with their terms,” he says. "For now I am glad to work for my people in my current capacity".