I have ‘hustlers’ in mind – former rapper Sakaja

By Mwaura Samora

In the politics of the old guard like Kenya’s, it is easy to be pushed and shoved when you are a 28-year-old learning the ropes in the corridors of power. 

So you may either have to build the political muscle quickly or just take a back seat.

Not so for the youngest MP in town, at least by the look of his air-conditioned office at KICC. His lavish office is perhaps the symbol of his clout.

Jonhson Sakaja has one of the ‘coolest’ offices for MPs on the 26th floor of KICC. From his office window he gets an amazing view of one of the fastest growing cities in the world. This wide range view of Nairobi from Eastlands to Ngong Hills constantly reminds him of the dreams he has for the hundreds of thousands of jobless young people, who Sakaja’s party leaders prefer to call ‘hustlers’.

But the TNA chairman has little time to gaze at the city because he has to find practical solutions for the youth.

“Young people should wake up to the fact that to live their dreams they must work hard and smart,” says the politician and actuarial scientist. “We should not waste time lamenting our current circumstances, but work on how to make the best out of it.”

He is currently working on three key bills to make sure the current and future governments give priority to the affairs of the youth.

He wants to create job centres where young people can learn skills like CV and application letter writing through the Employment Bureau Authority Bill.

A city like Nairobi with talented artistes needs a clear policy, according to Sakaja. He is preparing the Performing Arts Fund Bill to create a trust for up-and-coming musicians, dancers or rappers. And he understands this well, having been a rapper before he joined politics.

And following his party’s new pledge to give the youth 30 per cent of all government tenders, the young politician wants this to continue beyond the Jubilee era.

He wants his fellow 346 MPs to pass the Public Procurement Disposal Bill to make the directive by his party boss, Uhuru Kenyatta, law.

His political career started when he joined the University of Nairobi.

“I joined politics in college because it was the easiest way through which to start a business,” Sakaja says. “I also wanted to guide the student affairs and provide leadership.”

His political fortunes headed skywards during the 2007 General Election when he joined President Kibaki’s campaign as a driver.

“After dropping the big men, I would always drive to college with the four-wheel vehicle, which gave me a lot of mileage among my fellow students,” he says.

It was while in Kibaki’s campaign that Sakaja met Uhuru, the then official opposition leader, and a political relationship began.

He joined Uhuru’s campaign and in 2010 he set up the communication team that spearheaded the Jubilee campaigns.

“We wanted to create a youth revolution and that’s why all our activities, functions, campaign strategies and manifesto were tailored towards addressing issues of youth,” the nominated MP says.

Sakaja told The Nairobian he was inspired by a photo, which stuck in his mind for a long time.

While in Form Two at Lenana High School, he always kept the photo of his dream car, a Mercedes, in his locker.

“Whenever I made noise (in class) or lost focus of my studies, the photo would send me back to my books,” he recalls with laughter.