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New ‘Sonko’ takes Ukambani by storm

By - Paul Mutua | October 15th 2012
Cyrus Musyoka, ‘Sonko wiitu’ has to grapple with attacks from older politicians who often dismiss him as a toddler dreaming of playing in the league of men. [PHOTO: WILBERFORCE OKWIRI/NAIROBI]

By Paul Mutua

When Makadara MP Gidion Mbuvi aka ‘Mike Sonko’ swept the political scene, the country was awed by the young politician’s financial endowment.

But it seems the political scene is yet to see enough of the youthful elite in active politics.

Enter 25-year old Cyrus Musyoka, popularly known in his Kitui South backyard as ‘Sonko wiitu’, which loosely translates to “our tycoon,” who has been hailed as a promising demagogue of Ukambani youth.

The flamboyant ‘Sonko’ from the heart of Kamba land is a firebrand of youth empowerment, as seen in his entourage, which comprises of a driver, bodyguards and a personal assistant, all of whom are in their early twenties and might be mistaken for high school students on holiday.

The youngster has confidently expressed his interest in the Kitui South Constituency, which is currently held by Isaac Muoki.

His opponents are questioning the political grounding of Musyoka and how such a lad had managed to amass so much wealth.

Turned down

“Octogenarians and the old fogey in the relay race of Kenyan politics have refused to accept that their time is up and hand over the leadership baton to the youth, so we will have to race with them. It is high time we, the youth stand and compete with our fathers for our rightful place in societal leadership,” Musyoka declares. 

The aspirant will be battling it out with other parliamentary hopefuls for the seat that is currently held by Mr Muoki, a close ally of Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka, who has expressed interest in the country’s presidency.

Being a orphan, Mr Musyoka says his ambition to represent the people is driven by the suffering he underwent following the demise of his parents.

He says he almost gave up his education after several of his bursary and grants were turned down.

He blames the current crop of leaders for being insensitive to the plight of the youth, which has led to many dropping out of school while a large population of the educated ones remain jobless and financially too weak to think of starting their own businesses.

The young ‘Sonko’ says he understand the plight of the poor more than any of his opponents.

“As I offer my candidature, my heart bleeds for the youth. I missed out on my Constituency Development Fund (CDF) bursary allocations under strange circumstances.The same happened with scholarships from both the Heinz Endowments Foundation, which is run by United States senator John Kerry’s wife Teresa Heinz, and another from the Jomo Kenyatta Foundation. They were marred by hitches that I don’t understand to date,” he says.

Age, brains and money

Mr Musyoka nonetheless sat for his Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examination at Ofafa Jericho High School in Nairobi in 2006, attaining an impressive grade A- minus. He was admitted to Strathmore University where he graduated with a degree in Information Technology.

At 25, Sonko who is married with one child is the proprietor of an ICT firm Prime Technologies, which boasts of a well-established network in Nairobi, Eldoret, Kisumu and Mombasa plus a printing firm; Tech City Media in Nairobi’s Tom Mboya Street.

The young entrepreneur also intends to venture into the hospitality industry and has already initiated plans to open a chain of high-end hotels in all major cities across the country. The first in the franchise is already operational in.

However, Mr Musyoka has to grapple with attacks from older politicians who often dismiss him as “a toddler dreaming of playing in the league of men.”

He jokingly dismisses the politicians who are out to criticise his age.

 “What my age cannot do for me, my brains and money will always do better that any of the old chaps can imagine,” he says.

“At one time during a fund raiser, a leading politician told people not even to think of listening to my policies because I’m yet to learn how to have a proper bath which makes me stink of urine. He was telling the gathering that I still wet my bed,” he adds.

But Mr Musyoka says the people later came to apologise to him on behalf of the politician, after he tripled the parliamentarian’s contribution and offered free consultancy on how best the community would initiate better projects, a factor he said was absent in most old guard s.

Bold move

‘Sonko’, who intends to seek nomination under the Wiper Democratic Movement (WDM), has launched a five pronged manifesto outlining the issues he feels are the most important for the people of Kitui South, namely: poverty reduction, road construction, improvement of health care, provision of better education and security.

The budding politician also denounces the culture of mud-slinging politics and pledges to centre on projects and empowerment of the people as his main campaign strategy.

He says he will continue investing in development of his home area even if his bid is not successful.

Though he may not beat the youthful age record set by the likes of George Khaniri who made it to parliament and ascended to the post of assistant minister at the age of 23, and other politicians who have sailed on family names to parliament at younger ages, the new ‘Sonko’ is set to cause ripples in the Ukambani political scene.

Opinion leaders the County Weekly spoke to were united in supporting the youngster in ascending into leadership positions in the March 4, 2013 General Election.

They welcomed the young generation that had shown interest in taking the leadership mantle from the elderly group terming the move bold and admirable.

An aspirant for County governorship, Kennedy Ngumbau, said young leadership was a big asset to the nation’s development as it was agile, charismatic, democratic and innovative.

Transforming country

“Strategic renewal is a profound tenet which encourages passive power transfer to the young generation when the old folks retire thereby inculcation of productive and profitable governance and devolution in our county systems,” Mr Ngumbau said. 

He said the young brings massive generational change in leadership thus deviating from old centuries command and control way of doing things.

Mr Ngumbau who sought to clarify that in 2007 elections he only showed interest to replace Water Minister Charity Ngilu as Kitui Central MP but never got to the ballot, said his secretariat mainly composed of young and talented people whom he believes can bring fresh appeal and ability in viewing national affairs through “new eyes” and use the language of hip to get across to their colleagues.

Green Africa Foundation CEO Isaac Kalua and Kitui Central constituency ODM branch secretary Kelly Mutunga said the youngsters were better placed to transform the county into the next level of the constitutional dispensation.

Mr Kalua said he believed tolerance, humility, fair justice and value proposition could only be achieved through youthful leadership.

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