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Brought up to serve

By - Gardy Chacha | December 23rd 2012
Peter Kenneth Kenneth doing what he loves most — working with the community.

Despite growing up in the solitary arms of a single mother, Peter Kenneth, 47, did not deviate from his boyhood dreams to emerge strong and ready to tackle life’s challenges. He spoke to Gardy Chacha

“You are Chacha?” Peter Kenneth asks as he steps into his office lobby where I have been waiting for him.

We both stroll into his office and the panorama in his office reflects his busy life. He flips his suit tactfully over the shoulders of his seat.

It has been a daunting task booking this interview through Kenneth’s Public Relations manager. Such is Kenneth’s busy life.

“How can I help you?” the Gatanga MP asks demurely as he looks at a gift left on his table. Seeing that I am holding back waiting for him to sit, he tells me to ‘shoot the questions’ and not mind about his office checks.

“Life is somewhat busy here but I am good at multi-tasking,” he says, “So go ahead; I will answer you.”

Bahati estate

Kenneth grew in a happy environment, in Nairobi’s Bahati Estate in Eastlands. He says this was a community where tranquillity was the driving force.

“I believe that if we are all disciplined, abide by the law and maintain orderliness in our lives, we can coexist well. What we need is the knack to make right choices,” he says.

Kenneth isn’t short of credit for his mother for the well-rounded and disciplined man he turned out to be.

“She was the best mother and I owe her a lot. Most of the principles she lived her life by shaped mine too,” he says.

Contrary to common belief, Kenneth encountered the normal tribulations many Kenyan families face in Nairobi. He played in the same patchy playgrounds and enjoyed the same benevolent sociology synonymous with middle class neighbourhoods in the city.

In fact, one of his favourite pastimes was football. “I played in the estate football team,” he says, “and that was one of the things that made life feel pretty nice. Football was the most revered and loved game and that sort of pulled me in it.”

Re-union football club

This isn’t enough to explain how his life is strewn with a lot of football anecdotes. Like a pragmatist, Kenneth would later seek a position in the once famous Re-union FC, which played in the division one premier league.

“At Re-union, I was the goalkeeper but I had to stop playing after fracturing my arm,” he says.

Kenneth went on to become the chairman of Kenya Football Federation between 1996 and 2000. He also served as a Fifa committee member from 1998 to 2000. But his life was not all about football.

His political career has subtly obscured his wonky status as a ‘learned member’ having graduated with a Law degree from University of Nairobi and a Masters degree in the same discipline.

Finance sector

He attended Bahati Uhuru Primary School before joining Starehe Boys Centre.

For a big chunk of his life, Kenneth has worked in the finance sector, which corroborates numerous courses he did on insurance and banking.

He says: “Despite graduating in Law, I also felt comfortable working in the field of finance. I have worked for many insurance companies and banks, the last one being as chairman of Zep Reinsurance.”

Kenneth’s political life began in 1992, at the height of excitement for a multi-party democracy. At the time, he got involved as a young man hoping to be a source of change in a country that has become maligned for injustices and lack of good governance.

Better governance

“I volunteered as a Ford Asili party coordinator in Gatanga constituency and played a big role in the election of the local MP. I also got involved in 1997 because I believed in pushing for better governance,” he says.

Though his involvement with politics was based on the clamour for change, the wheels seemed to turn at a slow pace and so in 2002, he joined the race himself. 

Riding on a wave of hope that was portrayed by the National Rainbow Coalition, he became part of a new crop of leaders who were elected as the country displayed a thirst for people-based leadership. This, it seems, is what Kenneth offered to his constituents since Gatanga was declared the best constituency to have utilised its Constituency Development Fund well in the 2011/2012 financial year.

Does he regret joining the murky world of politics?

“I have enjoyed my time as an MP and I have no regrets,” he says.

“Kenyans need to evaluate their leaders because the only important deals are those that give them solutions and not based on personal gains.”

His service for the people, he says, is traceable back to his days at Starehe. “We were taught to serve the community and put their interest first: that’s what I want to accomplish.”



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