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The bullet that propelled Kalonzo Musyoka’s political dream

By Amos Kareithi | Nov 4th 2021 | 2 min read

What a proud moment it was for Kalonzo Musyoka posing next to my first ever car along the then Nairobi- Thika highway. [File]

When a drunken Administration Police officer pulled the trigger of his G3 assault rifle in a windswept trading centre in Mwingi, little did he know he had inadvertently launched the political career of one of Kenya’s most enduring politician.

It had all the unlikely ingredients for a political start-up.  A stolen ploughing machine, greasing of palms, a thief set free, and an angry MP. Disgusted by the release of a policeman who had stolen his ploughing machine, Kitui North MP Philip Manandu vowed to teach the AP officer a lesson.

But the AP learnt about this and, fired up by drinks, opted to attack as means of defence. He grabbed his G3 assault rifle and unleashed a volley of bullets at the lawmaker at Tseikuru market. 

The end result was the death of an MP who was so popular that his critics accused him of using witchcraft. The unintended consequence was a by-election in Mwingi and voila, Stephen Kalonzo Musyoka the politician was reborn.

When he first contested a parliamentary seat in 1983, Kalonzo had been reduced to mincemeat by Manandu–a man he had publicly described as an academic dwarf in his naivety believing that he was uneducated.

Lick his wounds

When the final tally was done, Manandu had broken history by garnering, 15,000 votes–the highest ever number of votes in the constituency which had been registering 6,000 votes previously. Kalonzo just managed 3,138 votes and limped back to Nairobi to try his hand in law as he licked his wounds.

When Manandu died, Kalonzo got another bite at the cherry.

In his own words penned in his memoir Against All Odds, Kalonzo recalls how he at first defied calls to run in the subsequent by-election even after he was directed to do so by Kanu National Treasurer Justus Ole Tipis.

At the time, Kalonzo, who was planning to get married, told Tipis that he was financially broke and that he had already pledged to support Josephat Mulyungi who stood a better chance of winning given his performance two terms earlier.

The tide, however, changed when inexplicably, Mulyungi’s papers were rejected by the returning officer after he was found in possession of seditious publications.

Kalonzo's fiancée, Pauline, and mother Malia were unimpressed and only allowed him to contest begrudgingly. In 2008 he rose to become the country’s vice president and come August next year, he might be gunning for the presidency for the second time.   

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