Mercy Tarus: Why I declined Senator Ledama Olekina's job offer

Mercy Tarus at her salon at Chepkolel, Uasin Gishu County. [Christopher Kipsang, Standard]

Unmoved and undeterred, Mercy Tarus ‘won’t and can’t stop.’

The Kabarak University graduate continues to top headlines and social media trends this week.

On Thursday, August 10, she, much to the surprise of many, declined a job offer by Narok Senator Ledama Olekina.

Owing to her newly acquired ‘bold’ status, Senator Olekina reached out to Tarus on Twitter with a ‘shiny’ job offer.

“Mercy Tarus, I would like you to work for me… speak your heart …the future belongs to candid youth! Let’s talk,” Olekina would tweet at 5.00 am on Thursday.

In just a few hours, the message would get to 24-year-old Tarus who unexpectedly turned it down.

“Mr. Ledama, before we can further this conversation, talk to your fellow Senators to bring the Uasin Gishu County Government to book and compel them to refund rightfully hard-earned money to the Kenyan citizens…. maybe then, we can talk,” she replied.

In the strongly worded message, she would end by saying: “I have nothing more to say”.

When The Standard reached out to Tarus on Friday, August 11, she told this writer that she was not really interested in a job, but wanted justice served for all students who had applied for the botched Uasin Gishu County scholarship programme, now under probe.

“Yes, I turned down the job offer. If Senator Olekina wants to give me a job, then he should do the same to all the students who lost their money in the scholarship,” Tarus told The Standard.

She implied that it would only be fair if justice was to be accorded to all the students and their money refunded.

She further admitted that ever since gaining popularity after her trendy video, she has received a few calls from anonymous people with job promises.

“I did not get to meet the people with claims of job offers. Apart from Olekina, no leader has genuinely proposed to offer a job or any kind of help” she said.

Tarus revealed that no leader from her region has reached out to her with any job or solutions.

More than 24 hours since the tweet was posted, it had garnered over 1,000 reposts and more than 10,000 likes.

The job opportunity has elicited mixed reactions from netizens as some encouraged Tarus to grab the chance while others opposed it.

“Mercy, don't fall for this handout. Would he have given you the job were it not for the problem you highlighted? What about other Mercys’ out there unknown to anyone?” posed former Roots Deputy Party Leader Justina Wamae.

Another Twitter user, @felixorina wrote: “You can support her achieve her dreams! Guidance is a form of support.”

In a now-viral video, Tarus boldly confronted Uasin Gishu Governor Jonathan Bii, his Deputy John Barorot, and Senator Jackson Mandago during a town hall meeting at Eldoret Municipality Social Hall, over the handling of the Finland scholarship programme.

“Mr Barorot, you are very mean with the truth. You will lie to us day in and day out, I don’t know if you have been sent by our bosses. I don’t have anything to live for so you can send your goons, if they kill me, at least I won’t have killed myself," Tarus said in the video.

She then took turns to also confront Senator Mandago with words that left the crowd in stitches.

“I am going to tell you the truth, you keep lying, you smile at us, with a very smooth tongue and soft face that looks like it is very innocent but you keep lying and lying,” she added.

Having graduated from university in April this year, Tarus resorted to self-employment and owns a salon, while engaging in other side hustles.

“I graduated in April this year, then I started my salon hustle doubling with selling porridge and mandazi,” she said in an exclusive interview with The Standard.

She is among over 500 students who were promised scholarships by Uasin Gishu County to go and study abroad.