A man with a striking resemblance to President Uhuru Kenyatta has now thrown his hat into the ring for the August 9 presidential race.
Michael Gitonga Njogo, a resident of Nairobi, says he made the decision months ago.
Gitonga says that he is closer to the common mwananchi than any of the candidates that have expressed interest in the seat.
Gitonga was little known beyond his immediate circle, until 2020 when he appeared on a local TV station.
His striking resemblance to President Kenyatta elicited public debate and became a hot topic on social media.
Gitonga however says he had not made the decision because of his close resemblance with the Head of State.
Speaking to The Standard, Gitonga said his decision is solid and noted that he is ready to face off with other candidates who include political heavyweights Deputy President William Ruto and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga to liberate the country.
“I am running for the presidency on an independent ticket because those who have declared their interests are not serious, they have been there before and we know them,” he said.
“My resemblance with the President has nothing to do with my decision. I know the pain that common mwananchi is going through, other contestants are just lying to Kenyans,” he stated.
Never met the President
Gitonga says that despite his resemblance with the president, he has never met President Kenyatta, nearly two years since his photos went viral.
But on a passing glance, his resemblance with the President stands out — from his eyes, body gestures, complexion, height and deep voice.
“I have never met him, in fact, my life has never been the same because people think we know each other, many people stop me on the road asking for tips,” he added.
Gitonga says if elected, he will focus on the agriculture and manufacturing sectors, noting that the youth have been neglected.
He also says he will set aside some funds to boost local investors so as to avoid huge borrowing from international lenders.
“If I get the chance, I will consider those who don’t have any connections unlike what we have been witnessing in the country,” he explained.
So far, Gitonga says he has considered his possible running mates among them former presidential candidate Abduba Dida.
“But I have not made the decision, I will reach out to him, even Wiper Party leader Kalonzo Musyoka can make a good deputy,” he said.
Nicknamed 'Uhunye' in Nairobi's Umoja estate where he grew up, the father of three says he has what it takes to lead the country.
He said he has never registered with any party because running as an independent candidate means he is for the people.
“I know how someone in Kibera, Korogocho and Mathare slums are going through because I have lived there, not those lying to Kenyans,” added Gitonga.
Gitonga was born in Nakuru’s Kiambogo area, where he says his parents were both police officers, and that his mother, who has long passed on, once served in Gatundu.
“I cannot say much about them because my mother died when I was in Class Eight, and my father had passed on a year earlier.
“From then on, my sister and I were forced to start hustling to take care of our younger siblings. I have done mjengo and other odd jobs to survive. I am not a softie as people would imagine,” he says.
Apart from his hustles, Njogo was gifted a vehicle and made a brand ambassador of Car Bazaar along Thika Road.
During an interview with the Nairobian last year, Njogo said he had always gone about his business unperturbed by the striking resemblance to President Kenyatta until that TV interview catapulted him the public limelight and unexpected fame.
“Before the outbreak of the Coronavirus, I was busy doing my own things, even though people would make remarks about my resemblance to the President. But things took a sudden turn when I visited a gym where a friend took my photo and shared it on social media,” Gitonga said.
His close friend and gym instructor, Joe Matheri who took and shared that photo, has now turned into his ‘personal assistant,’ since most of the callers have to reach ‘Uhunye’ through him.
Gitonga said he had been doing small businesses in Nairobi for the past couple of years which include buying and selling potatoes.
“I also had a club, but when the pandemic hit the country, everything went south. That is why I decided to start hitting the gym instead of gaining weight in the house,” Gitonga added.