Gay activist revs up Senate bid
| September 18th 2012
|Self-declared gay rights activist and politician David Kuria Mbote addresses a past gay rights function.[Photos: Nunn Assa]|
By Nunn Asa
Kiambu County is in the spotlight following the declaration of interest by an openly gay politician to run for the coveted senate seat.
Politician David Kuria Mbote has declared his interest for the senator’s seat in Kiambu County.
Kuria has an uphill task of persuading the “conservative” Kiambu community that he is the best man for the job.
Laws to fight HIV
Despite the discriminative nature and stigmatisation by the society, which considers him an outcast, what marvels both his friends and foes is his determination, boldness and the willingness to achieve what he terms as his destiny.
The gay rights activist is running to be his county’s first senator.
During an exclusive interview with The County Weekly, Mbote was confident he will win the seat, and says he aims to change the political game by campaigning through the social media and committing himself to good governance in order to effect positive social change.
“If elected, my main priority will be creating laws to fight HIV. I know it is an uphill task campaigning to convince the society that despite my sexuality, I would put their interest first unlike many politicians.”
“I have received mixed responses from the voters as to whether they would vote for a gay politician,” he said.
Mbote claims he realised his leadership skills at the age of six when he first organised a group of boys to join the church as alter boys and not depend on the main parish to provide the services any time mass was held.
“Against the wishes of the church council, I managed to organise a group of boys and for the first time, our small parish had representation,” remembers Mbote.
At 22, he joined the church as a trainee seminarian to become a priest, something he however acknowledges wasn’t his vocation.
His recommendation for the seminary was suspended pending investigation of some suspicious allegations that had just been brought up.
He says the accusations of a sexual affair provided him an opportunity to leave the seminary without a scene as he was ordered to go home as the investigations were underway.
Priest in the family
“When I went home, I told my parents I had been dismissed, and to my surprise they were very supportive. They did not even seek to know why.”
“If I had told them the truth, I feared they would have persuaded me to go back, as they had done so often. For many Catholics having a priest in the family is regarded highly,” he noted.
After his fall out with the church Mbote then in his thirties secured a job with an anti-poverty program sponsored by the Institute of Social Ministry – Tangaza College where he later left to join other founders of the LGBT rights movement in Kenya and further went on to become the first General Manager of the Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya – (GALCK).
“It is during my time at GALCK that I realised the people of Kenya and the people of Kiambu needed new breed of leaders, Every single day, people came to ask for help even those whom I didn’t represent and it was through this that I saw many others who would benefit from our generosity,” said Mbote.
It is with these people in mind that he created a self-help group, the Kuria Foundation for Social Enterprise (KFSE).
On his agenda in politics, he says, is to effectively represent the people of Kiambu in the senate through making objective oriented legislation and taking views of the people to Parliament.
“I will also seek to actualise Kiambu’s investment potential taking into account its proximity to the country’s capital, re-engineering the health sector, and giving a platform for second chances for the youth involved in illegal activities and drug abuse,” he says.
Mbote will be running for office as an independent candidate. He says he will soon be visiting the United Kingdom later this month for a public talk, an opportunity he hopes to use to sell Kiambu to the diaspora.
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