Only one word can best describe him — simple. Leon Shichinga Jirongo is the son to prominent Kenyan politician Cyrus Jirongo. The second-year student of communication at the Multimedia University of Kenya spoke to Campus Vibe about what it means to study at a public university when his father can easily afford paying his fees in any overseas university.
You are Jirongo’s son. Does that make life easier for you?
Actually, it makes my life difficult. Socially, that is. I’ve lost friends, especially when it comes to the money factor. People have expectations of me that I can’t always live up to. Guys think I have tons of money at my disposal just because my father is Cyrus Jirongo.
Do you pull the Jirongo card, like telling girls that you are Jirongo’s son to get ahead of other students?
(Laughs) I don’t want to get a girlfriend who likes me for my name and not for the person I am. But if I’ll get a business opportunity by introducing myself as Jirongo’s son, why not?
Are you dating?
No. Currently, that’s not among my priorities. But when I choose to date, you guys will know.
Your father mentioned on live TV show that assassinations are slowly creeping back to Kenya. Are you worried that he might be assassinated?
Yes I am scared. I’m worried for his life, especially now that he is against powerful people in government, including some whom he closely worked with during the Nyayo era. But knowing my dad, I’m certain he knows how to take care of himself.
Does your dad and the deputy president have beef?
No. They are more like frenemies. In fact, I remember a time in my childhood when dad was the minister for rural development, William Ruto and the Uhuru Kenyatta visited our home. We call the deputy president Uncle Bill. However big there differences are, it would never get to a point of them having a beef.
You come from a polygamous family. Do you know all your siblings and have you a favourite one?
Of course I know all of them. They are different in their own way. The youngest, my small bro CJ Junior was born while I was around. I can’t say I have a favourite one. I love each and every one of them. I am close to all of them.
Your dad was part of YK92. Would you say he is a millionare?
(Laughs). We’ve never slept hungry. My fee is always paid on time and I’m given a generous stipend while in school. That means he isn’t wealthy or poor.
Are you and your siblings close to your dad?
The two things dad says in a text are ‘okay’ and ‘you are abnormal’. Yes we are close. I don’t know about my siblings. One time, dad took us to Kenyatta market and bought us nyama choma and boiled meat, then, because he is a funny man, he added each of us a loaf of bread and soda madiaba. He is a good dad.
Would you vie for a political seat in campus or venture into national politics?
No. Politics changes people, makes them do things they would never do. It ruins families. One can even get killed. I’d prefer being a kingmaker to a politician.
If you were your dad, what political seat would you go for?
Governor of Kakamega County or Nairobi. Dad is qualified enough to run Nairobi.
— Collins Osanya