POLITICS: Medic and data expert joins Nairobi governorship race

Mr. Kenneth Nyamwamu, who is vying for the Nairobi County Governor's seat. He is a registered US nurse, data analytics expert and sportsman. PHOTO/Courtesy.

From an early age, Mr Kenneth Nyamwamu developed a taste of excellence.

Born into a polygamous family with 16 siblings, Mr Nyamwamu managed to scale the ladder of academic and professional success.

The son of a teacher and education officer did well in primary school and joined his father’s alma mater, St Mary’s Yala.

At Yala, his star soon shone in sports, where he played taekwondo, basketball and badminton up to national level. He was selected by the Kenya Commercial Bank’s sports club for a successful five year stay. 

Because of his coach’s insistence that he picks one sport to concentrate and build his burgeoning talent, he chose to play badminton, turning out for the national team during international tournaments.

It was during the KCB era when he received his American visa and was selected to play in the US Badminton Open. Since 2001, he has been living and working in the United States of America.

He got his college studies in the US, attaining a Bachelor’s degree in computer science, and Masters in data analytics.

He is also a registered nurse in USA, working at the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.

The consultant and medic, born and bred in Omosasa, Bomachoge, Kisii County has since worked in several capacities, including as a nurse at the Henry Ford Hospital.

During his stay in Nairobi at the peak of his local sporting career, he lived in various areas including Dandora, Survey of Kenya, Ruaraka, Outer Ring, Runda, and Ngong, which lies on the city’s outskirts.

Mr Nyamwamu is vying for the Nairobi gubernatorial seat as an independent candidate.

He explains why he would want to serve as Nairobi County governor.

He attributes his dream to an unbreakable bond with the sprawling metropolis that covers 696 square kilometres and is home to 5,118,844 million people.

“I am not your typical politician, and I have never run for office. I however strongly feel that Nairobi residents have been shortchanged by the past and current political class for a long time,” he says.

He feels the proper use of resources would rescue the city from its current downward spiral into an abyss of confusion, neglect and despair.

The vision, he states, cannot be achieved through populist political pledges and statements that lack the accompanying action.

“We must refrain from political gimmicks calculated to gain popularity by frequently mentioning the mama mbogas and boda bodas. What we should do instead is provide logical solutions to empower our people,” he says.

Mr Nyamwamu pledges to “use the available county resources to enrich our people and provide the needed services such as collecting garbage on time, paying county employees on time, providing efficient healthcare services, promoting our hustlers in a practical and realistic manner such as through targeted financial grants.”

The data expert insists that he is a servant and not a boss.

His time in office, he says, shall see the city witness a shift to sober, focused and development-centred leadership.

“I cannot just sit back and watch my beloved city and county sink into a sorry state.

I am the man Nairobi needs to recover from negative politicking and soar to the status of Africa’s leading economic hub,” he said.

Nairobi, which is East and Central Africa’s most populous city, boasts of 85 wards and 17 constituencies.

Governing the rapidly growing city in the devolution era has however proven a daunting task for heavyweight politicians, with Dr. Evans Kidero and Mike Sonko exiting office in ignominy after spectacularly failing to fulfill lofty campaign pledges to residents.

As opposed to his more vocal predecessors, Mr Nyamwamu favours a diplomatic, issue-based, boardroom approach to solving problems bedeviling the city.

“We are conducting an authentic, issue-based campaign. This is because I want to come as a non-politician and offer more services and less noise to Nairobians,” he says.

Among the pillars of his bid are the empowerment of hustlers, boda boda, mama mbogas and other residents running small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

He sees his campaign as devoid of the hype that accompanies most high-profile bids for such a seat.

Mr Nyamwamu is not however trembling at the prospect, seeing himself as a concerned and inspired city dweller with a burning desire to see it grow into a more prosperous, cleaner, greener and healthier capital.

“We shall go to the grassroots and talk to the people in a humble, respectful manner. We shall also ask the people to become part of our vision to change Nairobi for the better,” he says.

Over the years, Mr Nyamwamu has shown a keen interest in matters urban governance, as our conversation revealed.

He still speaks Sheng, the youth-friendly slang which is a mix of English, Swahili and a smattering of local tribes and dialects.

With his bid, Mr Nyamwamu becomes the eighth politician to declare an interest in the seat that will see the winner navigate the politically tricky minefield that is the delicate balancing act between the incoming county assembly’s desire to exercise its mandate and the national government force — the Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) headed by KDF Major General Badi.

Mr Nyamwamu does not see the NMS as a rather recent usurper of devolved authority.

Pointing to the strides the NMS has so far made in running the city, he is confident that his administration will learn from the state body and build on its successes.

“NMS has shown us it can be done. We must refine and amplify what works, as well as removing what does not work for Nairobi residents,” he says.

He seeks to transform the political and governance landscape through a set of calculated measures. Efficient, responsive and focused service delivery will be his administrative hallmark.

“It is possible to offer services more efficiently. For instance, it should not take long to fill up the potholes along the Dandora and Kayole routes. At all levels of society, our people must be able to enjoy the legally allocated fruits of devolution,” Mr Nyamwamu tells The Scholar Media Africa.

He believes the perennial headache of industrial unrest that often ails the health sector can be solved by paying staff salaries on time and ensuring their welfare is adequately catered for.

On the thorny issue of cartels strangling the city’s service sectors like sanitation, water supply and waste management, the medic is honest in his assessment of the challenge at hand.

“No cartel members or leaders have ever been arrested or jailed in Kenya. They have no name. To curtail their influence, we must seal all the service delivery gaps and loopholes that they exploit,” he says.

“For instance, if water supply services in a certain area are controlled by a certain cartel, we must insist that water is a county resource that can only be carried out by authorized county personnel,” adds Mr Nyamwamu.

He is promising to be the breath of fresh political air the city desperately needs.

“I will adopt a service-oriented approach while in office because we leaders are not the masters over our people. We must shun the colonial mindset that the people are our slaves. Once we’re elected, our aim should be to serve our people and not to enrich ourselves,” he says.

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