Nairobi senator Mike Sonko’s FIRST-BORN daughter, SAUMU MBUVI, has been making gossip headlines for all the wrong reasons since the family shot to fame. The 23-year-old says she is misunderstood, as she opens up about her unplanned pregnancy, her father’s reaction, drama with her baby daddy and being a ‘sonko’. She spoke to WAMBUI VIRGINIA
On a Friday afternoon, we drive through the tree-cloistered Runda suburb, scanning palatial homes as we try to identify landmarks to the address of Nairobi Senator, Mike “Sonko” Mbuvi.
We drive around for close to half an hour, apparently having missed a turn to the legislator’s house. There are no people along the way to ask for directions, nor noisy matatus roaming around the leafy estate.
Eventually we get there, and we are ushered in to a long driveway lined with posh cars, leading up to a stately house. “Welcome to the Sonko residence,” the guard greets us with a smile, obviously alerted that we were expected.
The ambience is serene and tranquil, as we sit in the living room. It is not the politician we have an appointment with, it is his daughter, Saumu Mbuvi.
Her mother, Primrose Mbuvi, appears first. She is warm and welcoming as she greets us then serves us some refreshments. Soon, Saumu joins us, well spruced up for the interview and looking bright.
It is almost hard to tell that she had a baby just three weeks earlier. All made up and dapper in her dressing, she radiates energy through her smile. After a chat, the interview gets formal.
Saumu was born 23 years ago to Sonko and Primrose, the first-born of four children. She attended her primary school at Wanja and Kim Preparatory School, and afterwards Buru Buru Girls High School, where she finished in 2012.
While in high school, Saumu lost someone very close to her, whom she says she does not want to name, and it had a big impact on her. She describes herself as the kind of person who doesn’t easily share her issues.
Due to bottling up the pain of bereavement, she started acting up.
“I started being rebellious as a way to get my parents’ attention. It was during this time, in 2010, that my father was busy with the Makadara constituency by-election.
My mother was taking care of my siblings, and I had to struggle through my issues, and still be the eldest sibling that the younger ones could look up to.
That can be a lot for a normal teenager to deal with. At some point, things got really tough, and I was suspended from school for misconduct. But all in all, I dealt with my troubles and did my final exams, in which I excelled. I can say that I have experienced both the low and high life,” she says.
All this time, not many around her knew she was Sonko’s daughter, up until campus. She studied Public Relations at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), Karen Campus. “Our family was invited to the Churchill Show when I was in First Year in campus, and that was when most of my friends in college knew that I was Sonko’s daughter.
I am a simple but outgoing person, so when that came out, it was hard to cope. I got many friends, some fake, who were there because they thought I was always loaded with cash, since my father was a politician.
Of course, things changed afterwards, but I maintained my normal campus life. I was going out and having fun, just like any other college-going girl.
However, being a politician’s daughter, I would wake up to all sorts of gossip stories on blogs. There was a time a blog wrote that I was a ‘party animal’, and that I had blacked out somewhere.
I was shocked to read that. I couldn’t believe that people can be so insensitive, and go that far, just for ratings,” she recounts. In campus, she participated in school politics, something she says she had always been interested in.
She was elected the vice chair of the student’s union, a post she held from 2015 to 2016 when she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree.
Her lavish graduation party, organised by her proud father, saw performers such as Tanzanian star Ali Kiba flown in. The grand bash made entertainment news headlines but, a month later, she found out that she was pregnant.
She had taken a vacation to celebrate her success, when she learnt of the unexpected turn of events. “It was a month after my graduation that I realised I was pregnant. I hadn’t noticed anything unusual with my body.
When the tests came out, I was shocked. It was something I had not planned for. I felt like I had disappointed my parents, considering I had just graduated. I had even planned to enroll for my Masters degree in the UK after my undergrad,” she shares.
In that state of shock and confusion, Saumu decided to run away from home to just put things in perspective. Her main challenge was her parents, especially her dad whom, she feared, would be disappointed by the news.
She ran to her boyfriend’s Benson Gatu’s place, who is the baby daddy. They had met in campus where they were both schooling, and their relationship had also been a subject of interest for gossip blogs.
After two weeks, she surfaced at her parents’ home, but mostly kept to herself. It wasn’t going to be long till she faced the inevitable. She had to gather courage after some time to break the news to them. Her mother was supportive.
“My dad did not speak to me for like a month. He seemed okay, but he didn’t have much to say. I think he just needed time to adjust to that fact,” says Saumu. After coming to terms with the reality, more issues lay ahead, as things got rocky between her and her boyfriend.
Babby daddy drama
Drama ensued after Saumu discovered she was pregnant. She says Gatu had started acting ‘funny and weird’. He also accused her of being “too close” to one of her male friends.
“I had moved in with Gatu, when he started acting up. He would claim to have gone for a business trip, and I would later learn that it was all lies. He was cheating on me with another woman.
That is why I even posted about it on social media, because it was someone I knew – a daughter to one of the governors,” she says. “I do not mean to tarnish his name or his political ambitions, but this is one story I have to make clear.
Yes, he is my baby daddy, but the fact is, he did wrong. He used to leave me at our house and go to the woman’s place in Kileleshwa or secretly go to Coast with her, only for me to hear about it through my friends.
During my last trimester, the guy had disappeared. Even for clinical appointments and other important matters, he was nowhere to be seen. Many are the nights I used to cry myself to sleep. I ended up frustrated, and when I couldn’t take it anymore, I moved back to my parents’ home,” Saumu says.
Seeing as a break-up was certain, she called off plans to tie the knot with Gatu in August.
Nursing a heartbreak while pregnant was not easy, but she soldiered on, and in early March, she welcomed her daughter Sasha.
“The birth of my daughter has brought so much joy to my family. I got so much support from my family and close friends throughout the journey. I felt like I had been reborn.
A baby changes everything. It shifts focus in an instant, it’s something I can’t explain,” says Saumu. She says she is ready for life as a single parent, but is also open to co-parent with Gatu if he so wishes, but some conditions have to be met.
“One thing I have come to understand is that relationships fail. I am not and will not be the first one to be cheated on and left. Just because I am in the limelight doesn’t mean everything has to be perfect. I cannot deny him to see his daughter, but that has to be arranged, through my parents. I wish him all the best,” she says.
So is she the party animal she’s rumoured to be? She admits to love partying, but feels that it is exaggerated in the media. “These blogs have written so much about me, without even getting to know my side of the story.
I am very simple and I want to be taken just the way I am. I am not wild or such a party animal like it is portrayed. I just want to have fun, but in a responsible manner,” says Saumu.
She hopes to focus on herself, try to right any wrongs, and live a simple, normal life away from public scrutiny. Saumu plans to go back to school to pursue her Masters soon, but with the baby now, she may not be able to travel abroad for studies.
She is looking at a course in International Relations and weighing options of doing an online course or enrolling at a local university. Career-wise, she plans to start her own public relations firm, with politicians as the key target clients. She harbours political interests too, and hopes to vie for a seat some time soon. Her daughter, Sasha, has inspired her to start a clothing line for babies and mothers, which will be launching soon.
Having Sonko as her father
The PR graduate attributes her strength and zeal to her parents, who have always been supportive, and loved her despite all her issues and insecurities. She says she gets her ‘go-getter’ attitude from her dad, known as a controversial politician.
Saumu says it is one of her strengths. “Out there he is ‘Sonko’, but once he gets home, he is our dad. He loves his children to bits and he is overly generous. He is very tough on us, but he is a great dad.
He makes sure that we never lack. As a family, we have learnt to deal with all the controversies that have surrounded the ‘Sonko’ name. A lot is out there on our family, but we have learnt to be strong and deal with everything thrown our way,” she says.