Before he won Igembe South parliamentary seat during the August polls, John Paul Mwirigi was unknown to many. His sister, Cecilia Kaari, tells us more about the 24-year-old who beat many odds to clinch the seat
Briefly tell us about yourself.
I’m a fourth born in a family of eight. I work as an administrator. John Paul Mwirigi is my younger brother (sixth born).
How was his childhood like?
He had a normal childhood just like any other child. Since I was older than him with 11 years difference, I was the one who took care of him when the rest went to the farm and this strengthened our friendship to date. He was also the quiet type, and this made him our parents’ favourite.
At 24, he is the youngest Member of Parliament in Kenya. When did he start showing political interest?
He started showing leadership skills when he was in Class Six in 2008, after being appointed the class prefect. In 2013, while in Form Three at Kirindini Day Secondary School, he had a dream where he was tabling a motion in Parliament. He told us about his dream, but it was dismissed by all the family members, except our father. He supported and encouraged him. When our father passed on in 2014, we thought he would give up, but instead he started his campaigns. By the end of 2015, all of us realised he was serious and we started supporting him.
So, did the family try to do anything to stop him?
Yes, our mother talked to him to drop his bid, but he couldn’t be convinced by anyone. I also approached our uncle and one pastor and sent them to persuade him to withdraw from the race, but he was determined to the end.
And what are some of the sacrifices he made during his campaigns. Was the family worried about his security?
He had to look for odd jobs such as carrying firewood in a tea factory where he was getting less than Sh350 per day and picking tea so that he could get at least some cash for his transport during his campaigns. Many a times, he slept away from home.
And owing to financial constraints, some well wishers would accommodate him for the night, so that he would continue with his campaigns the following day. About his security, he put a formidable challenge vying against his opponents who had money, and were on popular parties, and therefore, when he became a popular candidate, he feared for his life and couldn’t spend at his house. But we thank God all went well.
He is still in school. Will his new political career affect his education?
He is a third year student at Mt Kenya University pursuing Bachelor of Education. I do not think he intends to defer his course. He knows how to manage his time. But he hopes once he fully settles in Nairobi, he will switch campuses from Mount Kenya University, Chuka campus to Nairobi campus.
The position of an MP comes with a bigger wallet. What are the family expectations?
We do not have any particular demands. We would want him to concentrate more on his job.
He got a lot of help from people during his campaigns, some who would offer him food, a place to sleep and more. Has he thought of returning the favour, maybe?
I do not have an answer to that question. But I know he would accomplish what he promised the people of Igembe South as a way of saying thank you. He wants first to unite all constituents, rich or poor, elite and non-elite as he believes in integrity, transparency, inclusivity and equity to all.
He also works to improve all sectors of economy such as agriculture, trade and commerce, juakali sector and most of all, education as he believes it is a great social economic equalizer and only hope for youths and future generation.
What is it that people don’t know about him?
He is prayerful and God-fearing. He is also time-conscious and at the same time not patient. He will never be late for any appointment or anything and he does not have patience to wait for someone or something. But maybe, Parliament will change him because rarely do MPs keep time.
And behind every successful man there is a woman. Any woman in his life?
He is not yet married and neither is he dating. He says that he will first concentrate on serving his people and God would provide for him a suitable partner when the time comes. The only source of inspiration in his life is our mother.
Has being in the limelight changed him?
No, he is the same person we used to know. The only thing that has changed is that he is now a public figure and every person wants to be associated with him.
What does the future hold for him?
Once he is done with his undergraduate, he plans to enrol for a Master’s in political science and public management. He also has higher political dreams, which he cannot disclose for now. Vs in political science and public management. He also has higher political dreams, which he cannot disclose for now.