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Modest senator who dreamt big

From his childhood, Irungu Kang’ata had deep interest in politics and current affairs. At only 21, he was elected as a councillor even before he completed his university education. His elder sister, Veronica Njeri walks us through the life of the deputy chief whip who scaled the political ladder from a civic leader to the senator

Wangari Njuguna @PeopleDailyKe

How was Kang’ata’s childhood life?

He grew up just like any other child. I being older than him I had a chance to see him grow. We are eight children and he is the seventh born. He was a jovial child and loved to do household chores such as cooking and cleaning.

When did he start showing interest in politics?

Born in 1980, he grew up at a time when veteran politician Kenneth Matiba was vocal in fighting for multi-party democracy. As early as when he was in Class Four, Kang’ata would attend political rallies and even mobilise people to attend. This gave us an indication that he was a politician in the making.

How has his political career path been?

When he was only 21, he was elected as a councillor for Central Ward, Muranga. By this time, he had been expelled from the University of Nairobi, where he was pursuing Bachelor of Laws (LL.B) degree, for organising a strike. The students were protesting against introduction of parallel programmes.

He rejoined campus in 2003 after the new NARC regime granted amnesty to former suspended students. During this time, he juggled between his studies and leadership. He graduated in 2005.

During the 2007 General Elections, he did not vie for any seat as he wanted to complete his studies. He had joined Kenya School of Law and later University of Nairobi for his Masters of Laws (LL.M) degree. In 2013, he vied for Kiharu Parliamentary seat and won. I bet this gave him the determination to go for Murang’a Senatorial seat.

So, he is also a lawyer?

Yes. In fact, he shot to the limelight in 2012, after defending a security guard, Rebecca Kerubo in a case that felled former Deputy Chief Justice Nancy Baraza.

Did the family have any reservations for him to join politics?

No. Everybody supported him. Though some of his friends tried to discourage him, he would hear none of it. He had his eyes set on politics.

Has the relationship between him and the family changed now that he is holding a higher position?

Not at all. He has retained his simplicity and relates well with all people.

Speaking of simplicity, he is known for his modest lifestyle. When he was Kiharu MP, he was known as one of the ‘poorest’ legislator. Tell us more.

That is how we were brought up. He loves living like an ordinary mwananchi and this helps him to interact with people of all social status. He doesn’t like showing off.

What do you like most about him?

That he is honest, generous and he is a man of the people as he listens to everyone who comes to him for help. He is also just and he fights for the oppressed people, even in family matters he always advocates for fairness.

How would you describe Kang’ata?

He is hardworking, resilient and determined. Whatever goals he sets, he pursues to the end.

What does he love most?

He loves laughing a lot and talking loudly. His favourite music is reggae.

Single or taken?

He is married with two children. The youngest is barely three months old. What are some of the sacrifices he has made as a leader? He, most of the time, gives part of his salary to help needy people.

For a long time, he drove an old Toyota Corolla and at one time bought a Toyota Prado after complaints that he was embarrassing residents during high-profile meetings, but the vehicle is mostly used by women groups in his constituency during ceremonies such as weddings.

Do you have an idea of his future political ambitions?

No, but I know he can get to any position that he so desires as he has the zeal to give it a trial.

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