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How my go-getter son rose from the slums

When Ronnie Osumba was picked by presidential candidate, Peter Kenneth, to be his running mate in 2013, few people knew about him. Ronnie is now the chairperson of Youth Enterprise Development Fund. His mother, Joyce Ngesa Osumba tells us more about her ever determined son

Harriet James @harriet86jim

In the 2013 General Election, Ronnie was running mate to Presidential candidate Peter Kenneth. What was your experience as a mother seeing him run for a political office and how did all that shape his life?

As a mother, when he told me he was getting into politics, first, I got scared and told him politics has a lot of negativity which might end up ruining his reputation and even creating enemies.

But seeing his determination and the way he gave it his all, I accepted and decided to give him support and encouragement. I even campaigned for them. Though they lost, he learnt a lot. However, I don’t think he has plans to vie in the near future.

To be Peter Kenneth’s running mate, he had to resign from his job at Safaricom, and he got it back after they lost. Tell us more

Prior to his resignation to join politics, he was the senior sales manager for public sector at Safaricom. It was a huge risk to resign from his job to venture into the unknown world of politics.

Ronnie with his godmother, Ruth Were, and his mother, Joyce Ngesa. Photo/Courtesy

One month after the elections, he decided to tweet “Onwards” as a note of encouragement to himself.

Surprisingly, Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore comically replied to his tweet “You do know you have your return ticket.”

To which Ronnie replied, “I hope it is business class.” To cut the story short, he got his job back.

Has he always been this determined?

Yes. Having been born and raised in Kibera, my son is always hungry for growth and opportunity. He attended Olympic Primary School and was a brilliant child who was always in the top three positions. He sat for his Kenya Certificate of Primary Education in 1993.

He emerged best pupil in Mathematics in Lang’ata zone. He was selected by Dr Griffins to join Starehe Boys Centre on scholarship. Starehe helped him learn how to be independent, self-reliant, be helpful to others and be responsible among others. After high school, he proceeded to Moi University where he graduated with degree in Business Management. While still in the university he privately did Association of Certified Chartered Accountants (ACCA).

He also has a Diploma in Divinity. What inspired him to want to study Theology?

I brought all my four children in a Christian way and this guided Ronnie to adulthood. He learnt catechism at an early age and was confirmed for Holy Communion at age 12. With his Diploma in Divinity, he has done a lot of pastoral work on part time.

He is now the chairman of the Youth Enterprise Development Fund yet he started by selling socks on the streets. Take us through his career journey.

After he left Starehe before joining the university, he decided to move out of the family house. He rented a house, which he shared with his colleague from Starehe. We did not object as he was learning to be independent. We gave him little support for a start.

This is when I think he started selling socks without our knowledge, to make ends meet. One of hist customers worked for Samchi Telecommunications, and he was so impressed by his skills and passion.

That is how he got into the company. He has worked for Cooperative Bank, Impax Business Solutions and Health Data Systems, Safaricom and now the government.

Some months ago, there was an alleged misappropriation of funds at the Youth Fund. How did he deal with the issue and what are the measures he has put in place to ensure that it doesn’t happen again?

Action was taken and some officials were suspended to pave way for investigations. I wouldn’t know the measures that he has put in place to prevent that from happening again, but he is an intelligent boy.

Single or taken?

He is married with two children; a girl and a boy. When he’s not working, he likes socialising and playing golf.

What are his future plans?

To give his children a good education, build them a suitable home when funds would be available so that they live a comfortable life even after his retirement.

Tell us about yourself

I’m a mother of four and a businesswoman.

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