Johnstone Sakaja has narrated his story of how his political career began and how it evolved to where he it now.
Here is his narration to Spirits Of Kenya on Sakaja’s political journey.
“I was born in Ngara Estate 31 years ago. I attended Agha Khan Primary School and Lenana School for my secondary education. I later joined University of Nairobi where I pursued a degree in actuarial science. My mother died when I was nine years old.
My political career started at the age of five when I held a one-man protest against my father in the house. This is after he decided to make me spend an extra year in pre-school, a thought that I dint like given the fact that I was always on top of my class. I protested in the house with a placard written “No Class One, No School”. My father gave in to my demands and took me to the head teacher to discuss the issue. The headmaster was Mr. Joseph Karuga, who later became the national chair of Kenya Primary Head Teachers’ Association. He said that he would only allow me to proceed if I emerged top five in the class. I did exactly that and the rest is history.
I was so impressive in both studies and standing that I was appointed head boy in my final years at Agha Khan Primary School. I also won the prestigious United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) International Children’s Debate. The trophy was handed to me by the then Minister of Environment Francis Nyenze, who is now a colleague at the Eleventh Parliament. The UNICEF award also gave me an opportunity to be interviewed on national television for the first time. I was really proud of this since before her death my mother, who always prophesied that one day I would be a leader, used to tell me that a good name is better than money and fame. While at the UoN I stuck a photo of my dream car, a Mercedes Benz, on my locker for motivation. Whenever I lost focus in my studies the sight of my dream Mercedes would startle me back to my books. I use this story to illustrate the importance of setting clear goals. It helps young people to stay grounded instead of spending time whining. I joined President Mwai Kibaki’s campaign team as a driver in 2007 when I was just 23. After dropping the VIP I was chauffeuring around I would always drive in campus with the four-wheel vehicle. Given that I was involved in student politics, these vehicles gave me a lot of perceptional mileage among my peers. The president’s men that I was interacting with started trusting me to an extent that they started allocating me roles. For instance I am the one who opened the Party of National Unity (PNU) tallying center during the 2007 elections. It’s while working at PNU that I met President Uhuru Kenyatta’s with whom I worked together on various projects when he was Minister of Finance. Since then the President has been like an elder brother and a father figure besides being my boss. Sometimes we talk about issues outside politics since he is a good conversationalist. He is also a no nonsense leader especially on matters of national importance. He is also a great believer in the youth as reflected in most of his appointments. One of my most memorable projects under the grand coalition government was drafting the formula for demarcating constituency boundaries. Since I am a trained actuarial scientist senior government officials knew I was good in mathematical computations. For these reasons, I was called upon to design a mathematical formula to be used in demarcating and allocating constituencies to the various regions of the country. The formula was so water-tight and well thought out that it was wholly adopted in the Constitution of Kenya as Article 89. I got so engrossed in matters devolution that I wrote a book called The Operational Framework for Fiscal Decentralization which was published by International Commission of Jurists (ICJ-Kenya). When President Uhuru Kenyatta was preparing for the 2013 general election I was in the strategic team that built The National Alliance (TNA). We came up with the slogan ‘I Believe’ with the specific intention of creating a sense of self-belief, especially among the youth and those struggling in life. The dove was meant to signify peace and take off since as a nation we had been crawling with the KANU cockerel for too long. We, correctly, predicted these symbols would inspire a national movement. After that we assembled a communication team comprising of sharp young individuals who would later spearhead an unprecedented messaging campaign for our victorious 2013 campaign. Among the young men who spearheaded the Jubilee messaging team included Denis Itumbi, Machel Waikenda and Jasper Mbiuki. My passion for Nairobi-the city of my birth-is dedicated, deep and committed. That is why I say #IamNairobi. I feel and believe Nairobi is part and parcel of my life. We are like Siamese twins. And that is why I believe I am the best qualified person to lead Nairobi as a governor. Besides politics I am also a businessman. I opened a firm called Arthur Johnson Consulting while I was still at the university. The firm has since diversified to farming, transport and steel. I also opened other businesses while still a student like a barber shop, a salon, an ice cream vending machine and a laundry. I actually opened the biggest laundry business in the University of Nairobi main campus back then. The huge washing machines are still there, under other people of course, which is a testament of the longevity of my business vision. The income from all these hustles gave me enough money to buy my dream car, a Mercedes Benz, in my second year. I am also a musician, a guitarist and a former member of the gospel band Mission Drive. My love for the arts and the belief that they can sustain a robust art industry that would financially support millions of youth inspired me to draft the ….. Besides the art bill, I am also a strong believer in the youth potential which is the reason why I have sponsored two pro-youth bills in the Eleventh Parliament. There is the Public Procurement and Disposal (Amendment) Bill that seeks to ground the thirty percent public procurement in law. I also did the National Youth Employment Bill that will create employment bureaus across the country to help young people find jobs. I am also among the founders of Kenya Young Parliamentarians Association (KYPA). The intention of this was to forge a united front among young parliamentarians from across the political divide. I often visit youth hangouts where I talk to young people in a bid to understand their most pressing issues. This is because I believe a leader should remain connected and in touch with the people. Disconnecting a leader from the people is like cutting off the oxygen of his people since the essence of leadership is serving the people. For those aspiring for leadership, you should know that sometimes people will misunderstand you. But this should not worry you as long as you are doing the right thing. People will always understand you later after the success of your enterprise.”