Aspirant Profile: Edwin Macharia (Kieni Constituency) Part 1

Posted by on 23rd May 2007

Categories:   2007 Aspirants

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Kieni Through the Eyes of a Youthful Aspirant – Part 1

By CHARLES A. MATATHIA

A Nairobi based social scientist and freelance writer.

Edwin Macharia wanted to be a well-rounded doctor so he traded his University of Nairobi Medical School admission to join Amherst College in Massachusetts where he majored in Biology as a pre-cursor to medical school. As the fifth Kenyan in Amherst and with the others being Alfred Gitonga, Ngengi Muigai, Uhuru Kenyatta and Francis Michuki (John Michuki’s son), you would imagine Macharia as a child of privilege. Hardly so, he says, as his mother still lives in a house with no running water in rural Kenya.

But Macharia has done well by himself. Born in Nairobi in 1978, Macharia’s family moved a lot, a situation that he credits for giving him a complete Kenyan outlook and an appreciation of the diverse strings of ethnicity and class differences that weave together into Kenya’s social fabric.

He went to nursery school in Thika and then began his primary education at Mugumo-ini Primary School in that industrial town in central Kenya. Shortly after, his family moved to Homabay, in the South of Nyanza Province, where he attended Homa Bay Primary School for three years. It is at Homabay Primary that he had the ‘opportunity’ to learn under a tree an experience he chooses to wear as a badge of honour in marking out his authentic Kenyan experience. In Nyanza he found himself immersed in Luo culture and even learnt the language, a smattering of which he retains today.

But his journeys through Kenya weren’t over yet. Soon after, the Macharia family moved to Kericho and he was quickly transferred to Highland Primary School there. He spent a year at Highlands Primary before the family moved to Nyeri and he joined Nyeri’s Mount Kenya Academy where he sat for his Kenya Certificate of Primary Education in 1991. It is from there that he joined the prestigious Alliance High School and finally Amherst College.

Somewhere along his way towards being a doctor, he realized that it was one thing to earn the skills and qualification to save lives and another to find the right environment within which to do it. As he argues, he wanted to get his medical degree in America and return to Kenya to practice but he came to the conclusion that despite the shortage doctors in Kenya, what was ailing the health sector the most was flawed management of the existing resources. Macharia decided that the best way for him to be of greater benefit to the largest number of people was to hone his management skills. So when an opportunity to work with McKinsey and Company, a management consultancy that advises leading companies on strategy, operations, organization and technology, he grabbed it.

After two years at McKinsey, they offered him a five month sabbatical. They were paying him, he could come back after the break or he could go somewhere else. He opted to go somewhere else: The Clinton Foundation. The Clinton Foundation offered him two choices: he could either join them in the Dominican Republic, or be part of the core team formulating the National HIV Plan in Tanzania.

He figured that as a Swahili speaker and a national of neighbouring Kenya, he would be of more value in Tanzania than in the Caribbean island. Besides, his father had just died of a coronary embolism the previous year. He needed to be close to home. And so Tanzania it became and there his journey as a globe trotting development worker began as he found himself staying on as The Clinton Foundation’s Deputy Country Director for Tanzania.

A short while later, Macharia was made a global director in the foundation’s Rural Initiative programme where he was tasked with spearheading the thought process towards creating and implementing solutions for service delivery of HIV/AIDS projects in rural areas. Then he was appointed the Director of Agriculture. This came with a 100 Million dollars budget directed towards rural development in Rwanda and Malawi with an emphasis on Agricultural and income development, health, water and sanitation and education.

After holding this post for one and a half years, he continued to feel that there were still other ways through which he could better apply himself towards achieving his quest to move forward Kenya’s and, broadly, Africa’s development. One of those ways was politics. Now he has taken a sabbatical from the Clinton Foundation to vie for a parliamentary seat in his home constituency of Kieni, in the Nyeri District of Central Kenya.

GEOGRAPHY

Kieni is a huge, in fact the largest in Nyeri District, constituency. It is bounded by Mt. Kenya on one side and the Aberdare Ranges on the other. These are two of Kenya’s most important water catchments yet the constituency remains predominantly dry; it is on the leeward side of both.

Served by two major trunk roads: the one from Nyeri towards Nyahururu in Kieni West the other from Nyeri towards Nanyuki in Kieni East, the constituency has two divisions with five locations each.

Kieni East division, on the leeward side of Mt. Kenya, is mainly arid and semi arid lands as the rains are generally poor. Water thus becomes an issue and a huge challenge to agriculture which tends to be the backbone of rural economies. But at least dairy farming is a source of succour. The dairy farming though, owing to diminishing plots of land is mainly of the one or two zero-grazed-cows variety. These dairy farms are served by two facilities very close by: The Nyeri K.C.C factory and a Brookside Dairies cooling plant. There are also a number of flower farms that create significant employment for the local people.

To the leeward side of the Aberdare Ranges lies Kieni West division. This area though receiving a little more rain, and its citizenry seeming generally more economically endowed, is faced with the selfsame challenges as the east of Kieni. Its dairy farmers are also, at great convenience served by the two dairy processors though the farmers there are in the process of setting up their own cooling plant through their cooperatives. Of great importance to this division is the existence of the gazetted Aberdare National Park a tourist attraction that beyond its national significance has a trickle down effect on the economy and well being of the local community through job creation and implementation of environmental management projects.

POLITICS

Politically, Kieni, since the introduction of multiparty politics in Kenya has maintained a strong support for the political leanings of Kenya’s current president Mwai Kibaki. Kibaki is also the Member of Parliament for Othaya constituency close by and as is elsewhere in the District of Nyeri, a nomination to vie for an elective seat on the ticket of a party supportive of him has seemed the sole requirement for any candidate’s election in Kieni.

The current Member of Parliament, Dr. Chris Murungaru, is a pharmacist whose political star rose in the early years of the Kibaki administration but its zenith proved to be at the nadir point of political infamy. Having been re-elected to parliament in a 1998 by-election occasioned by the death of his mentor and staunch Kibaki ally, Munene Kairu, Murungaru remained relatively unknown nationally until he was handed a contentious nomination certificate by the NARC headquarters as its candidate in the run up to the 2002 general election, was re-elected and appointed to the Kibaki cabinet.

Murungaru’s tenure as a cabinet minister lasted less than three controversy ridden years and was crowned by a disgraceful exit after the shake up that followed the Kibaki government’s loss in the November 2005 Referendum on a new constitution. Though nowhere charged and convicted in a court of law for impropriety (a case against him by the Kenya Anti Corruption Commission was thrown out on a technicality), Public Opinion has continued to judge Murungaru harshly with accusations of abuse of office and involvement in corrupt dealings a sentiment that has been heightened by the accusations of former Ethics and Governance Permanent Secretary, John Githongo. It didn’t help matters any wee bit when the UK government cancelled Murungaru’s visa on the grounds, as they claimed, of his involvement in the Anglo Leasing scandal.

Though no longer a member of the Kibaki cabinet now, Murungaru remains fabulously wealthy, a staunch supporter of the president and, with the benefit of incumbency to his advantage, a major player in the coming elections. So how does a youthful political novice like Edwin Macharia expect to win in Kieni and with at least ten other candidates, including Munene Kairu’s widow and the runner up in the last election having declared their candidature?

SECURITY

Edwin Macharia agrees that as far as Kieni goes Murungaru is still a force to reckon with. More than just loads of money, Murungaru as Macharia argues, tends to play dirty politics and is said to have flashed his gun at a polling station in the last election.

That could be the reason why Macharia admits that one of the biggest challenges to his campaign is security- or the lack of it- for both himself and his family. Driven by high unemployment rates among young people, and unscrupulous politicians, Macharia fears insecurity will feature prominently as the campaign heats up.

But even his own experience is telling: his father’s death was as a consequence to violent crime. His father was axed below the knee when a gang of armed thugs raided his Kieni home. He survived the attack but in recovery, blood clots formed leading to his coronary embolism. Macharia also says that in March of this year, a few weeks after the February launch of his campaign a car load of armed thugs pulled up at his mother’s gate. Though they did not harm anyone, only damaging some property, he is quick to worry and make connections to his declaration to run in Kieni.

33 Comments

  • by Kiiru on 15th June 2007

    Why kieni? Can u tell us about what you will do for us.I come from Kimahuri kabaru location.I wish that you would concentrate on what you will do for us rather than talking ill of our MP(I elected him both nominations & ECK elections). We are agemates and I cannot vote for you just because of that. Murungaru and Kiraitu stood for Kibaki when he was sick and they never allowed Raila to have control of Govt. at that time and thus why this hate campaigns started. Feel free to call me on 0721-205849 Am an accountant in Nairobi.

  • by MainaT on 19th June 2007

    I was brought up in Kinyaiti within the Endarasha Location. While one could see the progress that Munene wa Kairu made in our location during his tenure (water, starting the rural elictrification project, reparing the Endarasha-Muiga road), Murungaru (or Ndarathi) to give him his real and proper name (Murungaru is a misnomer in his case), has favored the locations such as nairutia where the locals have voted for him. And ofcourse everybody knows he was rigged in favour of Lucy Kairu. Wacha ataona.

  • by kamau on 19th July 2007

    I direct this at Mr. kiiru, i think, no, HE!! embodies what is ailing our country's leadership. "i will vote for him because he is my agemate" it is at silly as it sounds especially coming from an accountant. May i ask; what has Mr. Ndarathi done for you Mr. kiiru? what have YOU! done or given for you to ask the same from anyone? No. Iam not saying you should not support Mr. Ndarathi, by all means do, its your right, but i doubt even he would take you seriously if all you had to offer him in his campaign is the line; "we are agemates".

  • by OBONYO N G on 11th August 2007

    Go Eddy go Eddy Go!!!!!!!!!!! The young generation old boys support initiative to bringing change. I'm in the University of Nairobi Medical School and I concur there's resource mismanagement which ails the health sector more than just shortage of staff. Kenya should realise that the staff are in a job market of a globalized economy - where the highest bidder wins otherwise.........................shortage is really here to stay. Vote Eddy!

  • by Otieno on 24th August 2007

    Hallo there, I support this young man as an MP- I was with him in his younger primary days in Homabay and later at Alliance. While he is younger than myself I feel that he has more to offer than sweaty old politicians. For a change we need to see the world from a savvy technological,economical and developmental front( and yet simplistic way) that the older generation has failed to master. Otieno

  • by Mwai on 26th September 2007

    I can't just blow the horn for a person without knowing his/her vision. It is the high time we as Kieni people put in position a person whom we feel has the best agenda for us. Especially as a University youth i need to lead our people to prosperity. Time has come when we have to shun sugar-coated promises which just act as a brigde to Kenyan parliarment. Mwai James University of Nairobi

  • by Anne on 15th October 2007

    I support macharia whole heartedly, i think its the high time people of Kieni got a real change. Ndarathi should go home this time around.

  • by Patrick Patrick on 16th October 2007

    I dearly support Macharia whole heartedly in the race "Yote yawezekana bila Ndarathi" bearing what he did in the year 2002 nomimations and the Narc-Kenya nomination but don't forget some other aspirants who use there own resources to help the poor Kieni residents. We are for Maendeleo in Kieni not how educated our aspirants are bearing in mind Ndarathi is a Doctor. What have you done for Kieni residents so far? Do something we will vote for you after proving to us that you can stand by Kieni residents like what "Nemesyus Warugongo" has been doing. Try it later. Warugongo 2007 may be 2012 after you prove to be with us. Patrick - Mweiga

  • by Peter on 17th October 2007

    you will dealy help to kick Ndarathi out. But remember other aspirants like Warugongo

  • by Terry Wasonga Obadha on 23rd October 2007

    Having been with Edwin in the same class in Highland Primary School, i must commend him on the great step he has taken and wish him all the best. he possess all the vital qualities that leaders need and especially in Kenya today. i got to know about his aspiration from the news last nite and i am confident that if Kieni people want a change, the change lies with Eddie. Keep on keeping on, you will make it

  • by Thiong'o-embaringo on 23rd October 2007

    ndarathi has been the worst creature to have made it to parliament and all kieni people are shy to be associated with a guy who has made things complicated for kibaki. we need fresh,energetic and youths like edwin though i dont know him so he should make it a point to "see me".

  • by Dr Rubia on 24th October 2007

    Am impressed with Eddy.I had a chance to share the same school with him though he was a number of years ahead of me at alliance.He had a leadership post there and was impressive.i think he is worth the praise and try him for a change ye pple of kieni.i am from gatundu north constituency and ours is the same thing ,the incumbent M.P has actually done zero to uplift the lives of the pple despite being in government.He will only appear for burials of the folks there.This year will be an election of issues and such pple we plan to send them to the woods! lets do away with the old guards theory for the future of this country lies in change and change means younger pple with fresh ideas. Go for it eddy!

  • by kamonjo-Naromoru on 30th October 2007

    Eddy for MP kieni is an idea whose time has come.Past is gone when we are told that we will be the leaders of tommorow.Its now! tommorow is today and today we should lead them and let them know how they failed and that why they should sit and watch.We can't wait for another tommorow.Eddy has proved to be a leader as a well as a focussed politician who has structural understanding to people needs. I have seen him go on the ground where people are living at the extreem periphery yet neither warugongo nor Ndarathi has ever done the kind of humantarian work that Eddy has been doing. He is not only going to lead Kieni but he is putting a smile to his constituents. Sweet talking is what we will hear from all the likes of Ndarathi,but they have neither ideologies nor meagre understanding of substantial development leave alone being a politicians. Eddy is the person to vote for if you love development,and mind kieni.

  • by Thiong'o-embaringo on 1st November 2007

    Eddy is the man of the moment and we know for sure he will turn tables this time over murungaru. Keep it up man coz sisi vijana are behind you.

  • by WAMAI on 5th November 2007

    I in fully support this young aspirant as we people of kieni need change an i believe this change will not come from the current MP nor his agemate who are aspiring.We need leaders with vision and who are accountable to their constituent and who have them in their hearts. Go for it Macharia an hope u will deliver for our people. Wamai-Accountant from Naro-moru workng with a multinational.

  • by steve gichohi on 7th November 2007

    My contribution is basically on three things. the issue of prioritization which the current kieni leadership lacks. Am left to wonder whether the people bugdeting our c.d.f kitty really know where kieni is and the priorities of our people. All weather roads [murram],and water have chronically been the main issues in our constituency and where as all these are being done in other areas aal over the country i am left wondering where kieni money is going. this brings in the issue of accountability. Being a political activist i feel demeaned to have the type of leadership we are experiencing now, We go to cotinental house looking for our hon, mheshimiwa to no avail. If other people get to see their waheshimiwas then why not us as kieni residents?? Integrity is of much importance to a community like ours. Recently our name was in bad books locally and internationally due to irresponsibility of the so called mheshimiwa, why should we give it a second chance???????there are so many young people out there who can lead us better and we should give eddie a chance to deliver but not to show-case!!!!!!! Lastly we should all remember that politics is the authorititive allocation of values and resources in the society and in our case we hve experienced neither, we can feed on empty promises and bitter exchange of words each day as it has been the case for the last several years,therefore we should let some one who has kieni at heart and not pretenderers. We also dont want to hear the talk of so ad so being buddies with mzee. what we want is true leadership!!!! Eddy we got u at our hearts and surery u will win. steve gichohi ( kieni resident and political science student at university of nairobi)

  • by steve gichohi on 7th November 2007

    A time has come when we put someone who will authorititively allocate values and resources to us Kieni people coz this is what all politics entails. Eddy push on and remember not to give in to the addiction of politics as it does at times. The days of empty talks are long gone and this is an era of development. All is not gone though we have been wasted for long but eddy should try and remake the true Kieni and exhibit true people driven leadership!!!! Its time for roads and water to be brought to kieni people and not the bitter exchange of words we,ve experienced for the last five years!!!!11111 steve u.o.n political science student from kieni

  • by kamonjo on 11th November 2007

    I have total faith that Edwin will deliver what Kieni resindents have been waiting for.DEVELOPMENT AND SELF SUSTAINABILITY.We the people of Kieni,it is the high time we rise up and loose the chains that for a long time tied development in this area.Ndarathi and the likes must GO!!!!!!!.They are a bad omen. Kamonjo-Disaster management,Masinde Muliro Univ

  • by mary gachara on 13th November 2007

    surely, in kieni we need a change in leadership. we have a wealth of opportunities yet to be exploited. you can be sure that if we vote in responsible leadership, kieni will be a different place. i urge all voters to make sure they vote very carefully this time bearing in mind that their vote will either mean development or stagnation for the next 5 years. i think kieni can go places! leadership starts with you and me. Mary gachara, nairobi.

  • by Mugo on 13th November 2007

    First let me rebutt Mr. Kiiru. I am just wondering out loud, has Mr. Murungaru given you a list of things he will do for you? In addition, I don't think it is the MP's duty to do things for you, he is a leader not a provider. You ought to read and follow his lead when he shows his trail blazing past. I went to high school with Mr. Macharia and he has been nothing but exemplary at everything he has done so far. I also happen to have my grand parents living in Kieni so this is personal as well. The leadership of Murungaru leaves a lot to be desired. You not voting for Mr. Macharia because of his age reeks of your low perception of self since you say you are the same age. For you, it seems you just let things happen and hope that with age you will gain more responsiblity. Well my compatriot brother, there are some of us who are tired of waiting and have the skills to convert our destiny and you can't stop us!

  • by Leteipa on 14th November 2007

    I have seen Edwin lead, I think he is the sort of leader Kenyans need. His exposure is good, I support him fully, Go for it Mash!!!

  • by edwin otongo on 16th November 2007

    Eddy Macharia should be given a chance! In people like him, Kenyans see hope. I may not be a voter in Kieni, I may not even support Kibaki, but I see ledership in people like Edwin. I happen to have beein at Alliance with him, a year behind him in class, and I can tell the people of Kieni that in him they have a gem. This guy was born to lead........... Anyone who dared to watch debate 07 in KTN some last week, will indeed agree with me that Edwin came out as very focused young aspirant and well versed on what he is getting himself into. I was impressed, to say the least. On a lighter note, maybe Edwin should consider relocating his political base to Alego Usonga, my people can surely use him!! Vote Edwin Macharia! Edwin Otongo, Legal Officer.

  • by wanja on 17th November 2007

    What a shame to even think of the chronic poverty levels in kieni! .I grew upand was eucated in kieni ,to be specific Lusoi.Sad affair 35 years down memory lane ,nothing has improved in regard to infasracture,education or health. I appreciate the minds and ambitions of Macharia ...lead us into empowering the kieni people into sustainable development and livelihood management. I am a graduate of sustainable development ,purely influenced to pursue the course coz of the needs of our people in kieni. in full support macharia! wanja ,USA

  • by Joshua Rutere on 19th December 2007

    We need men of vision like Macharia. Go man go!

  • by Moses on 21st January 2008

    Edwin, dont be disappointed that the majority of people in Kieni did not vote for you. Take courage in the ones that heard and agreed with your message and actually voted in your favour. Now you have five years to sell your agenda. Please start now, then come 2012 you will not need to campaign.

  • by gathiaka from watuka on 4th April 2008

    u require a test of time .but must not forget that sevice to your people is not only promised but done with or without your being elected.success

  • by NJARAMBA-KIAWARWA on 4th August 2010

    hey,eddy if only you can give us ur strategy on how the young man can better the lives of many kiens resident especilly on water,we have fertile soil to cultivate ,we eliminate the notion people ave that RELIEF FOOD is for kieni.kindly give us more on that

  • by DANSON MWANGI on 15th May 2011

    HEY there Edwin!! are you in the 2011 RACE??? WELCOME BACK this time round you have a big big chance,tell everybody you are in. We want youths Am 100% behind your BACK, GO FOR IT!!!! Am a youth from Endarasha, from an engineering college, Mr Edwin,WHAT will you do for the YOUTHs of Kinyaiti?

  • by DANSON MWANGI on 15th May 2011

    sorry I meant 2012 race

  • by Karuri Joel K. on 16th July 2011

    Who are we looking at for the 2012 polls? I would favor a youthful candidate...

  • by Job waithaka on 26th July 2011

    Kieni being 1 of the leargest constituency in Nyeri county, r u ready 2 serve the community at learge fully. R u ready 2 follow the footsteps of Munene kairu? R u aware since Munene's death we haven't been fully represented in palianment? What is ua vision 2 the people of kieni at learge?

  • by Livingstone warutumo on 15th January 2012

    Am from kieni. A youthful person who wants to change the face of kieni. Am not an aspirant of any political seat but would like to work hand in hand with people with vision and from kieni

  • by Charles on 28th May 2012

    Am charles,i need to see action done here for the gospel to be spread.am in mount kenya university and in dire need of 180k to complete my studies,kieni people ask all these leaders what they can do to save my education nw that am about to drop due to lack of fees and the fact is they are seeking for our votes,bursuries no body knows where the hell! They go!am paining !TELL ME!