MP James Gakuya: "I worked menial jobs at Wakulima Market, saved KSh2M by the time I turned 18"
James Gakuya is an astute businessman who also doubles up as a third-term Member of Parliament (MP) for Embakasi North in Nairobi County. Gakuya does not back down from a fight no matter how blurry the other side appears to be.
His strong will became evident at the age of 13 when he took it upon himself to chase away his father's wives from their home. Not even the chief and his police officers or his no-nonsense father made him second guess his decision.
'TV47 Digital' recently caught up with him in an exclusive interview and here is what he had to say.
How was growing up for you?
I grew up in Murang'a in a middle-income family. My father, who was also a drunkard, married two more wives later who he brought to our home. Our family feuds started here as we started straining financially.
School fees became an issue, money became scarce because they would harvest my mother's farm produce.
One day I decided enough was enough.
What action did you take?
One day when my father was not around, I took leave from school. I came home, broke into both women's houses, and threw away their belongings on the roadside.
Upon coming back, they appeared shocked. I informed them that they had half an hour to leave our homestead for good. One of them reported me to the chief who tried to stop me.
I told the chief that the only way he would only stop me was over my dead body. I dared him to arrest me, I was fearless.
Did the women leave?
Never to come back. I asked my mother to leave as well because my father would take out his anger on her.
Upon my father's return, none of his wives was home. It was only us, the children. He was wise enough not to confront me when temperatures were still high.
What became of your family after that?
My mother eventually came back but this was after my father worked hard to convince her. He never re-married and his two wives never came back.
My relationship with my father was however completely damaged. Upon completion of primary school, he informed me that he would not pay my school fees going forward.
He would however continue paying school fees for all my other siblings.
I was a bright boy and I knew I had to do whatever it took to complete my secondary education. I sought a scholarship from a missionary centre that sponsored my education for two years in Njirii School.
The scholarship was however withdrawn unceremoniously. I ended up at Aquinas High School which was a day school then. My sponsors also rented me a single room and gave me pocket money.
I realised I was free on the weekend and needed a source of income to sustain myself instead of depending on the little pocket money.
What hustles did you get into?
I started doing menial jobs at Wakulima Market. I would help transport tomatoes for traders from one market point to another.
Slowly, I gained the traders' trust because I did not consume alcohol like the rest of my colleagues who would drink during work hours. I had a work ethic. They trusted me with large amounts of goods.
We would be paid KSh2 to transport empty crates. I would carry four at a go and I would go for close to 1000 trips per day. In a day, I would make close to KSh8,000.
With time, clients started paying me in bulk, they would pay me KSh40,000 to KSh50,000 a week.
I saved a lot and by the time I was completing high school, I had saved two million shillings. I would put the money under my mattress.
What did you do with the money?
I bought a lorry at 18 years old that transported vegetables and pineapples to Mombasa. I was making about KSh20,000 per trip which was good money for me.
To date, I am a businessman and I plan to do business even after I retire from politics.
When do you plan to retire from politics?
I intend to run for one more term and then call it quits.
When did you join politics?
I was 29 years when I first contested for councilor. I was defeated in the primaries by four votes.
I was planning to decamp to another political party when I was asked by my party to stick around as they would nominate me.
I was nominated and after five years, I vied again and floored the incumbent overwhelmingly.
He got about 600 votes and I got 10,000 votes. He was so shocked, he was taken ill and passed away shortly after.
Then you vied for the Embakasi North parliamentary seat...
Yes. After two terms, one as a nominated councilor and the other as elected, I decided to go for the Embakasi North parliamentarian seat.
I won and joined the National Assembly in 2013. An MP position needs someone with a big heart. Helping people with things that appear minute like settling medical bills, things that have a personal touch is very important.
If someone joins politics hoping to be rich, they should quit because it is not possible. You cannot solely depend on your salary, that is your constituents' money.
You have an ongoing graft case in court, should we expect to see the DPP drop charges as has been the trend?
I did not steal any money, this was politically instigated so whether they want to withdraw charges or not, I am ready.
If you look at the projects' money they are alleging I stole, you will see that the EACC's report recommends that the work spent saved the Kenyan taxpayer over five million shillings.
The only thing I did was help two youth groups that had been awarded a tender but had no money. I helped them get a bank loan as a signatory to the bank account.
Are any of your children in politics? Word on the street is that former Kasarani MP Mercy Gakuya is your daughter
Mercy and I are not related, we just happen to have the same name. No one from my family is in politics so far but I have noticed some interest in one of my daughters who studied political science.
If she wants to get into the political scene, she should have to fight for herself. The only way I can help her is maybe front her for nomination once I retire from politics. Doing that now would injure my political career.
- Advertisement -