"Why my grandmother had to raise me" - Hard-hitting Senator Wahome Wamatinga's life in his own words

for Tv47 Digital January 16, 2023, 09:38 AM
Nyeri Senator Wahome Wamatinga.

In Summary

  • Nyeri Senator Wahome Wamatinga is a first-time senator. He attempted to vie for office in 2022 and succeeded at the first shot.
  • He has however been a key political player in Nyeri politics behind the scenes being among the founders of GNU, Jubilee and UDA political parties. 

  • Senator Wahome Wamatinga chairs Energy and Water committees in Senate. 

It is never in Nyeri Senator Wahome Wamatinga's nature to shy away from a challenge, often employing abrasive style of politics when he feels the need for it.

Just recently, Senator Wamatinga leaped to Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua's defence when he sounded a warning to Nairobi Governor Johnson Sakaja.

"I want to tell Sakaja; Rigathi sio wa rika yako (Rigathi is not your agemate).Your papers belong to Gikomba. Those are bought papers. If you play with us we will impeach you," a no-nonsense lawmaker snapped.

This was in connection with a disagreement between Governor Sakaja and DP Gachagua on how to run the county, which happens to be the nation's capital.

Yet his entry into national politics in the run-up to the August 2022 General Election meant that Kenyans are just getting to know him. Who is Senator Wahome Wamatinga?

TV47 Digital's Gachambi Nderitu had a sit-down with him at his home in Nairobi's Karen suburb.

You were raised by your grandmother?

My parents worked for a white family here in Karen. My mother was a house help, my father a shamba boy.

They were not allowed to have their children around so this forced my siblings and I to live with our grandmother.

This partly informed my decision to live in Karen. My house help's son lives with us and is part of our family.

You are rich! Do 'hustlers' relate to you?

I am usually shocked when someone tries to dispute the fact that I am a 'hustler'. I am really. 

I have worked hard for everything I own, I remember days when putting one meal on the table was a daunting task.

My kids may not really fit in the 'hustlers' bracket because their upbringing was not 'hustler-like' but I do, I am a hustler. President Ruto is a hustler as well.

You are a 'hustler' who studied in Germany...

I actually held a fundraiser to raise money for my undergraduate education. My community from Mathira and a couple of politicians helped me raise ticket money, pocket money and tuition fees.

While in Germany I worked menial jobs and that's how I was able to make ends meet and complete my education.

I was also the first student leader representing foreign, black students following my activism against racism. 

 What did you study?

I studied Software Engineering and got a job in Germany immediately after I completed my course.

Why did you come back to Kenya?

I came back to Kenya in 2004. I had an agreement with the people of Mathira that I would come back after my studies.

I was in politics but behind the scenes. We started campaigning for my friend Nderitu Gachagua who was defending his seat (Mathira Parliamentary seat). Unfortunately, we lost.

After the promulgation of the 2010 Constitution, we started campaigning for him to be Nyeri's governor. I remember at the time a lot of people were barely familiar with the new positions introduced by the Constitution.

Fortunately, he clinched the seat and became the first Nyeri governor. He fell ill and for two years, we did not know what he was ailing from. 

A diagnosis of pancreatic cancer was finally made. He eventually succumbed but I must say he was a strong-willed person. 

You had vowed to never get into elective politics, what changed?

Nderitu Gachagua's death and a series of events informed my decision to join elective politics. The use of state machinery to punish us by the previous government was also a factor.

As Rigathi Gachagua's CDF Chairperson when he served as Mathira MP, I was caught up in the middle of political fights. Rigathi and I were incriminated in the KSh7.4B graft case.

My plan was to sell everything and move my family back to Germany had Kenya Kwanza not succeeded to form government.

How is your experience so far as senator?

Sometimes I miss my old life when I would go about my day without anyone noticing me. These days, I am recognised a lot by people around me even in locations I don't expect...

What's next? Nyeri governor 2027?

My priority right now is to focus on delivering for my people who entrusted me with this job. If they find it fit that I run for governor when the time comes then I will abide.

What legacy do you want to leave?

I want people to remember me as a politician who was successful in his career without controversy. I also want to mentor as many young people as possible. I would have loved someone to hold my hand and guide me during my youthful days but I had no such person. I want to be that for as many people as possible.

During the interview, a group of university students vying for leadership positions visited him. TV47 Digital learnt that it is among the cliques of university students he mentors and supports financially.

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