Meet Kwale charcoal burner who won MCA seat

Omar Mwaduga addressing supporters on a wheelbarrow at the Kidimu Grounds on May 24, 2022 during a Kenya Kwanza political rally.  He is a UDA candidate for the Pongwe-Kikoneni Member of County Assembly position in Lungalunga, Kwale County. 

Photo credit: Pool I Nation Media Group

Barely three months ago, Omar Mwaduga was an ordinary resident of Mshiu village in Kwale County seeking an elective as a ward representative.

He came into the limelight when a video of him addressing residents at a Kenya Kwanza political rally attended by President-elect William Ruto in Lungalunga sub-county went viral.

In that event, a group of young people had volunteered to carry him on a wheelbarrow, from where he addressed the crowd instead of using the official podium. 

He had already used all available resources to fund his campaigns, including selling his cows to raise money for mobilising voters to listen to his speeches. 

His two wives had also taken loans from their chamas to support his political bid.

By early June, Mr Mwaduga was still pursuing his aspirations of becoming Pongwe-Kikoneni MCA, depending on well-wishers, neighbours and former business associates to boost his popularity among residents. 

Today, Mr Mwaduga is a happy man, after he defeated his opponents, including the sitting MCA to win the election.

He vied under the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) and won with 2,982 votes

"I am extremely excited because it was all God's work. My win showed that the people I had trusted in did not disappoint me," he said.

At 34, Mr Mwaduga will be among the youngest MCAs in Kwale County.

Before getting into politics he was a charcoal trader, a lucrative business in Kwale County. 

He then got into activism, helping locals in the remote Mshiu village get access to government services such as registration of births or application for identity cards in government offices in Lungalunga town.

Omar Mwaduga, 34 year old MCA aspirant during an interview in his home in Mshiu Village,  Lungalunga in Kwale County on May 28, 2022.  Mr Mshiu surprised many after he addressed supporters lifted on a wheelbarrow during a Kenya Kwanza Rally in Lungalunga last week.

Photo credit: Siago Cece I Nation Media Group

He has been doing this for the last four years, with his vehicle used to transport such individuals to the county headquarters.

"The people are the ones who convinced me to get into politics after seeing how I had helped them. I am happy they voted for me," he said.

Among his key priorities will be to revive the charcoal business, which was banned, affecting many locals. He says the business is sustainable if it includes long-term conservation measures.

He plans to address the issue in the Kwale County Assembly once he is sworn in.

Mr Mwaduga also wants to help needy students get education bursaries, and expand employment opportunities for youth and women.

"My vision goes hand in hand with that of my party patron, Dr William Ruto. With his bottom-up economic approach, I am sure that this will ensure each one of my people benefits from government services and improves their lives," he said.

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