What you need to know:
- Deputy President William Ruto described Johnny as “a principled and respected leader who was enterprising, selfless and gifted with a charming personality,” while the ODM party appreciated the ideas he shared with it.
In the high octane Nairobi city politics, only a few active participants did not know Ibrahim Ahmed alias Johnny.
So, when he died Friday aged 54, almost the whole of the city's political class mourned him as a man who embodied pure love, gentle kindness and selfless leadership, and a devout Muslim who was a respecter of all religions.
Johnny had worked very hard to combine his passion for people with politics in order to make the world a better place. Then he tested negative for Covid-19 but died from health complications days after taking Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine, which has been embroiled in controversy locally.
“Johnny was a strong, duty-oriented civic leader with a sense of purpose for Nairobi County. He was a great mind with rare political skills and foresight. We have lost a brother, friend and comrade,” Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) Secretariat co-chair and former Dagoretti South MP Dennis Waweru said at the burial on Friday afternoon.
The ceremony at the Lang’ata Muslim Cemetery brought together friend and foe, Muslims and Christians and political groupings ranging from the Nairobi Action Team to Nairobi Forward.
“Jonny was a true Nairobian by all definitions. Even though he wasn’t elected as MP, he continued to serve the people diligently and with humility,” Mr Waweru said in his address.
All other mourners had kind words for the fallen city politician and businessman.
“Very few deaths affect people like that of Johnny’s. He was not supposed to die,” former Ngara Ward MCA aspirant Aggie Ibara said.
Other glowing tributes
Timothy Muriuki, a 2013 Nairobi County gubernatorial aspirant, remembered Johnny as an honest person who never held a grudge, while political analyst Fwamba Fwamba said he was “an ardent champion of democracy, an active participant in leadership, a strategic organiser and a very warm and accommodative friend”.
Bob Ndubi, chief executive of Silver House Capital, said, “He was an embodiment of genius and a good and gracious man of honour."
Deputy President William Ruto described Johnny as “a principled and respected leader who was enterprising, selfless and gifted with a charming personality,” while the ODM party appreciated the ideas he shared with it.
ODM’s Youth Coordinator Benson Musungu said, “Any time you met him in the streets of Nairobi or at his popular 'hangout joint' - Java, Mama Ngina street - Jonny would shout your name with warmth."
Born in Pumwani in Nairobi’s Eastlands area, Jonny was thrust into the spotlight in 2007, when he entered the race for the Kamukunji parliamentary seat on an ODM ticket. He lost to then PNU candidate Simon Mbugua in one of the city's most hotly contested and violent elections.
Whereas his opponents arrived at political rallies in luxury vehicles, he shocked Nairobians as he campaigned on a camel.
After emerging second in the polls, Johnny filed an election petition against Mr Mbugua’s victory. In 2010, the courts ruled that Mr Mbugua was not elected fairly, resulting in a by-election won by Yusuf Hassan, who has been Kamukunji Constituency's MP since then.
In the 2013 General Election, Jonny was the running mate of businessman Jimnah Mbaru in the Nairobi gubernatorial race, in which the pair ran on an APK party ticket.
Following his death, Mr Mbugua, an EALA MP, stirred controversy when he linked it to the Russian vaccine that he took on March 31.
Lawyer Donald Kipkorir, who was the second Kenyan to take the same vaccine, responded.
“I met Ibrahim Johnny in 1988 in a UoN law class and we were friends since. He was a conscientious man. He was a religious man. He was very loyal to Baba (Raila Odinga) and ODM. Johnny had been unwell for many years. Let’s mourn and celebrate his life. Let’s not tar it with gossip and conjecture.”
After graduating with a law degree, Jonny obtained a Master’s degree in public policy from London.
Until his death, the father of six was a businessman, consultant and the deputy secretary-general of Jamia Mosque.