With help, ex-street boy keeps up bid for Mathira MP seat

Mr Daniel Kiige addressing a group of women at a recent function.

Photo credit: Stephen Munyiri I Nation Media Group

With help, ex-street boy keeps up bid for Mathira MP seat
By Stephen Munyiri 
When 23-year-old former street boy Daniel Kiige declared his intention to run for the Mathira parliamentary seat four months ago, many dismissed him as a joker out to seek cheap publicity.
But Mr Kiige is increasingly gaining popularity among the electorate.
Mathira constituency is traditionally known for its high-voltage campaigns and the seat has long been perceived as a preserve of men and women with deep pockets.
Mr Kiige rose to stardom in March when he featured prominently in a Nation page two story.
However, he has been struggling to sustain his campaigns, prompting some well-wishers to step in by volunteering to help him raise funds. 
Mr Kiige is among six candidates cleared by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission to vie for the seat.
Before submitting his documents at the local IEBC office, Mr Kiige had struggled to raise the Sh20,000 nomination fee, forcing him to call for help from well-wishers, who responded immediately and raised the money.
Traders at a local second-hand clothes market recently organised an impromptu fundraiser to help him print campaign posters, among other logistical needs.
"These are the kind of leaders we want in this country. He has passed through many challenges, including living in the streets. He knows the pain the ordinary Kenyan goes through. If we elect him, I’m sure he would be the best representative we can have,” said Ann Wambui, a trader at the Karatina market.
Other well-wishers, who asked to remain anonymous, disclosed that they were also planning to raise money and buy him designer suits fit for a member of the National Assembly. 
Mr Kiige, who has embarked on a door-to-door campaign, said he was overwhelmed by the support from well-wishers, hoping this would translate into votes on August 9.
“I think they have seen the leadership in me. The support I am getting is overwhelming. Wherever I go they are very receptive. Many are encouraging me to go on.”
Mr Kiige was born into a poor family and spent some of his formative years on the streets before he was pulled out by a well-wisher, went back to school and graduated from KCA University with a second-class upper-division bachelor of commerce in accounting last year. 
Growing up in rural Karatina, Mr Kiige, the firstborn in a family of three, could not stand the poverty at home, so he found himself in the streets of the town at the tender age of four in 2003.
Speaking to the Nation in March about his experiences, Mr Kiige said he would beg from people and in shops, restaurants and other places.
But not everyone was willing to help. Some people were verbally abusive, while others asked him to go find his father. His mother is single.
“To survive, I joined a group of street boys, who told me how easy it was to get food in town. But I soon learnt it was not that easy. Cartons were my blankets, glue and gum were my food and the oversized clothes and dirty, oily jackets I collected at dumpsites made my wardrobe.”
For the next two years, he would go without food for days and never thought of changing clothes for weeks, he said.
But his life changed for the better one day when a couple – Mr John Mutahi and Ms Susan Chira – approached him and asked whether he would wish to go back to school. He answered in the affirmative and considered the opportunity as godsend.
"I enrolled in school with the help of the couple, who, although they didn’t have much money, managed through thick and thin to see me through school at Pivot Academy in Nyahururu and Kiamabara Boys High School.”
He was helped to get a full government sponsorship to KCA University, where his leadership skills were spotted by fellow students, who elected him a student leader in 2019. He also represented Kenyan universities in the East African region as a legal director under the Kenya University Students Organisation (Kuso).
“The problems I have gone through have prompted me to seek the leadership of this constituency. I feel I need to touch many hearts as a response towards lifting the people who are constantly struggling to wriggle out of their problems,” he said.
Others cleared for the race include Mr Waruru Gikandi, a Nairobi businessman who is running under the Martha Karua-led Narc-K party, Mr Kiragu Karweru of Usawa party and Phenansio Wang'ombe Thuku, an independent candidate.
The others are Eric Mwangi Wamumbi (UDA) and Ms Christobel Wambura Maranga, 74 of Jubilee. It will be interesting to see how Mr Kiige, with a 51-year age difference between him and Ms Maranga, goes. Can he cause an upset?
 

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