Prayer Breakfast

From left: President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto. 

| Jeff Angote | Nation Media Group

Kenyans to watch in 2022

Wafula Chebukati

Wafula Chebukati

Wafula Chebukati, the chairman of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

As the chairman of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), Mr Chebukati also doubles as the returning officer for the presidential election. In both roles, all eyes will be on him as he leads the commission to the elections in August 2022 which will usher in a new president and governors who will take over from the second term incumbents. An election perceived as credible will see the country carry on without an incident while the opposite could usher in tension, division and even violence.

President Uhuru Kenyatta

Uhuru Kenyatta New Year speech

President Uhuru Kenyatta gives his New Year's address to the nation from State House, Nairobi on December 31, 2021.

Photo credit: PSCU

He will be retiring after the August 9, 2022 elections but he wields immense influence on the country and the elections. Already there is a perception that he favours ODM leader Raila Odinga to succeed him over his estranged deputy William Ruto and the One Kenya Alliance (OKA) leaders. Besides his interest in the election is his legacy which will be on the line. He will be expected to manage the transition and peacefully hand over power to whoever will be elected by Kenyans.

Chief Justice Martha Koome

Martha Koome

Chief Justice and and President of the Supreme Court of Kenya Martha Koome.

Photo credit: Francis Nderitu | Nation Media Group

No matter how she tries, the Chief Justice will inevitably be sucked into the 2022 elections vortex. In an election year, she and the Supreme Court bench she leads could be asked to adjudicate the outcome of the presidential election as it has happened in the last two general elections. Besides the presidential election, Mrs Koome’s Supreme Court is currently considering the appeal against the decision by the Court of Appeal on the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) which remains a major 2022 election talking point. Several election-related cases could also end up before the Supreme Court before and after the August 2022 elections.

Raila Odinga

Raila Odinga

ODM leader Raila Odinga at the 58th Jamhuri Day celebrations at Uhuru Gardens in Nairobi.
 

Photo credit: Pool

Mr Odinga is considered one of the leading presidential candidates and fancies his chances this time after receiving the endorsement of leaders from regions that have never voted for him in his past four attempts. The Mount Kenya Foundation endorsed Mr Odinga’s bid and his Azimio la Umoja Movement has the backing of some key leaders from the Mountain region. Political commentatorsbelieve the 2022 elections could also be the last best chance he stands as a presidential candidate and he has to give it his best shot.

Deputy President William Ruto

William Ruto

Deputy President William Ruto.

Photo credit: Joseph Kanyi | Nation Media Group

He is perceived to be the main rival to Mr Odinga. With his Hustler Nation movement, Dr Ruto has caused waves across the country with his campaigns that started in 2018 and also the breakdown in his relationship with his boss, the president. Though he is the deputy president, he is running an outsider’s race to succeed President Kenyatta with whom they hardly talk.

One Kenya Alliance (OKA) leaders

OKA principals

OKA principals Cyrus Jirongo, Moses Wetangula, Musalia Mudavadi, Kalonzo Musyoka and Gideon Moi in Kakamega on October 29, 2021. 

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Kalonzo Musyoka, Musalia Mudavadi, Gideon Moi and Moses Wetang’ula.

OKA leaders have, so far, stated that they will be backing neither Mr Odinga nor Dr Ruto but will field a candidate to be announced this month. Their campaigns so far have been lacklustre and half-hearted at best even though they insist they are in the race. Oftentimes, both Mr Odinga and Dr Ruto have tried to woo Mr Musyoka and Mr Mudavadi in particular as the OKA leaders are seen as possible kingmakers. President Kenyatta has also hosted the OKA leaders to meetings as he tries to broker a deal with Mr Odinga. However they approach the 2022 elections, their role will be key as they can tilt the outcome of a close election.

Leaders of smaller parties

Martha Karua Moses Kuria, Mwangi Kiunjuri

 Narc Kenya leader Martha Karua, Chama Cha Kazi's Moses Kuria (left), and Mwangi Kiunjuri of The Service Party addressing the media at Serena Hotel in Nairobi on  August 12, 2021.

Photo credit: Dennis Onsongo | Nation Media Group

Narc Kenya’s Martha Karua, The Service Party’s Mwangi Kiunjuri, and Chama Cha Kazi’s Moses Kuria alongside the Party of National Unity and the Democratic Party are a disruptive force that could cause a headache to campaign strategies of the big players in the vote-rich Mt Kenya region.

Two notable things about this group led by Ms Karua, Mr Kuria and Mr Kiunjuri: they have resisted calls by Deputy President William Ruto to fold their parties and join UDA, and they have formed an inter-parties forum for Mt Kenya on whose platform they want to bargain for the region. The group could prove to be a great influence on the way the Mountain region votes in the presidential election. They also have the potential to play the spoiler’s role, especially for UDA which has branded them as village and/or tribal parties.

Mutahi Kagwe

Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe

Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe. 

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

With Covid-19 still a menace worldwide and specifically in Kenya, the Health Cabinet Secretary’s role in shaping the country’s response to waves and vaccine uptake remains critical. Whether or not the country goes back to lockdown as a result of the increasing positivity rate will largely depend on what Mr Kagwe and his team of experts advise President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Universal Health Coverage will also be a key legacy agenda for the President with National Hospital Insurance Fund CEO Peter Kamunyo playing a central role.

Dr Patrick Njoroge

CBK Governor Patrick Njoroge.

CBK Governor Patrick Njoroge. 

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

With businesses and the economy still reeling from the impacts of Covid-19 and a battered shilling, the Central Bank of Kenya will continue playing a key role in stabilising the economy through the policy decisions it takes. At the centre of such decisions is CBK Governor Dr Njoroge. Besides the measures to mitigate against the effects of the pandemic, the governor will also be leading the Central Bank to regulate digital lenders which have proved popular with Kenyans but also exploitative. President Kenyatta recently signed a law that gives the CBK powers to regulate the digital lenders.

Ezra Chiloba

Ezra Chiloba

Communications Authority of Kenya Director General Ezra Chiloba.

Photo credit: Francis Nderitu | Nation Media Group

Hardly three months into his appointment as Director General Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) and he is already making waves with his notice to cancel 60 radio frequencies for failure to comply with various licensing conditions. Before this, the powerful regulator under Mr Chiloba had also banned Sasa TV, a station owned by controversial Pastor James Ng'ang'a, from live broadcast for six months for airing unfit content. This could just be the beginning. With elections looming and CA a key player in technology side of ensuring there is network to facilitate voting and transmission of results, Mr Chiloba occupies an important place in the country in 2022. Then there is the lingering question on whether or not the regulator will shut down the internet or restrict access as some neighbouring countries have previously done — or even go after broadcasters over elections-related coverage.

Ferdinand Omanyala

Ferdinand Omanyala

Ferdinand Omanyala.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

The 100 metres African sprint king has another opportunity to prove that he belongs to the elite class at the 2022 World Athletics Championship in Oregon, USA, from July 5 to July 24, 2022. He is the current African record holder over the distance and is ranked at position 11 in the world in the sprint discipline.

Angela Okutoyi

Angela Okutoyi

Angela Okutoyi in action during a previous tournament in Ruiru, Kenya.

Photo credit: Pool |

The 17-year old Okutoyi is the Africa Junior champion and has taken part in the Australian Open. She is the hottest tennis sensation at the moment and is expected to continue with her form in 2022.

Faith Kipyegon

Faith Kipyegon

Kenya's Faith Kipyegon celebrates after winning the women's 1,500m gold medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on August 06, 2021. 

Photo credit: Joan Pereruan | Nation Media Group

The two-time Olympic Games gold medallist and also a one-time World Championships gold medallist is expected to continue her fine form heading into the 2022 World Athletics Championship in Oregon, USA. She is a medal candidate for team Kenya at the championships.

Eliud Kipchoge

Eliud Kipchoge

Olympics marathon champion and world record holder Eliud Kipchoge.

Photo credit: Jared Nyataya | Nation Media Group

He has ruled the marathon world for years and the question is whether he will continue to safeguard his record. He will have the 2022 World Athletics Championship in Oregon to do that as well as other athletics meets.

Prof George Magoha

George Magoha

Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha addressing Maseno School students on December 18, 2021.

Photo credit: Tonny Omondi | Nation Media Group

The New Year will be key to the implementation of the competency-based curriculum which the Cabinet Secretary for Education and the ministry as well as the Kenya Institute for Curriculum Development having the ultimate responsibility. The New Year starts with the task of constructing 10,000 new classrooms in readiness for the present Grade 5 pupils when they will be transitioning to junior high school in 2023. The KCPE and KCSE examinations will also be done as the education system gradually moves to regularise the academic calendar disrupted by the pandemic in 2020.

Dr David Njeng'ere

David Njeng'ere.

Kenya National Examination Council Chief Executive Officer David Njeng'ere.

Photo credit: Evans Habil | Nation Media Group

The CEO of the Kenya National Examinations Council leads the team that will be conducting two KCPEs and KCSEs each in a single year in 2022. Though the administration of the national exams is done by a multi-sectoral team, it is Dr Njeng’ere who will shoulder most of the burden to ensure Knec delivers on the promise of four national examinations in one year.

Activist Okiya Omtatah

Activist Okiya Omtatah

Activist Okiya Omtatah at the Milimani Law Courts.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

As a public-spirited individual and human rights defender, Mr Omtatah has assumed the role of the public defender, instituting several cases against public bodies and government regarding decisions they have taken which fall afoul of the Constitution. In 2022, Mr Omtatah will still carry on with his activism through the courts. He has a case against the nomination of Paul Mutunga Mutungi to be deputy governor of Nairobi County pending in court while an appeal by the Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC) on a decision on MPs’ allowances is also pending. Mr Omtatah was one of the petitioners against a decision by MPs to award themselves huge allowances. Besides, the activist has also petitioned the constitutional court to pronounce itself on whether the 2010 Constitution anticipates digital, manual or hybrid elections.

Kenyans on Twitter (KOT)

They are loud, ruthless and unapologetic. They have forced corporates to make knee-jerk decisions, politicians to cave in and government agencies to eat humble pie. They even go to “war” with other countries that dare touch Kenya. This year, they are poised to shape the trajectory of many things because anything is a hashtag away from reaching boiling point. Careless remarks will be amplified and mocked, explosive revelations will be reviewed and put to the test, and reports of waywardness will draw wrath. In election-related conversations, KOT has previously made candidates appear wildly popular online but that didn’t translate to votes, presenting the question of whether the online community has its money where its mouth is. Inevitably, some in this “online army” are guns-for-hire and useful for propaganda wars.

Gen Robert Kibochi

 General Robert Kibochi

The Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) Chief of Defence Forces General Robert Kibochi at the Kahawa Barracks on March 11, 2021 during the launch of the Covid-19 vaccination drive to the members of the Kenya Defence Forces.

Photo credit: Kanyiri Wahito | Nation Media Group

As Chief of Defence Forces (CDF), Gen Kibochi now heads a military that has increasingly encroached the civilian spaces as heads of Nairobi Metropolitan Services, Kenya Meat Commission, Kenya Shipyards Ltd and construction of the yet-to-be opened Kisumu Port. Given the critical roles the military is now playing in civilian life, Gen Kibochi will remain a key figure in 2022. Also as head of the military, he will be playing a central role in the transition after the August 2022 elections. Gen Kibochi will also be at the forefront on matters of security to defend the country’s territorial integrity and also, especially, since the Kenya Defence Forces remain engaged in Somalia as part of the African Union Mission to Somalia (Amisom) in the fight against al-Shabaab.

Fred Matiang’i

Interior CS Fred Matiang’i

Interior CS Fred Matiang’i.

Photo credit: Francis Nderitu | Nation Media Group

The powerful Interior Cabinet Secretary, who is also the first among equals in President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Cabinet, has a major role in this election year given Kenya’s history of election-related violence. But critics of Dr Matiang’i, especially those allied to Deputy President William Ruto, accuse him of using his position to target perceived opponents of President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga. His involvement in political campaigns will also be closely watched.

Hilary Mutyambai

Hillary Mutyambai

Inspector General of Police Hillary Mutyambai. 

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

The Inspector-General of Police commands a key arm of the security apparatus that will be required in the conduct of the elections: to enforce law and order during the campaigns, on Election Day on August 9, 2022, and even after. The actions of his officers during and after the campaigns, already accused by Deputy President William Ruto’s allies of partisanship, will be closely watched. The police under his command have also been accused of extra-judicial killings and abductions and Mr Mutyambai will remain on the radar of human rights defenders.

Amina Mohammed

Amina Mohamed

Cabinet Secretary for Sports, Culture and Heritage Amina Mohamed when she appeared before National Assembly's Committee on Sports, Culture and Tourism on October 27, 2021.

Photo credit: Jeff Angote | Nation Media Group

The eyes of football fans will be on the Sports, Heritage and Culture Cabinet Secretary. What next for the for Football Kenya Federation after a caretaker team took over and will Kenya be banned from international competitions by the world governing body? It all depends on the direction Dr Mohammed steers the country.

Dr Monica Juma

Monica Juma

Monica Juma, the Cabinet Secretary for Energy.

Photo credit: PSCU

The Cabinet Secretary for Energy could shape 2022 in two ways: she was transferred to the Energy docket in September with the specific instructions to oversee the reforms at Kenya Power which includes lowering electricity prices for Kenyans. For this, Kenyans will be looking up to her to see the intended reforms implemented and electricity prices come down. Secondly, she is a candidate for the Secretary General of the Commonwealth. She will be facing off with the incumbent, Lady Patricia Scotland.

Trio Mio

Trio Mio

Kenyan Artist Trio Mio entertains guests at during the lauch of Raila Odinga's Azimio la Umoja convention at Kasarani on December 10,2021.


Photo credit: Sila Kiplagat | Nation Media Group

Teenage rap sensation TJ Mario Kasela, who features in the politically loaded ‘Sipangwingi’ hit, is shaping up to be the artiste to look out for in 2022. From the time he grabbed fame on social media as a 15-year-old freestyle rapper at the height of the global lockdown, to the moment he was chosen as Raila Odinga’s influencer for the youthful demography during Azimio la Umoja National Convention, his growth has been immense in just under two years in the limelight. With tracks and collaborations like ‘Cheza Kama Wewe’, ‘Alaa!!!!!!!!!’, ‘No Stress’ and ‘Sipangwingwi’, his lyrical prowess has always been evident and confident, even as the styles of delivery change. He has collaborated with the biggest names in hip hop locally and stood shoulder to shoulder if not towering over them. His presence while performing live on stage is that of a superstar and that is why he is going to be a key player in the music industry.

Eric Omondi

Eric Omondi

Comedian Eric Omondi.

Photo credit: File

The comedian has always found a way for his name to stay on the lips of people. All his antics are well-orchestrated. From making fans believe that he was going to run for political office only for him to front Jimi Wanjigi to having his highly controversial Wife Material show, to turning East African music’s self-proclaimed protector and activist, he has been in the headlines all year. Indeed, he has forced conversations about where promoters place the value of Kenyan musicians when it comes to performers at live events. He is still doing comedy shows all over the region and continues to endorse various brands, making him a marketing magnet and proving there’s a method behind the madness.

Kate, the actress

Actress Catherine Kamau Karanja.

Actress Catherine Kamau Karanja.

Photo credit: Francis Nderitu | Nation Media Group

With her baby just having turned two recently and saying she’s closed the chapter on children, actress Catherine Kamau has all the world of entertainment to conquer. In May 2021, she was featured on Mr Seed’s ‘Ndoa’. In 2020, she won Couture Magazine’s Most Stylish Female Entertainer and Woman of the Year awards. She’s viewed as a style icon, an influential woman with countless endorsements because of it. Add her YouTube channel where she tackles everything from parenthood to running businesses, and she also wears the cap of a hostess. Her bounce back into the world of acting after her maternity break has seen her appear in renowned movies such as ‘Nafsi’ and ‘Kutu’, the latter earning her the best actress award at the 2021 Kalashas. Her versatility as an actress when it comes to comedy and drama, or Swahili, vernacular or English makes her a force to reckon with.

Michelle Achieng’ Opiyo

UK-based model Michelle Achieng' Opiyo

UK-based model Michelle Achieng' Opiyo.

Photo credit: Pool

Michelle Achieng’ Opiyo has captured the hearts of fashion brands and accessories across Europe when it comes to campaigns. Also a high fashion runway model, Michelle has been on campaigns by Marks & Spencer, Topshop, New Look, and Hourglass cosmetics. For someone who only started modelling professionally in 2019, her rise has been nothing short of phenomenal. She talked earlier on about hoping to set up a Kenyan modelling agency that would help Kenyans get a shot at opportunities she’s experienced. She was picked up by a Nigerian agency after many of the local agencies told her she didn’t have what it took to be a model and is currently based in the UK.

Mount Kenya Foundation

Mt Kenya Foundation

ODM leader Raila Odinga (centre) poses for a photo with Mount Kenya Foundation bigwigs, from left, Mr Titus Ibui, Mr Mohoho Kenyatta, Mr Peter Munga and Mr John Njoroge on September 28.

Photo credit: Lucy Wanjiru | Nation Media Group

Comprising tycoons like SK Macharia of Royal Media Services, Mount Kenya University founder Simon Gicharu, the billionaire founder of Equity Bank Peter Munga, chairman of the LAPSETT board of directors Titus Ibui, Kenya Nut Company owner Pius Ngugi, President Kenyatta’s uncle George Muhoho, and former Kenya Revenue Authority commissioner-general Michael Waweru among others, Mount Kenya Foundation’s influence and financial muscle is unmatched. The group  recently endorsed the former Prime Minister Raila Odinga as its preferred successor to President Uhuru Kenyatta, a decision that has shaken the political landscape. The tycoons’ endorsement appears key in shaping the politics of 2022, especially in Mt kenay region where Deputy President William Ruto is the perceived front-runner.

And given how expensive presidential campaigns are, having the backing of the influential  groupis an asset to Mr Odinga even though Dr Ruto’s camp has dismissed this endorsement.

Compiled by Walter Menya, Elvis Ondieki and Thomas Rajula

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