More intellectuals from Coast eye political seats

The Coast is likely to see more intellectuals on the ballot in the 2022 election in yet another wave of change sweeping across the region.

Constitutional requirements and an increasingly informed voter have forced politicians to go back to universities to be eligible to run for key political seats like the governor’s position.

It is a break from the past when Coast politicians like Shariff Nassir, Karisa Maitha, Rashid Sajjad, and Tahir Sheikh Said (TSS), who were semi-illiterate, wielded political power in Coast.

The late Nassir was the Kanu kingpin in Coast, while Sajjad and TSS bankrolled the then ruling party in the region. Nassir, a close ally of President Daniel Moi, held grip of Mvita from 1974 and ruled the Coast political landscape until he was dislodged by Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala, in the first wave that saw youthful politicians take over Coast leadership.

In the latest wave, the intellectuals will square it out with charismatic politicians with strong grassroots networks.

Hassan Mwakimako, a lecturer at Pwani University, said the growing interest among scholars at the Coast was commendable because knowledge was critical in leadership and governance, as opposed to being vocal and close to popular people.

“Singapore was at the same level with Kenya economically at independence, but it is now an economic powerhouse because of knowledgeable and innovative leaders,” Prof Mwakimako said.

He dismissed those glorifying previous leaders with little knowledge, saying this will not move the region forward.

“We may remain the way we are for the next 50 years if we do not embrace knowledge,” he said.

Pwani University’s Halim Shauri said he was happy there was a “national awakening” as many educated people are venturing into politics at the Coast.

“Education adds value to political leadership. The politicians will understand their mandate. Educated leaders have more networks and can attract investments,” Prof Shauri said.

But political analyst Maimuna Mwidau said some leaders did their best in addressing challenges of their time. “We cannot deny politicians like Nassir and Maitha credit for what they did. Nassir organised bursaries, harambees for medical funds, and the building of schools. These were issues close to the hearts of the masses,” she said.

“Maitha fought for land rights which constitute some of the issues dear to the Coast people,” she added.

Mombasa lawyer and political analyst Yusuf Abubakar said that good academic credentials are not the only factor for success in politics.

In Mombasa County, Deputy Governor William Kingi, banker Suleiman Shahbal, lawyer Hassan Omar and Mvita MP Abulswamad Nassir have lined up to succeed Governor Hassan Joho.

The younger Nassir has gone back to school to get the required papers in readiness for the political battle.

Joho, who initially had challenges over his academic papers, took Dr Kingi, a human resources specialist from the Technical University of Mombasa in 2017, and made him his running mate.

Dr Kingi now wants to succeed Joho. Reports indicate that Joho has completed a second degree and was pursuing a master’s degree as he sets his sight on the presidency in 2022.

In Kwale County, Agriculture Research Principal Secretary Hamad Boga is in the race to succeed Governor Salim Mvurya.

Also in the race are Deputy Governor Fatuma Achani (a lawyer), Lung’anzi Chai (an electrical engineer), county assembly speaker and lawyer Sammy Ruwa, and seasoned diplomat and former minister Charau Ali Mwakwere.

Former university lecturer and Kilifi Devolution executive Gabriel Katana, engineer Michael Thoya Kingi, Deputy Governor Gideon Saburi (an engineer), and Kilifi County assembly speaker and lawyer Jimmy Kahindi are angling to succeed Governor Amason Kingi.

Devolution Chief Administrative Secretary Gideon Mung’aro and Malindi MP Aisha Jumwa have gone back to school to acquire degrees to qualify for the governor seat.

Also said to be eyeing the seat is Kenya’s high commissioner to Tanzania Dan Kazungu. He is a former Malindi MP and ICT expert. Lawyer George Kithi has been crisscrossing Kilifi County as he seeks to unseat Senator Stewart Madzayo.

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