A year ago, John Paul Mwirigi was just another 22-year-old university student toying with the idea of joining politics. Many must have overlooked him and downplayed his ambitions. Perhaps he was told that he was too ambitious and that he was punching above his weight.
Today, John Paul Mwirigi, 23, is the MP for Igembe South and the youngest MP in the 12th Parliament. Indeed, a man who neither had an impressive campaign war chest nor the clout required to pursue an ambitious political seat is today an MP.
In a country with so much bad and disheartening news, the story of Mwirigi is one that warms our hearts. Mwirigi is among the most inspirational 23-year-olds in this country.
He is a young man who was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth. He did not come from a rich political family but got to where he is today only because he dared not only to dream but was also determined to achieve his goal.
In a country where the odds have been stacked against young people; where unemployment levels are high, where bribery and favouritism is the easiest way to get a job, I find the story of Mwirigi a breath of fresh air.
I love a good inspirational story. I love a story of triumph over adversity because that is what life is truly about — surmounting great challenges to achieve whatever we want in life.
The story of Mwirigi does not inspire me so much because he rose from obscurity and poverty to national leadership but because he is the new face of hope for the millions of young Kenyans who are worried about their future.
That young university student could have chosen to stay in the village after completing school or perhaps take a matatu to the city to look for a job.
He had every opportunity to dream small, to think little of himself and to downplay his abilities, because, after all, he is just the son of a peasant.
But he chose to do what many fear; to take that one big risk in a lifetime. He decided to go for what he had always dreamt of – to be the people’s leader. He did not wait to get a job, get good salary, join a Sacco, save some money to fund a campaign. Instead, he used the little he had and he made it. And he was not afraid to ask for help.
It is such stories of grit and determination that give me hope that you really do not need a lot of money to start off on the journey to achieving your dream.
You don’t need to prepare yourself for years to begin to work on what you truly want in life. The greatest lesson I learnt from this young man is to start working on your dreams now.
I was touched when I read that he took a matatu from Igembe South, where he comes from, to Nairobi, for a meeting with the President at State House.
It was not so much the humility behind that move, for he could have requested one of his many friends to drop him, but what really stood out for me was the power of humble beginnings. If anything, Mwirigi has taught us not to despise this virtue.
His achievement is a testimony of the popular maxim “it matters not where you come from, what matters is where you are going.”
Mwirigi, I salute you today for showing Kenyan youth that no dream is too big to be achieved. For the many youth who are looking for someone to look up to, Mwirigi is your perfect example, that is, if you work hard, if you train your eyes on the prize and if you are willing to pay the price, you will wine and dine with kings.
I sure hope that Mwirigi does not begin and stop here. It would be a pity if all he ever became was an MP. I hope that he has trained his eyes higher, for bigger and for better.
I saw the way the Deputy President looked at him; with bubbling excitement and joy, perhaps the DP, who has in the past described himself as a hustler, saw himself in the young legislator who worked as a casual labourer in Igembe not so long ago.
Stories like Mwirigi’s are the kind we need to hear about our young people; stories of achievement over difficulty and narratives of hope and of ambitious young people going after their dreams with courage.