FROM LEFT: Former Moi Girls School Nairobi student the late Mary Mokaya, Igembe South MP John Paul Mwirigi and journalist Victor Muyakane. PHOTOS | NATIONFROM LEFT: Former Moi Girls School Nairobi student the late Mary Mokaya, Igembe South MP John Paul Mwirigi and journalist Victor Muyakane. PHOTOS | NATION
By DAVID KWALIMWA

The year 2017, may have been a tumultuous one for many Kenyans, but there are also some enchanting stories of great achievers, whose memories Kenyans will carry over into the New Year.

Here are a few of them:

1. Mary Mokaya – On the morning of September 2, 2017, Kenyans woke up to the tragic news of an early morning fire that razed down a dormitory at Moi Girls School Nairobi leaving seven students dead.

The enduring story about the tragedy is a 16-year-old girl who seemingly sacrificed herself to save the lives of her school mates from the deadly inferno.

Mary Mokaya, popularly known as Meg to her friends, and another student by the name June Chepkemboi, took it upon themselves to awaken their colleagues as the raging flames spread through the dormitory that fateful morning.

In the process, Mary sustaining 66 per cent burns which proved fatal. Her death, while receiving treatment two days later, broke the heart of a nation grieving the loss of promising young lives.

On October 20, during the Mashujaa Day celebrations, President Uhuru Kenyatta honoured Mary as a national heroine for her martyrdom saying her actions provided important lessons for Kenyans to ponder upon.

The late Mary Njengo Mokaya. She was a student at Moi Girls School. She died on September 4, 2017 following a fire incident at the school. PHOTO | COURTESY

The late Mary Njengo Mokaya. She was a student at Moi Girls School. She died on September 4, 2017 following a fire incident at the school. PHOTO | COURTESY

2. John Paul Mwirigi – One of the few inspirational stories that came out of the turbulent and seemingly endless election circle of 2017 was that of a certain 23-year-old university student.

Mwirigi, a Bachelor of Education student at Mt Kenya University, won many hearts when he beat a host of seasoned and deep pocketed politicians to win the Igembe South parliamentary seat.

He garnered 18,867 votes, some 3,000 votes more than those garnered by his closest challenger. He was also the youngest elected MP and struck the country with his humility.

He didn’t own a car, and just days after his election victory he rode on a matatu to State House for a Jubilee parliamentary group meeting that was chaired by President Uhuru Kenyatta.

But good tidings soon came his way as the president gifted him with a brand new car, fulfilling a promise he had made after Mwirigi’s election victory.

President Uhuru Kenyatta hugs Igembe South MP John Paul Mwirigi after the official State opening of the first session of 12th Parliament in Nairobi. PHOTO | PSCU

President Uhuru Kenyatta hugs Igembe South MP John Paul Mwirigi after the official State opening of the first session of 12th Parliament in Nairobi. PHOTO | PSCU

3. Goldalyn Kakuya – Goldalyn captured national attention late in the year after emerging the top candidate in the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) examinations.

The former St Anne Junior Lubao pupil beat all odds, including living with albinism, to score 455 out of a possible 500 marks.

For her brilliant performance, Goldalyn has since been celebrated all through, with several institutions pledging to meet her secondary education expenses.

A visit to State House and an invitation, as a special guest, to a state luncheon to celebrate President Uhuru Kenyatta’s inauguration for a second term in office soon followed for Goldalyn who will join Kenya High School in January.

President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto chat with this year's top KCPE candidate Goldalyn Kakuya at State House, Nairobi. Looking on are Goldalyn's parents and Nominated Senator Isaac Mwaura. PHOTO | NATION

President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto chat with this year’s top KCPE candidate Goldalyn Kakuya at State House, Nairobi. Looking on are Goldalyn’s parents and Nominated Senator Isaac Mwaura. PHOTO | NATION

4. Victor Muyakane – The Kenya Broadcasting Corporation journalist hogged international news headlines for his selfless act of bravery when he rescued a disabled street beggar from a swarm of bees that unleash terror on journalists and members of the public outside the Supreme Court during an election petition hearing on September 20.

When the vicious bees struck, the disabled street beggar got caught in a death trap, and while Muyakane’s professional colleagues fled for dear life, he put his personal safety on the line by braving multiple bee stings as he scooped and whisked the distressed man to safety.

His daredevil heroics were captured in a series of photos, which would soon go viral on social media and the mainstream news outlets.

“It was the most painful experience of my life,” the journalist would later tell Nairobi News.

On December 12, during Jamhuri Day, the journalist received a Head of State Commendation in recognition of his act of heroism.

Victor Muyakane, a journalist who works for KBC, carries a disabled beggar to safety from a swarm of bees which attacked members of the public outside the Supreme Court on September 20, 2017. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE

Victor Muyakane, a journalist who works for KBC, carries a disabled beggar to safety from a swarm of bees which attacked members of the public outside the Supreme Court on September 20, 2017. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE

5. Michael Olunga – From humble beginnings, Olunga has risen to line up against some of the big names in world football, including 5-time Ballon d’Or winner, Lionel Messi, in the Spanish La Liga.

Olunga, formerly at Gor Mahia, Tusker and Thika United, is arguably the best talent that the Kenyan Premier League has exported to the world in recent years.

His is a story of inspiration to many youthful Kenyan football players who struggle to receive adequate education but hope of making it to the grandest stage.

He star can only shine brighter as he continues rubbing shoulders with the world’s best footballers.

Kenyan forward Michael Olunga (right) and team mate Jonas Ramalho (center) contest for the ball with Barcelona's defender from Argentina Javier Mascherano (left) in a Spanish league match at the Montilivi stadium in Girona on September 23, 2017. AFP PHOTO

Kenyan forward Michael Olunga (right) and team mate Jonas Ramalho (center) contest for the ball with Barcelona’s defender from Argentina Javier Mascherano (left) in a Spanish league match at the Montilivi stadium in Girona on September 23, 2017. AFP PHOTO

6. Gilad Milo – While the year 2017 was a productive one for many Kenyan artistes, the name Gilad Milo stands out. The former diplomat capped his year with a special birthday gift to his fans by releasing his 16-track album, Asante. The album includes hits like Sema Milele, Rangi ya Bahari, Salama and Nakuahidi among others.

Gilad went on to be voted the Best Male Artiste in Inspirational music and Best Artiste in African Rock in the All Africa Music Awards (AFRIMA).

Special mention in the entertainment industry, however, goes to the returning former Kleptomaniax group member Nyanshinski whose five single releases were a breathe of fresh air to the local entertainment scene.

The new hits Malaika, Kenya Yetu, Aminia and Hayawani were well received and even earned Nyanshinski nomination to MTV Europe Music Awards.

Who do you think we’ve left out in the list?

Additional reporting by Hilary Kimuyu