CITY GIRL: Lonyangapuo a breath of fresh air in our politics
There are governors, and then there is Prof John Krop Lonyangapuo—Governor for West Pokot.
I must admit that I did not know him prior to the famous “kijana fupi amenona round…mulmulwas” video that went viral early this year, in what will go down Kenya’s history books as the speech of the year.
No other speech in our history has elicited such immense ‘meme value’—the capacity for every sentence and every phrase to be reproduced and repackaged into a joke remains outstanding.
I will also be the first to admit that I had largely ignored the professor and dismissed him as just any other politician, until I watched his interview on Jeff Koinange Live two nights ago and that was when I realised that there is more to Prof Lonyangapuo than simple rhetoric.
This guy means business.
Well, I could be wrong because like any other politician, I have heard maybe one or two unflattering tales about the governor—which is why I am offering a disclaimer here—that time might just prove me wrong and I might have to swallow my words.
GOOD MAN, GREAT LEADER
But in the meantime, I will celebrate a seemingly good man and a great leader when I see one.
Away from the silly ‘mulmulwas’ jokes that have nearly become synonymous with Prof Lonyangapuo, it occurred to me that beneath that rhetoric and drama, is a man, a leader, who has made it his life purpose to demystify one of Kenya’s least known counties; West Pokot.
Listening to him—and I mean, really taking time to understand Prof Lonyangapuo—you realise that he is not only incredibly intelligent (he is a professor of applied mathematics), but also a shrewd politician keen on uplifting the lives of the good people of West Pokot.
If Makueni county have their Prof Kivutha Kibwana, West Pokot have in Prof Lonyangapuo an ambassador who is bent on not only changing their livelihoods but changing the ‘cattle rustlers’ narrative that has stuck for decades.
In the interview, Jeff Koinange desperately tried to hammer in the ‘cattle rustler’ and ‘primitive people’ narrative—which to me was a remarkable indication of a small and limited intellect becoming even smaller—but the good governor relentlessly and viciously fought against this description, categorically stating that “the Pokot people you used to know are not there now”.
It is one thing to be a great ambassador for your people, but it is another to have their interests at heart, and that is exactly what appears to me from the avalanche of feedback that poured in praising Prof Lonyangapuo for his efforts.
Among his most admirable efforts is the fact that he has made it mandatory for everyone, young or old, in West Pokot to attend school, thereby introducing and mainstreaming adult education. A beneficiary of a good education, it is not lost on Prof Lonyagapuo that a good education is beneficial to society. I like people who value education because I too value education, which makes the professor one of my favourite politicians.
Given that Kenyans love a good-humoured politician who can once in a while throw a punch, and take some punches too, it is clear that Prof Lonyangapuo enjoys the goodwill and support of millions of Kenyans who are obviously smitten by him. The ‘mulmulwas’ video was the perfect icebreaker and debut into national limelight.
Plus, he is sort of ‘fresh blood’ being a first-time governor and former one-term senator so there is some excitement attached to this new and fresh voice, though not as young as we had hoped.
That said, the governor could leverage on this goodwill and perhaps use this newly-found national fame to give Kenyans the change of leadership that we have been yearning for decades.
In a country notorious for recycling leaders from the past, maybe Prof Lonyangapuo is the outsider and the breath of fresh air we have been waiting for.
Besides serving the people of West Pokot, he could use this opportunity to demystify our myths and misconceptions about that forgotten county and who knows even use this position to raise a generation of leaders from West Pokot.
He seems to have some really good development ideas—including apparently leveraging on the foreign contacts of a deputy governor who lives and works in the US to solicit donor funding and medical equipment for his county.
I am just wondering if Kenyans are seeing what I am seeing. Are we looking at a future presidential candidate?