Allure of politics: Of celebs and the allure of murky political world

Thursday, August 29th, 2019 00:00 |
Reggae DJ Chris Odhiambo (right) when he pleaded with ODM leader Raila Odinga to endorse him for the Kibra seat on Sunday. Photo/PD/TIMOTHY NJENGA

Enticed by the allure of politics, which many describe as dirty, more celebrities have in the recent past made their way into the murky waters, as they seek to use their following to rise to power.

Most celebrities join the political arena hoping to translate their fan base into votes, but while some have been successful—even winning a presidential race—others have come to learn the world of politics is totally different from that of entertainment.

Former Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth, while speaking last Saturday during the burial of Kikuyu benga musician John De’Mathew, who he floored in 2007, narrated how he would joke with the deceased on how different politics are from entertainment.

Major score

“I used to tell him in entertainment, people pay (entry charges) to come and see you but in politics, you pay people so that they can come and see you,” Kenneth said, adding that on the election day, De’Mathew’s fans looked for his name in the ballot in vain because he had used his real name John Ng’ang’a, which only few people knew.

But former football superstar George Weah, who has an international fan base having played for Chelsea, AC Milan and Paris Saint-Germain and received major awards, proved otherwise last year when he made a major score and won the Liberian presidential race.

The most recent celebrities to join politics is former internationally celebrated footballer Macdonald Mariga and reggae disc jockey Chris Odhiambo, popularly known as DJ Kriss Darlin, who are aspirants in the upcoming Kibra by-election slated for November 7.

Mariga, who is the first Kenyan footballer to play in the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) Champions League, where he played as a midfielder, is among those eyeing the Jubilee Party ticket.

The footballer started his career at Ulinzi stars, then moved to Tusker FC and later to Kenya Pipeline before going abroad where he joined Inter Milan in 2010 after playing for, among others, Swedish club Enköpings SK in 2005, Parma in 2010/08 and Nerazzuri in 2009. 

He now hopes his popularity will help him replace Ken Okoth, who died last month after battling cancer.

DJ Kriss Darlin, who says he was born and raised in Kibra, is among 11 candidates who have been cleared to vie for the seat with an Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party ticket.

Chide politicians

On Sunday, the celebrated DJ caused a stir at a rally in Kamukunji grounds in Kibra when he knelt and pleaded with party leader Raila Odinga to support his bid.

But they are not alone, during the August 2017 General Election, more musicians and media personalities vied for various political seats where some won and others lost.

In the Migori senator’s race, soft- spoken Ben Oluoch, a former presenter at Radio Citizen, known by his fans as Boo, garnered 182,668 votes to take over from Wilfred Machage.

Musician Charles Njagua, popularly known as Jaguar, successfully vied for the Starehe MP seat on a Jubilee ticket after flooring nominated MP Maina Kamanda and human rights activist Boniface Mwangi. Jaguar’s entry into politics was a surprise considering his “Kigeugeu” hit lyrics that chided politicians, who he accused of betraying voters.

Gathoni wa Muchomba rode on her fame, which she earned from her two-decade career as a radio presenter in vernacular stations, to become the second Kiambu Woman Representative. Her popularity was sustained  during the campaigns by her weekly programme dubbed “Muiguithania”, which aired on Kameme FM every Saturday morning.

Wa Muchomba’s former colleague at Kameme FM, Wanjiku wa Kibe clinched the Gatundu North MP seat to become the only female MP in Kiambu. 

Murang’a’s Sabina Chege, a former broadcaster at the State-owned Coro FM garnered 390,912 votes to retain her Woman Representative seat, after flooring fellow broadcaster Waithira Muithirani (Inooro FM), who was vying as an independent candidate, and has since returned to radio.

Investigative TV journalist Mohammed Ali (Jicho Pevu), who accused Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho of denying him victory in favour of his kin Said Abdallah aka Saidoo during the ODM primaries, bagged 26,798 votes to win the Nyali MP seat against 13 contestants.

In Kisii, former Royal Media Services Egesa FM’s host Dorice Aburi, popularly known as Doris Donya Toto, tried her luck in the Kisii Woman Rep seat but failed to beat former nominated MP Janet Ong’era of ODM.

Alice Chae, who was also a presenter at Egesa FM, served as the Nyamira Woman Rep between 2013 and 2017.

In Kakamega, former radio journalist Lydia Pamela Nyangala, popularly referred to as “Senje” (Luhya for auntie) by her fans when she worked at Mulembe FM and Radio Ingo, made her second unsuccessful attempt for the Woman Rep seat on an Amani National Congress ticket.

Take on President

Newton Karish from Embu county, and who owned Gangara Boys Band, used his popularity to win the Muminji MCA seat on a Jubilee ticket while his Kamba benga counterpart Ken Wa Maria, the “Fundamentals” hit maker, failed to clinch the Matuu ward seat.

But it is not in Kenya only where politics lure celebrities. Tanzania’s Joseph Haule, (Professor J) and Joseph Mbilinyi (Sugu) have also taken a plunge. 

In Uganda, Robert Kyagulanyi, popularly known as Bobi Wine, won the Kyaddondo East seat as an independent candidate. 

He has announced interest to take on  President Yoweri Museveni in 2021 elections. 

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