Dr Kimuyu, Diaspora’s Second 2012 Kenyan Presidential Hopeful
Dallas, TX - Dr. Solomon Kimuyu is a Kenyan living in Texas, USA, who unsuccessfully contested a parliamentary seat in 2007. He blames it on the electoral structures at party and national levels. Come 2012, he is going for the top prize, this time, with his own political party. Dr. Kimuyu recently talked to East Africa in Focus about his presidential ambitions and his vision for Kenya.
EAiF: What would you say about yourself?
Answer: I was born on February 27, 1950, in Kavete village on the slopes of Muumandu Hill. My parents moved to Athi River, Kenya’s manufacturing, meat and cement production capital, in early 1950s, a trading centre then. My father worked for Kenya Meat Commission, while my mother cared for my older sister at our rural home and tended our shamba in Muumandu Hill. As a child, growing up with other children from different tribes, I had neither tribal language nor barriers. Our first languages were Swahili and English. I was privileged, and indeed enlightened, to interact with children from all tribes of East Africa, whose parents had come for employment, majority of whom never left Athi River.
I have been a follower of Christ since my teenage years. I accepted Jesus as my personal savior on November 30, 1965. I have remained a faithful member of a local Baptist Church.
My father died when I was young, so I was adopted by Southern Baptist Missionaries. The missionaries invested in my spiritual, physical, and academic growth from primary school in Mombasa, to graduate school in Texas.
I am a husband, and father of two grown-up sons and a daughter. I love my family and my country Kenya deeply.
EAiF: What are your key highlights in life and career?
Answer: My career can be defined in different facets. Leadership has been a lifetime experience for me. I was born into privilege, but endured some trouble too. I learned early that for me to be successful, I needed wisdom, so I defined my trajectory and stayed on course by successfully persuading other people to come along with me. As a young man, I was a fisherman and fishmonger. It was risky fishing in a crocodile-infested river. I somehow dodged death in the jaws of crocodiles that crushed a child by the week. I moved on with my entrepreneurial spirit to Baptist High School in Mombasa and Baptist Seminary in Tanzania. There, I bought my first Volkswagen beetle at age 23, and got married.
After graduation, my wife and I moved to Nairobi. My first professional job was at Campus Crusade for Christ Internation (CCCI). At less than 25 years, I carried heavy responsibilities of leading people, some over twice my age. In 1981, I moved to Texas for my post graduate studies. With a family of five, I had to think business. I made bad business decisions for which I paid a high price. In most cases I made good investment decisions, which paid off.
I have served as a pastor for Athi River Baptist Church; staff at CCCI, San Bernardino, Calif.; secretary at Baptist Convention of Kenya; vice-president for All Africa Baptist Union, caseworker for Child Protective and Regulatory for the State of Texas; and director for Long Term Nursing Home in Denver and Texas. [I am also the ] founder and president for Solomon Youth Centers, Solomon Home For Children International in Dallas, and Solomon Center For Leadership in Nairobi. I was also a Parliamentary candidate for Machakos in the 2007 general elections.
I hold a Ph.D in social work from University of North Texas, and I have lectured at Howard Payne University; University of Central Texas; Texas Technological Institute at Sweetwater; and Abilene Christian University. I am also the author of the first and second editions of Solomon on Leadership.
EAiF: Why do you want to run for presidency?
Answer: Kenya is facing myriad challenges, among them, international drug trafficking, endemic corruption and extra judicial killings. We are on the verge of collapse, largely caused by tribal differences and alliances.
How far does the culture of corruption go in Kenya? Is it perpetrated by political bigwigs, government officials or citizens? Kenya deserves a president with an understanding of both domestic and international cultures; one who can articulately address and confront the difficulties Kenya goes through.
I bring many years of entrepreneurial experience from industrialised west: leadership and integrity. I will not promise what I cannot deliver.
EAiF: What is your vision for Kenya?
Answer: It is true that Kenya is changing, but the changes are painfully slow. I envision a Kenya with good highways, clean water, electricity for all, and respect for human rights. I see Kenya as a strong contender in the global market. I also envisage Kenya with dual citizenship, which will expand and accelerate resource transfer from the Diaspora to Kenya.
As President, I will champion repatriation initiatives to “hybrid” leadership in private sector and government.
I will champion the rights of minorities such as the Ogiek, and protect their right to a legacy, for they form a key thread in Kenya’s socio-cultural fabric.
EAiF: How would your experiences in the United States of America help you develop an efficient government system?
Answer: Having lived in America for more than three decades, I have networks through religious affiliations, business entrepreneurs, foundations, educators, industries and American policy makers who influence international investors toward developing nations such as Kenya.
I strongly support independence of the three arms of government- parliamentary, judicial and executive. I would ensure that each enjoys real autonomy, anchored in the constitution of Kenya, for the service of Kenyans.
EAiF: What lessons did you carry from the 2007 elections, from nominations through the general?
Answer: The 2007 election was flawed, unethical, vicious and evil. The vices were pushed by all political parties that participated. The nation suffered because of questionable presidential poll results. It has left us with physical, economic, psychological and political scars. It is my hope that future elections shall be better.
EAiF: What is your take on environmental degradation, particularly with regard to the goings on in the Mau?
Answer: UN statistics estimate that every 20 seconds a child dies in a third world country because of poor sanitary conditions and unsafe drinking water, making the toll more than 1.5 million children per year.
In Kenya 1.5 million children are predicted to die of starvation during the fiscal year 2009-2010. A United Nations report says 443 million children miss school every day because of illness related to sanitation and unsafe drinking water. A 2006 World Health Organization/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Program for Water Supply and Sanitation indicates that 62 percent of people in developing nations of Africa have no access to basic sanitation.
Therefore I am in agreement with the eviction of the Mau forest settlers by the Coalition Government of Kenya.
EAiF: Besides yourself, who among the 2012 presidential contenders have earned your respect?
Answer: I have little knowledge of any of the presidential candidates for 2012, with the exception of the members of 10th Parliament, whose presidential candidates deserve not to be elected president.
EAiF: What is your view of tribal alliances formed particularly to win an election (balkanisation), especially the KKK – Kamba, Kikuyu, Kalenjin Coalition- that is positioning for 2012?
Answer: As I stated in the beginning, I have no desire, as a candidate and citizen of Kenya, to endorse any specific members of tribal groupings, with calculated agendas for winning a presidential election. That being said, KKK does not represent the interests of Kenyans. This is not leadership.
EAiF: Who should take blame for the 2007 vote irregularity, Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK), or seating President; and how can the possibility of similar mess in future be fixed?
Answer: ECK leadership failed. Serious allegations of irregularities were reported on both sides of the political divide. Man made errors could have been eliminated. Computerization could have solved the problems and increased accuracy of the casted votes. In addition, major political parties – Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), Party of National Unity (PNU) and Orange Democratic Movement – Kenya (ODM-K)- were responsible for the collapse of the ECK.
The electoral commission should be an independent entity. The commission should not be serving at the pleasure of the president.
The constitution must be amended to remove powers of the president over the electoral commission. Citizens need civic education so as not to be bribed by political candidates.
EAiF: How do you take the chance that you could be the popular political candidate and be short-changed by your own party?
Answer: I will run on my own party ticket and ask the people of Kenya to vote me the fourth president. I know with an empowered population, nobody will be left behind and no family will ever go hungry.
The nation of Kenya is blessed with much diversity of history and culture. Tribalism, just like racism in the west, creates barriers. I urge Kenyans to vote for God-fearing men and women with demonstrable integrity and honor, who represent the best interest and will of the people. For the last several decades, I have been convinced that societal change happens, one person at a time. Together, we will find new ways to prosper in unprecedented manner.
You have very fascinating profile, it's great. But in your views as forth coming president of kenya you're the very first to lack youth agenda. Now in your profile you seem to lead numerous of organisations, my question is how many youths specifically from kenya have you employed? Since you have spent 30 years out of Kenya will you be in position to understand all those problems that are facing kenyans? Please respond.