From his childhood, Irungu Kang’ata had deep interests in politics and current affairs. At only 21, he was elected councillor even before he completed university. His wife of nine years, Mary Wambui walks us through the life of the politician, lawyer and lecturer
Irungu Kang’ata is one of the lawyers suing Boeing over Ethiopian Airline crash. What prompted this decision?
He was approached by Carlos Velasquez and Laban Opande, attorneys and counsellors in Texas, US, who requested that they team up. Additionally, he felt pain for the victims of the crash and decided to join lawyers in the fight.
What other projects is he currently involved in?
He is a lecturer at Catholic University of Eastern Africa (Cuea), where he teaches constitutional law and social foundations of law. He is also completing his PhD at University of Nairobi. As a legislator, he is happy to have drafted County Wards Development Equalisation Bill, 2018, which may pass soon.
It is currently in its third reading in the Senate and he hopes that the National Assembly would pass it. In addition, he has been nominated for a global award by Tallberg Foundation, an organisation that seeks to honour women and men who demonstrate the kind of leadership demanded by the challenges of the 21st century. This is because of the work he does as a senator— providing free medical camps and also water projects he initiated when he was Kiharu MP. He hopes to win the prize of Sh5 million.
Speaking of politics, he joined active politics when he was still a student Tell us more.
After his secondary education at Thika High School, he joined University of Nairobi where he pursued Bachelor of Laws (LLB) degree. This is where his passion for politics began. He was elected as vice chairman of Kenya Law Student Society as a fresher. He was then elected vice chairman of Sonu whilst still a fresher. This was because it was unexpected for a fresher to convince more than 30,000 students in seven campuses to elect him. His passion was so deep that he was suspended for fighting against introduction of parallel programmes. During this period, he vied for and won a civic seat for Murang’a Municipal ward in 2002. He rejoined campus in 2003 after the Narc regime granted amnesty to former suspended students. He graduated in 2005. During the 2007 General Election, he did not vie for any seat as he wanted to complete his studies. He had joined Kenya School of Law and later University of Nairobi for his Masters of Laws (LLM) degree. In 2013, he vied for Kiharu parliamentary seat and won. I bet this gave him the determination to go for Murang’a senatorial seat in 2017.
How did his family react when they learnt of his involvement in politics?
His parents have never shown any interest in his political career. He thinks it’s because they thought once he got an education, that was it. In fact, neither his mum nor dad has ever congratulated him for a political win.
Save in his civic bid where his mum did show some interest in supporting him, thereafter his parents have been mute.
How easy or tough is it to be a politician’s wife?
It’s challenging, especially when it comes to his frequent absence and lack of privacy. But we always take one day at a time and enjoy time together whenever we can.
How do you support him?
I am an accountant by profession. I take care of the family while he concentrates on public matters.
Your wedding last year was a colourful one. How did you meet and how is marriage life so far?
We met at a law firm where my aunt used to work as a secretary. I had just completed my secondary education at Bishop Gatimu Ngandu Girls High Schoool and would visit my aunt frequently. We exchanged numbers, fell in love and the rest is history. We opted to hold our wedding at our rural church because Kang’ata wanted to honour and appreciate his people. The highlight of our wedding was that President Uhuru Kenyatta attended it. It was such a great honour. Life in marriage is awesome. It makes one more focused and responsible.
We didn’t go for honeymoon because as a lecturer, my husband had a class the following week. I supported him because we were already living together and had children. A honeymoon is not a must and we go for holidays as a family.
What is it that people don’t know about him?
Out there, he looks like an extrovert. But he is an introvert and has a small circle of friends. He is also a devout Catholic.
AT A GLANCE
• Irungu Kangata’s parents are jua kali artisans. His dad is a mechanic and metal fabricator while his mum is a metal fabricator.
• Theirs was a big family of six boys and two girls. He enjoyed going to Watoto kaeni chini movies at the field; going to watch guys dance in a disco and listening to adults as they discussed politics.
• He used to stammer in the lower primary level at Murang’a Township Primary School, a problem which ceased on getting to upper primary.
• Growing up, he was known for three things-his deep interest in politics; love for books, he often topped in his Class, and a reggae fan.
• In 2007, Kang’ata, along with Moses Muchoki and Charles Njenga, founded the law firm, Muchoki Kang’ata Njenga & Co Advocates in Nairobi. The firm became fully operational in 2009.
Interview Credit:HARRIET JAMES, People Daily