Shakeel Shabbir dances at a political event. Source: tuko.co.ke
Shakeel Shabir. Source: standardmedia.co.ke
When he first won the Kisumu East parliamentary seat in 2007, few Kenyans thought he would go beyond the first term. But Shakeel Ahmed Shabbir confounded his political adversaries and went almost unopposed for the second term. His enviable track record at the lakeside city, where he first rose to prominence as Mayor, has seen residents call for his elevation to the position of Governor. He has rejected the offer and is instead focusing on winning a third term in his constituency.
He is in the growing list of Asian immigrants shaking Kenya’s political landscape. These are sons, daughters, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of Asians who came, saw, and conquered Kenya. In the Kenyan parliament, apart from Shabbir, you will find Irshad Sumra, MP for Embakasi South in Kenya’s capital city, Nairobi, and Raheem Dawood, MP for Imenti North, Eastern Kenya. Dozen others serve as Members of County Assembly in Kenya’s devolved units.
And as the campaigns for the August 2017 election gain momentum, many immigrants have thrown their hats in Kenya’s political ring. One such man is Dr Kiprop Mishra, seeking the Kesses parliamentary seat in Uasin Gishu County. The wealthy medic owns an ultra-modern health facility in Eldoret, and has been offering medical aid to residents, a fact which has catapulted him to political stardom.
Many Kenyans feel that the Asian immigrants are not tribal, thanks to their non-affiliation to any of the Kenyan tribes.
“They are sober and do not discriminate against anyone based on their tribes. They initiate development projects without asking for your name,” said Janet Migiro, a resident of Nairobi.
Kenyan politics is always tribal-based, and political leaders tend to favour their communities upon landing leadership positions.