Kenya: Why I Want to Be President - Gospel Artiste Reuben Kigame

11 August 2021

Veteran gospel singer Reuben Kigame wants to sing his way to State House in 2022, and believes he is the best man for the job.

The artiste, who says he has the endorsement of the Federal Party of Kenya (FPK), is banking on the support of fellow artistes as well as Christians, who make up a significant percentage of the population.

Mr Kigame is not a stranger to politics.

He unsuccessfully vied for the Vihiga County gubernatorial seat in 2013, coming in fourth after garnering 4,880 votes out of 164,437 in the race that was won by Moses Akaranga, who became the devolved unit's first governor.

Much-needed alternative

In an exclusive interview with Nation.Africa at his Eldoret home, Mr Kigame reckons his candidacy is a much-needed alternative in the race dominated by prominent politicians.

Mr Kigame said the move by FPK, previously associated with politician Cyrus Jirongo, to pick him as the flagbearer, is historic as Kenya has not had a blind presidential candidate before.

"To many, it may sound unbelievable for someone like me to declare his candidature in the presidential election. It is going to be history for a blind musician to battle with common names in the Kenyan history of presidential elections," Mr Kigame said.

The "Huniachi", "Bwana ni Mchungaji Wangu" hit maker says his focus will be to fight corruption and power abuse and ensure food security in the country.

Having started recording in 1987, and produced 29 albums, Mr Kigame believes he has become a household name in Kenya and is not new to politics.

He takes pride in what he says was his role in the repealing of Section 2A of Kenya's previous constitution, heralding multiparty politics in Kenya.

"Politics have been in my blood since my student days. I participated in the repealing of section 2A of the old constitution during the Kanu regime under the leadership of the late President Daniel Moi," he said.

Appeal for support

Mr Kigame, who is also a member of the Linda Katiba initiative that has opposed the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI), urged fellow musicians and Christians among other Kenyans tired of divisive politics spearheaded by corrupt politicians year after year to support him.

"Kenya belongs to us all. I appeal to fellow musicians to support me as I promise to fight cartels in the music industry that have subjected musicians to abject poverty," he said amid applause from fellow musicians.

While he said he is open to forming coalitions ahead of the 2022 race, the singer was adamant that such alliances will not be with "corrupt leaders" who are also eyeing the same seat.

He challenged Kenyans to come out of their cocoons and collectively fight the status quo in politics and other leadership spheres, while vowing to jail the 'big fish' in the fight against corruption.

In a Kigame government, he said, politicians and leaders involved in corruption and various forms of scandals of stealing from poor Kenyans, including musicians, will not be spared.

"We are fed up with the status quo of cartels and thieves who are making massive wealth by stealing from poor Kenyans," he said with authority.

Asked whether he learned from the failures of Bishop Pius Muiru as one of pastors who ran for the seat in 2007, Mr Kigame pointed an accusing finger at Kenyans.

"If Bishop Muiru failed to be elected as president, it is because Christians did not vote for him due to hypocrisy, bearing in mind that 83 per cent of Kenyans are Christians," he said.

A heart for Kenyans

But even as he seeks to bank on his Christian links, Mr Kigame said he should not be judged as an ordained Christian leader but as a gospel musician "with a heart for Kenyans suffering at the hands of bad leaders".

He, however, said he wants to follow the example of spiritual leaders, celebrities and artistes who have been elected presidents in Africa.

He cited the examples of President Andry Rajoelina of Madagascar, who was a disc jockey, Liberia's George Weah, who was a footballer, and Malawi's Lazarus Chakwera, who was a church bishop.

Mr Kigame challenged all other Kenyans with political dreams to vie for any post of their choice regardless of their status because the Constitution allows them to run.

"It is a constitutional right of every one of us to vie for any office of his or her choice regardless of your status in the society," he said.

He challenged all Kenyans, especially people living with disabilities, to defy the odds and fight for what is rightfully theirs at all levels of life.

He regretted that potential leaders with the required credentials hardly rise to the leadership levels they deserve due to intimidation and an inferiority complex.

"We have got to fight for opportunities in life regardless of our human limitations," he said.

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