Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Hassan Joho: The Man With Nine Lives

Hassan Joho: The Man With Nine Lives
Hassan Joho: The Man With Nine Lives

From a rookie spending campaign millions in his first failed foray into big league politics, to a daredevil ruffling feathers of the country’s most powerful man, Hassan Joho has the proverbial nine lives of a cat.

The ambitious 43-year-old Mombasa governor has seen it all and someone managed to climb out of a tough situation each time.

He grew up in the Kaloleni area in Mvita constituency, raised by stepfather Mzee Khamis Mkilungi.

He shot to fame in the 2004 Kisauni parliamentary by-election, running on the the Liberal Democratic Party ticket led by then Roads minister Raila Odinga.

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His main challenger and victor Ananiah Mwamboza describes Joho as a militant then,.

He added: “He is a gentleman. It is those guys around him [who mislead him].”

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Joho and elder brother Abubakar have divided family roles.

Abu handles business, Joho is the political face.

Joho started out in business before plunging into politics.

From a small business, he expanded into the ranks of multi-millionaires. He entered the clearing and forwarding business and solid waste management, through the Prima Bins and Pest Control Company Limited.

“He handles business extremely well,” Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir said.

Joho was on the blacklist of suspected drug dealers, alongside friend-turned-foe Nairobi Senator Mike Sonko, and other politicians and businessmen. All deny involvement.

While Kisauni MP in 2012, Joho revealed he almost quit politics at the height of accusations of drug dealing and land grabbing in 2010 and 2011.

“It was becoming personal and I thought I should quit. Some statements were so serious and life-changing. My accusers wanted to destroy my whole family,” Joho told young entrepreneurs.

Joho linked to several land grabs in Mombasa as both MP and governor, the most prominent being the Mwembe Tayari market.

Again, he survived. The DPP |cleared him of the allegation he allocated the market to two Mombasa businessmen. Evidence was insufficient.

Nassir said:

“He handles pressure, even the current one over the Autoports and Portside CFSs, by laughing it off at the end of each day.”

The state has linked the two family businesses to smuggling contraband — accusations they deny. The CFSs have been closed. The family has gone to court.

Nassir said Joho draws his strength from his mother Ummu Kulthum, deceased.

Joho calls the CFSs storm an effort to distract him fromthe March 7 Malindi by-election campaign. He says he will soldier on to ensure ODM recaptures the seat.

“He always remembers words of his mother. He believes everything comes from God and whatever he faces has been planned,” Nassir said.

According to his ally and trategist Paul Katana, the troubles currently facing Joho and his family are no surprise.

“His brand of opposition politics since 2004 is the reason forall the closures of family business,” he said.

Joho, who harbours presidential ambitions, has strongly displeased President Uhuru Kenyatta.

In July 2014, he called then county commissioner Nelson Marwa, Joho called the commissioner a “small man” sent by a “small man”— interpreted to mean Uhuru.

Critic and rival Suleiman Shahbal in 2013 challenged Joho’s election as governor, questioning the authenticity of his academic credentials from Kampala University.

The storm nearly cost Joho his seat, but he again survived as the courts declared his papers genuine.

“Leadership comes from God himself. Joho has been involved in charity work whenever he was not engaged in business endeavours,” Mzee Joho said.

Joho has established the Hassan Joho Foundation that sponsors needy schoolchildren, built secondary schools and paid the medical expenses of sick and needy people.

It was Joho’s loyalty to then LDP and later ODM that gave him an edge, winning the 2007 Kisauni parliamentary contest. He launched a supremacy war with then Mvita MP Najib Balala, then the ODM point man.

Joho marshalled support from all Mombasa communities to win the governor’s

seat, getting 132,583 votes to arch rival Shahbal’s 94,905.

His criticism of President Uhuru’s month-long Coast visit has been cited as the likely reason for his tribulations.

Hassan Joho: The Man With Nine Lives

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