Painful childhood memories: MP Dori’s family survived on selling charcoal


Painful childhood memories: MP Dori’s family survived on selling charcoal

The late Msambweni Member of Parliament (MP) Suleiman Dori Had a difficult time growing up,in an earlier interview with the Nairobian, the MP revealed how his family survived on selling charcoal and Mabuyu. Below is the story.

Recently, during the official opening of a dispensary in your constituency, you became very emotional. Do you mind sharing why you broke down?

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Honestly, visiting that place brought many painful childhood memories. I come from a family of 11 children – three brothers and eight sisters. I am the last born.

My father was a driver, while my mother did odd jobs to make ends meet. My mother used to sell shark fish pieces, charcoal, tea leaves and mabuyu to raise money for food and school fees. All we knew was poverty, poverty and more poverty!

How was it like growing up?

It was tough. We were poor and the worst came when my mother was bedridden for almost six months.

What happened?

We were involved in a road accident while travelling from Mombasa to Gazi. I was only 12 years old and everyone else was seriously injured apart from me. My mother broke her ribs and was in ICU for five months. After she was discharged, she was bedridden, forcing us to fend for ourselves.

How was your school life?

After classes and madrassa, we would take tins of mabuyu and hawk around our estate. I was schooling at Gazi Primary School under a tree. My first time to step in a classroom was when I graduated to class six. The school got funding from some foreigners and new classes were built. Most people from our village are squatters.

Did you manage to go to secondary school?

Yes. I was admitted at Waa High School. My parents couldn’t afford my school fee and hence, I was forced to be a day scholar, which meant walking almost 20 kilometres daily. On a good day, I would cling onto my cousin’s matatu for a free ride to and from school.

I always arrived in school at around 4.30am and waited for the other students. In the evening, I would wait for the same vehicle to hike a lift back home. In form three, I dropped out and went to live with my elder sister in Mombasa. She took me to Tudor Day Secondary School where I sat my KCSE examinations.

Suleiman Dori.

What happened after school?

After form four, I enrolled for an IT course but dropped out due to lack of fees.

I teamed up with another friend called Dalainea (his parents had died in an accident). Together, we started making and selling charcoal and firewood. I had to step up and provide for my family since my mother was bedridden.

When was your greatest breakthrough?

In 2001, I came to Nairobi to do some menial jobs like selling phones. The money I saved helped me enrol for a community development diploma at YMCA College. In addition, I used the money to learn computer packages at High Grade College. My elder brother also chipped in.

How did you join politics?

I had no plans to venture into politics. But I wanted to change the life of my people. For long, we lacked basic amenities like schools, health and water facilities. I joined politics in 2013 and ran for the Msambweni parliamentary seat on an ODM ticket. I chose the party because of its stand on devolution and the aspirations of our leader Raila Odinga.

What is the greatest lesson you’ve learnt in life?

Never neglect your parents, especially your mother. When a dad is sick, the mother will take him to hospital, but if it is the mother, the father will direct one of the siblings.

This article first appeared in The Nairobian on June 3, 2016.


1 Comment
  1. Painful childhood memories: MP Dori’s family survived on selling charcoal - Africans Radio

    […] post Painful childhood memories: MP Dori’s family survived on selling charcoal appeared first on Diaspora Messenger News […]

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