By Prudence Minayo
Boni Khalwale is a Kenyan politician who is loved and hated in almost equal measure depending on one’s political affiliation. He is a vocal politician who has no qualms expressing his views in the most animated manner. For example, he put Deputy President William Ruto on the spot over the maize scandal when he served as the minister of Agriculture. The ex-Kakamega senator is now Ruto’s number one cheerleader. He also roasted Amos Kimunya, former Finance Minister, over the sale of the Regency Hotel.
The ex-MP is known for promoting bull fighting in Western Kenya. The vocal politician interacted with politics from a young age having had a mother whose nephew was the MP for Ikolomani Constituency. Over the years, he has risen to be one of Kenya’s influential politician in Kenya’s politics.
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Boni Khalwale was born on the 5th of August 1960 at Malinya, Kakamega county.
He attended Malinya primary school before proceeding to Musingu Boys High School for his ‘O’ levels before proceeding to Kakamega High school for his ‘A’ levels.
The former senator joined the University of Nairobi in 1981 to study medicine. He graduated in 1987.
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He was born into a poor family. In fact, he was allowed to walk barefoot in primary school since the school administration knew his parents could not afford a pair of shoes.
Many people in Western Kenya enjoy a polygamous lifestyle and Boni Khalwale is not an exception. The former Ikolomani Constituency Member of Parliament has more than one wife and several children.
He married his first wife Adelaide Shikanga while still a second year student at the University of Nairobi. He was able to afford keeping a wife since back then they were given a stipend of Ksh 1,500/ which was a lot of money. Adelide was still in form two when they got married. Later, he sent her back to school.
On October 2019, the vocal politician was mourning the death of his first wife. Adelaide succumbed to cancer as was revealed by the husband.
“ My wife was diagnosed with cancer of the cervix in 2003. This year, she contracted cancer of the blood. She had already undergone her sixth chemotherapy at the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital where it was cleared. On Friday, she developed pulmonary hypertension,” explained Bony
Dr. Khalwale’s wife died in his hands while he was trying to resuscitate her.
“ Immediately she collapsed, she called our house help who went and found her unconscious. I attempted to resuscitate my wife who gasped her last breath in my hands,” Mr. Khalwale explained.
The two had been married for nearly 4 decades and Adelaide was a secretary at the Education Department at Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology, Kakamega.
After university, he was employed as a medical officer by the government in 1988.
Two years later, he went into private practice in Mombasa before going to Kakamega where he worked until 2002.
While at the University of Nairobi, the young Boni Khalwale participated in University politics but never aspired for major posts like that of the Secretary general or chairman of the students University governing body.
His most daring move at the time was participating in the 1982 abortive coup while still a second year student.
The students were protesting the arrest of the then East Africa Standard newspaper editor, George Githii. They were annoyed with the injustice and imprisonment of innocents during the KANU regime. The former MP, together with other students were suspended for 14 months.
In 2002 , he left his career as a doctor to participate in politics. Under the NARC (National Rainbow Coalition) ticket, he contested and won the Ikolomani Constituency Member of Parliament seat. Before winning this seat, he was a member of NCEC (National Convention Executive Council), alongside Mwai Kibaki, James Orengo, prof Kibwana among others. This outfit opposed president Moi’s ideologies and pushed for reforms. In 2006, he was appointed assistant Minister of East African Community.
In 2007, he vied for the Ikolomani Constituency Member of Parliament seat and won once again, this time under the New Ford Kenya party ticket. In 2011, his election was declared null and a re-election conducted. He retained his position after beating Mr. Bernard Shinali, who was vying under the ODM party ticket. He garnered 13,208 votes over his competitor who had 10, 702 votes.
From 2008 to 2012, he was part of the following committees:
- Departmental committee of health as a member
- Public accounts committee as a chairman
- House of business committee member
In 2013, he contested and won the senator of Kakamega seat under the UDF ( United Democratic Forum) party. During his time as senator, he clashed with the UDF party leader, Musalia Mudavadi, so many times.
In 2017, he expressed his interest in the gubernatorial seat which was held by ODM’s Wycliffe Oparanya. He vied but lost to the incumbent.
In the 10th and 11th Parliament, he served as chairman of the parliamentary accounts committee. He was removed from the position about eighteen months to the 2017 general elections on grounds that he could no longer be impartial having declared intent on the Kakamega gubernatorial seat.
The bullfighter may not have won any political seat in 2017 but is still active in political affairs.
From Ruto Critic To Praise
Away from elective post, Boni Khalwale has kept himself busy defending DP William Ruto from real and perceived enemies. This is very unlike the good doctor who has always been a critic of the powers that be. In the run-up to the 2017 elections, Khalwale threw all kinds of salvos aimed at the DP. But politics has proved over time that they are no permanent enemies or friends.
He told Nation journalist Oscar Obonyo of his first meeting with Ruto:
“He began by forgiving me for the verbal attacks and allegations I had unleashed on him during campaigns, noting that as a fellow politician, he understood better that I was only searching for votes. After exchanging niceties and discussing the campaigns, he then came to the main subject of our meeting — an offer of Cabinet position in the Jubilee administration,” he told Obonyo.
Khalwale told the writer that he declined the position saying that the timing was not right.
“I told the ‘hustler’ (DP) that having actively campaigned for Nasa, and in particular hit him hard with all manner of corruption allegations, I was not going to be useful to the Jubilee campaign at the moment as many in my western Kenya backyard would equally find it hard to believe me,” recalled Khalwale.
Ruto responded: “Ni sawa, Daktari. Tutatembea barabara moja tu hivi karibuni kabla ya 2022,” (I understand, Dr Khalwale. No doubt we shall team up soon ahead of 2022).
Khalwale announced that he was joining Ruto at his Malinya home in Kakamega County where he was hosting Ruto.
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