By Prudence Minayo
James Mathenge Ndung’u, popularly known as Kanini Kega, is the ex- member of parliament for Kieni Constituency. He got the name Kanini Kega (meaning something small and pleasant/good) when he made an entry into the world of politics. He was the youngest aspirant and people found him promising. He later swore an affidavit that enabled the name Kanini Kega to appear on the ballot papers.
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Kanini was born on 31st October 1972 in Wathuka Village, Nyeri county.
He attended Muthuini Primary School then proceeded to Chinga Boys High School. Afterwards, he joined the University of Nairobi for a Bachelor degree in Arts, graduating in 1998.
In 2000, he was an employee at Solagen Power Limited before he founded and incorporated Power Options Limited, a renewable energy company that deals with solar power installations.
The former Kieni Constituency MP joined politics in 1998 but it would take two election cycles for him to be elected into parliament. He said the reason for this was that most voters found his real name on the ballot instead of Kanini Kega-which they were familiar with.
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In 2013, he successfully vied for the Kieni Constituency seat under The National Alliance (TNA) party ticket. He won the elections defeating Namesyus Warugongo who had previously won on a Party of National Unity (PNU) ticket.
In the 2017 general elections, he successfully defended his seat under the Jubilee party.
He was a member of the departmental committee on land and natural resources in 2013. Kanini is also a member of the departmental committee on Energy, Communications and Information.
He served as the chairman of the budget and appropriations committee.
The MP has been a strong supporter of President Uhuru Kenyatta and as of now is allied to the Jubilee party.
He was among the Mt. Kenya leaders who supported ODM leader Raila Odinga for the 2022 presidential campaigns. In an appearance on the Jeff Koinange live, he said that he had finally listened to Raila and thought he would make a good president. He said the former Prime Minister has always wanted to give them a message but they (the people of Mt. Kenya) were not ready to listen. The legislator even remembered how Raila partnered with Kibaki in 2002 and how his father before him supported the release of Jomo Kenyatta from prison.
“I have listened to him, he has a good plan and he has the country at heart, from where I sit, I believe he would make a good president,” said Kega.
In June 2015, he clashed with the late Nyeri governor Nderitu Gachagua who accused him of colluding with others to humiliate the president by rejecting his nominee Monica Juma.
When he finally got the chance to defend himself, he distanced himself from the accusations and re-affirmed his support for the Jubilee party.
In 2021, he was also accused by some leaders for causing chaos in his region before the arrival of the deputy president. He denied the allegations.