Born on 18th September 1963, Kenneth Lusaka is the current speaker of the Senate. He attributes his rise to the top to God who has guided him throughout his career. One can describe Lusaka as a jovial man whose personality makes him the right candidate for the job at the Senate.
This is a man who had harbored dreams of becoming an actor. He loved and still loves the arts and was at one time a member of a traveling theatre. He played a number of major roles in set books, such as, Mulili in the Tragicomedy Betrayal in the City, Antoni in Merchant of Venice and Wamala in The Burdens. While he did not pursue a career in the arts, he believes art is a part of people’s day to day lives and one cannot do without them completely.
His political journey has not been without a number of controversies but perhaps the one embedded in people’s minds would be the wheelbarrow scandal which will be discussed later.
Away from politics, he enjoys lingala music and loves singing and dancing to it alongside his friends.
Background and Education
He was born and brought up in Bungoma county where he attended a local primary school named Kamukuywa Primary School.
For his O levels, he attended Kibabii High School before proceeding to Chesamisi High School and Friends School Kamusinga for his A levels.
After high school, he joined the University of Nairobi for a course in Literature but did not see himself pursuing a career in teaching. He dropped this and took up Political Science and History. While at the university, he took part in politics and even wanted to go for the student leader position in 1987. Lucky for him he dropped his bid to the seat as all those who vied for leadership positions that year including lawyer Miguna Miguna were expelled.
After working for a while, he got a chance to pursue an MA in Public Policy and Administration from the Institute of Social Studies in the Netherlands.
After University, he stayed without a job for two months before being posted as District officer. He worked in Muhoroni then Homa Bay, after which he left to pursue his MA in the Netherlands.
Upon returning to Kenya, he became a District Commissioner and in 2008 became the first secretary in provincial administration in the office of the president following the ouster of Khaemba who was PS Livestock.
In 2013, the first elections after the new Constitution, he successfully ran for the Bungoma gubernatorial seat becoming the first governor of Bungoma county.
In 2017, he lost the bid to become a governor for the second term. After losing his seat and when all seemed to be gloom, he got a call from the president who wanted him as the Senate speaker. Thus, his journey as the Senate speaker began, a position he holds to date.
Lame Duck Speaker
Lusaka has been accused of playing to the whims of State House. When the senator of Elgeyo Marakwet Kipchumba Murkomen was kicked out as the Majority leader, he accused Lusaka of sacrificing him and “Kihika (Susan – former Majority Whip)…..” and went on to urge him not to “sacrifice Kenya…” Responding to that, Lusaka said the sentiments by Murkomen were meant to influence him to make decisions in a certain direction.
“”I have a lot of experience in administration. Sometimes people want to trap you, they want to take you in a certain direction. So that you can see you’re being provoked to take a certain action.
“If you throw someone out of the chamber, it becomes chaotic and they achieve what they want. Sometimes when you learn that is the intention because someone wants to disrupt the proceedings for certain reasons, I choose not to play along,”
He went to say that people compare him to Ole Kaparo which is not right:
“It’s a style of management. I hear people comparing me to Ole Kaparo (Francis – former National Assembly Speaker). Kaparo was the Speaker in 1993. This is 2020. Circumstances are different…”
The politician is married to Margaret Makelo whom he met at the University of Nairobi in 1988 during political campaigns. They got married in 1989 and have been blessed with three children and a number of grandchildren. All the children are grown up and Margaret is a director in the Ministry of Agriculture.
The wheelbarrow scandal will remain a blot in his career that will probably never wash away. In September 2015, after an audit had been carried out on the county government, it was revealed that the county had spent Ksh1,093,200 on ten wheelbarrows meant for the Bungoma slaughterhouse. What this meant was one wheelbarrow went for a bit over Ksh100,000, something that did not sit well with taxpayers as that was more than three times the cost of a wheelbarrow at the time. The then Bungoma governor defended this saying that they were special wheelbarrows and not just ordinary ones. He later said that investigations on the same were being conducted.
Side Lover scandal
The Speaker found himself hogging the headlines for all the wrong reasons after his side dish took him to court demanding ‘pregnancy upkeep’. According to Irene Mutaki, the speaker impregnated and refused to take paternity responsibility prompting the youthful lady to take him to court. She is demanding kes200,000 monthly support or a lump sum of kes25 million through her lawyer Danstan Omari.