By Kuria Kimani
Ronald Osumba (born in 1979) burst into the limelight in 2013 when Peter Kenneth unveiled him as his running mate. The man who was riding high in the corporate world quickly went downhill after joining the murky world of politics. In a sobering post he shared on his twitter account, Osumba revealed that he was a senior manager at Safaricom and owned cars, a home and two parcels of land all at the age of 30. At the age of 33, he had bought more land, had three cars at his disposal and was running for deputy president. Seven years later, Osumba had lost everything except his children.
Here is his story as told by WoK.
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Early Life and Education Background
Ronald, or Ronnie Osumba as he is fondly known by his friends, was born in Kibera, Nairobi. He attended Olympic Primary School and later on joined Starehe Boys’ Center where he got sponsored after performing exceptionally well at the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) examinations.
After successfully completing his O-levels, he joined his alma mater, Moi University to pursue a degree in Business Management.
He would then pursue an Executive Education Certificate in Leadership and Management at the University of Oxford. He later joined Strathmore University to study Public Policy Management. Ronald is currently pursuing his Executive MBA, Digital Transformation and Innovation Leadership set to complete in 2022 from the IE Business School. Additionally, he has a Biblical Studies diploma and is a certified accountant from the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants(ACCA).
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Before politics happened, Osumba had that dream job and everything was looking up.
In January 2009, he was an honorary patron for the Gem Youth Network, mentoring the youth on leadership until 2021. He was also the board chairman at Youth Employment Systems between April 2010 and April 2021.
Additionally, he has held senior management positions in successful organizations. These include Health Data Systems, Impax Business Solutions, the Cooperative Bank of Kenya, and Safaricom. At Safaricom, he held the position of senior sales manager for the public sector.
He is also the advisor of the United Nations Youth Association of Kenya and gives back to his high school as a member of the institution’s management committee.
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Some more of Osumba’s career ventures include his seven-year stay at Emerald Africa Consulting Limited as managing partner and chair of the board of directors, team leadership at the Kenya Catalytic Jobs Fund between 2020 and 2021, Trustee at Uzima University College, works at KCIC Consulting Limited, and Business Development Specialist at the Hultz Prize Foundation.
Currently, Ronald Osumba is running iGov Africa as the CEO and the Regional Director – East Africa at the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change.
In the 2013 general elections, Ronald quit his high-paying job at Safaricom to become Peter Kenneth running mate in the Eagle Alliance party. The race was indeed tough, and the duo lost to President Uhuru Kenyatta by a sizeable margin. When he made the choice to go into politics, his wife Vera asked him to ensure that their lives would not change, a request that he was not able to honor. Their defeat at the polls marked the beginning of a steep downward trajectory for him.
Politics threw everything off-balance as he had to go back to the drawing board. Here was a man without a job, a struggling marriage, a risked career, punctured finances, and health struggles. “For one month I was in limbo. I didn’t know what to do,” he said at the Engage talk. Ronald and his wife divorced as the marriage did not work out for them. With all things going south for the active Twitter user, he went to his timeline and tweeted a self-encouragement post that said “Onwards”. Hundreds of Kenyans sent encouragement messages and that one word became his first step and door into recovery.
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In 2019, Valley Auctioneers came calling. His four bedroomed house in Athi-River was seized by the auctioneers further putting him in a financial rut he had not recovered since involving himself in politics. According to media reports, they spent ksh 300 million in their campaigns.
Rise from the Ashes and Recovery
The late Bob Collymore, who served as Safaricom Chief Executive Officer then, sent a reply to his Onwards tweet saying, “You do know you have your return ticket.” In two weeks, he was back at his position at Kenya’s largest telecommunications firm. He would then go on to found an organization called Onwards Kenya and offered a job at Oracle Corporation as Head of Public Sector.
Ronald Osumba joined the global firm and after a while, would receive appointments from the State. He was appointed chair of the Youth Advisory Board and shortly thereafter, the Youth Enterprise Development Fund. He is currently running iGov Africa as the CEO and the Regional Director – East Africa at the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change.
Summarizing his life experiences, he says, “I have learned a lot through my journey, that life is not a stage, life is a war made up of many battles; you win some, you lose some.”
He encouraged the Engage audience saying, “I have come to love my battle scars because they are my badge of honor. Because some of my battles and struggles have been public, people think that I conquer easily and I get up and we move on. The truth is, I don’t, I go broke, I disappoint the people I love, I fall sick, I lose. But because of the people around me, because of them, I will keep fighting my battle and I can guarantee you I will win the war.”
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