Two years ago, President Uhuru Kenyatta ventured into the crime infested Nyalenda slums in Kisumu, mingling with locals with his security nowhere in sight.
Never before had a Head of State, especially one in direct competition with opposition chief Raila Odinga, ever received such reception in the lakeside town.
Unknown to many, the “warm reception” had been the product of very “fruitful” engagements between the President’s men in the lakeside town and local gangs who, at a fee, are ready to switch allegiance to the highest bidder.
According to Stephen Mudenyo alias Madaa, who leads a local gang specialising in offering security services to VIPs, Mr Kenyatta’s trip was preceded by several meetings between the President’s pointmen in the area, Kisumu Central MP Ken Obura and a 30-member committee comprising elders, women and youth which, after agreeing on “terms”, resolved to give Mr Kenyatta the warm welcome.
Mr Mudenyo reveals that this time round, local gangs will be charging Sh5,000 per day to offer security to politicians seeking elective seats, citing the risks involved in the line of duty.
“It depends on how many people are needed and volatility of the area they are going to,” he says.
PAY MORE FOR GANG
Another self-styled leader of a Homa Bay-based gang, Dominic Abong’o, reveals that politicians are likely to pay more for a gang which, besides providing security, also heckles and boos their opponents.
“In a single political gathering, we can earn up to Sh100,000 for heckling at opponents of our clients,” he reveals.
Mr Tony Tuba, an events organiser in Kakamega, is excited about the flurry of political activities in the region.
For the last three months, Mr Tuba has been mobilising crowds for politicians and setting up public address systems. He runs the XTRM Entertainment firm which has been involved in organising campaign rallies for a number of key politicians including Mr Odinga and Amani National Congress leader Musalia Mudavadi.
“As we approach the General Election, we are getting many bookings from politicians for the public address system,” said Mr Tuba.
The firm charges Sh150,000 for the hire of the public address system for a whole day for major political events while small rallies cost Sh20,000.
Boda Boda operators in Kakamega have also positioned themselves to make a kill during the busy political season.
“The prospects are looking good since the number of aspirants calling in to place orders for campaign materials is growing by the day,” says David Malala who owns a printing press in Kakamega town.
Businessmen dealing in transport and public address systems in Siaya County are also minting millions in the ongoing voter sensitisation exercise and campaigns.
Mr Evans Onyango, who owns a fleet of pickups, told the Sunday Nation that he rents out his vehicles at a standard fee of Sh3,000 per day.
Mr Enock Ogwang’, the proprietor of Smart Djs entertainment, specialises in offering sound systems to politicians during rallies in the county.
“I offer my sound system to politicians for Sh3,000 a day. They have to fuel the generator,” he says.
In Narok County, business is booming, thanks to the early campaigns.
Mr Evans Kamotho, a local printer, says he already has an order to print 5,000 T-shirts for a parliamentary candidate and hundreds of calendars for MCAs.
“Each T-shirt was priced at approximately Sh150 plus an extra Sh50 branding charge,” he says.
In Nakuru, one owner of a cyber café, Mathew Kinuthia, is a happy man: “I did 10,000 posters at the rate of Sh5 per poster for one client and this is good money taking into account the business environment is not so good.”
On Lamu Island, Hashim Said Muhammed, famously known as DJ Fakhrudin, boasts that in a single show, he makes not less than Sh20,000.
He says the secret to getting more invitations and money is by heaping all manner of praises on politicians.
“In a good week, I can make more than Sh100,000 by performing at political events,” he says.
Stories by Rushdie Oudia, Benson Amadala, George Sayagie, Francis Mureithi, Barack Oduor, Nelcon Odhiambo, Grace Gitau and Kalume Kazungu