What it feels like to win a new house


Edward Oluoch has won a three-bedroom house in Riruta, Nairobi.

Friday June 26 2020

The last time Edward Oluoch won anything that requires luck was about 20 years ago. It was a wall clock that he won from a biscuit making company.

It appears the gods were preparing the teacher for bigger things. This year, it wasn’t just a clock he won, or just a wall. He won walls. Walls amounting to a three-bedroom house to be exact. And furniture. And household appliances. And a roof over his head. And parking space. And a piece of Nairobi.

Lucky man. He wasn’t even born on a Friday. That day is associated with luck in some beliefs but no, Oluoch came into the world on a Tuesday: May 20, 1980.

Schools are closed due to the ravages of the Covid-19 and so it was easy to raise him on the phone for a follow-up at daytime on a Wednesday. Otherwise, he could have been in class teaching mathematics or geography to his students at St Augustine’s Nyamonye Girls in Bondo, Siaya County.

During the call, it emerged that the number three is a big part of the teacher’s story this year. He is a father of three girls, whose ages are 12, 6 and 3 (all multiples of three, wink). He is also 39, in his ninth year as a permanently employed teacher and his number has the “0703” prefix.

He currently lives in a three-bedroomed house in Siaya County and now he has won another tastefully furnished three-bedroomed one in Riruta, Nairobi. Man of threes.

We called him to hear how he has been progressing since becoming the fifth among the six lucky people who won houses from Safaricom through the Lipa Na M-Pesa Promotion.

He was almost done with the paperwork when Covid-19 struck, disrupting operations from east to west, north to south. Now he will have to wait till it is safe to travel over long distances, and to enter Nairobi at all.

One clear thing in his mind is that he will not be selling the house.

“I don’t have the plans to sell. We are busy. Having that money and not having the time, what will you do with it? We always long for the weekend, and even when it comes, we are doing remaining tasks. We have programmes running up to 9pm, up to evening,” he said.

He is optimistic that he will get a good lease deal for it. Being the mathematician he is, all he has been doing is calculate how best to utilise the prize. He has been talking to a number of people and he is confident he will get sound advice on the best way forward.

And if it ever happens that he is transferred to Nairobi for his teaching duties, then he can finally dwell in the house that came his way thanks to kismet.

“I am a teacher; schools are everywhere. But so far, my job is in Siaya,” he said.

In his 39 years of life, he has never quite lived in Nairobi. He has only sojourned in the city for brief moments then headed back upcountry. A number of his recent trips to the city have been to mark KCSE examinations. He was at Moi Forces Academy in Eastleigh last year. The year before that, he was at Alliance High School while in 2017, he was at the Kenya High School.

It is clear that his days of seeking to be hosted by friends and relatives while visiting the city are over.

Even over the phone, you could tell the joy in the teacher’s heart over winning the house.

“When I received the call, I felt so happy,” he said in February. He is still beside himself with joy.

At the end of the competition, six people had three-bedroomed houses and eight others had farm-ready tractors, courtesy of Safaricom. Hundreds of thousands also received cashbacks on the amounts they had spent paying via M-Pesa.