Barring something extraordinary, Mr Rashid Achesa Mohammed is going to be the next Cabinet Secretary for Sports and Heritage, marking one more turn in an interesting journey for a man whose formal education ended at primary school.
While there had been speculation about his lack of depth in education, Mr Achesa did not avoid the matter when it came up in the forms he was required to fill during his vetting in the National Assembly.
The nominee, described in the Committee on Appointment’s report as “the youngest and the most dynamic”, attended Shibale Primary School between 1990 and 1997.
“Due to his humble background and challenges of school fees, he was not able to continue with his formal education,” the report, tabled in the House on Tuesday afternoon, said.
In his vetting last Friday, Mr Achesa said his father burnt charcoal for a living while his mother sold bananas, sometimes walking up to six kilometres to the market to sell the fruit.
“Having been born in a family of eight, I found it difficult because my mum and my father were really struggling to make ends meet and were unable to pay school fees for my siblings and myself,” Mr Achesa said.
After the premature end of his formal education, Mr Achesa sought a job as a casual labourer at Mumias Sugar Company where he was employed as a loader.
It was while at Mumias that he ventured into boxing, training at Mumias Boxing Club.
The man from the Nabongo Clan under Nabongo Mumia started at the novice level, went on to intermediate, and to the Kenya Open level.
“After my Kenya Open, I was approached by then Kenya Prisons head coach Gichuki who told me, ‘I want you to come and box for Kenya Prisons.’
“Since life was so difficult, my parents were unable to even pay school fees for my siblings, I decided to join Kenya Prisons,” he recalled.
The man, who will soon be entitled to a salary of Sh924,000 as Cabinet Secretary (he was cleared by the vetting team), was then on a salary of Sh3,000 part of which, he told the committee, he would send back home to pay school fees for his siblings.
Mr Achesa said he was at home on a sort of honeymoon after marrying in 2007 when he overheard a neighbour telling his mother about a Party of National Unity meeting and the search for someone to co-ordinate the activities of the party Mwai Kibaki had hastily put together as his vehicle for the elections later that year.
Confident that he had a strong backing by the youth because of his involvement in sports, he talked to his coach, was allowed to move into the political sphere, and was elected co-ordinator, later getting the blessings of the PNU secretariat to do the job in Mumias.
He boasted to the committee that despite PNU’s lack of popularity in Mumias, then President Kibaki got 18,000 votes in the area.
In 2008, he switched to ODM, where he was elected National Youth Leader.
He would go on to lose to Johnson Naicca in Mumias West in 2013.
It was on November 2016 that members of the National Super Alliance realised that their National Youth Leader had turned against the party and its leader Raila Odinga.
Mr Odinga, accompanied by Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya, had gone to Shibale to see and talk to victims of police brutality when they found themselves facing opposition from residents.
A brawl erupted and Mr Achesa, who had accompanied Mumias East MP Benjamin Washiali and Navakholo MP Emmanuel Wangwe, demanded that Mr Odinga not politicise the issues there – police had beaten up people while looking for stolen guns.
“Where were you when police were beating our youths and raping our women? We have no time for your stories,” he told Mr Odinga.
The former ODM man is among those credited with enabling the Jubilee Party to secure eight seats in the former Western Province.
Mr Achesa said he started his company, Aust and Oust International Limited, in 2008 with three employees.
He said it now has 200 employees.
The man is worth Sh40 million, which is in movable assets, real estate and construction.
As a former boxer, he told the committee, he understands the issues in the sports sector and knows what needs to be done.
For some, especially those allied to Jubilee, Mr Achesa is an example to the youth and an inspirational figure, a perfect example of the hustler who does not give up and it does not matter where they were born or brought up.