Maasai pastoralists present a Politician and a Player
Maasais are not only traditional tribal herders but have proven to be great Politicians and world-class Players as well. Their aspiration to represent appropriately in the country’s governing classes is evident in Joseph Ole Lenku who is vying for a governorship position in the 2017 elections. Similarly, David Rudisha stands testimony to their exceptional athletic prowess. His march towards becoming the third-time gold medalist for the 800m race at the 2020 Olympics is pretty commendable. Anyone fascinated with this nomadic tribe would be equally in awe to learn about the journey of these two Maasai men and their backgrounds.
Joseph Ole Lenku
Joseph Ole Lenku was born in Kajiado county on the 20th of October 1970. Following the death of Kajiado South MP Geoffrey Mepukori in 2003, Ole Lenku vied for the seat but lost it to Katoo Ole Metito. Soon after, he resumed a corporate career in the tourism and hospitality industry.
Former Cabinet Secretary
President Uhuru Kenyatta appointed Lenku as the Cabinet Secretary for Interior on the 23rd of May 2013 becoming the third minister to come from Kajiado County. During his tenure, he had a lot of challenges, but in the first year, he steered significant reforms in the sector, including a crackdown on drug trafficking, devolution of security, increase in its budget and reforms of the police force.
In September 2013, soon after the Westgate Mall terrorist attack, Lenku spearheaded the rolling out of a security framework called ‘Nyumba Kumi’ anchored on community policing. It aimed to bring to the doorstep of the citizens the mandate to ensure their safety by knowing who their neighbors are as a security strategy. But there were repeated attacks in the country.
Critics of Joseph Ole Lenku argued that he was not up to the task. They cited his lack of prior background in security affairs to demand his sacking. On the 2nd of December 2014, he was replaced by Major General Joseph Nkaissery. Lenku was the first to leave President Kenyatta’s cabinet.
Future Kajiado County Governor
Lenku announced that he would be seeking the Kajiado County governorship post in the 2017 general elections. Ole Lenku said that the area was suffering from poor leadership. Over ten elected County assembly members and 200 elders drawn from at least three constituencies endorsed him as the preferred candidate for the seat. Later on, they accused Joseph Ole Lenku of inciting youth during the Kajiado political campaign rallies. Currently, Ole Lenku serves as the Chairman of SACCO Societies Regulatory Authority whose mandate it is to license Sacco Societies to accept deposit-taking Sacco business in the country.
Known as the King in Kenya, his homeland, David Rudisha was born as a Maasai in Narok County, southwest of Kenya. Although a world famous super sports star, he is known to be softly spoken and completely unassuming. His father, Daniel Rudisha, was a member of the men’s 4x400m team of Kenya and won a silver medal at the Mexico City Olympics Games 1968.
Colm O’Connell, a 67-year-old Irish missionary has trained Rudisha. But he had no background in running or coaching before he began coaching runners. But in his interviews, O’Connell has said that he has trained around 25 world and Olympic champions, and that includes Rudisha, in the remote town of Iten. In his “semi-scientific approach” of coaching, he made sure he takes into consideration the athlete’s personality. In 2016, he reported that he and Rudisha have split.
David married Lizzy Naanyu in 2010. They have two daughters. In 2014, there came out a rumor about Rudisha’s extramarital affair, but he has denied it. He serves as a police officer through the county’s national service program. Rudisha has said that he’s avoided taking a sports supplement in his career and that he likes to eat natural food.
Past athletic career
In 2006, David won his first international medal at the World Junior Championships in Beijing. The International Association of Athletics Federation named him the Male Athlete of the Year 2010.
Kenyan star David Rudisha has continued to accumulate accolades and medals since then. He is a two-time world and Olympic champion in the two-lap event. He is the first and only athlete in history since Peter Snell of New Zealand in 1964 to hold the record of 1:40:91 for the 800m race. The sports star gave one of the most pulsating performances and won gold at the Olympic Games 2012 in London. He ran against fellow Kenyans Ferguson Cheruiyot Rotich and Alfred Kipketer. Sadly, the stadium was just a quarter full to see for the first time a Kenyan to retain such an Olympic title. He gave the gold medal to his father Daniel and returned the favor after his father who gave his silver medal to a young David years ago to inspire him.
Rudisha is also a record holder in the 400m run. Four years later, he won gold again for the second time at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. He was adamant that it was his best achievement yet. Besides, he holds the past two titles from the Daegu and Beijing World Championships in 2011 and 2015 respectively.
Future gold medal aspiration
After the London Olympics, David faced a series of injuries. Because of his knee injury, he couldn’t compete in IAAF World Championships 2013. But David Rudisha is a great stoic. His upper body remains perfectly still when he runs. David’s face seldom betrays emotion even when the pressure is piling on. His intention to the 800m gold for the third time at the Tokyo Olympics 2020 looks a realistic one.
Joseph Lenku’s and David Rudisha’s brief life stories are in direct contrast to the typical lifestyle of the Maasais. Their past achievements and future aspirations deserve applauds and compliments considering their backward backgrounds. Truly, human beings’ awe-inspiring determination and unmistakable resilient nature is palpable even in the remotest corner of Kenya.