Ten Kenyan Politicians Who Were Student Leaders

This is a list of Kenyan politicians who were student leaders on campus before transitioning into national politics. Many of them gained mileage by leading mega student strikes and demonstrations which made their name known countrywide.

They thereafter decided to use their hard-earned fame to try their bid into national politics.

Today we look at some of those popular politicians who were once at the helm of campus politicians.

Kenyan Politicians Who Were Student Leaders

1. Babu Owino

Paul Ongili Owino, also known as Babu Owino, is a Kenyan politician who represents the Embakasi East Constituency in the National Assembly.
He is a member of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM).

Babu Owino was the SONU student leader at the University of Nairobi.

As the chairperson of the Nairobi University Students Organization, he gained media attention (SONU).

2. Kipchumba Murkomen

Kipchumba Murkomen is the current CS for Transport in Kenya, a Kenyan litigator, and a former  Elgeyo-Marakwet County Senator. On a URP ticket, he was voted Senator for Elgeyo-Marakwet County in 2013, defeating the late Nicholas Biwott.

On a Jubilee ticket, he was easily re-elected in 2017, defeating former Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo.

He has since switched allegiances to the United Democratic Alliance (UDA), which is led by Deputy President William Ruto.

When he was studying law at the University of Nairobi, he was elected chair of the Kenya Law School Students Society.

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3. James Orengo

James Orengo is among the senior politicians who were student leaders during their days on campus. Aggrey, James Bob Orengo, the current governor for Siaya in Kenya, is a well-known human rights activist and prominent politician.

James Orengo was elected SONU chair while studying law at the University of Nairobi from 1972 to 1973.

4. Johnson Sakaja

Johnson Sakaja is a Kenyan politician and the governor of Nairobi County. He was previously the senator of Nairobi county and a Member of Parliament nominated by The National Alliance (TNA) in 2013.

He was the National Chairman of The National Alliance (TNA) until the party merged with 12 others to form the Jubilee Party on September 9, 2016.

He attended the University of Nairobi, where he served as vice chairman of the Actuarial Students Association before being elected chairman of SONU.

5. Justin Muturi

Justin Bedan Njoka Muturi is the current attorney general of Kenya. He has been the seventh Speaker of Kenya’s National Assembly since 2013. He is the first Speaker to take office since the re-establishment of a bicameral legislature, as required by the 2010 Constitution.

During the Moi regime, Justin Muturi was a student leader at the University of Nairobi. Muturi’s room was burned down while he was a student leader, allegedly as a ransom for the betrayal of his fellow comrades.

6. Isaac Ruto

Kenyan politician Isaac Kiprono Ruto is among the politicians who were student leaders on campus. He is the leader of the Chama Cha Mashinani Party. In the 2013 Kenyan general elections, he was elected as the first governor of Bomet County.

He is from Tumoi, Sigor in the Chepalungu constituency, and attended the University of Nairobi to study Political Science.

He was a student activist in politics at UoN, advocating for good leadership and student affairs.

7. Anyang’ Nyong’o

Peter Anyang’ Nyong’o is a Kenyan politician, author, and the current Kisumu County Governor. He was previously the Secretary-General of the Orange Democratic Movement.

Between 1969 and 1970, he served as the guild president of Makerere University.

Professor Anyang’ Nyongo’ graduated from the university with first-class honors and went on to earn his Master’s and Ph.D. at the University of Chicago.

Read List of Top 10 Richest Politicians in Kenya and Their Net Worth

8. Hassan Omar

Hassan Omar Hassan Sarai is a Kenyan politician who served as Senator for Mombasa from 2013 to 2017. Sarai was born on October 23, 1973, in Mombasa. His mother was a member of the Mazrui family, so he comes from a prominent family.

He ran for the Mombasa governor in 2022 and lost to Abdulswamad Nassir of ODM.

Hassan Omar was a Moi University Eldoret student leader. He was outspoken in his opposition to the naming of Moi University after Kenya’s then-President Moi.

Without fear, Omar Hassan argued that naming Moi University after former President Daniel Arab Moi was an insult to democracy. As a result, students staged a protest outside the university.

Daniel Arap Moi, the president at the time, was informed of the protest and ordered the immediate expulsion of Hassan Omar Hassan, the Chairman of the Moi University Student Organization (MUSO).

Hassan was barred from enrolling in any Kenyan university. Hassan continued his studies after the NARC government of Mwai Kibaki took power in 2002.

9. Gladys Wanga

Gladys Atieno Wanga is the current governor of Homa Bay County. She was born on March 7, 1981. She is the former women’s representative for Homa Bay County, having won the seat in the 2017 Kenyan general elections.

The newly elected governor is a former Secretary General of the Kenyatta University Students Association (KUSA).

10. Ababu Namwamba

Ababu Namwamba is a Kenyan politician and multinational lawyer who received his legal education in Nairobi and Washington, DC. He has been the leader of the Labour Party of Kenya since 2016 and is currently the Minister of sports, youth, and cultural heritage.

He was elected as a student leader at the University of Nairobi, where he represented the Parklands campus, and he also became the chairman of the Kenya Law Students Society. He joined the ODM in 2006 and was elected to the Budalangi parliamentary seat.