What you need to know:
- This blind man has a huge home library packed with serious books and is widely read.
If you just confine yourself to the vibe on social media, you’d be perfectly excused to think that there are only two presidential candidates in the run up to Kenya’s general election: the tried and trusted weather-beaten old goat Raila Odinga, who has stood the test of time in the rough and tumble of Kenya’s Byzantine politics; and the smooth-talking, suave, cunning and crafty fox that ‘Chief Hustler’ William Ruto is.
And you might be wondering whether it is the might of the system and a sympathy vote that will see the elderly Raila through; or the bare fact that in politics, just like in the jungle, the guile and sheer cunning of a fox always ensures that it will find a way out of anything.
Strange as it might seem, there are actually other candidates in the race. One of them is one of a kind: a blind man. Such is the power of social media that it builds bridges to people and places in a way that was previously thought impossible.
You get the feeling that you have actually ‘met’ someone without ever physically meeting them and you feel you have been to certain places, without physically setting foot there.
That is how I met gospel singer Reuben Kigame – on YouTube – where he is featured prominently on numerous channels, including his own “Reuben Kigame TV”. I had never felt inferior to anyone in my life; but I did feel overwhelmingly inferior when I encountered Reuben Kigame.
A man who lost his sight at the age of three and has spent the last 53 years without the ability to see has soared to heights that many of us who have two good eyes and just about every other ability, have not even dared dream about.
Without any eyes, Kigame attained a degree in Education, a Master’s degree in Journalism and Media Studies and last I checked, had embarked on a PhD. This blind man has a huge home library packed with serious books and is widely read. When you listen to him, you realise he is an unfathomable intellectual. And as men with two eyes were fearing to get married, Kigame got married to his high school sweetheart Mercy, built a wonderful family, and even when she perished in an accident in 2006, he recovered from the loss, remarried and willed himself on.
He plays the keyboards, guitars and drums without any problem. He is a highly gifted singer – sings while plucking away at the guitar or the keyboard – and has produced many songs. He is able to compose, sing and produce his musical works. It took me a while to actually see that he was blind, because watching him in a live performance, he was freely singing and playing the keyboards and moving all over the keyboard with versatility.
His mother only noticed something was wrong when, at the age of three, at dinner, he reached out for his plate of posho and missed!
She wondered how one could miss a plate right under his nose. But by then it was too late for doctors to do anything for his eyesight, maybe a lesson to all parents that we have a duty to watch our children carefully as they develop and take timely interventions, lest anything goes badly wrong.
Yet the tragedy, instead of downing him, inspired him to excel, thanks to his family which supported him and spurred him on – again a lesson to parents that when we stand by our children, they will never fail.
A very highly political animal, Kigame has been highly involved in the Kenyan political space. He has consistently opposed and even taken part in demonstrations against bad governance, ran for Vihiga County governorship in 2013 and recently won the backing of the Federal Party of Kenya as their candidate for the State House race.
While in Uganda able-bodied people, with Masters and PhD degrees are convinced that the best way to guarantee their future is to lick the boots of the First Family, a blind man in Kenya is defying the odds, not only to excel in his family and career lives, but is also assuring 56 million Kenyans that he is the best candidate for the presidency.
Mr Tegulle is an advocate of the High Court of Uganda [email protected]