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EXCLUSIVE: Babu Owino – I walked out of a police cell into an exam room for my KCSE


Embakasi East Member of Parliment, Babu Owino spent many nights of his childhood in police cells.

According to the legislator, life in Nyalenda slums in Kisumu came with many challenges for him and his family.

Following the death of his father, his mother took up the role of raising the family by selling illicit brew in Kisumu.

“I remember we struggled so much. My mum used to sell chang’aa and she raised us through. Growing up in Nyalenda, times were hard as policemen would raid us and beat people in their houses. I would see my mum being whipped,” the MP recalled.

On the day he was meant to write his final biology paper, Mr Owino had spent the previous night in a police cell having being arrested for selling chang’aa.

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“In the morning at 8am I started screaming in the cell because I could not afford to miss the exam. I didn’t have Sh500 to pay the police but the OCS came and asked what was wrong. I explained myself and he released me and dropped me at Kisumu Boys High School with a police Land Cruiser. I sat for that exam in home clothes,” Mr Owino narrated.

With the challenges he encountered growing up, the vocal MP says at times he thought of giving up so many times but the words from Jeremiah 29:11 kept him going.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future,” the Bible verse reads.

“The slum life was really hard and one would easily give up but I want to tell you that whatever you are learning now, the challenges you are going through now are solutions in future. If I didn’t grow up in the slums, I would have not known how to handle people as a Member of Parliament.”

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“Life in the slum has taught me a lot because if you tell me, you are hungry, I know what it means to go without food since I went through that in life and it prepared me physiologically. I now realize that God had a reason of why I had to start my life in the slums,” said the father of two.

The former student leader at the University of Nairobi believes that education changed his life for the better the reason why he offers free online classes to candidates writing their KCPE and KCSE exams.

“Babu Owino is a product of education. Were it not for education I would have not left Nyalenda slums to the University of Nairobi. Education gave me an opportunity to be somebody in life, somebody who is willing and ready to hold someone elseā€™s hand,” he said.

“If it’s only education which made me leave Nyalenda slums then education will make any child in Kenya what they want to be in life. Remember education is an equalizer, I want to give these children hope that if Babu did it they can also do it.”

Starting next year, Babu, born Paul Ongili, who got First Class Honors in Actuarial Science from the UoN will be moving around the country to mentor students.

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