Being a victim of shambolic Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) primaries in Kisumu East constituency, did not stop area MP Shakeel Shabbir from retaining his seat.
Mr Shabbir defied all odds including racial slur, a vigorous ODM campaign and continued calls for a ‘six-piece’ vote to recapture his seat on an independent ticket in the August 8 elections.
The two main clans – Kolwa and Kajulu, which dominate the constituency’s voting block – also closed ranks, hoping to seal the fate of the politician who has towered over politics in the constituency for 10 years.
But he still outfoxed his opponents – ODM candidate Nicholas Oricho and Jubilee nominated Senator Joy Gwendo.
“I owe my victory to the people of Kisumu East. They once again proved their trust in me despite the shambolic ODM nominations under some party officials in Nairobi.
“I still share ODM ideals and want to assure my people that I will stand with the party and leader Raila Odinga,” Mr Shabbir told the Nation on Wednesday.
He went on: “Raila brought me from nowhere because he had trust in me. I want to say that I am not a chameleon to turn my colour. I will work with him and his party.”
When Kisumu Central constituency was created in the run-up to the 2013 elections, many thought Mr Shabbir would opt to contest there, given that the constituency was home to the Central Business District where a majority of Asians live and vote.
Mr Shabbir however opted to go east, to the rural and hilly Kajulu where he is hugely popular, especially among women.
The MP is beloved by locals because he readily attends to families in need.
He, or at least his hand, is a permanent fixture in efforts to assist bereaved families.
“Any funeral planning committee, as a matter of fact, capture Shabbir’s sugar and flour because it is sure to come,” Mr David Otieno, a resident of Kajulu told the Nation during the campaigns.
Mr Shabbir’s commitment to assisting bereaved families through various donations, even maize flour that families would use to feed mourners, endeared him to many villagers.
It aptly earned him the title “Onyango wuon Mogo” (Dholouo for Onyango, the one who has flour).
When election campaigns set in, locals advised him to use maize flour bundle as his election symbol.
This followed his decision to run as an independent candidate after losing the race for ODM ticket, in the party’s discredited nominations.
Referring to Mr Odinga as “my mentor and political father”, the MP regretted that supporters of his opponents “derailed the Nasa leader’s presidential bid by barring women from voting merely because most women supported him.
“Any single woman who was denied a chance to vote really hurt Raila. This was an electoral offence and I urge the police to take it seriously and investigate,” Mr Shabbir said.
He said that out of the 81,538 registered voters in the constituency, up to 20,000 voters did not cast their votes, “mainly because of my opponent’s antics”.
Mr Shabbir’s foray into politics started in the late 1990s when he was nominated to the defunct Kisumu Municipal Council where he rose to be Mayor, first between 2000 and 2002, and later between 2004 and 2006.
He then set his eyes on the Kisumu Town East MP seat, which he easily won in 2007, ousting Gor Sungu, the former chairman of a Parliamentary Select Committee on the murder of Foreign Affairs Minister Robert Ouko.
He won again in 2013. His victory in the just-concluded election makes him one of the longest serving MPs in Nyanza.
Mr Shabbir is the second member of the Asian community to win an MP’s seat in Kisumu.
Amir Jamal made history by being the first non-native to be elected MP in Kisumu in 1960s.
Born in 1953 in Kisumu, Mr Shabbir went to Nairobi School before proceeding to Makerere University and Middlesex Polytechnic in London, where he studied for a diploma in accounts and later bachelor’s degree in Business studies.
Mr Shabbir also holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration from the Henley Management College and Master of Arts in political science from Maseno University.