TALES OF COURAGE: From street boy to MP

There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age-American Actress, Sophia Loren.
29-year-old South Mugirango MP, Sylvanus Osoro has defeated age and stereotypes to achieve success in politics.

His life is a perfect example of resilience and determination paying off. His is a story of dealing blows from life and dusting off to the next challenge.

Born in a family of six, the young parliamentarian lost his father – a teacher, and his mother – a nurse, when he was eight years old.

Both parents died within four months of each other after short illnesses.

The family was dealt the first blow, forcing the young Osoro and his siblings to live with relatives.

RELOCATED TO NAIROBI

Osoro went to live with his uncle in Kisii who soon after got arrested.

Seeing as his uncle’s wife could not support him, Osoro relocated to Nairobi to live with another uncle. The situation wasn’t any rosier at his uncle’s Mukuru kwa Reuben slums home.

He would leave on months on end to survive by his own in the CBD as a street urchin. He was on and off school most of the time. He however desired to go through school with no interruptions.

“I was a top performing student even with my on and off schedule. All through school, both primary and secondary, it’s been either position one or two,” Osoro says.

One day, Osoro decided to board a bus to Kericho in search of another uncle who worked as a supervisor in one of the tea farms.

With no money for bus fare, the rugged-looking Osoro climbed at the back of a bus plying the route and hid under the seats.

On reaching Nakuru where the bus stops briefly for refreshments and relieving oneself, one of the passengers discovered him still hidden under the seat.

She screamed and called for help thinking he was a robber and Osoro was almost lynched.

GOT LUCKY

Luckily, the bus driver listened to his plight, offering to take him up to where the uncle lived.

The sun seemed to have been willing to shine in his direction when he finally found his uncle who enrolled him to school but life there was characterised by an empty stomach and spiteful treatment from his relatives who had only taken him up so as to feast on his father’s terminal benefits.

He sailed through primary school and passed his final exams. He joined Kapsabet Boys high school but had to drop out after the first year due to lack of school fees. He went to work at the tea factory where his uncle was the supervisor but met more frustration as his uncle pocketed his dues.

He then decided to take matters into his own hands. With the meagre he got from the tea farms, Osoro started cooking mandazi from which he was able to raise Sh3800 to enroll in a local secondary school. Fees per term was about Sh6000.

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Hon Sylvester Osoro at a past ODM event. Looking on is Ida Odinga. PHOTO| COURTESY

The school bursar who was a relative assured him he would cover him so that he won’t be sent home while the rest were sent.

That would however last only two terms as the bursar passed on leaving him exposed.

“If I wasn’t a firm believer in God, looking back, I would say I might have been cursed.”

TRAINED AS A WELDER

He went back to Kisii where he made another shot at education which turned out just as futile.

He got into hawking and trained as a welder. A friend of his father one day accosted him at the wielding shop.

“He was breathing fire on me for not being in school. He didn’t even give me a chance to explain before he started beating me up thoroughly accusing me of absconding school. When I was finally able to speak, I told him my parents were dead, and suddenly, his demeanor changed.”

The man offered him a scholarship at Hill Secondary School where sat his KCSE in 2004, scoring a B+. Lacking university fees, he was out on the streets again.

This time, though, he landed a job as an untrained teacher with a salary of 2500. After saving enough he was back in the city where enrolled for a CPA course only completing section one and two as he vended newspapers in the morning.

SALES JOB

One day, he saw a poster advertising for sales positions. An international company dealing with fast moving consumer goods was looking for sales people who would sell their products door to door. He applied and was accepted and as fate would have it, he turned out to be extremely good at his job.

In 2009, he was promoted to manager at the company’s Nyeri Branch. While still employed, he registered his own company.

A year later when he lost his job he started recruiting and training Form Four leavers on sales and marketing now for his own company Pitface Marketing Division (PMD. He sourced for goods in China which he would send his out to sell.

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Osoro in South Mugirango constituency, Kisii, with school-going children. PHOTO| COURTESY

He started out in Nyeri and later to Meru before venturing in Nairobi. PMD has over 15 branches countrywide with a presence in neighboring Rwanda and Uganda employing over 500 youth.

He had also enrolled for a law degree at Strathmore University and graduated in 2013. He’s now pursuing a Master’s Degree in Diplomatic and Consular Law virtually at the University of Pretoria, South Africa.

In 2013, he vied on an ODM ticket for the Mukuru Kwa Rueben ward seat, but was not serious about it, abandoning his quest halfway. His name, however, was still on the ballot paper.

He once again delved into the murky waters in 2017 for the South Mugirango parliamentary seat and defied the odds to clinch it.

“I was fought at my constituency by my seniors in politics. Those I was competing against were the age of my father and so they fought me on the age factor. Again my source of wealth was questioned and there was a lot of smear campaigns with some alleging that I sold drugs. But all in all I emerged top, and it’s no easy feat.”

He is however quick to say that parliament is not what he thought it would be. Apart from taking up most of his time, he accuses his peers in the current 12th parliament to be there just for the “cosmetic glory”.

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Osoro is a staunch Christian. He’s pictured here deep in prayer. PHOTO| COURTESY

“The house currently constitutes of most of the youngest group to be in parliament. And most of them are sycophants lacking liberal minds to think on their own. That has to change.”

MARRIED

Osoro is married with two sons aged six and three years. He plans on defending his seat for a second term with his eyes trained on the governor seat thereafter. In 2032, he wants to be president of Kenya.

Top on the agenda for his constituents is that he wants to build more habitable schools as well as making it affordable for all.

We are curious to learn what life lessons Osoro has drawn from his experiences.

“Poverty is a choice,” were his words. He believes that everything you put your mind into is attainable. His hardships have taught him to be always on the move for the next best quest, and not to settle for less.

All of his five siblings are doing well and successfully raising their own families. Osoro enjoys traveling and doing charity work.

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