In 1998, while standing on a broken chair next to Moi University’s administration block in Eldoret, he led thousands of students in calling on the University to disassociate itself from “shameless dictator Moi” by changing its name.
He was expelled for “inciting students against honouring the University’s name and for commandeering a tractor with fodder to aimlessly ply within the campus”.
He retaliated with a court case against the university, which dragged on and he was later expelled for five years.
This is how the outspoken Mombasa Senator Hassan Omar plunged into activism and now politics.
He volunteered for the National Convention Executive Council (NCEC), the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims (Supkem) and the Citizens Coalition for Constitutional Change (4Cs) until 2003 when he returned to Moi University to complete his law degree under a general amnesty issued by the new President Mwai Kibaki.
And it seems this has followed him from his primary school days.
In mid 1987, when he was in Standard Six at Mombasa Primary School, he fought with a classmate – a newcomer – for posting better grades.
His then class teacher Awena Mohsin was called in to intervene but the invitation was too little too late as the new boy already had a swollen jaw.
And the culprit was still ranting, demanding to know why the new boy “had taken his place”.
Young Hassan could not believe that anyone could have beaten him in the subject.
He was forced to apologise to the new pupil, they buried the hatchet, and to this day they are friends.
The candid Senator Omar, who is now shaping Mombasa County politics, has never shied away from speaking his mind or acting according to his conscience.
READ: Leave Joho to me, Omar now says
This is evident in the current political tussle between him and Governor Hassan Joho.
In the Senate, his impact has been felt. He is the sponsor of Preservation of Human Rights and enforcement of Economic and Social Rights Bill in 2015.
“The journey to liberate our nation and revive the Kenyan dream beckons.
“With our economy in turmoil and the cost of living is beyond the reach of millions of Kenyans, we must endeavor to ensure we pull together as one nation and one people,” he said when was handed the Wiper ticket to run for Mombasa governorship.
Even during his time as the vice-chairman of Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, Senator Omar has been accustomed to ruffling feathers and going against the grain.
He has been in the limelight since the commission published a report on the violence that followed the General Election in 2007.
And as a human rights defender, Senator Omar has seen it all.
Men and women have walked into the offices of the State commission to offer highly sensitive information and have paid for it with their lives.
“I love speaking my mind, and it’s important for people to know that whatever your position might be in politics, you have a right to speak,” he says.
His high school leaving certificate from Lenana School describes him as an “intelligent student who can be great one day”.
Although he had wanted to study medicine, he was admitted to Moi University to study law.
But first he wanted to achieve another of his childhood dreams: to become an air force officer.
He did his training from June 1994 to August 1995.
“I had a dream of defending Kenya’s national airspace and sovereignty as an air force officer. But Kenya’s outdated equipment discouraged me, and I quit,” he says.
But what are his chances of unseating Governor Joho?
“I am doing my campaigns both in political rallies and door-to-door.
“That is how I get to understand what the ordinary person in Mombasa needs. I am also doing road shows.
“This is how I won my Senatorial seat in 2013 elections, Mombasa County needs a new crop of leaders, and I am ready to lead them,” he says.
READ: I won’t step down for Joho
The Senator, who already received official endorsement for the gubernatorial candidate from the Mombasa Somali community, has dismissed recent opinion polls that indicate Governor Joho will be re-elected.
“We are aware that these polls are sponsored by Joho and are released when the governor’s rating is sliding in order to create a narrative of victory.
“Joho is also dividing the National Super Alliance constituency to show that there is no meaningful competition from Nasa,” he said.
If elected governor, he promises direct jobs for youths in each constituency and also promises to build health centres in every constituency “to ensure our nurses and doctors are comfortable and that people are attended to during the day and also at night”.