Learned MCA! Politician’s 14-year journey to the bar

Tuesday, September 19th, 2023 01:00 | By
Learned MCA! Politician’s 14-year journey to the bar
Wumingu Kishushe ward MCA Newton Kifuso Salim admitted to the bar, becoming an advocate after a 14-year-journey. PHOTO/REUBEN MWAMBINGU

From braving the chilly mornings and enduring long, dusty treks to and from school, to later conquering the murky world of politics and eventually becoming an advocate of the High Court of Kenya, the story of Taita Taveta county’s Wumingu/Kishushe ward Member of County Assembly (MCA) Newton Kifuso Salim, cuts an impression of a man straight from a fairy tale.

Back in his high school days between 2002 and 2005, Kifuso’s typical morning would involve waking up early, enduring cold mornings before embarking on a long walk, following multiple dusty foot paths that meandered downhill from his Kinyeshavua village, through sleepy neighbourhoods before joining the dusty Wundanyi-Mbale-Ngilinyi road leading to the little known Mghalu High school. 

The MCA who is also the Leader of Minority in Taita Taveta County Assembly, was a man on a mission and did not let the long trek to school or poverty deter him from his passion to pursue law.  “I grew up seeing my community entangled in poverty and marginalisation to an extent that they had almost accepted and normalised injustice and started living with it… I knew if worked hard, I could one day become the voice that brings the difference and disrupts the status quo and that’s why, studying law became my childhood passion. I only wanted law for a career,” Kifuso explains.

Exhausted resources

He sat for his final high school exams in 2005 and scored a C plain. His parents had also exhausted all their resources on school fees for his siblings who were also joining high school.

He did not let the situation dampen his drive to be a lawyer and he instead got a casual job.

“I am in a fifth born in a family of nine. So I was in a situation where my siblings were joining high school and my father had already retired as a hand man at the Kenya Railways. So I had to go back to the drawing board and look for a casual job at an outlet within Wundanyi town where I worked from December 2005, to May, 2007,” he recalls.

However the dreams of the 36-year-old MCA came true on September 12, 2023. He was among the 224 lawyers who were admitted to the bar in a ceremony presided over by Chief Justice Martha Koome at the Supreme Court Buildings in Nairobi becoming the newest advocate in town.

The achievement came after a successful advocates training program that culminated with the bar exam which he passed.

His fortune turned after he was selected for an exchange programme to Norway, in an initiative between Mghalu High School and the Anglican Church of Kenya.

In August, 2007, he went to Norway for the one year program until May, 2008.

“While in Norway, I got acquainted with a young man who we later became good friends while I preached the word of God. He asked me about my career plans and I told him about my dream to pursue law but again I opened up and told him that I don’t know where to get the fees since I had no money. He asked me whether I had ever applied for the course and luckily enough I had carried my application forms and other documents. He immediately offered to pay my fees from diploma all the way to degree and the Kenya School of Law until I become an advocate. He signed the documents,” says Kifuso.

On September 19, 2008, he embarked on his educational journey but deferred in 2013 where he joined the political arena and attempted to unseat the incumbent Wundanyi legislator Thomas Mwadeghu in a hotly contested parliamentary challenge. Sailing on a Safina ticket in his first stab at politics, Kifuso finished third garnering 2,440 votes behind URP’s Simon Mwachia who got 6,067 and Mwadeghu who retained his seat on an ODM ticket with 7,469.

After the elections, he resumed his studies only to find that the university had been disqualified from offering Law course.

He started over again and joined Kisii University for four years which the sponsor also agreed to fund. He completed in June 16, 2017.

According to Kifuso, although he had the ambitions of making a second stab at Wundanyi parliamentary seat, by the time he finished the studies, time had already run out and it would be difficult for him to embark on ground campaigns.

“I decided to go for MCA seat in Wumingu-Kishushe ward which I succeeded. I decided not to go to the Kenya School of law immediately because by then Kenya School of Law was supposed to be full time,” he recalls noting that the outbreak of Covid-19 in 2020 was a blessing in disguise as for the first time KSL introduced virtual learning.

The MCA says he enrolled for the virtual classes in February 2021, and sat for his final exams in April 2022, just four months to the August 2022 general election.

Family affairs

He says his extremely tight schedule in managing leadership, academics and family affairs almost saw him give up on defending his Wumingu/Kishushe ward seat.

However, he successfully retained his seat in the 2022 elections, despite campaigning for only one month.

Kifuso says he draws inspiration from Siaya Governor James Orengo and former Makueni senator the late Mutula Kilonzo Senior 

At KSL, he was among the few lawyers who passed the exam.

Kifuso attributes the success in his 14-year hunt for the coveted career to God’s grace, sheer determination and hard work saying the multiple hurdles that stood his way proved the journey was and is not for the faint hearted.

Taita Taveta Speaker Wisdom Mwamburi, who led the County Assembly Members in celebrating the new achievement by the Minority leader hailed Kifuso as a highly organised and visionary individual whose achievements are as a result of sheer hard work and sacrifice.

Mwamburi noted that Wakili Kifuso has set the pace for many county people who want to advance themselves, noting that more people should take advantage of the increased budgetary allocation to Education bursaries and grants in this financial year’s County Budget, to actualise their dreams of getting an education and furthering their studies.

On his part Deputy Speaker of the County Assembly and Mwanda Mghange Anselm Mwadime, who also joined other MCAs in celebrating the newest advocate in town, rained accolades on  Kifuso’s success as a product of determination and focus, noting it should serve to inspire all young people in Taita Taveta County to pursue their dreams relentlessly.

More on News