AHMEDNOOR SALEH: GIANTKILLER FROM THE NORTH

AHMEDNOOR SALEH / His in­ter­est in pol­i­tics came about by ac­ci­dent. It all started back in 2015, when he joined a group of pro­fes­sion­als from the re­gion for a 1000km walk from Garissa to Man­dera.

The Star (Kenya) - - Front Page - ADOW MO­HAMMED @ad­owmo

“I MET FACES OF DE­SPAIR; SMILES OF HOPE­LESS­NESS AND HEARTS OF A PEO­PLE COM­MIT­TED TO CHANGE THE CHAR­AC­TER OF THEIR OWN SO­CI­ETY.”

Ahmednoor Saleh is con­vinced that the “youth are the lead­ers of to­mor­row” mantra has lost its lus­tre. “To­mor­row” for him is to­day and now.

In what can sim­ply be de­fined as yet an­other David v Go­liath con­test, Saleh, 25, wants to un­seat the 76-year po­lit­i­cal ti­tan, Yusuf Haji as se­na­tor of Garissa county.

He is the youngest sen­a­to­rial aspi­rant thus far.

But he is de­ter­mined to break the tra­di­tion by over­throw­ing the sta­tus quo in the North.

His in­ter­est in pol­i­tics came about by ac­ci­dent. It all started back in 2015, when he joined a group of pro­fes­sion­als from the re­gion for a 1000km walk from Garissa to the bor­der town of Man­dera.

“It is a walk that changed my life for­ever,” he says with his char­ac­ter­is­tic smile.

“I met faces of de­spair; smiles of hope­less­ness and hearts of a peo­ple com­mit­ted to change the char­ac­ter of their own so­ci­ety.”

Dubbed “Walk of Hope” it was or­gan­ised by so­cial ac­tivists in an at­tempt to preach har­mony among pas­toral­ists to avert peren­nial bloody eth­nic con­flicts in the re­gion waged at the al­tar of re­sources.

“I took the walk to have an im­pact on the lives of the peo­ple; to make a dif­fer­ence in their lives how­ever small. In­stead the walk in­flu­enced my life. The peo­ple made a dif­fer­ence in me in a man­ner I had never imag­ined.”

Known among friends as Zi­dan, due to his pas­sion for foot­ball, Saleh is grate­ful the 2010 con­sti­tu­tion brought re­sources closer to the peo­ple.

“But so too was cor­rup­tion and mis­man­age­ment,” he adds, smil­ing.

“I made up my mind. These re­sources had to be in­su­lated from cor­rupt net­works so as to reach out to ev­ery­one,” says the Starehe Boys and Univer­sity of Nairobi alum­nus.

“Garissa needs a se­na­tor who rep­re­sents its in­ter­ests well; a se­na­tor who is in touch with the peo­ple; cre­ative enough to work with the gov­er­nor to help im­prove the wel­fare of the peo­ple; bold enough to en­sure the in­ter­ests of the county are catered for.”

But the aspi­rant stays clear of the per­for­mance, or lack of it, of the in­cum­bent, Haji, say­ing as a young man, he can­not dis­cuss his el­der.

While at Starehe, he learnt the virtues of sac­ri­fice and brother­hood; the com­mit­ment and pas­sion to serve com­mu­nity, that you are your brother’s keeper.

He has a mes­sage for the young, who as­pire to make a dif­fer­ence in so­ci­ety:

“The young peo­ple of this na­tion. We are the gen­er­a­tion of hope. Ev­ery­one else has fallen off the cliff of the peo­ple that are re­spon­si­ble of ev­ery­thing that is wrong with Kenya.”

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