DAN KAZUNGU KAMBI: FROM POVERTY TO IBM TO CABI­NET

DAN KAZUNGU KAMBI, CS MIN­ING / “We used to sit on logs as there were no desks in school. The first time I saw a desk was when I reached stan­dard five. It was only in class eight that I got a taste of a class­room with ce­mented floor.” Ev­ery­thing looked ble

The Star (Kenya) - - Front Page - ALPHONCE GARI @TheS­tarKenya

Dan Kazungu quit a high-fly­ing job at IBM, the iconic Amer­i­can tech­nol­ogy leader, to join pol­i­tics.

At IBM, the man who is now Kenya’s Min­ing Cabi­net Sec­re­tary and the im­me­di­ate for­mer Malindi MP, was in charge of seven coun­tries in East­ern Africa.

“It was a tough as­sign­ment as I had new prod­ucts to deal with, which were com­plex,” he says.

By 2012, Kazungu had risen to the top when he was recog­nised within the com­pany as one of the top Global Achiev­ers.

This was in part for mas­ter­mind­ing its suc­cess in Ethiopia and Kenya.

His ef­forts re­ceived spe­cial men­tion by the IBM Global Chief Fi­nance Of­fi­cer.

This was dur­ing an in­vestor brief­ing at the New York Stock Ex­change on the suc­cess of IBM’s Africa strat­egy.

He would later get more ac­co­lades from the IBM Africa lead­er­ship team con­grat­u­lated him.

Kazungu was mak­ing head­lines, win­ning big projects for IBM be­sides the good salary.

But even as rev­elled in the good life some­thing was eat­ing him up.

The thing was his back­ground: The dif­fi­cult ru­ral life that he grew up in, and which de­fined ev­ery facet of his life.

He was only 14 when his fa­ther died leav­ing be­hind five wives and 15 chil­dren.

The same year his school was closed down for fear of dis­eases out­break be­cause it had no toi­lets.

Forced to go to an­other school a long dis­tance away, he found life in the new school was not easy ei­ther.

“We used to sit on logs as there were no desks in school. The first time I saw a desk was when I reached stan­dard five. It was only in class eight that I got a taste of a class­room with ce­mented floor.” Ev­ery­thing looked bleak for the fu­ture MP and CS un­til his un­cle’s in­ter­ven­tion­made the dif­fer­ence.”

“He took my re­sults and sought out well-wish­ers for me,” he says. The Lions Club of Mom­basa, Ro­tary Club of Mom­basa, Na­tional Coun­cil of Churches of Kenya re­sponded, of­fer­ing to spon­sor him as long as he main­tained the top grades.

The idea of join­ing pol­i­tics was al­ways at the back of his mind, even as he en­joyed his sta­tus as a top-tier global tech­no­crat. Ow­ing to his humble back­ground, he wanted to help trans­form the lives of peo­ple.

While he was an MP, he em­barked on three ma­jor projects.

These were the up­grad­ing of the Malindi Air­port to In­ter­na­tional stan­dards, the tar­ma­ck­ing of the Malindi Sala­gate road and the Malindi Beach Up­grade Project.

HE WAS ONLY 14 WHEN HIS FA­THER DIED, LEAV­ING BE­HIND FIVE WIVES AND 15 CHIL­DREN

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