Riding all the way to the Tana River County Assembly was not a joke to Paul Maro, a boda boda operator in Hola town, Tana River County.
During the just concluded general election, Mr. Maro, 32 years of age beat at least 12 seasoned politicians to clinch the Mikinduni ward seat on an Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party ticket.
It was not an easy task as he faced a myriad of challenges ranging from lack of resources and funds to traverse the ward.
He had to apply word of mouth campaign tactics with the help of his boda boda friends and sometimes together with friends they could sacrifice their daily earnings to campaign for him with high hopes that once he gets to the assembly he will champion for their rights.
“It was not a walk in the park and we crafted a plan to first woo our customers and we did this by convincing them while on transit. We could ride the bikes at a maximum speed of 40 kilometers per hour as we talked to them and the words sunk in their hurts,” says Maro.
Maro was schooling in a tertiary institution in Nairobi but his education was cut short after his parents died forcing him to go back to the village.
“I had nothing to do back then in 2012 and I was forced to hang around boda boda riders in my village and that is where I learnt how to ride the motorcycle and later embraced the trade and I was employed as a rider by a motorcycle owner,” says Maro, a father of two boys.
Getting a political party as a ladder in the election was a challenge due to lack of funds since the parties demand hefty fees to get a chance.
“I thank Governor Dhadho Godhana so much because I approached him and he accepted my plea and handed me the ODM ticket. He paid for it,” he said.
At home in Kone village, his 27 year old wife Mayaa Mohamed narrated how she could most times quarrel with him about his political ambitions for the reasons that he left no money at home. Ms. Mayaa, a housewife added that prayers, understanding and hard work worked for them and as time went by she slowly accepted the reality that her husband was now becoming a politician.
“We just depend on the boda boda earnings, it was difficult but I was comforting and praying for him.
My dream is that our lives will change and the people who supported us will realize their dream once my husband and the other leaders get to office,” she said. Mr. Joseph Buya, a boda boda rider said that their campaign tactic worked well and the message endeared to the people they interacted with, hopeful that their plight will be addressed once the government resumes business.
“We are always harassed so we selected him as our chairman since he was always in the forefront to advocate for our issues with the police and county askaris. We talked to our customers and we thank God they understood us,” said Buya.