…THE MAKING OF A LEADER SERIES…
By Collins Matubwi
When Adrian Mambili Meja was growing up, he was unsure about his future since he he came from a humble background.
Meja was determined to make a difference in life and would not allow his background and poverty to dictate his future.
From the hustling and bustling of the sun, Meja knew one thing: That every big castle was once started with a single block and despite small beginnings, a little step taken every day builds up the hope to greatness and above all, the fear of God was the beginning of wisdom.
He was destined for greatness and that is evident in his early life whereby in any institution he stepped in, he became the team leader up to date and to the personality he has become.
“Don’t underestimate humble Beginnings, because sometimes they can turn out to be the greatest success stories. Be grateful for humble beginnings, as the next level will always require so much more of you. I invested my time in books since I knew that was the only way to get me out of poverty, “said Meja as he welcomed us to his home.
Those who are very close to him will tell you that he is a down to earth politician who always has the interests of the community at heart.
Meja’s philanthropic heart has earned him accolades among his friends and foes. This has made him as the darling of many and now the locals want him to be their next Member of Parliament come 2022.
He hails from the populous Isukha community, born and raised in Shamiloli village, Mukulusu Sub location, Murhanda ward of Shinyalu constituency. Meja is the second born son to Mzee Charles Amboso and Mama Clara Shihavu. They are six siblings.
He joined Shamiloli primary school together with his elder brother and seven years later, they sat for the CPE exams and excelled. It later dawned to him that he could not proceed to secondary school as there was no school fees.
Meja stayed at home for a year but had to repeat class seven on a free remission programme. After sitting for the national exams (CPE) he emerged as the top student.
Luck was not on his side as for the second time, he could not proceed for his ‘O’levels as his parents had no money to cater for his tuition fee, uniform and pocket money.
The philanthropic politician would later join Shabwali Harambee school which was community based.
“I dropped out of school in second term and went to hustle for school fees. I was out for almost a year, came back in form two to sit for the KJSE exams, and emerged as the top student. This gave me the morale to sojourn ahead despite the many obstacles I was facing,” said Meja in an interview with County Splash.
Having passed with flying colours in KJSE exams, he received a calling letter requiring him to join Kapenguria High School- a reputable government institution but instead he opted to join Webuye Private School where he sat for his form four exams and got a First Division. This gave him a chance to join Korsai High School in South Nyanza for his Form Five and Form 6 exams.
While at Korsai High School-he outwitted his fellow students and emerged the best student in the locality in Insurance Exams.
The insurance exams is what he describes as a game changer in his life. The exams earned him a direct ticket to the Insurance Industry.
“I could now afford to cater for my basic needs and support my parents back at home. The money I used to earn, i saved a certain percentage and when it was enough, I joined the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom for my undergraduate degree and also did my Master’s Degree in Risk, Crisis and Disaster Management while still there,” said Mr. Meja.
While in the UK, he secured a well-paying job as a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of a renowned insurance company where he worked until when he celebrated his 47th birthday and called it quits. He came back to Kenya.
He would later start his own insurance company in the country as well as working as a Risk, Crisis and Disaster Consultant both locally and at the International scene.
Besides running his businesses, Meja is a lead consultant cum researcher of IKPEM-a lead global research organization based in the UK carry out research on the effects and spread of COVID-19 pandemic in Africa and how the continent was managing to curb new infections.
His journey to politics dates back during his youthful days when he was actively involved in supporting financially community led initiatives, conducting funds drives in churches and even organised harambees to raise tuition fees for the vulnerable students.
‘’I have supported many vulnerable students to achieve their academic and career dreams. I can’t estimate the figure but what I remember that is that in 2016 alone, I spent more than Sh10milion on students fees and at least Sh35milions on construction of churches,” said Meja.
The politician for the three years in a row has been helping Persons with Disabilities (PWDS) in the sub county by donating wheelchairs and crutches as well as catering for their medical expenses to them to make their movements easier.
So far, he has donated at least 140 wheelchairs, 200 crutches and over 160 advanced walking sticks to PWDS. Meja avers that the constituency has over 1,400 people and intends to reach to all of them.
His leadership skills are traceable since his schooling days. He was a Head Boy at Shamiloli primary school, a School captain at Shabwali Secondary and a head boy at Webuye secondary school.
Adrian Meja joined active politics in 1997 as a chief campaigner of Daniel Liula Khamasi who he (Meja) describes as a good leader per excellence.
‘’Daniel approached me and requested for my support in his parliamentary bid. I was staying in Nairobi and he was in Mombasa, I encouraged him and processed everything for him (party nomination and clearance from ECK). He won the elections with a landslide 1997 polls and was re-elected in 2002. All along I supported him,’’ said Meja.
According to Meja, the ex-lawmaker who served as an MP on Ford Asili and Narc Kenya respectively, adding that he (Khamasi) was the only MP in the history of Shinyalu with a visible development record of accomplishment.
‘’With less than Sh100 million CDF kitty, Khamasi was able to construct at least classrooms in all both primary and secondary schools in Shinyalu, gave out bursary to students and constructed permanent bridges across the constituency,” said Meja.
He added: “It is shameful that those who took over the reins of power from him have done nothing with the CDF kitty they have at their disposal. Shinyalu still have poor roads and dilapidated classrooms. Instead of standard bridges, only foot bridges are being constructed,”
He said corruption among the area elected leaders was the reason the constituency was lagging behind in terms of development.
Meja in 2017 vied for the Shinyalu parliamentary seat on Amani National Congress (ANC) and emerged position three. Kizito Mugalia of ODM was declared the winner followed by the incumbent MP Anami Lisamula who vied as an Independent candidate.
“There was massive irregularities in the manner in which elections were conducted. I was robbed my victory and moved to court and our petition was dismissed. We accepted and moved on and now I have my eyes fixed on the 2022 polls. I am confident wananchi will give me their votes,” said Meja.
Meja is also an ardent supporter of ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi and a fan of AFC Leopards.
He is a family man and is married to Jane Meja. They have been blessed with six children.
Apart from politics and professional engagements, the politician is a poultry and Livestock farmer. He is an environmentalist.
Meja says the secret behind his success and happiness in life is the spirit of contention, never wanting more, being humbled, generous and honesty.
“One day I collected Sh100 by the roadside when in primary school and took the money to my mother. Instead, she informed the village elder of the issue and a public baraza was called to identify the real owner of the money, which they eventually got,” said Meja.
He said the most painful moment in his life was when he lost his mother Clara Shihavu as well as his cousin Aggrey Mugonyi who was his closest friend.
“At one point during when in secondary school, I had a near death experience after falling sick. My mother invited a known trained medic to attend to me and upon examination he declared me a dead case and said he couldn’t waste medicine on me,” said Meja.