5 Kenyan PhD Holders Who Quit High-Flying Careers to Join Politics

  • File image of Parliament in session
    File image of Parliament in session
    Daily Nation
  • Over the years, Kenyan politics continues to attract professionals, every electioneering period. Many politicians have quit lucrative jobs to venture into the murky world of politics.

    From doctors to lawyers, teachers to journalists, some of the most learned Kenyans have graced Parliament.

    Kenyans.co.ke looks at how some of these individuals became honourable members.

     Professor George Saitoti

    The late Professor George Saitoti is remembered as the country's longest Vice President during the reign of the late President Daniel Arap Moi. He was appointed in 1988 and later served in various ministerial positions.

    The late Former Vice President George Saitoti
    The late Former Vice President George Saitoti

    Prof. Saitoti obtained a PhD in Mathematics from the University of Warwick in 1972. He published a thesis on Mathematics and became one of the first holders of Mathematics doctorate in the country.  

    Before joining politics, the Saitoti served as the head of the Mathematics department at the University of Nairobi. He was also the Executive Chairman of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

    Prof Saitoti died in June 2012 while serving as the country's Internal Security Minister when a Kenya Police plane carrying him crashed in Kibiku, Ngong' forest.

     Professor Anyang’ Nyong’o

    Currently serving as the governor of Kisumu county, Prof. Nyong’o holds a PhD in political science from the University of Chicago in 1977. He served as a political science professor at the University of Nairobi and also as a visiting professor at several universities in Mexico and Addis Ababa.

    After he joined active politics in 1992, he vied and won the Kisumu Rural parliamentary seat on a Ford Kenya ticket. He successfully defended his seat until 2013 when he was elected as Kisumu county senator. 

    He has also served as the Secretary-General for the Orange Democratic Party (ODM).

    Anyang’ Nyong’o has authored several books. 

    Professor Kindiki Kithure

    Tharaka-Nithi Senator Kindiki Kithure had taken teaching roles at the University of Nairobi where he was the head of the Department of Public Law between 2006 and 2012. 

    Prof Kindiki was also a senior lecturer of International Law at the University of Nairobi and Moi University.

    In 2013, he won the Tharaka-Nithi senate seat and served as majority leader in the senate between 2013-2017. He was re-elected as the senator in the 2017 general elections.

    His bid to be Kenya Kwanza's presidential running mate hit a dead end after deputy President William Ruto picked Rigathi Gachagua.

    Professor Sam Ongeri

    Kisuii enator Prof. Sam Ongeri was first elected in 1988 as the Member of Parliament for Nyaribari Masaba and his political career has continued to grow. 

    The 2022 Kisii gubernatorial candidate has a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery degree from the University of Bombay. He has served as a physician after graduating from Royal College Physicians. 

    Prof also served as Kenya's Minister of Education among other dockets.

    Kisii Senator Sam Ongeri giving an address
    Kisii Senator Sam Ongeri giving an address.

    Professor Kivutha Kibwana

    He is currently the governor of Makueni County after being re-elected in the 2017 general elections.  Kivutha Kibwana is among the few Kenyan politicians with a PhD. 

    After obtaining a Master of Law from the University of Nairobi, he went on to pursue a doctorate at the University of London, George Washington University, and  Harvard University and graduated in 1984.

    Before his political career began in 2002 when he was elected Makueni MP. The legal scholar was the National Convention Executive Council (NCEC) spokesperson.

    He wore different hats at the University of Nairobi; Dean of Faculty Law, a senior lecturer, and chairman of the Department of Private Law.

    He is also a former advisor to the late President Mwai Kibaki.

    dead died crash