Hon. John Olago Aluoch owns an island. Now, this begs the question, what do you own? If you were to shake up all your savings and put them on the table, what could you afford?
While your upper middle class, former high school classmate, brags about having keys to his three-bedroom rental apartment at Daykio Heights, there are people who own islands. And they don’t brag.
I first met Olago in his office at Continental House. This was during the 10th World Trade Organisation Ministerial Conference and every left turn from the Kenyatta Avenue/Uhuru Highway roundabout had been cordoned off. Parking was impossible to find. And I was running late. I panicked, because really, none of these were sufficient excuses to be late, and I knew it.
I walked into Hon. Aluoch’s office with apologies, ready to make my request in seconds and prepared to be kicked out in those very seconds. But I had no idea who I was meeting.
Seated behind a heavy desk, in a crisp suit, remotes neatly aligned and the TV tuned to the latest news update, was Olago. Polite, unfazed and possibly wondering who this random lady was that just walked in with apologies in excess.
Hon. Aluoch, who in his younger days yearned to be a catholic priest or a soldier, is the kind of man who acknowledges situations and says: “Oh no, it’s understandable. Such changes on the roads have messed me up as well on numerous occasions. It happens.”
Five minutes into the conversation, and Olago is intriguing me with details of this island he owns, that I had absolutely no idea about, prior to this meeting.
Maboko Island Resort (Camp Tom), is the name of the island. It’s located about one hour’s drive from Kisumu, just off an area called Seme. It’s about five acres large.
Transit to the island from the mainland is via powerboat, and when possible, steered by “Mheshimiwa” himself.
The island has a main block of three self-contained suites, which are furnished with impeccable taste. There’s also a helipad at the centre of the island for those who commute in the most fashionable of ways.
At Maboko, they care about preserving nature: there’s greenery all round, then the birds, the fish, the hippos…such harmony. The chalets as you’ll notice on the photos, are still under construction as additional sources of accommodation, and with development still on-going, there’s a plan of putting up a swimming pool, kid’s playground and a volleyball pitch.
Upon completion, Hon. Aluoch’s vision, is to have no more than 30 guests at any given time. This is to maintain its serenity. He wants it to be a place where people can go to forget about life for a while.
And it’s here, that Olago and I conversed in detail. I asked him some questions: the accident, what exactly happened? Husband inheritance, how does that work? And an island, really?
Here’s what he had to say…
Kisumu West, what’s the experience been like as the Member of Parliament?
Kisumu West…it was a fairly backward constituency when I got in as the M.P. Infrastructure: roads, schools and health centers were poor. It’s as though it was a forgotten constituency. But so far, I think we’ve picked up. We’ve got the momentum going.
What was your vision when you set to become the M.P?
When I got in, I’d decided that, if I managed to serve two terms, in those ten years, I would help convert Kisumu West into a modern constituency. That was the vision. If I secure a second term, I’m confident that by the end of that term, that vision will be achieved. Then I’ll retire.
Where will you retire?
(Laughs) Right here, where you’re seated. At this very place. Maboko Island will be home for me.
We’ll get back to the island, but first, the accident that injured your face, what happened?
The accident (seeming solemn)… I was travelling from Kisii High Court in 1998, and at Oyugis, two donkeys racing each other crossed the road out of the bush. I was at the back seat, reading and I heard a bang. I didn’t know what happened.