Former Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko might live like a King now in his palatial home in Mua Hills Machakos, but he sure started out as a biblical pauper.
His life is worlds apart from how he was raised in a slum- Majengo, Mombasa; where there were no long driveways lined with cabro blocks. Instead, there are short potholed paths. Sometimes, they are muddy and during dry weather, they are dusty.
Before the fame, before the bling, before the antiques. Before money and power. Sonko was a staunch Muslim who went by the name Hamis Kioko. His close friends referred to him ‘Kabumba’.
As a boy, Sonko’s late mother Saumu Hamisi enrolled him to study Islam at Madras opposite Mvita Primary School near their house. His Madras teacher was the late Mwalimu Makanju.
“Sonko learned Islam at a madras here. His name was Hamis Kioko. He was named after our late father,” Mr. Kea Hamis N’tomeru, Sonko’s uncle told The Standard.
Neighbors remember Saumu, Sonko’s mum fondly.
“She was a polite but strict woman. She was a God-fearing woman and that is why she insisted that Sonko must go to a madrasa,” said Margret Kisiengo, alias Ambassa, who was Saumu’s best friend.
Sonko is the firstborn of three children. The family is said to own several properties in Mombasa’s Majengo, Mvita, Mishomoroni, and Mtopanga and in Kwale.
“He was born in 1974, just a year after me. We grew up playing football together,” said Abdhallah. “We nicknamed him Kambumba because he was a good football player. He was actually the team captain of our club in the village. He has something that makes people want to coalesce around him. Since he was a kid, he moved around with crowds.”
Mr. Abdallah said after Sonko completed his studies at Kwale High School, he joined his father’s property business. The father then had an office near Casablanca Club in Mombasa.
“His first one million shillings was a commission he made after he brokered the sale of a property in Kwale,” said Robert Nahashon, Sonko’s childhood friend.
He said Sonko was also close to former Coast political supremo and Mvita MP, the late Sharif Nasir, who he supported in the 1997 campaigns to recapture the parliamentary seat.
Another property developer, Peter Thuo, said Sonko thrived in the property market because he was close friends with then Mombasa District Land officers.