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The Kenyan Report’s Top 40 under 40

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by Kenyan Report Editorial Board
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The Kenyan Report debuts its Top 40 under 40 this year, with the intention of keeping it as an annual tradition. In this listing, a total of 40 Kenyans under the age of 40 who have been voted as the most influential in their respective areas of specialization are included.

The Kenyan Report’s Top 40 under 40 is not restricted to any one field. Instead, it is an open ground where respondents offer their views by examining the overall landscape of the country, taking into account a multiplicity of fields.

Therefore, it is not surprising that this list has political leaders, tech entrepreneurs, CEOs, public intellectuals, journalists, athletes, and musicians. The Kenyan Report celebrates these 40 Kenyans who, as they near the prime of their lives, are busy building the country.

The Kenyan Report Editorial Team will be happy to get your feedback regarding the list.

1. Faith Kipyegon, 29

From the chilly thicket of Keringet, Faith Kipyegon, 29, is now queen of the world in mid to long distances races. She has surpassed her own projections and inspired the globe with her dedication and humility in victory.

The country may disagree on many areas but not on Faith’s greatness. She is the only recipient of President Ruto’s 2023 Jamhuri Day State awards that received congratulations from Kenyans of all political persuasions.

She holds the 1500 M and One Mile World Records and has a total of 22 God Medals for various contests she has participated in. She is the true embodiment of the undying and unbeatable spirit of hard work, discipline, and decency that every parent would want his or her daughter to exhibit.

At a time when young girls are misled into emulating wayward rotten paths of nudity and promiscuity as ways of earning a living, Faith Kipyegon stands as a paragon of the old respectable virtuous route way that all can copy that they may have life and have it more abundantly.

2. Babu Owino, 34

Paul Ongili popularly known as Babu Owino broke his political teeth at the University of Nairobi where he earned the moniker “The Mugabe of UoN” for serving as Chairman for the students’ body for more than the traditional one year.

He has built notoriety around his brand with some not-so-good acts but all in all, he is currently a tenant of a lofty slot in the country’s under 40. A recent poll by the respected Centre for African Progress (CAP) rated him as the man likely to beat Johnson Koskei Sakaja in the 2027 Nairobi County gubernatorial election.

Many tout him as the first Luo likely to win the country’s presidency somewhere in the future. He has managed to easily win two terms as Member of Parliament for Embakasi East where he is serving his second term.

In the Orange Democratic Party (ODM), he may be only second to Raila Odinga in national influence and clout.

3. Ndindi Nyoro, 38

Born in Murang’a County in 1985, the 38-year-old Ndindi Nyoro is the true embodiment of a fighter. His forays into student leadership at Kenyatta University where he studied economics often left him emotionally charred as students ridiculed his heavy Kikuyu-influence in his speeches.

He has gone ahead to secure two terms as a Member of Parliament for Kiharu Constituency and has captured the hearts of many a Kikuyu to a point where some consider him a potential kingpin. There is hardly a calculation for the country’s top leadership into the future that does not include Ndindi Nyoro. He was among the earliest key Central Kenya backers of President William Ruto, a loyalty display that has earned him an enviable locus in the Ruto regime.

In the National Assembly, he chairs the powerful Budget and Appropriations Committee. He definitely has a say when it comes to policies implemented by the UDA government, meaning that he affects the lives of more than 50 million Kenyans.

4. Cleophas Malala

At 38 years old, Cleophas Wakhungu Malala has built quite a resume. He has served as a member of Kakamega County Assembly, Kakamega County’s elected Senator, and currently holds the prime position of Secretary General of the ruling party, the United Democratic Alliance (UDA).

He is also a portfolio-less cabinet secretary, meaning that he is present in every cabinet meeting. Therefore, he sits at top level meetings where decisions for running the country are made.

The Kenyan Report considers him one of the top 10 Kenyans with the highest potential of clinching the presidency at some point in future.

5. Onchari Oyieyo, 39

From a rural mud-walled primary school in Raganga, Kisii County where he went to school barefoot to the prestigious Principia College in Illinois, the 39-year-old is arguably the most convincing voice Kenya has in foreign policy matters as well political research.

Together with an American investor, he founded and briefly led as CEO the Centre for African Progress (CAP), a vibrant opinion research firm that distinguished itself as the only pollster to correctly predict the 2017 presidential election to the dot- 53% for Uhuru Kenyatta and 42% for Raila Odinga.

Media houses around the country have a phrase that says, “If Onchari has not said, then it has not happened,” meaning he wields tremendous credibility. He is an intellectual force that will remain relevant in the nation’s airwaves for years to come.

6. Newton Khamasi, 34

 

The 34-year-old is the Chairman and Founder of Haki Sacco and the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Guarantee Growth Ltd. He also founded and operated Icon Radio, a digital radio, for a few years before selling it to other investors.

He is a close confidant of both President William Ruto and Attorney General Justin Muturi. He is a vocal advocate for youth inclusion in leadership and economic empowerment.

7. Dennis Itumbi, 38

Notorious blogger Denis Itumbi is a man anyone cannot brush off. At 38 years, he has but quite a resume. He has had the ears of two presidents (President Uhuru Kenyatta and President William Ruto , and bagged accolades for standing up to bullies such as former Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Mataing’i and Interior Principal Secretary Engineer Karanja Kibicho. His unwavering support for then Deputy President William Ruto is a lesson in loyalty and steadfastness for those willing to learn.

He is among the first few Kenyans to realize and utilize the power of blogging. He remains a powerful force in Kenya’s political circles with access to both the president and his deputy.

8. Charlene Ruto, 30

Charlene Chelagat Ruto is one of President William Ruto’s children, and at 30 years of age, she has managed to cut her own image that is separate from her father’s. She is First Lady Rachael Ruto’s firstborn, but she has older step-siblings.

Like her father, she has a pretty strong personality and has managed to find purpose in advocating for youth empowerment and pro-active action on climate change. She has a sharp mind, a quick tongue, and an unmissable sense of focus, qualities that have made her a visible first child unlike the ones we have seen in the past.

Her influence is likely to be felt even more as she finds an even stronger footing both as a young leader and a first daughter. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication from Daystar University and a Masters in Business Administration from Les Roches International School of Hotel Management in Switzerland.

9. Ngina Kenyatta, 32

The beautiful and sassy Ngina Kenyatta, at 32 years, is the politician in the family of retired 4th President Uhuru Kenyatta, displaying rare verbal agility, a rather warm personality that gels well with people, and a reservoir of knowledge which is understandable given her background in politics and international relations.

She is also unusually humble, a trait she may have inherited from her father, Uhuru Kenyatta.  It will be unfair to leave her out of the country’s top 40 under 40 since this is where she rightfully belongs.

With her family’s name and wealth, she is obviously armed with what she needs to shake whatever field she so desires in this country. She is big on investment as well as philanthropy.

10. Victoria Rubadiri, 37

Victoria Rubadiri, an African beauty with a bewitching gap, a lovely smile cupped by a pair of beautiful chubby cheeks, is arguably the most formidable voice on television in Kenya today, oozing professionalism and class.

She possesses Julie Gichuru’s beauty, Katherine Kasavuli’s charm, and Katherine Openda’s fluency, all rolled into one, resulting in a once-in-a generation journalistic marvel. It is not easy to think of Television news in Kenya without thinking of Victoria Rubadiri.

11. Hezena Lemaletian, 37

Nominated Senator Hezena Lemaletian, 37-years-old, is one of the few most visible youthful leaders from the northern part of the country that has a history of marginalization. She shot to the limelight when she was granted a prime-time talking slot at Raila Odinga’s unveiling as the 2022 presidential candidate.

As a nominated senator, she scores a visibility grade that is higher than most elected senators. Her fight for the rights of the often marginalized pastoralist communities has earned her widespread admiration.

12. Darshan Chandaria, 36

At 36 years old, Darshan Chandaria controls more money than the presidents of Swaziland and Lesotho combined, serving as the CEO of the Chandaria Group of companies. His impact is likely to start getting felt going forward as he embarks on the arduous duty of playing the politics of keeping the Chandaria empire going.

13. Ayub Abdikadir, 33

This alumnus of Wajir Primary School and Wajir High School as well as Mount Kenya University is currently among the most admired journalists, displaying admirable tenacity in the pursuit of information. Unlike many of the country’s journalists who tend to suck up to politicians whenever they interview them, Ayub is tough and professional. At 33 years of age, he still has more room for growth in the field.

14. Johnson Koskei Sakaja, 38, 39 or above 40?

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Although there is debate over his age with some arguing that he has been counting his years backwards, the current governor of Nairobi County who has a string of corruption scandals dogging him has carved a spot for himself in the country’s top 40, assuming he has not surpassed this age bracket.

Some may consider him a lazy and clueless politician who gets it all on a silver platter but he gets it nevertheless. From the time he nominated himself to parliament as Chairman of TNA to the joyride to the senate on the wildly popular Mike Sonko’s back and 2022 when President Ruto literally carried him to governorship including helping him get “questionable” academic papers from a backstreet institution in Uganda, Johnson Koskei Sakaja has not broken a sweat.

But as Nairobi’s governor, he is definitely a force.

15. Aaron Cheruiyot, 37

Kericho County’s 37-year-old Senator is both a terrific debator and an admirably combative defender of whatever he defines as “good.” He serves as the Senate Majority leader and seems to be in the kiln in Rift Valley succession politics. He is the most likely successor of President William Ruto in Rift Valley. He is among the few Kenyans under the age of 40 years who make decisions that affect the country.

16. Karungo wa Thangwa, 36

The former Kiambu County Executive Committee Member now serving as Kiambu County’s elected senator is a man to watch. At 36 years, he is likely to come in as Kiambu’s governor in 2032 and has the intellectual appeal to bid for the country’s top leadership. It is a matter of time before he shoots to the top as Central Kenya’s most promising political talent. His debates in the senate are already attracting attention from a huge number of Kenyans with many appreciating his nationalistic approach and objectivity.

17. G. Kagombe, 36

Gabriel Gathuka Kagombe is the current member of parliament for Gatundu South, the seat previously held by Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria. The vocal and combative legislator is among the most visible parliamentarians. He is among the few Central Kenya leaders likely to shoot to the national stage in the coming years, and if there is a man who can be counted on to wrestle a piece of meat from a hyena’s mouth, then it is GG.

18. Alex Matere, 35

A former student leader at the University of Nairobi, Alex Matere is among the top under 40 Kenyans who are touching lives and changing the country. He was actively involved in the failed Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) politics as well as Azimio campaigns and happens to be a visible voice in Western Kenya politics.

He caught the nation’s attention when he courageously criticized then Deputy President William Ruto for using a wheelbarrow as his party’s symbol which he described as a thirteenth century tool of labour that is totally irrelevant in the modern world, meaning that the party, UDA, was not ready to offer the vision the country needed.

William Ruto went ahead to use the wheelbarrow party, UDA, to win the presidency in August 2022. Matere is success waiting to happen given his focus, acumen, and hard work.

19.Wambui Nyutu, 32

Although orphaned through the unexpected political butchering of Azimio that had promised to retain her together with other members of the Uhuru regime, this 32-year-old member of the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) passes as one of the most brilliant young women the nation has.

She definitely affects the lives of Kenyans courtesy of the role she plays in the NCIC where she serves as Vice Chairperson. She is a consummate entrepreneur with interest in wine importation and real estate.

20. Kevin Mbuvi Kioko (Bahati), 29

Kevin Kioko, known by most people as ‘Bahati,” his stage name, continues to dominate the music scene, mainly due to his zeal and resilience. More talented musicians have rose to fame and quickly disappeared leaving Bahati standing pointing to a higher sense of discipline and purpose. He is a social media maestro with a huge following and a source of inspiration to many young artists.

21. Linet Munyali (Size 8), 36

Despite her lacklustre entry into music with singles such as “moto,” Linet Munyali or Size 8 as she is known in entertainment circles is among the most notable under 40 Kenyans. She has been part of numerous campaigns ranging from domestic violence to sanitary pads, and many girls consider her a positive role model, especially given her shift from secular to gospel music.

22. Essy Okenyuri Anyieni, 32

Senator Esther Okenyuri is the true embodiment of resilience. The 32-year-old from Kisii County was an early entrant into politics and got it wrong a few times before finally hitting the right notes with her steadfast backing for William Ruto who ended up clinching the presidency. She was rewarded with a nomination to the senate where she is a serious voice for the empowerment of young people.

23. Sylvia Museiya Kihoro, 35

Sylvia is the youngest Principal Secretary in the Ruto government. She served as a nominated Member of County Assembly (MCA) in Nairobi County from 2017 to 2022. She joined William Ruto’s UDA and supported him for the presidency resulting in her being rewarded for her effort. She is from Laikipia County and is a member of a small community called Yiaku that is resident to Mokogodo forest. She is definitely one of the few consequential under 40 Kenyans by virtue of her position in government.

24. Cynthia Muge Rotich, 29

 

After winning a seat in Nandi County’s assembly at only 24 years, Cynthia shocked the nation by winning the Woman Representative seat in the 2022 general election at 29. She has inspired girls around the country who are now ready to pursue political positions without giving in to stereotypes and other forms of negativity. Hopefully her political star will shine even brighter going forward. Already there are murmurs of her ability to take over from Governor Steve Sang as he clears his second and final term in 2027.

25. Catherine Mahugu, 35

Catherine Mahugu is a tech enthusiast and a serial entrepreneur who has taken the global space by storm. She is behind “Soko” where handmade crafts are sold directly to the consumers by craftspeople and a coffee marketing platform called “Chiswara.”  It is not uncommon to find teachers in girls’ high schools around the country giving her as an example of how girls can succeed through hard work and ruthless focus even in fields such as technology that are traditionally dominated by men.

26. Eric Kinoti, 39

Mr. Kinoti has managed to painstakingly build and grow a tents rental and sales business over the years to a point where it has a solid presence in over 6 countries in Africa. Going by the name Shade Systems, the multimillion dollar company is a market leader in the supply of tents. Eric Kinoti lacks substantial formal education but has been able to demonstrate real grit, focus and discipline that have accorded him recognition and respect in the business community.

27. Eve Mungai, 23

At only 23 years of age, Murang’a-born Evelyn Wanjiku Mungai is the real deal when it comes to encouraging young Kenyans to creatively earn a living through digital entrepreneurship. Despite lack of credible formal education (she repeated form four and scored dismally), she has built a formidable online presence that nets her more than a half a million Kenya shillings per month with some months bringing her in up to Kenya Shillings 1.5 million.

Regardless of whatever she does with her life going forward, she is currently someone anyone cannot ignore when focusing on Kenyans setting trends.

28. Naisula Lesuuda, 39

This former journalist was behind the Laikipia Peace Caravan and has been a vocal peace activist for close to a decade. She was nominated to the senate and later sought direct election as member of parliament for Samburu West Constituency which she has since represented for two terms. She is one of the most influential female legislators and among the top voices the country has when it comes to violence in the marginalized North Eastern frontier of the country.

29. Collince Osewe-Chanjoplus Founder, 33

Collince Osewe is not your common noisy personality but those in the medical profession definitely recognize his groundbreaking contribution to the field. He is behind a data-keeping system that helps document children who have been immunized so that the ministry of health is able to seek out and immunize the kids who might otherwise miss lifesaving vaccinations. His significant contribution will become even more poignant as the system gets refined and becomes the main vault in the record keeping exercise for the immunization process.

30. Ann Maina Boomitra-30

Boomitra is a carbon credit trade firm based in California, USA, and in their wisdom, they settled on Ann Maina as their East Africa lead. Miss. Maina has extensive knowledge on horticultural farming and is a consummate climate enthusiast. She has worked with Greening Africa, Alliance for Science, and United Nations Volunteers. As carbon credit sales pick up in Africa and beyond, she is likely to become a household name.

31.Timothy Kimani Ndegwa (Njugush), 32

Njugush is a household name when it comes to comedy in particular and youth creativity in general. Born in Meru in 1991, the 32-year-old comedian is among the most popular comedians, and tops the list of the most loved comics due to his realistic lifestyle and down to earth demeanour. He is a role model to many youths who are trying to earn an honest living through content creation at a time when the country is grappling with youth unemployment.

32. Dr. Purity Ngina-Youngest Professor, 33

Despite tough beginnings and underwhelming academic performance, Purity repeated where she had to and worked hard as necessary until she joined Strathmore University where she studied Mathematics and Chemistry. She later mastered applied mathematics at Egerton University and later earned her PhD from Strathmore University. She is a research lead at Zizi Afrique Foundation. She is an inspiration to young Kenyans who want to advance their studies to the highest possible level.

33. Saumu Mbuvi, 28

Despite his father’s fall from grace as Nairobi’s governor, Saumu Mbuvi seems to be quite a darling among young people. Her candid talk on mental health issues that she appreciates have plagued her for a while coupled with her brilliance and down to earth nature have made her extremely likeable. She is a strong voice for youth empowerment and a campaigner for an end to gender-based violence (GBV).

34. Gloria Orwoba, 37

Gloria Orwoba is the true embodiment of “having a cause” to fight for in this life. She got her nomination to the senate and quickly made it her duty to fight for girls across the country to access sanitary pads, and her efforts were quickly recognized and endorsed by numerous organizations that jumped in to not only amplify her voice but also offer direct support to school girls.

She is already a household name across most parts of the country where she is fondly referred to as “the senator who fights for sanitary pads for girls.” With her voice, sanitary pads for girls have now been mainstreamed by the government.

35. Mahat Somane, 38

Mahat Somane captured the attention of the nation during the 2022 presidential petition when he embarrassed senior Azimio lawyers who were not able to identify a layover that they touted as their best evidence of external interference in the presidential election. He is a partner at Somane & Garane Advocates where he has perfected the art of holding the hands of struggling lawyers trying to find their footing. He is a graduate of Harvard Law School and the Kennedy School of Business. The country has not seen the last of this ambitious and energetic legal mind.

36. Nixon Korir, 37

Having already served as a Member of Parliament for Langata Constituency for one term, the young lawyer is now a Principal Secretary in the ministry of lands. Some argue that he got the appointment because of his tribe (He is a Kalenjin like the president), but be it as it may, he is among the under 40 year olds shaking up the jar. The ministry of lands remains the most controversial in the country and whatever decisions he makes over the next few years will affect millions of Kenyans for decades to come.

37. Pauline Njoroge, 38

Pauline Njoroge was born on the 14th of September, 1985 and is a recipient of a Head of State Commendation (HSC) from President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2017. She has distinguished herself as a fierce defender of what she considers public good albeit most of those who disagree with her views think of her as a partisan hack suffering from electoral loss blues given the disappointment she experienced after Azimio lost the presidency.

However, Miss Njoroge is at the moment a force anyone cannot ignore when it comes to online activism popularly referred to as “blogging.” It remains to be seen what she will do with her life going forward given the clout she had amassed during Uhuru’s presidency that granted her access to numerous power vaults.

38. Cyprian Nyakundi, 32

Activist and blogger Cyprian Nyakundi stirs emotions of terror in those with skeletons in their closets given his reputation for exposing sleazy corporate cats and government officials. His activism has landed him in hot water a few times, including a clash with former Interior Cabinet Secretary Dr. Fred Matiang’i. At 32 years of age, Nyakundi is a household name and a force for good in the society. He is the best example of how young people can become their own watchdogs when it comes to protecting their resources from greedy leaders.

39. Samuel Muchoki Ndirangu (Samidoh), 32

The controversial cop, Samuel Muchoki, finds his way to this list, not because of his ability to carry a G-3 from dawn to dusk or his tumultuous relationship with far older 44-year-old nominated senator Karen Nyamu, but because of his impact on traditional Kikuyu music known as “Mugithi,” a genre he has single-handedly catapulted to the national stage. Like Prince Indah who is the era’s bastion of strength for Ohangla, Samidoh is Mugithi’s foremost ambassadeur. With his prowess for crooning Mugithi, he carries with him the quintessential emblematic music of an entire community.

40.Evans Ochieng Owino (Prince Indah), 29

At 29 years of age, Evans Owino, popularly known as Prince Indah, has managed to capture the musical imagination of a great portion of the nation, demonstrating the rare ability to fill stadia with jubilant throngs of eager fans, others transcending the tribal touch of his music. His musical talent is arguably defining a generation in traditional Luo music, and he is likely to straddle the singing scene in the manner of a colossus for a few more years. He has shot past his uncle, Ema Jalamo, for whom he worked as a back-up singer for some time.

Compiled by The Kenyan Report Editorial Team.

Note: The list is a product of open voting by Kenyans aged above 20 years that took place over a period of one month. The listing herein is based purely on votes garnered. A total of 394 candidates appeared on the voting list and the 40 on this list are the top scorers arranged in order of votes garnered with number 1 having scored the most votes.

 

 

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