by Christine Lagat
NAIROBI, June 16 (Xinhua) -- With his towering height, eloquence and social skills, Karungo wa Thangwa has won admiration in his native Kiambu county in central Kenya, where he fearlessly advocates for the rights of a predominantly farming community.
Both detractors and admirers are in agreement the 35-year-old father of two has pioneered a new brand of politics after he became a member of Kiambu County Assembly in 2013.
During an interview with Xinhua, Thangwa narrated his life journey from a village boy, a globe trotter and currently a popular county lawmaker and beyond.
"I grew up in a small village where I schooled and later proceeded for secondary education in Kenya's north rift. Passion for education lingered and I enrolled for a diploma in radio production in a prestigious Nairobi-based college," said Thangwa.
At the age of 21, Thangwa was recruited by a new vernacular radio station where he doubled as a music producer and news presenter.
Thangwa worked at the vernacular radio station for seven years, before he had brief interludes with his visit to China.
His maiden visit to China in 2002 to study the Chinese language and culture marked a critical milestone in his life.
"My sojourn in China to pursue further studies marked a turning point in my life. In a strange twist of fate, my proficiency in English opened a flood gate of opportunities. I ended up lecturing English in a college located in Inner Mongolia," Thangwa told Xinhua.
He initially taught English for six months and learnt Chinese language with ease. Thangwa returned to Kenya in 2005 and was re- absorbed by the previous employer to work as a music presenter.
His two-year stint at the vernacular station as a country music presenter strengthened his grip on the predominantly elderly fan base. However, Thangwa refused to conform to the status quo and decided to seek greener pastures in China.
"My application for a job at China Radio International went through in September 2007, and I gladly accepted the new offer. At the radio station, I was given the task of hosting three shows in English," he said.
With China Radio International being popular in Kenya and many other African nations, Thangwa's signature program dubbed "Music Safari" became an instant hit across the continent and elevated his status to new levels.
"The show won me fans in many parts of Africa and beyond, and I had to use a pen name the audience could easily connect with. My four-year stint at China Radio International was a game changer," said Thangwa, adding that Chinese colleagues and the wider community treated him with decorum and kindness.
While practicing journalism in China, Thangwa's worldviews were transformed and his patriotism for his motherland went a notch higher.
"Journalism in China is about development and informing the citizenry on crucial matters," Thangwa said, noting that the years in China prepared him for a transformative media career back home.
When landed in Kenya in 2012, Thangwa's quest to redefine public service lingered every dawn, hence his decision to vie for a political seat later in 2013.
He vigorously campaigned on a platform of change, servant leadership and patriotism to the country and its people.
After clinching the Ngewa ward seat in Kiambu, Thangwa was nicknamed "the people's defender" thanks to his convincing service to an otherwise economically deprived rural community.
The unapologetic Chinese admirer stressed that Kenya would draw vital lessons from the Asian giant to accelerate socio-economic transformation.
"It is appropriate to say that Sino-Kenya partnership has been transformative. We have cooperated in diverse spheres like trade, education, culture and infrastructure development," said Thangwa, who hopes to use his position as a legislator to promote Kenya- China ties in many fields.
Thangwa's seven-year-old daughter who was born in China during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, is relatively fluent in Chinese and has always pestered the parents to organize a visit to China.
"My daughter spoke fluent Chinese at the age of two and still retains a strong affinity to the country. Our plan is to dispatch her to China for further studies when she grows up," he said.