Once a street child in Nairobi and a grave digger in Britain, George Luchiri Wajackoyah barged onto the political scene with a “bhang”: vowing to legalise marijuana, breed snakes and sell hyena testicles to China to offset Kenya’s mammoth debt.
Impulsive, immoderate, politically untested and at best comical, the 63-year-old does not fit the usual profile of a candidate for Kenya’s top job — he is often on the campaign trail in a tracksuit and bare feet.
But the eccentric lawyer, who sports a grey beard and trademark durag (bandana), has shaken up the election race, becoming the unpredictable populist who may force Kenya’s first presidential run-off.
When his rusty campaign truck pulls up on a dusty roadside on the outskirts of Nairobi, a handful of young people gather, drawn by the reggae music blaring from speakers.
Wajackoyah smiles and fist-bumps his supporters while chanting “bhang, bhang”, a reference to his pledge to legalise cannabis to ease Kenya’s $70-billion debt burden.
Often gesturing with his fingers as if he is smoking, he promises to take his first puff when he wins the August 9 election.
“I’ll be everybody’s president,” he says. “I’d like the people to do one thing: elect the person and not the party.”
Escape to exile
The jewellery-loving lawyer says he was pulled off the rubbish pits of Nairobi by world-renowned Kenyan conservationist and fossil hunter Richard Leakey and worshippers at a Hare Krishna temple.