How Principal Chief rose from grass to grace

By Kurgat Marindany

Joshua Kasaro Kaaka is Kajiado County’s first Principal Chief, a position created recently by Interior Ministry.
Kaaka was among 17 others appointed to the position in 18 counties whose docket involves among other duties resolving land and boundary dispute issues. The position falls under Job Group ‘M’ in public service.
Although the position of a principal chief has not been finely defined, Kaaka will still continue to serve the people of Olobelibel Location in Kajiado Central Sub County.
According to Kajiado County Commissioner, David Kipkemei, Kaaka is still a senior chief grade one until he has been advised accordingly by the Interior Ministry on his duties.
“The former senior chief will be involved in conflict resolution every time one arises. He will be representing my office in solving arising disputes,” Kipkemei stated.
The 57-year-old Principal Chief came from a humble past. His father died when he was hardly five years old, and he grew up with a poor mother, who had nothing like food to offer.
“After my father’s death, our family was left in disarray. We had no one to turn to in terms of money for food. I had to stand up like a man at only six years of age to go and find a job so I can save my siblings and mother from abject poverty,” noted Kaaka.
He was employed to herd goats and sheep at a home near the present Kajiado County Referral Hospital.
“I worked there for several months with a monthly salary of Sh5. The money was enough for food at home. I saved a little of that to be able to use as school fees,” he adds.
As he grew older, he had many mouths to feed but had to go to school. He divided his time between working as a goats’ herder, feeding the family and attending school.
“At class seven, I did my Certificate of Primary Education in 1979, and in the following year I went to Eldoret and got a job with Kerio Valley Development Authority as a watchman. Three years later, he was promoted to furrow supervisor in the authority’s farm along Wei Wei River. One year later he was transferred to Kabarnet KVDA and appointed as a farm supervisor. He served until1987 before leaving to take up another job in Kiserian.
He served as a hotel manager at a resort in Kiserian for three years before joining Tanada Farm in Isinya as manager from 1990 to 1997.
It was while at Tanada Farm in Isinya that a vacancy was announced for a chief at Olobelibel Location in Dalalekutuk Ward Kajiado County. “I applied for the position and interviewed and was employed as full chief,” he explained.
The administrator, who had widely travelled across some parts of the country, used his skills to open up the office of the chief.
He is on record as having been the first chief in the larger Kajiado District to form location committees on development, security and HIV/AIDs.
In 2000, his work was recognised by the District Commissioner and was given commendation letter through his District Officer, Amos Gathecha.
“I am also the first chief to declare war on illegal logging of trees in my location. I successfully fought illegal brews against powerful cartels and won the heart of my bosses, and in 2002, I was promoted to Chief Grade One and installed by the then District Commissioner Ken Lusaka,” states Kaaka.
After he was promoted, the DC would once in a while pick him through his DO’s office to move from location to location in resolving land disputes.
While he was not handling land disputes, Kaaka was busy fighting perpetrators of female genital mutilation and early marriages.
In 2013, Kaaka was again recognised for his exemplary job and was promoted to Senior Chief grade one after saving 12 young girls from the cut.
He was installed by the then County Commissioner, Arthur Osiya. As a Principal Chief Grade Two, Kaaka enters Job Group ‘M’ in the public service.
When asked for comment on his new appointment, Kaaka said: “I am not special in anyway but I believe in hard work. It is the good work that I performed to my satisfaction that has brought me this far.”
Kaaka says after chiefs were stripped of the powers provided under the the Chiefs’ Act, they have been left toothless.
“We cannot arrest wrong doers or even take to court parents who have failed to take their children to school. In fact, we have been reduced to spectators,” notes Kaaka.
Although chiefs in Kajiado County now earn Sh30, 000 monthly with a motorbike to run their offices, most of them feel the emoluments are not enough owing to bad terrain in their areas.
After he was employed, Kaaka underwent several administrative courses at Embakasi. He attended a three months’ course in chiefs’ security and management course in Embakasi.
He has also attended a course in paralegal skills in the same college.

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