Yes! There are men, and then there’s FRANCIS LUMASAYI ATWOLI
1. Born in 1947 in Kakamega County, western Kenya, to a humble family, he had a modest childhood and education before entering the labor force as an employee of the then East African Posts and Telecommunications Corporation (EAP&TC) at the young age of nineteen.
Francis Atwoli joined the trade union movement in 1967 in the position of a shop steward from where he rose through the ranks to the pinnacle of the umbrella organization, COTU, and the regional and international labor movement
2. Atwoli is not semi-illiterate as assumed by some people. He is a fairly educated man. In fact, he has a higher diploma in trade unions from the prestigious Taurin College in Italy. He also has an honorary doctorate degree from Masinde Muliro University.
3. In a nutshell, Atwoli is not a product of the Luhya cultural mold. He was not raised in western Kenya. He was raised in Nairobi where he experienced first-hand Nairobi’s post-colonial popular culture.
4. Francis Atwoli is married to three wives from who he has 17 children though some are adopted. Among them is Dr. Lukoye Atwoli who is a consulting psychiatrist and Dean School of Medicine at Aga Khan University.
5. Francis Atwoli is a very close friend of the Kenyatta’s. And the friendship did not start today. He was a telephone technician attached to Jomo Kenyatta’s Gatundu home for over six years. In fact, he was the only technician Kenyatta trusted to repair his bedroom phone.
6. With just a good measure of self-assurance peppered with an embellished sense of himself, Atwoli has managed to scale dizzying heights of wealth, power, and success, joining the citadel of the elite. Francis Atwoli doesn’t mince his words. And that has often rubbed many people the wrong way. Turns out, the Central Organisation of Trade Unions (COTU) boss doesn’t mince his cash, too.
7. When Francis Atwoli married the 34-year-old Swahili presenter, Mary Kilobi as the third wife, he builds her a home in Kajiado, a palatial state-of-the-art mansion at Ildamat along the Nairobi-Namanga Road that he describes as his “retirement” home.
The plush homestead comprises a parking lot that accommodates more than 100 cars, a restaurant with the capacity to host at least 300 guests at a go, a helipad, and several guest rooms. Already, Francis Atwoli has bought her a top-of-the-range V8 Prado – a sign of changing fortunes for the new member of his royal family.
8. Trade unions boss Francis Atwoli was in 2018 re-elected as the vice-president of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) in Denmark. The ITUC remains the largest trade union Organisation in the world, with a membership of at least 207,000,000 workers. It is headquartered in Brussels, Belgium.
9. Francis Atwoli loves good things in life. He recently disclosed that his watch alone cost him a mind-boggling Ksh5 million, which he says he paid in installments, betraying his taste for fine stuff. “My watch is pure gold and it cost me more than 5 million. He has severely smashed his iPhones in public.
10. Francis Atwoli and his second wife separated on mutual grounds a few years ago since they could not agree on her political ambitions to become an MP which, according to family sources, Atwoli was strongly against, and a man of Atwoli’s caliber needs a woman to organize him; He wittingly replied; “Yes, I took on a third wife — to replace the second wife”
11. Atwoli could be the architect of the BBI going by his ‘prophecy’ about the handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga. He said on ‘#JKLive’ before the handshake that if he were Uhuru, he would call Raila and make peace with him. “I would give Raila…an appointment… a big office somewhere in Upper Hill and he becomes an Africa Union Ambassador!” As such I suspect the BBI has a lot to do with Atwoli.
12. His belief in an episcopal Christian faith is genuine despite the fact that he worships at the altar of himself. He rarely goes to Church but reads the Bible daily and regards himself as a great defender of the Catholic faith.
13. He possesses linguistic advantage and oratory privileges. Francis Atwoli often uses metaphors, jokes, and history to drive his points home, and that way the masses believe in him. He yearns for public adulation and knows how to put people in their place.
14. In politics, Atwoli cannot be ignored. He is a brilliant orator and a versatile politician. He knows how to take advantage of different political platforms to have his agenda addressed and elevate himself above others. He often jokes that there are only three people in this country – the president, Raila, and himself – and that the rest are “donkeys”. Francis Atwoli possesses immense powers and commands great authority.
15. Ultimately, Francis Atwoli is the man to watch. In Kenya’s political landscape, he strides like a colossus and is perhaps the most influential personality outside the Presidency. He cannot be ignored. He would, among others, determine the next course of political leadership in this country.