University leadership in the country has long been defined with cases of hooliganism, unreasonable demands, amongst many others. Mount Kenya University Students Association Chairman (MKUSA) Allan Chacha, has defied various odds by making it to the chair many people say is only for people from the ‘main’ tribes in Kenya. Allan Chacha spoke to VarCity in a bid to demystify this myth:
WHO IS ALLAN? TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF AND HOW YOU GOT INTO STUDENT LEADERSHIP;
I am a 22 year-old Law Student and also chair of the students association at the Mt. Kenya University- Nairobi Campus.
I was elected the Chair of the association through a democratic process. We all were given a platform to articulate our policies and despite the fact that I come from one of the minority tribes in Kenya, Kuria, I was able to garner the support from all quarters and that is how I became chairman.
STUDENTS ASSOCIATIONS’ CAMPAIGNS HAVE BEEN CHARACTERIZED BY EXTRAVAGANCE WHICH BEGS THE QUESTION, WHERE DO THE FUNDS COME FROM? WAS YOUR CAMPAIGN ANY DIFFERENT?
It is interesting to note that my campaign was on almost zero budgets except for something like maybe posters. I campaigned on a platform of change and my policies is what got me into office.
One of the things that were really integral to my campaign was the introduction of pocket-friendly facilities in the institution like the cafeteria.
HOW WOULD YOUR FELLOW STUDENTS AND UNIVERSITY STUDENTS DESCRIBE YOUR LEADERSHIP STYLE?
So far so good. Since I got into office we have had a sober approach to issues affecting the student’s fraternity and we have put in place progressive policies that would be of benefit to all students.
WHAT ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT VALUES AND ETHICS YOU DEMONSTRATE AS A LEADER?
When you are in leadership you have to be a role model. Therefore exhibiting moral uprightness at all times is very vital. Having an ability to negotiate rightly is also one of the very many leadership abilities that are in me. I have an innate understanding of students’ issues and also being able to communicate well.
DO STUDENTS ASSOCIATIONS REALLY PLAY AN IMPORTANT ROLE IN INSTIGATING STRIKES?
Associations are an important part of management in institutions. Unlike the past when it was all about violent strikes in Universities, right now we are able to approach all issues soberly. We are representatives of students and it is our mandate to voice their needs in a sober manner.
NAME SOME SITUATIONS IN WHICH YOU FEEL UNIVERSITY LEADERSHIP HAS FAILED. AND WHAT ARE YOU DOING DIFFERENTLY?
Tribalism and radicalization is the biggest ailment in our universities today. Instead of offering proper guidance our leaderships have resorted to using these to further their personal agendas and those of politicians and even religion.
As a students’ leader I am ashamed of Babu Owino and I strongly think he should be rehabilitated. There is something terribly wrong with this guy.
WHAT MAKES YOU SAY THAT?
In regards to the letter he recently released, that was uncalled for. As a student leader, we cannot always give into the crazy demands from students.
HOWEVER, AREN’T YOU SUPPOSED TO BE THE VOICE OF THE STUDENTS?
Yes, however, if your child wants to do something crazy do you let them? You need to put the reigns on your child. he should advice his people, not encourage them to do crazy thing. That letter embarrasses us all as Kenyan students and Kenyans. I seriously believe, Babu Owino needs rehabilitation.
WHEN THE GOING GETS TOUGH, HOW DO YOU RALLY OTHERS AND BUILD MORALE?
The first rule is always follow protocol. We have several channels of communication and it is good to exhaust all these instead of resorting to backward methods.
WHAT MAJOR CHANGE HAVE YOU MADE DURING YOUR TIME AS STUDENT LEADER?
I have implemented the ‘dress for your career’ dress code in the school. I believe this is a great way for the students to be able to get ready for the career they are studying for. I was also able to set up the students centre where students can come and have a place to study and relax.
AND LASTLY WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN THE COUNTRY’S LEADERSHIP?
I am already a leader in every measure. Apart from being the Mt. Kenya University students’ association chairman, I am also the chairperson of the Kenya Private University Students Union.
On the country’s political leadership I will be vying to represent my community as MP in the country’s National Assembly in 2017.