Meet Naini, the Bazuu of Olgulului Group Ranch

What does he have to say about rumours to the effect that he might be gunning for the Kajiado South parliamentary seat?

When one sees the flamboyant Elijah Keen Naini, it gets difficult to relate to the fact that he started his working life as a toilet cleaner.

Yes, the outspoken treasurer of the Olgulului Group Ranch, in Kajiado South, worked as a Public Area Cleaner, a fancy title for a toilet cleaner, at the Serena Hotel, in Nairobi for two staright years. “I inherited the job from my father,” says Naini.

This was soon after clearing his Form Four studies at Loitokitok Boys in 1996. “I was living in Ngando slums, around Racecourse in Nairobi.

When it rained, getting to my house was a nightmare,” he recalls. “It became a delicate balancing act walking on stones up to the house. A slight misstep meant that you fell into the muddy waters.”

What kept him going was the fact that, as the first born in their household, he had siblings back home who needed the money he was sending, for them to go to school. “I ensured that my brothers went to good universities and colleges,” he adds.

After two years as a toilet cleaner, the bosses at Serena transferred him to room service, where he was now cleaning rooms and making beds for guests.

Being the streetwise person he is, Naini made sure he interacted with guests and staff and made sure that his best qualities shone. Soon, word went round that that there was a young employee, working in the laundry department, who spoke impeccable English. And that is how Naini got promoted to became a telephone operator.

“It is while working as a telephone operator that I interacted a lot of people including guests from abroad. The marketing manager recommended that I work at the reception,” he recalls.

It was while working as a receptionist that Naini trained as a cashier, thus with time he also doubled up as a cashier.

The leadership bug bit Naini quite early in life when, in 2002 he was elected to serve as a committee member of the Serena Staff Sacco.

“I was later elected as vice chairman of the sacco and in 2004 was elected chairman,” he says.

Having tested leadership at the sacco, Naini felt that he was ripe for political office and that his how he quit his job at Serena, in 2006 to contest the Ololopon councilor’s seat in Kajiado South, in the 2007 elections.

He contested the seat on an ODM ticket but lost. “I think I made a mistake in the choice of party. Mwai Kibaki’s PNU was the party of choice at the time,” he adds.

Having lost the councilor’s seat, he decided to go back to the hotel business and applied for a cashier/receptionist position in two hotels; Sarova Panafric and Crowne Plaza in Upper Hill.

The two hotels offered him jobs, due to the strength of his papers. “Remember, while still working at Serena, I was voted the best employee, in 2004,” says Naini.

Given a choice between Panafric and Crowne Plaza, Naini chose Panafric due to the Sarova connection with his old employer Serena. He worked at Panafric for two years before setting up his own business, still in the hospitality industry, running Choma Zone in Kajiado Town.

From there, he diversified into real estate and property.

“I later established Across Kenya Safaris, which included outside catering,” he says. “I made a lot of money in this business, which I used to finance my campaigns for group ranch elections.”

Even as he was eyeing a political seat, Naini had actively been participating in group ranch politics back at home. “In fact, while still working at Serena officials of the Olgulului Group Ranch came all the way to Nairobi to demand my sacking for allegedly interfering with their elections,” he recalls with a smile.

While he scooped the treasurer’s position at Olgulului in 2018, Naini had contested for the last 14 years. “I do not give up easily,” he explains. “When I set out to do something I do not stop until I achieve what I want.”

At some point, he was in the same team, gunning for a leadership position at Olgulului, with current water CEC, Alais Kisota.

Today, Naini is a supporter of Kajiado Governor Joseph ole Lenku, but it has not always been that way.

During the 2017 campaigns, he was a real thorn in the flesh of Lenku, blogging on behalf of former governor David Nkedianye. This is in spite of them coming from the same ward, Entonet Lenkisim.

After the elections, he had a change of heart when elders intervened and reconciled them.

So, how did Nkedianye take his defection to Team Lenku? “That did not arise as Nkedianye had already decamped from ODM by the time I joined Team Lenku. Besides, Lenku had indicated that he wanted to unite the whole of Kajiado,” explains Naini.

Within the two years he has served as treasurer of the ranch, Naini has implemented reforms that were previously not thought possible, including the peaceful subdivision of the about 150,000 acres of land.

It is little wonder the people of Kajiado South now refer to him as Bazuu, a Sheng endearment that means a man of means or kingpin.

“I am happy and content to serve the people of Olgulului. The work that I am doing is what the group ranch members elected me to do. Right now we have allocated pieces of land to 90 per cent of our members, which they will own virtually,” he added.

Naini/Bazuu is also heavily involved in philanthropic activities in Kajiado South. A good example is the fundraiser he organised on behalf Teule Children’s home in Loitokitok.

“I am a firm believer that when God blesses you, you share the same with the less fortunate members of the society,” says Bazuu.

He told Kajiado Star that he takes education quite seriously and that is why he is paying school fees for a number of children. He has just applied for his Masters in Business Administration at Moi University.

This will be a follow-up to a similar degree from the Kenya Methodist Univesrity, where he graduated in October 2018.

He is currently involved in raising awareness on preventive measures against Covid-19. “In March, I was admitted at the Nairobi West Hospital with Covid, for 11 days. For a moment I thought I was going to die,” he says adding that hospitals in and around Loitokitok are full with people infected with the deadly disease.

He now urging people to take protective measures against the disease, such as mask wearing, observing social distance as well as sanitizing regularly. “I am also urging them to go for vaccination, as that is the only way to prevent themselves from getting infected,” he adds.

What does he have to say about rumours to the effect that he might be gunning for the Kajiado South parliamentary seat? “I have received overwhelming messages from people asking me to contest,” he says after a thoughtful pause.

“I will cross that particular bridge when I come across it. For now, I am happy to serve Olgulului Group Ranch members”

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