Profile: John Githongo, The Persistent Kenyan Whistleblower

When it comes to flagging graft-linked incidences and malpractice in Kenya, fearless anti-corruption crusader John Githongo’s name is the first that lingers in mind.

John Mark Githongo is one of Kenya’s leading anti-graft campaigners having stood at the forefront of one of the biggest large scale fraud cases ever brought to light in the country’s history.

With a bold persona, cognizant of the perils he might encounter in the whistleblowing pursuits, Githongo takes no prisoners when he immerses his head into an exposé quest.

And as from when he raised a mind-boggling revelation on how a team of 56 engaged in fraudulent activities to favor president-elect William Ruto win in the 2022 General Election on Monday, Kenyans have taken online wondering who exactly is John Githongo.

John Githongo was born in 1965 to a relatively well-off family as his father, Joe Githongo, owned an accounting firm, with Kenya’s first president Jomo Kenyatta reportedly being one of his clients.

He undertook his primary education in St. Mary’s School in Nairobi and later went to study Economics and Philosophy at the University of Wales.

Upon his return to Kenya, he worked as a management consultant and researcher for a short while before shifting lanes to journalism.

Under his profession, he worked with the East African, Executive magazine and was also a correspondent for the British Journal and The Economist. It was while working as a journalist that he fought corruption in Kenya under then President Moi’s regime.

The 57-year-old then founded and served as Founder-Executive Director of the Kenyan chapter of Transparency International in 1999.

In January 2003, he was appointed the Permanent Secretary for Governance and Ethics by then President Mwai Kibaki, before he resigned in 2005 claiming he had received death threats from government officials.

Anglo-leasing report

In 2006, Githongo made a publication on the Anglo-leasing report which involved a $600 million scandal in which he implicated top government officials.

Githongo claimed that the money raised would have funded the government’s forthcoming election campaign, but that it was instead awarded to ‘Anglo-leasing’; a non-existent company.

The life threats piled up and Githongo went to exile in the United Kingdom (UK). He returned to Kenya in 2008, and founded a non-governmental organization that promotes good governance in Kenya named Inuka Kenya Trust.

In January 2011, he launched a new campaign, Kenya Ni Yetu (Kenya is Ours), aimed at mobilizing ordinary people to speak up against corruption, impunity and injustice.

Achievements

As a result of his resilience in fighting graft, Githongo has received many accolades and recognition among them being selected as one of the World’s 100 Most Influential Africans by the London-based New African Magazine in 2011.

He also received the German-Afrika Prize for Leadership from the German President in 2004 and was further awarded the OXI! Award by the Washington Oxi Day Foundation that marks heroism and the defense of freedom in 2013.

He currently works as a publisher for ‘The Elephant.’

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