10 years ago, Victor Odhiambo Okoth, was among the most dreaded Kondele political goons.
He was taller than most, well bodied and more active.
All the politicians loved him, everything pointed towards a bright future and he did, but only for a small period of time before the allure of the criminal underworld made him almost lose his life.
How did you rise from being a goon to a lecturerLRB
When we got to his office he was exercising his managerial duties.
And after a short introduction, we begin the interview, choosing to start with what we thought everyone wanted to know.
“How did you rise from being a goon to a lecturer?” we ask.
“I always had a dream of becoming a doctor or pursuing a medical course and I must always achieve my ambitions,” he answers while smiling.
Victor Odhiambo Okoth was born 33 years ago in Waondo village to Okoth Akiri and Syprose Okoth, both farmers.
Obingi, the name he now uses was inherited from his father, a name used to refer to a respected and disciplined Luo man.
He is the second last born in a polygamous family with his mother being the fourth wife.
When my parents died leaving us fully dependent on relatives things shifted so badly, we could go for two to three days without proper mealsVictor
According to Victor, his character as a young boy was shaped with culture, traditions and church doctrines.
His home, then, was a place neighbors would often come to ask for assistance.
This happened until the death of his father in 1999 and mother in 2001.
“When my parents died leaving us fully dependent on relatives things shifted so badly, we could go for two to three days without proper meals ,” he narrates.
This forced him to move to Kochia in 2001 to live with maternal relatives.
Victor started schooling in Waondo Primary school.
Upon relocation to Kochia, he moved to Kuoyo Kochia and Kuoyo Kaura schools for his primary studies.
“I passed so well and proceeded to Waondo Highschool due to financial constraints despite receiving a letter to join Kisii National school,” Victor recalls
After form four, Victor moved to Migori for a herds-boy job.
He adds,” That was too hard for me and i made a decision to relocate to Kisumu in 2012 purposely to do Mjengo.”
For services beyond Nyanza region, the pay would go up to Sh.2000Victor
As he waited to Join University, Victor did Mjengo around Riat and Kanyamedha area.
In 2012, out of peer influence, Victor and his friends started being politically active and joined the ‘maboys’ gang of Kondele and Nyawita.
“We were three boys, one from Nyakach, Kisumu Kanyakwar and Kombedu were recruited into the Kondele political alignments,” he said.
“We started working with various politicians to offer services encompassing throwing stones at opponents to cause chaos at rallies, burn cars and offer protection services,” he adds.
Victor says that upon joining, they had a supremo at the top, from whom communication emanated.
The supremos would sit and design the order of activities.
“I did not have to sweat carrying bags of cement, I would get between Sh.50 to Sh.450 a day, free money.”
The politicians would sometimes give Sh.500 to be divided among ten of them upon completion of job.
They thought my services were better because I would stone without mercy.Victor
“That would be Sh.50 each, but again, the unit amount would depend on number of people used to perform an activity,” he adds.
Kondele bases which then, were four, had goons who were ex convicts and retired police men.
According to Victor they were always ready to die protecting their clients.
Each job would attract different costs from stopping a rally to stoning cars and burning them or injuring the opponents.
He says at times people who knew them would join in stoning, and then at completion, they will receive money.
“For services beyond Nyanza region, the pay would go up to Sh.2000,” says Victor as he hands us some refreshment.
But all this came to an end when Victor and his crew went to destroy a political rally in Kuresoi.
“That day I missed death with a second. Upon reaching the venue, we found that the opponent had also massively gathered his team and so we were outweighed and had to run for our lives.”
From that day, he was perturbed if that was the life he wanted or not.
By the time I left Kondele, i was almost becoming a commandant, and politicians would look for my servicesVictor
With the support from relatives, money from the political activities and HELB, Victor somehow kept himself in school, University of Nairobi, Kisumu campus.
Victor and his friends then knew about Kenya Youth Empowerment and Opportunity Program (KYEOP).
They applied when it was announced and he got a slot where he would be paid Sh.6000 stipend a month.
Since he was still a student, and then a beneficiary of the KYEOP project, Victor had to cut ties with his gang at Kondele.
“By the time I left Kondele, i was almost becoming a commandant, and politicians would look for my services,” he narrates.
“They thought my services were better because I would stone without mercy.”
He was enrolled into Computer graphics, and then linked with master craftsmen who shared their experiences and skills in printing and graphics.
In 2016, he started his own printing company, Migotech Publishers, then, Migotech Enterprises.
“I would print flyers, design wedding cards and invitations,” he said.
When I was young, my dream was to become a doctorVictor
Victor’s Medical Dream
After graduating with degree in Human Psychology in 2016, he enrolled to pursue Masters in Clinical Psychology at the same university.
“When I was young, my dream was to become a doctor,” he says.
With other member of family who shared the same vision, we gave birth to an idea to start a medical school in 2014.
“We had our first intake in 2015 with only 1 student admitted, today we have about 1000 students admitted to study Nursing,” he reveals.
Tricent Medical College was an idea to give people opportunity to enhance their ability by providing cheaper means of obtaining medical and related training.
According to Victor, there is still a very big gap between what is taught in tertiary institutions, papers given and skills acquired.
“We realized there is a very big gap between students who go to university and the skills they possess,” he adds.
They saw the need to provide people with the ability to acquire knowledge via experience and provide cheaper means of obtaining diploma in nursing.
“We are implementing the same syllabus as KMTC, CBC has compounded what we started.”
The courses at Tricent he said, mostly take one a half years after which students proceed with practicals.
In his view, getting into and finding self within the medical industry requires heavy capital
“You are starting a college, you don’t have students, the officials want letter, the ministry want you to conform to every policy, it is hectic,” Victor emphasizes.
Tricent now has about 70 staff with four campuses.
Victor is a lecturer of Human Psychology, Anatomy and Project Management at the college.
I have been guided by my own experience to give back to the societyVictor
To help youths start small business and reduce over dependency on crime in Kondele, Victor started a Community Based Organization in 2016.
Rural Small Entrepreneurs CBO was used to train people against the idea of peer pressure.
“We also taught them about moving away from politically instigated chaos and issues of sexual reproductive health and rights,” he said.
According to Victor, the people who were used mostly by politicians to give intelligent reports on opponents were ladies.
“They were being used to relay information on places of rallies to the hired goons,” he said.
We introduced financial literacy and discipline to help these youth manage their little finances from informal jobs and keep them away from political crimes.
Victor now has a political dream of becoming a Member of Parliament for Mbita.
He is now passionate about educating the youth on peace and giving back to the society.
“I have been guided by my own experience to give back to the society.”