Persons of the Year 2019
Persons of the Year 2019

Society needs heroes. These are the men and women whose achievements demonstrate the limitless capacity of human beings to overcome adversity and attain whatever they set their minds on.

They are a celebration of the resilience of the human spirit. Their ability, through clarity of vision, discipline and commitment, is in glorious display in the life story of a hero. Their lives raise the spirit of an entire society. They are models to be admired and emulated, especially when many failures blight public life.

There is too much for the average Kenyan to worry about. No jobs for millions of youth. Most citizens with a job aren’t sure it will last. They constitute the country’s working poor as their pay hardly meets their needs. They are only a paycheque away from financial trouble.

The economy is in decline. Key sectors – including agriculture, the backbone – are not making money. Everyone is anxious.

If one isn’t killed by dangerous levels of aflatoxin in nearly every food on the table, there are the deadly highways to contend with. Or a misdiagnosis by an underpaid, burnt-out and ill-equipped government medic. Or fake medicine.

Theft of public money is a way of life in Kenya. Taxpayers’ money is stolen left, right and centre. And then one has to pay for basic services that a responsible government is supposed to provide. That pushes the cost of living through the roof.

Cronyism – and not merit – is rewarded, creating a culture of mediocrity.



The Star senior digital reporter Nancy Agutu with Radio Africa Group Head of Content Paul Ilado and Radio Africa Group Digital Editor Oliver Mathenge during the handing over of the 2018 Persons of the Year award to DCI boss George Kinoti on Friday, December 21, 2019.

One cannot escape reflecting on these national dreads. Kenyans are depressed. The evidence is widespread. Domestic violence, suicides and drugs and substance abuse.

In these bleak circumstances, one longs for glimmers of hope. That is precisely the idea behind the Star’s Persons of the Year profiles, namely, highlighting the uplifting stories of exemplary and inspiring public figures.

Okiya Omtatah is something of a one-man army against impunity. From chaining himself to the doors of offices of corrupt public officials over a decade ago, Omtatah has morphed into public litigant number one.

We have Global Teacher Prize winner Peter Tabichi and the brilliant legal mind that is Justice Mumbi Ngugi.

CBK Governor Patrick Njoroge is behind a raft of financial reforms this year. He tweets and can be outspoken about the government’s ballooning debt.

The Star honours marathoner Eliud Kichoge, the GOAT (greatest of all time), as a true sports legend.

Our list also includes rapper Khaligraph Jones, ICT innovators – The Restorers – and HIV researcher Benson Edagwa.

These distinguished Kenyans give the nation a reason to keep hope alive. Let their story inspire you.

Through their actions, they inspire the nation and give everybody hope.