Selling Smokie Pasua & Vegetables: Odd Jobs Wealthy Politicians' Children Have Done

  • All over the world, politicians and their families have been associated with royalty, power and prestige.

    However, contrary to many expectations, some wealthy politicians’ children did odd jobs to make ends meet in and out of school.

    Charlene Ruto

    President William Ruto’s daughter, Charlene, while addressing university students on Wednesday, December 7, claimed that she sold popular fast food – smokie pasua – while on campus.

    Charlene Ruto addressing the 5th National Student Leaders Summit at the University of Nairobi (UoN) on Wednesday, December 7, 2022.

    Charlene Ruto addressing the 5th National Student Leaders Summit at the University of Nairobi (UoN) on Wednesday, December 7, 2022.


    Charlene Ruto

    Charlene recalled beginning the venture while studying at Daystar University. Interestingly, she stated that her father supported and encouraged her to succeed above all odds. 

    “I used to have a business selling smokie Kachumbari while on campus at Daystar University, that was the profitable business then. My father encouraged me in that small business I was doing,” she stated.

    She trended on social media, with many wondering why the daughter of one of the longest-serving politicians sold smokies.

    Raila Junior 

    Despite being born into the Odinga family, Raila Junior had to fend for himself after finishing school by working as an accountant at an aviation company.

    During an interview in 2019, the former premier’s son revealed that he earned a salary of Ksh10,000.

    “My first job was working as an accountant for an aviation company. The job entailed bookkeeping, handling petty cash and just ensuring that things were running smoothly,” he stated. 

    Additionally, he also worked as a bank teller in Nairobi.

    “Junior studied finance, and he was a banker. He was put in some bank in Nairobi CBD. One time, he had issues with his boss and was put on the night shift. 

    ‘He would leave at 4 pm and come back at 7 am,” Winnie Odinga, his sister, stated on the Iko Nini podcast on June 23.

    Uhuru Kenyatta

    During an interview in 2011, former President Uhuru Kenyatta divulged that he sold vegetables to make a living.

    Despite being the son of the country’s founding father, he stated that he opted to start his own business to make ends meet and become financially independent.

    Uhuru revealed that he would collect french beans, commonly known as miciiri, from Meru county to sell them in Nairobi.

    “After leaving the bank, I started my own business selling vegetables and I grew a company from one small pickup. In 10 years, I was able to sell it for profit,” he stated.

    Smokie vendor attending to customers

    A smokie vendor attending to customers


    James David Kimoi Moi

    While agriculture has been considered a peasant job, a member of the Moi family made a name for himself by venturing into potato farming.

    James David Kimoi Moi – the eldest son of KANU chairman Gideon Moi, left the civil engineering industry to manage their family farm. 

    Through his venture, he grew the business to make fortunes for himself.

    The booming business based in Nakuru county was credited for the adoption of technology and high-quality seeds imported from the Netherlands.

    Reports indicated that Kimoi imports an average of 200 to 300 tonnes of potato seeds yearly.

    Winnie Odinga 

    Before raising her profile in the political space, Winnie worked as a photographer in the US.

    At the time, she was a student at Drexel University in Philadelphia, earning money through the venture.

    “I taught myself how to take photos with a camera I borrowed from a friend. I used to post them on Facebook, and clients would ask me to take photos of them.

    “At some point, I made enough money to buy my own camera,” she recalled in an interview on the Iko Nini podcast.

    Additionally, she worked as a tutor teaching Chinese children how to speak English.

    EALA MP Winnie Odinga and former President Uhuru Kenyatta at a past Azimio rally.

    EALA MP Winnie Odinga and former President Uhuru Kenyatta at a past Azimio rally.


Jay Ndungu

Jay is a computer scientist and journalist with a passion for the intersection of technology and society. He has a background in computer science, developing a deep understanding of the technical aspects of the industry, including programming languages and software development methodologies. Currently, He writes for Nairobi Times, covering a wide range of topics including technology, politics, sports, and entertainment. With his unique combination of technical knowledge and journalistic experience, Jay brings a unique perspective to the stories he covers, able to explain complex technical concepts in an easy-to-understand manner. His work is dedicated to bridge the gap between technology and society, and to make people more aware of the potential of technology to make the world a better place.

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