Eddy Oketch is the first graduate of African Leadership Academy to run for public office, having just finished his campaign for Senate in Migori, Kenya. He came in second out of ten candidates, securing 16% of the vote. Eddy’s run for office builds on an impressive track record of civic engagement. In response to the post-election violence that broke out in Kenya in 2008, Eddy founded Peace for African and Economic Development (PAD) mobilizing 11,000 youth ambassadors to foster peace. Eddy’s remarkable leadership story earned him a place in ALA’s inaugural class. Since graduating, he scaled his venture to reach 5 million votes in Kenya with a message of peace, and has been globally recognized as one of Africa’s most promising young leaders.
Eddy was born as the seventh child in a loving family of eight, and grew up in an underdeveloped village in Migori District of Kenya. After his mother’s death, Eddy was forced to drop out of school to provide for his younger siblings, working side jobs to earn meagre wages to buy food for his family. Despite his hardships, Eddy made his way to Friends School Kamusinga and then African Leadership Academy.
While at ALA, Eddy continued to develop PAD, leveraging off the leadership skills and networks that were being nurtured at ALA. Eddy’s enthusiasm for Africa and its transformation earned him the Spirit for Africa Award, a prize awarded to the graduating student whose infectious passion for the African continent resonates across the Academy community, inspiring each of us to discover and serve Africa and its people. It was at ALA that Eddy discovered his vision to “bring entrepreneurial leadership and creative thinking into the governance of the African continent.”
In his gap year after graduating from ALA, he continued to work on PAD (which was later renamed to Ongoza), launching a mobile phone campaign, holding unity concerts, convincing politicians to make public declarations. Ongoza ultimately brought together 350,000 youth and engaged 5 million voters in Kenya in its message for peace. Ongoza continues to identify vulnerable youth groups in remote Kenyan communities and couch them to build businesses to avoid manipulation into political violence, crime and involvement in illegal sects.
While remaining active in Kenya, Eddy received his Bachelor’s Degree from Trinity College in the United States and recently received his Master’s Degree from Yale University where he graduated from the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs. He has also participated in leading conferences around the globe including the World Economic Forum, the 2012 Clinton Global Initiative, and the G8 Summit, where he was a panel leader. For his work with Ongoza, Eddy won the 2012 Impact Award from the Kenyan US Diaspora, and was named 2013 Africa Village’s Top 30 Under 30 “Most Inspirational Young People on the African continent”. He was also named Salt’s 2015 top 30 under 30 most innovative and influential youth in Africa.
Speaking about his vision for Africa’s future, Eddy said, “My hope for the Africa in the next 50 years is that we have more integrated business and political leadership. This is why platforms like African Leadership Academy are extremely important. A graduate in Kenya will be able to call another one in Sierra Leone or Ghana to share ideas; we need to bring these societies together for shared peace and shared prosperity to take Africa forward!”
Eddy Oketch’s Senate Candidate Website
Eddy Oketch featured in Standard Media News, Kenya (2012)
Video of G8 Symposium Panel, Food Security/Nutrition, moderated by Eddy Oketch
G8 Symposium Panel, Food Security/Nutrition – Trinity College press release (2012)
ALA Video interview with Eddy Oketch, 2014