I don’t steal scrap metal- Fomer Embakasi South MP Irshad Sumra

Irshad Sumra is blocked by police officers accesing JKIA to welcome Raila Odinga on November 17th 2017
 
  • Most Wahindi lie low, avoiding controversy and opposition politics, but not ODM firebrand Irshadali Sumra.
  • He speaks about discrimination of Indians by government, his relationship with Raila and life after Bunge

You come across as a fanatical ODM supporter. Why is that?

ODM is a strong national party with tentacles spread across the country. It is a party that brings together people of different, tribes, colour and religion. I love the party.

But traditionally, Indians have always supported the government of the day to safeguard their business interests…

I have no problem with Indians supporting the government. That is democracy.

Indians also support the Opposition. Don’t forget that we have many Indians who fought for uhuru and have worked hard to help our economy grow.

How did you meet Baba? Who introduced you?

I met Baba when he was the NDP leader. That was the time when NDP collaborated with Kanu.

I used to visit his office at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre and ever since, he has been my political mentor and role model.

Is Nasa dead?

I don’t think so. Nasa cannot die as long as Baba is alive and well.

To what do you attribute your loss in the 2017 election?

Who said I lost? I am going for the seat.

Embakasi South constituents voted for me. I am a fighter. This seat belongs to the people of Embakasi South who voted for me.

The returning officer did not even attend court to testify. What was he hiding? The lower court did not give me justice. I have now gone to the Court of Appeal and I have faith that the people of Embakasi South constituency will get justice.

The current MP is kifaranga ya computer.

In the olden days, Indians worked in government as teachers, medical doctors, police and soldiers. Not anymore. Why don’t your people work for their country?

The government is best placed to answer that question. Why are Indians being discriminated against and denied the opportunity to work in government, yet they are well educated and hard working?

Now that we have been recognised officially as the 44th tribe, I will fight for Indians to be appointed to top positions, including the Cabinet. We need our voice and slots in the government now.

Indians are known for their philanthropy and contribution towards building the economy and generating employment in Kenya. Lazima serikali irudishe mkono.

But Indians are also known to concentrate on their business interests and not politics. Many do not even interact with Africans. What makes you different?

I do not agree with you. All Indians that I know interact with fellow Kenyans. They assist wananchi to pay medical bills and schools fees, support orphans and feed the poor.

I am not different. I am Kenyan and I interact with everybody. I am not a tribalist.

Old city MPs used to be national figures. Why are Nairobians of late electing MPs who cannot even be recognised on the streets of Nairobi?

City politics nowadays is about survival for the fittest. It is a very tough place to engage in elective politics. Still, city MPs cut a national image and are vibrant and vocal.

How do you think the 2022 General Election will play out?

Raila Amolo Odinga has sacrificed for this country. He has been robbed off electoral victory three times. Kenyans should vote for him. I do not see any other viable leader.

 

It’s virtually impossible to find an Indian student in diploma colleges or public universities, unless they are studying medicine or law. Why?

Indian students are everywhere. But they are hard to notice because they are a minority. Can you imagine that out of a population of 40 million Kenyans, Indians are only 100,000?

Why do Indians import brides all the way from India yet there are many beautiful women here?

It is because of our culture, religion and traditions. We marry both locally and from abroad. I believe our way of life should be accepted by fellow Kenyans.

Who is the most incredible person you went to school with?

I have a group called Ndeme Oshwal Sec School. All my friends in this group are incredible and we have a WhatsApp forum. We interact with each other so much. I love them all.

There are rumours that your scrap metal business is responsible for the vandalism we see on our roads - guard rails, signage...

Does it mean my company is responsible for everything that is stolen in this country? I don’t vandalise road signage or guard rails.

I have been running an honest scrap metal business for the past 35 years and we consume the earnings of our sweat. I am used to all sorts of rumours.

I have developed a thick skin and learnt to disregard all the negativity that does not help.

What was your lowest moment as a Kenyan?

It pains me when I see death, violence and destruction. The ethnic hatred and violence that flared after the disputed elections of 2007 pushed to a very low point.

I pray that the country will never experience such madness again.

How do Indian wives manage to share a roof with their mothers-in-law?

It’s our tradition and culture. We cannot come between our wives and our mothers. They have been trained to act as daughters to our mothers and the entire setup ensures that the marriage stays blessed.

Now that you are out of Bunge, are you broke?

I run a scrap metal dealership, a windscreen and glass factory, printing and branding business and I am currently engaged in property and real estate development. I am quite busy and doing just fine.

The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Sde.co.ke


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