Peers of blogger Alan Wadi, who was jailed for hate speech and insulting the President, have described him as a brilliant and scheming man who never minces his words.
They said he has previously been at loggerheads with the Moi University administration due to his habit of making blunt remarks.
Speaking to the Sunday Nation separately, six youths who have interacted with Wadi said he has two contrasting sides: One that is overly aggressive and another that is reserved and easy-going.
Wadi was on Friday sentenced to a year in jail and another year with an option of a Sh200,000 fine after pleading guilty to charges of hate speech and undermining the authority of a public officer.
He is a political science student at Moi University where he was admitted in 2010. He sat his Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education examination at Starehe Boys’ Centre, Nairobi.
Sources said he was to graduate last year but couldn’t because he was suspended for one academic year when he was a third year student.
Mr Joel Evans, one of Wadi’s close friends at university, said the convict resides in Rabuor in Kisumu County where he had visited him twice.
Mr Evans is the blogger’s junior by a year and sat with Wadi in political science classes the jailed student was taking after returning from suspension last year.
“I visited him around November. It is a modest homestead, tucked in a village that is a 40-minute drive off the Kisumu-Nairobi highway. I remember seeing an elderly woman and children in the homestead. I did not ask who else he lived with,” he said.
Mr Sherdee Mueke, a secondary school and university friend of Wadi’s, said the convict was brought up by a single mother.
“Unlike what most people think, Alan is a full Kenyan citizen. He comes from a family that, for a long time, has been socially secluded. He has been left to fight on his own not once but on many occasions,” said Mr Mueke, who completed his studies in public relations from Moi University last month.
Mr Mueke, who would chat with Wadi during school outings and holidays, said the blogger became mentally disturbed after the death of Starehe’s founding director Geoffrey Griffin.
“His current mental state can be traced to immediately after the death of the principal Mr Griffin,” Mr Mueke said via e-mail.
“He developed hate for leaders for what he considered to be tribal appointments that were being made at Starehe. He developed an ideology of fighting for the oppressed.”
Mr Mueke said Wadi joined Starehe in early 2005. Mr Griffin died in June the same year. He said that at one time, Wadi served as a prefect in charge of emergencies and fire fighting.
“He called his love for Starehe ‘a golden love’ and had concerns about its leadership and, above all, its deteriorating performance. It had a psychological impact (on him) because to him Griffins was like the father he never had.
“He compared Starehe Boys’ Centre with his father’s estate being run down and felt the pain directly. To him, Mr Griffins was the dad and Starehe his home,” said Mr Mueke.
And according to Mr Mwambeo Mwang’ombe, who had Wadi as his campaigner as he campaigned for the chairmanship of the Moi University Students’ Association (Muso) in 2010, Wadi is a brutally honest man with a great affinity for politics.
“He is a man so loud you cannot fail to notice him in a crowd. His loudness would sometimes be against me, but what I like about him is that he was the sincere type that does not backstab. He always speaks his mind,” said the former Muso chairman.
Mr Tony Irungu, an alumnus of Moi University, said Wadi was a man always seeking to be close to power.