In a rare show of unity, Kenyans living in Raleigh, North Carolina, turned up in impressive numbers Sunday afternoon to show support for their compatriot Jeff Matemu as he launched his campaign for House representative for 2nd District of North Carolina.
More than 300 Kenyans living in Wake County, North Carolina, turned up in a park to witness Mr Matemu, an attorney, kick off the bid that may take him to Congress.
Mr Matemu, a Kenyan-born immigration lawyer based in North Carolina with offices in New York City and Raleigh, North Carolina, surprised many early this year when he announced his intentions to run for Congress on the little-known Libertarian Party.
Most people in the US belong to either the Democratic or Republican party but with recent gridlock, where legislation on major issues rarely takes place due to party loyalty, many people— especially Independents— are giving fringe parties such as Libertarian another look.
Though not popular among immigrants, especially Kenyans, by midday Sunday, a crowd of mostly Kenyans and Latinos had started streaming into Brentwood Park in Wake County.
By 4pm, the official time the event was scheduled to start, there was hardly any space left for parking.
“We are happy that Kenyans living in Raleigh have turned up in large numbers to show support for Matemu’s candidacy,” Said Mr Isaac Kuria, one of the event organisers.
“This does not only boost his morale but it also makes other communities realize that they are supporting somebody who has good chances of winning”.
Addressing the crowd, Mr Matemu said he threw his hat in the ring because he wants to bring the change that the people deserve.
“I may look different, I may sound different from others that have stood on this podium before but I’m a full-blooded American patriot and I’m here to do my duty,” he said.
Mr Matemu said his work with immigrants over the years had convinced him that they play a critical role in making America not only prosperous but also a beacon of hope for the world.
“Immigrants have not come to America to rely on welfare or live off government programmes. Immigrants are hard-working people who contribute immensely to the greatness of this nation,” he said.
Mr Matemu said even though the elections are still way up in November, he wanted to start early to cover enough ground given that he lacks name recognition.
He urged his supporters to register to vote and for those who can’t vote, contribute cash to his campaign or register to volunteer.