East Africa Time Zone UTC+03:00
Capital City Nairobi
Currency Kenyan shilling
National Day 12 December
KENYA’S NEW HIGH COMMISSIONER His Excellency Mr Manoah Esipisu, arrived in London with his wife Waithiegeni in November last year. He is well-acquainted with the capital, having served as a diplomat at the Commonwealth Secretariat in 2006, and has travelled here with his family on various occasions over the years. He recalls his credentials presentation on 26 March: “Riding in the horse-drawn carriage and meeting with Her Majesty was surreal. Of course, it was in Kenya that the young Princess became Queen, so she is very fond of the country. There was a lot todiscuss.”
Born in a rural area of Kenya, Mr Esipisu loved telling stories as a child, a passion that inevitably led him down the path of journalism. His desire to “tell tales of human triumph and bring to the fore stories of social injustice and human suffering” led the High Commissioner to study Literature and Political Science at the University of Nairobi, followed by a graduate journalism programme.
Starting his professional journey at Thomson Reuters, Mr Esipisu spent over a decade meeting and interviewing people from all walks of life, ranging from world leaders and business executives, to showbiz stars and ordinary people. The High Commissioner revealed how he also “met calamity, atrocity and sadness covering the Somalia meltdown in the early 1990s, and several other wars, including the genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda. These events had a significant impact and put me firmly on the path to diplomacy.”
From Reuters, Mr Esipisu became Spokesperson for the Commonwealth Secretariat, bolstering his interaction with leaders and global issues of the day. Responsible for media arrangements for Commonwealth Heads of Government
Meetings in Trinidad and Tobago, Australia and Uganda, Mr Esipisu was truly immersed in the world of diplomacy. He “worked for months with the leaders of these countries to deliver successful summits, also building enduring friendships in the process.” His position as public affairs adviser to the President of the African Development Bank acted as a stepping stone towards a diplomatic career and, in his own words, “helped prepare me to be Spokesperson to the President of Kenya.”
Commenting on his tenure as Spokesperson at the Commonwealth Secretariat, Mr Esipisu reveals that this experience of securing and enhancing Kenya’s interests abroad has helped him in his new role as High Commissioner. Furthermore, a key function of Mr Esipisu’s position as President Kenyatta’s Spokesperson was to ensure effective communication and clarity of the President’s message, a skill which has instilled in him “an even greater desire to promote service and delivery to the Kenyan people and their interests, through Kenyan diplomacy.”
In London, Mr Esipisu believes Kenya’s relationship with the UK is “perhaps its most important international relationship,” in part due to the fact that Kenya “trades more with the UK than virtually any other country.” However, the High Commissioner is quick to add that the importance of Kenyan-British relations rests not only on trade, but also on the engagement between its people. “Kenyans visit the UK – for business, pleasure and education – more than any other country in Europe.” Another aspect of the relationship “involves strategic and military ties. British troops train in Kenya; and we work together to keep Kenya and the region safe.” A less discussed issue that the High Commissioner believes is important is the shared commitment of both nations to “free and fair international trade.”
Commenting on the potential effects of Brexit on Kenyan-British relations, Mr Esipisu stated that regardless of the outcome, he is confident that the relationship will remain strong and “possibly grow stronger as a result…We have engaged over six decades and are tied by the hip, with shared values and principles.”
Kenya is not without various diplomatic challenges, Mr Esipisu says. “But these are mostly global issues, ranging from terrorism and regional security, fragile states, and even delivering prosperity within the context of multilateralism. All these issues require continued engagement.”
With a reputation as a formidable mentor of journalists, he is personally accredited with the training of some of Kenya’s best-known business journalists today. The High Commissioner believes that he has had a particularly powerful influence on economic journalism, due to his trailblazing on reporting governance and economic injustice. Mr Esipisu has spoken at dozens of Kenyan fora events around the world on African development issues, and is the co-author of a book, Eyes of Democracy: the media in elections.
Aside from his work responsibilities, Mr Esipisu is a keen writer and loves to travel. Having visited over 80 countries in his various roles over the years, it is clear that Mr Esipisu is a truly global diplomat – in every sense of the word.
Kenya’s High Commissioner, Manoah Esipisu MBS, reports that Commonwealth Ministers agree to deliver on an equality agenda