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Kenyan nurse rides Swedish political storms, tips youth on jobs

Daniel Mwaura Njuguna at 1st full Botkyrka Kommun Municipality

A specialised Kenyan nurse has re-claimed his seat as a Councillor in a town in Sweden after being nominated by his political party.

Daniel Mwaura Njuguna – who is advising Kenyan youth to seek job opportunities in Scandinavian countries in addition to the traditional hunting grounds of Middle East, Western Europe, Australia and America-, has been recalled to be a Councillor in the Botkyrka Kommun municipality. This is after he had lost his seat during the 2022 municipal elections of Sweden.

Mwaura first became a Councillor after winning the 2010 elections in the region of Botkyrka Kommun, Sweden. He was re-elected in 2014 and 2018 polls but lost in 2022, only to come back in March 2024 during this year’s midterm elections. “My party suffered some infighting and some of our elected councillors left the party, but not their seats. We found ourselves (Social Democrates) in opposition for the first time in many years in my municipality,” he says.

Daniel Mwaura Njuguna with daughter Bobby and former Swedish Education Minister Anna Ekstrom

He was re-called by the party caucus to fill the gap as he was one of the most experienced local politicians. “I was confirmed by the Swedish Stockholm Election Board (Länsstrelsen Stockholm) on March 23 and will continue until the end of this mandate which ends in October 2026,” he says.

Mwaura says there are many job opportunities for the young Kenyans in Sweden especially those with modern technology education such as training in IT. “The language barrier prevents our people from thinking about the opportunities here in Scandinavian countries, but it’s easy to learn European languages if you want and are willing,” he says.

Meanwhile, he is still working as a nurse at Danvikshem Hospital, Stockholmssjukhem, Botkyrka Kommun, Attendo Care medics and Fri-Assistans.  He advises the educated youth in Kenya and East Africa to seek job opportunities through the help of Swedish embassies in Africa or Google on working as immigrants in Sweden and how to get work permits.

He is proud of his adopted country of Sweden, noting that it is a well-established, well- maintained Nordic country, well managed, easy to work and live in.  “It’s a welfare country with strong social democratic models. In contrast, in Kenya capitalism rules and you find the gap between the rich and the poor is very big,” he regrets.

Councilor Mwaura with Teodora Jisimovi, Chairperson Socia Democrats Party in Alby, where Mwaura also sits as Vice Secretary

While Kenyans struggle to eat, drink, pay school fees and hospital bills (even after death you leave your relatives with the responsibility of burial expenses), in Sweden all these expenditures are catered for by the government through the all-inclusive taxes.

“Everyone here in Sweden pays taxes but as opposed to Kenya, here you see where your tax money goes.  In Kenya, for example I pay Kiambu county money to collect garbage in my rental apartments in Thika town but no one from the county government or the government of Kenya is bothered with garbage. I have to pay private companies to collect the waste,” he says.

“There’s no open corruption in Sweden as compared to my motherland Kenya. The only thing that Kenya is better than Sweden is social life.  People in Kenya are happier than Swedes even though we have other shortcomings,” he says.

As a medic, his advice to the elderly in Kenya is to eat a well- balanced diet and to concentrate on locally grown organic foods. “Traditional foods like yams, sweet potatoes, beans, pumpkins and green vegetables such as sukuma wiki (collard greens), managu (Black Nightshade), arrowroots and natural milk are the best,” he says.

Married to Pennina Ngula who was born in Kitui county, Mwaura is a father of five; Brian Koikai, Jessica Nyambura, Mike Njuguna, Jayden Muchiri and Bobby Njuguna Mwaura.

The Kijabe Boys High School former deputy head boy in 1992 became the chairman of Organisation of African Asylum Seekers in Sweden in 1994. Between 1997 and 2005, he was the secretary general of the then Kenya Human Rights group based in Sweden and headed by former Wundanyi MP Mwandawiro Mghanga.

Mwaura became active in youth movement challenging racism. In the process, he joined the Swedish Social Democratic Party (SDP) and became a full member. To boost his political credentials, Mwaura studied further at Stockholm University and graduated with a Political Science degree. “I am still doing an International Relations degree at Mälmo University here in Sweden,” he says.

Mwaura with Botkyrka Social demokraterna Municipality party team

He says his willingness to integrate and share with the poor in the community has endeared him to many. Mwaura also had to learn Swedish and the community’s culture, since English is hardly spoken in Sweden. He recalls when a friend, Councillor Kang’ethe won her seat in England she encouraged him to run. “She visited here with her sister Jane and they boosted my campaigns,” he said last week.

In 2010, he beat 72 other candidates for the seat in a predominantly white community. “The residents, especially the youth welcomed my candidature after the SDP caucus appointed me to represent this ward,” he said.

Nevertheless, Mwaura’s life as a nurse and politician has not been smooth sailing. Many conservative whites believed he had come to take up their jobs. He also faced opposition from the black community who thought he had no chance of being elected.  “Now the same people call me with congratulatory messages. I thank God I did not listen to the disappointing comments,” he said.

His interest in politics was stirred in 2006, when Kenyan women MPs held a conference in Stockholm. He met the then Narc-Kenya Chairperson Beth Mugo and MP Alicen Chelaite, who challenged him to form the party’s branch in Sweden.

After school in 1993, Mwaura had joined his uncle, Peter Mukuru Mukundi in Sweden (a former senior policeman) where he fled on disagreeing with the Government during the push for multi-party politics. He joined the College of Professional Management in Britain and attained a diploma through correspondence.

Later, he realised his calling was not in management and enrolled for health studies in Sweden. The career nurse says his mother Mary-Anne Nyambura, a retired teacher living in Chania location, Kiambu County, is his role model. His late father was also a primary school teacher and a farmer.

Mwaura also urges Kenyans not to be cowed by those in power in their quest to bring order and real growth in the country. His advice: “If I made it in Europe why not elect young Kenyans with integrity as governors and senators?”

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