Supporters of Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala see a youthful and unstoppable politician who does not leave the battlefield until the war is over. His opponents see a rebellious, traitorous, disrespectful and combative leader, perhaps biting faster than he can chew. But they all agree the Kakamega Senator is a politician to watch.

Malala, 32, a talented award winning playwright and one of Kenya’s youngest senators, has always gone against the grain. He does not believe in being given. He takes it.

The lawmaker has the defiance and restlessness of South Africa’s Julius Malema. His meteoric rise has been swift just as it has been controversial. His peers thought he was out of his mind when he declared he was going to fight for senatorship.

From an MCA, he came out as a man punching above his weight, and he is not one of the lightest politicians. He shocked some when he was declared the winner. His courage has surprised friend and foe. But his close friends know this is who he has always been. A fierce critic of the establishment, a passionate defender of the weak, a rabble-rouser and a restless being.

He seems to enjoy it. He is quickly cutting an image as the strongest general for Raila Odinga in western. When we ask for this interview, he had just been elected deputy minority leader in the Senate, to deputise Senator James Orengo, following the ODM ouster of Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula this week. “I welcome the nomination with both hands,” he says.

He says his office was still being renovated, so he offers to meet over lunch at Parliament buildings. He comes out as a warm, easy to talk to individual in charge of his thoughts. He borrows a tie from his manager to be ready for the afternoon sitting. Malala believes it is time ‘political old guards’ cleared the way for youthful leaders to inject fresh ideas into the political scene.

“I was in class two when Senator Wetang’ula was first nominated to Parliament. There comes a time when the old generation must leave the fight to the upcoming generations to finish the fight. This is the time,” he says adding that the Bungoma Senator should stop fighting for similar positions and instead elevate himself, together with other NASA principals to offering advice. “You cannot fight with age. We need leaders who can run a marathon with the youthful Jubilee leaders,” he says.