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James Elvis Omariba Ongwae was born in 1952 and is the first governor of Kisii County. Ongwae was born in Mwamonari village in Marani  Kisii County.

He started his formal education at Itierio Primary School before proceeding to Kisii High School for his O-Level and A-levels.

Later, Ongwae joined the University of Nairobi where he studied Bachelors of Arts degree in Economics and Government.

Upon completion his studies, he joined Institute of Social Studies (ISS)-The Hague, the Netherlands for postgraduate studies and pursued his master’s degree in Public Policy and Administration.

He would later proceed to East & Southern Africa Management Institute (ESAMI)- TRAPCA Program, Tanzania to do a postgraduate diploma in management and government.

Professional career

He started his work in the public service as a District Officer before becoming an Immigration Officer, then Management Analyst and lastly served as Director of Civil Service.

Ongwae served as a Permanent Secretary in the Office of the President and a director of Personnel Management. He was the Secretary for the Teachers Service Commission and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture in the government of Kenya.

He also worked at the Directorate of Industrial Training and served as an associate member of the Kenya Institute of Management (K.I.M) before his retirement from his professional work in December 2005 to venture into his political ambitions.

Political career

For the first time, Ongwae participated in competitive politics when he vied for the Member of Parliament seat of Kitutu Chache Constituency in the 2007 elections but lost.

In the wake of the activities leading to the 2010 Constitution reforms, he campaigned for it earning him a political name that saw him contest for Kisii County gubernatorial.

He successfully vied for the position of Governor of Kisii County in the 2013 elections thus becoming the first governor of Kisii County where he served for two terms until 2022 on an ODM ticket.