Nothing excites me more than a powerful woman. Don’t get me wrong, powerful men excite me too. Words cannot explain my excitement when I think of the possibility that for the first time in Kenyan history, we will have not one, not two, but possibly three female governors and a couple of female senators in the mix. All elected.
I admire them all, but, today I choose to write about six powerful women that I think Kenyans should watch out for. Of course, there are more powerful women than could fit in this column, so I picked a few personal favourites.
1. Susan Kihika
It is just unfair to view Susan Kihika through the prism of her once powerful father, former Nakuru politician Kihika Kimani. Susan is more than her father’s daughter; she is her own woman, and a politician in her own right. She rose from obscurity to trounce 12 men in the race for the Nakuru County Assembly Speaker’s post. After overcoming numerous hurdles, Susan is now likely to become the first female senator for Nakuru County. I have a feeling this is only the beginning of Susan’s lustrous political career. This lady might just surprise us.
2. Martha Karua
The iron lady of Kenyan politics, Martha Karua has earned her stripes in the Hall of Fame of “Kenya’s most powerful women”. I don’t just admire Martha for her tenacity and audacity, but also for her staying power. I mean, Martha is the true definition of “hanging in there”. She is strength personified, and I admire her for standing her ground, for speaking her mind and proving that she is not easily intimidated. She is running for Kirinyaga governor and the people of Kirinyaga are a lucky lot because they are spoilt for choice. Which brings me to my next personal favourite…
3. Anne Waiguru
I am probably one of the few Kenyans who admire Anne Waiguru. I know I may get flak for this, but the corruption allegations aside, I think Waiguru is a brilliant, strong and articulate woman. There’s something about Waiguru that I admire; she is a rare mix of beauty and brains and is living proof that a woman can run a huge docket. I think we treated Waiguru poorly, given that there are still a lot of men in power that have bigger corruption scandals. If she wins the Kirinyaga seat, she will become one of the first crop of female governors. Go girl!
4. Wavinya Ndeti
I did not pay much attention to Wavinya Ndeti until recently and I must say that she is the true definition of an Alpha African woman. Wavinya will stop at nothing until she gets what she wants and nothing proves me right more than the drama and theatrics she has been subjected to lately. Still, she rises and has come out of her political tribulations smelling of roses. I admire you, Wavinya, for showing your enemies that it will take more than their effort to put you down. When I grow up, I want to develop a thick skin and a fighting spirit just like yours.
5. Dr Joyce Laboso
Many men don’t like confident women. This is probably why the likes of Joyce Laboso will make grown men squirm in their suits at the mention of her name. Laboso’s entry into politics may have been to succeed her sister, Lorna, who died in a plane crash, but she has managed to step out of that shadow and made a name for herself. It takes a great woman to fill big shoes, but takes an even greater one to chart her own legacy, away from the shadows of those who came before her. I respect that and celebrate you, ma’am.
6. Joyce Lay
When, a few years back I interviewed Joyce Lay, she had a lot to say about the stereotypes female politicians are subjected to. Of all the criticisms people made against her, the one that stood out was that they particularly had a problem with her red lipstick. Imagine! Someone overlooked her brains, policies and contribution to Parliament to focus on her lipstick. Joyce Lay is poised to be the senator of Taita-Taveta County, in a battle alongside Anne Tina Nyambu and two men. I admire Joyce for several reasons, including the fact that she is one of the few vocal woman representatives, at a time when the role of woman representatives has come under scrutiny. You keep wearing that red lipstick, dear, and show them what you’ve got.
So, there you have it, six of the best. I know there are many more in the race and hopefully I will get inspired to do a second list, this time for women breaking the corporate glass ceilings.