Disclaimer: The letter below is meant for diasporadical purposes only. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead is purely coincidental.
To whom it may concern,
Even as we will endeavour to attain the 33% minimum female representation in future Parliaments (as enshrined in the new Constitution), I believe there must be a shift of focus from just considering the numbers to a closer examination of the calibre and character of the women political representatives themselves.
Not to understate the importance of this 33% critical mass but it is crucial we start examining the specific women vying for public office, considering their educational and professional training, religious views, family and social background, temperament, other idiosyncracies and overall personality. All these other variables will assist Kenyan voters and taxpayers alike to determine what qualitative impact a particular woman candidate will make once she sets foot into parliament or any other public office in the land.
The required 33% of our current number of 222 MPs comes to about 73 women MPs. So the question which I ask is: would you want 73 Sally Kosgey’s or 73 Charity Ngilu’s or 73 Martha Karua’s or 73 Esther Murugi’s?
I’m sure the majority of you would obviously say none of the above and would opt for a mixture of these women politicians based on their individual strengths and weaknesses so as to arrive at a well-rounded and suitable woman politician, if it were possible. In the animal and plant kingdoms, this selection of attributes from various species is known as ‘breeding’.
So allow me to suggest, hypothetically, two possible “breeds” of Kenyan women politicians.
Sally Kosgey and Charity Ngilu:
Both these figures have mastered the political game better than many of their male counter-parts. They both love power and have been successful in wielding it through the toughest of political storms. Therefore a breed between these two would literally bring forth the most ruthless, power-hungry female politician in Kenya’s history. In order to engineer this particular Kosgey-Ngilu breed, several things must be taken into account. Charity Ngilu or ‘Mama Rainbow’, as she was once affectionately referred to, definitely has the image, presence and charisma to endear herself to all Kenyans let alone those of her native Ukambani. However, her Achilles’ heel is her intellect and refinement. This is where Sally Kosgey comes in. Dr. Kosgey not only holds a postgraduate degree from Stanford University but has served in both Moi and Kibaki administrations. Kosgey is as tough, calculating and strategic as they come. Kosgey also has the benefit of an illustrious career as a diplomat which means she’s brings a wide array of experience and technical skills to the table. Therefore I believe that we should not take out of context Kosgey’s recent infamous remarks to the effect that the representational flag on her ministerial VW Passat is but a mere piece of cloth that helps her get through Nairobi traffic. These remarks were not addressed to you, wanainchi. She was talking directly to the Rt. Honourable Prime Minister Raila Odinga and reminding him that she has tasted power before and making her one of his ODM Ministers is nothing new for her. These remarks are reminiscent of Charity Ngilu’s fall-out with President Kibaki in the run-up to the 2007 General Elections.
Martha Karua and Esther Murugi:
This particular breed is primarily motivated mainly by political expediency as well as aesthetics. Murugi’s soft features and equally soft-spoken character are motherly and very easily appeal to Kenyans. Karua on the other hand, has physical features that can only be described as intimidating, starting with that “laser-eyes” stare of hers! However, what Karua lacks in the looks department, she makes up for it with an abundance of intellect. As a revered and highly articulate lawyer of long-standing, Karua has played an instrumental role in shaping the policies and laws that this country has in place. Karua is a fearless and tireless campaigner of the rights of all marginalized and excluded members of society and has throughout her political career displayed integrity, honour and dignity of the highest order. Unlike Murugi, she has no apologies to make for speaking her mind and expressing the views of her constituents and the common man on the street. She does so in a professional, energetic and convincing manner and so far enjoys the largest number of supporters among all other women leaders in Kenya.
In summation, the four women leaders selected for this “breeding exercise” are all unique and have dominated the news headlines in the recent times and I believe they represent the benchmark with which all future women political aspirants will be judged.
Just a thought.