As a youthful County Women’s Representative who fought her way up from a Nominated MCA position, Waruguru overcame insurmountable odds to clinch the seat, thanks to her resilience, go-getter attitude, oozing charisma and warm personality that endeared her to the electorate. She tells us her story.
Q: What motivated you to dive into the rather murky waters of politics?
A: Naturally, I am driven by the desire to make a difference and this greatly contributed to my nomination as an MCA to represent the youth in Laikipia County Assembly in 2013. In the House, I grabbed the opportunity to work for the people of Laikipia. It did not matter that I had been nominated to represent the youth; I went out of my way to tirelessly work for the youth, women and men alike. I desired to see leadership of change, leadership that is people-driven, and that was largely lacking in my county. I focused on addressing pertinent issues residents were dealing with and through this, I seized the opportunity to scale up the leadership ladder. I, however, did not do this alone. I constantly consulted my mentor, who never tired of reminding me “if I walk with the wise, I will be wise”.
Q: Is that why you threw your hat in the ring to vie for the Women’s Representative position?
A: (Smiles) Absolutely! For a long time, the leadership in my county has been wanting. I always had this nudging feeling that it was unreachable and out of touch with the needs of the people, and that is not what leadership is supposed to be. Secondly, I appreciate the 2010 Constitution that made devolution and affirmative action a reality. If you look at the Constitution, do we nominate women, youth and persons with disability just for the sake of it? No. I realised the benefits that the new dispensation has presented to the young people devoted to leadership of change and I grabbed that opportunity to learn the art of the game, meet the people, get exposed both at the county and national levels and understand the needs of the people.
Q: Evidently, women politicians face the strongest resistance and in some cases, violence when they toss themselves in the political arena. How was it like for you?
A: You can say that again. My leadership journey has been a
roller-coaster of a ride. Thanks to my determination, resilience and ambition, I never gave up. Above all, I attribute the far that I have come to God. Every time I felt weary, I prayed and sought His face. That gave me strength. I also sought the counsel of the wise and my mentor held my hand; the Church supported me and so did my family and supporters. Being young with a big ambition most definitely attracts a sizeable number of enemies. During party nominations in April, we were 10 women fighting for the Jubilee Party ticket and when the dust settled, I emerged the winner. Instead of my worthy opponents conceding and showing the will to work with me, the nine other women ganged up against me. During the campaign trail, I was called all sorts of unprintable words. It was ugly. They even dug up my family history to shame me, but to their surprise, it worked to my advantage. I lost my mother when I was a young girl and my grandmother raised me. So I was not new to being branded an orphan and a street urchin. During the rallies, they taunted me as an orphan with no family lineage but when I hit the ground, I spoke to families, some who are raising children of their siblings because they are orphaned. I was ready for the political battle, and guess who emerged victorious?
Q: Now that the people of Laikipia have given you the mantle of leadership, what should they expect?
A: First and foremost, I want to thank them for trusting me to represent them in Parliament. Getting down to work, I want peace for my people; I want to see an end to rampant cattle rustling. Very soon, I look forward to meeting the President and telling him, “Look, Mr President, to get sustainable peace in Rift Valley, particularly Laikipia, we need to bring on board Isiolo, Baringo and Samburu counties and sit down with all the leaders and security teams to decide in one voice to end banditry and cattle rustling, because I believe this is doable.” I look forward to working with MCAs in my county to understand the needs of the people. As a woman leader, I have drawn lessons from the shortcomings and weaknesses of leaders who have served before me. I am keen to offer leadership that is people-oriented and people driven. To break it down, top on my agenda is security, water and education for my people. It is unfortunate that Laikipia has no single university. We cannot claim to own Laikipia University because it sits at the border of Laikipia and Nyandarua. In addition, I want to revive Technical and Vocational Education and Training colleges for the youth to sharpen their skills to become economically independent. I look forward to demonstrating a leadership that does not look down on the people that voted for me. Having said that, I will not cease to pray to God to give me humility in serving my people.
Q: Your parting shot?
A: Working for Laikipia and the people of Kenya at large cannot be done single-handedly. I am looking forward to working with my Governor Ndiritu Muriithi, the senator, MPs and MCAs to deliver to our people a county they will take pride in; a county that will set the bar so high in service delivery to its people and a leadership of reconciliation.