Susan Kihika: Firebrand politician who’ll shape Nakuru political discourse

Nakuru Governor-elect Susan Kihika

Nakuru Governor-elect Susan Kihika gives her acceptance speech after she was declared the winner in the gubernatorial race on August 12, 2022.

Photo credit: Cheboite Kigen | Nation Media Group

The rise of Nakuru County’s Governor-elect Susan Wakarura Kihika did not come as a surprise to many who know her background.

Ms Kihika garnered 440,707 votes to beat incumbent Lee Kinyanjui who got 225,623 votes in a hotly contested gubernatorial race.

Mr Stanley Karanja, formerly of Jubilee but who opted to vie as an independent candidate, got 8,685 followed by Mr Elijah Chege (independent) 5,078. Former senator James Kiarie Mungai garnered 1,649 votes while Mr Nicholas Munyua on his first attempt garnered 697 votes.

Many who have interacted with the 48-year-old Ms Kihika says she is compelling, very pleasant, graceful and stylish in appearance.

However, when you step on her toes politically, she is difficult and hot and that is why she is perhaps nicknamed “The iron lady of Nakuru politics" and by extension national politics.

Like father

The bare-knuckle and straight-talking politician is politically a carbon copy of her father, the late Dixon Kihika Kimani, and will not resist hitting her opponents below the belt if need be, and that is what the former Bahati MP and her sworn political enemy Onesmus Kimani Ngunjiri, is now realising after losing the seat.

She is tough. She is hardy and belligerent and this might come in handy as she steers the county with a non-nonsense approach in a bid to ensure the Sh21 billion allocated to the cosmopolitan county is well utilised to transform the lives of the more than 2.1 million residents.

Ms Kihika has entered into the history books of Nakuru politics as the first woman governor of the county after becoming its first senator in 2017.

To the county officers who are used to dilly-dallying in implementing county projects, the new sheriff in town is aggressive, unswerving and sometimes militant as she proved when she was the Nakuru County Assembly Speaker between 2013 and 2017.

Her elevation to the position of the county boss is another political milestone in her career and those who know her say her political ambitions have just started as it might not end at the governorship. Ms Kihika was the darling of her late father, the firebrand politician who represented Nakuru North, now Bahati, as MP. Mr Kimani died in 2004.

The second born of the late Kihika Kimani and his second wife Alice, Ms Kihika attended Busara Forest View Academy in Nyahururu and Bishop Gatimu Ngandu Girls High School in Nyeri.

Ms Kihika joined the University of Reading in the UK at the age of 19 after secondary school before proceeding to the US and studied political science and government at the University of North Texas in Denton, Texas before pursuing a Jurist Doctorate Law Degree at the Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas rising to the position of a district attorney.