What you need to know:
- The same ‘small girl’ is now the UDA nominee for the Bomet County woman representative seat.
- At 24, fresh from college, Chepkorir would have chosen the easier path and found a decent quiet job.
The first time we encountered Linet Chepkorir, alias Toto, the guards at the Deputy President’s gate were blocking her from walking into a United Democratic Alliance (UDA) Rift Valley aspirants’ meeting.
According to a story published by Nation.Africa, the security officers at the gate told her that she was “…intruding into a leaders’ meeting way above her cut”. They also pointed out that she had the demeanor of a ‘small girl’ judging her by her looks; a simple hairstyle, a yellow dress and a jumper sweater.
Not one to be tossed around, she stood her ground and presented evidence of her invitation, after which she was let into the meeting.
Fast forward to five months later, the same ‘small girl’ is now the UDA nominee for the Bomet County woman representative seat. Having garnered 53,924 votes, Chepkorir “trounced more well-resourced candidates, making her one of the youngest aspirants in this year’s general election at the age of 24 ”.
In every general election, amid the confusion, betrayal, deals and drama, there is always a bright shining light. Chepkorir is that bright shining light in this election. She is the embodiment of every Kenyan youth; raised in a humble background, pulling herself up by her bootstraps and proving the naysayers wrong to emerge victorious in a system designed to crush young people.
Lessons for young Kenyans
At 24, fresh from college, Chepkorir would have chosen the easier path and found a decent quiet job. Instead, she went into politics with no money, no glamour, no billboards, no insults, no underhand deals, no political godfathers, just hope and resilience.
Chepkorir’s improbable journey presents a lot of lessons for young Kenyans and especially young Kenyan women. For the young women who have been told “Oh you are too young. You are a woman. Wait your turn”, these are your lessons.
That it is important to recognise your own capacity and not allow other people’s opinions or limited views about what you can or cannot do dictate the course of your life. That while people might look down on you and use your background or stature to determine how far you can go, you must not allow yourself to be distracted by the naysayers and instead remain focused on your goal and maintain positive intention. That in many cases, we do not work hard to achieve our goals to show others what we can do, but to prove to ourselves – to show ourselves – what we are capable of.
Chepkorir’s story is of course not new in politics. She reminds me a lot of US Vice President Kamala Harris and her powerful words shortly after her election. Words that I live by, words that all young and ambitious women should live by: “Do not be burdened by other people’s limited views of your capacity based on who has historically done what…do not be encumbered by the inability of others to see the potential of who you are… Don’t let people tell you who you are…you tell them who you are”.
The writer is the Director, Innovation Centre, at Aga Khan University; [email protected]