MP aspirant: 24-year-old village girl with big dreams

Ms Linet Chepkorir, 24, on February, 3, 2022. She is the youngest aspirant in the Bomet Woman Representative race and seeks to upstage the old guard.

Photo credit: Vitalis Kimutai | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • At 24, Linet Chepkorir, the youngest candidate for the Bomet woman representative seeks to turn tables on seasoned politicians.
  • Ms Chepkorir uses a boda boda in her campaigns, with members of the public contributing cash for her transport and other needs.

When she visited Deputy President William Ruto’s Karen residence in Nairobi for a United Democratic Alliance (UDA) Rift Valley aspirants’ meeting, guards blocked her at the gate.

The security officers told her she was “intruding into a leaders’ meeting way above her cut”.

Linet Chepkorir’s demeanour and casual dressing, would make her pass for a small girl.

The officers cautioned her that the residence “was not a children’s playground” even as aspirants with whom she had travelled from Bomet County and other parts of the region, were respectfully ushered into the compound.

But the 24-year-old held her ground; she was no lesser aspirant. For lack of money to upgrade her wardrobe, she went to the November 9, 2021 event dressed in a yellow hoodie, simple hairdo, a green dress and rubber shoes.

The third born in a family of seven, tells Nation.Africa that she passed for a villager biting more than she could chew politically.

“Eventually, after about an hour, I was allowed in after I showed them my passcode to the meeting; electronically generated for members who have paid UDA aspirants’ fee of Sh6,000,” says Ms Chepkorir.

When she got in, the tents were full, with other hopefuls having taken their seats.

“I took a seat in the back row, then it occurred to me that the Deputy President had not arrived. I walked to the front and requested a person who was standing by to take snapshots of me using my phone so I could provide it as evidence that I went to the DP’s residence,” says Ms Chepkorir.

Thereafter, she uploaded the photos onto social media platforms, then switched off her phone as was demanded by security officers. DP Ruto walked in and the meeting began. It ended a few hours later, after which she started her return journey.

Trended online

Unknown to her, the three photos she had posted online had gone viral, with descriptions of how an ordinary and courageous village girl had presented herself as one of the hopefuls for the position of Bomet woman representative.

“After the meeting, my phone battery ran out, and I did not have the opportunity to charge it until I returned to Bomet. When I turned it on, I was startled by the number of missed phone calls. More surprising were the social media messages that came through,” says Ms Chepkorir.

“For a while, I did not realise what the buzz was about, until people came forth with congratulatory messages. It dawned on me the photos I posted earlier had been shared all over the place.”

Ms Chepkorir, popularly known as Toto, is the youngest of the 18 candidates seeking to succeed Bomet Woman Representative Joyce Korir, who has shifted to the Bomet Central Member of Parliament (MP) contest. The current Bomet Central MP, Ronald Tonui, is quitting elective politics, after two terms at the helm.

Ms Chepkorir has a Bachelor of Business Administration from Chuka University, having graduated in April 2021. She has played leadership roles at Kapsimibiri Primary and Siwot Secondary schools and served as female captain at Tharaka University College, a constituent of Chuka University.

“I am a youth leader at Chemomul African Gospel Church (AGC) and chairperson of the United Youth group in Kapsimbiri in Bomet East Constituency and a member of the Weekend Mentorship Programme for Youths in our location.”

Due to her entry into the fray, Bomet residents are keenly following the woman rep campaigns, with many of them rallying behind her.

But she first has to contend with the UDA nominations that have so far attracted 18 hopefuls, including Jubilee-nominated Senator Alice Milgo; Jubilee-nominated MCAs Cecilia Mutai and Evaline Kirui; Susan Koech; Beatrice Tonui; Prof Emily Sitienei; Beatrice Chebomui; and Stacey Chepkemoi.

Boda boda campaigns

Ms Chepkorir has been using a boda boda in her campaigns, with members of the public contributing cash for her transport and other needs. She has been branded the “people’s candidate”. This has helped her overshadow her competitors, some of whom are deep-pocketed.

She is also depending on the general public to raise Sh125,000 required by UDA from youths gunning for parliamentary positions. The money is required by month-end, ahead of nominations.

“I strongly believe in God, that it is possible to deliver the seat with the overwhelming support from voters and well-wishers. I have faith in prayer and wish to demonstrate that leadership is not about how old you are, or how much money and connections a candidate has.”

If elected, she will focus on empowering women, the youth and people living with disabilities.

“As a youth, I understand the problems my age mates face. Majority have no source of income and have not been employed even after going through university and middle-level college education. It is an issue I will address with the national and county governments. I will also rope in the private sector to provide solutions,” says Ms Chepkorir.

She says most empowerment programs take the wrong approach and wants target groups trained on business or related ventures first to curb losses.

“In many instances, the empowerment programs have failed because the approach has been top-bottom instead of bottom-up. Some groups have received equipment that has not been helpful to them because they were not approached to find out their management needs, weaknesses and strengths” says Ms Chepkorir.

Dares to dream

On January 10, when DP Ruto held a rally in Bomet Green Stadium, she received overwhelming reception from UDA supporters, as others were jeered, an indication of how popular her bid has become.

“Unlike in other regions where we have youths running for positions by virtue of their social standing, looks and privileged status, Ms Chepkorir’s case is that of a village girl who has dared to dream and carries the aspirations of many. The support she has got is overwhelming,” says Ms Rose Kositany, a resident.

After trending on social media, a designer in Mombasa called her and offered to upgrade her wardrobe, for free.

“They requested me to send them my measurements, in what I initially thought was a joke, but I complied nonetheless. I was surprised when I was called and told to pick a parcel at the Ena Coach office in Bomet town,” she says.

“It contained a fashionable blouse, dress and a skirt. I am very grateful to them for their support.”

It remains to be seen whether the support she has will translate into votes come August 9, and whether the county is ripe for representation by a young person in the National Assembly.

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