Unbowed: Tough races but Njoki, Dr Kimemia confident of victory

Dr Juliet Kimemia, a Kiambu governor candidate, during an interview at her Kahawa Sukari home on December 16, 2021.

Photo credit: Evans Habil | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Irene Njoki, a Jubilee parliamentary candidate in Bahati, and Kanu’s Juliet Gathoni in the Kiambu governor race, are undeterred despite hurdles standing in their way.
  • Njoki is a household name in Bahati, Nakuru County; Dr Kimemia is not discouraged by the old adage that politics is a dirty game.

Irene Njoki is a household name in Bahati, Nakuru County. Her passion for helping and empowering the community has endeared her to locals.

Her political career started shaping up in 2018, when she launched Mrembo Care, an initiative that feeds the hungry, especially old men and women.

“With the help of the provincial administrators, I have supported about 50,000 people.”

She started another initiative known as Mrembo Educare, a bursary kitty for students. “About 2,000 students in both secondary and tertiary institutions have benefitted.”

She also partnered with Vera Beauty College to empower the youth. “About 1,400 students have been equipped with technical skills ranging from catering, pastry, barbering, hairdressing, events management, fashion and design, electrical and plumbing. These initiatives heightened my determination to contest the parliamentary seat.”

Widely known by her slogan, Mrembo na Kazi, the Jubilee candidate is the only woman in the race. She is confident of victory. She says she will continue empowering residents, improve roads and school infrastructure, ensure equity in bursary allocation and address water scarcity.

Njoki, who eyes the parliamentary seat on a Jubilee ticket, says harassment and insults from her rivals have only strengthened her resolve to forge ahead.

“Recently, my opponents pulled down all my posters and billboards. But I went and put up more; I have refused to focus my energies on distractions.”

She advises that women should not sit back and think that the world is male dominated. “This is the best time for scores of women to ascent to leadership positions. Power is not given, power is taken. Do not focus on the negative or allow anyone to derail you, just forge ahead to the finishing line.”

She has a Master’s in Strategic Management from Daystar University and a Bachelor of Marketing (First Class Honours) from Africa Nazarene University. Njoki describes herself as a self-made, charismatic, outgoing, ambitious and resilient fighter.

In Kiambu County, Dr Juliet Gathoni Kimemia, who is eyeing the gubernatorial seat, is not discouraged by the old adage that politics is a dirty game.

The Kanu candidate is facing off with bigwigs—incumbent James Nyoro (Jubilee), former governor William Kabogo (Tujibebe Wakenya Party), Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria (Chama cha Kazi), Thika MP Patrick Wainaina (independent), Senator Kimani Wamatangi of the United Democratic Alliance and Mwende Gatabaki (independent).

She is optimistic that she will clinch the seat. Dr Kimemia ran for senator in 2017 and lost but was appointed to the County Executive Committee (CEC), helming the infrastructure and industrialisation, trade and tourism dockets under then-governor Ferdinand Waititu.

She has pegged her prospects on her experience, track record and networks. She says she has marshalled immense support from women and the youth.

“My illustrious career as a lecturer at the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology also prepares me for this seat.”

She plans to revamp the Sh9 billion Muguga Agro City project, whose launch she oversaw as CEC. “At the design stage, I had profiled 30,000 households to benefit from this initiative, which is set to immediately boost livelihoods and incomes and grow the county.”

She will also renew the MoUs she signed with the USAid government to support producer cooperatives to enhance value addition. Victory will also see her create a county investment and development authority to harness and improve investor confidence.

Dr Kimemia believes women have what it takes to lead and cites the nomination of Narc-K leader Martha Karua as Raila Odinga’s running mate as a major boost for those seeking elective seats. She calls on women to vote for fellow women and urges them to develop a support system.

“My family is my greatest support. Once you get into politics, your life becomes public and, therefore, you need people who support you in every way.”

The culture of handouts, she says, remains one of the biggest challenge women face during campaigns.

“Most people expect that every time you appear, you need to give them money. I am trying much to convince people that aspirants do not contest for political seats because they have money, but because they have a passion to serve.”

She, however, says that women should offer themselves for elective politics.

AWC Feature Service