Why politicians are now bringing spouses to the campaign trail

Governor aspirants and spouses

From top left clockwise: Caroline Wangamati and her husband Bungoma Governor Wycliffe Wangamati; Dr Evans Kidero with his wife Susan Kideo; MP Simba Arati with his wife Kwamboka, and Migori Governor Okoth Obado with his wife Hellen Obado.

Photo credit: Courtesy

With 17 days to go to the August 9th General Election, politicians are not leaving anything to chance in the hunt for votes.

Husbands and wives of politicians have now joined the fray, all aware of the do or die contests pitting their partners as they seek power to govern.

Most have come out to campaign for their spouses, sometimes sharing podiums and at times organizing parallel meetings to drum up support for their partners.

The Aratis

One of the most exciting couples on the campaign trail has been Dagoretti North Member of Parliament (MP) Simba Arati and his wife, christened Kwamboka, who is of Chinese origin.

Previously, Mr Arati kept his marriage life private, but in the recent weeks she has been accompanying him on the campaign trail as he seeks to be the second Governor of Kisii County.

Her mastery of Ekegusii language is phenomenal and so is her touch with the Gusii culture and traditions.

She wows locals every time she takes to the podium to address gatherings or sing in Ekegusii.

Enkorokwa Kwamboka, inche omorugi o Simba, mbuya mono ase ogocha. Nabasire ekura yomogavana oito Simba Arati. Mono, Nyasae abasesenie (I am Kwamboka, wife of Simba Arati. Thank You all for coming. I am asking you to vote Simba Arati. God Bless you),” she said at a campaign rally, flaunting her fluency in the local language.

The name locals gave her, Kwamboka, means a girl born while the mother was crossing a river. Mr Arati refers to her as Kwamboka Simba and just like their personal life, they have kept her real Chinese name private.

The Kideros

Susan Mboya campaigns for husband Kidero

Just like Mr Arati, former Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero has resorted to introduce his wife, Susan Mboya Kidero, to politics as he tries to capture the Homa Bay County governor seat.

By introducing his spouse to the campaigns, Dr Kidero intends to land favour from the women in the county to support his bid.

The couple hosted a women convection at a hotel in Kochia ward, Rangwe constituency on Wednesday July 20 where they met women drawn from all the 40 wards in Homa Bay County. Dr Kidero used the forum to introduce her wife to the political arena. It was the first time he welcomed his wife to address a political gathering since declaring interest to succeed Governor Cyprian Awiti more than 18 months ago.

Ms Kidero used the opportunity to declare her intentions to empower women in the county if her husband wins, saying she has 30 years’ experience in business and development where she has empowered youths and women.

In the past few events that the couple have been together, Ms Kidero has only been recognised but not given a chance to speak.

With only two weeks to the August 9 elections, she come out to campaign for her husband saying she will serve as a county first lady with vast experience in leadership.

Politics in Homa Bay, however, is determined by several factors including marriage as the electorate can rely on such to gauge political aspirants. In some instances, political opponents have used marriage as a tool to campaign against their challengers especially if they do not have spouses.

Politicians who are single usually have a hard time as they are considered to have insufficient experience in leadership as they do not have family responsibilities which, in the campaign arena, would mean having the right leadership skills to take care of the basic unit of the society, a household.

The factor is even more discussed in the gubernatorial contest since spouses to serving governors use county resources to run offices which are funded by taxpayers’ money.

It explains why Dr Kidero's main opponent, county woman representative, Gladys Wanga, is normally accompanied by her husband, George Wanga, to political gatherings across the county.

The Wangamatis

In Bungoma, Governor Wycliffe Wangamati has also introduced his wife to active politics in a bid to woo womenfolk across the county's nine constituencies.

Mr Wangamati, who is defending his seat on a DAP-K party ticket, announced that his wife, Ms Caroline Wangamati, would be joining him on the campaign trail as they drum up support for his re-election bid.

Mr Wangamati, while addressing mourners last weekend during the burial of his brother, Mr Nickson Wangamati, said that his wife had brilliant voter mobilization and campaign strategies that he had often rode on.

He revealed that his wife of 25 years was a very good campaigner and mobilizer who contributed greatly in his gubernatorial victory in 2017.

“When IEBC barred me and my closest competitor then, now senate speaker, Ken Lusaka, a month to the 2017 polls, my wife took charge of the campaigns and she did an amazing job that led to the win,” he said.

Ms Wangamati said that she was an outgoing and talkative person who interacted with electorates freely unlike her husband. She has since met various groups of women, youths, religious leaders, clan elders, bodaboda riders, professionals and other groups in various events as she drums up support for her husband's re-election.

The Obados

In Migori, however, there is a major contrast. A candidate for the county’s woman representative position, Mrs Hellen Obado, wife of the outgoing governor, Zachary Okoth Obado, has opted to cut him out of her campaigns.

She lamented that her husband abandoned her campaigns and thus decided to drop his name from her campaign posters and other material where she identifies herself as Hellen Odie. Odie is her father’s name.

“Mama County”, as she is fondly referred to, has also distanced herself from Mr Obado’s support for Kenya Kwanza presidential candidate William Ruto, and instead supports Dr Ruto’s main challenger, the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya coalition party candidate, Raila Odinga.

To shed the “Obado” tag in her campaigns, she is seeking the seat as an independent candidate. She opted not to run on a UDA ticket, a party his husband is representing as Nyanza regional coordinator.

By Rushdie Oudia, George Odiwuor and Brian Ojamaa


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