Politics is in my blood

Dorothy Mashipei, the Director of Policy Communication at Deputy President's office. PHOTO | COURTESY

What you need to know:

  • I did my final exam as the only girl in our school. I would later join Maasai Girls High School in Narok and the University of Nairobi where I majored in Communication and Tourism. I am currently pursuing a Masters in Public Relations.
  • I am so into politics. It’s like being a pastor. You feel you have a calling to serve the people. Back in 2005 while at the university I was the representative of the minority communities.

  • Like every woman who goes into marriage life, widowhood is not something you wish for. It comes and I am not in a position to change what happened to me. I think the main determinant of a woman’s fitness to represent the people should not be marital status but their ability to serve and to dedicate their life and energy to the welfare of the people.

Q:Who is Dorothy Mashipei?

Dorothy is a Maasai woman born and raised in Kajiado South. I was brought up under a very strict Christian background – my mother is a pastor – and one that valued education of girls. I attended a very humble local primary school called Enkijape and while in Class Eight I was the only girl in a class of 19. I did my final exam as the only girl in our school. I would later join Maasai Girls High School in Narok and the University of Nairobi where I majored in Communication and Tourism. I am currently pursuing a Masters in Public Relations.

How was it growing up?

Very difficult! It was never an easy thing especially when my mother decided to take me to a very local school with the morans. It was lonely being the only girl in class. But mother always gave me hope and encouraged me to work hard. The Christian upbringing also played a big role.

Are you married?

I was married to the son of a former Cabinet minister, Stanley Oloitiptip. He passed on in 2012 and so I am a widow. I have a son who is in Form One.

Tell us about your work

I worked with Agricultural Finance Corporation upon graduation and then at the NGO Co-ordination board. I am currently working at the Presidency as director in charge of policy communication at the Deputy President’s office. I mainly focus on Jubilee Alliance Manifesto.

How is it working at the Deputy President’s office?

Great! Interesting! I appreciate the fact that young people are given an opportunity to serve their country. Youth see hope in the fact that the Presidency is focusing on youth. People are happy across Maasai land to know their girl works at the Deputy President’s office.

Have you always been close to the political playing field?

I am so into politics. It’s like being a pastor. You feel you have a calling to serve the people. Back in 2005 while at the university I was the representative of the minority communities. Then when the Constitution Referendum was called I mobilized students across the country and led the campaign to shoot down the draft. My current bosses were in the “No” team too. In 2007 I was the Rift Valley representative of the Young Kenyans for Raila and in 2013 gunned for Woman Representative for Kajiado and got a substantive vote even though I did not win. I had worked tirelessly for Jubilee and that opened the door for me to be appointed to my current position.

Why would you leave a good job and in the DP’s office for politics?

I am forever grateful to the President and Deputy President for the appointment. I can’t thank them enough. But I also feel I would be of greater service to my people given the mandate to represent them in the National Assembly. For now I am committed to my current job, but when the elections are called I will go back to my people and ask them to vote for me. I know they will!

Won’t being a widow be a disadvantage?

 Like every woman who goes into marriage life, widowhood is not something you wish for. It comes and I am not in a position to change what happened to me. I think the main determinant of a woman’s fitness to represent the people should not be marital status but their ability to serve and to dedicate their life and energy to the welfare of the people. The fact that there is a law safeguarding the rights of widows in society shows you that we have come a long way in accepting the fact that widows can no longer be discriminated against.

Why do people call you Sweetie?

Oh that takes me way back in time. It is a childhood name that has refused to go away. My aunt used to call me Sweetie and everyone in the village took it up from there. People back home do not know me by any other name but Sweetie.

What have you done for the women of Kajiado?

I have been working with women in the beads industry. I work to find markets for their products and to expose them to professionalism in their trade. My promise is for real empowerment of the pastoralist woman through creation of jobs and to promote the beads industry to become an international brand and tourism product. I want to support education of both boys and girls because education opens us to opportunities you can’t get without it.

What’s your favourite food?

Chicken and tea

Any regrets in life?

No. Every place I have been has led me to where I am. And I am happy where I am.

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