Voters in Nandi defy tradition and elect women, some in their 20s
Nandi residents ignored tough traditional myths against women leadership to elect six female Members of the County Assembly (MCAs) into office.
Nancy Chemutai (Kobujoi Ward), Jostine Chepnyango (Songhor/Soba), Rael Rotich (Kapsimotwo) and Milka Chumba (Kipkaren) were elected on Jubilee tickets while Magdaline Rono (Koyo/Ndurio) and Cynthia Jepkosgei (Kilibwoni) won on independent tickets.
The election of the six women comes in stark contrast to the previous General Election where men were elected into all the 30 Wards as Members of County Assembly.
Tough Nandi traditions have frowned upon women leadership where women were allowed to take leadership roles only on issues pertaining to women.
Moreover, unmarried women have had no place in leadership among the Nandi.
Former Aldai lawmaker, Sally Kosgey is the only woman from Nandi to have served in an elected political office.
Nandi Council of Elders Chairperson Benjamin Kitur termed the community ‘mature’ in terms of leadership, noting that gender issues were quickly being ignored and the ability of a leader to deliver to the electorate given more prominence.
“We have come of age in terms of leadership selection, the Nandi no longer adhere to archaic myths about women leadership,” he said.
Nancy Chemutai (26), beat a powerful sitting County Assembly majority leader Julius Menjo in Kobujoi and three other male candidates to become the next Kobujoi MCA.
The former journalist who is unmarried, resigned from her job one year ago to pursue her political dream after witnessing poor development and wanting leadership in the course of her job as a news reporter.
“I had heard enough complaints from the electorate. I decided to be part of the change by running for office,” said Chemutai.
Cynthia Jepkosgey (24) has become an overnight celebrity after flooring a powerful Jubilee candidate Emmanuel Kipchumba to win on an independent ticket.
The fresh graduate from the University of Nairobi (Physical Planning) is yet to taste the fruit of employment but will now represent the Kilibwoni electorate in the county assembly.
She revealed that she missed out on the Jubilee nomination because she could not afford the cost of the party nomination.
“I took a chance as the Independent candidate and won after a difficult penniless campaign,” said Cynthia.
Rael Rotich beat a powerful Jubilee incumbent popularly nicknamed ‘Kiptindinyo’ to win the Kapsimotwo Ward MCA seat while Jostine Chepnyango (farmer) beat 18 candidates to win the Soba/songhor seat.
Magdalene Rono, also an independent candidate floored a popular Jubilee candidate and sitting MCA Wilson Ng’etich also nicknamed ‘Obama’ to win the Koyo/Ndurio ward seat.
The six women sighted similar challenges on the election trail, with Chemutai and Chepkosgey (both unmarried) complaining that their competitors used their unmarried status to harass and undermine them in the race.
“The Nandi traditions view young unmarried women as not worthy of leadership and some voters used that against us,” said the Kilibwoni MCA elect.
“Our competitors told us off as ‘too young to lead’ and actually advised us to find alternative employment ‘like other youth’,” added Chemutai.
The six women now join 24 men in the county assembly and promise their supporters of equal and quality representation.