Monday, May 20, 2024

Home coming: Australian senator, Lucy Gichuhi, with roots in Nyeri tells it all

  • Australian Senator Lucy Gichuhi is in Kenya where she held a low key homecoming celebration
  • Gichuhi, the first senator of African descent in Australia, recounted her life-changing political experience
  • She moved to Australia in 1999 and became a citizen

The concept of professional politics may sound strange to Kenyans, but according to Kenyan-born Australian Senator Lucy Muringo Gichuhi, that is the norm in her country.

Muringo, the first senator of African descent in Australia, notes that politics puts an Aussie under intense scrutiny, with every aspect of their life open to the public.

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“Politics in Australia is very professional and transparent. Everything you say and do is exposed to the public and it has serious ramifications on how your constituents view your stand on issues,” she said.

She pointed out that the public is well informed and has access to details such as financial status and personal convictions.

Integrity threshold

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“You have to be above board as a politician in Australia because the threshold for integrity is very high,” she explained.

Muringo said it was a life-changing experience diving into politics in Australia, which has diverse ethnic and cultural communities.

Senator of South Australia Lucy Gichuhi and her husband William share a cake at Hiriga Village in Mathira Nyeri County [Photo: Kibata Kihu]

At one point when the High Court was considering a case challenging her eligibility to be a senator due to her citizenship, there were investigations and she came under immense scrutiny.

In Australia, anyone who holds dual citizenship is not eligible to be in either House of Parliament.

Muringo moved to Australia in 1999 and became a citizen after she gave up her Kenyan citizenship in 2001. Currently she represents a population of 1.7 million in a state measuring 380,070 square miles.

It is headquartered in Adelaide, where Muringo lives with her husband, William Gichuhi, and their daughters Peris, Agnes, and Joy.

“In 2016 when the political decisions were being made, I came back home for four weeks reading, thinking, strategizing, and plotting my next move. Hiriga (in Nyeri County) is where I come to rest, and where I get encouragement from my father,” she said.

Her conviction on issues, she noted, was one of the things that pushed her to the top echelons of politics in Australia.

The Australian legislator explained that she left Kenya in pursuit of opportunity and remained true to herself despite being far from home.

 Storms of life

“When I first left Kenya, I told my husband that we must visit home at least twice a year and later we started visiting home once a year because this is where I seek refuge from the storms of life,” she said.

Her visits allow her to take care of her elderly parents and remain grounded in her roots.

“Unless I remain grounded in Hiriga, I cannot fly in Canberra,” Muringo stated.

This year was no different, except for the fact that it was her first time home since she was sworn in as a member of the Australian Senate.

In a low-key celebration in honour of Muringo’s accomplishments, she and her husband spent time with family and friends.

During the ceremony, Muringo and Gichuhi spoke of their experiences in navigating Australian politics.

Talking to relatives about his wife’s accomplishments, Gichuhi pointed out that her zeal and strength encouraged him as he continued to support her.

Family members, led by her father Justus Weru, could not hide their joy at having Muringo home.

Family members

Since her swearing-in, the family has been looking forward to her visit.

Weru, who is a teacher, and his twin brother, James Mugumo, raised Muringo after her mother, Agnes Njeri, died.

He said growing up, Muringo was a naturally intelligent child who excelled in mathematics.

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