Thursday, March 7, 2013

First Maasai woman MP beats ‘curse’ to win seat

By PONCIANO ODONGO [email protected]

Ms Peris Pesi Tobiko has become the first Maasai woman to be elected MP after she won the Kajiado East constituency on Wednesday.

Ms Tobiko triumphed despite being “cursed” at one time by Maasai elders after she beat seven TNA aspirants in the primaries.

The elders said it was against tradition for women to eye leadership positions and threatened to put a curse on anyone who supported her bid.

Ms Tobiko had earlier decamped from ODM and joined TNA after officials in that party told her that a woman’s candidature would not sell in Maasai land.

She was told to contest for the women representative position, but she was so determined to go to Parliament that she opted to decamp from the Orange party.

In an earlier interview, Ms Tobiko said the move by the Maasai elders was a big blow to her and her campaign team.

“It left me empty and put some fear in my heart. At one point, I thought it was the end of the game and I had lost,” Ms Tobiko said.

However, she said she forged ahead with her campaigns as she was banking on the cosmopolitan Kitengela and Isinya towns and some Maasai youths who had decided to ignore the elders threat.

The last hurdle was to beat the aspirants who remained in the Jubilee coalition but opted to fight her by vying through affiliate parties’ nomination certificates.

“I thank God because this election has proved and shown the importance of true democracy,” said the jubilant Ms Tobiko.

The Kajiado East MP-elect promised to work with all her constituents for the development of Kajiado East. “I hold no grudge against anyone and I promise to work with all without fear or favour,” she said.

Speaking to journalists soon after Kajiado East returning officer Jennifer Mugambi declared her the winner, Ms Tobiko promised to address the problems of education, poverty, joblessness and other issues affecting the residents, especially Maasai women.

Her closest rival, Mr Kakuta Maimai of ODM, garnered 22,640 votes, just 741 less than Ms Tobiko’s.

Ms Tobiko, who is a sister of Director of Public Prosecutions Keriako Tobiko, ran for Parliament in Kajiado Central in 2007, but lost to Mr Joseph Nkaissery.

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