Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Nun leaves convent for murky politics

Sister Agnes Awuor with colleagues at a past event in Illinois. Sister Awuor will vie for Siaya senate seat as an independent candidate in the coming elections.

Sister Agnes Awuor with colleagues at a past event in Illinois. Sister Awuor will vie for Siaya senate seat as an independent candidate in the coming elections. Photo/TOM OTIENO/  Nation Media Group

By NATION TEAM

A Catholic Nun has abandoned the serene convent atmosphere for the murky world of politics.

Sister Agnes Salome Awuor says she is not afraid of her experienced opponents or the strong ODM wave in Nyanza as she campaigns for the Siaya senate seat.

In her quest, she will be battling with political heavy weights in Lands minister James Orengo and Finance assistant minister Oburu Oginga as an independent candidate.

Sister Awuor, who lives in Illinois, says she has decided to change career to bring change that Siaya residents have yearned for.

“The people of Siaya need a voice that is young, independent and ready to serve, a voice of reason that can be found only in few people like me,” she says.

While launching her bid at St. Peter’s Clever Church, Yala, in Gem constituency, the 45-year-old said her decision might surprise many “just like the kind of leadership that I plan to offer that will surprise even more”.

“My children are the people of Siaya, so why would I not serve them to their satisfaction?” she poses, adding she owes allegiance only to residents and not to any political party.

She is likely to rattle the ODM hierarchy by dismissing it as “a passing cloud”. I love challenges and I am telling you that ODM euphoria might die soon because these people want a change,” she told the Nation on phone.

She told off MPs from the county for striking a deal on how to share the county posts among themselves, saying voters should be given a chance to independently choose their leaders.

Sister Awuor holds PhD in Political Science and Master’s degree in Education and Leadership from Dominican University in Illinois.

Seeking change

She got her bachelor’s degree from St Scholastica University in Manila, Philippines. Her widowed mother Damaris Awino Ouma told the Nation on Tuesday she believed in her daughter to bring change in Siaya County.

“Change to her is something she has craved for ever since she was a young girl. She wanted to do something unique that would change the world, starting from her hometown Siaya,” Mrs Ouma says.

The first born in a family of nine, Sister Awuor took her parents by surprise and annoyed her father when she joined sisterhood in 1986.

But as Mr John Ouma saw the confidence in her and how she was proud of being a nun, he believed more in her and stopped complaining, explains Mrs Ouma.

“Her move to vie for senator of Siaya County is not a surprise at all, because I know her power and how she can be influential and empowering. I believe in her and the villagers are moved by her too because they grew up together,” she says.

Sister Auma attended Muhanda Primary School in Gem District and later joined Nairobi’s St Annes Primary School, Jogoo Road, when her parents moved to the city.

Her parents were not well off so Father Robert Vujs of Kayole Catholic Parish in Nairobi put her in convent as she pursued her education.

To Mrs Ouma, that would be the best move in her life because she was later sponsored to join a College in the US as she continued with her sisterhood.

Catholic clergy, including priests, brothers and nuns, must get Papal dispensation to change from the religious to secular life if they want to vie for political posts.

While priests take one vow to remain celibate and serve the church, nuns can leave after six years. Since Sister Awuor joined the religious order in 1986, she will need authority from Pope Benedict XVI to contest the seat.

Reported by Geoffrey Ombogo, Lillian Ochieng’ and Angela Okech

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