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Janet Teiyaa is the woman to beat in Kajiado County race

Tuesday July 25 2017

Ms Janet Teiyaa, Kajiado County Jubilee Woman Rep candidate. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Janet Teiyaa, the Jubilee candidate for Kajiado County woman rep candidate. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

JOSEPH NGUNJIRI
By JOSEPH NGUNJIRI
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She not only became the first Maasai disabled woman to be nominated for a major leadership position, but she also proposed President Uhuru Kenyatta, twice, when he was being unveiled by the Jubilee Party as its presidential candidate and when he was returning his nomination papers to the electoral agency as the Jubilee candidate in next month’s General Election.

Janet Teiyaa overcame perhaps her greatest hurdle when she defied the oppressive Maa culture to beat seven other competitors to emerge victorious in the Jubilee primaries for the position of Kajiado County woman rep.

But Ms Teiyaa is not new to Parliament, having been nominated by The National Alliance (TNA) in 2013 to represent the interests of those with disabilities in the House.

In her journey to where she is today, Ms Teiyaa had to overcome several hurdles. At the age of five, she was struck by polio, which left her crippled.

IGNORANCE

Her father gave up on the little girl but the community did not.

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A social worker who got wind of her plight approached the local chief to convince Ms Teiyaa's parents to take the girl to the AIC Kajiado Childcare Centre, where she learnt how to walk using crutches, among other things.

After her primary and secondary school education, Ms Teiyaa enrolled at the Maasai Technical Training Institute for an accounting course.

Esther Somoire, the ODM candidate for Kajiado
Esther Somoire, the ODM candidate for Kajiado County woman rep. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Upon graduation, she started working to uplift the status of women and people with disabilities, besides being an adult education teacher.

Current Kajiado West MP Moses ole Sakuda, then Kajiado North MP, was tasked by Mr Kenyatta, then a presidential candidate, and then TNA Chairman Johnson Sakaja, to find a suitable woman to represent people with disabilities in Parliament.

AIC KAJIADO

“I knew she (Janet Teiyaa) had attended AIC Kajiado School and that she was an adult education teacher," says Mr Sakuda.

"In the Maasai community, one was treated as a pariah for being blind and disabled. I felt it was time to change the community’s attitude."

The Woman Rep race in Kajiado County was left wide open after the incumbent Ms Mary Seneta, decided to challenge Peris Tobiko for the Kajiado East Parliamentary seat.

Apart from Ms Teiyaa, the Kajiado Woman Rep seat has attracted seven other candidates.

They are Kanu's Florence Githinji, Wiper's Simayiai Rakita and Esther Somoire of ODM.

Others are Ms Martha Marwa of ANC, Ms Jane Muthoni of PNU, independent candidate Ms Lucy Naneu Shurake and Ms Leah Simayo Somoire of Maendeleo Chap Chap.

INCUMBENT

In the absence of Ms Seneta, Ms Teiyaa is the candidate to beat, considering that she has been a nominated MP.

She comes into the race with the backing of Jubilee Party and the strength of the ruling party's support especially in Kajiado North, which has 120,000 registered voters.

This is almost double of voters in Kajiado West (64,000) and Kajiado South (60,000).

Simayiai Rakita, the Wiper Party candidate for
Simayiai Rakita, the Wiper Party candidate for Kajiado County woman rep in August 8 polls. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Kajiado East is second with 103,000 votes, while Kajiado Central has 56,000 registered voters.

FLORENCE GITHINJI

Ms Teiyaa, however, faces stiff opposition from Ms Githinji, who enjoys the support of voters from the Kikuyu community in Kajiado North and parts of Kajiado West like Kiserian.

A former teacher, Ms Githinji has built formidable links with teachers, women's groups and churches.

Among the Maasai candidates, Ms Teiyaa faces Ms Somoire of ODM and Ms Rakita of Wiper.

Ms Rakita enjoys the support of the youth, while Ms Somoire commands a good following among older voters.

SPLIT VOTES

It is, however, feared that the rivalry between Ms Rakita and Ms Somoire might split Nasa votes.

Ms Somoire, however, has an edge over Ms Rakita since her support cuts across both the Jubilee and Nasa coalitions, having served as the director of Kajiado County Public Services Board.

The scramble for Maasai votes will be further complicated by Lucy Naneu, the independent candidate, who claimed that her votes were stolen during the Orange Democratic Movement primaries.

Ms Marwa, for her part, is banking on the support of non-Maasai voters in the county, particularly those who support Nasa.

The 34-year-old Ms Teiyaa remains the woman to beat for Kajiado County MP.