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Gathoni Wamuchomba: I am not afraid of criticism

Thursday April 05 2018
WAMPIC

Kiambu women representative Gathoni Wamuchomba. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By ERIC WAINAINA

Kiambu Woman Representative Gathoni Wamuchomba is not new to controversy.

Last week, the legislator stirred another storm after advocating for polygamy among the Kikuyu community, a practice that many people now think is outdated.

“I am a bold Kenyan who says things as they are as long as I believe in them,” the legislator says.   

But her boldness has twice plunged her into controversy since her election as Kiambu Woman Representative in the August 8, 2017 polls. 

“I don’t believe in rumours, neither am I a pretender, I always speak my mind and I am never afraid of being criticised,” she says.

SEVERAL WIVES

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Last week, she asked rich Kikuyu men to marry several wives. She argued that raising children in the absence of male figures had led to serious social problems like alcoholism among the youth and an increase in the number of street families.

“We sire children but we do not want to take responsibility, men who can take care of five wives should marry them and bring up many children,” she said.

She urged the Kikuyu community to create a balance between culture and Christianity.

Ms Wamuchomba said that many people secretly practiced polygamy, and she would not mind if her husband married many wives.

For her, becoming unpopular over her recent remarks on polygamy is not of great concern. She believes there is nothing wrong with polygamy and people should not use her support of the practice to settle political scores. 

TRUTH

“Let’s work for the people. (I know) people will one day say that I helped the Kikuyu community by speaking the truth,” she said.

Soon after her election as Kiambu Woman Rep, Ms Wamuchomba opposed the reduction of MPs’ salaries, a view earned her the wrath of many Kenyans. She was then branded a greedy legislator  

“I want to be paid well, I fought it out to be an MP, I used a lot of resources during campaigns,” she said.

“I should be honoured for who I am and for what I have achieved,” she added.

On MPs salaries, she says that many legislators remained quiet for fear of losing popularity, but even in their silence, they supported her quest for huge pay.

“The MPs were happy when they were eventually given (huge) salaries and car grants,” said Ms Wamuchomba.

APOLOGISED

But the pay demand almost made the legislator lose her seat. Kiambu County voters had started collecting signatures that would be used to pass a vote of no confidence against her.   

Ms Wamuchomba later apologised to Kenyans and to President Uhuru Kenyatta.

“I would like to apologise to my party patron and President (Uhuru Kenyatta), Kiambu constituents, my family and to all Kenyans who might have been offended by my comments,” she said in a press conference at Phoenicia Hotel in Kiambu town last year.

Ms Wamuchomba says her boldness earned her a large following as a radio presenter, a career which she started while pursuing a Bachelor of Education degree at the University of Nairobi in 1999.

While in the fourth year, she said, one of her lecturers identified her talent and offered her a chance to host a programme on the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation radio.

AGRICULTURE

Her programmes, which mainly focused on agriculture, caught the eye of one Ms Rose Kimotho, who was about to open Kameme FM. She later got a job at Kameme FM where she hosted Canjamuka, a programme, which she said, lifted her to fame.

After her graduation with a Bachelor of Education degree from the University of Nairobi in 2004 and her good performance at Kameme FM, Ms Wamuchomba was approached by Royal Media Services (RMS) proprietor Mr SK Macharia to take up a job at Inooro FM, one of the RMS vernacular radio stations.

Ms Wamuchomba, 43, then known as Wabritish by her fans due to her surname Chomba (a Kikuyu name for the British), was rocking the airwaves at her new station. Soon, she became one of the leading vernacular radio presenters.

MEDIA COLLEGE

While at Inooro FM, she opened Smart Media College, a journalism and media college in Nairobi, which later opened another branch in Nakuru.

After working at Inooro FM for three years, Ms Wamuchomba left to vie for the Maragwa parliamentary seat in 2007 General Election but was unsuccessful.

She would then return to journalism. She partnered with a Nakuru politician to run Bahasha FM, a new radio station.

She later quit after falling out with the politician after she allegedly aired corruption allegations touching on the use of the Constituency Development Fund in the MP’s constituency.

After quitting her job at Bahasha FM, she decided to concentrate on her college while she worked as a communications consultant.

CAMPAIGN

She also started a campaign against alcohol and drug abuse in Central Kenya in 2012 though her GAMAFRICA Foundation, a campaign that put her at loggerheads with the provincial administration in the region.

Ms Wamuchomba later returned to Kameme FM where she hosted a new programme called muiguithania every Saturday morning. The programme was used to raise funds for the needy.  

Through the programme, she was later to rebrand from wabritish to wamother, which loosely translates to my brother or my sister, before venturing into Kiambu County politics.

During the 2017 Jubilee Party primaries, Ms Wamuchomba garnered 404,290 votes against the incumbent Ms Annah Nyokabi who got 28,874 votes to clinch the party ticket.

She later won the seat during the August 8, 2017 General Election after garnering 922, 829 votes.

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