Every year comes with its unique blessings and challenges. Soni Kanake talks to four women who share their triumphs, memorable moments, plans and hopes.
Susan Kihika, Nakuru senator
“First, I wish to Thank God for the success in my political aspirations and winning to become the senator for Nakuru County,” says the politician, who is in her early 40s.
Which were your most memorable moments last year?
Several moments stood. Being nominated as a Senate candidate under Jubilee Party to represent Nakuru and the eventual win as one of the three elected woman senators was a beautiful moment. Also, the moment of honour and privilege to serve my party when I was appointed as the Majority Whip in the Senate.
And what would you term your main achievement for 2017?
That would have to be winning the confidence and trust of people of Nakuru County, who overwhelmingly gave me their votes.
Things seem to look up for Susan the past year and one wonders if she has any regrets
My regret is the unfortunate loss of my media team in October through the helicopter crash in Lake Nakuru. It has been very traumatising, especially the long period it took the divers and all rescue teams to retrieve the bodies and wreckage.
They were a dedicated team who I had worked with throughout the electioneering period.
Again, it is very regrettable that we as Kenyans, and particularly Nakuru residents, keep counting losses and many deaths along the Salgaa Black spot due to accidents. A solution is needed and specifically to ensure the dual carriage is constructed while still instituting other remedial measures in the immediate and medium term.
What are your hopes for 2018?
“I pray for a year that will see a turnaround of our economy for an upward trend with less politics and leaderships across the political divide focusing on empowering Kenyans. I intend to give unity and national cohesion a big portion of my time. Equally important is public engagement, public participation and involvement for a better Nakuru in terms of leadership and community welfare.”
What are your plans for 2018?
“I look forward to effectively undertake my representation, legislation and oversight role in the Senate, and particularly be the voice to push, promote and pursue the interests of Nakuru County in the Senate. This I will do along my role as the Majority Whip to ensure that the Jubilee agenda in the House is debated and necessary policy and legislative framework is passed.”
What nuggets does Susan want to share with her fellow women this year?
“Nothing comes easy. One has to believe in their vision, capacity and summon the energy.”
She advises women to seek like-minded people to work with and take the challenges of life head on.
“Our Constitution provides women with numerous growth opportunities. Let us seize them.” That way, she believes that 2018 will be a better year for the womenfolk.
“Whether one is in business, academia, farming, consultancy, politics or just taking care of their family, women have to remain strong, be able to synergise in groups, cooperatives, Saccos, churches and all other fields,” the senator concludes.
Judy Wanjiku, legal advisor in a banking institution
Judy, who is in her early 30s, is full of praises for 2017. “I can honestly say that looking back, I do not have any regrets. It was overall a good year for me and I thank God for it all,” she says.
However, Judy says she has made a conscious effort to learn from her past mistakes. “I have tried not to punish myself for those mistakes, but to pick up the pieces and move on,” she says.
What was her main achievement?
My main achievement was finding my happiness and making a conscious decision not to let things or people get in the way of my happiness and joy.
What plans do you have in place for next year?
Allow me to sum it up in T.D Jake’s words: “To birth a higher and better expression of myself.”
Do you have any hindrances to getting there? Any associations, things you need to let go to succeed?
Toxic relationship that only serve to deplete my energy, especially people who criticise just to make you feel small and diminished.
I will also be wary of those who waste your time, resources and will only be your friend when things are good but when the hard times come knocking, they are nowhere to be found,” she asserts. In 2018 I hope I will keep and build on those relationships, especially friends that are concerned about personal growth.
What nuggets would you want to share with women for the New Year?
“As women, we are automatically wired to put others before ourselves and find it sinister to think otherwise. This eventually leads to burnout and sometimes even resentment, especially if we aren’t appreciated for the efforts we put in. If you want to stay healthy, happy and productive, you need to take care of yourself first. If you don’t, you will have nothing left to give to those whom you care about.
What lessons did you learn in 2017?
“Your happiness is your responsibility.”
She says she also learned to take one moment, one day, one month, and one year at a time.
“In as much as you plan for tomorrow, don’t be caught up and forget to enjoy and live for the moment,” she advises.
“Don’t let your anxiety fool you into thinking that you aren’t strong enough or stop you from achieving your dreams,” says Judy.
“Sometimes, things will go wrong and in as much as it scares or pains us, they are not meant to get fixed,” observes Judy. “And no matter how many times life puts you down there is always light at the end of the tunnel. Remember to keep the faith and take everything in your stride,” she says.
Dr Caroline Nderi, lecturer, School of Business and Deputy Director Student Affairs, Kenyatta University
Dr Caroline Nderi, 42, graduated last August and was awarded her Phd in Human Resources Management. “I got my doctorate, which makes me an academician, and I can now do research which I’ve always desired to do,” says an excited Caroline. This was no doubt her most memorable moment last year.
The stars seemed to shine brightly on her in 2017 as she celebrated a number of firsts. “My first born daughter, Edna, also graduated, while my second born, Albert, joined university,” says the lecturer.
Caroline also prides in the fact that a few of her students won political seats in last year’s General Election. “The MP for Molo and a number of MCAs from Nyeri were my students,” she says, beaming with pride. The business lecturer is also proud of the breed of entrepreneurs she has created along the way. She says it’s her joy when she sees them start their small businesses.
Well, did the year come with any lessons?
“I would say the greatest lesson I have learned is the importance of nurturing a child,” says Caroline. Today’s parents are busy trying to make ends meet and rarely spend quality time with their children, she explains. “Young people need encouragement, they need to feel they matter.” She cites a case where after a tête-à-tête with a young girl, she hugged her, and she cried uncontrollably as she had never been hugged. “I have learnt never to ignore any person that I meet as one never knows where your paths will cross,” she says.
“I also learnt the importance of keeping and sustaining old friendships. Two times last year, I was called upon to help raise funds for my former classmates in Bishop Gatimu Ngandu Girls High School, who faced various challenges. One lady needed money for treatment abroad while another had lost her niece. We were able to raise a substantial amount of money that assisted their families.
Another beneficiary of these relationships was one of our former teachers who had been hospitalised. The old girls from her former school were able to raise funds to assist their former teacher.
“My biggest challenge was seeing a bright promising student lost in drugs, or a careless lifestyle, or termination of a life through things that could be avoided, she says. “Sitting in a disciplinary board and making the decision to expel a student due to unruly behaviour breaks my heart,” she confesses. “At times, loss of life and opportunities as a result of suicide pains me. I always wish they had reached out to me,” she says.
Caroline says she is looking forward to a place where trust is rebuilt, especially after the political uncertainty. “It pains me when I’m in class and you can sense the uneasiness because of the political misconception.”
What are her plans for the New Year?
With her Phd behind her, Caroline says her time is now freed to reach out more to her loved ones. “I’m glad I have more time for my family now, and we have already started music classes,” she says.
“I will also reach out more to the young people, especially at campus,” says Caroline. She explains that most young girls feel rejected and it’s our responsibility as adults to instill confidence in them.
Harriette Chiggai, an advocate of the High Court and Head of Legal Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Kenya
Harriette, 36, says 2017 was a great year. “However, elections took a toll on us and created room for economy crunch, and as a result we are feeling the pinch,” she notes.
Most memorable moment?
My most memorable moment is when my son, 9, brought me breakfast in bed. I was so tired and he deemed it fit for my breakfast to be served in bed. He just said, mum I thought you are too tired and your breakfast is served.
So, what stood out for Harriette last year?
“As the chair of East Africa young lawyers’ conference together with a team of Kenyan lawyers, we organised our second annual conference, which is a mentorship platform for young lawyers within the region. It was a huge success given the fact we had to fundraise for ourselves,” she says of what she believes was her greatest achievement last year.
“I am a believer in hard work and work smart which in most cases pays off,” says Harriette. “The programme is fulfilling since I have worked with various young lawyers cutting across the region and the results are good so far, with a good number doing so well. The future lies with the young people and we need not only to embrace them but nurture them to take leadership positions.”
2018 plans ?
“I aspire to be the next Vice President of Law Society of Kenya (LSK),” she says of her New Year aspirations. “I have a passion for leadership governance and I think that is one area I believe I was born to do. When I was young, I discovered I was always taking the lead or assigned leadership roles .I remember in primary school not only was I a girl guide troop commander but my teachers used to call on me to teach the lower primary singing games. By the time I was in Class Seven, they created a roll of all prefects to accommodate me.”
What lesson did she carry into the New Year?
“Well, good friends will always tell you the truth regardless of your feelings and liking,” says Harriette. Those are friends to keep and I have a number of those,” says the mum of two boys. “You are as good as the people you surround yourself with,” she asserts.
Does Harriette have any personal plans for the year?
“I have a lot planned for the year and one of them is to visit one of my sisters abroad, finish a couple of trainings and possibly start my PhD,” she says.
Are there any associations that Harriette plans on dropping this year? “Yes. Bad relationships that only bring on the table negative energy,” she says.
“I will also tap into genuine friendships not only to build myself but each other.”
And what advice would she want to share with women?
“Women have the ability to nurture anything into something good. That talent is God given and it’s time they stand out to be counted. I urge more women to come out and take leadership roles in whatever capacity and drive the country agenda. Push your limits to success,” she advises.