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I was first Meru woman MP, a feat gave me more pain than joy

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For many it was a historical grand achievement. For her it was a sad chapter in life. One that should be forgotten.

She successfully trod where no woman in the entire Meru region – Meru and Tharaka Nithi counties combined – had ever ventured before and none after her.

But the events that followed Annarita Karimi’s achievement left her with lifetime regrets.

“What did I come out with from it?” the 79-year-old asks, almost denying us this much sought for interview.

At only 34, Ms Karimi had resigned from her teaching job twice to become the only woman MP – in a mixed gender contest – the entire region has ever had.

In the highly patriarchal society that Meru is, Karimi set a monumental record when she beat five men and became Meru Central MP in 1975.

In the 2017 General Election, only one woman vied for Parliament in the Meru’s nine and Tharaka Nithi’s three constituencies. Beatrice Kiragu came a distant fifth with just 1,822 votes against winner Rahim Dawood’s 29,042 in the North Imenti parliamentary race. Today, the only women parliamentarians in the two counties are the woman representatives.

When Karimi ventured into politics in 1974, she was the headteacher of St Mary’s Girls Secondary School, Igoji.

Renowned tycoons

The campaigns were difficult, she recalls, and she would soon realise what a gruelling task she had to endure to win against six male opponents. She had no resources, and she was up against some of the renowned tycoons of then vast Meru district and beyond.

She lost miserably, emerging fourth with just about 2,000 votes. The seat was won by veteran politician Kabeere M’Mbijjiwe, a rich pipe-smoking baron who owned large swathes of agricultural land in all the Meru regions.

She was left penniless and jobless – having resigned from her Teachers Service Commission job – with her car broken down after making many rounds in a constituency that had zero inch of tarmac. She licked her wounds and returned to teaching.

“My record at the Teachers Service Commission was very clean. I applied and was immediately posted to Nkabune Technical High School where I continued teaching English, History and Christian Religious Education (CRE),” says Karimi.

But no sooner had she settled back to her job than a petition was filed in court against M’Mbijjiwe’s win, with claims that he had used witchcraft to clinch the seat.

“I remember that petition clearly because there were some bizarre claims and photos produced that showed some serving politicians in Meru carrying goats on their bare backs,” Karimi recalls.

She was summoned to give evidence in court as one of the contestants but she says she only spoke of what she had seen.

“I had not seen any witchcraft and testified to the fact. It angered the petitioners but when the win was nullified, it formed the basis upon which I would comfortably win the by-election,” she says.

The bitter M’Mbijjiwe’s supporters vowed not to vote for anyone associated with the petitioners and she was a direct beneficiary, having not given any adverse evidence against the vanquished winner.

Against her better judgement and “in my crazy thinking”, she left the teaching job again and plunged into the 1975 by-election campaigns with no resources at all.

“I relied purely on goodwill and was pleasantly surprised that many male supporters were vowing loudly that they would only support the young girl,” Karimi says.

The court having blocked M’Mbijjiwe out of the race, she was now up against five men.

“I still give myself tidy marks as far as speaking on a podium is concerned,” she says with a chuckle.

She won the seat comfortably and confesses that the votes were so many she forgot her count.

To her, the race was both difficult and easy, given she was trying something new in the patriarchal community.

“The good thing is that once the people of Meru make a resolve, they follow it to the end,” she says.

Powerful forces

But her political career would be short-lived. Because she had set out to be an outspoken agent of the people in Parliament, she eventually got into the bad books of powerful forces in government who immediately set out to clip her wings.

In 1978, an audit of the accounts of St Mary’s Girls School during her tenure as headmistress was launched and by the end of the year she had been convicted by the Meru Resident Magistrate on two charges of theft of a total of Sh56, 510.40, and this earned her a two-year jail term.

What followed were unsuccessful appeals lodged at the High Court and at the Court of Appeal whose rulings are today at the centre of legal scholarship.

She was still pursuing her appeals to avoid losing her seat when Parliament was dissolved in 1979, ending her short-lived but dramatic political career.

“If I did not have a good religious grounding, I would have been stressed to death or committed suicide. That is where politics drove me to. Would I discourage our young women from running for public office? No, I would advise them to be truthful in everything they get into,” says Karimi.

She says her family of two daughters and one son are her rock, besides the religious foundation ingrained in her as she grew up at the Igoji Mission after the death of her mother in 1953.

Karimi went to Loreto Girls in Limuru for her secondary education and in 1967 got a Catholic Church scholarship to the USA where she got a Bachelor of Education. She says she has never been married.

Karimi returned to teaching again in 1980 until she retired in 1994.

By SDE


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Entertainment

‘I regret…’ Anne Kiguta opens up about posting her daughter on social media

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TV news anchor Anne Kiguta has announced that she would like to share with her fans more about her life.

However, she draws a line on exposing her children to the limelight.

Anne has three children, one from her previous marriage and fraternal twins with Jomo Gecaga.

Responding to a fan who asked her about her babies, Anne posted a photo of her and her twins but blocked out the faces.

In her response she explained,

“Gosh, so many of you have said this… was the number one response. Well, I will have to let you down on that my loves.”

She added,

“I’m rather traditional (believe it or not) so I’m vehemently against it. My babies are are all still too young, including the eldest, to be on social media.”

Anne continued,

“In fact I really regret having posted my eldest at all. Mummy already has a pretty public life. They deserve their privacy.”

But not to break her fans hearts, Anne promised,

“A reference every once in a while but nothing more than that for a long long time.  Hope  you understand.”

In another post she still emphasized,

“That is my son. Quite the charmer. If only I could tell you half of what they say! But all these are are to me sacred moments…really can’t share much more.”

Not to be daunted though, Anne promised to talk about other aspects of her life.

Here are the various topics she is open to talking about.

By Mpasho.co.ke


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Health

Shock as man ‘resurrects’ in a Kericho mortuary

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There was drama at Kapkatet sub-county hospital in Kericho on Tuesday night when a 32-year-old man who had been presumed dead and taken to the mortuary regained consciousness close to three hours later.

Mortuary attendants were getting ready to embalm Peter Kigen’s body when they noticed some movements.

Kigen, a resident of Kibwastuiyo village in Bureti Constituency, is said to have collapsed while at home before his family took him to hospital.

His younger brother, Kevin Kipkurui, said he was present when Kigen collapsed. With the help of their cousin, they took Kigen to the hospital at 5.30 pm.

“When we arrived at the casualty department, we met a doctor who asked us to register the details of the patient at the reception while he attended to him,” Kipkurui, who was still in shock, told The Standard.

After registering the patient, Kipkurui said he was again asked to the National Hospital Insurance Fund desk for further documentation of his brother.

Kigen reportedly suffers from a chronic illness.

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“When I went back to the casualty department at around 7.45 pm, I learnt my brother was dead. A nurse told me that he died long before we arrived at the hospital,” Kipkurui said.

He added: “The nurse later handed me a document to take to the mortuary attendant before my brother’s body was moved to the morgue.”

However, at 10.30 pm, Kipkuriu said, as they were waiting for embalming of Kigen’s body, they were informed that in fact, he was not dead.

Mortuary attendants who mummified the body told them that Kigen had regained consciousness.

“The mortician called me into the morgue and we saw him make movements. We were shocked. We could not understand how they could move a person who is still alive into the mortuary,” Kipkurui said.

Kigen, who spoke from his hospital bed yesterday, said he was shocked to learn that he was thought to have died and even taken to the mortuary.

“I cannot believe what just happened. How did they establish that I was dead?” he said.

Kirui, who donned his light-blue hospital uniform, was nevertheless happy to be alive and vowed to dedicate his life to evangelism once he’s discharged from hospital.

“I did not even know where I was when I regained consciousness, but I thank God for sparing my life. I will serve him for the rest of my life,” he said.

The hospital’s medical superintendent Gilbert Cheruiyot said Kigen was in critical condition when he was brought in.

Dr Cheruiyot said: “His relatives presumed he was dead and did not even wait for certification of death. They moved him to the mortuary, on their own.”

He said the clinical officers at the casualty were busy attending to other critically ill patients when Kigen was brought in, including an epileptic and a diabetic patient.

“They asked Kigen’s relatives to give them some time but they accused the clinicians of taking too much time and decided to take him to the mortuary. It was while the mortician was getting ready to embalm his body that she noticed some signs of life,” said Cheruiyot. He said the mortician informed the team at the casualty department which took Kigen back and begun resuscitating him. The process took three hours before the patient was stabilised.

“The patient was later taken to the ward and is responding well to treatment. We hope to discharge him in a few days,” Dr Cheruiyot said yesterday.

He added: “I advise those bringing their loved ones to the hospital to follow the laid down regulations. Before a body is moved the mortuary, it has to be certified by a clinician. In Kigen’s case, we can only say he was lucky, especially because of our qualified mortician who checked him before making any move,” said Cheruiyot.

The bizarre incident saw local MCAs, led by the Majority Leader Hezron Kipngeno, storm the hospital. This is after Chelanget MCA Hezborn Tonui demanded a statement from the heath committee over the incident that shocked the county.


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Diaspora

VIDEO: 28 year old Kenyan woman marries a 60 year old German and tongues can’t stop wagging

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Ciru Njuguna is 28 and her husband Greg Twiss is 60. Please don’t let that age gap fool you, these two deeply love each other and they are living their best life together.

But when people say Ciru is just after Greg’s money and he will end up in a septic tank, that gets to her. She is not ashamed of her relationship and strongly urges the public to let other people be.

“My German husband is older than my father. People say I am his slave and he is a colonial master,” she says.

She sat down with Lynn Ngugi for this exclusive episode of Tuko Talks and this is her story.


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