Hellen Nkaissery’s role in growth of husband’s political career

She went to Tumutumu Girls’ High School in Nyeri for “A” Levels and later trained as a teacher at the Kenya Science Teachers’ College.

She taught maths and physics in several schools, among them Kericho Tea Secondary School, before retiring after 14 years to help her husband when he joined politics.

The wife of Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery, Hellen, played a crucial role in the growth of his political career.

She is a renowned grassroots mobiliser in Kajiado County and has worked hard to improve the living conditions of Maasai women.

It is believed that the extensive grassroots network she established in the course of her work helped her husband clinch the Kajiado Central seat for the first time in the 2002 General Election and retain it twice during the 2007 and 2013 polls, before joining the Cabinet in December 2014.

EXPLOITATION

Mrs Nkaissery was the patron of the Kajiado Central Constituency Milk Project, an initiative that was formed in 2002 and which brought together six women’s groups who wanted to sell their milk to Kenya Cooperative Creameries for a profit and stop the exploitation by middlemen.

At the time, Maasai women were trekking long distances with the milk on their backs to find customers and most ended up selling it at throw-away prices just to get rid of it before it got spoilt.

 She once brought together MPs from Rift Valley to raise funds for a milk cooler at Nkoile, located 20km from Kajiado town, but not enough was raised.

But undeterred, she pressed on with the idea of pooling resources, hence the formation of the milk project.

COLLECT RENT

So successful was the venture that one of the groups bought a plot at Bissil trading centre and developed it and its members still collect rent to date.

The milk project has since changed its name to Maasai Women Dairy Cooperative Society and its membership has grown from 1,000 to more than 4,000, all drawn from the whole of Kajiado County and beyond.

“I am more of a background person, but I do a lot of support for him,” Mrs Nkaiserry told a local television station in an interview at their home in Bissil last year.

“When he went into politics that is when I realised that I had a bigger role to play,” she said.

MILK PROJECT

She might not have expounded much on the political capital that her wildly successful milk project brought her husband, but it is generally acknowledged in Kajiado Central constituency that it played a big role in winning him his political battles.

During the interview, she portrayed a softer face of her husband, far from the tough, hard-talking retired general that Kenyans are used to seeing on television.

“He may portray that image that he is too tough but I think he is a very soft person,” she said. 

TEACHER

She told the station that she married Mr Nkaiserry in 1981 while he was a trainer at the military academy at Ilmanet. 

They have four children. The daughter of a colonial chief, Mrs Nkaissery was the first girl to go to school in her area.

She has also fought against the scourge of female circumcision in Kajiado: “A woman can still be a mature woman without going through FGM,” she once said.

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