In a field of eight presidential running mates, only one woman mastered the courage to stand tall among them.
Ms Miriam Mutua, an entrepreneur and holder of a degree in Business Administration and Management from Daystar University, is the running mate of Professor Michael Wainaina, who is vying for the presidency in the August 8 General Election as an independent candidate.
Born in the early 1970s in Ndalani village, Yatta, in Machakos County, Ms Mutua went to Central Primary School in Eldoret town and AIC Kessup Girls in Iten, Elgeyo-Marakwet County, before proceeding to university.
In an interview with the Nation, Ms Mutua said she never, in her wildest dreams, imagined of involving herself in politics in her lifetime — until now.
“It is a humbling experience to be a presidential candidate’s running mate,” Ms Mutua said.
Buoyed by leadership skills acquired in her profession as an entrepreneur, Ms Mutua believes her partnership with Prof Wainaina will transform the country.
“We are all in politics in one way or the other, either actively or passively,” she said.
“Politics affects our daily lives and that is not in doubt and, therefore, nobody can avoid it.”
An early-morning call from a friend in April was the starting point of Ms Mutua’s journey into the world of politics.
“I received a call from a friend with whom I had worked in an NGO,” she recalled.
“She told me that Professor Wainaina was looking for a running mate and I fit the bill.”
Ms Mutua said she was interviewed alongside 25 other women for the position before receiving a call later on in May from Prof Wainaina that she had emerged the best candidate.
“It is a humbling position that is purely meant to serve the people and not to be popular through the media,” Ms Mutua said of the Deputy President post.
“It is about service to the country and not self-gratification.”
The assertive, firm and yet humble Ms Mutua urged women not to shy away from venturing into politics, saying they have what it takes to provide better leadership than their male counterparts.
“The position is demanding as sometimes we have meetings till late at night and in the day we have to sit in strategy meetings and also campaign,” Ms Mutua said.
The only woman in a family of 10 says no matter the outcome of the August 8 polls, she is already a leader and the society is looking up to her for advice and seeing her as a role model.
“We all know that elections can go either way; there can only be one President and one Deputy at a time. But, despite the outcome, I am already a leader.”
However, should the duo make it to State House, Ms Mutua says top on their agenda will be to unite the country, fight corruption and empower women and the youth.
“Women and the youth are really in my heart because they have been neglected in this country for a long time,” Ms Mutua said.
She encouraged women to actively venture into politics without fear, saying they can grow to great heights in any leadership position.
“I am happy with the direction this country is taking as far as issues of women are concerned, especially with the introduction of the Woman Rep seat.”
“There are also women candidates who are vying for governorship positions and that is impressive,” she observed.
Ms Mutua, who said she was inspired by her role model the late Prof Wangari Maathai, pointed out that politics should not be a preserve of men because women, too, have admirable leadership qualities as demonstrated by the environmentalist and Nobel laureate.
On why she gave the running mates debate a wide berth, Ms Mutua accused the steering committee of discriminating against the fringe candidates by splitting the debaters in two tiers instead of just putting them all on one platform at prime time.
“We did not snub the debate as some would want to allege but all we asked for is an equal platform for all of us,” Ms Mutua said, wondering: “Who is watching television at 5:30 pm? At that time, people are still at work and others [are] stuck in traffic.
“Were we going to speak to ourselves or to the people of Kenya?”
READ: You’re dishonest, running mates told – VIDEO
The mother of two — a boy and a girl — said although they have been campaigning, especially in the slums, they have been ignored by the media.
“We have been campaigning — especially in Korogocho, Mathare, Kibera, Mukuru Kwa Njenga and Kawangware — but no media has been covering us,” Ms Mutua lamented.
She added: “Campaign is not about shouting and making noise in a public place as people have been made to believe.
“We have been reaching out to people that actually need a change and those are mainly in the slums.”
In her free time, Ms Mutua revealed, she likes staying indoors and spending time with her two children.
But she remained tight-lipped on whether she will vie for any political in 2022.