Kirinyaga County Governor Anne Waiguru turned 50 years of age last week Friday, April 16.
To commemorate the milestone, Waiguru shared five lessons she has learnt in her lifetime and also spoke in an interview with the Sunday Nation.
Below are the interview excerpts followed by Waiguru’s 5 life lessons.
Congratulations on hitting the great milestone of 50 years. How does it feel?
Waiguru: It’s exciting. It’s energising. I feel grateful to God that I’ve made it this far, and that the things that really matter to me are in a good place.
They say life begins at 40. For you, did it really begin at that age? And how have the past 10 years been for you?
While I have tended to celebrate every phase of my life, yes, the 40s were momentous. Some of the most significant events happened at that time. I got the honour of serving in Cabinet, had occasion to start some of the most impactful programmes in the government — including Huduma Centres, the Women and Youth Funds, and AGPO — all in two short years. I got to serve as Governor of a great county. I got married. Some of our children left home. Some got married and got children. I could go on and on. It’s been a blast.
What are your greatest lessons so far, and how have they shaped the decisions you’ve been making about your personal life?
To never lose your bearing, your true north, which for me is my faith in God. To keep focused on what is important and not get distracted. To know that detractors will follow you if you try make impact, much more so if you are a woman in areas “reserved” for men. To keep good friends and stay connected with family for these and God are the only lasting reliables in life.
Some people say this is the age to learn new things, to start new hobbies or maybe travel the world. Are you encouraging these wild thoughts?
Oh yes! I’m taking up golf — and getting good at it (but do I say?). We definitely intend to travel to places we’ve never been to. ’Might do one of those crazy cruises. I may be tempted to do a few things that would have scared me in my 40s. But at the core, I remain me.
Many believe that this is the age when people start to actively plan or revise their retirement lives — where they will live, what they will be doing in old age. Have you done so? If so, how did you manage to juggle the pressure of government and lining up the cards in your life?
Retirement? Life has barely begun! Yes, there is a place to plan for the later years and that we continue to do, but my slowdown season is still a while away. I must also let you know that I easily chew gum and walk at the same time.
What have been your best moments so far? And why?
Watching people’s lives transformed by programmes I initiated, whether at the national or county level, and mentoring people. At a personal level, our regular family meal… and we are very many but it’s a time of much joy and laughter. I am very blessed.
You seem to have slowed down on the political front though; somehow calmed down and started to avoid the big, controversial debates.
I am a student of the Bible. There is a time and a season for everything. Right now Kirinyaga County takes all my energies. We also need to focus our energies on BBI passage because around that many political and economic issues revolve. Once that phase is over we can have this conversation again.
What is your greatest regret? And what would you do differently today were the opportunity to revise it be presented?
I believe that I was very naive and overly trusting in my initial stint in senior positions in government. I assumed everyone meant well. I am wiser now. I still take people at face value until they prove the alternative. But I also prepare for the reality that people could be pushing prejudicial agendas.
What are your inspirations?
To live to see a transformed country with empowered citizens. And to play a significant part in ensuring that transformation happens. At a personal level, to enjoy my final years with family and friends.
Your journey thus far has encountered tribulations, how did you overcome them?
God gave me strength. My family and friends stood by me. I also had the personal comfort of knowing that these were unwarranted attacks so I was never overwhelmed.
What are your future political plans?
All in good time… but I’m not about to fade away.
5 lessons I’ve learnt in life
1. Have an Anchor! Mine is God. Life will throw you twists and turns and in those moments of turbulence the anchor holds!
2. Build a strong support system! Family and friends who stay true and remind you of what life is truly about are invaluable. They will keep you grounded.
3. Live laugh & love! Try new things often. Some of my most enjoyable moments have been driving across this country stopping at Nyama joints, chats with ordinary Kenyans all this in great company! My husband & I have driven to 37 counties We hope to cover the remaining 10 soonest.
4. Think generational impact. Make your foot print extremely clear where you are for two reasons; One for legacy and two, so that those who come after you never have to guess where to step.
5. A special one for the women and young girls out there; we have lesser excuses and greater opportunities than those before us to make our voices heard! Let’s make them and future generations proud!