Nominated Senator Karen Nyamu spoke in a wide-ranging interview on Vybez Radio and below are some excerpts from the chat.
You’ve got everything on social media. I’m curious because a bit of controversy has swirled, and we’ve also been told you missed the UDA disciplinary committee.
It is not all the parties involved. The disciplinary committee is still on, and I don’t want to say what I think about it here because whatever I say about it is not so good.
How do you handle trolls? You have been a victim.
I got myself into the limelight through negative trending. One day, a businessman named Jacob Juma passed away, and he happened to be a client of a law firm I used to work at, so we knew each other. And so there was a rumour that he had been killed by so-and-so because of me. I prayed and cried. It was the first time I went through this and others so often that I became numb. (President William) Ruto has been told everything, but he is there and strong. I love people and can’t leave social media.
There are laws against it. And not everybody is strong like me. But people don’t know that there are laws about it. Yeah, of course, come up with a whole new set of them. I talked to my daughter and told her everything. When I have issues, I talk to my dad.
Can we talk about your love life?
I don’t have a love life. I know this story will die. I am very single. But we have children, and one thing about my children’s father is that he is not many things, but he is responsible in that he does what he is supposed to do. He is responsible for the children, even if he disappoints me. Motherhood is beautiful. I adore motherhood; it’s a lovely sensation. I love motherhood, and it gives me the commitment to work extra hard to give them the best.
Can you have another child or children?
You never know (if) I get mubabaz nikapende sana. I don’t take anything off my table. I don’t check out, and I don’t cross anything off my list.
What can you tell young girls?
Just be free and chase your dreams. Always pray and trust in God.
Tell us about drinking.
I like my drink. I am not a drunkard but who was alcohol made for? I can’t regret my Dubai incident.
How is your new position?
We have crazy schedules and crazy goals, so you have to work extra hard to meet them both. We have goals to meet for the country. And I’m excited and grateful for the opportunity.
How is the journey in this job compared to your previous commitments?
I am great, and energetic, and have to meet deliverables for the country, especially if I want to make a difference in society and leave a mark. It’s very involving, and I mean, it’s quite demanding at the end of the day.
This is not how I pictured it. I thought I’d take three days off and work at my own pace. But now we are in recess and working on bills, researching, and holding meetings.
Explain your role as a nominated senator.
The role of a nominated senator is just like any other senator’s. Our roles are the same. The Senate has a role that is to oversee the county governments, but on legislative duty, you can make laws on anything under the sun. Our Senate duty also includes dealing with impeachment issues, and the Senate has the authority to summon anyone in the country, including the president and governors, to answer questions of public interest. We play an oversight role.
Was it your ambition to join politics? Was it your plan at some point?
I had close friends in politics from when I was at the university. So it was sort of a goal, but I didn’t know how I was going to get started. But I found myself in politics in 2015, 2016, and 2017, thanks to a vote for a female representative. And even if I didn’t make it, my experience was invaluable; after all, that’s an inexperienced person thanking themselves for putting themselves out there because it puts everything into perspective. After that, I also got an opportunity to serve on the Nairobi Water Board. And so it gave me an introduction to public service, and I understood how you could get into a space where you have so many big dreams, big expectations, and radical changes you want to make.
I mean, you’re limitless. You can find your way in for your people, even if there are roadblocks and bottlenecks.
How did you break the news to your parents that you were joining politics?
Okay, because you can experience it in 2017. The first time he resisted me, he wasn’t very keen on it. I mean, he was not very supportive, in fact, and felt bad when he called me to find me in Kibera, Kariobangi, and other places at night.
But he’s always known me as a go-getter. What I decided to do, I just went ahead and did it, and it was very smooth. He was very supportive. And we actually did this campaign with him, even if I stepped down at some point. He was very involved.
What do you expect from Ruto’s leadership?
Ruto is laying the ground for tomorrow. He has already done away with the subsidy and things will be better.
What is the youth agenda?
Youths are broke and unemployed. They are going through a lot, and the government should consider their roadmap first. I have a lot of DMS messages from guys asking for jobs. So that is the greatest challenge and burden in my heart and mind that youth are currently facing. It is time for the government to put into action the strategy and roadmap that we developed for the youth during the campaign. We have to empower and equip them so that they are not desperate to start taking drugs and get addicted. Because most youths have not received much education, you must teach them skills. So far, the government has recognized youth and is developing programs to help them develop their talents, skills, and other opportunities.
There has always been a youth agenda. What is different now?
I feel like we’re on the right track because we will inject $50 billion (Sh6.2 trillion) into the economy each year, which is different from other regimes. It doesn’t have to change today, but definitely in a year. Given the steps we’ve taken, we’d expect change soon. The government is creating a good environment for everyone to invest, find a job, and do business.