With upcoming MCA, the future of Kajiado is female

As Abigael Sein cuts the lone figure of a woman taking the bull of male chauvinism by the horns, she is giving hope that more women will aspire to leadership among the Maasai despite retrogressive cultural dictates that have tied them down for generations   


Even though the biblical curse of troubled ground was spoken to Adam, this has long been reversed in rural Kajiado, where women find their every path in life covered with thorns and thistles. It is no different when it comes to leadership.

“I am from a community that does not believe in having women in leadership. Women are lumped together with children. The situation was very tough for me in 2017, but that attitude is gradually changing for the better,” says Abigael Sein, a contestant for the MCA seat in Rombo Ward.

Indeed, as political temperatures reach a crescendo across the country, many women among the Maasai and other pastoralist communities continue to find themselves shoved to the political side-lines and most of them have given up, and opted out of competitive politics.

There are many factors that contribute to this situation, not least of which is the role of women in their own families. Night meetings are particularly problematic; Sein says she is lucky to have an understanding spouse.

A delicate balancing act

Matters are not made any easier by the fact that married women must seek their husband’s agreement before expending family resources on campaigns. Finances have therefore been a major hindrance to the emergence of women politicians.

“I have many workers in my businesses and I must balance all those things. You must show that your involvement in politics will not mess up with your other responsibilities,” says Sein.

In Kajiado, Ms Sein has made history by becoming the first woman to vie for an MCA seat.

“I have been scandalised and called all sorts of unprintable names,” she says.

Those hurdles have only strengthened her resolve to contest for the Rombo seat, facing incumbent Lengete ole Kamete.

For women in Kajiado, her story of resilience is one that has served to carve out a pioneering path, making her a model for other women who may wish to venture into leadership and politics. But politics is not where she started.

Table banking

“I started women’s “Tuinuane” groups in 2008. These are table banking groups that we started with Ksh20 contributions, and at the end of the year every member gets Ksh1,250,” says Sein. “We progressively grew and increased contributions, until we now contribute up to Ksh4,000 weekly. Seeing these women grow has been a major motivation for me.”

As the treasurer for all those years, Sein says she has also taken the initiative to mentor and train others in order not to create a vacuum as she seeks political office. “With or without me, the women’s groups will continue. I have taught them to do their own accounts, share profits, and everything else.”

According to Jane Immanuel, a member of the table banking groups, the effort has enabled hundreds of women to benefit in ways they would never have thought possible. “Sein has been a pillar to the success of women in this area. We have educated our children, and some members have bought plots and built. We have also bought cows and goats. Our husbands have also appreciated these efforts.”

Mama Riziki, also a member of the table banking groups, agrees, easily endorsing Sein for the MCA seat. “Young men have also benefitted by having their wives in these groups. Men are happy to see their children in school and not having to bear the shame of being unable to educate their children.”

Voice of the voiceless

On her own volition and using personal resources, the aspiring MCA has also educated children from the community. “I have educated many children who are not my biological children. God has helped me through small businesses to educate many children,” says Sein.

Many challenges still remain in the community. “The roads are in a pathetic state. The leadership of this area has failed its people and it is time for more purposeful leaders like myself to get into the County Assembly and provide leadership,” says Ms Sein.

Her priorities, she says, include empowering the youth through group initiatives, improving the status of roads, ensuring healthcare facilities have staff and medicines, improving the agricultural sector, and nurturing the sporting and other talents among the youth.

The 43-year-old has for years been involved with women’s groups in her Maasai community around Rombo, located in reserve Kajiado.

“I want to be the voice of the voiceless in my community. Women have been my driving force,” she says with enthusiasm.

But women won’t be her sole concern given the poverty that afflicts all sections of the area population. “I will be focusing on the whole community of Rombo,” she adds.

The troubles Sein has gone through have been worth the effort, because she has gained a vantage position to help her community and is determined to rise in leadership and attract even more opportunities. “There is obviously the advantage of networking with senior people that I would not have otherwise known. It is also easier to talk to organisations that can help the community when you are in a leadership position, because they can trust you.”

A heavy burden

Ms Sein is passionate about bringing development into the area, saying residents deserve more than what has been done by previous leadership in the area.

“Let us assist both women and the youth to get to leadership and the opportunity to serve,” says Sein, adding that even close male relatives have gone the extra mile to malign her all because of her entry into politics.

Like many of her contemporaries, Ms Sein was born and bred amid the excruciating poverty of rural Kajiado. Her early education and secondary school studies were all obtained in the county, where she is also married.

As the bearer of the only hope to have an elected woman MCA in the county, Ms Sein will need to use all her wit and courage if she is to become first past the post.  It is a burden weighing heavily on her.

Related posts

Paul Kosencha: the passing of a Maa icon

Kajiado Star Editor

Azimio in Kajiado, could this be the lull before the storm?

Manje, Sathya Sai donates wheelchairs in Kware slums

Kajiado Star Editor