It has come to the attention of this author that the Association of Medical Students of University of Nairobi (AMSUN) has a new chairperson. A lady chairperson. It has been widely whispered that she is the first female AMSUN chairperson ever. You must have seen the posters and the celebration videos, and if not, dear reader, for this very reason I exist. Ms. Winnie Abila is her name. I should be pleased to make it known to you, that W.A. is indeed a great leader that the student doctors at the University of Nairobi found her worthy of the position so traditionally dominated by men. Some have been said to have been good, others have been murmured to have been not so good. But even so, it is a new dawn in Medical school, UoN.
Lady Whistledown’s society papers, 30th January 2021.
First of all, if you’ve read this far and you don’t like Bridgerton; I am sorry. Even I, didn’t like it that much but here I am making silly references. I couldn’t help it. The same way I couldn’t help reading the books. Your grace, I am actually reading Bridgerton 1 (The Duke and I), I’m practically living in the ton right now. Thanks to Julia Quinn…If you know you know.
Secondly, if you’ve read this far and you haven’t watched the series, well, ‘shame on you’ is the only thing that comes to mind right now.
Finally, I move on to exactly what brought me here: A WIN FOR WINNIE IS A WIN FOR US ALL.
It all started in December, at least on my end. I don’t know how your December 2020 was, but as much as WhatsApp aunties were unusually quiet on my end; (by the way I didn’t get any forwarded festive seasons messages… strange but pleasant!) Winnie Abila’s posters greatly dominated my WhatsApp status feeds. Of course she was soon to be joined by others.
If you’re a fan of Trevor Noah’s, The Daily (social distancing) show (it’s a shame that some people think his entire career depended on Donald Trump’s presidency) or maybe a fan of president Barack Obama; you’ve probably seen that interview where the 44th talks about slogans. As someone who is greatly fascinated by words, poetry and politics, ‘Yes we can’ certainly appealed to my heart. (Uasin Gishu county governor, Hon. Jackson Mandago would say it should have appealed to the lungs but that’s a hard picture to imagine, to be honest). And so, ‘A win for Winnie is a win for all’ settled comfortably in my ventricles.
I will take the risk of saying even ‘Make America great again’ sounded good to me. But like Obama said; we have to be careful about slogans. Which I agree. ‘Defund the police’ was certainly a questionable one and could easily make Black Lives Matter movement lose some significant support in some quarters.
‘A win for Winnie is a win for all’ didn’t just settle in my heart; it got to my soul. I even wrote a poem about it. And that’s why I am here today after such a long time. I am elated. To say the least.
It is in the year 2021 that America made history after swearing in the first female vice president. And yes! It feels nice to finally drop the “elect”. My heart is filled with joy to know that miles away, in a land farther than the edges of the oceans that separates us from VP Kamala Harris, here in Nairobi, Kenya; we shall be counted as writers of history.
Trevor kept saying ‘we live in history books’ when talking about the insurrection at the US capitol, and yes! To Winnie who volunteered herself to be our pen and to you all who campaigned and most importantly voted for her; Congratulations. You just re-wrote history and found yourselves a page in the history books that you can permanently occupy. (I really want to insert Bernie Sanders’ photo here but you get the picture, don’t you?)
I recently finished reading ‘Lean in’ by Sheryl Sandberg. If I haven’t talked to you about that book, I just don’t know you. But now that you’re here, dear reader, I should be pleased to make your acquaintances. Sheryl writes so practically about women in leadership. My attention is drawn to these words on the cover: Women, Work and The Will to Lead. Emphasis on the will to lead.
In 2017, I attended Commission ’17 organized by FOCUS Kenya. One of the seminars was about politics. By now I don’t have to tell you that I attended that one. There were so many other “more spiritual” sessions I could have attended by the way. Anyway, Senator Samuel Poghisio, the then guest speaker for the session said something rather obvious but very upsetting. “The only way you can lead from an elective position is if you vie and actually win the election.” Obviously, unless you’re in Nairobi city county that makes so much sense at the mention of it.
I find it upsetting (in a positive manner) because a lot of us (especially we women) aspire to be leaders, we want to solve problems, even the ones beyond our abilities. We want to offer our so generously God-given talents and skills for the betterment of the society. How sweet? But here comes the mother of all captivities; “I don’t want to be a politician”. (Here, I want to really use that quote T-bag says a lot (We are the captives of our own identities, living in prisons of our own creations) but I have been nursing my wounds ever since Wentworth Miller said he won’t be playing Michael anymore because he’s a gay man and Michael is a straight character? Rest in Peace, Prison Break).
Well, sorry Miss. But I should be pleased to make it known unto thee that some of the real power to influence sits on those elective posts/political seats and if you want real change, if you believe that you’re the agent of that change; unfortunately, one way or another, you’d have to make yourself sit there. For further clarification, you can consult Bobi Wine. (I know you wanted me to say Kamala but really, Uganda is just here. And besides, I heard internet got restored. And you can learn a lot from men also. Am surprised this far I haven’t made any references to my own father. I most certainly have learned a lot from him more than I have any other person, living or dead).
You’re probably willing but you’re afraid of losing that young am who makes you feel like Daphne and him The New Duke of Hastings in a dimly lit garden. And how mortifying it will be if your sorry self remained in the shelf for another season, completely uncertain of finding another man? If you asked me, it’s not worth it. One of my friends made it known to me that her then boyfriend told her he didn’t want a girl in politics when she showed interest in 2020 AMSUN elections. (If you’re reading this, I’m glad you guys broke up. And Yes! I have waited so long to say that). I for sure have encountered such comments even from ordinary friends. Well, Lemme tell you Maina, ata mimi sikutaki btw!!
Sheryl Sandberg goes out of her way to explain how sometimes we find ourselves in positions that nobody prepared us for. A first female chairperson for example. I like how Amanda Gorman put it when she said “I would be nowhere without the women whose footsteps I dance in”. Here’s to a woman who has climbed a hill before. Whether Winnie is ahead of you or you ahead of her; her win is a win for us all indeed! And how I pray that this honor that has been given her shall remain honorable this year and beyond.
To Winnie; if you’re reading this right now, Congratulations. You and I know that I love you so much. While you honor the desire of Medical students to have a great leader, remember every girl out there, young and old, is looking up to your leadership. Some are aware of it now, some aren’t. Like Kamala said, you’re certainly the first, but you won’t be the last. While that may make you smile; it is also true that having a second, a third, a fourth, a fifth and beyond entirely depends on you. The First.
All the very best. Congratulations.