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CHARITY KALUKI NGILU

Charity Kaluki Ngilu

Charity Kaluki Ngilu has established herself as one of the most powerful female politicians in Kenya. She is very well liked across the country eventhough its all up in the air whether this is as a result of her policies or pretty looks--especially among male voters. She made history in 1997 when she became the first woman in Kenya to run for President. She ran under the Social Democratic Party(SDP) banner and finished 5th overall with 7.9% of the votes(488,600).

Ngilu was born in 1952 in Mbooni, Makueni District which is located in Kenya's Eastern Province. She attended Mbooni Intermediate school after which she proceeded to the Prestigious Alliance Girls High School. She graduated from High School in 1972 after which she enrolled for a Secretarial course at the Government Secretarial College. Her course soon paid off as she got a secretarial job at the Central Bank of Kenya(CBK) a year after. She left her job at CBK in 1975 to train as a Certified Public Secretary(CPS) in Business Management at the Kenya Institute of Administration(KIA). In 1978, she landed a job at Chase Manhattan Overseas Corporation as an Administrative Manager, a job she kept until 1981. During her stint at Chase Manhattan the enterprising Ngilu also started her own business, Ani-Plastics Limited.

Ngilu entered the Kenyan political scene in 1992 following the repeal of section 2A of the constitution that re-introduced Multi-Party politics in the country. She joined the opposition Democratic Party(DP) under Chairman Mwai Kibaki. During the 1992 General Elections she contested and won the Kitui Central parliamentary seat on a DP ticket. Her remarkable triumph underscored her popularity in the region that had been considered the ruling party KANU's stronghold. Matter of fact she became the only opposition party Member of Parliament in the whole Kitui District. It was after this win that her political star began shining nationally. She steadily climbed the ranks within DP and in 1997 as was expected, declared her intentions to seek the country's Presidency on a DP ticket. While this news was received with enormous joy by her supporters, and Kenyans in general who were excited by the prospects of a woman running for President, the same was not true among DP bigwigs who began bracing for a major showdown between mama and party founder and chairman Mwai Kibaki. They were concerned that a bitter battle between the two might split the party in the middle thus weakening it ahead of the coming General Elections.

When party chairman Kibaki won the party's nomination for President, Ngilu left DP and joined the Social Democratic Party(SDP). She soon became SDP's presidential candidate. In the 1997 General Elections that saw the re-election of President Daniel arap Moi, Ngilu finished 5th garnering 488,600 votes(7.9%). Wrangles within the SDP again saw her decamp, this time forming her own National Party of Kenya(NPK). Her NPK later played a major role in the establishment of the coalition party National Alliance of Kenya(NAK) that later morphed into the now famous NARC which unseated KANU from power in the 2002 General Elections. Kibaki, who won the country's Presidency under NARC has since mended bridges with Ngilu and has her as one of his Cabinet Ministers. Whether Ngilu will run again for the highest office is anyone's guess eventhough mine will still be in the affirmative.

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