Gladys Wanga Biography: Background, Age, Political Career, Husband, And Salary

If you don’t know Gladys Wanga as the current governor of Homabay County, you probably know her from a 2017 viral video where she was daring police to do their worst and shoot her.

In the incident, Wanga was protesting being barred from entering the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, where she had gone to receive ODM party leader Raila Odinga from his US tour. This was during the early days of the NASA resistance movement.

While the video propelled her to the public limelight, her activism days began way earlier. From a student leader to the first female governor in Nyanza County, this is Wanga’s journey as told by WoK:

A political legacy

Gladys Atieno Nyasuna Wanga was born on 7th March 1981 in Homabay. She hails from a political family; her late father, Jason Nyasuna, was chairman of Kisumu County Council.

So, I was introduced to politics pretty early in my life. We campaigned even as young kids,” she revealed in a past interview.

She attended the Agha Khan Primary School in Kisumu before proceeding to Kisumu Girls’ High School, where her leadership journey began.

In an interview with Standard, Wanga narrated how, as a prefect, she led other prefects on a go-slow to protest teachers’ disrespect towards prefects.

The prefects refused to maintain order in classrooms and even refused to wear the blue blouses that set them apart from other students. As the ring leader, Wanga was picked and suspended for the whole of her form three year.

She spent the time at home, learning from tutors her father hired for her. Sadly, Mr. Nyasuna would pass away only a year later.

Making history

Wanga proceeded to Kenyatta University in 2000 to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Health Management and later a master’s in Health Management, which she completed in 2012.

At Kenyatta University, she made history as the first female Secretary General of the Student’s Union.

It was also in Kenyatta that she met her husband, George Wanga. The two married after dating for two years. Tragedy struck again when she lost her mother during her fourth year and was left in charge of her siblings.

After university, she worked for a while as a program manager at the Kenyan Trust for African Rock Art before plunging into politics and vying for the Homabay County women representative seat in 2013. She was 32 at the time.

Speaking to Standard, Wanga narrated how, as a woman, she had to work twice as hard to cover all six constituencies of Homabay during her campaigns.

“My campaign vehicle was a small white NZE car we had taken on loan with my husband. People laughed at me. Sometimes I had to depend on my former colleagues for fuel,” said the mother of two.

Her quest was greatly boosted by her impressive track record within the county, having previously helped to mobilize millions of shillings from the European Union to promote tourism in Nyanza in her capacity as a community development worker.

Needless to say, she clinched the seat and retained it during the 2017 general elections. In this capacity, she made history as the first female legislator to chair the powerful Finance and National Planning Committee under Uhuru’s administration.

ODM Loyalist

Wanga has been an ODM party loyalist since her entry into politics over a decade ago. This has earned her a coveted place as left-nant and sworn defender of ODM leader Raila Odinga.

The loyalty gained the attention and admiration of Ida Odinga, Raila’s wife, who in a past event requested Homabay residents to name their children after Gladys Wanga, herself, or Raila Odinga.

Wanga’s political career gained momentum when she clinched the Homabay gubernatorial seat in 2022, becoming the first female governor in the Nyanza region and trouncing former Nairobi governor Evans Kidero and ODM chairman John Mbadi.

She credits her husband – a banker– for her success, saying he was always there for her.

He mobilized resources when we needed them, he was always on the ground with me, he has supported me,” she told Homabay residents in a past campaign.

The couple have been blessed with two children: Gabriel, aged 16, and Essie, aged 14

Hefty Salary

As governor, Gladys Wanga earns an average salary of sh 924 000.

In 2022, she made headlines by rejecting the privileges that come with being governor, saying her goal was not to enrich herself but to work for Homabay residents.

According to Nairobi News, she refused to have a siren fitted on her car in the style of Cyprian Awiti, her predecessor. She also reduced her convoy to two cars, cruising in the same vehicle she used as a woman representative.

Further, unlike her counterparts from other counties who were well on their way to building lavish mansions within their first month in Office, Wanga has done nothing of the sort.

Instead, she reportedly commutes to work from her Kochia home and holds her meetings in a two-bedroomed residence that was once occupied by a civil servant.