By Prudence Minayo
Margaret Kenyatta is the current First Lady of Kenya. She assumed this position when Uhuru Kenyatta won the presidency in the 2013 general elections. The First Lady is elegant, soft spoken and shies away from publicity. As the First Lady, she is known for her Beyond Zero Campaign and is a patron to numerous social and environmental concerns and oversees the Pupils Rewards Scheme (PURES) mentorship program.
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Margaret Kenyatta was born on 8th April 1964.
She is an alumni of Kianda School, St. Andrews school in Molo and Kenyatta University where she pursued a Bachelor of Education degree.
Margaret Wanjiru Gakuo was born to Dr. Ephantus Njuguna Gakuo and German mother Magdalena. Her father was the first African Managing Director of Kenya Railways after taking over from GPG Mackay in 1964. He had returned from Germany three years earlier where he had been teaching for a year after his PHD. Dr. Njuguna returned to the country with a German wife. Before joining university, he was a student at Alliance High School. He served as Secretary of the East African Tobacco Company before becoming Director General of the East African Railways and Harbors.
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The first lady will be remembered for her passion in fighting to reduce the child mortality rate in Kenya. In 2014, she launched a nationwide health initiative targeting mothers at grassroots levels. This campaign was dubbed Beyond Zero and was aimed at improving maternal and child mortality rates. The campaign was inspired by her own loss decades ago when she lost her second daughter. They were able to raise enough money for the establishment of thirty mobile clinics. In 2014, she became the first African first lady to complete a 42 kilometre race and was also named UN Person of the year owing to her campaign.
The first lady has also been a champion in the fight against cancer encouraging patients to get screening for breast, cervical and prostate cancer. Margaret has also encouraged people to fight diabetes by choosing a healthier lifestyle. She was also part of the opening of the WE Charity College in Narok county.
Margaret and Uhuru were friends when they were still in high school and became a couple in 1989. The president revealed that he met the first lady through her elder brother Maina Gakuo.
The two exchanged their vows at the Holy Family Basilica Church in Nairobi in 1991. The couple has then blessed with three children, two boys and a girl:
- Jomo, he is their eldest son married to Fiona Achola Ngobi who is an accountant by profession.
- Jaba Muhoho is the second son who is a designer. He won the 2014 Showcase Designer of the Year Award in the Emerging Designer Category during the Nairobi Expo.
- Ngina Kenyatta is their only daughter and has a degree in International Relations and Politics.
A 2019 article by Business Daily, reported that during the Jubilee administration money paid to the office of the First lady and the deputy president’s wife had tripled. In May 2019, it was reported that treasury would allocate Sh723.6 million to the office of the First Lady Margaret Kenyatta and Rachel Ruto in the year starting July with salaries for the aides, travel and entertainment taking the bulk of the budget. This figure had tripled compared to 2013 when the two received Sh187.3 million.
Business Daily reported that in 2013 the office of Margaret Kenyatta received Sh114.4 million while in 2019 it received Sh426.1 million.