By Prudence Minayo
Josephine Naisula Lesuuda is a Kenyan politician and women rights activist. She set a precedent by becoming the first female member of parliament for Samburu West Constituency. The legislator has previously worked as a journalist and has been involved in a project that advocates for peace in warring communities. Owing to her peacekeeping efforts, she became the youngest person to be awarded the Order of the Grand Warrior of Kenya (OGW) in 2011.
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She was born on 30th April 1984 in Samburu.
Her father, Jacob Lesuuda, is the first bishop of the Anglican Church of Kenya, Maralal diocese while her mother, Dorcas Lesuuda, is a businesswoman. She is the first born in a family of three children. Her brother’s name is Joel and her sister’s is Phoebe.
She was a student at Sing’ore Girls in Keiyo North Constituency in Elegeyo-Marakwet County where she sat for her Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examination. The legislator went on to join Daystar University where she graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Communication and Community Development. She later pursued an MA in Public Policy and Administration at Kenyatta University.
|2014||To date||Kenyatta University||Masters – Public Policy and Administration (On- going|
|2002||2007||Daystar University||Bachelor of Arts in Communication and Community Development|
|1997||2001||Sing’ore Girls School||Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education|
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Her earlier foray to the limelight began when she worked as a news anchor at the state owned Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) and also as a reporter for Good Morning Kenya.
She then founded ‘Peace Caravan’, an organization that advocates for countrywide peace through collecting and broadcasting peace-related news. She was also involved in peacekeeping missions between warring pastoral communities.
During the 2013 political campaigns, she was a staunch supporter of president Uhuru Kenyatta who rewarded her by nominating her as the senator. She then became the youngest senator in Kenya following her nomination. Lesuuda went on to be elected as vice chair of the Kenyan Women Parliamentary Association.
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Her father was not enthused by the thought of her daughter getting involved in politics and he told her as much.
“When she was nominated to the Senate in 2013, becoming the youngest female senator, I was worried and happy at the same time.
I asked her whether she could be granted another government appointment such as being an ambassador instead of a senator, but she desired to stay home and serve her community.
I gave her my blessings though my heart still didn’t want her to be a politician. I told her to count me out if she wanted me to accompany her to barazas or other big meetings,” Lesuuda says
With time, Mr Lesuuda got used to her daughter being in politics.
In 2017, she moved from the Jubilee party to KANU and sought the Samburu West parliamentary seat. She defeated incumbent Jonathan Lelelit in the elections going on to become the first woman MP of Samburu West Constituency.
Naisula has also been elected chairperson of Regional Integration Committee and a Budget Committee member.
|2017||To date||Kenya National Assembly||Member of Parliament, Samburu West|
|2013||2017||Kenya Senate||Senator, Nominated|
|2006||2010||Kenya Broadcasting Corporation||Reporter/News Anchor
3.Membership of Committees (11th Parliament):
|2013||2017||Devolved Government||Vice Chairperson|
|2013||2015||Broadcasting and Library Services||Chairperson|
|2013||2017||Kenya Women Parliamentary Assistant||Vice Chairperson|
Membership of Committees (12th Parliament):
|2017||date||Committee on Regional Integration||Chairperson|
Awards & Recognition
2011: she received the Order of the Grand Warrior (OGW), awarded to her by retired president Mwai Kibaki. She also received the International Labor Organization’s (ILO) Wedge Award for outstanding professional women.
2014: was listed in Forbes magazine among 20 youngest power women in Africa.
2017: she was one of Mipad Global top 100 under 40 most influential people of African descent in politics and governance in Africa and across the diaspora. Lesuuda was also chosen by the World Economic Forum among 100 young leaders under the age of 40 who are tackling the world’s most complex challenges with innovative approaches.
2018: one of the winners of the One Young World Awards. Also won world politician of the year for outstanding contribution in peacekeeping and education in her community.
The first-term Member of Parliament founded an organization called Naisula Lesuuda Peace Foundation. The organization advocates for peaceful co-existence among pastoral communities and empowers vulnerable children from marginalized communities. It also advocates for the eradication of Female Genital Mutilation and child marriage.
The beautiful legislator married her best friend Robert Kiplagat in a lavish wedding held in Lesarai village, Samburu county on November 17, 2018. The couple have a daughter named Enzi Chelimo Melau Koitaba. She was born on December 12, 2020.
Lesuuda came under-fire from her political detractors who questioned her decision to be married by a man from the neighbouring county. In her response, the legislator stated that no man from her constituency asked for her hand in marriage and she said no.
“I have been on the campaign trail with Samburu men, even to late hours, but none ever asked for my hand in marriage. That is why I found someone else to marry. My parents approved and he paid the dowry,” the legislator said.
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