Two years ago, Rehema Kiteto became the youngest national government administration officer in Kenya at the age of 24 when she became the deputy county commissioner of Bomet County.
For context, assistant county commissioners were known as District Commissioners (DCs) in formative administrations.
Today, she presides over official government events in the county, receiving salutes from chiefs and other government officials who are often way older than her.
She bagged the job in 2021, just two years after graduating from Egerton University with a degree in Sociology, and English literature.
And no, it wasn’t through connections.
This is her journey as told by WoK:
Rehema Kiteto hails from a humble background in the arid area of Samburu in Kwale County. Historically, Samburu is infamous for its lack of water and cattle rustling.
Her father worked as a salesperson while her mother was a herdswoman in one of the driest areas of the region.
Her education began at Samburu Primary School and later at Mwasere Girls High School before she joined Egerton University to pursue a bachelor’s degree in sociology, English, and Literature.
She was a natural leader, being a dormitory prefect at Mwasere Girls and a class representative at Egerton University.
After graduation in 2019, she got a job in Nakuru as a print journalist under the Standard Media Group.
She was planning to go back to school to do a postgraduate diploma in Journalism when her father discouraged her as he felt Journalism was not a safe career for her.
Consequently, she worked as a Kazi Mtaani Supervisor in Kwale and held a role as the deputy speaker in the Kwale County Youth Assembly.
These leadership roles taught her how to handle different kinds of people and the right kind of courtesy and protocol when approaching seniors.
It also gave her a bird’s eye view of her community’s problems, which included lack of water, illiteracy, and hunger.
This motivated her to try her hand at politics, so she could be in a better position to help her people. She therefore decided to vie for the Samburu Member of County Assembly seat.
But she had underestimated the vast resources, underhand tricks, and other tactics required to succeed as a politician.
Ultimately, she quit the race, citing personal reasons.
“Things became bad when my family started being targeted with petty issues. I decided politics was not the right path for me to take at the moment,” she explained in subsequent interviews.
However, every cloud has a silver lining. Rehema soon learned of ongoing applications for the post of assistant county commissioner through the County Service Commission portal.
Despite lacking the needed experience for the role, she applied for the job anyway.
Traditionally, the job is usually reserved for older and more experienced administration officers.
She was therefore surprised to receive a congratulatory message informing her that she had bagged the job.
She was among the 200 Assistant County commissioners distributed in various parts of the Rift Valley in 2021 ahead of the 2022 general elections.
Her work involves supervising chiefs and assistant chiefs and serving as a link between the community and the government.
And yes, the job comes with a respectable paycheck.
As of the latest data from the Public Service Commission, a deputy county commissioner in Kenya earns between sh 87, 360 and sh 121, 430 and is entitled to a house allowance of between sh 16 800 and sh 45 000 depending on the duty station.
Aside from leadership, Rehema is also a writer, authoring one children’s book called Hell in The Backyard and Other Stories.
She has also founded her own organization — Samburu Hands of Compassion – through which she mentors young people and helps marginalized students access bursaries and scholarships.
Her dedication to public service was acknowledged when she was recognized as one of the outstanding women (under 35) in Kwale County in 2021.
She stands as an inspiration for her agemates, who feel motivated and represented through her accomplishments.