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Former Aga Khan Student and a fishmonger turned politician

I found her preparing her first party meeting with other village leaders. ‘We can talk before the meeting starts, it is an introductory meeting nothing much to worry’’. Meet Amimo a lady of medium height, with a sharp memory .The little known past student of the prestigious Aga Khan School, living in the sprawling slums of Kibera has trounced the big names in the political circles to be the first lady to win the Chairperson of the Orange Democratic Party (ODM) in her ward. This is one of the most powerful parties in the country .The UNHABITAT statistics estimates the population in Kibera to be a million comprising of nine villages. The average villager lives on a dollar a day.

Having seen her from childhood I would never have related her to be a strong willed lady, much more a person who would pursue politics which is largely believed to be a man’s domain. She was a fishmonger and since my child hood days, I would see her busy preparing the fireplace awaiting for customers to buy her fish ,sometimes it was not easy given the background of the villagers mainly who worked in the Industrial area.

But wait until she talks! She has a wealth of knowledge, with a mastery of English and elonguence of speech that she does not pass as an ordinary woman living in the slums, after all there is a notion that slums are places of crime and illiteracy. It leaves one amazed at how underutilized she has been. As a daughter born to civil servant parents they had never lived in a slum. Life was modest and the parents ensured that all the 12 children got quality education. And for sure she attended the Aga Khan High School from 1978-81.This is one of the schools that was associated with the rich and mighty at that time and up todate.And as she recalls her school days ,the face lightens up as if struck by a great idea . ‘I have great memories, I like that school, it is really a great school and now am very wise nobody can challenge me. I can do many things on my own’.

After high school Amimo was enrolled in a teachers training institute and graduated as a primary school teacher, only taught for such a short time before being swept off the feet by the love of her heart and got married to. And Like any young woman back then with big dreams of being in a white collar job, the husband denied her dignity and instead took her straight to the slum to start a family. ‘My husband knew I was highly educated but he told me that I could not work any longer as a teacher and would allow me to do business. So I followed the rules, I submitted myself. And after two months of feeling stranded in the slum because I had never known people live in such poor condition, I decided to sell fish at my door step I have lived in the slum all my life-30years’’.

The fear of women becoming powerful than their husbands decades ago contributed to high level of dependency and illiteracy among women. Those were our men. The culture dictated that a man as a head of family needed to remain strong and provide everything with little or no decision coming from the woman. Even though my husband is supportive of my being in politics ,stills feels that had he listened to some of my ideas he would have progressed by far.Amimo has three grown up boys, the only daughter who was the eldest died in 2010 out of mysterious illness. She woke up one morning complaining of pains and within few minutes had fainted, and she was never to recover, by the time they reached the hospital which is 2km away. Had been confirmed dead. ``Upto now I cannot tell what really happened’’.
The issue of healthcare system in the slum is very challenging, because there are no emergence ambulances to transport the sick. It is going to be an issue that need address .Health is important because once you know your problem in time ,you can deal with it early enough. To realize health for all by 2105 is a huge task that needs community support.

A truly iron lady to reckon in the village with a charisma and clear vision for the community. Her dreams have come true after nurturing it for 30years, knowing too well that she will be a Women Leader or Political Leader. ‘I started slowly after being in business for long, I saw an opportunity to educate myself and other women in community mobilization and lobbying skills. I have been engaged with the OXFAM, CARE KENYA AND UNDUGU SOCIETY”. The passion to teach led her to be involved indirectly in the school board who she has contributed significantly in its progress.

The greatest of all is that Amimo plays a great role to empower women and men on gender violence. Has been a great champion for health matters in agitating for clean water in the slums of which she is a member of the water committee. ‘I have always known that I could do much better in leadership, being the Chairperson, I will use my skills of dialogue to reduce conflict within the communities. I aspire even to be more than a chairperson’’.

Her political mileage is one to admire, and the resilience that comes with it. The parting short to women anywhere is that ‘Women need to know how to live in whatever lifestyle there is, if it lower or higher. And they should struggle to uplift themselves to reach their targets’’.
As we wind up this fascinating story of humble beginnings, Amimo is for sure going to move the agenda of Health for all for the next 5years.



ikirimat's picture


I think this is a strong story. I especially like the last statement from Amimo ' Women need to know how to live in whatever lifestyle there is, if it lower or higher. And they should struggle to uplift themselves to reach their targets’’.
Good luck

Grace Ikirimat

"It takes the hammer of persistence to drive the nail of success."

Okeny-Lucia's picture

Thank you Ikirimat!

Dear Ikirimat,
Thank you for taking time to read.The hammer of persistence must go on to deliver the success stories of women who would rather not have been heard in the mainstream media.

Lucia Buyanza
Reproductive Health

nasreenamina's picture

Wonderful works

Hello girls, both of you have written amazing and original stories. Congratulations! the voice of women around the world making decisions in behalf of their lives encourage us to improve and sharp our potential.

I wonder if this is your final profile text? Just remember you the instructions about publication:

Post your final story in your PulseWire Journal.

Your article should be less than 1,000 words.

Post your article in your personal journal on PulseWire by 11:55pm Pacific Standard Time, 12th December 2011.

You must tag your assignment with "2011 VOF Module 1".

At the end of your assignment, please copy and paste the following text:

This article is part of a writing assignment for Voices of Our Future a program of World Pulse that provides rigorous new media and citizen journalism training for grassroots women leaders. World Pulse lifts and unites the voices of women from some of the most unheard regions of the world.

I've made mine, you can read it here :

One's life has value so long as one attributes value to the life of others, by means of love, friendship, indignation and compassion

Follow me @DivinaFeminista

Okeny-Lucia's picture

You are a great lady Nasreenima!

I am sincerely indebted to your comments and reminder.I think hadnt looked at the finer details.I still remember your words of encouragement on our last skype talk.Thank Pulse sister!
Good day!

Lucia Buyanza
Reproductive Health

ikirimat's picture

Just posted mine

Thanks dear for the guidance, very useful reminder. I have been able to post mine today on

Grace Ikirimat

"It takes the hammer of persistence to drive the nail of success."

MaDube's picture

Well done

Great story sisi.

I have sent you comments to your inbox.

Okeny-Lucia's picture

Hey Madube!

Am glad to know that you are back.I do hope you completed your assignment too! I will check out and Thank you!

Lucia Buyanza
Reproductive Health

Potter's picture

Cudos! Cheers! And a really HUGE hooray!


Okeny-Lucia's picture

Dear Jana

I feel a heavy feeling out of me! I know this is just the beginning.You are a great person to me and thank you despite the many irregularities in our communication.
Good day

Lucia Buyanza
Reproductive Health

nasreenamina's picture


You're welcome my dear. One day I tagged my assignment in the wrong way and Usha was very generous in telling me, otherwise I'd never realized. I am apassionate writer and I am always losing details. Legend says Istambul fell into the hands of Otomans because the one responsible for closing the "back door" forgot it. So, despite the thick walls, Istanbul fell. Little detail that changed history.

You have written a powerful story. I really liked. I hope to read more this week, cause every word from all of you sisters is nourishing for my soul, I mean it humbly. I found inspiration in all of you even when I dont have time everyday to comment, please be sure I keep with your stories in my mind and always take lessons for better living that remains in my heart. I hope to see you soon online for a new chat.

One's life has value so long as one attributes value to the life of others, by means of love, friendship, indignation and compassion

Follow me @DivinaFeminista

Juliette Maughan's picture


Thank you for this story.

In the Caribbean the dialogue about women in politics is a very active one and it is amazing to see from your profile the story of an educated woman that married and moved to the slums where she was out of formal work for so long yet she still managed after those years to make a difference where she was then continued in spite of the barriers to fulfill her destiny.

I also appreciated how you were able to bring out her family life as well. So often women feel like they have to choose and her character is telling as even after she had suffered such a great loss she took that pain and turned it into love.

It really teaches that we are all called to make a difference and that we can lead with perseverance and will.


amiesissoho's picture

Leadership instincts

I read her your story with great interest. it teaches us that one should not loose hope but to exploit every opportunity to make a difference.


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