Oxford trained activist cum politician Kingwa Kamencu is a woman on the move. A woman with ambitions to be Kenya’s first female president. She spoke to SDE on why she formed the Kenya Sex Party, motivations and journey to the top.
What have you been up to far from politics?
I have been doing a lot of different things and mostly it has been related to getting different sectors together, getting sectors that are going to be very key when we talk about transformation. And for us what we are doing is working with those types of people who move ahead of everyone else, those who are able see further than everyone else can see.
Those are people in the areas of human rights defenders, people in the arts like the media, entrepreneurs and innovators. What we are doing is setting up the environment in those sectors to be conducive so that the people there are able to do the things that they need to be doing and also building up their capacities.
It is not Kingwa who is going to make the change. There are already people on the ground who are seeing the future and what needs to be done.
What I am doing now is just building their capacities, amplifying their voices and adding strength to what they are doing. It is a process and we have to work through people and with people.
What defines you as a person?
I do a lot of things. I do acting, civil society organising, media work, enterprise but the one word that defines me is I am a writer. I hold dear into that world because as writers you are an author. You are authoring new words, new realities.
I’m trying to create something new in this Kenyan space. I am trying to create a new type of Kenyan where we are all flourishing away from those things we complain about like corruption and human rights violations.
Tell about you journey in education
I was in Kaaga Girls High school in Meru then I joined the University of Nairobi where I studied history and literature because writing has been in me since primary and secondary school days.
I wrote my first book while I was in campus where it ended up winning three awards: Jomo Kenyatta price for literature, Wahome Mutahi prize where it was number two and National book development council manuscript award.
I started writing fiction then worked with Daily Nation as writer. After that I went to do masters in African studies and creative writing. When I got back, I ventured into politics.
What inspired your shift to politics from the literary world?
Anger made me jump into the deep end in politics. I was in the United Kingdom, a country that takes care of its people, a country that has free health care. When I compared with my country Kenya, I was saddened by the state of things.
While in my stay there, at that time there were big posters at train stations highlighting the drought situation in my mother country. I wasn’t happy at all because we do not deserve to beg for food 50 years after independence.
Kenya is not a poor country it is just that there is a problem with our leader ship. I was the president in Oxford University Africa Society group an association of African Students at Oxford University. We used to invite leaders to speak about the situation in Africa but what used to feature always was that we need new leadership and governance. I wondered where this new leadership is was going to come from if I don’t offer myself. I came back to Kenya in 2011 as the country was closing on the 2012 general elections. I vowed to announce that I was going to run as a president which I did.
As a country we are tired of being lied to all the time. There is a lot of hypocrisy in our politics and I am like a breath of fresh air. I think that’s why a lot of people are interested in me and my candidature. I am very real not a pretentious kind of person.
Madam President that people know is a fictional creation. She even has TV program, a wonderful web series.
Do you think the nakedness in ‘Madame President’creations on YouTube overshadow your bid or do you think you are misunderstood?
I like fiction in reality and reality in fiction. There is Kingwa and there is a character Madam President who goes by the name Kingwa. I like the character that I created. She makes me happy and liberates me from the chains of hypocrisy. She is mad and crazy but there is something very nice and endearing about her.
I like simplicity where I interact with anybody anywhere without people taking me as an unfriendly politician. I like a real and genuine engagement with Kenyans no matter my position.
Comparing your politics with that of Martha Karua, don’t you fear some women won’t take you serious with what you are doing? Do you feel pressure to fit in?
I used to feel that pressure and it is that pressure that made me say I am not going to do that kind of politics. We have not allowed ourselves to be human beings who come in different shapes, colors and forms. I don’t think I have made it easier for women. I think I have made it easier for women because I have allowed women to be human.
People tend to attack women in politics with the issue of sexuality. So I decided to confront it and talk about it openly to silence those with plans to use it to flag me down. It liberated women in one being way.
You recently launched Kenya Sex Party. Tell us about it in comparison to ‘serious’ parties like ODM, Jubilee Party, KANU.
They have terrible names. Am tired of those clichés like national democratic front, national liberation blah blah. Those are clichés that we’ve borrowed from the west and they don’t mean anything to us here.
Can we move away from those because it is just some copy and paste? Kenya Sex Party is about an audacity, a new way of thinking. It’s about originality moving away from the copy paste mentality. It’s about creativity.
Whenever I tell people about the party, they give me new interpretation of what it means, they are like…oh yea we are giving birth to a new kind of Kenya, we are moving away from hateful politics to romantic politics. It is already doing what it needs to be doing.
What is the agenda for the party?
We have identified people in the media, artists and human rights defendants as the people at the forefront of change and transformation. For us one of our key things is, we want the arts to be the number one provider of GDP in the country.
We are birthing a new order. The reason we are where we are as a country is because is like we have had so many miscarriages and that’s why we are not seeing anything new in terms of policy and new ideas.
Transcribed by Duncan Bwire.
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