The other side of Martha Karua

April 16, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 16 – Her  mother describes her as loving, caring, generous, friendly and humble – not just to her family – but to many people.

Elsewhere, she has been described as ‘the only man’ in President Kibaki’s Party of National Unity.  To the world, she is Kenya’s iron lady; Ms Martha Wangare Karua.

In 1997 she shocked Kenyans when she walked out on former President Daniel arap Moi during a public rally in Kirinyaga District.

More than a week ago, she hurled another salvo, this time at President Kibaki when she walked out of his Cabinet citing frustration in running the Justice Ministry docket.

She has fearlessly told off not just her fellow Members of Parliament, but Cabinet Ministers and even the President on matters that she doesn’t agree on.

Many politicians cannot stand Karua for her alleged arrogance. 
Capital News visited Kimunye town, where Ms Karua was born and raised where we caught up with her mother Josephine Karua.

“People have their own thoughts, I brought her up, she is not arrogant, she does not fight with anyone.  She gets along with people and friends, she is helpful to our family, she also helps many other people, she has a kind heart,” she told us.

She defended her daughter saying she is not a trouble maker, but wants to do what she thinks is right.  Her character, she added had been mistaken because of her principled stand.

Though a second born in a family of eight, Martha behaved like the first born in her childhood.

“She showed her leadership skills when she was very young.  She led other children during their games, she was also showing the first born everything, during birthdays she led songs and told other children what to do, even in school she dominated all,” her mother said.

She pointed out that her daughter’s leadership skills strongly came out when she was 15 years old.

“She became mature in her decisions and did her things differently from other children, if we (parents) told her it was good, she would go ahead until she achieved what she wanted,” she told us during the interview in Kirinyaga.

She told us Ms Karua hated laziness and children who never did the right things.

 “She berated them for doing wrong things and sometimes broke her friendship with them.”

Brought up in a humble background, Ms Karua attended Kabare Boarding School in her home area in Kimunye town and Karoti Girls in Mwea.

Her mother says she was a hard worker who maintained top grades throughout her school life.


She shocked her mother when in 1991 she told her she would vie for the Gichugu seat in the first multi-party elections of 1992.

“I was very scared when I saw her get involved in the fights for multi-partyism.  She became too vocal and sometimes I feared she would get arrested for attacking people even in government,” she said.

But Martha told me, “I am not scared and I am ready to get arrested because of fighting for multi-partyism”

“It was an uphill task to stop her, but we had to support her because she seemed not to give up, I prayed for her and in 1992 she won, we were at least relieved.”

Her prayerful mother believes her daughter who is a mother of two is God chosen in her leadership.

She has faith in her daughter’s decisions but puts all her worries in God.

“Her talent to lead comes from God not me, even in 2012 if that is God shows her, she will make it and she will be president.  We have placed her in the hands of God… we are powerless but God will do it,” she says.

Her mother lives a simple life at a small shop in Gichugu constituency.

The store is like a complaints desk. Gichugu constituents get to present their issues to their MP through her.

Despite the ‘enemies’ she has picked along the way, Ms Karua is loved by her constituents where she enjoys unrivalled support especially following her decision to quit government.


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