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Lady Democracy

The first time I encountered Chelagat Mutai, it was in the pages of Coming to Birth by Marjorie Oludhe Macgoye. The most recent was when her photo floated down my Twitter timeline as part of the Courage exhibition outside the Kenya Archives.

I am curious about how her story has disappeared from the public conscience. If this post is anything to go by, it makes some sense that she never really featured.

Chelagat Mutai is an alumna of what is now Moi Girls School Eldoret, a fact I gleaned from reading a profile of Nyeri MP Esther Murugi. Is there an award or  scholarship fund dedicated to her memory there?

In the 70s, Chelagat was arrested for her efforts to make sure there was fair land distribution. With that in mind, it’s a tragedy that over the three decades that followed, Kenyans would go at each other’s throats over land-related issues.

What inspired a young leader, a woman in a time less liberal than this, to run for the Eldoret North seat? How is it she was able to win a seat at 24 (24! Imagine that!) and yet had to flee from the country?

Somehow, between her time associating with the bearded sisters and the rise of the NDP and other opposition parties, our lady disappeared from the political scene. This makes, to me, no sense. There was more freedom in the early days of the Kibaki administration, it seemed, yet it took Raila’s ‘rescuing’ for her to get  much-needed medical care.

I’d like to know why she disappeared for decades, why on her return she lay so low, why she yields more questions than answers. For a woman whose legacy is so rich to have such a remarkably sad end beggars belief.

Note: This post is part of#CuminWrites366, my year-long attempt to write a post a day. Find the rest over at readability.com/cuminwrites/

Questions, comments, suggestions or Chelagat Mutai stories to share? Send them to cuminwrites@gmail.com 🙂

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