Malindi Township legislator Aisha Jumwa is perhaps the most talked about woman leader in Kenya.
Last week, the Orange Party was left with an egg on its face when it announced her defection from William Ruto’s camp only to delete the Tweet moments after it was posted after she denounced it, saying she was firmly behind the DP and the Jubilee candidate for Kibra, MacDonald Mariga.
The MP is a now household name when it comes to coast politics. The former Kilifi woman representative is also among vocal women leaders in the country and was a close ally of Raila Odinga before dumping him for Ruto. Jumwa is loved by many for her political confidence and firmness.
Born in 1975, Jumwa schooled at Takanga Primary School before proceeding to Murray Secondary School. She also studied at Ganze Secondary School and Nyali Senior School. She is the second born in a family of five.
Jumwa, a mother of three, narrates in her biography how she dropped from school while in Form Two to have a child and later proceeded with schooling.
She holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the Jomo Kenyatta University of Science and Technology and also holds a certificate in governance from the same institution.
But the woman who is highly opinionated, strong-willed and outspoken has also been dogged by controversy.
Fearless, stoic and daring to the core, Raila once labeled her as Mekatilili wa Menza-reincarnate and even today, the ODM leader would love to have her back in the Orange party.
Jumwa’s marriage also collapsed because of politics. She started as a political activist at the Coast, going around, attending political meetings and yelling herself hoarse over what she termed as injustices at the Coast.
Her husband got jittery with each meeting she attended and finally told her to stop.
Jumwa refused, and when he threatened to divorce her, she told him to suit himself.
“He said if I wanted to continue with my life, I should pay him back the dowry. We went to the subchief, made the decision and I paid back the dowry,” Jumwa told a local daily.
In fact, word has it that she personally herded the dowry cows, all the way to her in-laws.
After the divorce, she went full throttle into politics and was elected Kilifi woman representative. During campaigns, she wowed crowds through song, dance, poems, and punchy speeches delivered in flawless Swahili.
She knew what the crowd wanted, and she added melodrama to sway them at the ballot box.
When Malindi went to the by-election in 2016, Jumwa delivered victory for ODM and knocked the daylights off the men who wanted to rock her boat. Her past is said to have predisposed her to relentless fight.
Born in a polygamous family with about 30 siblings, Jumwa had a childhood fraught with poverty. She dropped out in Form Two, and admits that she returned to school as an adult after doing manual jobs.
Those who went to school with her say she is an opportunist who seeks the slightest crack and wiggles in to gain relevance.
Jumwa, who is an ardent supporter of William Ruto, stunned many when she attended ODM parliamentary group meeting chaired by Raila and reportedly declared her support for Imran Okoth.
However, later at an event where Jubilee’s Kibra candidate McDonald Mariga was meeting a delegation from Kibra, the Malindi MP said that she had not ditched Ruto’s camp and that her preferred candidate for the forthcoming by-election was still Mariga.