Journalist Naisula Lesuuda: My daughter goes against the grain
When Naisula Lesuuda joined the murky waters of politics, her father Jacob Lesuuda was a worried man. The first bishop of the Anglican Church of Kenya, Maralal diocese always believed politics was a dirty game.
But he also knew that was what his daughter set her mind to do, she would eventually do it. So, he could only hold on to the fact that he had raised his daughter well.
“When she was nominated to the Senate in 2013, becoming the youngest female senator, I was worried and happy at the same time.
I asked her whether she could be granted another government appointment such as being an ambassador instead of a senator, but she desired to stay home and serve her community.
I gave her my blessings though my heart still didn’t want her to be a politician. I told her to count me out if she wanted me to accompany her to barazas or other big meetings,” Lesuuda says.
You see, Naisula, has had a long career in journalism, working for Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) since 2006. Even before she graduated from Daystar University with a degree in Communications and Community Development in 2007, she had been with KBC for a year.
Her father recalls how risky being a journalist was for her, especially during the 2007 General Elections. “Sometimes, she was supposed to report for duty at night and her employer didn’t provide the necessary facilitation.
At times she couldn’t come out of her house because of the post election violence for fear of her life, yet she was expected at work. It was tough,” her father recalls.
While still at KBC, Naisula started Naisula Lesuuda Peace Foundation to empower girls, but has presently grown to accommodate the boy child. By educating Samburu men, she believes that they would have different views on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and cattle rustling.
In 2009, Naisula joined her father and the bishops of Nakuru and Nyahururu to bring peace between the Pokots, Samburus and sometimes the Turkanas.
She became a founding member of the Laikipia Peace Caravan after 10 people were killed as a result of cattle rustling. “We would take them food, attend to the injured ones and bury the dead,” he says.
For her work in peace promotion and journalism, Naisula was awarded the ‘Order of the Grand Warrior of Kenya’ (OGW) in 2011, becoming the youngest woman to win such an award. In the same year, she received the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) Wedge Award for Outstanding Professional Women.
In 2013, Naisula left her job at KBC to concentrate on Naisula Lesuuda Peace Foundation, which advocates for the education of girls and for the eradication of FGM and child marriage, education promotion and economic empowerment programmes for women and youth, peace building, among others.
The same year, Naisula was instrumental in campaigning for President Uhuru Kenyatta and earned a senate nomination. She was then elected Vice Chair of the Kenyan Women’s Parliamentary Association.
When her term was over, she bravely contested for Samburu West parliamentary seat in 2017 and won. “She had seven opponents who were all men. They demeaned her because she was a woman and that she was not married.
They coined a slogan declaring that it would not be the first time Samburu cows would be led by a woman. According to our culture, it is men who should take leadership position and protect the community cows. Despite all this, she won, becoming the first female MP for the constituency,” Lesuuda says.
And even after she got married last year to her longtime love Robert Kiplagat, her opponents still caused trouble. “They say she now belongs to the Baringo people and should contest there.
This made her wedding to take a political twist as some said their MP has been taken away to another county and that she would take away the constituency’s money to benefit other people,” he adds.
Though ill during her wedding, Bishop Lesuuda felt proud that her firstborn daughter had finally settled down as her other siblings.
A first born of three children, Naisula was born 35 years ago and raised in Samburu, Nakuru and Limuru, Kiambu. “I was a teacher before I heeded to the call to serve God when she was only seven months.
I would move with my family when I got posted in different places and also when I went to further my education at St Paul’s University, Limuru,” he says.
Bishop Lesuuda is a happy father as he watches his daughter progress in life. “I taught my children to be bold, to air their opinions without fear, be hospitable and work hard. I have watched Naisula portray those characters and I’m happy I raised her well,” he says.