The 15 Most Amazing Women from Bungoma That Went Unnoticed on International Women Day

International Women’s Day (IWD) is dedicated to celebrating women’s achievements in the social, economic, cultural, and political spheres. The day, collectively founded by women, also brings attention to gender parity and women’s rights. It’s also an important tool for policymakers striving towards gender equality.

However, as the world marked the day on Sunday, several amazing women figures from this county went unnoticed albeit their unique gestures that have continued to inspire the society under various disciplines.

Here, we sample a few but not in any particular order.

Namalwa Chesoli | Cancer Awareness

All the way from Tongaren Constituency, the City-based business lady has been on the front line championing for cancer awareness especially cervical cancer, crusading to women to impress early screening to avoid any late diagnosis.

The Peace champion also runs SmartJoy Ventures for her daily hustle but still crates time to appear on several media stations as well as on social media platforms for the same initiative.

Cancer has proved to be a killer monster in the country but specialists have argued that the condition is treatable if detected while in it’s early stage, reason there’s need for regular screening, not only for women but men and children as well.

Namalwa Chesoli (right) with a PLWD at a past event/ PHOTO/COURTESY
Namalwa Chesoli (right) with a PLWD at a past event/ PHOTO/COURTESY

 

Nancy Barasa | Former Deputy Chief Justice

Born 1957 in Bungoma County, Western Kenya) Justice Nancy Makokha Barasa is a former Kenyan judge. She was the first Deputy Chief Justice of Kenya and a member of Kenya’s first supreme court after the promulgation of the 2010 Constitution.

She served in the court from June 2011 to her suspension in January 2012 and subsequently resigned on 18 October 2012. She was appointed to the Kenya Law Reform Commission in 2008 for a term of three years, serving as a vice chairperson until her appointment as deputy CJ. In early 2010, she was elected chairperson of the Media Council of Kenya’s Ethics and Complaints Commission.

Despite her contraversial exit from the Judiciary, Judge Barasa has inspired many women and children who look upon her for inspiration and has put Bungoma on the national map.

Lady Justice Hellen Wasilwa | High Court Judge

Also a daughter of the soil, the renown city Judge has also served as Vice Chairperson of Kenya Women Judges Association. She has hit the headlines in the past, among them the famous ruling to jail the officials of the Kenya Medical Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) for one month following a doctors’ strike.

Her career, just like that of Lady Justice Nancy Barasa, has inspired many young ones as well as putting the County at the national level.

Rebecca Masibayi | Girls Advocacy Initiative

The high school teacher in Bumula Sub-County,Bungoma, runs Girls Advocacy Initiative, a charitable foundation that has been active in girl-child matters, advocating for the rights of young girls in the society. The initiative also speak up for abused, neglected or abandoned girls and guide them to places where they can stay at peace.

Lady Justice Hellen Wasilwa (centre), Mt Elgon KNUT Woman representative Ms Jemimah Temko (left), Girls Advocacy Initiative Secretary Dr Rebecca Masibayi (2nd left and Démiré Modelling Agency Director Deborah Nafula join students during the Girls Initiative event at Bungoma Posta Grounds. PHOTO CREDIT/OTI OTEBA

 

The fleet of procession marches in the streets of Bungoma town. PHOTO/COURTESY

She was  recently feted by her friends following her dedication in championing for the girl child education and teachers’ welfare issues, with the teachers gifting her with a brand new car. She is currently the Chairperson-elect of Nzoia Water Service Company Board (NZOWASCO).

Mama Hersi | Business Mogul

Arguably one of the most successful business woman in Western Kenya, Mama Hersi owns a fleet of buildings and businesses in Bungoma town, among them the famous New Nyanza sky crapper opposite Co-op Bank.

Her business, right from the New Nyanza Supermarrket to wholesale to supplies as well as real estate has created thousands of job opportunities for the residents in Bungoma.

The New Nyanza Supermarket building in Bungoma town. PHOTO/COURTESY

Elsie Gakuo | Explore Fashion Awards

Looking in her 20s, the founder of Explore Fashion Award has been a champion of promoting the fashion industry in Bungoma.

Her love for fashion has seen her hold an award gala at Dr. SPA Hotel in Bungoma, recognizing and awarding the most outstanding players in the fashion industry including fashion photographers, modeling agencies as well as choreographers.

Elsie Gakuo. PHOTO/FILE

Phemmy Kinara | Former Contestant, Miss Tourism Bungoma

She may not have convinced the judges, or may be she did but was not enough to beat other contestants in the Miss Tourism Bungoma contest in August, 2018, but Phemmy Kinara touched many hearts with her brave turn up, determination, resilience and desire for the coveted crown.

Her video clips circulated on the internet with several making her a laughing stock at the beginning. However, little did they know that Phemmy was also a determined human being eyeing the same crown that Joyce Nasambu eventually won.

Her confidence, despite many doubting her ability to represent the County at the national contest, won the hearts of many with Bungoma Governor Wycliffe Wangamati promising her a permanent job, an opportunity that many so-called slay queens can only dream of with their painted nails.

Phemy Kinara during the contest. PHOTO/COURTESY
Phemmy Kinara during the contest. PHOTO/COURTESY

Joyce Nasambu | Miss Tourism Bungoma

The beauty queen became Miss Tourism Bungoma in August, 2018, beating hundreds of other contestants. She was initially the Miss Environment Bungoma as well as running her Joyce Nasambu Foundation that seeks to help the needy children in the society.

She also emerged the country’s  People’s Choice after garnering an impressive 133,948 votes out of the 300,938 votes (45%) during an online voting conducted by the organisers Miss Tourism Kenya the same year.

She has since actively involved herself in charity activities, donating school uniforms to children living with disabilities across the county under her #DisIsNotAbility campaign.

At just 25, the Chuka University product has touched many hearts with her activities.

First Lady Carolyne Wangamati  | Anti-Fistula Campaign

Came into office in 2018 after the election of her husband Governor Wycliffe Wangamati, the ever jovial anti-fistula champion has touched thousands of hearts across the county in her campaign to end the condition.

Through her campaign, close to 50 women living with fistula have been identified and their dignity restored through her free surgical camps.

A chat with the fistula survivors reveals that painful life those women go through albeit the silence. Mama Carolyne Wangamati is set to kick-start this year’s anti fistula campaign to restore the dignity of more women out there.

Brenda Kisongochi | My Hustle Show | Maisha TV

Identified as Brenda K, the young enthusiast hosts the tv show My Hustle on Maisha TV Kenya. The show airs on Maisha Television on Startimes 108, GOTV 810 & All FTAs in Kenya. It features entertainment news programs focusing on news involving the entertainment industry, including the world of film, television and music on every Saturday from 9AM.

But it’s her continued highlighting of the youth’s side hustle in life that has touched many hearts, going down to interview young entrepreneurs and inspire young men and women to appreciate the little jobs that put food on their tables.

Valentines Nekesa | Enterpreneur 
Valentine Nekesa, is an entrepreneurdesigner and motivational speaker, who is the Founder of Nekesa Queens Limited, a company that she formed in 2014, at age 17.
She was born and raised in Webuye, in Bungoma County, in western Kenya. The relationship between her father, Boniface Simiyu, a.k.a. Yankee and Valentine has not always been strong, Wikipedia reports. Nekesa was raised by her mother. In 2009, Valentine’s mother died when she was only 12 years old.

In 2014, after high school. while waiting to enter university, a friend asked her to make her an outfit for an event. Valentine invested Sh1,000 and earned Sh1,500. Thus, her company VN Designs was created. A cousin, donated a sewing machine so Valentine could make her outfits in-house.

In February 2017, at age 19 years, she entered a television reality show   Be Your Own Boss (BYOB) sponsored by Safaricom.

The eight-week show attracted 12 contestants and in the end Valentine Nekesa from Bungoma, won, pocketing the cash prize of Ksh5 million.

She has since used her winnings to expand her business, which had three employees as of October 2017.

Valentine Nekesa. FILe

Joyce Nyukuri | BG-Woods Film

A decade ago, no one would imagine that there would come a film entertainment brand that would keep the town that would keep the town glued on the internet.

Then there came BG Woods that has given birth to Bungoma and Western Kenya’s biggest online content producer or simply put as comedian Choffuri Official.

Over the past two years, Choffuri has accumulated over 7 million fans. The support of Mama Joyce Nyukuri, a staunch church believer and real estate developer, has seen seen the rise and rise of more talent from Bungoma with Choffuri being the poster boy of such support.

Film actress and producer Joyce Nyukuri (left) with comedian Tiny Mutali aka Choffuri Official. PHOTO/FILE

Caren Wakoli | Emerging Leaders Foundation

Caren Wakoli, a young Kenyan woman who is the founder and Executive Director of Emerging Leaders Foundation received special recognition from former US president Barrack Obama on Wednesday. This was during his lecture at the hundredth anniversary of South African anti-apartheid revolutionary Nelson Mandela.

In his speech, Obama mentioned Caren as one of the young Africans he is proud of. He applauded Caren for the good work she was doing in Kenya to mentor youths in a bid to eradicate poverty in Kenya.

“Some young people in this continent are doing the hardwork of bringing change to their communities, who reflect Madiba’s values, who are poised to lead the way… People like Caren Wakoli who is an entrepreneur from Kenya who founded the Emerging Leaders Foundation to get young people involved in the work of fighting poverty and promoting human dignity,” Obama was quoted by The Standard as saying.

Caren Wakoli, a University of Nairobi graduate, holds a degree in communication and Sociology and a Master’s Degree in International studies. Caren comes from Bungoma County.

Caren Wakoli. PHOTO/FILE
Caren Wakoli. PHOTO/FILE

Shirleen Nafula | Crystal River Products

Featured among the Top 30 Under 30 Most Promising Founders in Kenya in 2019, the university graduate founded Crystal River Products, a manufacturing products for buyer-best beauty and hygiene products after her visa to pursue her Masters in the UK was rejected.

Since then, the 27 year old has been an inspiration to many, touring the US for business conferences and inspiring the young women to venture into entrepreneurship.

 

Dorcas Ndasaba | Volleyball

The former Posta (Telkom) Volleyball team attacker has made notable tremendous steps in the field, rising right from Sirakaru High school to Nzoia Volleyball Club to the national team.

She has played for the national team for 8 years, winning dozens of titles before joining the coaching career in Rwanda where she is currently based.

Hailing from Naitiri village in Tongaren Constituency, the 2001 Olympic gold medalist was recently inducted to the Hall of Fame during the Soya Awards and her contribution to the sports industry cannot go unnoticed.

Dorcas Ndasaba. PHOTO/FILE
Dorcas Ndasaba. PHOTO/FILE

Laura Walubengo | Formely Capital FM

Arguably the biggest media export to the outside world from Bungoma, Walubengo left Capital in 2014 for South African firm MultiChoice as the Lead Digital Communications Specialist East Africa for DStv based in Kenya before she returned to Capital in 2017.

She left yet again in 2018, only after 7 months Laura called it quits again this time to join China Global Television Network (CGTN).

Laura comes from Bukembe East Ward, Kanduyi Constituency. Her voice while reading those news bulletin on Capital FM news cannot go unnoticed as well.

Laura Walubengo. PHOTO/FILE
Laura Walubengo. PHOTO/FILE

Among the figures above, who is your favourite? Please share in the comments section below.

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Simiyu Wakajuaness

Simiyu Wakajuaness is the founder of this news site, a scriptwriter, actor and stage director with ardent passion in media and public relations in this digital world. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

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