Nairobi News


How Rangwe MP Lilian Gogo escaped poverty and got elected to Parliament

If anyone was to listen to an inspirational story from any Kenyan Member of Parliament, then it’s got to be from Rangwe legislator Dr Lilian Gogo.

Dr Gogo, in her own words, grew up in family that no one imagined would one day produce a leader of her stature.

During her childhood, Gogo literally fought for food with her siblings. They were more than 10 siblings and the family could not afford. But since the little that was available had to go round, often it was a case of everyone for himself or herself.

Dr Gogo recalls how they would all pounce on the meal the moment it was laid down on the floor right in the middle of their living room. The plates would be empty within a few minutes.

“In order to get more food, we would eat using both hands. As one hand was taking food into the mouth, the other was already picking another bite,” she recalls.

The legislator was brought up in a polygamous family in Siaya County. Her father was a prison warder while her mother was a housewife. Their parents did not earn much so their children had to struggle.

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Even owning a pair of shoes was such a big privilege for Dr Gogo who is her mother’s first born child.

“I got an opportunity to go to school. But throughout primary school, I did not put on shoes while going to class. I only did so when I got to Form One because it was mandatory,” she recalls.

Even so, her father could not buy her shoes when she joined secondary school. So she borrowed a pair of shoes from her cousins.

“Borrowing had conditions. They were to be taken back without any damage or risk facing the consequences,” Dr Gogo says.

Just like most rural homes, there was one rule that applied in her family. There were sets of plates that were only preserved for visitors. Whenever they were used, they would be washed and put outside to dry. And as the plates were under the sun, she would imagine someone stealing them.

This is what inspired Dr Gogo to work hard and become whos she is today.

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“I dreamt of how I would one day buy my mother a cupboard so that she can keep her plates safely. This is how my motivation to study hard started,” the legislator said.

At first, Dr Gogo toyed with the idea of becoming a teacher, since, in her young mind, teachers were the only people who were highly respected in the community.

But she was selected to study a different course at university. She studied animal science and completed her PhD before the age of 35.

Her brilliant brain enabled her to secure a job at Egerton University where she was attached to the faculty of agriculture. Many years later, ahead of the 2017 elections, she developed interest in politics.

“I wanted to solve some of the social problems that I went through and others that I was seeing other women going through. It was only possible to accomplish this if I became a lawmaker,” Dr Gogo says.

At times, her husband would get mad when she went home late from the campaign trail. But he gave her all the support she needed until she won the seat. Dr Gogo retained her seat in 2022, making her the first MP from Rangwe to be elected for two consecutive terms.

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