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Former Senator Joy Gwendo's pleasures and pains in politics



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Former nominated Senator Joy Gwendo has waded through murky waters in her short stint in politics and partly while out of office.

From being a politician under the ruling Jubilee Party to arrests and scandals, Ms Gwendo has gone through it all.

Ms Gwendo shocked many when she was nominated by her party, The National Alliance (TNA), in 2013 having come from a region that was largely known for being a stronghold of the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (Cord).

However, her venture into politics has not been as rosy as many may think as she faced the many challenges women encounter when seeking elective seats in Kenya. These include insults and violence.

Her interest in politics benefited from mentorship by TNA Secretary-General Onyango Oloo, who is currently the Kisumu assembly speaker.

Mr Oloo was among the few people who dared to go against the wave in the Orange Democratic Movement by speaking candidly against Luo Nyanza leadership.

Ms Gwendo was living in Nairobi’s Kibera slums when she campaigned for TNA in the ODM zone.

She stood her ground and was awarded with a nomination into the Senate when President Uhuru Kenyatta started his first term in 2013.

In 2017, the politician contested for the Kisumu East parliamentary seat on a Jubilee Party ticket, and came a distant third, losing to incumbent Shakeel Shabbir, with ODM’s Nicholas Oricho coming second.

The politician is a tough woman who has, on many occasions, confronted leaders head-on, on matters concerning the development of Kisumu County.

She once told off her elected counterparts, saying she would not seek their permission to initiate development projects in counties.

Ms Gwendo has, however, had her fare share of negative publicity.

She was once arrested for drunk-driving and spent the night in police cells.

Ms Gwendo has also been in the limelight for allegedly assaulting one of her staff while a nominated legislator.

On Friday, Ms Gwendo was jailed for two years by a Nairobi court for stealing Sh1.7 million from a cooperative society in Kisumu.

She was handed the sentence for abuse of office and failure to honour a plea bargain she entered into with the State to pay the amount she fraudulently received.

The first charge stated that on October 23 2016 at Chiga Parish in Kisumu East, Kisumu County, she stole Sh2,226,880 belonging to Kisumu East Cotton Growers Co-operative Society.

The court further heard that she forged a Sh200,000 cheque drawn at Kenya Commercial Bank, purporting to be drawn in favour of Kivuli Development Initiative and signed by Willy Kipkorir Bett.

Ms Gwendo was born in Kolwa, Kisumu County, and attended Ahero Primary School and Koru Girls’ High School.

She studied information Science at the University of Nairobi.

With a partner, the trained journalist wrote the Luo-English dictionary and later joined Royal Media Services as a creative executive. She worked at the organisation for four years from 2004.

Ms Gwendo also served in this capacity at Radio Ramogi before joining Homeboyz Radio where she was in charge of marketing.

She also worked for Tentacall communications where she undertook sales for small radio stations.

Ms Gwendo has written for a Catholic Magazine, “the seed” and has an education programme – ‘Tusome Initiative’ – that ensures that girls who drop out of school due to early pregnancies get second chances.

A vibrant Gwendo is outgoing and has lately dedicated most of her time to her son, and routine work-outs, which she published on her Facebook page.

Reading and writing are her hobbies.