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Tough to the world, gentle at home

In the public, Dr Reginalda Wanyonyi, the former Bungoma Women’s Representative cuts the image of a no-nonsense politician. An interview with her son, James Wanyonyi, however unveils the little-known side of Reginalda as a dotting mother, prayer warrior, loving wife and a woman passionate about community service

Evelyn Makena @evemake_g

Tell us about yourself.

I am the firstborn child of Dr Reginalda Wanyonyi. We are twins; a boy and a girl, but I’m the eldest in a family of five. I’m married and based in Eldoret where I work as a pastor.

How would you describe Dr Wanyonyi as a mother?

The image that is out there of a tough politician is basically not what I grew up seeing and knowing. I consider her warm, big-hearted and prayerful. She is insightful and has a lot of wise counsel to offer regarding how to navigate through the journey of life and she is generally a relaxed person.

She is known as a scholar, politician and loves community work. What else does the public not know about her?

Mum loves driving despite having a driver. Somehow driving really fascinates her. She wakes up everyday at 3am to pray. My mother enjoys a deep friendship with my father, a retired banker. The two are inseparable and go to most places together. She also loves cooking and travelling.

Describe your mum in few words

Education is of great importance to her. In the true spirit of being a scholar, she has a PhD in environmental science. She is always in pursuit of knowledge, thus loves books. I consider her a person who is intelligent, intuitive and a visionary. She always sees the big picture. Besides, she is resilient.

It is one of the qualities that has helped her get where she is. Mum is ever the optimist, does not easily give up and always sees the bright side of things.

What are the other qualities about her that have helped her succeed in various roles?

Having a strong self-believe; that is if my mother says this is right, it will take her a long time to convince her otherwise. She is also consultative and believes in teamwork and surrounding herself with people that share her vision and who can walk with her towards its achievement.

What has she been up-to since leaving political office?

A lot. She has been farming pumpkin, poultry, dairy and maize. In addition, she has businesses that she runs. Community work also consumes a lot of her time. She has helped the establishment of community based organisations, women/youth groups and mobilised churches to participate in community projects and income-generating activities.

She has built many schools in Bungoma county, overseen digging of boreholes and built rescue centres for children. She is ever the busy bee and rarely spends time idling at home.

Some of the values you have acquired from her?

Her quality of being a visionary is something I have emulated. She has continually taught us to go for nothing, but the best. I have taken up her prayerfulness. She instilled the value of prayer into us from a young age. Growing up, she would always ensure that we prayed together as a family before going to bed. Even if you slept before prayers, she would wake you up.

Her weakness?

Once she makes up her mind on something, it’s hard to convince her otherwise. She is strong-willed and always wants her way. To her, it’s better to go ahead, have her way and fail than change her mind. She is also a hot-tempered and, especially gets annoyed if things do not go her way.

What are some of the false assumptions about her?

Joining politics and going against men has made many people feel that she is not humble and cannot submit even to her husband, which is totally wrong if you ask me. People think that she is tough and does not laugh and many times people say that she does not have a family. Simply because they do not know us.

Some of the fond memories about your mum while growing up?

Some of the best memories were her coming to visit me in boarding school. I really enjoyed the cakes she often baked for us. She also used to have this small Beetle and would carry us and take us to many places she went to. There are many, but those are the ones that easily come to mind.

Does she plan to come back to the political scene?

Yes, I’m convinced she would in future.

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