YVONNE KHAMATI: FROM DIPLO­MACY TO POL­I­TICS

YVONNE KHAMATI/ “When I went for an elec­tive post in Makadara I lost badly. I was beaten up; beaten in the polls and beaten up phys­i­cally be­cause the elec­toral ground at that time was quite hard es­pe­cially for a young wo­man with­out the ex­pe­ri­ence in the p

The Star (Kenya) - - Front Page - LEWIS NYAUNDI @X_nyaun­diH

You win by work­ing hard, mak­ing tough de­ci­sions and build­ing coali­tions. John En­gler Amer­i­can politi­cian

Twice in her life, Yvonne Khamati has made it to his­tory books. The first was when she ran for the Makadara par­lia­men­tary seat in the 2002 elec­tions at only 21. The sec­ond was when she was ap­pointed as an Am­bas­sador at 25.

“I ac­tu­ally started out on my ca­reer in diplo­macy when I was just 18, when I rep­re­sented the youth dur­ing the Ky­oto Pro­to­col ne­go­ti­a­tions at The Hague,” says the Nairobi sen­a­to­rial as­pi­rant.

“It was the foun­da­tion that led to my suc­cess­ful ca­reer in diplo­macy a few years later.”

Khamati, 34, is the daugh­ter of cel­e­brated scholar, the late William Ochieng’, who also served in Daniel arap Moi’s gov­ern­ment as a Per­ma­nent Sec­re­tary.

“For me lead­er­ship and ser­vice to the peo­ple is inborn,” she quips.

In 2014, the African Lead­er­ship Mag­a­zine, an on­line out­let pub­lished in the UK, named her in a list of 20 youngest Power Women in Africa.

The list con­sists of in­di­vid­u­als the mag­a­zine de­scribes as “young, ex­tra­or­di­nary and in­spir­ing African women”, who are mak­ing the most dra­matic im­pact in in­di­vid­ual African coun­tries in pol­i­tics, busi­ness, tech­nol­ogy, pol­icy, diplo­macy and me­dia.

The ar­ti­cle de­fined her in these glow­ing terms: “She is a doer, res­o­lute in her re­solve to change, to build, in­spire and trans­form. She is out there mak­ing it hap­pen. She is a change maker, trend­set­ter, vi­sion­ary and thinker, builder, and a young global leader. She is at the van­guard of Africa’s im­mi­nent so­cio-eco­nomic revo­lu­tion and its con­tem­po­rary re­nais­sance.”

Her diplo­matic ca­reer blos­somed quickly af­ter the first ap­point­ment. She rose from the po­si­tion of Deputy Am­bas­sador at the AU to the Head of Chancery and deputy per­ma­nent rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the Kenya Mis­sion to the United Na­tions Of­fice in Nairobi.

How­ever, her path has not al­ways been strewn with roses. Take her ini­tial foray into pol­i­tics for ex­am­ple. She ex­plains with­out any show of bit­ter­ness: “When I went for an elec­tive post in Makadara I lost badly. I was beaten up; beaten in the polls and beaten up phys­i­cally be­cause the elec­toral ground at that time was quite hard es­pe­cially for a young wo­man with­out the ex­pe­ri­ence in the pol­i­tics of city.”

But she con­sid­ers the or­deal a bless­ing in dis­guise. “It was a step­ping stone for other young lead­ers who took the challenge and made it through in lead­er­ship,” she says.

”I am glad I con­tested for a po­lit­i­cal seat at a ten­der age be­cause it opened the doors for more young women.”

She has of­fi­cially de­clared her in­ter­est in the Nairobi se­nate seat.

“FOR ME LEAD­ER­SHIP AND SER­VICE TO THE PEO­PLE IS INBORN,”

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