Kenya's Longest Serving Woman MP - The Story of Naomi Shaban

  • An undated image of Taveta Member of Parliament Dr Naomi Shaban
    An undated image of Taveta Member of Parliament Dr Naomi Shaban
  • Kenya women's presence in the political scene and participation in the country's leadership and governance has a long history, dating back to the pre-colonial era.

    Many women have defied patriarchal structures of culture and tradition and rose to become formidable leaders, bringing development and peace to their communities. 

    In a field dominated by men, many women tend to back out due to numerous factors. But that is not the case for Taita Taveta Member of Parliament, Naomi Shaban.

    Taveta member of parliament Dr. Naomi Shaban
    Taveta member of parliament Dr. Naomi Shaban
    Naomi N Shaban/Facebook

    Naomi Shaban, who is a Dental Surgeon by profession, first ventured into politics in 2001 when a by-election was called in Taita Taveta Constituency following the resignation of Basil Criticos. 

    At that period, she was not very determined to participate in the mini-polls, but due to pressure from groups of people who would travel from Taita Taveta and camp at her Nairobi home, she gave in and accepted to run.

    “I finally agreed to run and I told them please don’t come to Nairobi anymore, I will be coming to Taita Taveta from now on,” Shaban noted in one of her past interviews. 

    In the 2002 General Election, despite the strong opposition, she won the Taita Taveta parliamentary seat on a KANU ticket. 

    She later became Kenya's Branch Representative of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association from 2003 to 2007. 

    In the 2007 General Election, she sought re-election and was successful not only in clinching the legislative position but was also appointed as the Minister for Special Programmes until 2010 when she was transferred to the Ministry of Gender and Children Affairs, a position she held until 2013. 

    In 2013, being a staunch supporter of President Uhuru Kenyatta, she ditched KANU and joined TNA and subsequently recaptured her seat on the party's ticket in a county where the Governor, Senator, Woman Representative and four of the five MPs, were elected on an ODM ticket. 

    In 2017, a few months before the election, Shaban announced that she had abandoned the Jubilee Party and would compete for the legislative position on an independent ticket amid allegations of being rigged out. 

    However, she changed her mind and won the Jubilee ticket, and proceeded to defend her seat.

    Shaban made history as the longest serving female Legislator in the country after being re-elected for her fourth consecutive term. 

    She has never lost a single election since she first vied for this seat in 2002.

    She joins the list of the likes of Deputy President, William Ruto, and Meru Governor, Kiraitu Murungi, who have never lost in an election.

    Undated image of Naomi Shaban while addressing people at a past event
    Undated image of Naomi Shaban while addressing people at a past event
    The Star