Azimio presidential Raila Odinga on Monday, May 16, named Narc Kenya Pary Leader Martha Karua as his preferred running mate in the August 9 poll.
The choice of Karua was not a big surprise to many who had been keenly following the selection process. A few days before, partner parties had submitted names of possible running mates. Perhaps the biggest twist was Jubilee’s nomination of Murang’a Women representative Sabina Chege as a contender for the powerful seat.
She later attended interviews by Odinga’s Running Mate Selection Panel alongside her rivals who are national powerhouses including Karua, Kalonzo Musyoka, Peter Munya, and Hassan Ali Joho among others.
The 44-year old is serving her second term in the National Assembly and has a steady political rise that nearly made her the youngest Deputy President in Kenya’s history.
Born on the foothills of the Aberdares in Kinyona village, Kigumo constituency, Sabina had a normal upbringing but her stardom began to show after she left the sleepy village upon completing her high school education at Mugoiri Girls High School.
Her first job was as a house help at a city home - a humbling job that many would never have imagined would open doors to bigger things.
For perspective, in 1997 as she was washing dishes for her madam, nearly all of her current contemporaries were well distinguished in life - Raila Odinga was running for the presidency; William Ruto was making his first parliamentary bid, Martha Karua was campaigning for her second term as MP and Rigathi Gachagua was one of the most powerful District Officers in the Moi regime.
From working as a domestic worker, Sabina started exploring her love for acting on a part-time basis. She rose to earn a slot on Tausi one of the biggest television at the time - and played one of the lead characters - Rehema which aired on KBC.
The promotion enabled her to not only pay for university school fees - and also make inroads into the media industry where she was later recruited as a vernacular radio presenter.
Her star continued to shine as she was not only good as a broadcaster but also in understanding the business side of the media and entertainment industry.
In a past interview, she recalled that as she worked with big names in the Kikuyu entertainment scene, she became constantly concerned about their poor financial state.
For years, the musicians would record hit songs and sell their rights for a one-time payment from the producers.
The system, obviously, benefited the producers as they could sell millions of cassettes even when the original payment made to the musician would be as low as Ksh50,000.
It was then that Sabina tried to convince some of the musicians she was interacting with at work to try out a model where they can have some value addition and sell their own copies.
“I reached out to them and I told them - people were moving to television for entertainment, why not release the song in video format and sell the VCDs yourself without selling the original rights to the producers?” she recalled in a past interview.
Although most were reluctant to try out the idea, John De’Mathew, a celebrity vernacular at the time, gave it a shot.
“We did a very low budget production and I even volunteered to appear on the video - just to prove to him that it would work,” the MP recalls.
The Kikuyu musical scene was never the same again as the industry embraced the video concept - making VCDs the ultimate hot cake in weddings, funerals, church services and all manner of social and religious gatherings.
De’Mathew was so grateful to her that in 2016, he composed a hit song, Ngoro Gitina, dedicated to Sabina and others who had helped him in his rise to become a household name. It now has over 4.5 million views on Facebook and is a regular in political meetings that the Murang’a politician attends.
But Sabina’s success was not only in the entertainment scene, as she rose through the ranks to become head of radio at KBC - she carried along with many rough talents that are now some of the biggest names in the industry.
The beneficiaries include Kameme FM presenters Muthee Kiengei and Ngoni Wa Thuita as well as Reverend Lucy Wa Ngunjiri, among others.
Ngoni and Kiengei recently became emotional as they narrated that their work at Coro FM, which opened doors for their success, was personally organised by Sabina who paid for their salaries using her own money.
“She was not only the manager but also our guardian angel. She paid our wages, parallel to the company's payroll. She supported us in every step of our careers” Kiengei moved to Sabina to tears with the testimony.
In 2012, the little girl from Kinyona wanted something more than just being in the media. When she vied for the Murang’a Woman Rep seat, it was the very networks in the media and entertainment industry that gave her political goodwill - giving her a resounding win in 2013 and 2017.
The soft power continues to play a big role in her career that continues to brighten by the day.
Indeed, she is among Azimio politicians who have been courted aggressively by Deputy President William Ruto and his team.
“I have a lot of respect for Sabina and I wouldn't be surprised if she becomes Raila’s running mate. Between myself and Sabina, she knows the big position that Ruto had offered her in my presence but we wish her well,” Elgeyo Marakwet Kipchumba Murkomen recently stated at a television talk show he had appeared alongside Sabina.
He did not disclose the offer the DP had offered but political pundits did not doubt the statement as Ruto’s internal camp conspicuously paid homage to the Woman Rep when she was taken ill at the Nairobi Hospital earlier in February.
As she takes a prominent role in the August 9 presidential election, many will be watching to see just how bright her career will shine - having announced that she would not be contesting for any political seat this General Election.