President William Ruto on Tuesday surprised Kenyans when he told participants attending the African Climate Summit 2023 that Colombian Vice President, Francia Elena Márquez Mina, has adopted a Kenyan name — Nyawira — owing to her Kenyan roots.
According to Ruto who spoke at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC), the venue of the event, Mina who is also the Vice President of Colombia, traced her roots to the Mt Kenya region, where the name Nyawira is a staple and culturally very common.
"Francia has a Kenyan name. She is called Nyawira," President Ruto stated as the crowd that had gathered at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre cheered her on.
The President noted that the government had played a key role in helping the Colombian Vice President to trace her roots into the country, especially, after her first visit to Nairobi.
"When she came to Kenya, we were able to trace her origin to a place called Meru," the President told the audience at the main auditorium at the KICC.
The name Nyawira is a Kenyan name of Kikuyu origin. It is a feminine name that means hardworking person. It is a popular name in Kenya and is given to girls whose parents expect their children to be strong and independent.
Other possible meanings of the name Nyawira include one who is industrious, always busy, never afraid of hard work and a valuable asset to their community.
Mina was born in Yolombó, a village in the Cauca Department. She first became an activist at 13, when construction of a dam threatened her community.
She started out her career as a housekeeper and later decided to pursue law to better understand how to fight and defend her community, leaving behind her two children.
She immediately became a powerful symbol of hope and change for many Colombians. She is seen as a voice for the marginalised and the voiceless.
In Nairobi, Mina excited her audience with a moving speech on environmental protection, especially, when she outlined the role of developing countries in cutting their carbon footprint and rejuvenating the economy through technological solutions.
"I would like to repeat that Colombia expresses its commitment to dealing with the issue of climate change and bringing solutions to humanity," Mina stated.