|A Conversation with Tabitha Seii: Democratic Sisterhood|
|Friday, 06 May 2011 20:56|
During his sabbatical, Dominic Moulden sought to learn about women's leadership. He spoke with Ambassador Tabitha Seii, a woman who was born in the mountain village of Eldoret in the Great Rift Valley. Ambassador Seii was elected to Kenya's Parliament and appointed ambassador to South Africa. Her goal is to sensitize women to understand their power in government.
Ambassador Seii attended Makere University, was elected to Kenya's Parliament, and appointed ambassador to South Africa as part of her life work in educating and organizing women in Kenya and on the continent.
Tabitha is the Chairperson of Education Center for Women in Democracy. Her goal is to sensitize women to understand their power in government. She said that Kenyan customs were very crippling to women. She worked around the customs to get social change. Tabitha shares her reflections:
Now there is an appreciation of women in their homes and in new roles in Kenyan culture. As part of your growth as a Kenyan from birth to death you are taught to live to follow the customary culture. We are inclined to do what the customs expect people and you to do. For example, always let men go first. It is ingrained in our minds and hearts. It is so deep that women are the "keepers" of this culture. Women can not climb a tree. Men should protect us. You are a man…you should do this…particular tribes are very conservative. Some other tribes are liberal.
Ambassador Seii works with groups of boys and girls in schools. The school teaches them rights beyond their tribal customs. Many girls experienced abuse as part of being disciplined. This leads to their breakdown and feelings of inferiority.
Tabitha's mother Maria was a liberated woman. Tabitha was one girl living with nine brothers. She got roughed up growing up in her family. Maria treated her daughter the same as the boys. This is part of how Tabitha's views on women came to birth. She started focusing on the liberation of women during her college years. She enhanced this practice as a school teacher.
Tabitha raised five children while her husband was in the military. She got involved with World Vision. She began working in the community among her ethnic tribe the Kalenjin people. She was teaching in the village communities and work with the poor in their shack houses. She asked: Why are these people poor?
In 1983 she ran for Parliament. At that time no one would work for a woman. Her husband supported her run for Parliament. The police blocked her from submitting her papers. Nicholas Biwott, the Minister of Government tried to stop her. He ran the country under President Moi. Tabitha did not fear the government's resistance. She was nominated for a five year seat in Parliament and won.
Ambassador Seii is building a private girls school in Eldoret, Kenya. Eldoret is in the Great Rift Valley. This boarding school is for village girls who live in the mountains. Most girls are told that they have no reason to go to school. They are taught to get married. Tabitha noted that “no one marries you to educate you.” The girls are child-producing machines at home. This is the issue Tabitha is confronting.
Tabitha grew up in Eldoret. She is a daughter of the Great Rift Valley and became an Ambassador to South Africa for four years. She used her power, leadership, and own money to build the first part of the school in 2008. Now in 2010 there are sixteen girls in the school.
The girl's school is an educational center for the women of the Great Rift Valley. The center teaches leadership, integrity, community service, and, in the future, organizing.
Another special contribution to Kenya which Tabitha created is the Ndemi Place guest house in Nairobi. The guest house use to be an abandoned property. Initially, Tabitha and her business partner rented Ndemi Place as offices. Later her sister and Tabitha secured a bank loan to renovate the property.
After a twelve month renovation Ndemi Place was completed. Ndemi Place opened eight months ago. Please check it out at www.ndemiplace.com.
|Last Updated on Thursday, 12 May 2011 21:08|