Dear elected women leaders,
Congratulations on your win, in what must have been a grueling, yet well run race. A hearty Congratulations for having stepped out and given yourself the task of campaigning. From what I observed, campaigning is an arduous task that requires mental, emotional, spiritual and physical stamina. My goodness, how did you do it? You campaigned and alas, you emerged winner! I hope you took a few days to rest and renew yourself as the next 5 years will be demanding and you must make them count. Here are five thoughts to ponder on and consider to make your leadership count:

▪ Courage: The old adage remains true, ‘courage is not the absence of fear but the realization that something else is greater’. You are a courageous woman, stepping out into politics, where the arena is still very much considered a ‘man’s world. Yet you dared, and stepped out to tread where even men lack the courage. Congratulations! However, there is something greater than winning an election or being nominated to a political seat – that thing is service to the people. That same courage that took you to the ballot, should now take you to do the unimaginable; bring transformation to the people you represent. That same courage should propel you to empower your people so that they become truly independent and not dependent on handouts. Many a politicians have failed us here, they make big promises during campaigns only to disappear during their tenure and reappear to campaign for a subsequent term while their people continue to languish in poverty, lack of basic services and infrastructure.
Let courage rise in you for transformation of your people!

▪ Integrity: In several global studies on leadership, the one common trait desired of all leaders is integrity. Whereas, many definitions exist, integrity is derived from the root word ‘integer’ meaning complete, whole, honest, and consistent. A good definition therefore is consistency of actions, values, principles and behavior. You can be sure that your people are careful to observe whether you are a woman whose words and actions are consistent. If they are, then they will trust you and if they are not, they begin to feel cheated. You see as a leader we expect that you will be consistent at all times, irrespective of the reasons or circumstances. None of us is 100% consistent in everything and at all times, but at the same time we all hate being ‘cheated’.
Let integrity be the hallmark of your leadership!

▪ Lemonade: One of the best refreshing drinks on a hot day is lemonade. The truth is that leadership is hot and tough. People and circumstances change all the time and life is unpredictable. But this you already know. As you considered joining the political trail, many promised you support, only to keep away for various reasons. But, hey! You got up and still went for it and along the way found others who believed in you and somehow you all made it work. You were able to make lemonade out of lemons. You learnt some lessons, gained insight, changed strategies, dropped some and picked up new ones and became wiser. There will be tough times coming ahead, broken promises, unfulfilled pledges, disasters and failures but keep going.
Make lemonade out of every situation.

▪ Women: In Africa, women make 52% of the total population, yet we are the most affected by poverty, war, disease and vulnerabilities. The reverse is also true that when women are empowered even a little, they are able to use the little and make a positive difference to not only their lives but also to their households. (I have nothing against men by the way and enjoy them in my life at various levels). Therefore, make women empowerment an agenda of your leadership. We can do so much with women in Africa, stories exist of how women have come together in what begun as small community projects that are changing their lives, their children, their men, whole families and communities. We know of women who are making strides in education, medicine, business, fashion, writing and so on. Women make a difference in the world because they uplift not only their lives but those around them. As women in Africa we desire little, we desire much.
Make women a key feature of your agenda.

Legacy: Nothing is permanent, not leadership or even life itself. My Mum used to tell me ‘Truphie, think about the end of a matter from the beginning and never make permanent decisions in temporary situations’. Now an adult, I still find the thought powerful. How you end is more important that how you start, because what remains in the hearts and minds of people is how you end. That is called legacy, it is what you leave after you have exited the stage. The stage could be after your tenure, or when you die. What would you like your people to know and tell others about you? Whatever, it is, start it now. Remember, younger women, ladies and girls are looking for role models and are hoping you are the one.
Create your legacy from the beginning.

Yours Truly,

Truphie Kwaka-Sumba

Truphie is a passionate leader and believes that Africa has what it takes to grow to greater heights. This is possible with sustainable leadership. Where leaders do all it takes to transform their societies today without compromising tomorrow’s chances, plus they include the other half – women! Truphie is committed to people development and creating great organizations and societies where both men and women are at the core. She lives in Nairobi and is married to Daudi and they have 3 children.