THE STREET SWEEPER WHO BECAME AN MCA
THE STREET SWEEPER WHO BECAME AN MCA
Not long ago she swirled dust in Mombasa working as a street sweeper, today she enjoys the luxury of walking the corridors of power at Mombasa Town Hall.
Fatma Swaleh Mote , popularly known as Fatma Kushe has since discarded the brooms she used to clean Mombasa streets to serve as a nominated Member of the County Assembly churning out motions impacting the lives of the city’s residents.
She failed on the two occasions to secure a ticket to the Town Hall as an elected MCA, but won the hearts of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party stalwarts who nominated her in 2012 and 2017.
Fatma 40, has thus attained her childhood dreams to hold a political office and serve her Kisauni Constituents, Mombasa.
She drew her political fire from the late Emanuel Karisa Maitha, the coast political supremo who held the docket of Tourism and Wildlife under President Mwai Kibaki.
Fatma was one of the foot soldiers of the burly Minister also is known as ‘ the Hurricane’ due to his sweeping decisions on matters pertaining to his ministry.
‘karisa alikua ni mtu wa watu’(karisa was a people man) as he stood for what he believed in regardless of circumstances says Fatma with emphasis.
Fatma started as a casual laborer with the defunct Mombasa Municipal Council sweeping streets and collecting garbage before venturing into politics.
As a council worker, she earned a paltry wage of kshs 200 for each day worked an amount which was hardly enough to feed, clothe, educate and provide shelter for her family.
On several occasions, she went for months without pay as the cash strapped local Government Authority struggled to meet its financial obligations and pay its workers.
A number of her colleagues downed their tools in the process never to look back as they sought greener pastures elsewhere.
Fatma, soon followed suit and looked for alternative means of earning a leaving .she went from door to door working as a laundry cleaner within Mombasa elite estates of Tudor and Nyali.
But even here Fatma was faced with daunting challenges sometimes the pay was as little as what she left behind at the Council.
Some of those who used to harass her while she cleaned the streets are now her juniors at the town hall.
‘today I am their boss and they bow in respect whenever we meet,’ she says beaming with joy.
Some of the colleagues with whom she swept the streets managed to secure permanent employment at the County government.
Prior to joining the county government, Fatma worked as a volunteer at the Coast General Hospital counseling people living with H.I.V. under the program sponsored by USAID. ‘This was the time when most people living with HIV and Aids were really traumatized. Many refused to open up and lost hope easily,’ recalls Fatma.
There were those who did not use the drugs after prescription choosing to die for fear of stigmatization.
As a counselor, Fatma gave the patients hope and encouraged them to undergo full medication. quite a number lived longer and some are still up and about.
But what inspired Fatma to be a counselor I really felt touched by close relatives and friends who lived miserable lives as AIDA victims. ‘Many did not get proper care from their family members and were left to die.’ She narrated during the interview.
‘I had to encourage them to live a positive life,’ while working as a volunteer at the Coast General Hospital lady luck smiled on Fatmas face one day, her immediate bosses at USAID recommended her for a scholarship to study a diploma course in Health and Nutrition at a local college.
In the process, she took a diploma course in County Management.
Back to her political path, Fatma recalls how during the electioneering period, she would follow the campaign trail of her favorite candidate,Karisa Maitha.
She listened to him as he captured his audience with his oratorical power churning out the usual litany of promises on the podium to the attentive crowd.
Fatma craved for the days she would climb the dais and capture the people spellbound just like the ‘Hurricane’, did and be elected as a leader. She admired Maithas grasp of political issues at the Coast and country at large.
To acquaint herself better with political issues of the day,Fatma had to keep her ears close to the radio for news bulletins and read copies of daily newspapers.
Given her economic challenge, she could not afford to buy a copy of a newspaper every day, she had to befriend a newspaper vendor whom she paid as little as five Kenya shillings to read the dailies and return them at the newsstands.
When times were hard, the vendor would let Fatma read for free.armed with facts gleaned from the newspapers and the radio, Fatma became an authority on local issues and an opinion leader of some sort amongst her peers.
They would listen to her and seek her views on various matters discussed.
After the of Karisa Maitha in August 2004, Fatma switched her allegiance to Hassan Ali Joho, a sharp young man who had emerged on the political stage to vie for the Kisauni parliamentary seat.
Joho captured the Kisauni Parliamentary seat and eventually, become the Mombasa Governor in subsequent elections.
During the 2012 elections, Fatma decided to vie as a member o the county assembly for the frère town ward but her performance was dismal, she, however, got nominated at the County Assembly.
The following election in 2017 she tried her luck again by vying for the kazandani ward but lost, again she was lucky and got nominated as an MCA for the second time.
Fatma is however cognizant of a clause in the new constitution captured under Article 81 (b) which talks of the gender rule. ‘ Not more than two-thirds of the elected members shall be on the same gender. as a leader, I am trying very hard to empower women in leadership at the Coast region capitalizing on this clause’ she said.
As an MCA , Fatma has helped the youth in her area secure jobs at the local enterprises such as supermarkets and scholarships for those wishing to further their studies.
Fatma was recently elected as the vice chairperson for a gender-based rights advocacy group fighting to eradicate domestic violence and empower women in leadership.
She looks up to Ms. Mishi M book and Aisha Jumwa both female parliamentarians from the Coast region as her role models in politics.