Purity Ngirichi: Hard lessons in politics, money and family life
An idea born from a religious event like a joke ended up giving birth to the second representative of the county of Kirinyaga who has now set her sights on the post of governor.
Prior to the 2017 general election, Purity Wangui Ngirichi was a little-known businesswoman who led a quiet life. She imported cars for sale and was involved in mining activities.
Together with her husband Andrew Peter Ngirichi, they had moved to Mombasa on business, but remained frequent visits to their Kirinyaga home for philanthropic acts, including church fundraising and community engagements.
Besides real estate, transportation, wines and spirits, the couple also run The Yellow Ribbon and Grand Oak hotels.
This, according to Ngirichi, clarifies the “propaganda and innuendo” about how they acquired their wealth.
Ngirichi says she was already selling cars even before getting married, a business that grew into an empire after the wedding.
A devout Christian, who was also an active member of the Mothers Union at ACK Kerugoya, Ngirichi’s colleagues came up with the idea of seeking an elective position to complement her philanthropy.
She initially rejected the idea, as her two siblings had ventured into politics without success.
“The first born in our family had tried to run for a post of counselor who disappeared in 1988, but she did not succeed. This was also the case for our ninth born, Peter Mwenji, who ran for Mwea’s parliamentary seat in 2007, ”said Ngirichi.
But her husband liked the idea and convinced her to run for the parliamentary seat of Nyali or the seat of female representative in Kirinyaga County by promising to fund his campaigns. They eventually settled on Kirinyaga.
Although she was born into a well-to-do family known locally as the “Douglas family” (her father, Douglas Kuria was a major player in the matatu business in Kirnyaga and a qualified physician), the MP’s fame grew. in the 2017 general election because of the campaigns she carried out characterized by high-end vehicles and helicopters.
Ngirichi would end up beating Winnie Karimi in the Jubilee party primaries, winning the ticket that took her to the 11th Parliament.
It was not only a big victory for Ngirichi, but for his family that the youngest of a family of 10 succeeds in politics.
“He (my husband) is my biggest supporter and fan in politics and that’s how he became my campaign manager. It feels good to be accompanied by my husband in the countryside, ”she said in an exclusive interview with The Sunday Standard.
The couple, however, had to agree on one thing; That they wouldn’t talk politics at home in order to have a normal family life. The deal helped her become “Wangui the home woman” and “Wangui the deputy when she is in the field.”
To separate these roles, meetings with voters are held at their liaison office in Kerugoya, which they later converted into an office of the United Democratic Alliance (UDA).
Ngirichi’s face takes on a sparkle as she talks about her husband and family.
She says a lot of people thought the two were incompatible due to their different personalities, but she says she understands her husband and loves him for who he is.
“He’s hot-tempered but a simple man who hates to be taken for granted. Some people interpret this to mean that he is a tyrant, which is not the case. I attribute my political success to him, ”adds Ngirichi.
Aside from supporting her financially and accompanying her to political office, she revealed that her husband does not interfere with his roles as a representative of women and has never set foot in his office.
Ngirichi also says that her husband is a father who played a big role in the education of their three children.
He, for example, had no problem changing baby’s diapers. To give his wife enough rest, Andrew would sleep in a bed next to the babies, waking up to take them to their mother’s to breastfeed at night.
Her husband, she says, also taught the three children to swim and they won medals in some competitions.
Ngirichi remembers how they met, through his brother, who was a good friend of the deputy. At that time, he was working as a tout when she was a high school student. They later dated for three months and left to start a family after returning to the country from the University of West London where she obtained a degree in computer science.
“When I returned to the country, I worked at the World Food Program (WFP) as a systems analyst while importing cars, before he (Andrew) contacted me to court and get married “she said.
Ngirichi describes herself as tolerant, understanding, appreciative and accommodating and a believer in second chances, attributes that she believes have helped her keep friends. For example, she kept a housekeeper she employed when she got married in 2000, took her to school, and is now a graduate.
But she is also aware of her flaws, including a perfectionist. She also doesn’t like domineering personalities and people “who feel empowered.”
She talks about her fallout with the governor of Kirinyaga, Anne Waiguru.
“We met in 2017 after my brother-in-law introduced us and later his cousin organized a dinner for us at the Jacarada hotel in Nairobi. She wanted to run for governor of Nairobi, but I convinced her to fight in Kirinyaga, where I was also running for the post of female representative.
“We had dinner and drank wine together and we could be seen together in public and private, but I realized later that we were incompatible and we went our separate ways,” Ngirichi said.
Ngirichi is decisive and does not back down once he has made his decision.
“I feel that some of us in elected office have been treated unfairly for associating with Vice President William Ruto,” she said.
She describes the DP as accessible and says it demystified the big man syndrome of public servants, a quality that made it easy for her to join her camp.
What she revealed almost cost her marriage, as her husband, a friend of the president, couldn’t understand why she had “abandoned” him for her deputy.
“Over time, I convinced him and we invested in UDA,” she said.
But with Waiguru embraced by the party, Ngirichi feels betrayed.
“My problems are not mainly due to the fact that Waiguru joined the UDA, but to the intimidation that occurs within the party. Some people have taken Ruto hostage and that goes against his presidential ambition, ”she said.
“At one point, I was insulted in a TangaTanga Whatsapp group where Ruto is located. My husband was also dragged into it and called out names, but he was not in the group to defend himself. It hurt me and I called Ruto to express my displeasure, ”she said.
Ngirichi is now considering whether to popularize her Citizen Convention Party (CCP), where her husband is the party leader, and thinks she can get at least three MPs in Kirinyaga.
A lover of hiking and training every morning where she walks two kilometers, Ngirichi also loves Italian cuisine and her pasta. Locally, mukimo and beef remain his favorites.
“I also like to read, especially in a spacious washroom,” she adds with a laugh.