Lucy Muthoni Kibaki: First Lady of Kenya

| January 17, 2012

Lucy Muthoni Kibaki is a controversial first lady, there is no doubt about that. But with every stormy figure, there is always something positive lying below the surface of that tough and turbulent exterior. For Lucy Kibaki, wife of Kenya’s president, Mwai Kibaki, that ray of sunshine peaking through her stormy temperament is her devotion to supporting disadvantaged and disabled people, and advising young girls to protect themselves against HIV/Aids, poor health and illiteracy. She is also chair of the Organization of the 40 African First Ladies Against HIV/Aids.

Lucy Kibaki was born in Mukurwe-ini in the Mount Kenya region, to Rev. John Kagai and Rose Nyachomba, in 1940. She later trained to become a teacher and rose to become the principal of a Teacher Training College in Kiambu. She married her husband Mwai Kibaki in 1962. In 2002, she became the third first lady of a democratic Kenya, after a 24-year Daniel Moi rule ended.  

Many of Africa’s first ladies are criticized for their lavish lifestyles flaunted at the expense of their country’s progress amidst failing and struggling economies. Lucy Kibaki, on the other hand, gets lashed out at for her quick and uncontrolled temper. She is known as a no-nonsense woman who speaks her mind and uses a little aggression and force to get people to step in line. She is most noted for her physical attacks and blatant disrespect for the rule of law; which probably does not make her so unique in that sense. When she shut down a pub inside Kenya’s State House only months after her husband was sworn in as president, Kenyans were shocked awake to the realities of their new first lady’s supporting role to the president. According to Ms. Kibaki, the pub served as nothing more than a “watering hole” for ministers who seemed more interested in quenching their own personal thirsts than in quenching the thirsts of the people they were sworn to serve.

Lucy Kibaki is also nationally known to have once shut down a legislative building, ordering the president’s advisers out because they refused to listen to her and were pushing their own personal agendas instead of an agenda based on national interest. But she grabbed international attention when she charged into the home of the World Bank country director and demanded him to turn down the music at a private party he was hosting. The next evening, she stormed into the police station to demand that the country director and his guests be arrested for disturbing her peace. Her outburst was later reported in The Daily Newspaper to her displeasure which she instantly made known by organizing a sit-in at the offices of the Nation Media Group, publisher of The Daily News. She demanded that the reporter who wrote the story be arrested. Things escalated when she slapped a camera man who showed up and began filming the sit-in. If her husband, President Mwai Kibaki, is concerned about his wife’s notoriety among Kenya’s people, he has not made it publicly known. This has led others to suggest that the role of first lady should be limited to matters of running the presidential home (remain in the kitchen), and not as an official government position.

In speaking her mind, Lucy has often times been misquoted, or had her words misinterpreted to create media buzz and controversy. One such statement, one she made in 2006, was reported in such a way that shocked a nation struggling to control the Aids epidemic. She is quoted as saying that young people in Kenya had no need for condoms and condemned its use to the spread of HIV/AIDS in the nation. When taken in context, however, Ms. Kibaki’s point is no different from that of any other conservative statement regarding the acceptability of young people (especially school-going children) and sex, and what she interprets as a stamp of approval for promiscuity.

Whatever press attention Lucy Kibaki seems to draw to herself, there is no denying that she is notable and possibly feared as a strong and vocal woman who runs the presidential home and its surrounding quarters with an iron fist. Controversy aside, it is also important to note that Lucy Muthoni Kibaki is active in the community. Through the Kenyan Girl Guides Association – of which she is the acting patron – Lucy Kibaki serves as a role model for Kenya’s girls. Through the association, she addresses issues such as HIV/AIDS, health and nutrition, and education.

At 71, she is a solid and ferocious protector of her family, especially her husband, President Mwai Kibaki. The world might never get to know the true essence of Lucy Kibaki, or which package truly represents the woman under the rumored tough exterior, but, we do know that she is a package of surprises revealing itself with every string that’s pulled.

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AdeOla Fadumiye

AdeOla Fadumiye is a writer, who loves dancing, traveling, reading, cooking, exercising, the outdoors and sports. She is also an adventurer at heart. Her greatest desires are to see women live a life of purpose, and to help bring justice to the poor and oppressed. As editorial assistant at Afrikan Goddess Magazine, AdeOla loves having the opportunity to further stand for the cause of the African woman. She currently resides in Burnsville, MN. Her newest venture includes her freelance writing business called JostWrite; she is also working on a book and blogging at

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