From right Irene Kendi, author of the book(red dress), CS Joe Musheru, CS Margret Kobia among other Guests.

Not many women can master the eloquence, diligence, composure and strong will of the lady we’ve decided to feature here today. Her’s is a story of success, resilience, patience and above all, her trust in God who has shaped her to who she is today. A great lady. A leader. A go-getter. A woman of passion. Irene Kendi.Irene found it wise to put pen to paper and tell her autobiography in the most candid way. The lady with a golden, hearty smile that melts hearts said, “The best stories are the ones that are told by survivors.” She launched her book Wednesday evening at the University of Nairobi.

The Chief Guest in the auspicious occasion was her mentor, “mother”, role model and icon, Professor Margaret Kobia who doubles up as the Cabinet Secretary of Public Service and Gender. Shortly after the launch, this writer had a one-on-one with Kendi.“I was born and bred in Maua in a very humble background. In order to help my Mother place a meal on the table, I started selling cereals and potatoes at Maua market when I was only 8 years old.”Kendi continued to narrate the tumultuous journey to greatness.“I found it challenging balancing motherhood and studies. Were it not for the kind babysitting assistance I got from Mathew Barake, Laban Karani, Christine Mware and Triponia Maele, I could not have managed my classwork. When I was done with class, I could pick Gyan from whoever he was with among them and suckle him. It was Triponia that could stay with him whenever I travelled away from school. I owe them so much and pray that their lives receive abundance.

Despite being completely uncomfortable at my marital home, I had to go back there for the holidays whenever the semester was over. I could work out things at the market to make money to survive on when I reported back. Whereas it was burdensome, I knew the decision to go to university by all means was mine, and I have to bear the inconveniences and problems that came with it. I trudged on. To survive in campus, I began selling mtumba (second hand) clothes which my sister Wanja helped me access at Gikomba.”Kendi was recently named as a key pillar in the Azimio Presidential Campaign DreamTeam.After authoring the book that details her life journey, she says she will channel the proceeds to charity.“By the way, 30% of the proceeds from the book will go to charity and support the foundation’s agenda and vision.

We have the responsibility of serving humanity.”Kendi urged the young people not to ever give up in life. “Have you been jobless and hopeless, to an extent of giving up in life and everyone rejected you because you are a low life person? I want to encourage you because my story is testimony that everyone can rise regardless of background.”She gives credit to her mentor, CS Margaret Kobia for immensely contributing to guide her.“When God wants to use and elevate you for his glory, he positions people that he has anointed and favoured to guide and walk with you for his assignments. This woman of wonder Prof. Margret Kobia, Is one angel in a human that God aligned to my destiny so that I don’t trip or mess up on the way up. Let the world know when I am alive or dead, that Prof.

Kobia Gave me hope, love, space and wings to fly when I was crushed both emotionally and physically.”As we gear up to the general elections come August the ninth, Kendi called upon the electorate to consider the Capability of one Martha Wangari Karua who is Azimio Presidential running mate.“Women are capable. This is evident through the journey I have walked with Martha. I’ve known her for several years and her track record is unmatched. She is the best suited for this Nation and therefore I’m requesting Kenyans to consider her.”Kendi has a big vision for leading this country one day. Bursting with ambition, coherence and eloquence, Kendi says nothing can stop her from being the best ahead of the rest.”Her book Carving of a firebrand is retailing at a very affordable price of just Kenya Shillings 1,000.Here’s the forward of the book:FOREWORDThrough a life filled with struggle, meaning, tragedy, and accomplishment, Irene Kendi has emerged as one of the most iconic and compelling women of our era.

As the Deputy President of the Students Organisation of the University of Nairobi (SONU) — the first female student leader to serve in that role — she helped create the most welcoming and inclusive student leadership in Kenya’s student leadership history. While at it, she established herself as a powerful advocate for women and girls in Kenya and worldwide. She showed us a few dance moves along the way, regaled us with her pulsating humorous banter, raised a down-to-earth son, and kept her family dignity under an unforgiving media glare.In this memoir, Kendi invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her—from her childhood in Maua, on the northwestern slopes of Nyambene Hills and west of Meru National Park, to her years as a trade unionist, civil servant, and advocate. She tells of balancing the demands of motherhood and work at Kenya’s most famous address – Nairobi. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her struggles, triumphs, and disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it—in her own words and on her terms. Warm, wise, and revelatory, Carving of a Firebrand is the deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations —and whose story inspires us to do the same.

Her story gives fascinating insights into her early life, growing up in the tough suburbs as a disadvantaged girl with no parental shield or mentor. She narrates her quest to get an education and the several hurdles she encountered along the way. She invokes the value of working hard, being tenacious, having integrity, and using one’s voice to access what you want. No doubt you already see the parallels with great women leadership figures! In this book, we understand her ambitious drive and sheer determination. It is easy to s dedication to the daily grind and ambition was hardly dented by the sudden and, in some instances, tragic turns of events. We see how she wrestles with her perspective on life and reflects that there is more than one way to live. Kendi uses her trusted mentors to guide her in important decisions and life changes, encouraging us all to seek the people in our lives who can help provide this support.

Fast forward to the stage where she is a busy civil servant, researcher, and women’s rights advocate, trying to juggle her work and family life; Kendi explains the pain and the weight of balancing expectations that multiple identities place upon individuals. I can identify with that, as I am sure most other women leaders can in one form or another. The final part of this book explains the troubles in her former marriage, the death of her parents, the battle with and triumph over depression, and her rebirth like the proverbial phoenix.This is not an obvious memoir at a superficial glance. The story is compelling, the insights fascinating, and the apparent dislike for oppressors of women, youth, and children unmistakable. The book is more than an autobiography or an inside story. It is a call to action for those who aspire to become more. That there is room for everyone despite lacking privilege or position. This rings true in the context of the life of a majority of Kenyans. Her message is to strengthen our inner convictions, inspire self-mastery, and encourage authentic women leadership; to lead by example, aim for the highest standards, and work hard to achieve them. Importantly, I reflected on its title; Carving of a Firebrand, which suggests that we are all a work in progress; that leadership and triumph is a journey full of twists and turns.

You have not picked up this book by accident. You haven’t wandered here aimlessly. There is a method to this journey, and a solution may be at hand. Perhaps, you will find what you have been seeking for years in these pages— purpose.

By Fred Azelwa .