Ashura Michael was one of the speakers during the official launch of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) at the Bomas of Kenya yesterday, 26th October where she spoke on behalf of the deaf.
While most of the speakers stuck to the hefty matter that was the report, Ashura revisited President Uhuru’s joke during his recent tour to Kisumu where he joked that with First Lady Margaret Kenyatta’s permission, he wouldn’t mind getting a second wife from the Lake region.
Ashura, who spoke in sign language, had just finished sharing her remarks on the BBI report when she took up the moment to front herself as a potential second wife to the President. The law student at University of Nairobi joked that she was aware of the First Lady’s permission to the President to get a second wife and that all the President needed was to negotiate dowry with her ‘baba’ Raila Odinga whom she said was more than ready to hand her over. She went ahead to arrange her wedding with the President by proposing that the Deputy President William Ruto serve as best man at the ceremony.
“Mr President, I heard that you are looking for a second woman. My father Raila is here and he is ready to take dowry. If the Deputy President agrees, he will be the best man. The first lady will continue to build bridges and a BBI baby will be born.” Ashura jested amidst laughter from the President, the DP, Raila and the guests at the launch.
Trailblazing seems to be second nature to the hearing impaired human rights and gender activist was was recently elected speaker of the East African Youth Assembly, a group of 100 young people drawn from across the region. Ashura has a diploma in law, a certificate in civil leadership from the University of Illinois, a certificate in political, leadership and governance programme by Fredrich Ebert Stiftung in 2015.
She also holds a Bachelor of Arts in gender and development from the University of Nairobi. She is an ambassador for SlumCoder Family representing persons with disabilities; a member of Young Voice, a Leonard Cheshire project to support young people with disabilities.
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An orphan, Ashura was not born deaf. She lost her hearing at the age of four due to measles.
But this has not stopped her from setting the pace in leadership. Ashura was once a co-chair for the youth council in the United Nations Children’s Fund Global Partnership on Children with Disabilities.
She also served as secretary general of Kenya National Association of the Deaf.
She was a gender and social inclusive officer at Peace Ambassadors Integration Organisation for two years and a special interests representative of Youths Synergy Kenya. She is a board member of Positive Young Women Voice and has served a number of national and international organisations.
Ashura has led a group of young campaigners to advocate for sign language interpretation services during news segments on television and making braille easily available for the visually impaired.
She is also the founder and director of Free a Girl’s World Network (FGW-N), an organisation that aims to empower the girl child.
She has won several humanitarian and leadership awards and was also appointed as a commissioner for developing countries during the World Congress of the Deaf in Istanbul.
Ashura is a 2016 Mandela Washington fellow and travels around the world assuring young girls with disabilities that they should not let this get in the way of achieving their dreams.
She has also been active in political party activities to make sure that persons with disabilities are not left out in the political arena.
She spearheaded the formation of the Orange Disability League that was launched in November 2016.
She started a TV show, “The Handshake with Ashura,” and Signs TV, the first ever TV station dedicated to persons with hearing impairment. For this, she won Sustainable Development Goal ambassador award, Utumishi Bora Award, Digital Inclusion Award and Diversity Award.
Currently, she is a board member of the National Council of Persons with Disabilities and co-chair of the Africa Charter on Democracy Election and Governance-Kenya chapter.
Her dream is to be the first deaf senator in Kenya come the next general election.