An idea borne out of a church event as a joke ended up birthing the second Kirinyaga County Woman Representative who has now set her sights on the governorship.
Before the 2017 General Election, Purity Wangui Ngirichi was a little known businesswoman who lived a quiet life. She imported cars for sale and was involved in the mining business.
Together with her husband Andrew Peter Ngirichi, they had relocated to Mombasa for business but remained frequent visitors to their Kirinyaga home for philanthropic deeds, which included church fundraisers and community engagements.
Besides real estate, transport, wines and spirits ventures, the couple also run The Yellow Ribbon and Grand Oak Hotels.
This, according to Ngirichi, clarifies the ‘propaganda and innuendos’ around how they acquired their wealth.
Ngirichi says she was already selling cars even before she got married, a business that grew into an empire after marriage.
A devout Christian, who was also an active member of the Mothers Union at ACK Kerugoya, Ngirichi's colleagues fronted the idea of seeking an elective position to compliment her philanthropy.
She initially rejected the idea, since her two siblings had unsuccessfully ventured into politics.
“The firstborn in our family had tried to vie for a defunct councillor post in 1988 but she did not make it. This was also the case with our ninth born, Peter Mwenji, who had vied for Mwea parliamentary seat in 2007,” Ngirichi said.
But her husband liked the idea and convinced her to either seek the Nyali parliamentary seat or Kirinyaga County Woman Rep seat promising to fund her campaigns. They eventually settled on Kirinyaga.
Although she is born into a wealthy family locally known as ‘The Douglas Family’ (her father, Douglas Kuria was a major stakeholder in matatu business in Kirnyaga and a trained medic), the MP's fame rose during the 2017 General Election due to the flashy campaigns she ran characterised by high-end vehicles and choppers.
Ngirichi would eventually beat Winnie Karimi during the Jubilee party primaries clinching the ticket that took her to the 11th Parliament.
It was not only a big win for Ngirichi but for her family to have their last born in a family of 10 make it in politics.
“He (husband) is my biggest supporter and fan in politics and that is how he became my campaign manager. It feels good to be accompanied by my husband in campaigns,” she said in an exclusive interview with The Sunday Standard.
The couple, however, had to agree on one thing; That they would not talk politics at home so as to have a normal family life. The agreement has helped her become 'Wangui the wife, while at home', and 'Wangui the MP while in the field'.
To separate these roles, meetings with constituents are held at their liaison office in Kerugoya, which they later converted to a United Democratic Alliance (UDA) office.
Ngirichi's face takes on a radiance as she talks about her husband and family.
She says many people thought the two were incompatible due to their different personalities but she says she understands her husband and loves him the way he is.
“He is hot-tempered but a straightforward man who hates being taken for granted. Some people interpret that to mean he is a bully which is not the case. I credit him for my political success,” Ngirichi adds.
Other than supporting her financially and accompanying her to political functions, she disclosed that her husband does not interfere with her roles as the Woman Representative and has never set foot in her office.
Ngirichi also says her husband is a family man who has played a big role in raising their three children.
He, for instance, had no problem changing baby diapers. To enable his wife get enough rest, Andrew would take up to sleeping in a bed next to the babies, waking up to take them to their mother for breastfeeding at night.
Her husband, she says, has also taught the three children how to swim, and they have won medals in some competitions.
Ngirichi recalls how they met, through his brother, who was a good friend to the MP. At that time, he worked as a tout while she was a high school student. Later, they dated for three months and moved on to start a family after she returned to the country from University of West London where she got a degree in Computer Science.
“When I jetted back to the country, I worked at World Food Programme (WFP) as a Systems Analyst while still importing cars, before he (Andrew) approached me for courtship and marriage,” she said.
Ngirichi describes herself as tolerant, understanding, appreciative and accommodative and one who believes in second chances, attributes she believes have helped her keep friends. For instance, she has kept a househelp who 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, among them being a perfectionist. She also dislikes domineering personalities and people 'that feel entitled'.
She talks of her fallout with Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru.
“We met during 2017 after my brother-in-law introduced us to each other and later her cousin organised dinner for us at Jacaranda hotel in Nairobi. She wanted to vie for the Nairobi governorship but I convinced her to vie in Kirinyaga where I was also vying for the Woman Rep.
“We dined and wined together and we could be seen together in public and in private, but I later realised we were incompatible and we parted ways,” Ngirichi said.
Ngirichi is decisive and does not turn back once she has made up her mind.
“I felt some of us in elective positions were treated unfairly for associating with Deputy President William Ruto," she says.
She describes the DP as approachable and says he demystified the big man syndrome of office bearers, a quality that made it easy for her to join his camp.
This she disclosed, almost cost her marriage, because her husband, a friend to the President, could not comprehend why she 'forsook' him for his deputy.
"With time, I convinced him and we invested in UDA,” she said.
But with Waiguru embraced by the party, Ngirichi feels betrayed.
“My issues are not mainly because Waiguru joined UDA but the bullying which is happening in the party. Some people have held Ruto hostage and this is working against his presidential ambition," she says.
“At one time, I was insulted in a TangaTanga Whatsapp group where Ruto is. My husband too was dragged into it and called names but he was not in the group to defend himself. This pained me and I called Ruto to express my displeasure,” she said.
Ngirichi is now mulling the possibility of popularising her party Citizen Convention Party (CCP), where her husband is the party leader, and believes she can get at least three MPs in Kirinyaga.
A lover of hiking and working out every morning where she walks for two kilometres, Ngirichi also loves Italian cuisine and her pasta. Locally, Mukimo and beef remain her favourites.
“I also love reading, especially in a spacious toilet," she adds with a chuckle.