At the age of 22, Marianne Kitany, the former Chief of Staff at Deputy President William Ruto’s office, was already an achiever and a proud owner of a house in the city.
Bubbly, brainy, beautiful and a “busherian”- she went to Alliance Girls-, Maryanne had everything a young lady of her time could wish for, except she needed some more loving.
At Kenyatta University (KU) where she was studying Bachelor of Education, she stood out from the rest.
And this is what drove her to the loving arms of her first love, the husband of her youth.
Juggling books and marriage, Maryanne scraped through university life and tossed herself into the corporate world, while at the same time raising a young family.
For Kitany, her rise from a humble background in Nandi to brushing shoulders with top leaders in the country prepared her to overcome adversity.
In an exclusive interview with The Standard, Kitany opened up on her career, personal life and political ambitions.
She previously worked in United Republican Party (URP) secretariat before being appointed at the DP’s office.
However, she was thrust into the national spotlight after her split with Meru Senator Mithika Linturi.
The couple’s bitter divorce spilt over to the courts grabbing the nation’s attention and revealing the intrigues of their rocky marriage.
A mother of a son, a graduate aged 25 and a daughter aged 20 and in university, Kitany got married while still in campus aged 22.
According to Kitany, her first marriage lasted 13 years before the divorce.
Smarting from the divorce, and riding high in a top political position, she fell into the arms of Senator Linturi.
Kitany said the union with Linturi lasted five years before the ongoing process of divorce set off at a point, she said, is emotional.
“My best moment was in the birth of the children. They have been a blessing to me and real gratitude. Divorce is painful, and sometimes it is a necessity,” she says.
“I even went public for my safety and that of my children,” she said, adding that the process is in the public domain.
During the candid interview, Kitany speaks passionately about marriage as an institution.
She approves of parents participating in the choice of partners for their children as the norm in the past, saying such unions would last.
“To curb bitter separation that also affects children, I would advise children not to rush into marriage. It was also best when parents studied families,” she says.
“We need to go back to those stages when parents studied families so that couples get to know one another well.”
Kitany also spoke of her political ambitions saying she now has her eyes firmly on the Aldai constituency seat.
She plans to contest for the parliamentary seat through the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) and is set to face off with incumbent Cornelly Serem.
She is among a few women seeking competitive elective posts and has exhibited brave campaigns as she markets her manifesto to the electorates in the populous constituency.
Kitany comes with a pledge to influence meaningful change by entrenching rich expertise she has built through her long-spanning career as a teacher, working in the URP secretariat as well as heading the human resource in the country’s second powerful office.
If elected, she will be following in the footprints of the former head of civil service and secretary to the Cabinet Dr Sally Kosgei who shadowed a host of male candidates to be elected on an ODM ticket for Aldai in the 2007 general elections.
Kitany is confident that she is the right candidate for the constituency to steer economic progress over the next five years.
“I am in the race for Aldai parliamentary seat. Being a leader is about selflessness and delivery of services to the electorates,” said Kitany.
Kitany, a firstborn in a family of seven, said she grew from a humble background and developed her own career path in public service.
Kitany, popularly known as Chebaibai (joyful) said she was born and raised at Kapchemosit village, Kaboi in Kaptumo Location of Aldai constituency in Nandi.
She attended Kapchemosit Primary from nursery to Standard Two before her parents transferred her to Kapsimotwo Primary, a boarding institution that she credits for her success.
“At class seven, my mother, a teacher, transferred me back to Kapchemosit primary school from where I sat my KCPE, scored good marks and proceeded to Alliance Girls. I was among the top three performers in the then Nandi district,” said Kitany.
At Alliance, she narrated, she excelled in KCSE enabling her to proceed for a Bachelor of Education course at Kenyatta University.
It was after high school that Kitany’s entrepreneurial star started shining. She positioned herself well and even embarked on acquiring property before joining university.
“By then, KCSE candidates had to stay for two years before joining university. With my good grade, I secured full time employment at KCB. Within two years, I secured a loan and bought a house. When it was time to leave KCB to join University, it was a tough decision to make – leaving guaranteed employment for schooling, I chose the latter,” she said.
She graduated from Kenyatta University in 1998 and secured employment with Smithkline Beecham. She would also use her time to train IT at Kenya Polytechnic.
Kitany was again to secure employment with Deacons before moving to Electricity Regulatory Board, presently Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (EPRA).
She had also enrolled on a Master’s program in IT at Kenyatta University – making her among the pioneer IT cohort at that level and was deployed to teach part-time at Strathmore University between 2001 and 2007.
She also took a Master’s degree in IT at USIU-A part-time between 2010 and 2012.
Kitany later joined a law firm Hamilton, Harrison and Mathews before proceeding to Kenya Railways where she worked until 2012.
She ventured into politics at the end of 2012, joining the URP secretariat where she was deployed to the presidential elections board heading the IT section after URP/TNA merger where a successful Uhuruto successful election was witnessed.
When Joseph Kinyua was appointed Chief of Staff in the president’s office, Kitany was appointed in DP’s office, a new position under the new Constitutional dispensation.
“I headed management and staffing where big four agenda programs were also birthed in the first term of Uhuruto administration,” noted Kitany.