Martha Wangari Karua is the Azimio La Umoja Deputy Presidential candidate.
Ms Karua was picked in a pool of four names submitted by the Azimio La Umoja – One Kenya Alliance deputy presidential committee.
Last week, the names of the four included Wiper Leader Kalonzo Musyoka, Narc Kenya leader Martha Karua, Narc Party leader Charity Ngilu and others.
Brief History of Martha Karua
Martha Karua was born on the 22nd of September 1957 in Kirinyaga District, Central Province of Kenya; she is the second born in a family of eight siblings, four girls and four boys. She had a humble upbringing that instilled in her lessons and values she still carries today. One lesson Martha regards highly is the sense of duty she learned in seeing her family and neighbors, even with the little they had, caring for those with less or without.
Martha Wangari Karua attended Kabare Girls Boarding school before joining Kiburia girl’s secondary school, and then had a stint at Ngiriambu girls before settling at Karoti girls where she sat for her East African School Certificate. This was in the early 70’s when secondary schools were scarce and most of those available were the so called Harambees with government ones being so limited. The youthful Karua then proceeded to Nairobi girls (now State House) high school where after passing her EASCE embarked on her A levels. Upon successful completion of her A levels, Karua joined the University of Nairobi where she enrolled for a law degree from 1977 to 1980. Between 1980 and 1981 she was enrolled at the Kenya School of Law for the statutory post graduate law course that is a prerequisite to admission to the Kenyan roll of advocates and licensing to practice law in Kenya.
Martha Karua worked in the Judiciary as a District Magistrate rising to a Senior Resident Magistrate at the time of exit in 1987. During this period, she was in charge of Makadara Law Courts from 1984 to 1985 and Kibera Law Courts from 1986 to 1987 when she left to start her own law firm. In 1987 Martha Karua formed Martha Karua & Co. Advocates which she operated till the year 2002. While in practice, Karua presented many pro bono cases notable among them the treason trial of Koigi Wamwere and where she represented the late Hon. Mirugi Kariuki.
Karua was a member of the opposition political movements that successfully agitated for the reintroduction of multi-party democracy in Kenya in the early 1990s. Kenya was at the time under the authoritarian rule of the Kenya African National Union (KANU), the only legally recognised political party in Kenya and which was led by president Daniel arap Moi.
Martha Karua joined Kenneth Matiba’s Ford-Asili party but lost the party nomination ticket to the wealthy and influential former Head of Public Service Geoffrey Kareithi. She was then offered a ticket and support by the Democratic Party of Kenya (DP) elders who wanted a clean break from the Kareithi – Nahashon Njuno rivalry. Karua won the 1992 general election to become the MP for Gichugu constituency and the first woman lawyer to be popularly elected to Parliament. She was also appointed as the party’s legal affairs secretary between 1992 and 1997.
In 1998, Karua declined the position of Shadow Minister for Culture and Social Services which conflicted with her position of National Secretary for Constitutional Affairs (an elected office) that made her the official spokesperson on legal matters of the party. She opted to resign her position as the National Secretary.
In 2001, when the Constitutional Review Bill was laid before the House, the entire Opposition with the exception of Karua walked out of Parliament. The Bill had been rejected by the Opposition as well as Civil Society but Karua was of the view that as elected representatives, instead of walking out, it would be more prudent to remain in Parliament and put the objections on record. She therefore chose to remain in the Parliament and her objections to the Bill were duly recorded in the Hansard.
Until 6 April 2009 she was the Minister of Justice, National Cohesion & Constitutional Affairs. She also previously served as the Minister of Water Resources Management & Development, and was behind the implementation of the Water Act 2002, which has since then accelerated the pace of water reforms and service provision in Kenya.
Martha Karua resigned as Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs on 6 April 2009, citing frustrations in discharging her duties. A clear example of her frustrations was when President Mwai Kibaki appointed Judges without her knowledge a few days before her resignation. She was the first Minister to resign voluntarily since 2003.
She immensely contributed to the development of family law and especially the distribution of matrimonial property as well as constitutional and administrative law.
She was among those who formed the political coalition NARC that won the 2003 General Election in Kenya and ended KANU’s nearly four decades of leadership in Kenya’s politics.
Martha Karua is a devout Christian. She urged religious leaders to help politicians better the Kenyan society.