Hon. Nyiva Mwendwa, the former Kitui West legislator made history when she became the first woman to serve ministerial position in Kenya under the President Moi’s KANU government.Her appointment to the ministry headship in 1995 was a major step the country took towards women empowerment.
Nyiva was appointed Minister for Culture and Social Services during the President Moi’s rule on 9th May,1995.She has served under the four presidents of Kenya as MP ; during Jomo Kenyatta’s government as MP for Kitui West in 1974, Daniel Moi’s government as an MP in 1992, Mwai Kibaki’s NARC government of 2002 and Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee government as Kitui County Women Representative.
Nyiva was born on April 29th, 1942 at rural village in Matinyani, Kitui District.She went to Alliance Girls High School for her A-Level then joined University of Nairobi for a Diploma Course. Thereafter Nyiva joined Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, USA for Masters in Textile Science-Interior Design.
She served an an MP for Kitui West constituency for three terms ;1974,1984 both on KANU party under Kenyatta and Moi’s government respectively and 2002 on NARC ticket.During 2007 elections,she however lost the seat to Hon. Charles Mutisya Nyamai.In 2013 general elections, Hon. Nyiva Mwendwa also won the Kitui County Women Rep. seat on Wiper Democratic Movement also making an history as Kitui’s first Women Rep.
Nyiva’s husband, Kitili Maluki Mwendwa served as the Kenyas first black Chief Justice after attainment of independence and also as Kitui West MP in1984 before he met his death on a tragic road accident in 1985.Nyiva has two children daughter Kavinya Mwendwa and son Maluki Kitili Mwendwa who also eyed Kitui West seat during 2018 March by-elections but lost to the immediate former lawmaker’s widow Edith Vethi Nyenze during Wiper Party primaries.
The parliamentary seat fell vacant following death of the former National Assembly Leader of Minority Hon. Francis Mwanzia Nyenze late 2017 December after months of battling with cancer.His widow Hon. Edith Nyenze scooped the seat during by elections by a landslide.Francis Nyenze had served as Kitui MP three times ; 1997, 2013 and 2017 before his death.
The late Kitili Mwendwa was succeeded by his brother Kyale Mwendwa who served as Kitui West law maker from 1986-1992 on KANU party.
It is interesting to note that Eliud Ngala Mwendwa, brother to Kyale and Kitili served as Kenyas first Cabinet Minister for Labour and Social Services. EN Mwendwa was also among the delegation sent to Legislative Council, LegCo representing Kitui after independence. He also served as the Chairman of then Nairobi City Council.