Nerima Wako, 34

Chief Executive

Siasa Place

Nothing tickles the fancy of Nerima, the chief executive and founder of Siasa Place, more than politics.

At Jacksonville State University in Alabama, US, where she studied communication, Nerima was president of international students.

‘‘I did my Master’s degree in Public Administration. I could discuss politics all day and put people in a corner,’’ she says, laughing.

"I am the most fun and laid-back person in my circle. I am also very prayerful. "

Politics is also why she is mostly misunderstood by people. ‘‘They imagine I am too stiff. But I am the most fun and laid-back person in my circle. I am also very prayerful. I have a prayer mentor.’’

Siasa Place, which she founded in 2015, promotes young people’s participation in democratic processes through research, training, civic education, and networking.

Her political inclination runs in the family line. Her grandfather, father, and uncle (Busia Senator Amos Wako) have been on the political scene for decades. ‘‘I would watch the news and debate politics with them from when I was young,’’ she says.

But it is at university that she understood the dynamics of politics. ‘‘My school was predominantly white. I had to ride on the support of the African and Asian communities to sail through, especially since I had minimal resources. This made me appreciate the value of mobilisation.’’

Her political engagements have taught her ‘‘that I am more resilient and consistent than I have cared to admit before. I did not imagine the organisation would grow to where it is.’’

She notes that young people’s political detachment ‘‘hurts’’ and that Kenyans should start to ask tough questions sooner.

Nerima is married to a politician and is a mother of one. ‘‘I have experienced politics from within and from without.’’

James Kahongeh