Joyce Laboso passed on late last month, news that brought shock and consternation to the nation as a whole. The Bomet governor had been quietly suffering from cancer, a disease she had first been diagnosed with in the early ’90s.
Since her death, stories have emerged about her and the type of person that she was. One of those testimonials was not a story from a first-person event but a video taken of her last year.
In the video, one can see the governor’s reactions as her staff throw her a surprise birthday party. Laboso was turning 58 on that very day, so they made secret arrangements where they would capture her from the moment she stepped out of her official car and into the office.
Laboso suspects that something is off and asks her staff, ‘Kuna nini leo (What is going on today)?” Soon after her question, the members of staff who had gathered in one of the rooms broke into song and dance.
After the dance, they then gifted her a book by John Mason titled You’re Born an Original, Don’t Die a Copy!
That book so encapsulates the life that Laboso lived. She was among the first few Kipsigis girls to study abroad, having done her Masters Degree at the University of Reading and her Ph.D. at University of Hull; both in the United Kingdom.
She was elected to the Parliament of Kenya to represent the Sotik Constituency in a by-election held on 25 September 2008. She succeeded her sister, Lorna Laboso, who died in a plane crash.
She worked as a Lecturer in the Department of Language and Linguistics at Egerton University and served as a Commissioner of the National Commission on Gender and Development.
Laboso was one of three first female governors in Kenya, along with Kitui County Governor Charity Ngilu and Kirinyaga County Governor Anne Waiguru. She beat Isaac Rutto, the incumbent who had joined NASA Coalition. Rutto later conceded defeat in public.
Check out the now melancholic video of the governor celebrating her last ever birthday below;