Editor's Review

Elizabeth Kangethe made history in 2014 when she was elected Mayor of the London Borough Council. 

Thousands of Kenyans relocate abroad every year with the hope of securing greener pastures. For most of this lot, green pastures entail getting a job that can sustain them in a foreign land. 

However, some have gone over and beyond by vying for and successfully clinching political seats. In this article, we outline 5 Kenyans who've secured elective seats abroad: 

Lilian Seenoi-Barr

Lilian Seenoi-Barr, a native of Mau Narok and sister to Narok Senator Ledama Olekina, made history in June 2024 after becoming Northern Ireland's first black mayor. 

Seenoi-Barr was handed the mayoral chain of office on 3 June 2024, thus becoming the mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council in Northern Ireland. 

File image of Lilian Seenoi-Barr. 

In a past interview, Seenoi-Barr disclosed that she arrived in Derry City as a refugee 14 years ago.

"It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, something you don't prepare for. I am delighted that I have been given the opportunity to serve my community. Derry has given me so much. A family, a husband, and a place I call home," she said.

Lucy Gichuhi

She made headlines in 2017 after she became the first African senator in Australia.

Gichuhi, a lawyer by profession, was announced the winner of the South Australia senatorial election after her opponent, Bob Day, was disqualified.

File image of Lucy Gichuhi.

Gichuhi moved to Australia in 1999 and became a citizen in 2001. She served as a senator between 2017 and 2019.

Elizabeth Kangethe

She made history in 2014 when she was elected Mayor of the London Borough Council, becoming the first Kenyan to be elected mayor in the United Kingdom.

Prior to becoming a mayor, she was in 2010 elected as the Councillor for Parsloes ward on a Labour Party ticket.

A screen grab of a video featuring Elizabeth Kangethe.

Elizabeth, who was born and raised in Kiambu County, started her professional career as a teacher in Kenya and later relocated to the UK, where she also practiced teaching.

In addition, she has studied Law in the UK and specialized in Advocacy and Corporate Governance.

Larry Mboga

Mboga was elected a member of the Eau Clair Council, Wisconsin, after he won the elections on a Democratic Party ticket.

Following his victory, he was inaugurated into the 11-member council charged with running Eau Claire's affairs.

Speaking after his election, Mboga noted that his priority was to create a good relationship between law enforcement agencies and residents.

File image of Larry Mboga. 

"We only meet police when there's trouble, bad times. Why can't we meet them in good times? In fact, from there we've had a walk in the park with them, barbeque with them, play soccer with them. I hope as a city with my coworkers or co-councilmen, we can work away, so we can have affordable houses for everybody," he said.

Before assuming the office, Mboga was an athletic coach at a high school in the area.

OpanyI Nasiali

In March 2013, Opanyi was elected the mayor of Claremont, California, thus becoming the first African and Kenyan to hold the office.

Prior to moving to the United States, Opanyi, an alumnus of Chavakali Boys High School, held several roles in Kenya, such as checker at the Mombasa Port and transcriber at Parliament.

He first moved to the US in 1970 through a scholarship and later returned to the country before relocating and settling in Claremont with his wife in the 1980s.

File image of Opanyi Nasiali. 

Explaining how he ended up in politics, Opanyi noted that he gained interest while serving in Parliament, adding that prior to seeking an elective seat, he was involved in community projects.

"Before I decided to run for elective office in Claremont City, California, I was actively involved in various community organizations and regularly attended city council meetings. I also wrote and published articles in local newspapers... I made an attempt to win elections twice but lost on both occasions," he said.

He was elected a councilor in 2001, and his political career culminated in 2013 when he was elected mayor.