How Rotiken escaped early marriage to become first lawyer in her village

By Ben Leshau
She beat evaded early forced marriage to his father’s friend, escaped from home to pursue her higher education which saw her become the first-ever female lawyer in her village.

It was tears of joy at Olokurto village in Narok North Sub-county last year as a 23 year-old woman who managed to escape early forced earlymarriage to her father’s 33-year old best friend nine  ago is received home after graduating with the first-ever Law Degree.

Josephine Rotiken who was among hundreds of those who graduated recently at Kabarak University defied the traditional Maasai culture of marrying his father’s choice of a man and instead ran away from home in search of education.

All hell broke in the year 2008 then just 12 years after her KCPE at Ilpolton Primary School when she was tipped by a neighbor that her ‘marriage’ ceremony was being planned prompting her to hatch a plan to escape from home.

She had already underwent the outlawed Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) at an early age when she was defenseless and according to the Maasai customs,she was ripe for marriage but she rejected his father’s suitor.

It was pomp and colour as Ms Rotiken made an heroic home return to the excitement of the villagers among them her father Kilopei Rotiken who is now a ‘proud’ father of the first-ever female Lawyer in the entire village.

Mr Rotiken who appeared remorseful of his previous misdeeds sought forgiveness saying that he never thought a girl can be of any value till he daughter became a Lawyer.

“I am happy. I have realized my mistake and from now on I will enlighten other men that educating a girl is equally good as educating a boy. We have been seeing girls as source of wealth as we get cows when we marry them off, “said Mr Rotiken, 70.

She however narrated her journey to getting an education as pure luck as she got to first step in a class as she was assigned duty of taking her younger brother to school.

 “In my community, boy child is treasured more than the girl. My father first took my brother to school at an early age and he could wake up every morning to take him to school because to arrive at the school one has to pass through Mau Forest, “narrates Ms Rotiken.

She explains that his dad finally got tired of waking up every morning to take him to school and asked her to accompany him to school. That is how she came to attend school.

Plans to have her married off at such a tender age cast a dark cloud in her academic progress as she had excelled by garnering 344 marks out of the possible 500marks in her KCPE exams emerging the best candidate in the entire zone.

He academic acumen however was nothing to his to her father who had already received pride price from her ‘husband-to-be’.

“My father was not amused of my success. In fact he never appreciated in any way but my mother was behind me as she encouraged me to forge ahead but I was confused,” says Ms Rotiken.

 It was after high school that her father, her and her mother were called to Narok Children’s office over the attempts to marry her forcefully and it was at this stage that her passion of becoming a
lawyer sprouted.

“At the children’s office, I represented myself and stood my ground that it was wrong for my father to force me to marry a man that I do not love and that I had a future to face in education. I won the case,” she says.

She however got introduced to House of Hope Rescue Center Director Patrick Ngigi who received her and supported her in her quest for education.

After completing her High School at Jomo Kenyatta High School she was admitted to Kabarak University where her journey to be an advocate began.

Speaking during the event, Josphine has however revealed that she has forgiven her father for what he did to her attributing his move to ignorance.

“I have already forgiven him. I however owe my success to Mr Ngigi for welcoming me to the rescue center when I was in distress. I want to be a competent Lawyer and a role model to all Maasai Girls. I want to tell them that if I managed to reach this far, they can also make it,”she

She has however asked the parents in pastoral areas to shun retrogressive cultural practices and give the girl child an equal opportunity in life by taking them to school adding that she will be
majoring on human rights to fight for vulnerable girls in her community.

Mr Ngigi guardian was appreciative for the community which had received them well due to the light which will go long way to motivate other girls.

 “It has been a long journey for her to realize her dreams. She is a very hard working lady and has been determined. Iam happy that her resilience has paid off,”said Ngige.

He however thanked Josephine’s father for accepting her back saying it has taken him many years trying to reconcile her with her father.

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