Honourable Mary Kiden Yacobo Kimbo, M.P.
Honourable Mary Kiden Yacobo Kimbo was the first gender minister of the semi-autonomous government of Southern Sudan and served for four years. She represents the constituency number 10 in Kajo-Keji County of Yei River state in the Transitional National Legislative Assembly (TGNA).
Tell us about yourself and your journey to where you are today?
I am Hon. Mary Kiden Yacobo Kimbo, born in 1950's, I went to the then only girls school in Juba - Kator Catholic Girls School despite being an Anglican. Good performance merited me an admission to Maridi Intermediate School where I would only last two years due to the outbreak of conflict in Sudan. Like many, I fled the country and got enrolled at Kalongo Girls School in Northern Uganda where I passed well and got an admission to one of Uganda's prestigious Catholic Girls Schools; Trinity College Nabingo where I excelled and continued there with my advanced certificate of education. I performed well despite being despised by her male colleagues that she would only get a General Certificate of Education. I joined the Ivory Tower – Makerere University but that only lasted for a month because in 1973, the then Khartoum government called Sudanese students in neighbouring countries to return to Khartoum University. At the university, I wanted to study law but this couldn’t be because I could not speak Arabic and ended up doing Social Sciences and French language. I then did a post graduate diploma in public administration and diplomacy in France. I have a master's degree from United Kingdom in Community Development. I represent constituency number 10 in Kajo-Keji County of Yei River state.
What was the key factor in your success?
I attribute my success to proper family upbringing, where I was educated to care for others. I remember the many times I had to leave my bed for visitors and I would sleep on the floor but I never complained. My Catholic belief and unwavering desire to fight for my dreams and defend the defenceless have pushed me for greatness.
What were the challenges that you faced?
Despite being a go getter and such a resilient lady, being despised just because I was a girl (one of the three refugee Sudanese girls in Trinity College Nabingo) was a challenge to me. While in East Africa, where I was an unaccompanied child, I was taken care of by Verona Fathers, who luckily took proper care of us. They even paid my fees in Trinity College. But I would have loved to have stayed more with parents.
Can you tell us the inspiring woman who inspired you?
I am inspired most by my mother who thought me to value and protect myself and never to settle for less. My father too was inspirational; he taught me how to cook. I even cook the way my father used to cook. He was a man I can say never discriminated against girls or women. He valued us equally. Outside family, I am inspired by late Margaret Juan, the first woman director for social welfare and Hon. Victoria Yar. She was the first graduate Member of Parliament in the National Parliament with exceptional ability of lobbying. When I was a little child in Juba Teaching hospital, I admired the only South Sudanese nurse in the hospital. She was called Mary; I liked how she looked in her white nurse uniform. I just wanted to be important in future like her.