Qabale Duba, From a Village to Greater Heights


As part of our Beauty and Brains series, we caught up with Qaballe Duba, a young lady from Marsabit County, who was the first Miss Tourism Marsabit County. She is also a nurse professionally. She was also nominated to attend a  YALI fellowship ,president Barack Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative ,  and this is what she had to say:

  1.  What is your name and which part of Kenya do you come from?

My name is Qabale Duba Sora  commonly known as Qabz Shish.I come from a small village called Torbi along the Marsabit- Moyale road, in North Horr Sub county of Marsabit County.

  1. Tell me about your family background?

I am from a polygamous family, My father is the most famous  polygamer in Gabra land if not the  entire Marsabit county. He married 8 wives ,mzee alikuwa mnoma!!!!!My Mum was the first wife and she was the one living a nomads life, moving with the animals from one place to another, just like any other pastoralist family.. My dad was a no nonsense man(am just politely saying he was a very rude man) he was known for beating up his wives so most of the ladies he married couldn’t tolerate him as my mum did so they left him. But only three wives stayed with him forever giving him a total of 19 children.9 from my mum, 5 from his second wife and 5 from the last wife.

I am the last born in a family of nine and the only person educated to university level.

  1. What were your main childhood fears?

I don’t remember my childhood fears but now I know that I have a phobia for Heights. I discovered it  when I participated in Kenya’s first ever reality TV show called EXPEDITION.  48 leaders from different universities participated in the competition. Rock climbing was among the challenges we had to go through but for me it was a nightmare. Everytime I went up a rock, I fainted. The first time I thought maybe I had some health issues but when I fainted for the second time I knew it was just excessive height phobia. Imagine up to now whenever the aeroplane am in takes off or lands I always close my eyes juu naskia kitu kwa tumbo, hahahaha sema utoto!!

  1. What are you good at?

I Am good at:

  • Making friends, I can make soo many friends within the shortest time possible.
  • Interacting with people, no matter who you are, where you are from, your colour or your “class” I can easily interact with anyone and in a friendly manner.
  • Influencing people positively.
  • Making fun, I like making lots of fun .Wherever I am people always keep on laughing and I talk a lot. A friend of mine called Buno Woche nick named me “QABZ FM”.
  • Time management. I am good at managing my time. Although I take part in so many things I always know what is to be done and when! When I was in university students leadership, I was the only medical student in the council but I usually managed my time well between my studies and leadership.


5.What are you bad at?

I Am bad at pleasing people.I’m always myself and speak my mind and do what I think is right. I am not good at pretending so as to please people.

  1. Say something about your education {Alumni of which schools} and the professional courses you have undertaken.

My educational journey started in my village. I was in Torbi Primary School from class 1-8 and I was the first girl in 2004 KCPE in my North Horr constituency with only 315 marks hahaha, I later joined Moi girls high school Marsabit and completed in 2008 with a mean grade of B- having the second best grade in my class, the first person had B. I didn’t make it to the University cut line to have joined JAB so I had to stay out a whole year due to lack of fees. In 2010 I joined Kenya Methodist University to study nursing and graduated in 2014 with Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BScN). I was the first girl from our village to attend university.

  1. Your greatest achievement in life? Then tell us more about it and how that achievement has impacted your life?

IMG-20160416-WA0011My GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT in life was building my mum one of the biggest and cutest houses in our Torbi village. I use to study using a lambathi(those small lamps) while sitted on a barchuma(stool) using Afa (traditional bed) as a study table in our min thasse(traditional hut) . In my entire educational life even when in university and I had some assignments to do that was how I survived. And my childhood dream was to one day build my parents’ house that will have electricity, for sure my dreams were valid!!!! By 2015 my mum has already moved into her new house with even security lights outside. Actually I should that’s my best achievement.

I also won two titles during the national Miss Tourism competition,miss tourism Kenya peace and investment.

  1. What will people remember you with as the first miss Marsabit county

During my term ,I used my title to reach to  many schools in my county for motivational/career talks which I use to do in conjunction with KEMU even before becoming Miss Tourism.  The thing that I know people will never forget especially those girls who benefitted from it will my pants and pads(PAPA)   project. Time passes so fast and people will definitely remember the most recent things but once you leave a mark it will always be remembered. I think I have left a mark in the small way that I could.

Future Peace Ambassador
Future Peace Ambassador
  1. A common misconception about you?

The common misconception about me came when I became miss tourism Kenya. I was the only “Woria” in the miss tourism Kenya competition 2013/2014 because other north eastern counties and even Isiolo didn’t participate. So because of that many people thought I was doing totally wrong thing that a gabra girl or generally a Cushite girl shouldn’t do. Our people perceive modelling as walking naked and immoral, but for me I proved people wrong by competing purely with our traditional attire from different communities in Marsabit County. My main agenda of taking part in that competition was to represent my entire county and for Marsabit County to be known for positive things not always to hit national headline for the wromg reasons. And I made sure that no matter peoples conception I have achieved my target of marketing my county properly in a positive manner. To see how I did that watch my small video on YouTube called “Marsabit Queen” and learn more about the cradle of mankind. Many people ,except those that we have been friends on social media didn’t know that I have been a leader and represented my county in modelling is as well leadership. “Aban ufinimu ammo uffur bau inthith jedani”, I think I did the best during my term as Marsabit queen, I was able to visit all corners of my county with my CSR project of donating sanitary towels and under garments to girls’ schools.

10.Which are some of the new resolutions you have made to yourself this year?

Mmmmmm I usually don’t have specific resolutions for a new year,I always just continue with what I have been doing and start new objectives when necessary. But this year got me in a hospital where I was with a sick brother, so my resolution was to do all what’s possible to be able to save my brother’s life even it will be increased by days or months. My step brother Adano Duba( Adano mata guttha) has cancer of the vocal cords, in Kenya being diagnosed with cancer is like a death sentence but having a medical background I knew that something could be done. I was able to do all the hectic referral processes and took my brother to India where he underwent total laryngectomy(removal of vocal cords) and now undergoing chemo and radiotherapy still in india.I can’t wait to see that day that I will bring him home after been away for six months kama amepona. So my resolution this year was to help someone when I can because tomorrow I might not have the capacity to do so.

11.In another life you would become a……?

In other life I would become an Eagle, because an eagle always keeps its focus on its target no matter what comes between them. And again, eaglse fly higher and higher to avoid interference from other bird like parrots. I wish I had wings to fly higher with other eagles.

12.If you are a politician, you would be?

I would be a servant leader

13. Do you think you can have some political or leadership influence, what message are you intending to pass on to the people of Marsabit?

As I always say age is just but a number ”Guthiina wobekani thiqenna wowolalan jet jarolen” so yes I can have a political and leadership influence. To my people of Marsabit County I would like to tell them that enough is enough ,it’s the right time we choose leaders on their leadership capabilities and not based on their names or where he or she comes from. Marsabit county residents please I urge you to give women leadership an opportunity, our culture is always undermining women when it comes to leadership positions but it’s this generation that has to stand up and uplift women in our midst to go up the ladder of leadership in Marsabit County.


The Youth are the backbone of every society but in Marsabit how many youths are in elected leadership positions? And why? The old saying that goes the youth are the  leaders of tomorrow we can’t buy anymore. We are the leaders of today. If we always elect very old people to power ,how do you expect them to know the issues affecting youths? Each and every parent is complaining of youth unemployment by the county government, why don’t you vote that youthful person to power for him or her to be able to address youth issues in the county ssembly and also spearhead youth related activities so that it will create job opportunities for our youth? So Marsabit people, let’s be the change that we want to see in our beloved county and that’s by voting the youth who need your support to power and see if they can deliver and bring change. Don’t say they have no experience, if you are not giving them chances where do you think they can go to practice their leadership skills? Sooo 2017 youths tusiachwe nyuma tujitokeze   (the mantle is yours).Never mind about financial capacities , if people really want change they would not expect a youth to be having millions to buy votes, they would  definitely vote  you in. VIJANATUNAWEZA (Yes, the youth can lead)

14. What charity is closest to your heart?

It’s the donation of sanitary towels and undergarments. Am from a pastoralist community where women under through a lot especially during their menses, this might sound awkward to say it out but as I said I can’t lie to please people. The fact is that our mamas in the villages don’t even poses an underwear so what about having a sanitary towels? Has anybody thought of giving these mothers sanitary towels? Mostly people focus on school girls but for me using my Qabale Duba Foundation I want to reach to all those mamas in remote villages teaching them on maternal health, training the TBAs and also teach them about hygiene after deliveries to avoid sepsis.

15. What are your comments on the Politics of tribal alliances and tribal conflicts in the county?

About the tribal alliances, I am not happy with it  at all!!It’s the dividing factor for the people of Marsabit county and always leading to conflicts. Marsabit People should vote leaders according to their leadership potential not on tribal lines.Is it wrong for Marsabit County to have a governor from Elmolo community or a dassanach? Who said it’s a must we have a governor from a Gabra or Borana Community? because we are over 14 different communities in the county and we all have equal rights for leadership. So our leaders should sit down and think together even if it’s a matter of giving each other turns in leadership according to different communities, they should agree and avoid tribal alliances because that will only divide us further and bring conflicts which will only bring us down to point zero like in 2013 post-election clashes.

Lupita Nyongo said no matter where you come from your dreams are Valid, that’s very true. Personally I always think my dreams are valid so this coming election 2017 I want to vie for the position of women representative Marsabit County. I will come out as QABALE not associating myself with any alliance. I want to represent every woman in Marsabit county no matter her tribe, I don’t want anyone to know my tribe because I belong to Marsabit county and I want to bring peace in this county

16.Do you have a favourite quote or one that is always on your mind?

You need to stand out to be an outstanding person

Qabale Duba,Bridging the gap
Qabale Duba,Bridging the gap

17.According to you, the best age to be is? Why?

According to me the best age is 20 – 30 years because so far in my twenties I have achieved a lot. I think it’s because one has a lot of energy and desire to do the best and be the best in all what he she does.

18. Your greatest regret is?

So far I have no regrets in my life

19.What do you do during your free time?

Although am not such a good swimmer I spend most of my free time swimming, if the pool is available.Hehe. Otherwise I’m on social media mostly facebook and WhatsApp. I have an account but rarely use  twitter or Instagram.

20.Living person that you identify with, your role model and mentor and why?

Hon Linah Jebii Kilimo, Chairperson Anti FGM board in Kenya, former MP Marakwete East. That mama is my everything!!! She’s my role model, my mentor,my guardian and above all she’s my MOTHER. She supported me in university after my brother passed away.

She’s one of the women leaders in Kenya who is known for bringing everlasting peace among the fighting communities of Marakwets and Pokots. She’s a God fearing mum and a mother to many not only her children. Am just one case but hon kilimo has educated so many needy students from different communities. I will follow her footsteps to be the Leketio( sign of peace) in Marsabit fighting communities to bring everlasting peace. Mummy you are my mentor always.

21.Your lowest point of misery in life was? What about your most embarrassing moment?

My lowest point of misery was when my brother was killed and after few months my dad also passed due to the shock.

22.Yoir most embarrassing moment……

I was most embarrassed when I was conned through a phone call by people who pretended to be from Safaricom and lied to me that I have won a hundred thousand Kenya shillings. Hahaha I still feel stupid when I rem that day of July 2013, imagine I was instructed to go to my mpesa account withdraw from ATM and they asked me the code that was sent to my phone within seconds they withdrew 58,000 from my account. Rem I was a student by then and I had a sister of mine who came for me to take her to hospital and she was with me in meru, sema kuaibika!!!! Anyway so many opportunities came later but I learnt a lot from that scenario.

23.Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?

As a mother, wife and a very responsible leader in Marsabit county or the national government.

24.Who is the most treasured person to you?

MY MOTHER!!!My mum is illiterate but she played a very critical part in my educational life for me to be who I am today. Since none of my sisters are educated ,they were married at early age my dad also insisted that I should be married immediately after class eight and actually I was engaged without my knowledge and was to be married in December 2004 but my mother leaked the information to me and I raise alarm and I was saved from that with the help my late bro Malicha and my primary head teacher Mr Guyo Isacko. I never missed paraffin for our lamp to do my studies in the evenings, at even class 4 and 5 my mum use to awake me for morning preps as early as 5am, it’s because of that I was always number one in my entire primary life. My mum is a strong woman.

25. In a relationship or not yet?

Mmmmmmm I usually want to keep my personal like away from public although am a public figure, but to avoid team mafisi hahaha let me declare that yes am in a relationship.

26.As a former or current model and career woman, you are a role model for the girl child in Marsabit County. What words of advice do you have for them?

As a former model and the pioneer queen of Marsabit I want to tell our girls that modelling is how you carry yourself not how public perceive out there. Once you get into modelling people can call you different names and even your current relationships might break just because people think you have become immoral within a day. My friend ,as far as you know what your ambitions are, never mind what people think of you. Do that what you wanted to achieve using the titles opportunities and let you be judged by your actions. Let no one control your mind just because you are a lady.If you think you got a talent to explore, my sister don’t sit on it, opportunities come only once.


As Nelson Mandela said ,if you want to eliminate poverty in any community, educate its members, so I want to tell our girls that education is very important. There is no short cut to life other than giving it our best in the part that we have taken ,for example education. No matter what other things one is taking part in it’s good for one to have a career to be identified with. Girls from Marsabit County should know that we are not in any way less than others we can be whoever we want to become in any aspect of life. It’s good for us ladies to at least build our careers before getting into family lives at very early ages. Otherwise what I know is that our girls are smart full of beauty with brains let’s make use it dear ones.

27. Tell us more about this WPLP and YALI the American scholarships that you recently won this year.

Women Peacebuild leadership Program (WPLP) is a program at Eastern Mennonite University’s Center for peace building and justice (CPJ) USA, a post graduate certificate on peace building and development for women around the world known to have been doing peace related work in their respective communities. I applied for the programme last year and I was lucky to have made to the interview level with 200 other women leaders out of over 700 applicants all over Kenya. During the interview I was surprised the kind of women I was competing with, much known women leaders who have been doing great peace work in different parts of Kenya. Surprisingly I was chosen among the only 8 women needed to represent the country Kenya in this year’s program at EMU, Virginia USA from May 2016 to December 2017, I was sooo happy to have made it to get such a scholarship and I was actually the youngest in the group. I received the congratulatory email while at JKIA airport heading to India with the sick brother. immediately I landed in India they started requesting for vital documents to be sent to USA among the documents were certificate of good conduct which I never had!!!!. If were in Kenya I could get the certificate within few weeks but I wasn’t around, my brother just had the surgery and was in ICU so I couldn’t leave him and come back to Kenya just because of the police certificate. Unfortunately or fortunately when I had already changed my flight and was coming back to Kenya to make the certificate I got regret email that my chance has been given out!!!I try again next year because I was very strong candidate for them. I was so disappointed BUT….

Once again God closed a window to open for me the door!!!! Just two weeks after the regret email from WPLP I got another congratulatory email  from USA Embassy in Kenya that I have been chosen to represent Kenya in this year’s Mandela Washington Fellows, Young African Leadership Initiative 2016. That was the greatest new ever in my life,waaaah the competition was soo tough that towards the results some of us almost got sick wondering whether to make it to finals or not. We were like 4000 applicants 400 made to the semi-finalists stage and did a tough interview and only 60 leaders were needed to attend the YALI program this year from Kenya. So imagine the butterflies we had knowing that all of us very competitive leaders so who will emerge the best to convince those American to notice his her leadership to be chosen.

Mandela Washington Fellowship for young African Leaders is the flagship program of President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative(YALI). As Mandela Washington fellow 2016 we are expected to arrive in United states in June, A total of 1000 Young African leaders from different African countries will be attending the fellowship. We will distributed to different universities in US to be taught leadership skills and networking with other young leaders from Africa and United states as well. Personally I have be posted to Syracuse University,New York, after the academic residency we will all travel to Washington,DC to participate in a three day Mandela Washington Fellowship Summit hosted by President Obama. During the summit we will have opportunities to interact with U.S leaders in the fields of business, government and non-profit sectors. In addition a small number of fellows will remain in the United States for additional professional development experiences at U.S. companies, non-profit organizations or government agencies.

      So, what are your parting words?

I think I have said enough unknown facts about this Qabale Duba who was mostly known as “miss tourist”hahahaha that’s how many people calls me in Marsabit.


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