Bomet governor Joyce Laboso died of cancer at the Nairobi Hospital on Monday after spending months in the UK, Indian and local hospitals.
The death of Dr Laboso, 58, came barely two weeks after she returned to the country from India where she had gone for treatment.
Her death complicates the metrics for women’s emancipation campaigns having been one of the three female governors in the country alongside Kirinyaga’s Anne Waiguru and Kitui’s Charity ngilu.
Prior to becoming a governor in 2017, she had served as Sotik MP and deputy Speaker in the Eleventh Parliament.
Speaker Justin Muturi eulogised Dr Laboso as a humble, amiable, diligent and progressive lawmaker who was a huge inspiration to women in leadership.
“She has been a real trailblazer who stood tall and soldiered on to make history as the first Woman Governor of Bomet County, having achieved another first when she got elected the First woman Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly in the 11th Parliament,” he said.
At Egerton University, she served as the coordinator of the faculty of communication and media, library and information studies programmes.
President Uhuru Kenyatta described her as “an outstanding and courageous servant leader who stood out as an icon of women leadership in our country”.
“As a scholar who transitioned into political leadership, Dr Laboso will be remembered for her passion for education especially for the girl-child, an area where she initiated and supported numerous projects not just in Bomet but across the entire country,” said Mr Kenyatta.
The call to join politics came when elders picked her to fill the vacant Sotik parliamentary seat following the death of her sister Lorna in a plane crash.
Dr Laboso’s office had issued a statement on Monday morning, warning that doctors had restricted visits to her hospital bed.
“The governor is recuperating and is under observation by her doctors who have recommended her enough rest and limited visitation for speedy recovery,” Bomet communications director Ezra Kirui said in the statement.
Dr Laboso was the second Bomet governor after Isaac Ruto, who she beat in 2017 polls.