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Story of Colombian VP 'Nyawira': From house help to vice president

Meet Colombia VP with Kenyan roots Francia Márquez

Colombian Vice President Francia Márquez

President William Ruto on Tuesday revealed that Colombian Vice President Francia Márquez traced her roots to Meru.

Ruto was speaking during the Africa Climate Summit at KICC, Nairobi where he said that VP Márquez was given a Kenyan name, Nyawira which in the local language denotes a hardworking person.

After her address, the head of state said that the Colombian VP had discovered her Kenyan roots during her recent trip to the country.

Thank you very much my sister Francia for that candid statement. By the way, Francia has a Kenyan name, Nyawira. When she came to Kenya we traced her origin to a place called Meru. Thank you very much Nyawira,” Ruto said.

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  1. Francia Márquez, a former housekeeper and environmental activist, became Colombia's first Black vice president in 2022. 
  2. Márquez was born in 1981 in a small village in the southwestern Cauca region of Colombia.
  3. She grew up alone with her mother and was pregnant at 16 with her first child.
  4. Márquez was first forced to work in a gold mine a few kilometres from home to support her family and then hired as a house help.
  5. She has since earned a law degree and has held numerous forums, lectured in universities, and delivered speeches before.
  6. Márquez is an environmental activist who has been fighting against environmental racism and illegal mining in her community.
  7. She campaigned on a promise to shift the country's economy from fossil fuels to clean energy.
  8. Márquez won the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize in 2018 for her work to retake her community's ancestral territories from illegal gold mining.
  9. Her analysis of social disparities has cracked open a discussion about race and class in a manner rarely heard in the country's powerful political circles.
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Francia Elena Márquez Mina is a Colombian human rights and environmental activist, lawyer, and the 13th and current Vice President of Colombia.

She was born on December 1, 1981, in Yolombó, a village in the Cauca Department. At the age of 13, she became an activist when the construction of a dam threatened her community.

She first gained international recognition for her efforts to stop illegal gold mining on ancestral land in La Toma, Cauca, and was awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize in 2018.

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She organized the women of La Toma and spearheaded a 10-day, 350-mile march of 80 women to the nation’s capital, resulting in the removal of all illegal miners and equipment from her community.

After a career as a social activist for Afro-Colombians and climate justice, she decided to run for the vice presidency and won, becoming the first Afro-Colombian vice president in the country's history.

She is also the second woman to hold the post, after Marta Lucía Ramírez.

She assumed office on August 7, 2022, and is a member of the Soy Porque Somos political party and the Historic Pact for Colombia.

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