Despite being visually impaired, Senator Cystal Asige is soaring

Senator Asige was recently recognised by Isuzu East Africa for her work in disability rights advocacy
Judy Ndunge News & Updates March 30, 2024

It takes more than vision to change the world for the better.

What would you do if one day you woke up and your sight is gone for good? How best would you turn the situation to favour not just you but those experiencing the same situation around you?

Well, nominated Senator Crystal Asige didn’t have answers to these questions too, not until when now she was right in that situation that she started having answers.

Today, Asige is a budding lawmaker, already with a remarkable record at the Senate, championing the rights and interests of Persons with Disabilities. She is also making a mark in the Senate with her singing talent, sometimes brining extra ordinary life to the debates in the Chambers where she infuses her melodies, captivating the members and sinking her points.

While growing up, Asige never imagined or thought of her being visually impaired. She lived a healthy life experimenting with music and poetry as a young girl. “I was not born like this, I had full sight when I was born. But I got to a point in high school when I was about 14-15 years old, that’s when I started to see that there was a problem with my eyes, I couldn’t see well,” Asige once told a local media house.

Senator Crystal Asige giving a keynote address at the National Convention of Visually Impaired Teachers in Kenya in March 2024.

Senator Crystal Asige giving a keynote address at the National Convention of Visually Impaired Teachers in Kenya in March 2024.

At age 20, Asige went to the UK to Bristol university to study film and theatre. By then, she had not sought specialised medical attention to her condition. But one day, she went for a routine checkup at a doctor’s place. And the disheartening news about her eyes came, that things we not looking good and she needed further checks on eyes.

After more checkup, the diagnosis turned out to be glaucoma. The worst news was that she was going to lose her sight completely in 3 years’ time. Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that can cause vision loss and blindness by damaging a nerve in the back of your eye called the optic nerve.

The news came as a shock as the thoughts of fear for her unseen future crippled her mind.

“I was left distraught because I was only 20 years at the time, in my second year of university. Lots of things flashed before my eyes, I thought about everything that my parents had sacrificed for me to get a good education only for me to drop out because I was going blind. I also thought about my course which was very visual, and I wondered how all this was going to work if I couldn’t even see. I was so stressed out, to say the least,” is quoted as saying in article published by the Standard.

Senator Asige was recently recognised by Isuzu East Africa for her work in disability rights advocacy

Senator Asige was recently recognised by Isuzu East Africa for her work in disability rights advocacy

It took a lot of time for her to come to terms with her new situation. But when she did it was clear she had gotten a new set of direction and inward vision to sore great heights.

“When I lost control, and everything around me started to disappear, my voice remained. Glaucoma made me understand my ability to, and the importance of, standing alone. I think I was given this mountain to show others it can be moved,” Asige told the Business Daily in a in a different article.

Over the years, she started giving more focus to her voice and went on to bag a series of achievements, becoming a singer /songwriter, a disability rights advocate, a YouTuber and a public speaker among other achievements.

In March 2024, Isuzu East Africa recognized and awarded Senator Asige. She was recognised for her work in advancing the rights of persons with disabilities. The Swedish organization Forum Civ and Isuzu East Africa, presented her with the award during the International Women’s Day celebrations.

“I’m genuinely overwhelmed with gratitude that a whole Isuzu East Africa recognises my work in disability rights advocacy. Thank you for this beautiful award – reminding me that you never know who God will quietly put you in front of,” she posted on her social media after the award.

How did Asige end up in the Senate?

In 2022 Asige was nominated to the 4th Senate in the 13th Parliament in Kenya to represent people with disabilities and special interest groups. She was nominated by the Orange Democratic Party (ODM) and sworn in alongside 66 other Senators on September 8, 2022.

Since her nomination to the Senate, Asige has pushed through the passage of three Bills aimed at advancing the interests of Persons with Disabilities.

These Bills are Persons with Disabilities Bill 2023, the Kenyan Sign Language Bill 2023, and the Startup Bill 2022.

The purpose of the Persons with Disabilities Bill 2023 was to bring a law that gives effect to Article 54 of the Constitution; to restructure the National Council for Persons with Disabilities and to provide for its functions and powers.

The Bill also provided for the institutional framework for protecting, promoting and monitoring the rights of persons with disabilities as well as to provide incentives and reliefs for Persons with Disabilities. The Bill was passed by the Senate on February 21st, 2024.

Kenyan Sign Language Bill 2023 on its part was to give effect to Article 7(3) (b) of the Constitution on the promotion and development of the use of Kenyan sign language.  It provided for the inclusion of sign language in education curriculum and also its use in legal proceedings.  It was passed on February 21st, 2024.

The Startup Bill 2022 was for creating a framework for technological development, innovation, and entrepreneurship. It was passed on February 21st, 2024.

In the first few months of 2024, cases of women being killed in controversial circumstances shocked the country. The killings, widely described as femicides caught the attention of the Senator   who brought a motion in the Senate as an act of solidarity with victims of the incidents. She insisted for urgent action to be taken to prevent further cases from occurring, further calling for a nationwide observance of the Dark Valentine. This day was marked by overnight vigils countrywide.

Asige believes in resilience and has on numerous occasions asked women to stand up for their rights and not to give up.

“It is important women to know they are capable of pushing forward despite the barriers of inclusivity that were or are still there. We are women who understand resilience and everything big is worthwhile to have resilience behind it,” Asige once said during an interview outside Parliament.

Her efforts in advocacy work have gained other different recognitions including the Top 40 Under 40 finalists for 2023, Kotex She Can Awards for 2020 and the Extravaganza Award nomination in 2019.

As a public speaker, she’s has graced high end events like the UN Habitat, YALI, One Young World Summit, Women in Transport Africa and many more.

Senator Asige believes that her condition doesn’t define her but she defines it. Her ability to diverge through the challenges life dealt her is something to applaud.

In her song “Taboo” she encourages people to embrace the scars that life has dealt them and make it their own unique stories

“What you’ve been through isn’t who you are. Draw a silver lining around your scars it’s the story of your ancestors,” sings Asige.



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