Monday, August 8, 2011

Conversations With High Achieving Women In Kenya, Week 4 - Women of the Week.

Yet another week!  We presume that you have started off your week well, and this week we are providing more inspiration for you to get you through.  Last week we highlighted Gina Din, Lornah Kiplagat, and Dr. Paula Kahumbu as our "Women of the Week," and this week we continue with three new women who are masters in their crafts.  Our "Women of the Week" are Poet Tazim Elkington, Scientist and Sportswoman Professor Judi Wakhungu, and Poet Caroline Nderitu.  Enjoy these excerpts of their stories from "Life Journeys: Seeking Destiny".

Tazim Elkington is a Speaker, Trainer, Writer, Poet, and Paradigm Shifter of Indian Black Butterfly, Kenya.  This is one lady who has offered inspiration to the masses through her poetry, authenticity, generosity, and unwavering love for people, nature, and life.


I have gone through many different beliefs concerning God and Religion and have reached the point where I believe there has to be something greater than us to orchestrate this amazing existence.  It is far too great and detailed to be random.  Defining it is not necessary for me.  What is most important is that I take responsibility for my life and make it meaningful.


The Indian Black Butterfly is the name of my company.  I am Indian, black because I am Kenyan and a butterfly as this is the greatest symbol of freedom and transformation.  I challenge all so called norms and this pushes people's buttons.  I do what I want and I am who I want to be.  This is not always easy however that is the consequence of being honest.  All actions have consequences and it is not possible to please all of the people all of the time.


Living in the shadows and limitations imposed by others is not conducive to current times, live as the person you want to be, not as who you are expected to be.  We have only one life to live to the fullest!"

Professor Judi Wahkungu is currently the Executive Director of African Centre for Technology Studies.  This Scientist is a superior force in her field, and has researched and published in the areas of energy policy and development; science, technology, public policy and development; and gender issues in science and technology policy.  She is also a sportswoman who has represented her Alma mater, St. Lawrence University in New York, and her country, in Tennis.


I was an eager child.  I loved the school environment because of the endless activities and opportunities to explore.  Although some suggested that I was hyper-active, I believe I was merely curious.  I saw extra-curricular activities as just another pathway to absorb, assimilate and progress.  I took part in, and won, national public speaking competitions and my peers and family members wondered how I coped with the nerves and the butterflies when attending such events.


Not long after starting high school at Loreto Convent Valley Road, I was rushed to the school's famed tennis courts, by the resident nuns.  As my sister excelled in the sport, the nuns thought that I might be quite good as well - and they speculated correctly.  Due to the nuns' initiative, my sister and I excelled in the sport, going as far as being ranked number one in the country and representing Kenya globally as well as achieving full scholarships to study abroad as scholar-athletes in the United States.


The expectations that I have set for myself throughout my life have always been high.  Looking at my extended family, numerous individuals can boast exceptional achievement in a variety of fields.  My uncle, the late Professor Nelson Awori, was a surgeon of international prowess and Kenya's first kidney specialist, yet a man of deep humility and he left an indelible mark.  My uncle, Dr. Moody Awori, Kenya's former Vice-President, taught me about the nuances of responsibility and leadership.  There are several more impressive family members and although intimidating, these achievers egged me on and I always have a subconscious reference to the benchmark set by their achievements.


Caroline Nderitu is a Poet and a Presentation Skills Coach with her very own Caroline Communications Limited.  She is also the Founder of the Poetry Lab.  This artistic achiever was awarded the Head of State Commendation (HSC) for Culture and Arts in 2006, and was also Eve Woman of the Year for Arts in 2007, among other awards.

"Playing teacher was my favourite game as a child.  My peers nick-named me, 'Ciru kahorani,' Kikuyu for 'Wanjiru, who beats people up'.  I was aggressive as a child, active, noisy and my affinity to the stage was cultivated at the young age of four.  Performing on stage and being applauded felt awesome and I knew for sure it was my calling.


The most influential people in my life have been educationists, Dr Eddah Gachukia, Mrs Mary Okello and Mrs Kiplagat.  They demonstrated that as girls we matter and that we can compete equally with the boys in the academic arena.  They helped me build my self-esteem and acquire useful life skills.


My greatest struggle in life has been dealing with criticism.  I was once told that what I do is not poetry, but rhythmical nonsense.  I was so heart-broken that I did not leave the house for a week.  I eventually got over this and accepted that there are those who will appreciate my work and there will always be those who don't embrace it.


Read more of these stories and others in "Life Journeys: Seeking Destiny," a ground breaking coffee-table book that presents written vignettes of over 70 high-achieving women in Kenya.  

Each Woman was interviewed by a young and talented Footprints Press collaborator who indulged in the mentoring moment as she sat at the foot of the hero before her.  The idea was to evoke a symbolic passing of the baton.

The women profiled include writers, musicians, politicians, corporate global players, professors, scientists, sportswomen, judges, artists, and actors.  All are accomplished leading professional in their chosen fields and all have an option on the journey they have travelled and the wisdom they have gathered along the way.

Accompanying each narrative are resonating photographs which tell their own story and complete each vignette.

This book will surprise and inspire.

"Life Journeys: Seeking Destiny" is available at Bookstop in Yaya, Text Book Center in Sarit Centre, Savanis Bookstore in Westgate, Silverbird in Westgate, Prestige next to 20th Century, African Book Service off Koinange Street, Deacons, Lisa's at Muthaiga Shopping Centre, and ABC Bookplace Ltd. at ABC off Waiyaki way.

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