Enjoy this week's "Kenya's Women and Men of the Week."
This week's "Kenya's Women and Men of the Week" are: Artist and Sculptor, Chelenge Van Rampelberg; Publisher, Eunice Mathu; Entrepreneur, Jyoti Mukherjee; Global CEO, Nicholas Nesbitt; Writer, Philip Ochieng; and Chief Executive, Mugo Kibati.
Chelenge Van Rampelberg's passion began as a secret in her house. When finished with a painting, she would burn it, and let it go. Today, her works have been exhibited in galleries across Kenya and Japan. If you are in art and don't know of her, you better ask somebody!
"Denis Diderot said, 'If you have ever felt such a tremendous enthusiasm and desire for something that you would gladly spend all your waking hours working on it, that you would happily do it without pay, then you have found your passion. Only passions and great passions can elevate the soul to great things.'
In 1989, I started a carving from a 'V'-avocado tree that had stood in front of my bedroom window. It had two huge branches; one provided beautiful fruit and the other was dead and dry. I dreamt about the dead trunk falling and smashing through the bedroom ceiling, dividing my husband and me as we lay asleep. After several sleepless nights, I called the tree cutter to come and cut the tree for firewood.
I would like to see people standing by each other, helping each other to grow and mending the broken wall of trust between our communities. I would love to see people relating to each other without judging one another, taking each other as we are, with our weaknesses and strenghts.
Eunice Mathu is the Founder and Managing Director of Stellan Consult Limited. She is also the Editor and Publisher of one of the oldest and longest running magazines in Kenya, Parents Magazine. In 2006, Purple Images and the Chandaria Foundation awarded her the "Lifetime Achievement in Business" award, during the 2nd National Women in Business Excellence Award. And in 2009, the Ministry of Trade, together with UNDP, named her the Top woman in Business and Government.
"I am the seventh child in a family of nine children. I was born in Kikuyu Constituency within Kiambu District. My father died when I was young so my mother struggled to raise and educate all of us. Her priorities were ensuring her children had food on the table and that they went to school. She was God-fearing and raised her family according to the Christian faith. Despite the struggles and poverty that marked my early childhood, I grew up in a loving environment supported by my mother and older siblings. I feel my mother performed her duties as she should have, taking care of us, providing for our education and ensuring that we rarely went hungry.
I believe that in life you get what you invest. If you are careless about life then you will not know what hits you. When you are committed to doing something, then you must do it to the best of your ability and accept that life brings successes and failures along the way. We should take failure as the best lesson and learn from our mistakes. One may slip, but get up and do not give up. Life recognizes hard work and nothing comes easily.
We should remain focused, do our own thing and have fun while at it. We should also enjoy life to the full. I believe that education is important for all, as it puts everyone on an equal footing regardless of their backgrounds and give one a competitive edge.
Jyoti Mukherjee's company is continually raising the stakes of competition amongst Tech. SME's and multinationals.
Education was of great value in my father's eyes and thus an obligatory path for his children. I obtained scholarships to study at Premier School in India and later studied at Bombay University in the morning and worked in the afternoon to pay for my studies. I graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce Degree and later acquired a Masters Degree in Business Administration.
The trick behind success is being 100% in the moment. I would say that seven attributes are required for any successful endeavour in life: planning, focus, self-belief, positive attitude, love of the people around you, patience and hard work.
I never forget that God has put us in a place for a purpose. We need to keep experiencing that purpose. It is a journey. Go through life smiling and strive to reach even greater heights. It is essential that human beings we create acceptance of the people and circumstances around us. If you cannot change the people you must be able to adapt.
Nicholas Nesbitt is the current CEO of Kencall EPZ, the largest call centre in East and Central Africa. He provides employment for over 500 people and his workforce is growing daily. Mr Nesbit is among the few Kenyan professionals to ever hold a management position as Senior
C-A-N is the first word I learnt to spell in Kindergarten. This may have been the beginning of the ‘can-do’ attitude that has been my driving force through the years. I remember hiding behind a hedge at my kindergarten from my ayah who was sent daily to escort me home. I would later sneak home on my own in a bid to exercise my personal sense of independence. I became independent from an early age and that led me to achieve many positions of leadership in my school. I was captain of the football, rugby and hockey teams and was appointed the first house captain of Green House (Nyati) after the school re-introduced ‘Houses’. I was also a prefect in primary school and later the deputy head boy at St Mary’s School.. Academically, I was always among the top three students throughout my primary and secondary school years.
Life always provides us with challenges and we have to choose what we want to do with them. My skin colour has been one of my challenges because while I was in America they considered me black while back home in Kenya I am considered to be white. In both cases, prejudiced people made it a challenge for me to fit in. On the other hand, In addition, I have never been a physically large guy, which affected my self-esteem for a while during my university days when I compared myself with all the big Americans.
I would like to be remembered as a man who made a huge difference to thousands of people’s lives. Let me try and rephrase that. I would like to have millions of people change the way they think because of something I did in their lives, whether directly or indirectly."
Phillip Ochieng is a veteran writer and an editor with the Nation Media Group. His expansive knowledge, experience and life as an African journalist make him an authority in African press. He is easily considered to be the best-read operative of Kenyan journalism sector ever and a towering intellect from whom wise counsel can be drawn.
"The world has changed dramatically since I was a boy. The waves of new and emerging information technology uses and practices boggle the mind. I tend to call myself a ‘technology idiot’ because I read a lot but do not really participate in the new cyber world or social media, so I continue to be surprised as well as impressed by the youth who lead this wave of change.
At Alliance High School my focus was on languages. As an extrovert, high school gave me the opportunity to interact with students from every part of the country and I revelled in the experience. I recall that we used to have sessions called SEP (Saturday Evening Paper) where students wrote about any topic and read it out in front of the whole school. These sessions were the brain child of Mr Gichaga, the former Chairman of the Nation Newspapers. It was through the SEP that my interest in writing was ignited – hence Gichaga was my inspiration.
In life one has to endure criticism despite the fact that in general most of us are rather thin-skinned. As a writer I endure criticism all the time and it has been a good medium of learning for me. I cannot afford to be too sensitive. I too throw stones and should expect them in return. I must say though that while I use my brain to criticize, my intention is always to teach or to build rather than to destroy – I do it to make others better perform their work. I always say that apart from the Internet and the books I have read and will continue to delve into, one of the biggest contributors to my success have been my critics.
Mugo Kibati is the Director-General Kenya Vision 2030 which is the country’s development blueprint for the period 2008 - 2030 and seeks to transform Kenya into a, “middle-income country providing a high quality life to all its citizens by the year 2030”. Prior to this appointment, he was the Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of East African Cables and helped transform this local company into a regional blue chip firm with presence in South Africa, Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda. Mr Kibati was based in the USA for many years and is a Member of the Bretton Woods Committee. He has also been recognized as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum.
At the end of my primary school education, I emerged as best performing student in the Certificate of Primary Education (CPE) examinations in Rift Valley Province and proceeded to join Alliance High School for my secondary education. After my family, I consider Alliance to have contributed most to who I am today, as those were my formative years. Beyond academics, Alliance imparted leadership and life skills which I carry with me to this day, so much so that in my final year I was the School Captain. On completion, I proceeded to Moi University where I graduated in 1991 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Electrical Engineering.
I live a simple life and avoid unnecessary stresses and impositions. I am focused and result orientated. I strive to be real and true to myself and those around me. My family thinks of me as a stickler who insists on playing by the rules. While the perceptions of others may not always concern me, I value what my family thinks. There are others who view me as a forthright and demanding high performer. These varying views often land me in trouble, especially when dealing with people who do not understand me.
I love Kenya and have dreams for this country. My dream is that every Kenyan will eventually enjoy the right to self determination and that we will achieve the democratic space that guarantees freedom of expression and the freedom to elect those best placed to lead us. My dream is that we will attain our full economic potential. I am confident that Kenya is on its way to achieving these aspirations. Kenya has a soul. It is a vibrant country.
Read more of these stories and others in "Life Journeys: Seeking Destiny,"(Women achievers) and "Life Journeys: Scaling Heights," (Male achievers) two ground breaking coffee-table books that present written vignettes of high-achieving women and men in Kenya.
Each Woman and Man was interviewed by a young and talented Footprints Press collaborator who indulged in the mentoring moment as they sat at the foot of the hero before them. The idea was to evoke a symbolic passing of the baton.
The women and men profiled include writers, musicians, politicians, corporate global players, professors, scientists, sportswomen, judges, artists, actors, clergymen, and more. 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.
These books will surprise and inspire.
These books will surprise and inspire.
Both "Life Journeys: Seeking Destiny," and "Life Journeys: Scaling Heights" are available at:
- Bookstop, Yaya Centre,
- Text Book Center, Sarit Centre and Junction mall
- Savanis Bookstore, Westgate Mall
- Prestige Bookshop, off Mama Ngina Street (next to 20th Century)
- African Book Service off Koinange Street
- Lisa's, Muthaiga Shopping Centre