“ELF helped me believe in myself and step out of my comfort zone”

Vincent Ogallo Mwita is an ardent social worker focused on full eradication of female genital mutilation & gender-based violence cases, with keen interest in championing democracy & youth inclusion in national and devolved system of governance from the South west part of Kenya, Migori county.

Vincent was born and raised in a community where female genital mutilation and gender-based violence cases were a norm. Growing up, youth voices least mattered in the development agenda. This was a struggle for him as he always felt that more needed to be done on GBV. In his quest to form a network of champions against Gender based violence and poor governance that excluded voices of young people from key leadership and decision making spaces in his county, Vincent came across Tunaweza capacity building training, which he choose to be part of.

“I had interacted with most Leadership and Development alumni. Their knowledge, ability and understanding of various issues and conduct really inspired me. I needed to be part of ELF, I was always checking out for any openings,” he adds.

The Tunaweza training project in 2019 was a transformation and turnaround season for Vincent and other trainees as they were able to get capacity building development that shaped their leadership perspective, equipped them with skills to meaningfully engage their county leaders in order to spur social accountability and community-driven development.

Currently, Vincent is the Tunaweza coordinator, Migori county, and also serves as an executive member to the Commonwealth Youth Gender Equality Network (CYGEN); a youth led global network of the 53 African states which actively promotes and supports the meaningful inclusion of youth voices on gender equality issues in local, national, regional, Commonwealth and international agendas.

“The training gave me an opportunity to believe in myself and step out of my comfort zone to go for leadership opportunities even beyond my county of residence. I was able to apply many other leadership and skills development opportunities. Recently, I was among the 207 trainees from 14 African countries who just concluded Yali’s training and I am among the 700 selected Young African Leaders for Mandela Washington Fellowship 2020 who are currently undertaking online trainings.”

Together with other Tunaweza fellows, they have strategized and come up with Migori Tunaweza Empowerment team; a name drawn from the training that they all attended. Under the team, they have positively engaged with their county youth department and raised concerns on various issues, this has further led to the start of the Migori County Youth Technical Working group (TWG); a stakeholders coordination team whose mandate is to champion for youth development agenda within the county sectors and departments through action plans. The team has also been able to develop a Migori County Integrated Action Plan (CIAP) which has contributed a lot in the budgetary processes of the county.

Vincent is also actively engaged in civic education on Constitution of Kenya (2010) with his key priority areas being around devolution and public participation. Through this, he is targeting young people in all sub-counties in Migori to ensure they engage and participate in key development agendas in the county.

Together with his Tunaweza team, they have launched a Covid-19 response campaign dubbed ‘Tunaweza Girl Empowerment-keep girls safe at home’ that targets to reach out to four thousand adolescent girls and one thousand adolescent boys (1000boys) led by team members. “We train them on menstrual hygiene, donate sanitary towels, give them trainings on sexuality and encourage them to abstain from sex as we highlight effects of sex at tender age and negative effects of female genital mutilation. We also provide mentorship to them.”

He also engages in making local door mats, selling, and buying of materials for making re-usable cloth sanitary towels as a social enterprise venture that aims to provide sustainable, accessible and affordable sanitation for young women and girls. “We get little income and in return use some of them in solving the menstrual problems amongst the rural needy girls. So far, the project has reached out to over five thousand (5000) young women and girls since 2019 with the re-usable cloth sanitary towels as we make.”

We celebrate Vincent and his efforts in fighting GBV, FGM and championing for good governance in his county.

 

My Transformation Through ABLI

When I joined ABLI I had my expectations. I wanted to grow spiritually and build a strong network of believers across the country. It has been three months since we started the program and truly I can attest the program has exceeded my expectations. I love the partnership between Emerging Leaders Foundation (ELF) and the Bible Society of Kenya (BSK) with the aim of targeting young Christians who need leadership and mentorship training. It is hard to come by such programs that are Christian based.

Our weekly classes are top-notch! The organizers spend quality time coming up with the right content and topics that are relevant in the modern world. There are things that you will rarely learn in higher institutions of learning or even understand how important they are, but through ABLI, I have been able to understand and learn on so many aspects when it comes to leadership and professionalism; Leading with Emotional intelligence, using storytelling skills as a mode to influence people, spending time to write a letter to self and many more exciting topics. At this point, I feel empowered, it is hard to imagine that we are halfway into the program.

I am grateful that I got a chance to be a part of this cohort and I would like to thank the organizers for doing a commendable job. I am also thankful for being able to put into practice all the skills gained in this program at my current workplace. My start-up CBO, Graceway Foundation Africa, has also benefited a great deal and it has experiences a great change in its management, owing to my lessons from ABLI. If there is anyone out there who is looking to improve on their leadership style or you are wondering where to start from, ABLI is here for you!

I am reminded of one topic “Letter to self”. It has changed my perspective and helped me see things differently. I have been holding lots of painful past experiences that I could not bear to share with anyone around because of the memories behind them. The speaker of this session was very engaging, her soothing voice created a comfortable environment for us to speak out. This was the same day when I shared a story that I have never attempted to pass on to anyone, this has since left me with lightness and relief in my heart.

This year has not been an easy one but ABLI has made everything work out. Thank you, Emerging Leaders Foundation and Bible Society of Kenya, for giving me and other fellows hope, courage, strength and power when we were about to give up.

 

By: Emmanuel Opar Osano, ABLI 2020

 

 

Two packets of Biscuits; the lifeline!

I will tell the story of a teen girl who was told that she was not enough. She is an average girl in most aspects; neither tall nor short, slim- but not too slim 😊 and her heart might not be big enough to accommodate everyone and everything that the world throws at her. She is just a girl who was never enough for anything. All she ever went through her teenage life was questions on her thoughts, on God’s timing- was it really the best, slight sense of humour and sarcasm, and just how boring and dull life could be.

She grew sorry and confused. She was sorry for breathing fresh air in a space she should have called home and sorry for taking up space that probably would have been meaningful to someone else. She grew tired of how meaningless life had become, she decided the only way out was taking her own life, but just before she did, she decided to talk to her brother about it.

Siz, mind telling me why you are tired?”

“I am just tired”

“Do you know the lord’s prayer” (stupid question, she thought)

“Who doesn’t and just where has God been the entire time?”

“Okay just say it, sleep and I will call you at tomorrow at 6 am”

She never said amen to that prayer. She must have snoozed off like Adam did before his rib was taken. When she woke up, my suicidal plan was off, it had just failed. This was a reminder that God had not taken his time giving her life just to watch her take it unjustly.  When she woke up, her journey to dealing with pain begun, thanks to her brother who offered a leaning shoulder.

If her memory serves her right, those are the exact details of that story. By not closing her chapter, she started taking in lessons. Lesson 1; the strength of a woman is known through her grace to dance even when chaos show up at her doorstep. Later, she set out to join the male-dominated IT field where she recently started an initiative set out to advocate for safe and thoughtful cyber practices. It was around the same period that I came across an ELF ad of the next intake. She never knew of ELF’s existence, but she decided to give it a chance. To date, she has no regrets.

At ELF, she was welcomed with warm smiles, given affirming words by the team that she met and given two packets of biscuits as headed home. At that point she knew this journey, the people in it and everything about it was sacred. True to her expectations, the journey has been amazing.

The greatest lesson from ELF was that sometimes people tend to take away what we hold dearly, we may hit rock bottom in life, but it is such moments that help us realize on what’s important in life.

Since her graduation from ELF, she has refined a few things at in her CyberMakini initiative and she is about to launch the first program that will educate and create awareness to people on cyber offences and crimes.

In July this year, which happens to be her birthday month, she kept thinking to herself what she could do to meaningfully influence her small community of young people that hasn’t grown weary of trying, amidst the pandemic and poor governance in the country. After juggling various ideas, she settled on telling stories of the Millennial generation. Having experienced the cruelty and negative vibes that exist around the generation, she felt it was time to put out stories and clarify on various issues. The program dubbed #31Days31Millennials was to consistently share stories of their works, roles in impacting the society and building enterprises, and passions of different millennials for the 31 days of July. The feedback was amazing at first, this pushed her into doing more and further extending the program. To this end, the program runs every Sunday and Wednesday of the week.

The stories are mind blowing and inspiring. Most of the millennials who have been featured on the platform have been met with unkind words, discouragements, and ridicule. Despite this, they have persistently challenged the status quo and are trying their best to shake things up and stand up to be counted as heroes in this century. All she wants is to tell stories, stories that will change perspectives, stories that will encourage and motivate a generation, stories that will brighten up days and influence change.

You may be wondering, who is she. I am Ann Mercy Wairimu and I am more than enough.

For the longest time, I have tried to run away from my assignments and callings in life, but I have always found myself gravitating towards my purpose. I have always felt a fire in me, a fire that will not stop burning, one that continually defines my current self. But I have not made use of it previously.

Today, I am all grown, I am committed to my destiny and I am working towards fulfilling my purpose in life. I still recall the two packets of biscuits that I got during my ELF interview, this always acts as a reminder that I have a home, a safe place, a heaven for young people with brilliant ideas and burning desires.

In life, blessings come in many forms, mine came through ELF, I found myself, I am alive, I am playing a role, one that I hope will have impact.

By: AnnMercy Wairimu, ELF Cohort 7

Rodgers Omollo: ELF gave me power

Growing up as an orphan is not only a challenge but an opportunity to understand and have a different view of life.  Life presented me with the opportunity to be stronger and a go-getter. My father died before I was born while my mother passed on when I was in class two. My grandmother took me in and instilled in me Christian values and how to be contented with the little.

ELF has given me the power to influence and serve my community

I always knew that in me there was passion for leadership and service, but I doubted myself based on the kind of work that life presented me including being a fishmonger and hawker. I latter landed on an NGO job which led to a poor state of mental health and depression. I wanted to quit but I was afraid of surviving without employment. ‘Dying in the line of duty is heroic but dying while unemployed is just stupid.’

Being a young person, I was always looking for networks and opportunities to grow and transform lives, to be a better version of myself.  I came to across ELF on Facebook through their call for mentees. I doubted it and thought it might be a scum having been a victim before. But then I thought, ‘Why not give it a shot, there is nothing to lose.’

Once I was done with my application, I completely forgot about it and continued with my job-search as I needed to work at a place where my mind could be at peace. Moreover, I just made the application with no expectation of feedback. Later in the month, I got a phone call for an interview in Nairobi which I could not manage to physically avail myself to. I requested for a job interview, which I got and went through it. A few days after the interview, I got an email for informing me of admission to cohort 7.

This is when my journey into being a better and a transformative leader begun. A dream fulfilled. That is how the realization to my dreams and unearthing my potentials began. That admission changed my life, entirely. I have learnt a lot; the power of networking, mentorship, and presenting myself. ELF gave me an opportunity to discover my passion and realize my path in life. ELF gave me power!

After the mentorship, I was bold enough to quit my job and start my own initiative.  I founded a youth-led organization in Homabay town by the name Activate Action (https://activateaction.org/), where am currently serving as the director and youth program officer.  The organization works with young people living with HIV, disability, and gender minority to overcome day to day challenges including g; unemployment, crime, HIV/AIDS, unhealthy relationships, mental health, and gambling. We seek to ensure that there is meaningful engagement of young people through life skills training and mentorship on Sexual reproductive health, leadership, and entrepreneurship. Currently, we are running the following programs and services:

  1. Mentorship on Sexual Reproductive Health, Mental Health, Relationships, Online Child Protection
  2. Feeding Program for Orphaned Children and Child-Headed Families
  3. Environmental conversations
  4. Online sessions on leadership, HIV management, and leadership
  5. Car wash
  6. Small scale agribusiness for the youth living with disabilities

We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give, ELF has given me the power to influence and serve my community. Through ELF Staff members, trainers and fellow leaders, I learnt a lot on brotherhood and my network has really grown due to exposure and openings presented by ELF through events and forums.  One of the most important things you can do on this earth is to let people know they are not alone, that is what ELF taught me. I plan to plant the same seed that ELF planted in me to other young people in my community through activate action.

 

By Rodgers Omollo, LDP Cohort 7

Winfred Mukosi: From noise to voice to impact

Winnie is a Moi University graduate with a Bachelor of Business Management. She is the founder of Linda Watoto, a Community Based Organisation (CBO) that runs its operations in Makueni county. The CBO advocates for children rights, mentors’ kids to grow and be part of a promising generation that will run the nation in later days. She is also an advocate for gender equality and equity. An enthusiast of politics and governance, Winnie is the current county lead of Tunaweza in Makueni county where she leads advocacy for good governance and youth engagement.

I am a living testimony, of transformation; from being a noise maker, to a voice of the voiceless.

Besides being the Tunaweza county lead and founder of Linda Watoto, she is also a member of the Regional Women Forum of International Conference of the Great Lakes Region, an appointment she recently got to serve in the Kenyan chapter of ICGLR RWF as the person  in-charge of Humanitarian and Social issues pillar at national level. In the line of children and gender rights, she is a member of Makueni county gender-based violence (GBV) committee and a trained anti-GBV champion by the gender violence recovery centre of Nairobi women. Currently she is working on having a POLICARE centre – a one-stop centre for handling GBV cases- in Makueni county.

She credits much of her current confidence and abilities to her ELF training. Through this, she got to understand herself and started unlocking her potential and activating them.

“My first interaction with ELF Africa was in June 2018 during the youth devolution conference. I learnt so much about devolution and the NOISE to VOICE became my assignment. Seven months after the devolution conference, I heard that ELF was coming to our county, I expressed my interest to be part of the team that was trained. That was the greatest eye opener to my advocacy and governance work: the budgeting process, the county government documents, the devolution structure, roles of every leader, how to get information and the petition process. By the end of the training I became a VOICE.”

She has also been able to grow on her digital advocacy skills, personal branding, and fact-finding courtesy of her Husika training, that she got at ELF.

As the Tunaweza county lead, she is leading a team of 22 young vibrant members who together, they train and share their advocacy knowledge with other people in the county and lead. They also train people on social accountability and the budgeting making process.

“This country is full of energetic youth, if ELF and other stakeholders can reach out to each and everyone one of them and make them unearth their potentials, I am sure it will leave most of them transformed. We should not be united when tearing each other down but when building ourselves and the nation,” Winnie.

“I am a living testimony, of transformation; from being a noise maker, to a voice of the voiceless and I can see the great impact. From noise to voice and impact”

 

 

NEVER DESPISE HUMBLE BEGINNINGS

I left my previous job back in 2015 because I felt like I was struggling in it. Like any other young and ambitious person, I was pretty sure beyond a doubt that I would secure yet another opportunity of choice in the soonest time possible. Turns out I was wrong! Three years went by and nothing came forth, even after making numerous applications. Out of the hundreds of applications I made, only less than five invited me for an interview and the results, negative. The quest for a job drained me and I became so desperate that at that time, I was willing to do anything to survive. I regretted my decision to quit.

It is not wrong to be ambitious; but in your ambitions, be humble.

My world was falling apart; life was getting tough each and every day; the struggle was too much and almost crushing, that I lost my sense of self. I significantly lost confidence and self-esteem and this made me shy away from people close to me. I was not the same person. I couldn’t face anyone or anything anymore. I felt like my life was doomed. At this point I thought of going back to the village (home) than to stay and languish in the city. I was convinced beyond a doubt that the city life was not for me. I fixed dates to travel to the village but as the day drew closer, I kept on shifting it, over and over again. My heart couldn’t let me leave the city. Looking back, I realize that God was preparing me for a breakthrough.

One evening while pondering on my next move, it hit me that I needed to find a ‘small job’ that would help me fend for myself. Out of all the job hunts I did; I attached my certificates and put my best foot forward but that didn’t work. I re-thought my strategy. This time, I opted to try using my driver’s license as a brokering bridge for a job. I looked around and saw an opportunity in the taxi industry. After availing all the necessary documents at small fee, it did not take long before I secured a job as a driver. The job was not easy at the beginning though, but it being the only job available, I had to do it to my very best and passionately. I thought to myself, ‘Is God giving me a chance to reinvent myself?’ I gave the job my all and served all my clients in the most professional way. In my trips, I got to meet different kind of people and every time we interacted, a fresh energy rejuvenated my spirit bringing me confidence and hope yet again. At this juncture, more questions than answers filled me. I began having dissenting opinions on everything I believed was impossible. My eyes finally opened I started looking at things differently. A new ray of light started to shine my way.

Executing my taxi work, was the most fascinating thing for me, it gave me a chance to meet new friends to whom I learnt a lot from. It is during this period that I learnt about ELF and the good work they were doing to inspire and give hope to young people like me. Initially, I joined ELF as a service provider of the taxi service to the staff. In the course of the service and during our numerous conversations on the journey to various destinations, I got an opportunity to learn more about the mentorship program, this created an interest in me to be part of the program. Later, I joined The ABLI mentorship program offered by the Bible Society of Kenya in collaboration with ELF. The training was so amazing that it changed everything for me. It is through the program that I discovered who I really was, and what I could do. I discovered my strengths and weakness and learnt to align them for a successful living.

After graduating from the program in August 2018, I maintained contact with ELF and every time an opportunity arose, they could always call me for my services. Around February 2019, a senior ELF staff called me and asked whether I was willing to take up a job, as an assistant to one of her friends.I looked at the requirements for the job and saw that I was qualified. So I made the decision to take the offer. The job entailed driving kids to school and later the mzee to work. In addition, I acted as an office messenger and secretary at my boss’s office. To most graduates, this wouldn’t be a job they run to take. But my mentor encouraged me to take it and give it my all.

I gave it my best shot in every way – I kept time, I was disciplined, I was honest, I delivered within the required deadlines and learnt very fast in the job. One thing led to another, and within no time, on Dec 4th, 2019, I was introduced to British Engineering Services (BES) Group as a project support officer. Currently am a supervisor at the same company working in nine counties.

In a nutshell, my journey has been a good one. I am not yet done; I am just hitting the midway mark. On my way to this point, I have encountered challenges that have enabled me to learn lessons and be strong.

One key lesson I wish to give young people is this –  it is not wrong to be ambitious; but in your ambitions, be humble. Utilize small opportunities that come your way and ensure that you play a great role in preparing yourself for the future. When you keep the focus, you will get to your dream destination.

Never ever despise a humble beginnings.  Everything happens for a reason. When I left my job, it sounded crazy, but had I not taken that step of faith, maybe I wouldn’t be where I am now. I kick-started my journey as a driver and now I am a Supervisor at an international company. What if I had turned down the offer?

 

By Elijah Kipkurui- ABLI 2018

Ephantus Mburu: Enlightening young people on opportunities that exist at the county level level

Ephantus Mburu is our alumnus of the day. He is currently serving as the Tunaweza county lead, Muranga county. Ephantus is a trained medical laboratory officer who is practicing the profession besides leading from the  front on matters advocacy. He has a strong passion for good leadership and governance which he believes are vital for the society and country to grow politically and economically. He seeks to progress in terms of his career and continue with advocacy of public interests.

Ephantus credits much of his current knowledge on governance matters to his ELF training. “The training was an eye opener for me. I didn’t know much about budget making process and how I can participate, issues of public participation were also well taught to me and I have actively participated in various public forums and aired my views.”

In his capacity as the Tunaweza county lead, Ephantus leads his team into creating sensitization to youth on matters around governance and campaigning against early pregnancies. “After training, we identified a gap in civic education in our county and we endeavored to enlighten youths in our county on matters of good governance and their rights.”

Through this, they are enlightening more young people on opportunities that exist for them at the county and national level and how they can leverage on opportunities available for them at the county and national level.

“ELF came in handy for us as we got prior training and were advised and directed on a number of issues. Our members have ambitions and in future I hope some will become leaders at corporate and political level and use the knowledge that we are gaining,” Ephantus adds.

His favourite quote, ‘Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.’

We celebrate Ephantus and his advocacy works.

Mentorship works, Embrace it.

“You need to get a mentor.” Stella insisted on this for the better part of 2017.

I am a stubborn being at times and it can take time and effort- or bullying- for me to be fully convinced on certain issues. We were in a matatu with Stella when her mentor, Ms. Caren Wakoli called. They had a chat before Caren requested to speak to me since we had previously met in a few forums. Knowing how bubbly and warm Caren is, I was excited to talk to her and get to hear how she was fairing.

A mentee must always find a way of being of help/ contributing to the mentor

Little did I know, my ‘bullying’ moment had brought itself closer, in a warm way. “Cate, when are you applying to join Emerging Leaders Foundation?” Caren asked.

I took a little giggle and responded that I would join soon after I had my finances in order. She was not about to take that non- committal answer. “I will be waiting for your application for the next cohort which starts in January and I will not take anything less.”

Oh my! I was cornered! I have so much respect for her and I could not say no. That is how I found myself as part of ELF Cohort 5 where I met my current mentor, Ms. Zippy Musyimi. My life has not been the same ever since. After the leadership training, I asked to be paired with her as my mentor. Ms. Zippy honoured my request and took me under her wings.

It has been a journey of success. A wise lady once told me that for mentorship to work, it must be personal and intentional. My first meeting with Zippy was casual. She invited me for tea where we got to know each other. We set goals for our journey, and wrote down our expectations. By the time we were done, I had learned so much from her and about her and got to experience her comic side.

It has been more than fourteen months now and we are still counting. We have become friends. Three things that I took from my journey with her:

  1. As a mentor, you are called to be a consultant for your mentee, a counsellor and a cheerleader.

She has led our discussions from the front and from a point of knowledge. This came so automatically. She has paved the way for me and does not hold back information that she thinks will benefit me at any point. She has listened to my rants, shrunk them and walked me down the path of finding solutions. Sometimes administering small doses of painful lessons. At the end of it all, she has been a great cheerleader.

  1. As a mentee, you MUST ensure that there is reverse mentorship.

Just like any other interaction, if the two of you are not gaining then there is a parasite. A mentee must always find a way of being of help/ contributing to the mentor – no matter how irrelevant it may seem to be. This helps boost your mentor’s energy to continue offering counsel and contributes to their growth as well. At the end of it all, mentorship is two-way.

  1. Discipline, Commitment and Fun.

Discipline and commitment to follow through with the plans that both of you have laid down is non-negotiable. Mentorship for me is like any other relationship. It is two way. Both parties must play their part, it must feel right. And while at it, please have some fun! Laugh a little, digress a little from all the serious business, meet for coffee just to catch up, after corona go for a dance…and all will be well 😊

 

Submitted By:
Catherine Njeri Gathuru, Cohort 5

Ahmed Ashraf: Using sports to fight social ills

Ashraf Ahmed is our alumnus of the week. He is the current Kilifi County lead for ELF’s Tunaweza program and an alumnus of the Leadership and Development program.  Ahmed has been involved in advocacy issues on good governance and is vocal in pushing for public participation in his county.

As a county lead, Ahmed leads a group of young men and women in his county to advocate for goof governance and fight for youth representation in decision making processes as well as policy making.

Besides, Ahmed runs a sports club that he started in his area to bring  youth together and create a platform where young people can showcase and nurture their talents. Currently, the club has football teams for both men and women, and volleyball teams for both genders. The club aims to address social issues in the area and keep young people engaged. “We want to engage the youth and fill gaps that exist in the area on social issues ranging from early marriages to drug abuse. So far, we have tried our best but there is more that needs to be done.”

Ahmed is not only involved in advocacy work and sports; he has also started an income generating initiative that has created employment for people and he’s trying to venture into more of the same. “I recently started an agricultural project that is currently in its initial stages and I am hopefully that it will provide income to the youth. I also have a business that has created employment for a few youth, majority of whom are part of Kakokeni All stars.”

In his line of work, he has come across challenges and notes that the youth need to be more engaged and commited to leadership & advocacy, and have patience as they seek to address matters around the same.

“Young people lack exposure and are not ready to learn and adapt to new works. The fear to knock on doors and fight for increased participation and representation is worrying as we are always shouting that we have the key to a better tomorrow. We need to be more engaged and step out, we have the ability to be change makers if we face everything head-on,” notes Ahmed.

His favourite phrase: ‘ Attitude is everything. Change your attitude.. change your life’

“Dear Future Self…”

Dear Future Self,

You’re 35 already! Goodness, can you believe it? Happy birthday to you my darling. How do you feel today? Excited? Happy? Hopeful? Scared? I really hope you are not growing grey hairs on your head already (laughs). But hey, I’m sure they would still look good on you.

The year is 2020. And I am typing this letter on a friend’s computer – because at 25, I still have many borrowed things. As you can imagine, this hasn’t been your typical year – let’s not even talk about the pandemic, Covid-19. But you see, even amidst all that, God has been so good to me. For starters, I now have a ‘Madam President’ prefix to my good name. Yeah-yeah, it’s just a class leadership title, and nothing close to the grandiose first-female-president dreams you had at 17. But it’s close enough. A mark of possibility, you know.

You have always been passionate about developing young African leaders. Just do it! Pour yourself into the next generation of leaders.

Alright, back to 2020 and the goodness of God.

There is this class I’m taking with the Emerging Leaders Foundation and the Bible Society of Kenya called African Biblical Leadership Initiative (ABLI). Honestly, it’s been one of those things I didn’t know I needed, until we crossed paths. Two months in and my life is revolutionized. I already feel better at leading myself and others. I am finally catching up with my potential and that is exciting! Oh sorry, I don’t mean to bore you with stuff you already know. But allow me to highlight two things out of my ABLI experience so far, as I hope to crown your 35th birthday with delightful reminders (Smiles).

First, I do hope you are where you dreamt you’d be at 35. If you are not yet there – because woman, you have had fierce dreams – I would like you to always remember, as Dr. Funson Somorin would say, “You have enough mass to cause a ripple or domino effect to the world around you.”

Oh yes, you do!

You are an amazing African Woman. An amazing African Christian Woman and there is nothing small about that. I know the years between 25 and 35 have put that to test in unthinkable ways; with a little too many confused moments trying to reconcile your womanhood to your faith and your vision for a better world. Mistakes? I guess those have been there too – all humans have a sprinkle of some. But I would like you, today, to focus on the substance of your identity. You are a woman of conviction, because you are a woman of faith. That has always been your X-Factor. Never lose sight of it. And I pray you won’t ever be ashamed to shine your light. Your world needs it.

You will sit at tables that will have you question your worth as a woman. Demands will be put on you to prove yourself. I hope in those times, you will feel anything but small and insignificant. Because you my darling, are a world changer and pacesetter.

And no, 35 is not late. Please shake off that lie. Wait, you have a family already, right? Is he a fine man? Are you transforming the world together…? I digress. And my time here is running out, unfortunately. What I mean to say is, 35 is just about the right time to start sowing back the good seeds sown into you over the years. You have always been passionate about developing young African leaders. Just do it! Pour yourself into the next generation of leaders. That way, you will live on even beyond 105 years.

I got to go now. But I must say this, I am proud of the woman you are Mutethya.

Happy birthday.

Submitted by:
Agnes Mutethya, ABLI 2020