The other day I was tracking my growth and journey with my brother. A pattern arose. Almost all significant achievements or shifts in my life, a woman had something to do with it. I had never thought of it this way. That is why I chose to celebrate these women with this article, just as a token of appreciation.
“Hey, Kim, what did you score in the mocks that we just concluded?” When she asked me this question, I was taken aback. I am a stickler for honesty. I prefer you hurt me with the truth rather than sugarcoat a lie. But at this point, I was at a crossroads. If I told her what I really scored, I advised myself, she would deem me too stupid for her caliber. My natural grade was a C plain.
But I couldn't tell a girl I was wooing that I got a C grade. That would be shooting myself in the foot, undoing any score I had with her. Don't judge me, though. Let me explain.
I was a typical boy from the village with big dreams. But after joining high school, I had gotten a little bit distracted. I got invested in the fun part and neglected the core business of school, which was to study. But back in my village, I was among the few who went to good schools (a school not in the village).
Part of my extracurricular at school was attending every function I could. Why, you ask? Girls. And music. I'd pounce on any opportunity to visit a girls' school nearby and mingle during these functions we used to call funkie. But now we were on holiday. While I was crisscrossing the village, this beautiful, unfamiliar face stopped me in my tracks. Naturally, I got curious. Who is she? Where is she from? Where does she remember me from?
This sent me on a hunt. Eventually, I got a chance to speak with her. Just as I was trying to deliver my manifesto, she started with the dreary school talk. We realized that we had done a similar exam. This prompted her to ask how I scored in the said exams.
The question threw me off balance. Now, if I told the truth, I would sabotage myself, or so I thought.
"Oh, I scored a B plus," I said, grinning like a self-made champion. "What about you?"
"An A minus" And then she smiled, that hauntingly attractive smile I had already fallen for.
Goodness, had I told her the truth, I would have been toast. In my head, an A- (minus) and a C (plain) didn't meet anywhere in a romantic setting.
As she was staying at her grandmother’s place at the time, we had plenty of time to get well acquainted. We even committed to a relationship. But at the back of my head I knew, I had some making up to do. I was a boy in love. And I had to play catch-up, if the relationship was to see a good number of moons.
When schools reopened, I joined form four. I knew I had one year to make up for my lies because come KCSE, I could not hide. My dirty laundry would be publicly aired out and she would cheapen the man I was.
Because of Rahab, I turned my life around and focused on the core business of school. By the end of the year, I had attained the B+ I had purported before. This is where I feel like hitching up my belt and saying, maybe love really does conquer all.
And that was the first time an encounter with a woman shifted the trajectory of my life.
Fast forward to 2018. I was an intern at one of the Television stations in the country. While interning, I had an epiphany and realized that I wanted to become a speaker. Speak about what exactly, I had no clue, but I knew I wanted to be a speaker. I knew if I wanted to go in that direction, I had to find mentors. And finding mentors, I did.
But among the mentors I got, one woman made a real difference in my personal and professional life. Ekra Ndung’u. She has selflessly put me in spaces I could never have accessed before and made me meet people I could never have met. One of the persons I have met through Ekra is my current employer. (More on this later).
In 2020, as I was interning at another Television station, I met Lillian, the editor of Foreign Affairs.
You'll remember that I started off this essay by saying I was very ambitious, but as you might have also picked up, I put in the work to match my ambition. I knew meeting Lillian would be an excellent opportunity to learn. So I got to work. Lillian accommodated me. I nagged her with test scripts and voice tests, sometimes multiple tests a day. She patiently went through them and listened to them. After going through my work she would give me feedback, and I worked on them almost instantly.
Within no time, she allowed me to do voice-overs and write short scripts. But it never stopped there. I wrote a proposal for a show segment that saw me go back and forth with her, refining it, and eventually, she gave me airtime on her show. Every Monday, I had three minutes on air. This is despite me being a producer and not a reporter. She literally taught me more than I learned in my four-year course. Lilian truly changed my professional trajectory.
I had mentioned Ekra putting me in places I could never have accessed. Last year she gave me a call to tell me that there was a conference she would want me to attend. I obliged. At the conference, I proposed to network. One of the people I networked with was Damaris Agweyu, one of the best personalities I have met along my career path. We had very candid conversations that for months culminated in her being my very first employer. I think there is always a special place for the first employer. Not only that. I am learning a ton, working for her and her brand.
These are not the only women that have made an impact in my life. I have had others at the workplace hold my hand and guide me. To come up with a clean list that does justice to all of them and what they did for me and my career, we'll need to write a bible (chuckles). But you get the point I'm driving — women have, in various instances, taken the wheel of my life and driven me to greatness. Women are nurturers.
As I write this, my emotions are through the roof. And so is my gratitude. I am humbled to have had my path cross that of these powerful, dignified women. When I reflect on how they have impacted my life, I am motivated. I am nothing else if not inspired to keep doing better and being better; just so that their faith in me never goes in vain.
I know you are wondering where my mum is in the story of women in my life. Hers is an entire article by itself.