I am #PrettyInfluential Part 1 - Welcome to my REBiRTH

6:47:00 PM

...with my soulsiSTAR Zawadi

3 Saturdays ago, Saturday June 15th, I celebrated my REBiRTH, 10 years as a sexual violence survivor in the best way I could ever imagine...I did what I love most; writing, bought myself a pair of spike ballet shoes and spent the whole day in the company of amazing sisters at an event titled SHE (She Helps Empower) Summit (an idea originally by Claudia Chan) hosted in Kenya by Alice Odera's Pretty Influential. Before the invite by my soul sister Zawadi I had been battling with what I should do or who I should be after that GRAND leap…I felt I needed to do something DRAMATIC, an earth shuttering thing to compensate the ten years. But the more I thought about it, the more it occurred to me that living through the 10 years was a DRAMATIC, GRAND leap so that morning I decided to celebrate myself and came up with this list;

10 years ago today was a Sunday and I was still a virgin, I had just cleared my form 4 and was looking forward to joining Actuarial school and doing the thing I loved most, playing with numbers. But between the hours of 11-3p, every thing changed for I was repeatedly raped both when I was unconscious and when I was conscious and that marked the beginning of my depression which later led to bipolar something I live with to date. It also opened me up as a poet, a sexual rights and mental health crusader, the latter leading to my appointment as mental health ambassador in 2010 and earning me a sit at the National Mental Health Policy Review table and two nominations; Feather Awards(now Pillar Awards) in 2010 for my use of art for advocacy,was up against bigwigs like Joy Mboya and East Africa Philanthropy Awards in 2012 in the Individual Category for individual efforts to create awareness on mental health.

Today as I mark my 10 year anniversary, I want to celebrate myself and everyone who has overcome something big or small in their life. Over the last 10 years I have;
1.Tried to be in a relationships; (I get asked this alot...Sitawa, since you are a rape survivor,what do you feel about men?) Well I have tried to be in relationships from a guy from my Uni days, he didn't get my advocacy ways until recently,got webbed and by the Grace of God managed to unweb myself from what seemed like a life time of commitment, got two marriage proposals both which I turned down as the time and the people were not right (my girl Clara met the second proposer weeks ago, he is still giving me time) and when it is all said and done, I am proud to say I am waiting for my protector, provider and priest.
2. Started an award winning blog (they just haven't made an award worth this blog) but whenever anyone wants info about mental health in Kenya looks for me.
3. My relationship with GOD has GROWN!!! Like really GROWN...I discovered when I pray God listens like really listens...Sisters who have benefited from this say AMEN!!!
4. Recorded a spoken word album dubbed Coffee Beans, those who attended my last poetry shows in March this year know the coffee bean story as was told to me by my dad 11 years ago (completed the album March this year, its not for sale but a collector item for my kids-i can't lie to them I was always number one or the one girl that caused car accidents but at least I can say I was a cool in my own description of cool with my million bangles and amazing earrings all day everyday and no one would ask me coz I was a poet and I have my album to prove it)
5. Done interviews with local and international media houses and magazines and radio (I know the #someonetellCNN and Al Jazeera trends meant we shouldn't do a dance when BBC calls but it is a big deal for me that they would like to get my opinion of matters and don't misquote or exaggerate...note to self *put BBC interview on blog*)
6. Without any knowledge in hosting or performing in public, I began the first non-sponsored poetry night in Nairobi, maybe Kenya that saw the birth of so many existing things in Kenyan poetry...also was the first to have a poetry night with branches (sorry Nakuru that it was short lived and Mombasa I never came through)
7. Due to my sexual violence ordeal, I have been able to reach out to sex workers, the gay community, rape survivors around the country.
8. Because of sharing my personal mental health experience I have worked with Conjestina, Suzzana Owiyo, Nonini, Yvonne Khamati, Ida Odinga, Rachel Shebesh, some radio presenters, some ministers kids (this may just be names but standing where I stand and knowing all these people read my blog and just to hear words of encouragement from them or that they have gotten from my work means the world to me)
9. After dropping out of Actuarial School, I have tried going back to school and failed thrice, and concluded some people need school to conquer the world, others just need God and experience and they are good to go.
10. Tried getting employed and failed (lost the number of counts)...and now I own Events by Sitawa, a jewelry line; O-collection and a to-go mental health blog...who needs a boss when you can be your own boss
11. Turned Kenya purple for a day on Mar 26th 2013 through #purpledayKE campaign
12. Done runway shows that got recognition, I even had a fashion site and was called on to judge pageants plus I did Strathmore Uni first ever Mr & Mrs Strathmore in 2011 under my Runway254 outfit (my Jewelry line is the only thing I kept running after my fashion wonna-be phase)
13. Done talks in almost all Unis in Kenya from Daystar to Kimathi in Nyeri to Kabianga in Kericho.
14. Invited to represent (and speak) Kenya at Ghana's First Mental Health Conference.
15. Sit on Kenya's National Policy Review board and National Epilepsy Coordination Committee

When that guy raped me, he tore me apart  for real I wanted to die, but on the flipside, he also released power I didn't know I had.  One of my greatest friends once told me people and things came to our lives for a reason and a season. I look back and think wow, this woman who did all these things must be a fighter and I am glad I am her and I am looking forward to the next 10 years of her journey as she finally agrees to marry someone (I was against marriage and family institution after saving my viriginity for some guy to rob it), have healthy children and grow her business and her relationship with God.

I want you'll to list 20 things you are proud of yourself for and pass my post of strength to all your pals.

Keep it here all week for Part 2-5 of SHE Summit wisdom. In the meantime,list 15 things you are proud of...things that make you pretty influential (:

PS: Pass my post of strength to all your friends, we need all our experiences 

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  1. We have never met but anytime I read something from you, it touches my heart and i feel this deep connection to you and the world. Thank you for lending your voice to the world.



  2. Good stuff! I so agree about tragedies unleashing our potential, and not just ours, but also the redemptive power of God's amazing grace! A friend recently told me, "You're an amazing woman, but you wouldn't be her without what you've been through." I'm sure the same is true of you, Sitwa. God bless as you allow your story to transform others' lives!

    ----thought i posted a reply earlier, sorry if it posts twice :)

  3. Sitawa you're just amazing.........

  4. You're amazing Sitawa! Love you for your strength and courage and for showing everyone that it can be done!


  5. The grace of God is clearly sufficient.

  6. Thank you for posting this, Sitawa. The silencing that rape survivors face in our society (globally and locally) can kill and I am filled with hope that you rose up and decided to be there for all those who are looking for a source of encouragement and affirmation. You are blessed and are a blessing to others, and I thank you for that.

  7. Powerful post...It takes unbelievable courage to speak up against sexual violence/abuse. Be blessed!

  8. Amazing little one. You have wisdom beyond your years and that can only be the Lord's doing in your life.