Hairpolitan Magazine Vol 2 Oct-Nov 2016


African Esteem means that if you decide for yourself that you are beautiful, you must be. If you decide to be yourself, then that is beauty in its quintessential form and no one can take that truth away from you.


VOL 2: OCT-NOV 2016









Nepurko Keiwua


Akshi Sura


Ciku Wamae

Evie Dondi

Karimi Kagwe

Nali Wafula Imende

Nina Odongo

Wagio Mokaya


Samuel Githegi


Wacuka Thimba


Ezra Monari


Idea Agency Limited



The Hairpolitan Magazine is published for Idea Agency

Limited. All articles, interviews, photographs, artworks

and/or designs of any nature or description appearing in

this publication are exclusively reserved for the

management and team of The Hairpolitan Magazine.

The contents and opinions expressed in this publication

do not necessarily represent those of The Hairpolitan

Magazine or of Idea Agency Limited. Therefore

reproduction, in any form, in part of whole, without the

written consent from the publishers is strictly prohibited.

All Rights Reserved. All Advertisement claims in this

publication are the prerogative of the Advertisers and in

no way reflect the views of The Hairpolitan Magazine.




By Nepurko Keiwua

This month’s issue comes out at a time, when women

the world over feel like they are in a battle for their very

survival. In the recent past, we’ve watched South

Africa’s schoolgirls march in the streets as they strive to

fight for the right to wear their natural hair as they

please. We highlighted this and other issues affecting

women across the globe in an article titled No

Womaning Allowed in the month of August.

Stemming from that, the Hairpolitans decided to title

this issue African Esteem because we feel like our sense

of worth needed a shot in the arm. From an early age,

we must be encouraged to believe in ourselves, to

understand that we are enough, so that when we are

grown, we can appreciate those who welcome those

very qualities in us, as our friends and lovers.

We aim to be the voice that tells the youth, and

particularly, young girls, that the journey towards self

love is imminent and tough but we shall get there, so

just hang in there and keep your chin up. African

Esteem means that if you decide for yourself that you

are beautiful, you must be. If you decide to be yourself,

then that is beauty in its quintessential form and no one

can take that truth away from you.

In this issue’s cover, meet Jeniffer Githae and get to

learn more about her in our COVERGIRL’S 21

QUESTIONS (Page 4). Wagio Mokaya looks into the

resurgence of African Threading hair dos in STYLE

(Page 5 & 6). We then find out how the Hairpolitan

Debut at the Hair Beauty and Personal Care Expo

2016 went down in our SPECIAL FEATURE (Page 7).

Connect with Nali W Imende as she chats with Taruri

Gatere, founder of FlawntIt, a body positive

campaign in LIFE (Page 8 & 9). Then examine a

revolutionary hair manipulation comb, made by

Africans for African hair in REVIEW (Page 10 & 11).

Chill out with Karimi Kagwe in RAISE (Page 12-15)

as she chats with two families that are raising girls

and see how they deal with the issue of self-esteem.

The month of October is not only Breast Cancer

Awareness month, but also a month where

Pregnancy & Infant Loss Remembrance is

commemorated on the 15th of October. To help

raise awareness on this, Wambui JL sits down with

Wanjiru Kihusa of Still A Mum, to discuss the varied

issues that arise within families after losing a baby in

FEATURE (Page 16-19).

Mumbi Muturi-Muli of Harvest of Sunshine shares

with us her inspiration and aspirations for her hair

and skin care line in INDUSTRY (Page 21-22). While

Nina Odongo, our resident fitness fiend, helps us

understand Body Mass Indexing what it represents

for African women in MOVE (Page 23-24).

Ciku Wamae educates us on proper eyebrow

grooming and care in an effort to confront her own

esteem challenges in KNOW (Page 25-26). Then we

find out how the Awali Afro Fest and Hair, Beauty

and Personal Care Expo went down in ENJOY

(Page 28-31).

In this Issue’s CREATE (Page 32-36) we join Mutua

Matheka in his quest to decipher what it means to be

black in this day. Then Wachirah Gitahi of Movember

KE helps us understand what the movement is about

in GUY (Page 37-38). Lastly, flip to the FICTION

(Page 39-40) section and join an old friend of mine

and your soon-to-be new friend, Beauty as she

navigates her life’s esteem challenges.

This issue is one that has been close to all our hearts

and has been a labour of love for most of our writers

as we sought to understand the challenges and

obstacles we face in our daily lives with regards to

esteem and self worth. It cannot be stressed enough

that no one can take your esteem away unless you

give it away, so fight and hold it firmly in your

grasp because self esteem is exactly that, esteem

of the self.

2 3








Cover image Credits

Hair Styling: Dorothy, Amadiva Salon 14 Riverside

Makeup: by Wacuka Thimba Artistry

Clothing: Tatu Waterfall Cardigan by Mambo Pambo

Jewelry: Zanta Adeyde

Photography: Samuel Githegi
























Featuring Jennifer Githae

When I get up each morning I pray and put

my day in God's hands.

I cannot live without books. I always have one

on me.

The scariest day in my life was finding out I

had cancer.

My must have skin product is coconut oil

(extra virgin). It fixes everything!!

My go-to hairstyle is flat twist-outs or just flat

twists. Low manipulation is key.

I get inspired by my family. My parents and

my sisters inspire me every day to be better.

I thought by now in life I would have 4


My hair goals are to have healthy hair. If it

comes with curls even better.

I describe myself as an African Woman who

is learning how to love myself just as I am.

If time and money allowed I would spend a

year in Watamu sipping on madafu (coconut

water) and eating. The beaches and the water

just give me peace.

The habit I really want to break is buying

clothes outside of my budget. It is hard to just

leave a pretty dress.

My favourite local movie is Nairobi Half Life.

Mugambi Nthiga blew my mind away.

For my last birthday I ate cake and chicken. I

wanted to do nothing at all.

My last prank involved planning a surprise

birthday party.

A social media platform I just don't get is

Pinterest. I have tried to understand it but what

is its purpose?

The best compliment I have ever received

was “You have the eyes that can see deep into

my soul.”

My self esteem is high when it comes to

anything that has to do with numbers. Math is


One thing I do badly that I wish I did well is

articulating myself clearly when I speak as well

as I do when I write.

A day for me involves looking at books of

account, updating websites, writing reports,

eating and working out.

My blood type is A+

The best advice I ever got is, to be broken to

be made whole again.




By Wagio Mokaya

A few years ago, I bought thread for my hair and ended

up seated in between the legs of the lady who was to

style my hair. The aftermath of threading was to be felt

that night, where tossing and turning were to be my

portion; in a bid to find the perfect position to catch

some much deserved sleep. Let’s not even talk about

the headaches that came with it. I remember having to

smear Vaseline on my scalp in a bid to relieve the pain.

I also really disliked how the hair would just stand

upright, no style, no curls, no nothing! Not pretty at all.

If there was a style that worked on lowering one’s self

esteem, it was African Threading.

The African threading technique was primarily used

among West African women. It involved wrapping

sections of one’s hair in black thread from just above

the roots to the ends of the hair. The style was a

symbol of identity not only

to showcase a woman’s

beauty, but also to

promote their culture.

Initially, the styles were

very sculpture but recently

we can see a resurgence

of the technique in form of

faux locs where the hair is

wrapped in yarn, synthetic

or human hair creating a

more fluid look.

In the no heat movement,

among Naturalistas,

stretching hair naturally is

king. There are various

ways of stretching the hair

from 2 & 3 Strand Twists,

Bantu Knots and Braid

Outs. African Threading is

a very effective technique

if done correctly as the

method offers a natural

way to stretch hair and







achieve the closest results to blow-dried hair. It’s

been known that blow-drying makes the hair prone

to breakage.

Threading protects the hair tips rom the perils of

split ends and single strand knots; making it easier to

comb and detangle. The method has also been

known to help with rapid hair growth, if repeated

continually as a style.

Image Credits: Sculptures for a day

by J. D. ‘Okhai Ojeikere


4 5



As you prepare to thread your hair, there are things

you need to bear in mind. Your hair needs to be

thoroughly cleaned, detangled and moisturized. It

should also preferably be dry, as wet hair will not

produce the desired effect. The final length of your

style will be determined by how much of the hair you

will pull while wrapping with the thread.


You can use whatever thread you have available but

yarn or sewing thread are preferred. The beauty of

yarn is that you can wind it round the hair once.

However, with sewing thread you may end up

winding it thrice or more times to get the desired

thickness. Various styles can be achieved with the

different threads. For example with long hair, you

can use sewing thread without doubling the size,

and it’s dependent on the style you want to achieve.


As you wrap your hair, a few things to look out for

include wrapping the hair tight, as this will cause

strain & discomfort later. Make sure the base is loose

but the thread area is tight enough so it doesn’t fall

apart when done.


There are many options available when deciding how

to style the threaded hair. You can rock them as a

protective style or tie a head wrap or tuck them

under a wig to keep them covered. Threaded hair

can stay for up to three weeks or even a month.


Avoid washing the hair while it’s threaded instead

moisturize using L.O.C method once or twice a week.

One can only view this hairstyle with pride. It originated

on the continent of Africa and has morphed into a

multiple way to take care and style one’s natural hair

without damaging it. It will be interesting to see how

African threading will evolve in the years to come as I

am sure there will be many styling techniques that will

mimic the age old technique.



Kenya’s first natural hair and living magazine, The

Hairpolitan, made its debut at the Hair, Beauty and

Personal Care Expo that was held at the Sarit Centre

Expo Centre on 19th- 21st August 2016.

The aim of taking part in the Expo was to give a chance

to attendees to know about the magazine’s existence. It

was also an opportunity for them to meet & greet the

team behind the magazine, to ask questions about the

publication and know of its future in the African market.

The Hairpolitan team, made it known that the publication

would be here for those interested in keeping their

natural hair, using natural products on their hair and skin,

eating organically healthy food, and keeping fit among

many other topics within the Natural lifestyle.

The Hairpolitan Editor - Nepurko Keiwua, was keen to

express why the magazine was a much needed addition

into the scene, “Hairpolitan was borne out of a need to

provide African women a space where they feel secure

sharing their authentic stories of beauty and success. We

are here to ease the process of accessing information,

about natural hair and living, to all that need it.”

A number of visitors to the booth queried if the magazine

would only be online. Wambui JL, Hairpolitan’s Creator

said, “It is a considered future business model. However,

in the interim, an online magazine provides quick access

for the consumer and affordability for us as a start up

because currently the cost of printing is prohibitive.”

The booth, decked in the brand’s black and yellow colors,

saw nearly 70 guests interested in subscribing to the

magazine. There was also an interest shown in guest’s

article submission and a number enquired about placing

adverts in the publication.

The team also hosted several renowned personalities in

the Natural Hair world from Nyachomba of Kurly Kichana,

the latest YouTube sensation @ItsWanza, the prolific

Patricia Kihoro and the KipilipiliTZ ladies who traveled all

the way from Tanzania for the Expo.

However, it was not all work and no play, visitors were

encouraged to select party props and take goofy pictures

all of which were shared on the magazine’s Instagram


The magazine will be published bi-monthly while running

supporting content on its website. Contributions,

Feedback and Queries are welcome through the email:

Hairpolitan Stand at the HBPC 2016 Expo

Hairpolitan Team host AfroliciousKE

Goofing Around: Wachu Wanjaria (KD Admin) with Kawiria Obura.

Hairpolitan Team host Nyachomba, Kurly Kichana

6 7




By Nali Wafula Imende

I meet Taruri at a bustling café on Kimathi Street; she is

finishing up another meeting. She gives me a warm hug

and offers me a seat. Taruri has the easy confidence of a

woman at peace with herself, her natural hair is done up

in loose twists, her face is make up free and an easy

smile plays on her lips. She is beautiful!

At just 31 Taruri is a trained fashion designer, a life coach,

an amateur vegan chef and the creator of Flawnt It Love.

FlawntIt is an online website that lets people celebrate

their perceived flaws on a safe platform to share and

embrace the things we may feel conscious about. Taruri

decided to start the site as a way to deal with her own

and other people’s insecurities about their bodies.

Taruri says she begun to feel insecure about her body when she was about 14- 15 years old. Her family

was generally health conscious, in a positive way; and though there was a lot of attention on weight she

says she always felt beautiful growing up. “But when I went to high school and started getting a little

hippy- when I look at the pictures now I was so skinny so I didn’t know what I was seeing, but I guess

because I was an early bloomer

people would make comments like

“Oh My God your hips! And I was

just like what are these things and

where did they come from.” To

divert attention from her

blossoming body, Taruri began to

wear baggy clothing.

“I noticed my cellulite when I was 12

or 13 and I thought, oh dimples,

because you know dimples are

cute.” But as she got older she

remembers her older sister

mentioning how cellulite is

disgusting and when she asked her

sister what it was, she replied, “You

know those dimples!” I just thought

“Oh my god.”


“It was one of the scariest things I’ve done in my life

because on social media, you know, you want to paint

the best picture of your life, capture the best moments,

even if you take pictures you want filters so...the fact

that it was so raw and my insecurity was just there.

Halfway through my shoot I started crying like, ‘I can’t

do this.’”

Taruri laughs and admits that she was so anxious the

night before the shoot she downed some shots. “I think

it was a journey through my own insecurities with my

physical body, coupled with seeing the frustration other

people had with their physical flaws that made me

realise this was such a universal issue. I also realised it

would be more powerful if I shared it and also drew in

other people to tell their stories”

After the first picture of her was posted as a teaser,

Taruri was inundated with requests from people curious

about what she was doing and eager to take part. “With

my head cut off, you couldn’t even tell it was me, we

wrote a short description along the lines of, ‘Have you

ever struggled with your flaws?’ We did not even write

anything calling people to join us, but so many people

responded asking to be a part of it.” she says.

Thanks to the powerful reaction, the picture garnered

Taruri realised that this was something that was bigger

than just one story and it snowballed from there. “I get

messages even now, every week someone is like can I

take part in this? The Facebook page is always full of

messages saying thank you for telling this story or I

identify with this person because I’ve gone through the

same thing”





Taruri Gatere

Images of Taruri Gatere

by Teddy Mitchener Photography

What was even more powerful for Taruri, were

the people in her own life who were going

through struggles that she knew nothing about

but were now able to open up to her. “There is

one person who told me she is now able to wear

sleeveless things for the first time in her life

because she always felt insecure about her arms

since she was a kid…I mean that really made me

feel so happy.”

Taruri says the new awareness made

her avoid activities like swimming, “I

even wore bikers with a swimming

costume.” But after a while, she

became tired of hiding and decided

to be brave “…even though I didn’t

feel brave inside and still wondered

if people were staring, I decided to

just wear a swimming costume. I

pushed myself but would still feel

insecure about it.”

For Taruri, body acceptance has

been a journey “I feel a lot more

confident now but there are still

days when I feel… I just look in the

mirror and feel urgh.” Her shift

happened in 2010 - 2011 and she

remembers just feeling so tired of

constantly thinking about her body,

worrying about what she is wearing,

what people are thinking. “And

what happened was, because of all these insecurities I had actually started developing an eating

disorder, In fact, I was anorexic for a while in high school but I stopped then it came back again.

It was on and off.”

Taruri says she could feel the effect it was having on her body and she could foresee her health failing

her in the future. “I was exhausted and that’s when the concept of FlawntIt came to me but it was more

of a personal thing, I wasn’t even thinking of telling other people’s stories.”

For young girls going through body image issues, Taruri shares some advice: “Your physical body is not

the sum total of who you are, it is a vehicle that carries a spirit and a soul, there is so much emphasis put

on how you look (especially as women), it is so ridiculous, there is so much more that we are capable of,

there is so much more that we are than our physical body.”




Interview with Ruth Sebagereka

On our natural hair journey, most of us take for granted one of

the most essential tools that helps us manage the curls & kinks

in our hair - the comb. The very act of combing our hair brings

up mixed feelings for different people. For some, it’s the bane

of their washday regime and for others; it’s a relaxing process

that they quite enjoy. Natural hair newbies often end up using

the wrong methods to comb their hair that leaves them

frustrated to the point of thinking natural hair is not for them.

Some Naturalistas have taken comfort in ditching the tool all

together and using their fingers to detangle their hair.

We all have nostalgic memories of the Afropick comb that we

all used growing up. It was made of thin metal prongs and

plastic handles with the raised power fist atop it. This comb

originated form the US in the 1960s when keeping an Afro

hairstyle was a symbolism of support for black empowerment.

Combs served a more significant role in ancient Africa- among

the Akan of Ghana; combs were given as gifts especially to

women but could be given to men as well.





The handles were decorated with motifs that had a

message. For example, husbands would give wives

combs that symbolized fertility in the hopes of the

woman bringing forth healthy children. The Yaka

people, from the Democratic Republic of Congo,

wore combs that had elaborately designed

headrests and human figures symbolizing the

wearers’ status and group affiliation.

Ancient combs were made from natural materials

such as wood, bamboo, ivory or bone. The material

used, determined if the comb was for daily use or

for prestige purposes. Sometimes one comb served

both utilitarian and decorative purposes. In modern

times, our combs are purely utilitarian and most are

made mostly from plastic with a majority imported

from countries, such as China, that don’t understand

the nature of our hair. It’s a little bit sad that we are

not interested in understanding and creating a tool

that would work for our own hair. This is all set to

change, so must not lose hope.

Introducing Ruth Sebagereka, a bonafide Naturalista

and a groundbreaking innovator of the Truthcomb.

While on her natural hair journey, and in a bid to get

her hair to a manageable state, it dawned on her

that God did not give her hair she could not handle.

She therefore decided to investigate the hair care

and management regimes that she was undertaking.

Ruth discovered that if all remained constant, the

comb and/or combing technique, was the only thing

remaining that needed adjusting.

She calls her invention the Truthcomb because she

wants us to know the truth about our hair.

“The Truthcomb promises to take care of your curly

hair in the way which is best aligned to bring out the

beauty of your curly hair,” says Ruth. “We want our

customers to feel physically beautiful. We want to

tell them the truth about the hair- that they were

created with such beautiful hair, it’s transcendent.”

Truthcomb Model 001

Ruth Sebagereka - Truthcomb Inventor

The comb is the first of its kind globally that does

what it does. It works on the premise that African

hair grows parallel to the scalp, “This is a

fundamental premise that needs to be preserved

when grooming.” Ruth clarifies. The comb travels

horizontally through the hair as it is stacked in layers

and also staggered which helps smooth down the

cuticles along each individual hair strand. The trick

to using the Truthcomb is the ratio of comb to hair;

you are required to section and groom only a little

bit of hair at a time.

Truthcomb Model 001 has 273 bristles with 7 layers.

It is anti-static and has a light detachable handle.

Over time, one can change the head of the comb to

suit their hair needs, as the comb will work for all

lengths and types of hair. The company plans to

launch only the short hair model for now. The comb

will be initially available online and shall target all

curly hair markets in the world.

Ruth aims to contribute to the innovation and

manufacturing sector in Africa. She is working with

various stakeholders. She confesses that she has not

created the Truthcomb alone and is grateful to all

those who have supported her and have helped in

many miraculous ways. “So we are fundamentally

committed to traveling this journey of innovation

with others,” she affirms.

Her challenge to potential innovators is to see how

to “have a firm foundation upon which to effect

change in current day Africa. That is, to present

the historical precedence of excellence so as to

achieve excellence in our own times. If we believe

in our historical greatness- we can then do great

things. But first, I must live it!”

Ruth Sebagereka






By Karimi Kagwe


I got to meet Amina Jasho who works in Communications

for an international NGO in addition to being a mother to

a seven-year-old beautiful girl. We both ran in the same

“natural hair circles‘’ on Facebook and have a lot of

mutual friends. I have always admired Amina’s beauty,

vivacious personality and luscious hair. She emphatically

believes that parents do play a role in developing a child’s


We are living in a world where our esteem as Africans

and as women has been trodden upon and beaten

down to such low levels that we end up missing our

worth and value altogether. Esteem is a topic that is

quite close to my heart. I am glad to have a space

where things that affect me as a woman can be raised.

I have always felt like there is no motivation to love my skin.

I was born in an era that celebrates light skinned and

Caucasian women. Hair had to be straight like in the

pictures we see in

magazines and on

television. Our

bodies had to be

skinny, our African

hips looked down

upon until the

Beyoncé’s and the

J. Lo’s of the world

made it popular to

have some little

meat on their

bones. There have

always been so

many rules to attain

the “Western

Standards ‘of

beauty. But how did

we get there? How

can our girls be

brought up to love

the skin that they

were born in?





Jeri Muchura

As a parent I wanted to figure this one out. I went

searching for answers and this led me to do interviews

with parents raising girls.

“We (parents) are who and what our children want to

become when they grow up. Based on this knowledge we

have to give them something to emulate. My daughter

has never suffered low self-esteem because I consider

myself a confident woman with a lot to offer; this is

something that my child will be able to pick up’’

Because we still live in a largely patriarchal society, Amina

believes most daughters look up to, and believe what their

fathers’ final word on anything is. A good example, a girl

always remembers if her father criticised her

dress sense, how she sat and how she looks.

In future, this may form a perspective on how

she sees herself. Amina reiterates that a

father has to affirm the child to let her know

that she is beautiful.

Amina’s and Imaan’s Images courtesy

of Boy on the ledge (BOTL)

I have come across certain sections of the

media that play a role in promoting

unhealthy images and messages that affect

our young girls. I was curious to learn if

Amina restricted access to these channels for

her daughter. She responded by saying that

her daughter only watches child friendly

channels under supervision. Furthermore, all

computers in their home have strict parental

control settings that restrict access to social

medial networks.

I also asked Amina whether she feels that

there is pressure for women and girls to

conform to Western beauty standards.

“Yes, I feel the pressure every day when I

go to the shop and can’t find jeans that fit my shape. I

feel it when I diet to get thinner, (but I’m) not sure why?

I also feel it when my daughter is happier when her hair

is straight and, as she calls it, soft. I fear she will ask me

to relax her hair when she is older because she really

likes the straight hair look. It’s a challenge when this


She continues to say that the differences between light

and dark skinned girls is a topic of discussion that arises

a lot in her home. This is because her daughter Imaan is

darker than she is. She suspects that Imaan questions

their differences due to what she has watched on TV.

“For some people, being black and beautiful isn’t

enough. We like to lighten our skin or straighten our

hair or contour our faces so that we can look like the

Kim Kardashians of this world.

”I am afraid, sometimes being told by your parent that you’re beautiful will not be enough because the media, the

internet and the silly boy you met at college say you are not beautiful enough; that you would be, if you

straightened your hair or got a boob job. It makes me so sad.’’

“Yes I have. I got married really young and got divorced soon after. This was not good for my confidence or

self-esteem. I was broken emotionally during this period and it took a long time for me to acknowledge the fact

that none of it was my fault. It took a toll on me, I got thin, I was always sad. If anyone knows me I love to laugh

but not back then.”

She was able to get through this dark time with a lot of prayer and advice from her parents. Despite the fact that

she is a Muslim, she points out that her good friend Pastor Pete also provided her with wise counsel, “He always

told me to look forward and never behind. Dealing with it was hard but now I believe I can never be broken by a

situation again’’.

It is evident that Amina has triumphed through what many would call a hard and painful season. I asked her to

share additional advice with parents raising girls and how they can help their daughters overcome low

self-esteem,‘’Encourage your child even when they fail at something. In addition, never ever say to them, that

dress makes you look fat or makes you look slutty or makes you look older. Instead explain your reasons as to why

they shouldn’t dress in a certain way and always remind your child that her body is a temple that is precious just

for her.’’

12 13


I continue my conversation with good friends of mine - Mark and

Jeri Muchura. Mark and Jeri always like to say they have been

married for four years, but humorously add that they have been

together for ten.

Mark describes himself as ‘a living, breathing, eating, sleeping

minion of the creative fraternity, currently working as Head of

Creative Services for a leading firm in Lavington. Jeri is a work

from home mom and an award-winning photographer who loves

to showcase Kenyan stories through her images.

The lovely couple have two beautiful daughters with the most

amazing and unique names; Tuviyah Kadessa Muchura who is

seven years old while their second born, Yisraella Taji Muchura is

5 years old.

I asked them if they believe that parents play a role in

developing a child’s self-esteem. Jeri agreed by saying, “The

biggest influence in a child's life is their parents. Children are

fertile ground and every word and action by the parents is a

seed that will take root and produce a harvest, which can be

either good or bad.”

Jeri added that her daughters love

princesses because they are whimsical

and love to play pretend, this however

poses a challenge because they mostly

portray fair skinned girls with long,

blond hair in the lead roles. “Trying to

explain to my 7 and 5 year olds that

their hair doesn’t grow long and flowing

like Rapunzel's or Elsa’s is

heart-breaking because they do not

understand why their kinky hair isn’t as

what they see on TV. We work hard to

raise them with a healthy love of self in

light of the animations and kids movies

that are out nowadays. Thankfully, the

number of animations featuring brown

girls and boys are increasing and

helping them identify with girls with hair

and skin tones like theirs.”

One of the ways the Muchuras are

raising their girls to love themselves is

the way they style their hair. The couple

experiment a lot with their hair and

have raised their girls to wear

dreadlocks, giving them the freedom to

style their hair as they want. Mark

emphasizes on this by adding, “In my

view children should only wear natural

hair styles. I believe they will grow to

appreciate themselves a lot more

because of it.”

She also clarified, “It is our responsibility as parents to prepare

our children for life and this means giving them the right tools at

a very young age. One way we do this is by taking an active role

in their day-to-day lives and ensuring the different types of

media they are exposed to promote healthy messages to young

girls. Mark loves cartoons and watches them religiously together

with his girls as a way to bond with them and ensure they aren’t

exposed to concepts that are unsuitable for their young minds.”

I was curious to know what the

response has been from the community

to their children wearing dreadlocks.

Jeri responded by saying that she was

worried how their school would take it

but she has received no resistance on

that end. Both confirmed that overall,

all feedback has been positive and they

are glad that the girls get to hear

positivity coming from other people

other than their parents as this helps

build their confidence.

As I end my quest I asked both of them

how they would advise other parents to

help their children overcome low

self-esteem. Both their answers

emphasized the need for every parent

to encourage their children. Jeri

concludes by saying, “Encourage your

daughters to speak, take the time to

listen to their little hearts, observe and

really see them, celebrate them as they

achieve what seems insurmountable to

them. Let them know that you love

them, that you are in their corner and

that you are cheering them on.

Then watch them blossom.”

Image of Jeri & March Muchua

(Previous Page) by Michael Magoha

Image of the Muchura Girls by

Photos by Jeri








Wanjiru Kihusa


By Wambui JL

Images courtesy of Wanjiru Kihusa

“The modern day woman is resilient yet we don’t highlight and celebrate that enough,” says Wanjiru Kihusa when

I ask her how she can best describe today’s African woman outside of what the western media and traditional

African society defines her to be. In Wanjiru’s view, African women have long been subjected to a myriad of

hardships but they manage to get up, go to work, raise families, support communities, build nations and still

stand strong.

As I listen to her talk across the table, with her hand gently place on mine, I wonder if Wanjiru is aware that she’s

actually describing herself. A few minutes into our meeting she was sharing the story of how she lost two of her

pregnancies within 6 months of each other. The first one was well into the gestation at 20weeks (5months) in

November of 2013 due to a Listeria infection, while the second one early on at 7 weeks in March of 2014 for

unknown reasons.

Since her experiences, Wanjiru took a break from baby making, quit her 8-5 IT job, focused on her marriage and

started a fast growing support network for women who suffered pregnancy and infant loss like she had. She called

it Still A Mum, a name that was truly inspired because as a society we don’t have a name for a woman who has

lost a child. “The statement ‘You are still a Mum’ is very powerful and reassuring to the bereaved; and we aim to

acknowledge and celebrate that the woman made and carried life before losing the child.” Wanjiru says.

Still A Mum was launched in October 2015 after months of discussing the topic of child loss on her online

platforms. The space supports those whose lives have been touched by the tragic death of a baby through

pregnancy loss, stillbirth or in the first few months of life up to 3 years. “This is not to say that we won’t support

parents who have lost older children,” Wanjiru reaffirms, “The aim of Still A Mum is to create awareness on

anything regarding child loss and give correct information which in turn helps those around give proper support.”


Infant Mortality:

The passing of a child

before their first




The official medical

term for miscarriage

defined as the death

of the fetus before

20weeks (5months).

Fetal Demise:

The official medical

term for stillbirth,

defined as when the

baby dies after 20



Pregnancy and childbirth have a huge effect

on women and their families; and when a

child dies it is indeed devastating. It does not

matter how long the child spent in their

mother’s womb, or in their families’ arms as

that baby will have already made an impact

and will always be greatly missed. Parents

will naturally feel grief and guilt thereafter

and they should be given emotional support

by being reassured their actions were not the

cause. “Grief is the price we pay for love.

Losing a baby who was not born is a legitimate

loss. Never rush someone who is

grieving. Grief has no formula and is actually

very complex.” A quote via her Twitter

handle @wanjirukihusa.

Interestingly in the year of running Still A

Mum, Wanjiru has found that there is no real

platform in the country that discusses the

importance of grieving loss in general, let

alone pregnancy and infant loss. She has

frequently found herself discussing general

loss and grieving on discussion panels, only

get to mention child loss as a sub-type.


Wanjiru admits, that despite the aversion towards formal

counseling in the country, it is very necessary for it to be

made available. “Death of any kind triggers mental

health issues,” she says. The intended key outcome for

the Still A Mum’s support network is for every parent and

family member to know that someone still cares enough

to remember and recognize their child’s life.

They currently carry out two (2) forms of the much

needed counseling sessions. There are physical groups of

ten (10) that meet for five (5) mandatory sessions under a

trained counselor at Norwich Union in Nairobi’s CBD. A

nominal fee of KES 200/= is charged for the venue but it

is not compulsory. The aim with the small number is to

ensure that everyone gets a chance to talk and share

their story. There are also well-moderated Whatsapp

groups made up of 20 people, where members discuss a

new topic in relation to child loss every three days.

In the pipeline are men only groups and/or activities,

where bereaved fathers can also find an outlet to discuss

their loss. “Let’s not forget the fathers, they need our

love and support too,” she encourages her followers

during a live Twitter chat session.

16 17


Our African psyche is tuned to believe that

womanhood equals motherhood and the later is “A

duty to other people,” Wanjiru observes. In societies’

eyes women are seen to have let down their spouses,

families and society by not being able to carry a baby

to term, something that she personally felt. Such

verdicts tend to have far reaching negative effects

especially on a woman’s self esteem.


Pregnancy and Infant Loss Statistics in Kenya:

10-25% of all clinically recognized pregnancies will

end in miscarriage.

1 in every 10 women will have a miscarriage (best

case) or 1 in every 4 women will get a miscarriage

(worst case).

An estimated 4.2 million miscarriages are

reported every year in Africa.

1 in 100 women will experience recurrent

miscarriages (three or more successive


In Kenya, there are no conclusive nationwide

statistics and even those kept by hospitals do not

include women who had a miscarriage at home.

Source: Still A Mum

Wanjiru shares that peri-urban and rural women who

have had miscarriages have been accused of having

procured an abortion or having taken part in

witchcraft because in some instances it is difficult to

explain what exactly a miscarriage is or what caused it

in local dialects. Meanwhile, in a more urban setting

the blame has been directed at the woman’s business

or career where the spouse feels that if the mother

didn’t work as long or hard the baby would have

been saved.

Whichever way blame will be naturally apportioned

during grief but Wanjiru advises that it be said at the

right time, in the right tone and perhaps with a

professional so that it is more of an expression rather

than an accusation.


Wanjiru explains that partner/spousal support is key

and without it being present depression could be

triggered. This kind of support manifests itself in

three ways, there is the typical one where the partner

up and leaves, citing inability to handle the loss,

which typically happens with unmarried couples.

However, in rare instances there are unmarried

couples that did not plan for the pregnancy but end

up staying together, getting married and having other

children. The final one is within the confines of

marriage where the couple stays together and

supports each other through the storm.


Through her own experience, Wanjiru found that

friends and family really helped her heal by showing

up and being physically there for her and her family.

She talks of one couple that knew her and her

husband from campus. They came to their home,

cooked them dinner and talked for hours on

everything but the baby that had passed. “It made

me feel normal,” remembers Wanjiru.

She challenges especially the older female family

members of the bereaved to treat the mother “…as if

she brought the child home.” In her opinion a

bereaved mother should be supported in the same

way as a mother who has just given birth to a child by

provided with nutritious food, being helped to

maintain the home and keeping her company.


As Still A Mum approaches their one-year

anniversary they have made great strides in their

intended purpose. Together with other worldwide

communities they will be commemorating the

Pregnancy and Infant Loss day for the 2nd time

since their inception. The one-week of awareness

that starts on the 9th of October will culminate

with a tree planting ceremony at Karura Forest on

Saturday 15th October to remember all babies

that have been lost.

On sale will be pink and blue Pregnancy and Infant

Loss ribbons that one can wear during the

awareness week to help support a family that has

lost a child. The aim is to provide families with an

activity and place to remember the lost child

fondly in years to come.

Still A Mum

Phone: +254 (0) 723 220 063

or +254 (0) 792 918 023



Facebook: A Mum


Twitter: @StillAMumKE







Interview with Mumbi Muturi-Muli

Kenyan consumers spent more than $100 million (KES

10B) on hair care alone, reported CNN earlier this year

(Parke, Phoebe. Heads up! Africa's billion dollar hair

care industry., 5th February

2016). This is all thanks to the growing middle class,

which has experienced a growth in discretionary

income, especially for women. Evidently Hair in Kenya is

big business and the companies that were leading in

market share in 2015 included HACO Tiger Brands (EA),

L'Oréal (EA), PZ Cussons (EA) and Revlon (SA)

(Euromonitor, June 2016).

The hair care niche has also experienced tremendous

growth in the last 5 years and especially the cottage

industry that serves up homemade products made for

African natural hair. Mumbi Muturi-Muli is a savvy

entrepreneur who saw an opportunity and took

advantage of it to bring us, Harvest of Sunshine.

The company was launched in 2012 with an aim of

creating high quality natural hair and skin products that

utilize African indigenous ingredients such as Baobab

Oil, Macadamia Nut Oil, Shea Butter and Ghana’s

African Black Soap.

We sat with Mumbi to understand more about her

company, the ingredients that go into her products and

how she felt it feeds into the growing African


What do you think the standard of African beauty is


I think beauty for African women has changed

drastically in the last 4 years. We are no longer held

hostage by the western ideals of beauty. This has

happened so quickly that now I get a feeling that there

is really no standard.






Mumbi Muturi-Muli

Images Courtesy of Harvest of Sunshine.

The new standard is what we see in the mirror and what

we choose for ourselves. We are more appreciative of

all the forms that the body and face take and no longer

subscribe to any definitive standard. This is a freedom

that we have not enjoyed in the past as African women.

20 21

Why do you feel that your ethos of “fresh,

natural ingredients grown on the African

continent” is important to you as a brand?

I know that we have enough resources in Africa to

support all the ingredients that we need for our skin

and hair. Africans have been harvesting and using

these butters and oils for longer than our memories

would allow and it works. It works for us because in

a sense they were created for us as Africans.

What challenges do you face when sourcing

locally grown ingredients?

I have been very lucky to get a supplier that has

cold-pressed oils that have not gone through a

process that reduces or altogether eliminates their

benefits. The only challenge I get is when I am

formulating something new. I find that the cost of

experimenting with new oils can be prohibitive.

Do all your products contain 100% African grown


No they do not. We have to use other ingredients

because our products are water-based. However,

we strive to use a minimum amount of the

preservatives, emulsifiers, emollients and fragrances

in the safest and most effective quantities.

Which ingredients do you import and why can’t

you find them locally?

We use a parabens and formaldehyde free

preservative that is not locally available. I do not

know why we do not manufacture these products in

Kenya but I suspect that there is no business need

for it as we are able to import them. Once the need

to create products that are as natural as can be

increases across the continent, we might start

getting local manufacturers of these ingredients.

Parabens and formaldehyde are commonly used as

preservatives in most skin and hair care products

but most large cancer research funds define them

as carcinogenic factors.

What exactly is Yangu Oil and how did you come

across it?

One of the first big African oils that I heard of was

Argan oil from Morocco; it was touted as the Holy

Grail of oils. However, it was very expensive. So I

started to think that there must be other oils that

were available locally.

It was while on a trip to Ghana that I discovered

that there was Baobab oil in Kenya and I started

talking to producers to find out what other hidden

gems we had. That is how I came across Yangu

(Cape Chestnut) oil. I also came across Macadamia

nut oil and many others that we use in our products.

Yangu oil has been used in Africa for many years

and we somehow never got a hold of or lost this

knowledge. I am so happy that we have

re-discovered it. It is high in essential fatty acid

content of palmitic acid, stearic acid, and oleic

acid, and has a high antioxidant value. So it is

great for both your skin and you hair and early

research is indicating that it might be able to

penetrate the hair shaft like coconut and avocado oils.

What is your signature product?

It seems that the customers are the ones deciding

what the signature product is for them. Everyone

has different needs and regimes for their hair and

skin therefore they get to decide what works best

for them.

What products are currently in formulation and

what can we look forward to?

I am currently working on something for our

Locstars. I think, that we need to change the

mentality behind the way that we take care of our

locs by moving away from the hard gels; and find a

way to moisturize and nourish the hair instead.

I am also looking into a facial care line and with all

the lovely oils that we have here, our delicate facial

skin would benefit greatly from a lotion that will be

gentle enough to be used on our faces.




By Nina Odongo

For anyone who’s ever taken the slightest interest in their weight, they may have come across the much-debated

Body Mass Index (BMI). As a personal trainer, many of my clients complain that trying to stay within BMI chart

healthy weight ranges puts them at a weight that is not only hard to achieve and maintain over a certain age, but

also, one that leaves them looking and feeling unnaturally thin.

On the flip side, if you walk into a doctor’s office or gym, or even just calculate your BMI online and are consistently

classed as overweight, it can have serious effects on your esteem and leave you questioning your worth. Standard

BMI charts are unrealistic for a large number of African women simply because they don’t take into account the

whole story.

Your Body Mass Index is a measure that works out how healthy your weight is in relation to your height and age.

BMI charts take this a step further and calculate an ideal weight range for people by height. For decades, health

professionals, insurance companies and the World Health Organisation have used BMI charts as a tool for

measuring whether people were underweight, overweight or obese. More recently, weight loss companies have

jumped on the bandwagon, using BMI charts to market products and services geared at getting people closer to

their supposed ideal weight.

That’s all very well, you’re thinking, but what’s it got to do with African women?









Nina Odongo

Well, the problem with traditional BMI charts is that

they were created with people of European ancestry

in mind. Although African women come in all shapes

and sizes, from tall and slender, to curvy and

voluptuous; on average, black women’s body fat

distribution differs from that of Caucasian women.

Put simply, and without generalising too much, we

carry our weight differently. For example, we have

less visceral fat, which is the dangerous type of fat.

The fat that hangs out deep in our belly cavity,

surrounding our internal organs, so we can’t see it

or feel it. Another differentiator is that African

women have a lower waist to hip ratio.

And herein lies the problem.

Images courtesy of Body by Nina

While it has gradually come to be recognised that

BMI charts are inaccurate for Asian women and

people with a lot of muscle, it has only recently

become a point of conversation whether or not

black women are in fact negatively prejudiced by

traditional BMI charts.

It is not uncommon for many African women to

weigh more and therefore have a high BMI, often

putting them firmly in the overweight to obese

category and yet still be healthier than white

women of the same BMI. This is because, even

with a high BMI, because we have less dangerous

fat, we are still less at risk to diseases such as type

2 diabetes and high cholesterol than our

Caucasian counterparts.

This is not carte blanche to toss out the scales,

hang up your running shoes, and reach for the

BBQ ribs and extra large red wine. As a matter of

fact, this may be one of the greatest, indirect

failings of the BMI chart as far as African women

are concerned. If the targets are completely

unattainable, most women won’t even try. They

lose the race because they didn’t even start it.

Your ‘Oh well, I love myself the way I am’ attitude

may be brimming with self-confidence but it is a

double-edged sword. By all means, love your thick

thighs, embrace your bootyliciousness, adore your

dimples and flaunt your killer curves. Teach your

girls to love themselves unconditionally.

But! Does that mean weight problems don’t exist

among black African women? Of course they do.

Is there such a thing as too thick? Indubitably.

Black women with a waist circumference of 39 and

above and a BMI (that word again!) of 33 and

above are still at risk of the same diseases as their

Caucasian counterparts.

So what’s the happy balance? If we are to toss out

the BMI chart for black women, what guidelines

do we follow to keep us on the straight and

narrow? The answer is simple: Be kind to yourself,

it’s literally what’s on the inside that counts.




By Ciku Wamae

I’ve been obsessed with eyebrows from an early age. It all stemmed from the girl who sat in front of me would turn

and start laughing at my lack of eyebrows whenever she was bored. This spurred me to try and get normal looking

eyebrows, by trying to shape them, grow them or even just fill them in.

The first thing I notice about many people, after the state of their skin, is their eyebrows or lack thereof. So, you can

imagine how keenly I have been following the current brow trend - dubbed the Instabrow, because it’s been highly

popularised by social media. Women all over are all sporting the same shape of brow but the only thing that differs is

the intensity of colour. The brows range from giant caterpillars to works of such geometric precision that they deserve

a spot at the Tate Modern.


It cannot be stressed enough that not everyone looks good with the Instabrow. The minute we are focusing on your

brows and ignoring the rest of your face it might be time to think up another trend. Eyebrows are meant to finish your

look – not take over your whole face and make you look like Nike have bought advertising space on your forehead.

What brow shape suits you is really down to your facial features. The beauty world breaks down our faces into the 6

basic shapes below along with the brow that suits each shape.

24 25


Armed with the above knowledge, let’s delve into a basic but must know guide on how to create the perfect

brow for you.

You need a straight object to help you create the lines and a makeup pen such as a brow liner to help you mark

the various spots.

A: Is ideally where brows should start for most people. However, if you have wide set eyes, i.e your eyes

appear to be far apart, then your brows should start slightly to the left of line A – just on the outer

sides of the balls of your nose as this will help them appear closer together. This starting point to the

left of A is also great if you have a large forehead as it will give the illusion of it being smaller than it

actually is.

B and C: Help you figure out where your arch should be. If you want a high arch then aim for the highest

point of your brow to be out the outer edge of your iris. If you prefer a modest arch then move the line to

the left of B such that it crosses the middle of your iris.

D: Indicates where the length of the brow should cease. Very few people can get a way with brows past

this point.

E: The end tip of the brow should not dip lower than the beginning end otherwise your brows look

wonky. It should sit on the same level or slightly higher to achieve the eyebrow lift effect.







Once you have mapped out the shape your brows it is now time to make them look polished. For people blessed

with thick eyebrows, brushing them and trimming and or tweezing/threading any stray hairs or hairs that are too

long is enough to give a finished look.

For those of us with sparse, barely-there brows, products like brow pencils, powders and gels come to our

rescue. To avoid looking like a clown, choose the right shade of product to use. A very light hand is needed when

applying these products otherwise you will end up looking overly made up.

Based on those tips, you can see that each one of us should have our own unique brows and not the Instabrow

that is currently the rage.






Words and images courtesy of Curly Cheeks


Kinky, curly, straight or soft; do you have a tendency of putting a

label on your natural hair and hope to find the right regimen or

products that will make you achieve the perfect curls? Have you

ever gone to a hair salon and ended up frustrated with the manner

in which they handled your hair? Are you tired of the daily routine

when it comes to natural hair and contemplated getting Sisterlocs?

Do you find it overwhelming to take care of your daughter’s hair or

trying to get them to appreciate the beauty of natural hair at an

early age? These were a few of the queries that were addressed on

the 30th July 2016 at the Afro Hair Festival hosted by Awali

Naturals Founder Shirley Bee to cater to natural hair bloggers,

stylists and enthusiasts at Jacaranda Hotel in Nairobi.

Despite the chilly weather outside, it was nice to see beautiful

women showing off their beautiful manes, protective styles and

bold hair colors at the event. The event kicked off at noon with

some neo soul music from DJ Andre playing in the background

while the lovely emcee for the day, Angela from Malkia’s Lush

welcomed the guests who slowly started streaming in. With an

interactive panel discussion, the audience had the opportunity to

openly talk about the challenges they’ve faced over the years when

it comes to dealing with natural hair.

4C Hair Chick and Angela (Malkia Lush)

Shirley Bee (Awali Natural), Tricia (Tricia’s Naturals),

Angela and Vikky Wambui (Napspiration)

Founder of Awali Naturals - Shirley Bee

Hair Bloggers - Liberated Junkie

and New Now and Next Natural

Kurly Diaries Admins, Wachu Wanjaria,

Josephine Wabuu and Ess Kay

Ladies in Red - Betty Muthoni, Roselyn Njeri

and Vikki Wambui (Napsiration)

Roselyn Munah's - Wash and Go hairstyle

Saul Juma's Live Hair Demonstrations

After a short brunch, the audience was able to participate in hair

talks and got a chance to interact with hair bloggers, such as

Nyachomba Kariuki from Kurly Kichana, who shared their own

personal hair journeys. My highlight of the day was the Little Curls

workshop, where Nina Odongo from My Big Fat Afro, shared her

experience on how to take care of our little one’s hair with child

friendly products that are locally available. The children were also

well taken care of under the watchful eye of Cheeky Monkey, where

they got to engage in various fun activities while the discussions

were going on.

Beauty apparels from Malkia Lush on display

Hair Stylists - Saul Juma, Dennis Wa Gladys

and Dgonie

Mumbi Muturi - Harvest of Sunshine.

Engaging the audience

Sisterlocs Re-tightening expert Tabby (Topstylist Salon)

and Crotchet Braider Makanye

There was so much to learn from Awali’s Afro Hair Festival; from the

products ingredients workshop by Mumbi Muturi Muli from Harvest

of Sunshine, to the live hair demonstrations by the amazing natural

hair stylists who attended the festival and the inspiring talk by

Kirigo Kabuga – a certified Sisterlocks Master Hair Stylist and

natural hair coach; the attendees left with a little bit of information

on how to handle our natural hair and embrace our kinks and curls

regardless of our hair texture.

Braids styled by Dgonie

Josephine Wabuu (Admin Kurly Diaries)

sharing her hair experience

Nyachomba Kariuki (Kurly Kichana), Dennis and

Vikky Wambui (Napspiration)

Straw set hair demonstrations done at the festival

Awali’s Afro Hair Festival Brunch, was a prelude to the main festival

that is scheduled to take place on the 26th of November this year,

in order to bring the natural hair community in Kenya together, as

well as a chance to get to interact and network with the key players

in the natural hair community.

Cheeky Monkey Activities

Kirigo Kabua (Studio 28), Wambui JL (Hairpolitan)

and Nina Odongo (Body by Nina)

Nyachomba's Hair (Kurly Kichana)

Vikki Ngaruiya's Twist out hairstyle

28 29




EXPO 2016

By Mary Kagone, Sales & Relationship

Manager, Beauty Bee Co. Ltd

The event that was!

A dentist explains on Oral Health

Makeup Competition Judges

Battle of the Barbers moderator Michael Gitonga

Panelists at the Style with Natural Hair Segment

sponsored by Marini Naturals

The Hair Beauty and Personal Care Expo 2016 is an initiative organized

by Beauty Bee Company Ltd whose entry to consumers was absolutely

free. The event focused on creating a forum for consumers to learn

from experts and leading resources in the industry on matters Hair,

Beauty and Personal wellness. This was achieved through organizing

and executing interactive sessions where matters Hair, Beauty and

Personal wellness were raised, discussed and solutions to problems

were provided.

Today’s consumer is confronted with the challenge of not being able to

recognize harmful products and is never sure whether they are

purchasing the correct product as a solution to their needs. We had

experts on Hair trichology, Natural hair, Nails and Nail care,

Dermatologists, Stylists, Dentists and many more.

Panelists Irene Njoroge and Dr. Pancholi

moderated by Patricia Kihoro

The Pz Cussons Stand

Top 40 Under 40 2015 finalists Rose Ntongondu

hosts visitors at her stand

Battle of the Barbers Sponsored by Phillips

The event also created a springboard for upcoming talents in the

Industry through creative competitions where they got an opportunity

to showcase their work and get recognition, reward and new

opportunities. Competitions on make-up application and barbering

were some of the activities that took place during the event.

The event, which is held once every year, this being its second edition

after the inaugural event in 2015, managed to create a market place for

consumers where they were able to meet and interact with various

brands. The Expo was able to bring together over 40 exhibitors in Hair,

Beauty and Personal care industry under one roof for a period of three

days that the event took place.

The Marini Naturals Stand

Panelits at the Hair Clinic panelists Segment

sponsored by Hair Hub Trichology Centre

Audience enjoying a panel session

The Lintons Beauty Stand

A measure of success was achieved during the three-day event, which

created a buzz in the industry as majority of the participants managed

to reach the targeted objective. Great Team effort, hard work, great

supportive partners and articulated planning were some of the factors

that led to this success. We open our doors again next year with the

same mindset of providing a platform that would be beneficial to all the

stakeholders in Hair, Beauty and Personal Care industry.

Makeup Competition Contestant

The Aliyana stand

Visitors shopping at the Expo

Naturalistas in the Audience


The Lanolin Professional Hair Stand Salon

The Kitoko Makeup Stand

Nail Pampering at the Pam Nail Polish Stand

The T444Z Stand





Focus on Mutua Matheka's GRVTY Project

In the world of creating inspiring images, that change our view of how we see our country and

world around us, Mutua Matheka is king. He’s the creative eye behind #IAmACityChanger and

part of the #OneTouchLive ensemble whose latest project was at Vipingo Ridge located in

Kenya’s coastal region.

Mutua recently shared images he conceptualized for a 2015 project for an exhibition with his

colleagues at Prokraft Africa. The exhibition project was and continues to be right up this issue’s

alley on discussing the role of being black in this day and age.

We asked him what he perceived the role of his images would be towards building our

self-esteem as modern day Africans on the continent.

“To me, GRVTY is my way of relating with my ideas of blackness. I really honestly want us

as black people to see and truly believe in our beauty, intelligence and place in this

world. Nairobi is my muse; I want people in Africa to see their cities represented visually

in a beautiful way that validates us. I hope we may find our place of pride in this modern

continent. Pride in who we are and not necessarily culture or tradition.

Who we are - as Africans in Africa.”

In my mind, visually,

I wanted this project

to be a stark contrast

of black and white.

“I hope we may find

our place of pride.

In this modern


32 33

I started to think of the many ways we see

whiteness/lightness (of skin) as the answer or

at least as a way out; flawed beauty standards

leading to skin lightening and bleaching.

If she saw whiteness as the way out, how far

would she go to be white?

I got the blackest model I knew, Gabu; as well

as the most expressive model I knew, Thogi.

I wanted a certain element of hardness with

Gabu and softness with Thogi.




Project: GRVTY

Theme: Black

Task: Interpret Black whichever way you want to

Concept, Photography & Edit: Mutua Matheka

Assistant: Mwas

Models: Winnie Muthoga a.k.a Thogi & Gabu Fords

a.k.a Gabu

Make Up/Body Paint: Sinita of Cultured Ego




Interview with Wachirah Gitahi

For more on the project visit Mutua’s website

I thought about what blackness is perceived

as in a white world vs. in my everyday world.

Gentlemen get ready to put down your

razors - Movember is here! What is that

you may ask?

“The world Movember is a portmanteau

of the Australian-English diminutive word

for Moustache “Mo” and November;

also known as No-Shave November.”

(Wikipedia). It’s a month long awareness

initiative that focuses on the cancers that

affect men such as Testicular, Prostrate

and Pancreatic.

It is believed that the movement was

started in Australia by a group of

young men, who thought it would be a

good idea to grow their moustaches

for charity throughout the month of

November. The story spread across the

world and eventually became the

movement it is now.






Wachirah Gitahi

The mechanics are simple: On the 1st

of November men are urged to shave

their moustaches and beards, then

document the growth on their social

media platforms throughout the rest of

the month.

Movember KE, lead by Wachirah

Gitahi, was started in 2012 as an

experiment. Over the years, it has

steadily gotten a following and

Kenyans have begun holding necessary

conversations on men’s health. The

local team has, till now, been purely

sharing men’s health information on

their social media platforms but this

year they are planning to take things a

notch higher.

Images Courtesy of Movember KE

36 37

“Movember aims to change the face of men’s health

in Kenya. Men really do not talk about their

problems. But with this movement we hope to start

a conversation through a fun twist to get them to

start talking. We believe it will change the state of

men’s health not only in Kenya but in the whole

world.” Wachirah explains.

He also adds that beyond cancer there are many

other topics such as depression, healthy living and

fitness that they would like to discuss in the month’s

awareness activities. “We also want to raise

awareness on childhood cancer and cancers

affecting women specifically,” he adds.

Within the Movember stable, there is one gentleman

by the name Torsten “One Nut” Koehler, a South

African who has this year celebrated 21 years of

being cancer free. Lucky for him, the cancer was

detected early, so he was able to beat it. Torsten is

the founder and face of Love Thy Nuts (SA) and the

Movember team is in talks with him to bring over the

Kenyan chapter.

Wachirah acknowledges that Kenyan men find it

difficult to seek help in regards to their health. “Men

tend to seek professional help much later on when

things have worsened. Growing up as a man, we are

taught from a very early age to not fear anything but

to ‘Take it like a man’.”

In a bid to understand further, I ask him what facial

hair means to his self-esteem. Wachirah wisecracks,

“Nothing says manly like facial hair!” but further

explains that, “Some view their beards and facial

hair as a source of self-esteem. But others, who are

able to grow it but opt to shave it, may not share

this feeling. However, among circles those who

cannot grow facial hair get their fair share of ridicule

from those who can grow.”

With Hairpolitan’s readership being predominantly

women, I ask him how we can help the Movember

campaign this year. Wachirah informs us that women

are welcome to support their MoBros during this

time; and in true Movember speak, the women who

are supportive are fondly called MoSistas.

“These inspirational women are committed to raising

awareness of men's health issues and much needed

funds for men's health along the way; and we

acknowledge the MoSistahood and celebrate their

role as purveyors of fine moustaches and beards,”

he says. There you have it ladies, become a MoSista,

support your man, father, brother and friend in a bid

to raise awareness on men’s health issues this

November and beyond.

"Ill-health of body or of mind, is defeat. Health alone

is victory. Let all men, if they can manage it, contrive

to be healthy!" Thomas Carlyle.

Gee K – Outreach, Movember KE

Ayub Kiptanui - Organizing Secretary, Movember KE




By Nepurko Keiwua

Beauty looked up at the dusty clock peeping from among the peeling flour wrappers

that served as wallpaper in her small makeshift house. She and Darkness a.k.a Danielo,

or the man she fondly remembered as her boyfriend had had a falling out

of sorts.

During the Gono Debacle in Liet Wan, Village Beauty had firmly but finally closed the

door to her love temple. She just couldn’t sure that Danielo wasn’t dipping his Marietta

Biscuit into strange cups of tea in Liet Wan; so she decided to abstain and save herself the

trauma of the Wan crab walk and cranberry juice sipping.



Big D, as she fondly referred to her lover, had not taken

this cooling of relations well at all. He immediately

started hanging out with her former best friend Ako. This

current turn of events had driven Beauty to madness; she

started to really question her worth. Beauty looked at her

sad reflection in the mirror - Mama had always told her

she was beautiful but now, she wasn’t so sure anymore.

She looked at her prominent forehead, small almond

eyes, deeply dark skin tone and buckteeth with deep

sadness. In a fit of fury, she had chopped her long,

long hair and now looking at the mirror she just felt

ugly as she thought about Ako. She kept on thinking

how beautiful the man-stealing hussy was, with creamy

luscious light skin, her long curly hair and very pretty,

kissable lips.

“Next to her, I’ve always looked

like a damn ugly duckling,” she

thought to herself as she

replaced her sad smile with the

detested and oft contested duck

face that every one in Wan

Central liked to favor, when they

went to get their picture taken

by Kagaira, the village


Beauty sighed deeply and got

ready for work in the stoic

silence she favored every

morning; she filled her mabati

(metal) cup with Kahawa (coffee)

Alphacoffee, Qenha’s finest AA

Village Beauty

coffee grown for export, and

paired it with a stale slice of

bread. Working at the posho

(flour mill) meant that she got to

make off with any and all extras she could find,

including cast off flour and stale loaves of broad. When

she was done with breakfast, she scrambled to get

dressed and cover her ugliness.




As she turned the key in the lock to her front door, she

sensed someone behind her and turned swiftly, quickly

expecting to chase off one of the neighborhood kids but

she found herself nose to nose with Ako.

Man stealer Extraordinaire. Ako gave her a piercing gaze

and moved to block her way. Beauty’s shoulders slumped.

“As if this couldn’t get any worse? I’ve got to deal with

this ho in my way” Beauty thought to herself and

inwardly rolled her eyes before plastering a plastic

smile on her face and hugging Ako the Man Stealer

tight and close with a big, “Heeeeey”.

“Oh, hi B.” Ako replied as she hugged Beauty so tight

she almost broke her bones. Because that’s what she

really wanted to do. Ako had always been jealous of B

since they first encountered each other at the Friday

Soko (Market). Ako, you see, didn’t have the privilege

of working a clerical job like Beauty did at the posho.

She ended up working at the

mzungus’ (white people’s)

houses in the Ren for peanuts

but deep down in her heart she

was unhappy, and Beauty

represented the thorn in her


Ako had come across a quote

on one of the back issue

magazines her employer liked

to give away to the mali kwa

mali (trade in) guys who

prowled the neighbourhoods in

the Ren.

It was by some Chinese -

American actress called

Margaret Cho and she felt it

described her arch-nemesis

Beauty to a T.

“I am so beautiful, sometimes people weep when they

see me. And it has nothing to do with what I look like

really, it is just that I gave myself the power to say that

I am beautiful, and if I could do that, maybe there is

hope for them too. And the great divide between the

beautiful and the ugly will cease to be. Because we are

all what we choose.”


For baked treats made

with love,

from scratch!

0723 935571

40 41



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