Between our participation in the Obama Foundation Summit (more on that below) and our upcoming Catalyst Tour, there is plenty to be excited about this month. I especially want to celebrate a new addition to the Creative Action Institute team, Mukonyo Muendo, who is joining us as Project Coordinator for our work in East Africa. To get to know her better, we asked her some questions:
1. Where are you from? Ever heard of the INEOS 1:59 Challenge? Well, I’m from the country that was put on the map by Mr. Eliud Kipchoge for running a marathon in under two hours – Kenya!
2. What made you interested in working to support girls and women? When I was 10 years old, I had an encounter. I was seated in front of the TV watching Cartoon Network. At 1:00 pm, the news came on, so I watched the news while I patiently waited for the cartoons to come back. That day changed my life. In a town called Kiambu, on that very day, a woman had been stripped and raped for wearing trousers. I remember feeling shocked and scared as I was dressed in trousers. The citizens in Kiambu were asked their opinion on the devastating news and many of them expressed their support of the perpetrators of that heinous act. However, lawyers were the only ones that opposed or condemned the acts of those men. I remember thinking to myself, “Huh! So it’s only lawyers that speak out and condemn bad things when they happen.” On that day, I resolved to be a lawyer, one that stands up to be counted for speaking truth to power.
3. What did you do before joining Creative Action Institute? Prior to this, I was a Progam Associate at Akili Dada, a leadership incubator for girls in high school to women occupying various feminist spaces in East Africa
4. What do you hope to do to support girls in Africa? I chose to be an activist. The type that actively advocates for the rights of girls and women countrywide and worldwide. What I hope to accomplish is seeing more and more girls and women empowered and lighting each other’s candles; for a candle loses nothing by lighting another.
5. On a lighter note, what is one of your favorite movies? Casablanca. It is a black and white 1942 movie that was incredibly iconic. The take-home for me from this movie is that no matter my circumstances and what surrounds or afflicts me, I must keep fighting for what I believe in – whether at home or beyond my country’s borders.
6. What was your favorite toy as a kid? I enjoyed many outdoor games as a child and I still do to date. I never had a favorite as I’d keep losing the ones my parents bought me. However, get me a yo-yo and you would have made my whole year!
7. Can you play any instruments? If so, what? I don’t play any instruments but I would love to be able to play the bass guitar. Music like reggae is brought to life for me with this instrument, and I just love reggae music! It is also for this reason that I want to vacation in the Caribbean, especially Jamaica and Barbados.
8. What is your favorite book or story growing up? “A Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens and “Mine Boy” by Peter Abrahams are two works of art that have never left me. I read both these books by the age of 13 and they have greatly influenced my empathy.
9. Who are some of your favorite musical artists? Some of my favorites are Bob Marley, Nyashinski and Jessie Ware.
10. If you could have any one superpower, which would you choose? I would choose the ability to see people, to really see who they are and what hurts they have endured so that I could better understand them.