The thing with starting a new project for any artist (read writer) is the numerous questions of whether it’ll kick off or not. The Kenyans series started off pretty easy with familiar content for you my readers in the first two posts. However, the whole idea of a Kenyans series is to feature Kenyans right?
So here I am today taking a leap of faith after an interview with an amazing group of ladies, UCHi Kenya. The last time I interviewed someone was about 5 years ago for a journalism club magazine for school. Now real life is here! With all the hope of establishing this blog as a brand. Have I written countless drafts? You have no idea. But the best part is, these amazing ladies accepted to be my first clients and their story is too beautiful to remain untold.
Uchi is a swahili word meaning naked. UCHi Kenya however, is a group of ladies who have taken up the initiative of promoting body positivity and self love. I had the honor of sending over a few questions for an online interview, but before we get down to it, let’s paint a definite picture with when I first met them.
…1 year ago…
We are at Chicken Inn with a friend of mine, let’s call her Ebony. We’re from some project that was supposed to bring in kidogo money and now we’re feeling rich enough to get takeout at Chicken Inn along Ngong Road. There we were, looking at amazing pieces of chicken that died for us(read slaughtered for profit); on a long afternoon before we go home. All of a sudden Ebony is drawing my attention to something or someone I’m supposed to have noticed. So I look over and she’s pointing out to a table where there are a group of ladies having their lunch and look so familiar it bugs the life out of me.
Ebony says we go say hi, okay, not a problem. Then there’s comes a clause to the agreement. You’re doing all the talking… That ladies and gentlemen is the definition of being thrown under the bus. What if they turned out boujie and mean and rolled their eyes in unison before words could pour out my mouth? Plus a whole bunch of paranoid thoughts. Eventually with all the composure in the world and a couple of ‘you can do this’ we head to there. I for one was surprised they were nice. ( I don’t know why I… and most of us have the mentality that ‘known’ people are mean) But that’s not even the icing on the cake, one of them, I can’t quite remember who since I was still star struck, said I looked familiar! Definitely 15 seconds of fame.
…Fast forward to today…
One thing I loved about UCHi from the interview is that they appreciate Kenya. They think we are a funny lot, beautiful and diverse. In the midst of all the issues we have as a country, it really counts to believe in ourselves. I believe Sandra would say embracing our perfect imperfections. What pains UCHi most is that our country has been reduced to the issues we have. ‘They’ think we are wild, hunger stricken and full of problems.
We however, are an amazing lot, and one thing UCHi points out is how well we are doing in terms of Internet connectivity. Here we are ranked 43rd in world in terms of internet speeds of an average of 10.7mbps. Better yet, we rank above Australia. Yep! Bet you didn’t know that (neither did I). It gets better, we’re second in Africa just behind Nigeria. So why shouldn’t we paint a picture of how beautiful Kenya is? Why shouldn’t we change the narrative? I saw a Magical Kenya ad on BBC news yesterday and that is definitely a step forward.
The internet has been UCHi Kenya’s platform for spreading love and light. They have taken on photo shoots to do away with the ‘mentality’ that it’s just skinny girls who fit the role as they brought out in their interview on Ebru TV. Ladies and gentlemen, they really have painted that picture. These women are beautiful, don’t take my word for it, head onto their page if you haven’t already. What is beauty though without purpose? I love what they are made of, their core being, sisterhood and healing. They started as friends battling with self love and acceptance. Today they are reaching out to so many people learning to love themselves as they are; without this western ‘expectation’ or ‘perception’ of who the perfect lady body wise.
Self love may feel like an old record, everyone tells us, ‘love yourself’. Everyone feels, darn why is it so hard to accept yourself? No one tells you how to look down at you four layers of stomach and ‘love’ them. UCHiputs it so beautifully. For them its about accepting and having a forgiving attitude towards your body. Now that makes sense! You can’t love yourself without one key step, acceptance. If you’ve read Holding Up the Universe By Jennifer Niven, you know how failing to accept yourself equates feelings of hatred towards yourself. For UCHi, creating a world where opportunities are not based on how you look is definitely the vibe.
Have they made it? I feel like if it was a one on one interview the modesty card would be played. Stephanie would probably say, it’s never too much, always enough. But hold up, they have partnered with Crevit Mulier! Moreso Lynna for example has her own online clothes store that does great. Need I go into their amazing shoots and features on Ebru and Homeboys? I feel their answer was very well thought, it’s taking a step towards what you desire.
If you’re out there and you want to grow and develop your craft, UCHi’s two cents definitely are that; you will never get what you want if you don’t decide what it is you actually want and you’re also not going to get it by standing in the same place.
This just wraps up the post! But to make this a worthy archive, in 5 years UCHi is hoping to take over challenging the status quo of what beauty is, from mainstream avenues to social media. Bonus points? A larger following, more interactive content, more partnerships with huge brands and maybe, just maybe, having brands of their own. For now? It’s all love and body positivity. Or as Lynna would probably close this interview: Don’t let your mind bully your body.
A very big thank you to UCHi Kenya for gracing my space and for the beautiful pictures shared here.
You can also join the movement! It’s very simple, are you doing something amazing to make Kenya great in your own way? Send me an email on firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s tell your story. It can be anything and everything. In my own capacity, I’ll try support my own.
Have a beautiful week.