Kakenya Ntaiya: Making Dreams Reality for the Girls of Kenya

| December 1, 2010

Kakenya NtaiyaHer life was determined before she was old enough to understand what life was all about, what it had to offer, its implications, possibilities and scope. Before she had the ability to choose and decide for herself, her life had been chosen and decided for her, like many girls before her. But, Kakenya Ntaiya is not one to sit back and allow others to plan out the course of her life for her. Unlike many before her, she fought to free herself, and won a victory not only for herself, but for many to come after her. She is still fighting to free others using one of the most powerful tools ever invented to empower the human mind and spirit – education. It is this selfless act of daring to dream and sharing that dream with others, to their benefit, that makes her the woman to crown another successful year of portraying wonderfully charming women who live out the true definition of an Afrikan Goddess – “a woman of superior charm and excellence!”

Engaged at the age of 5 and circumcised as a teenager, Kakenya Ntaiya was all set for marriage by the time she was barely a woman. It was the tradition of her small Maasai village of Enoosaen in Kenya where life, for women, went no further than marital grooming and child-rearing responsibilities. Kakenya was scheduled to drop out of school and marry the man she had been promised to in marriage. But, she had a different plan for her life. She wanted to further her education even though there was no one to point to as a trendsetter in her village. This did not stop her from at least trying. Her next actions would change her life and the lives of several girls after her for years to come.

“First, I negotiated with my father; I would willingly agree to be circumcised only if he would allow me to finish high school. He agreed. Then I negotiated with the village elders to do what no girl had ever done before: leave my village of South Kenya to go to college in the United States. I promised that I would use my education to benefit Enoosaen and the entire village collected money to pay for my journey.”

The gamble her village took paid off because Kakenya has since kept her word. In 2004, she graduated from Randolph-Macon Women’s College. In 2006, she began work on her dream. She began the first and only school for girls in Enoosaen. The school is dedicated to giving girls the education she, Kakenya, almost never received. It is no wonder then that she named the school the Kakenya Center for Excellence.

Though Kakenya still lives in the United States, wrapping up a doctorate degree in education at the University of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, she is fully committed to the progress and success of the school she has started. To date, she has raised over $75,000 towards the project back home. What makes this dream even more real is the fact that “now all the village women want their daughters to stay in school.”

In 2009, the school admitted its first round of students – a group of 32 young girls who could once only dream of marriage and the nightmarish rituals that would prepare them to be wives and mothers as early as 14. Because one woman dared to dream and negotiate, these girls can look forward to a better future, and their mothers and fathers can be assured that their daughters would not stray too far from tradition because Kakenya set the trend – she is married with a son.

The school offers leadership training, preservation of culture courses and a vibrant summer leadership workshop.

It would have been a shame to let such talent go to waste because Kakenya has more than proven herself capable. Among her many successes, she was named a 2010 National Geographic Emerging Explorer and was awarded $10,000 which she says will be fully dedicated to the school project. The excitement of the parents of her village makes it all worthwhile for this young woman whose life was once nothing but a hidden dream.

To learn more about Kakenya’s Dream and the wonderful work she is doing with the Kakenya Center for Excellence, visit http://www.kakenyasdream.org/

Update: Kakenya Ntaiya has been nominated as one of the top 10 2013 CNN Heroes. We wish her all the best and hope she wins. Congratulations Kakenya!!! See the 2013 nominees here

 

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AFRIKAN GODDESS MAGAZINE is a subsidiary of Afrikan Goddess Media, LLC. Our content is designed with the educated, professional, classy, charming and sassy African woman in mind. We encourage women to express their creativity and ideas through writing, and also serve as a platform for meaningful discussions and exchange of ideas.

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