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Joyce Mbaya: Woman who aspires to transform lives

Joyce Mbaya, Founder/Author, Gibebe Ltd. Courtesy
Joyce Mbaya, Founder/Author, Gibebe Ltd. Photo/Courtesy 

Gibebe is a loose derivative of the Kiswahili word, Jibebe; meaning to uplift, improve or transform yourself. In essence, Joyce is the bearer of a message that aspires to inspire and transform lives.

She gives talks in seminars and groups (in 2011, she “curtain raised” for Robin Sharma). In 2008, she was one of the three Kenyan representatives in the business reality show, Apprentice Africa.

She has authored a book – Gibebe - that promises to take a reader into the exciting world of self-discovery. Her talks are ever grappling with themes like “mind power”, “Purpose and vision” and “who am I?” It’s this last one I’m most interested in.

We meet in her office at the NHIF building where she glides into her boardroom wearing an officious black skirt, purple blouse that matches the jacket sleeve of her new book.

You smell phenomenal! What’s that you are wearing?

(Smiles) Thanks. It’s Tresor by Lancome. Do I like perfumes? I do, but I’m more prone to stick to one or two scents than have a whole set of scents. For instance, I used Versace Woman since I was 13 years old.

What do you think that scent you’re wearing now says about you?

(Laughs) I didn’t think this was that kind of an interview! Hmm…(Thinks) I think it says that I’m a meticulous person, that I take time to look for quality and when I finally find it, I stick with it. It says I don’t take shortcuts. I hate the word “broke”, it make me sound like a victim.

I’m curious. You are a 30-year-old who speaks about self-discovery. Have you discovered yourself?

(Pause) Self-discovery is more like a shift in thought, a process. I haven’t fulfilled my potential but I feel equipped to take that journey because of some decisions I have made that have equipped my mind to better be on this path.

A tough girl like you, do you cry? when was the last time you teared?

(Laughs) Well, they say that the people you love the most are the people you are most vulnerable around and are ones most likely to hurt you. In my case, it’s my fiancé (she’s getting married in December, sorry gents) the last big fight we had made me cry.

You are a driven, vocal and focused woman. Your type tend to settle with guys who – to use a politically correct phrase - are mild, who learn to stand in the background and let you have your day and say. Am I right in your case?

(Laughs and shakes head) Look, I can only answer that question in generality. Yes, mostly it’s true in some way, because opposites attract. But this character in a man shouldn’t be misread as weakness, because it’s not. It’s just that they manage to handle things in more subtle and silent ways. You get?

Yeah, strength in silence... that kind of thing. One last uncomfortable question; given your status and mind-set, do you think you’ll make a good wife?

(Mock admonishing look) I think I will, given what he tells me.

And what does he tell you?

(Laughs) He says I’m quirky and humble and easygoing. He says humility is good because I won’t load it on his face. Humility simply means that although I have worked hard, I can’t let it get to my head, which is not something easy because I have to sometimes check myself. He says I’m humble enough to learn from him and not think I’m “it”.

OK, off to less intrusive waters. When did you ever feel you made a bad call in life?

It was to do with business. A close friend contracted me to do business and I said “no” to other clients and took this job based on our friendship. No down payment or anything. I put in many hours on that project but it ended so badly between us. It’s the most damaging business I have ever done and it affected our friendship to this day.

You have dinner with one person in the world; Business Daily is paying for it. Pick a name.

Beyoncé. She works hard.

Your book is purple, so is your top. Is purple significant in any way?

Yes. It’s my favourite colour, the colour of royalty. A few weeks before the passing of my grandfather, he told me that I was born with a crown on my head. He saw my potential to do great things.

You are a writer, so you must be a reader. Correct?

A voracious reader too! I’m an obsessive reader; I can’t sleep and won’t sleep when I pick a book at 11pm.

What do you do on a random Friday?

Well, I love movies. Imax is my addiction. I really critique the plot, dialogue and production of a movie. I will also go out to Mercury ABC Place, or dinner at a nice Chinese restaurant. What do I drink? When I’m out, my choice of drink depends on the night; Martini Bianco on the rocks for nights I want to have a good time and maybe wine. I also love dancing.

On a light note. Merus are known for their hot temper, I hope you’ll watch yours in your marriage.

(Laughs) He is Meru too.

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