Most of our readers’ favourite stories online in 2016 were about people—famous and some not so-well-known personalities and their mostly inspiring stories of grit, enterprise and success. Here are your top five picks as compiled by Doreen Wainainah.
She was a music icon, and her passing was a loss to us all. Three months before she left this world she let us in on what her typical day was.
“I don’t have to wake up at six in the morning unless I need to. I then get to have some time on the piano because practising, rehearsing is a very high part of it. I’ve just finished a new album, so I’ve moved away from writing new music for a while. Trying to work out how to get it out. Actually it has delayed because my son depreciated a little bit. But I will launch a new album. Then I have a movement for social justice. I’m becoming a little political.”
Donald Kipkorir is unapologetic about his wealth and status and after a two year chase, he sat down for an interview.
“People think that I made money because I’m Kalenjin in Moi’s time or that I’ve made money because I’m connected to the system. All these are wrong perceptions because there are many Kalenjin lawyers. There are many people who knew the Moi family, or the Kibaki family or the Kenyatta family, but it doesn’t give you success. Success is individual effort and basically hard work.”
3.DR SAM THENYA
At 31 years of age, Dr Sam Thenya broke away from formal employment to start Nairobi Women’s Hospital, the first of its kind in Kenya; a great leap of faith. He talks about the one ingredient behind the drive to do that: madness.
“I’m a gynaecologist and I founded the hospital 16 years ago. So I’m probably the only guy in the organisation — not probably — I am the only guy who was never interviewed, because I gave myself my job. (Laughs). So, I have learnt a lot of things about leadership. One of them is humility. The more powerful you are, the gentler you must be.
So I look at myself as a gentle giant. So you don’t flex because the moment you flex, you can blow off a lot of things. I’ve also learnt that leadership is more important and is needed in times of crisis. When everything is working, hardly do these guys need me.
But when there’s a crisis is when leadership must be exemplified with confidence by inspiring the team. ‘This will pass, all will be well’.”
Two years after we first run this interview, it is still a readers’ favourite. He goes by many titles but the Grand Mullah is clearly a popular man.
The name given to him by former Chief Justice Willy Mutunga is just one that is used to describe the man who dons many hats.
“I’m not a disciplinarian, I make excuses for them. There is a saying in Arabic I tell my kids. It means “you whoever works hard gets the reward”. For me, it’s not wealth you bequeath your kids, give kids the education, discipline and character. That’s my obligation.”
If ever there was a more qualified voice on women’s rights, gender-based violence and harmful traditional practices, it’s she.
Her soft voice shows no indicator of an unflinching personality and intelligence.
“Losing your child causes you to question religion. I mean, God, I gave my life to you. So why? But what it also did, it affirmed. I still have my two feet on the ground so I am able to say God’s grace is sufficient.”