Updated: Nov 14
We have just wrapped season 2 of the OVAReact Podcast and on the finale episode we had the esteemed honour of featuring Ajuma Nasanyana, Kenya's first supermodel, and she is also the founder of Ajuma Limited, an International talent model management agency and Ajuma Foundation, an organisation intent on supporting those of the Turkana community and other arid communities nationally.
"I came to learn that this is a different world when it comes to rejection and also why people are looking at me is because I stand out, I am exotic, I am beautiful!"
We spoke candidly about Ajuma’s journey of being a woman who has often been the only one that looks like her within the fashion industry which is often cutthroat and black women are vastly underrepresented so there is a steep competition to stand out, but despite that she has managed to have longevity within the Modelling industry where many amazing fashion designers like Maison Valentino work with her. Ajuma is also not one to limit what she can do, for over the last decade she has managed to successfully juggle entrepreneurship and philanthropy. As a result, we were able to learn about what has helped define her leadership character, and these are the three things that Ajuma shared with us:
Lesson #1: Rejection
Ajuma spoke about how through her modelling she has experienced rejection but that rejection has given her resilience. In life rejection is a constant and is unavoidable because not everyone will be for you, not everyone will appreciate what you have to offer or buy into what you might be selling and so you will often experience a lot of "no’s" but if you can avoid feeling dejected and thus discouraged from continuing to allowing those moments to build the strength in you, it will then lead you to become an individual who can withstand any obstacles faced in life.
Lesson #2: Humility
Ajuma spoke about how through her charity work she has been able to stay grounded and keep her humility because being famous can at times mislead others into believing they’re untouchable but for her, that is not a trait she resonates with. This reflects well with Ernest Hemingway's quote that states “there is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.”
Lesson #3: Love & Support
Ajuma spoke about how the love and support of her family and friends have been important in keeping her afloat. This brings to light the need to ensure that you have the right people around you who will help bring the best out of you but at the same time when you’re not feeling so motivated they are there to encourage, pour positivity into you and remind you how great you are. This will help you to keep going regardless of what you may be experiencing.
Leadership is not about you being a queen or a king, or putting yourself on a pedestal. Leadership is about coming to the ground with the people.
We have truly enjoyed recording and sharing episodes of OVAReact Podcast season 2 which have featured a range of women in different fields who’ve taught us incredible lessons that we believe will inspire generations to come. You can listen to the full episode that Ajuma had to share through the various digital podcast platforms shared below as well as listen to past episodes from season 2 and season 1 via Capital FM. Follow our social media pages @sisterspeaks254 and @ovareactpodcast to stay informed of when season 3 will be out!
Wangari Muchiri, Director of Africa WindPower for GWEC Shares 3 Steps To Stand Out As A Woman Engineer