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Unveiling my sister’s many hats

Winfridah Moraa Nyakwara aka Winnie M is an upcoming gospel artiste, human rights lawyer, mother and a businesswoman. Her sister Jemimah Nyakwara tells us more about her

Milliam Murigi @millymur1

Was it all about music when Winnie M was growing up?

Surprisingly no. When growing up , Winnie wanted to be a journalist. I still remember how she used to mimic different news anchors. She also used to write songs and was part of our church praise and worship team. We all thought that she would make a good musician. For her, music was a passion and not a career she wanted to pursue.

Then what happened?

After Form Four she was lucky to receive admission to Maseno University to take up a journalism course. My parents, however, felt that she would make a better lawyer and asked her to pursue journalism as a passion. Our father applied to the University Joint Admissions Board to have her course changed from Communication to Law and that is how she ended up in Law School.

Interesting, now that she is independent, is she planning to take up a journalism course?

Well, not undertaking a course per se, but she is ready to exercise it as a passion. There is a talk show she is working on, focusing on the woman and her daily struggles. The plan is to leverage social media platform as she explores what other opportunities are in the offing. This will be the beginning of a new chapter in her life and the outcome might even motivate her to go an extra mile.

How many songs has she done so far, and does music pay her bills?

She has two songs so far under her name. Mwaminifu, which was released last year and Niko Huru, which was released two weeks ago. The third song is underway. Winnie is one of those people who believe that hard work pays and because of that, she is into several other things. She is a businesswoman, a human rights lawyer and a full-time employee at Unilever Tea Kenya.

As a lawyer, which are some of the cases she has handled?

Unfortunately, she has never appeared in court, before she joined her current employer she was working with Kenya Human Rights Commission as a human rights officer for six years, where she started as an intern before her graduation from Law School.

She was engaged in human rights investigations, human rights training and capacity building, policy review, human rights research including research in economic and social cultural rights, human rights reporting including international reporting on the status of human rights in Kenya.

She joined Unilever Tea Kenya in 2013 as a welfare manager and her work was to translate human rights into practical benefits for employees and the surrounding community. In 2017, she was promoted to Integrated Social Sustainability Manager in Africa.

What can you say are some of her achievements?

Winnie is a commonwealth scholar and secretly loves to study. As a member of the Unilever Social Impact Team in Kenya, she is leading in embedding human and labour rights in the business agenda at Unilever in Africa. In so doing, she is supporting the delivery of the Unilever global Enhancing Livelihoods ambition of the Unilever Sustainable Plan (USLP) contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

What keeps her moving?

The fact that the journey to embed human rights is a longstanding one that is nowhere near complete, keeps her moving. She believes that it is a journey of changing one mind, one heart at a time.

Describe Winnie in three words She is focused, responsible and honest. How was it like growing together?

Being the eldest sister, Winnie used to act as our mother. She used to be strict and did everything to ensure that we don’t go astray. The young me did not like it, I always felt that she was overprotective since I am a party person and she was a church person. It caused a lot of fights between us. Today, we are best of friends.

The best memory of her growing up?

The part I enjoyed most was stealing her clothes. She always ended up giving them to me.

What are the greatest lessons you have learnt from her?

Despite your position you need to humble yourself and never despise anyone because of their background. Learn to respect others if you want to be respected. Where do you see her in years to come? She is meant to sour greater heights. She might be the next Sarah Jakes. She will be known worldwide gospel-wise, business wise and career-wise.

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