#WOMAWORDS LITERARY PRESS is a digital cultural arts space for creative resilience and artistic excellence. It is a platform to exhibit the women of literary arts prowess and revolutionary sister comrades, they defied ugly odds of barbarism, chauvinism and savagery to positively change their communities, right the wrong perceptions and carry the torchlight to stardom. Today in the #WOMAWORDS CANDID Talk Studio, we host a very important human being, An acclaimed Educationist. A global development strategist. A leader par excellence. An Accomplished of Author of almost all literary, study and educational genres. A Publisher at Large. Thank you, Embu County Minister of Youth and Cultural Affairs #Dr. JOAN MWENDE KIEMA NGUNNZI. We are overjoyed to profile dexterity and greatly excited to converse with excellence. Aluta Continua ( Blurb by WOMAWORDS EDitor)*
#INSIDE WOMAWORDS CANDID TALK STUDIO #
Q.You are a global affairs strategist, an acclaimed educationist,
accomplished writer, publisher at large and a County government leader ,
How are you able to juggle these roles , I understand they demand more
time , thinking and creativity?
#The first thing is to recognize the supremacy of God in my life. Every day I wake up praying-GOD HELP ME BE A CONDUIT OF YOUR BLESSINGS TO YOUR PEOPLE. Then I move. With that desire to touch someone. That is how I get my fire! Now for everything I have been and that which I shall ever be in this life I give God the glory. I learnt early during my days at the national Youth Service as a pre-university recruit; that the body is so elastic you can’t go round it. So I juggle with different things. Some times I fail, sometimes I succeed and am grateful for both. Having a clear plan for each day helps me navigate through the different roles. I also make sure that in between I sing because I like singing a lot. Even if the song dangles in my head-I sing! That is how I recharge my battery.
Q.What makes you different from other women of your age and of your country?
#I know who I am. I refused to be abused at a very early age. First, when my nursery school teacher tried to mess with me, I dropped out of the school. I left the school to her. But that is a story for another day. Secondly, at the age of seven, when my sister tried to beat me, I stopped her dead on her tracks. These were my word: Do not try to beat me again. You have no idea who you are beating. At that point I felt a welling in my spirit telling me YOU WILL GROW TO BE SOMETHING. It looked to me like my sister could not see that I was going to grow to be something. Its like at that point I could see myself in the future. From that day my sister never ever raised her hand to hit me. It was common in the village- sibling molestation and I was always her first target. At the age of 8, our class three teacher locked us up in a classroom to cane us on the bottoms. I looked at the way he was beating the other kids and decided to sort myself out. So I jumped through the window and ran. The teacher was too shocked. This story is a TBC (to be continued). The following week I was drowning in Tana river as a single soul at that river. I fought very hard to survive. That is when I realized that there are moments when life just damps you to sort your mess. At that age of 8, my mother had sent me to fetch water and using my very creative prowess then, I figured I could spent a few moments swimming. Little did I know the river was about to flood. The next minute I was hanging on a log with the water driving me like it had been intoxicated! That was a very low moment for me as a child. Shhh… My mother does not know this story to this day. Mbizo I learnt early that in this life, one has gotta fight for what they want in their world. So you see I grew up fighting. And am still at it…. ha ha haaaa.
Away from the fights; I have a passion for helping others. Since my childhood. I started helping at the age of 11. I could actually give up my food for another child because I believed life had lots of things awaiting me. Even though I came from a very poor background, I supported other children with my nothing. I remember a boy I gave my food for two years before I left primary school. It gave me a lot of satisfaction to see the orphan boy eat my food. After I left primary school I never got to see him for about thirsty years. Them I bumped into him along the streets of Nairobi. He is a medical doctor! I feel a sense of achievement-at least for having been there for him. And I have lots of other similar stories. Stories of desperate kids I came across in the course of my work as an officer and saw their pain and paid their fees etc. Its gratifying to help vulnerable persons in the society. That is forever my joy.
Q. What is development to you, is it anything to do with game
changing, quality leadership and empowerment?
#It depends on what you want because to me development is not a corporate term. It is the sum total of all our individual’s elevation in socio-economic terms that forms the national development. Of course there is the bit about infrastructure and all but I think the highest form of primitivity and underdevelopment is to lack concern for the vulnerable. You rank lower than an animal that way. To answer your question, meaningful development is to have each person understand themselves and others and do everything to protect themselves and others, the environment and all the natural resources around and to have access to basic facilities that make communication and well being memorable.
Q. You sit in several boards, clubs and projects as a leader or with
full membership , how are you tolerated by men you lead?
#Incidentally, I have never had any problem working with men. I take every man as my brother or my father. Period. That way respect is maintained and life is easy. For me, working with men creates the desired variety that is the spice of life. That is not to say I do not like working with women. I sincerely do. Importantly, it is not about men or women but the recognition that every person has their space and value in life and their inalienable rights as humans; then treating them as such. My working life has always been fun because I make myself clear from the beginning ha ha ha. No grey areas.
Q. What changes have you brought in community and country through
governmental portfolio roles?
#Thank you for that question. I started out my professional work as a high school teacher in a rural boy school called Ikutha Boys Secondary School. The first change that I made in that school was to demonstrate to my colleagues that students could be disciplined without corporal punishment. I taught my students to reason and to engage as fellow human beings. This was after I had tried punishing the students and getting no positive results. I have taught this concept to thousands of teachers since. As an officer at the Teachers Service Commission, I was at the forefront to bring changes in policy particularly on child protection issues. I remember carrying out a Survey of Policies, Procedures and Systems for prevention and response to sexual abuse of school children by teachers. It was the turning point for the Commission. After sharing this report with stakeholders, things began to roll in the Commission. I spearheaded the inclusion of specific clauses on sexual abuse of children in the teachers Code of Conduct. I was also instrumental in the establishment of the database on teacher sexual offenders which is to this day used for gazetting dismissed teachers. The other major achievement and which I am very proud of is the establishment of the Beacon Teachers Movement which I spearheaded as a child protection initiative in 2014 in collaboration with Plan International. Having hatched the concept and managed to follow through to its current stature as Beacon Teachers Africa gives me a lot of satisfaction.
On the county government end, I started out as the County Minister for Gender Children Culture and Social Services. While in this docket, I established an initiative to get all the women in art and craft together into exhibitions and supported them to market their wares. I also led the development of the County Gender and a Child Protection policies. Within the one year, I was also able to lead a Baseline survey on Gender Based Violence and Disability in the county. During this period ,I was also elected as the chair to the Gender County Ministers Caucus; a portfolio that I used to get many women trained in Gender and leadership. Later on as a County Minister for Health, I was able to lead my team to place greater focus on primary healthcare. Through my leadership, we were able to move to the rural communities with Medical Camps and to listen to the communities within their own environments. But my greatest joy was in bringing down the cases of Tuberculosis through a mega campaign that saw thousands of people screened and the sick placed under treatment- thanks to the support of my Governor His Excellency Martin Nyagah Wambora. Together we were also able to bring down the cases of neonatal deaths at a time when our county had been called out as leading in this. At least we flattened the curve!
As the current County Minister for youth, I am mobilizing youths to change their own narrative. I would like them to learn to utilize what they have rather than continue whining about what they do not have. We are currently discussing a project on climate change where each youth will grow trees and tag them.
For my community, I have written six course books in my local language which I believe is a good gift as they help the children learn to read and write in local language so they get a good grounding for language learning. I learnt recently that these books are also being used to teach Kikamba; my local language at Harvard University. Apart from that, I am also in an initiative that is educating the local community on indigenous foods as a measure to reduce malnutrition and cancer. I also write poetry and enjoy teaching it to youths whenever I have a chance, I also compose and sing at the slightest provocation.
Q. You run an Organization Beacon Teachers Africa, what are the goals
and any future events?
#The Goal of the Beacon Teachers Africa is to champion rights of children, provide safeguarding and child protection and enhance teacher welfare for enhanced learning outcomes.
Our specific objectives are:
Advocate for the rights of the child and positive approaches to discipline
Teacher Personal branding and professional image enhancement as a means to safeguarding and child protection
Mindset Education and mentorship of teachers, communities and children for elimination of violence against children
Psychosocial support and social enterprise for teachers and abused children and their families
Establishment of child abuse museum (s ) and childcare facilities and training institutes for safeguarding and child protection including development of such curriculum
Community give back initiatives for teachers to increase responsiveness to safeguarding and child protection
Establish and manage a Beacon Teachers Scholarship program
Support teacher/child talent development and talent harvesting, packaging, publishing and marketing to increase teacher resilience
Enhance the welfare of the teacher
Work with relevant state and non-state actors to develop Standard Operating Procedures for safeguarding and protection of children in different spaces
Augment teacher employers’ efforts at quality enhancement through Establishment of a Champion Teacher’s Hub for distinguished teachers Across Africa.
Act as de-barrement reference for teacher employers
Right now we are working on a teacher image campaign. This aims to educate the public on the true meaning and value of teaching and to get citizens to appreciate and support the teacher so that they in turn can support the students. Our teachers have suffered multiple blows from the public and their own students. We are at a point where youths would rather not go to college than go to teacher training. We would like to get to a point where the best students will be selected to join teacher training-not the lowest on the university admissions ladder. When we protect the dignity of the teacher, when the teachers’ self- esteem is high, that will affect their work. For the sake of the child, we support the teacher so that children find peace and support in school. The teacher image campaign will run across several African Countries but the details and logistics are still on the drawing board and we are in the process of getting partners on board. We are also looking at community give back initiatives for teachers but those will come after. Image first.
Q.What do you consider your highest point as a high school teacher?
#As a high school teacher, my experience was rewarding. I learnt to love and care for my students unlike many teachers who consider students a burden. I connected with my students particularly in my last school at Moi Nairobi Girls Secondary school in such a manner that when I visited the school a few months after joining the head office, the school came to a standstill as my students gave me a standing ovation. You can imagine all the students running out of their classes to come and greet me. It made me weep with joy. In this particular school, this is where I found the true meaning of teaching. A new student joined my form three class. I was to discover that for all the years in primary school upto that point, she was illiterate. I hate to say she had learnt nothing but let me just say that from what would be expected on syllabus coverage, the girl could not even write the letters of the alphabet. She did not know the difference between b and p. It was a very challenging moment for me and I had to make a choice between listening to the many condescending voices that came up to remind me that it was not my responsibility to teach such a girl. That one is irredeemable! But I searched my soul and my conscience told me that this was the moment for me to decide whether I was really a teacher or not. I heard this loud voice in my head asking me supposing this was your daughter, what would you wish the teacher to do? To cut a long story short Mbizo, I convinced myself that the girl was good enough to go to university. Armed with that conviction, I put the girl into nursery class in my office. Then class 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8. In three months we had covered primary school work. So when schools closed that term, I encouraged the girl to come to my house every Friday, Saturday 2.00pm and Sunday the same time. By the time schools opened, we had covered quite a good chunk of the form 1 work. The following term was a bit easier because she could now read and write some basic English. I continued to work with her through the term sacrificing my after class hours. Believe it or not by the close of form 3, the girl was gaining confidence. She had by then made a friend since she could communicate a little bit. Believe it or not the girl passed well in English and proceeded to University. She is today in a big job with government of Kenya. That girl became my turning point in my profession. This is why I shall never listen to any teacher telling me about entry behavior and all the nonsense about why children fail in National examinations-sheer nonsense. When teachers connect with students, students can learn anything. But our biggest challenge is that many teachers do not see the difference between themselves and students. Instead of being role models and supporting students they spite and mock poor performers. So that way the student falls apart emotionally resulting to poor learning. I consider this case my highest point in my teaching career.
Q.In brief, give us your most prestigious achievement as Beacon Teachers Africa?
#The most prestigious achievement for Beacon Teachers Africa is the fact of saving many children from violence and getting lots of others who had dropped out back to school. We are also blessed to have five of our members holding the prestigious Head of State Commendation honours while another member Miss Linah Anyango is a Global Teacher of the year top fifty finalist 2020. We pray that she wins the Global Teacher of the year award.
Q.How are you helping your communities especially women and girls
during these times of COVID 19?
#During this COVID 19 period, I have been instrumental in sensitizing women and girls on the Dos and Don’ts and the general protocol for prevention of the disease. Apart from that, I have just completed a set of poems under a cover called COVID CRUSH which I hope will make good reading for them. Even though it is not just for girls and women, the poems speak largely on girls and women. The other help that I have been able to give is support with basic provisions such as food and clothing and sanitary towels. Many families have been left desperate because those that would traditionally go out to do small jobs are no longer able to do so. People are being very careful. One lady had this to say to me: Mum, you know people are not calling me to wash their clothes any more. They fear that I will infect them with COVID 19. So life is unbearable right now. Just give me what you can even if it is fifty shillings for one loaf of bread. Away from that am teaching girls to say No to sexual advances. Remember children have been away from school for many weeks now. The tendency with some community members is to demoralize girls so that they can buy into their sexual schemes. I have a slogan in the village whenever I meet with girls I say More Fire and they say More Power! Meaning the tougher they girl becomes in dealing with life’s challenges the more she can expect to be a powerful woman in future. As I do that, am also having conversations with the youths around protecting themselves and the girls because I know the best protectors of girls are, apart from themselves, the boys. I was once rescued from defilement by a boy called Mohammed from a neighboring school who hid me in his cubicle in the school dormitory but again Mbizo that is TBC. Sometimes I am not sure what to think about my own growing up… ha ha ha
JOAN MWENDE KIEMA NGUNNZI ( PhD)# , an Accomplished Educationist, highly rated scholar , Acclaimed governmental leader and an institute national
development strategist. Globally certified Gender and Human Rights
Defender . An Academician,extensively published Author , Poet and
Leadership , Education and Development Consultant . Dr. Mwende Kiema Ngunzi is the current #Embu CountyMinister of Youth and Cultural Affairs. Mwende Kiema Ngunzi is a scholar ,educationalist , leader and writer of great merit and a recipient of
prestigious international, regional and national accolades , awards
and merits . A holder of Doctorate in Education from Kenyatta
University ( 2014). Master of Arts Degree in Sociology( Disaster
Management ) from Nairobi University (2002). Dr. Kiema Mwende
holds Post Grad Certificate in Strategic Management from
Witwatersrand University , South Africa( 2002).In 1990 ,Joan Mwende
Kiema _Ngunnzi graduated with Bachelors of Education from Moi
University. Mwende acquired specialized education through
International Civic , Humanitarian, Community Development and
Cooperate based institutes inclusive , Social Enterprise Training
Exchange and Conferencing with British Council in Ethopia and South
Africa(2018). Experiential Training on community Mobilization in
Rwanda(2017). Project Design and management with Tanzania ,Equity Bank
Support( 2016). Gender Management Training in Rwanda(2015). Management
of Educational Projects with British Council in London(2014). End
Violence Against Children Conference with Save the Children, Zanzibar(
2013). Gender and Child Protection Training with Plan International
,Netherlands(2010). Modern Leadership Training with ESAMI in Pretoria, South Africa(2007).
#MEET THE WOMAWORDS Projects Curator and Chief Editor#
MBIZO CHIRASHA is 2020 Freedom of Speech/Literary Arts Activism Culture Fellow at PEN-Zentrum Deutschland, Germany. Poet in Residence at the Fictional Café
(International publishing and literary digital space) USA . 2019 Sotambe
Festival Live Literature Hub and Poetry Café Curator. 2019 African
Fellow for the International Human Rights Art
Festival(https://ihraf.org/international-fellows ) , Essays
Contributor to Monk Art and Soul Magazine in United Kingdom .Arts
Features Writer at the International Cultural Weekly .Featured Writer
Poet Activist at The Poet A Day(https://jamiededes.com/). Core Team
Member and African Contributor to Bezine of Arts and
Humanities(https://thebezine.com/) in USA. Flash/Short Fiction Writer
for Squawk Back
Writer( Africa) to IHRAF
Publishes-https://ihraf.org/ihraf-publishes. African Contributor to the 2020 BlackWell Poetry Pamphlet of Oxford School of Poetry, UK. Hybrid Writings Contributor to Pulp-Pit Review, USA.The Originator of the
Zimbabwe We Want Poetry Campaign. Curator of MiomboPublishing Blog
Journal(https://miombopublishing.wordpress.com/). Founder and Chief
Editor of WOMAWORDS LITERARY PRESS(https://womawordsliterarypress.home.blog/about/) . Founder and Curator of the Brave
Voices Poetry Journal(https://bravevoicespress.home.blog/). Co-Editor of Street Voices Poetry triluangal
collection( English , African Languages and Germany) initiated by
Andreas Weiland in Germany. Poetry Contributor to AtunisPoetry.com in
Belgium. African Contributor to DemerPress International Poetry Book
Series in Netherlands. African Contributor to the World Poetry Almanac
Poetry Series in Mongolia. His latest 2019 collection of experimental
poetry A LETTER TO THE PRESIDENT was released by Mwanaka Media and
Publishing and is both in print, on Amazon.com and at is featured at
African Books Collective. 2003 Young Literary Arts Delegate to the
Goteborg International Book Fair Sweden (SIDA AFRICAN PAVILION) .2009
Poet in Residence of the International Conference of African Culture
and Development (ICACD) in Ghana. 2009 Fellow to the inaugural UNESCO-
Africa Photo- Novel Publishers and Writers Training in Tanzania. 2015
Artist in Residence of the Shunguna Mutitima International Film and
Arts Festival in Livingstone, Zambia. A globally certified literary
arts influencer, Writer in Residence and Recipient of the EU-Horn of
Africa Defend Defenders Protection Fund Grant, Recipient of the Pen
Deutschland Exiled Writer Grant. He is an Arts for Peace and Human
Rights Catalyst, the Literary Arts Projects Curator, Poet, Writer,
publicist is published in more 200 spaces in print and online.
#WOMAWORDS LITERARY PRESS# is a Trendsetting Digital Arts Culture Thicket archiving creative resilience and artistic excellence. It is a platform to exhibit women of literary arts prowess and revolutionary sister comrades defying ugly odds of barbarism , chauvinism and savagery to positively change their communities through artistic resistance , to right the wrong perceptions as they carry the torchlight to stardom. WOMAWORDS is Haven of Head -busting Short Fiction . Nerve -Shredding Poetry And Mind -Blowing ARTISTIC Profiles* -Authored and Curated by an Award Winning Poet , Widely Published Essayist Writer , Creative Arts Activism IDEAS Curator and Literary Arts Projects Diplomatie,#MBIZO CHIRASHA.