She ascribes to Neopaganism, draws healing and inspiration from nature and her tattoos fill her with contentment from the shell she felt was her un-inked body.
Wakenya Clewis, a US-based Kenyan singer and social influencer has both friends and strangers intrigued by her controversial lifestyle.
She became a critic of the Black Lives Matters movement and supported former US president Donald Trump, last year.
She says she believes most Black-Americans are more racist than white white people: “Black is not African and African is not Black”. Branded a rebel by her own, the non-conformist says her life has been under constant threat and she has become a licensed gun owner to defend herself should the hate turn physical.
Wakenya, the Kenyan Hippie, as she is commonly known to her more than 200,000 TikTok followers, first came into public limelight in March last year when she tried to become the cover girl for Inked Magazine – US.
Having moved to the US in 2013 and acquired her duo citizenship in 2019, Wakenya started changing her perspective towards social issues; among them religion and culture as well as racial and political groupings.
George Floyd's killing in May 2020 triggering a fierce protest among people of colour across the US, was Wakenya’s turning point.
“George Floyd’s death was an eye opener. I realised that Black Lives Matter (BLM) is a very sketchy organisation and movement. When the protests came up around June, most of my African friends were not happy the way Africans were negatively viewed here. Black Americans said we were stolen and disturbed; I went on TikTok to ask what they knew about African history. I ended telling them that if we were stolen they had been bought. That tells you I was a very big supporter of BLM until I discovered that there was a lot of hypocrisy around the movement,” the singer who also doubles as a model and business consultant says of the events that saw her change her stance.
“Around this time the racism debate in America became heated and that is when I discovered there are two different kinds of black (people); one does not believe in victim mentality. That black has a conservative approach to life. The other has a victim mentality. They are the old guys who keep on revisiting the racism debate.
“As I challenged their perspective on BLM, they called me an outcast and threatened to revoke my black card. They called me out for being in an interracial relationship. That is when I discovered that there is oppression and racism among blacks,” Wakenya says.
The State of Florida resident adds that she voted for Trump because of his pro-American policies.
She says people should stop viewing and judging Africans by skin colour. This new advocacy, she says, has made her many enemies.
A lot, she says, has changed in her life since the Covid-19 pandemic struck early last year. As a self-employed lady dealing with entertainment and events, a sector that saw festivals get cancelled with business losses ruling the day, Wakenya says she had to undergo identity and spiritual regrowth.
She also went through divorce. And with social lifestyle grinding to zero, she resorted to social media where she says she started educating people on the truth about Africa. This is where she found new friends and community.
Wakenya who lost her tattoo body count at 60 says her inked skin is not just an artistic expression of what she feels about life but her connection with nature. This, she says, forms part of her spirituality.
She says she ascribes to neopaganism - a concept used to designate a variety of religious and spiritual movements based on different lines of paganism.
Each of her tattoos costs between Sh20,000 and Sh60,000 a huge cost that she terms an investment that will last as long as she lives, and she is not about to stop.
“Right now I am finishing inking my arms and back. Then move back to the legs. Some people judge me while others compliment (me) on TikTok where I show most of my body art. At the end of the day, I feel badass. This is my life,” she says.
“I have a music producer here (US) and back in Kenya but with everything going down with Covid, we couldn’t do much recording. I ended up applying my artistic skills on TikTok where I also did a session based on the amazing Kenyan poet Caroline Nderitu. In a short span, I got a wild following and now, this is one flat-form I am using to advocate for social change in uniting people with different racial mindsets,” Wakenya ends.