Why do you love Wangari Maathai?
Wangari Maathai (1940-2011) was an internationally renowned Kenyan environmental political activist and Nobel laureate. For starters, she inspired me to really take the environment seriously. Sometimes when you are younger you tend to live precariously. You don‘t really think about littering. You don‘t see what the fuss is when people say "clean up, reuse, recycle, don‘t throw plastics.“
When I was younger, I joined the Wildlife Club because it was the closest thing to what Wangari Maathai was championing - taking care of your environment. I made it a habit never to throw anything out of a moving vehicle - even a candy wrapper. I just tuck it into my handbag and when I get home, I throw it into the bin.
I remember when I first met my husband, I made him pick up a bottle he had thrown on the side of the road. He didn‘t understand why I was so iffy about him throwing a plastic bottle. I told him if we were going to be together, environment was one of the things he had to respect. He has never thrown anything in my presence since. I am now instilling it in my son that littering is bad.
I even planted my own tree the other day at my house and in my own little way creating my green environment. I hope that someday I can make it bigger and champion the work that she had spearheaded in her lifetime. I was really touched by her work and it has impacted the way I live. Even in my home, I always reuse and recycle. If I can have just an ounce of that courage and determination, then there‘s nothing I can‘t achieve.
What does Miriam Makeba mean to you?
Miriam Makeba (1932-2008), nicknamed Mama Africa, was a South African singer, actor, UN goodwill ambassador, and civil rights activist. For me, she is a guiding light. She is an inspiration because of how much adversity she had to overcome.
She went through so many things in her life but she still rose above them. She blessed us, the world, with her music and her passion by standing by what she believed in. She fought hard for the equal rights of all people not only in her nation but also around the world.
Her passion for equal rights led her to exile but she still managed to have a flourishing career. For me she is a such an inspiration because I want to become an international artist. She was listened to all over the world. Still very African, authentic, real, raw and powerful. She inspired a lot of people like me to be the women we are today.
I love seeing women shine and do well. This motivates me to do well. I try to encourage women to support each others‘ hustles. Queens supporting queens.
Who is Nhlanhla Nciza and what does she mean to you?
She is a 36-year-old mega star from the award winning group duo „Mafikizolo“. I went to high school in Botswana and this is around the time Mafikizolo had started popping in the music scene. I even saved up to buy their album. They were doing something that hadn‘t been done. They had an urban sound and there weren‘t too many people doing the same thing they were doing.
Nhlanhla is a talented artist and a business woman with her own vintage clothing line. I think for me, her personality really stood out when she lost her daughter in 2009. Being in the public eye and dealing with such a tragic loss, she never once hid her emotion and was open about it in interviews.
When her and her family were healing, she was open about the process. I find this to be very very commendable because people tend to hide their human experiences by putting a perfect front but she didn‘t.
Later on, a couple of years down the road when I lost my mom, I remember that her journey, her story on how she handled the loss of her daughter gave me a lot of strength. I think her strength is what I really applaud.
Why do you love the Queen of Sheba?
I love the fact that this woman had so much power, beauty, influence and tremendous wealth. She was able to create with her life such a huge legacy that even if historians can‘t seem to agree about where she came from, everyone agrees that the Queen of Sheba is a legend. She left such a remarkable legacy and I look to that idea and tell myself that this is what I want to create for my life.
I want to be a woman who creates a legacy, who starts things that live forever. If you follow the Solomonic version, the child that she had with Solomon became Menelik I, who is believed to be the originator of the imperial dynasty of Ethiopia. He established the dynasty.
I love this idea that this woman, then created a dynasty that still lives on till today. This woman whom we can‘t tell for a fact where she came from, what she produced has lived on thousands of years after her.
I love to celebrate this idea and I pray that in my lifetime that I will come into the fullness of my potential to be a woman of purpose, power and influence. That years after I am gone, people will still talk about Muthoni Drummer Queen as a legend not really sure where she came from but the things you created exist.