In the modeling world, most start their career early and retire when they get to their early 30s. Not Milkah Mukami Khagai who started at 35.
Mukami, 37, is the reigning Mrs Universe Kenya, 2022 to 2023.
A first-timer, she beat the odds and won the Mrs Universe Kenya title before jetting off to Manila, Philippines, where she emerged Top 8 among other world beauties last Saturday.
The Most Responsible Spouses of the Universe crown went to Meranie Pabular from the US, with Kalpana Shukla, Mrs India, coming second. Arlene Cris Damot from the Philippines was the second runner-up.
Her position made Mukami the African Mrs Universe queen. The other closest African contender Mrs Botswana, ranked 13.
“My modeling journey started in a very interesting way. I didn’t pursue it earlier despite people assuming I was one, but when I got into peace work, I stumbled upon the Mrs Universe pageant, which advocates against gender-based violence,” she told this publication.
Apart from being a model, Mukami is a mother of five, a wife, and a peace moderator. She is also a business lady and co-owns Royal Kindergarten and School with her husband.
She is also a board member of Amani Communities Africa and a member of the Women Regional Network, Kenya.
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“I am going to take that global platform to spread the message of healing and family restoration to the world. I will represent my country to the best,” Mukami said ahead of the competition.
GOING ALL IN
Young Mukami was not certain what she wanted to be growing up. Only one thing remained constant and that is her zeal to make a difference.
The Moi Girls’ alumni went to Daystar University to study Communications and Public Relations. She later became a journalist but did not stay in the profession because she felt that was not her calling.
She said she did not want to be in a profession that didn’t present an opportunity for her to create the change her heart pressured her to make.
“It was interesting how I got to meet my guardian angel, Dr Joy Mbaabu. She took me through the healing and mediation program and that is how I got into the peace work,” she said.
She believes peace advocates should start from healing themselves first.
Her mantra is also in line with her belief that the nature of a home is highly determined by the nature of a woman’s aura.
“I got into this to help and bring healing to my fellow women. I believe that a home is run by the woman and when a woman is healed, she thrives and all the happiness trickles down to the family.”
It is this same principle that gave birth Milkah Mukami Foundation, a center where women and families can find peace, healing, and reconnect.
Mukami said the family is important in the growth of every human being. The way one relates to the family dictates how the person will relate to the community at large.
As a mother of five, she acknowledges that being a mother is not easy. She actually thought that it would be easier to bring up teenage children than toddlers, but that was not the reality of life.
“Enjoy each moment” is the phrase that keeps her going. She advises other parents to know that parenting is a full-time job and that they should enjoy each bit knowing that their children will not be young forever.
“Equip yourself as a mother and as a wife. Equip yourself with knowledge, materials, and a strong support system. Know that you will always be the bigger person in the room,” said Mukami.
She said that knowing when you need to come down to everyone’s level plays a big role in having a successful family.
She said parents or people with roles to drop their pride and apologize. An apology from a parent really boosts a child’s esteem.
Mukami noticed that apologising builds a stronger relationship between a mother and a child. It also teaches them they should not be hard on themselves as they learn that anybody is prone to making mistakes.
Her role models are Oprah Winfrey and Michelle Obama because they embrace change in their lives.
To most people, it is not easy juggling career life and family life.
“I look at myself as Milkah Mukami. All these other things that I do I view them as roles. I play the role of being a model, a friend, a wife, a business lady, and a mum.”
This is a strategy that helps her take care of herself first before she takes up her roles.
She advocates for people to be true to themselves. The ‘fake it before you make it’s approach, she says never works. It is important to understand your limits and stay in them.
However, she adds that this doesn’t mean one should stop working towards getting what they aspire to have.
“People should know that beauty can bring healing and peace.”