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Taking African culture to the world

Achieving Woman
 The life of Grace Haukwa is about conquering mountains, making her an agent of ‘every woman can do it’ [Courtesy, Grace Haukwa]

The life of Grace Haukwa is about conquering mountains, making her an agent of ‘every woman can do it’. She is a model, cultural dancer, producer, artiste manager and devoted mother, among others. The mother of two, Sean and Mapenzi, has instilled in her boys the zeal she had as a child.

“My uncles George and Avangi told me I was entertaining guests as a child dancing to cultural songs such as ‘Watoto Tukatike’ and ‘Mwana wa Mberi’, a Luhya traditional Isukuti dance song. My Grandmother Lorna owned a beautiful cultural dance group in Busia and she did so many dance performances in her village. My mother loves cultural dance and since I was born, I was surrounded by a family that enjoys cultural music and dance,” she said. 

In 1994, her family relocated to California, US, her dad, Dr. Charles Haukwa took up a seven-year PhD programme at UC Berkeley.

After moving out of the country, so many good things happened to the family including the treatment little Alice got. Alice was Grace’s little sister who was suffering from sickle cell anemia and doctors in Kenya had given her a timeline of up to nine years.

“Since we moved to the US she was able to live up to 27, but passed away of congestive heart failure two years after giving birth to her gorgeous baby girl Isabella,” said Grace.

During the early 2000s, Grace was advised by her older sister, Betty, to take part in a dance competition in Oakland, California. She went against many talented Bay Area dancers and became the first ever Bay Area Dancehall Queen.

The award opened many doors and in 2004, she started a dance group, Nabtry International Cultural Dancers. The name is inspired by her Luhya roots, “Nab is the short form of the first three letters of my middle Luhya name, Nabwire, then Try means try us out.”

Grace says Nabtry is aimed at promoting cultural diversity and creating positive change in the US. 

“I have also helped educate and raise awareness through our King and Queen storytelling performances, the audiences love learning about our royal culture, traditions, and history. This helped me promote cross-cultural understanding and appreciation. I have helped preserve our cultural heritage by sharing my amazing cultural dance traditions.”

In 2009, Nabtry was acknowledged by the legendary Awilo Longomba and contracted for his second US tour. They also received a special honour to perform at the former POTUS Barack Obama Inauguration Gala in Washington DC alongside Congolese artiste Samba Mapangala.

 The mother of two, Sean and Mapenzi, has instilled in her boys the zeal she had as a child [Courtesy, Grace Haukwa]

She is also the president of the Women Empowerment Conference, in the US. Through the position, Grace showcases her quality leadership skills. Her leadership in the organisation has inspired change by having more women realise and utilize their inner power, therefore achieving their goals.

She is also the representative for African music at the International Reggae and World Music Awards (IRAWMA) US. Her role is to scout and analyse top African artistes and later aid them to gain global recognition.

“Some of the A-List artistes that I have worked with are American music icons Rock N Roll Hall of Fame Jermaine Jackson, legendary multi-award winning artiste Awilo Longomba from Congo, Afro-beats giants Flavour Nabania, P-Square, Naomi Achu from Cameroon, Nonini from Kenya, Heritier Watanabe, Werrason and Fally Ipupa from Congo.”

“I have also worked with actor Van Vicker and actress Nadia Buari and Times Magazine Top 100 Actress Omotola Jalade Ekeinde. Currently, I am on the management boards for African Superstars Ajaeze, Miriam Chemmos, and many other rising African artistes.”

Grace says the arts industry in Kenya can benefit a lot by partnering with IRAWMA.

The skills that Grace portrays do not only major in leadership and dancing but also fashion. She graced the Dada Soko Fashion Show sponsored by the Bill Gates Foundation.

“During the fashion show held in Las Vegas, I helped create awareness of some amazing Kenyan fashion designers by wearing their clothing and jewellery, which resulted in on-spot sales from many attendees.”

As a woman who loves sports, she has raised her two boys to be talented sportsmen. While in school, she played basketball and was an MVP player. Her connections in this industry have led her to legends like the Boxing World Champion Mike Tyson and the president of the World Boxing Organisation Francisco Valcárcel.

“Mike Tyson is such a gentle soul by nature. We had amazing conversations, but in the ring, he is a beast, the complete opposite.”

She is also a boxing lover. “My love for boxing grew when I was invited to watch Floyd Mayweather’s live training sessions and his live boxing matches.” 

In addition to the exceptional personality Grace possesses, she is a philanthropist. She mainly establishes music and dance programmes in underprivileged schools in Africa to promote creativity in the arts and culture sector.

This programme has earned her the title ‘Face of FOADAC Goodwill Ambassador’, supporting abandoned and disabled children in Africa.

She thanks God for all the wins and achievements in life but most of all, for her two lovely boys.

“I am beyond grateful for my life as a devoted mother. I strongly believe children are the future. The seeds we plant now in the right foundation will produce great fruits. I find joy in nurturing and uplifting those around me. I am passionate about creating a ripple effect of positivity and growth. I am highly spiritual and I believe in divine blessings.”


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