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Turkana beauty eyes more than a catwalk

By - FAITH RONOH | Aug 3rd 2013 | 3 min read


As a young girl in Narwoitorong village, Turkana County, Madonna Erupe Ekaru had a dream to realise in life. Being a Turkana girl, she had to think twice before picking up the vestiges of courage to make her dream come true in modelling.

“It has not been easy for us the Turkana girls. There are many people who believe there is nothing we can achieve. And then the culture. The elderly in the community would want to dictate what we have to do. They don’t want to see their daughters half naked, showing their bodies to the public,” she says.

When she was admitted to Kang’etich Girls’ High School in 2007, Madonna joined a modelling group. To her surprise, the decision was supported by parents Jackson Nakusa, Polyne Nakusa and Aunt Beatrice Askul. “They have been my inspiration. They keep on pushing me to go strong in the career, though this could be an abomination to our community,” she adds.

Immediately after completing her secondary school education, she got the opportunity to try her luck at the Miss World-Kenya Auditions in 2011. “Even though I didn’t succeed, it was a great moment for me in my career,” she adds.

Madonna says Turkana girls have the potential, but lack people to motivate them to the higher levels. She says negative perception about girls from this community has been a challenge, not only in modelling, but also in education and in women empowerment.

“People look down upon us, but they don’t know in this region there are beauties who are intelligent and are capable of carrying the mantle of Miss World-Kenya,” she asserts.

And so, immediately after she joined Mt Kenya University, Lodwar Campus in 2011, the Turkana beauty queen went the full-scale to make her dream come true.

In June 2012, Madonna was crowned the queen of the campus.

“I couldn’t believe it. It was my happiest moment on earth. I saw it as a Turkana girl shining above all. But even the other Turkana girls who participated were good and showed great potential,” she says.

Being in the modeling industry, her perception on the girl-child has changed, forcing her to initiate programmes in her village to encourage her community to accommodate other cultural practices.

She has started motivational programmes in the region to sensitise and empower girls and the community.  In the programme, she is mentoring girls and linking them to well-wishers who will sponsor their education. “We have a problem in the region. Girls still go out to look after animals. We need to have an alternative activity apart from cattle rearing that has really affected us,” she asserts.

Madonna has also participated and won other beauty competitions. Last December, she won the ETSA Beauty Pageant held in Eldoret. The contest was organised by the Eldoret Turkana Students Association.

ETSA is an association of Turkana girls in universities and colleges within Rift Valley Province. “We were many because this is an association of many students from various universities in the region. It was a strong competition but still I emerged the best,” she says.

The first born in a family of four girls, Madonna has a dream for the Turkana community. She wants to partner with Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) to sensitise the community to embrace other economic activities.

“Livestock rearing is not bad. But we have to tell our people to diversify in other areas. This will give our girls wider range of opportunities,” she urges.

On the area’s insecurity, she says the solution can be found in bringing the leaders from the warring communities together.

“We need to reach out to these leaders and tell them to embrace peace. They are the opinion shapers and can talk to community members to forge peace,” she says.

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