Mrs Dorothy Nyong’o, Managing Trustee of Africa Cancer Foundation (AFC), Nairobi Kenya surprised her guests when she recognized each of her five children individually instead of talking solely about her Hollywood famed daughter, Lupita Nyong’o.
Those who expected her to brag about Lupita’s Oscar accolades all evening were instead empowered with special parenting tips, first one being that a mother should always love all her children equally and allow them to grow in their own space and time and that parenting never ends. She elaborated on the power of choices, the importance of recognizing each child’s gifts and setting them free to pursue their passion, while putting God first. She challenged parents to see their children not as the world sees them but as a success of themselves through their education and growth.
“You cannot overpraise or over encourage your child, Support your child’s interest and choices by being present. Respect and treat your child as an equal and guide them to be themselves. Get involved.”
“You cannot overpraise or over encourage your child, Support your child’s interest and choices by being present. Respect and treat your child as an equal and guide them to be themselves. Get involved,” she said.
“I know you expect me to talk about Lupita tonight but I want you to know that I have five children whom I raised fondly with a mother’s love and each one has succeeded in their own way,” she said. She added that she would not diminish Lupita’s success but would discuss her along with the rest of her family.
Mrs. Nyong’o was the guest speaker at the Night of Galaxy in Lancaster’s Bent Creek Country Club, Lititz, PA in the US where hundreds of Kenyan women in the Diaspora and other guests gathered in white beautiful evening wear to celebrate women kinship and diversity amid the sparkling stars of the night. The event was hosted by Helen Nthambiri Wakinyue and Fearfully and Wonderfully Made Sisterhood (FaWMs), Lancaster.
Mrs. Nyong’o, who was accompanied by her daughter Fiona, an Executive Coach noted that life is a constant struggle and that the first 1000 days of a child’s life will determine who they are. She introduced her children, ages 38 to 25. Zawadi, the first born is a social entrepreneur with her own Yoga inspired clothes line – Sayaris by ZeroByZawadi. She is a Yoga instructor with focus on wellness.
Lupita her second born is an Academy Award winner, the first black African to ever win an Oscar and author of Sulwe, a children’s fiction picture book about colorism and learning to love oneself no matter one’s skin tone.
Lupita was born in Mexico when her parents were still newly married but had to go into political exile in the wake of a then repressive Kenyan regime. Fiona, trains corporate leaders in Africa. Esperanza, the fourth born is a Sports Manager, a Director of 7th Sense Communications and currently raising Lupiter’s favorite niece. Peter Junior, the last born is an actor, musician and entertainer. He had his ravaging professional debut as Hamlet in Shakespeare’s Hamlet at Orlando Shakes in January, 2019.
Mrs. Nyong’o revealed that Lupita and Peter Junior had drawn their acting skills from their father Mr Peter Anyang Nyong’o, Governor, Kisumu County and former Kenyan Minister for Medical Services, who was an even greater actor than both and was famous for his acting prowess in his days at the University of Nairobi where he featured prominently in the free traveling theatre.
She lamented that being in exile and then making a decision to return to Kenya was one of the choices she regrets making. Not only did she find that circumstances had not changed, but life unceremoniously thrust her as a ‘single parent’ in her early 20s with her husband being placed in and out of detention and later becoming a full blown politician.
She advised the women on the power of a praying parent as one of the tools that had helped her raise her children through the most difficult of times.
“Be present for your child emotionaly, physically, spiritually. Be your child’s greatest friend and fan,” she said.
Mrs. Nyong’o narrated some of the lowest moments as parents when her husband’s brother disappeared at the Likoni Ferry in mysterious circumstances attributed to the hostile political atmosphere and has never been seen to date. His death is suspected to have been an government channeled assassination. Then a sister-in law died and left behind a suicide note and the responsibility of raising her two young orphans.
Mrs Nyong’o recalled the days she worked with Planned Parenthood and had to present a paper in Mauritius. She had a baby and no baby sitter so she carried the child with her to the conference. She was torn between cancelling her trip and carrying the baby along with her paperwork. She presented with the baby in her arms. The amount of stigma and backlash she received for making her child a priority will never edge off her mind but these are some of the choices and dilemma parents have to make in life.
“Lupita lived in the shadow of Zawadi. The teachers did not allow her to be herself. They compared her to Zawadi and told her stuff like, ‘If it was Zawadi, she would not have done this or that’. We had to separate her from her sister and take her to a different school. This was the best decision we ever made as parents,” she said.
Dorothy caused laughter when she said Lupita’ was a very creative child and could describe how she spent the day in school in details yet she had not started school and had not been anywhere near a school.
“Parenting tools allow you to look at who you are and realistically make a choice. Never give up on your child,” were her parting words of wisdom.
Other speakers included Lilly Richards, President Kenya Women in the US (KWITU), Dr Doreen Bett, a board certified Nephrologist and Medical Director at Davita Dialysis and powerful youth speaker and activist Nerfititi Menroe.
Mrs. Richards espoused the challenges of living in the Diapora among them losing oneself.
“People tell you what you should say, when you should study and what jobs to take. There is the fear of failure, of the unknown, of being shunned, of looking stupid, depression, suicides. Finding yourself and knowing who you are is important.You are the biggest obstacle. You are enough,” she said.
She said that in order to overcome one’s fears, one must face adversity head on.
“You know who you are, you know and touch your fears,” she affirmed.
According to the founder, Helen Wakinyue Nthambiri, “FaWMs was inspired by the notion that women love to connect in groups beyond the church work and life’s inevitable challenges especially after 40 years. We meet monthly for meals, investment and simply laugh and share experiences and ideas. There are no boundaries to our random topics. It is very therapeutic. It often brings out the little girl in each one of us, including the not-so-extroverted.”
The event was colorfully graced by Mercy the DJ who pelted out nostalgic Kenyan secular and christian tunes and and Hollywood based Violinist, Charisa the Violin Diva who blew her heart out in unison with all the mothers of the world. The room was a warm red carpet of ululations, song and dance.The galaxy was a learn and laugh affair with peacock cup designed cakes besides salivating tenders. A waiting list for new members has been created. A group of women aged 30 and older was launched to joint he galaxy.