10 Women Who Inspire Me In Celebration Of International Women’s Day 2018

Being a woman is not only about receiving your monthlies and searching frantically for painkillers to ease your cramps. It’s not only about coming of age, getting married, having children and settling into the role of mother and wife. Rather, being a woman is having the knowledge that you are considered the weaker sex but waking up every morning, with a purpose to achieve something while touching lives. It is the ability to radiate that which makes you uniquely beautiful as a woman to others. It is becoming someone whom others can look up to for inspiration and guidance.

To mark the International Women’s Day 2018, I decided to compile a list of 10 women, from around the world, whose stories have touched me and personally inspire me:

1. Amb. Amina Mohammed

Amb. Amina Mohammed. Image courtesy of Internet Sources.

The first thing that captures your attention about this particular woman is her gracefulness. Currently, the Kenyan Cabinet Secretary for Education, Wikipedia describes her as a Kenyan-Somali Lawyer, Diplomat and Politician. With an equally impressive CV, Amina’s story is that of a girl of Somali descent, who was born and brought up in Kakamega, Kenya and went on to achieve much more than is expected for a Somali woman.

I love stories of women who did not let cultural perceptions hinder them from pursuing their dreams. I believe she is one such person whom girls from communities, which tend to shun the empowerment and education of the girl child can look up to. I once had dreams of becoming a diplomat so she just happens to be my role model ๐Ÿ˜‰ ๐Ÿ˜‰

2. Sheebah Karungi

Artiste Sheebah Karungi. Image courtesy of Internet Sources.

Of course my list would have been incomplete if this sassy Ugandan musician did not feature. I literally had to look for a photo of hers where she’s not showing too much skin and would be friendly to my readers.

We almost share a birthday with only a 4 day difference in the same year. Guess one of the things that drew me to her in addition to her distinct voice.

And while Sheebah can be unapologetically bold, even raunchy to some, her story is that of a girl who dropped out of school in Senior 2, the Kenyan equivalent of Form 2 because in her words, she just wanted to dance and there was no dancing in school. At the tender age of 15, she joined a dance group to make some money but it was not all rosy for her, often lacking a place to sleep and food. She would later become a part of the Obsessions girl group before going solo as a music artiste.

Hers is a story of a girl with limited education and a dark past, who dared to dream that she would one day make it in the music industry. My personal favorite hits from Sheebah include Nkwatako, Bum Sakata and Weekend where she features Nigerian artiste Runtown.

3. Danielle Steel

Author Danielle Steel. Image courtesy of http://www.daniellesteel.net

I was first alerted to Danielle Steel’s work ethic sometime in 2016. In the past, I had simply read a couple of her books for leisure courtesy of my elder sister who loved her books.

At 70, I discovered, Danielle publishes a total of 7 books every year. That really caught my attention. I was in my 20s and yet struggled then to finish even a short story. Something else I learnt, she has managed to raise 9 children while writing fulltime. And another thing, she still uses a 1947 typewriter to write her books!

I find her consistency and dedication as an author truly amazing. Reading about her inspired me to be more serious with my writing in 2017. So all the way from Kenya, thank you Danielle Steel!

4. Nancy Kacungira

Journalist Nancy Kacungira. Image courtesy of Internet Sources.

Currently a Presenter and Reporter at BBC News, Nancy a Tanzanian born Journalist to Ugandan parents, is one of those naturally beautiful TV personalities, who are surprisingly, very down to earth. Sister to Radio Personality, Seanice Kacungira, Nancy started out as a Radio Presenter at a Christian Station in her campus days at Makerere University, Kampala. Later on, Kenyans would be introduced to her when she worked as a News Anchor for KTN.

What I like most about Nancy, is the fact that she actually has time for her followers, especially on her Facebook Page. Sometimes, she encourages people to inbox her with their stories for encouragement. At some point when I was getting sort of discouraged with blogging, I reached out to her with a direct message and she took time out of her busy schedule to check my blog. Her advice was for me to keep going with what I do.

Again, another thank you to Nancy Kacungira!

5. Immaculee Llibagiza

Rwandan genocide survivor Immaculee Llibagiza. Image courtesy of Internet Sources.

When the 1994 Rwandan genocide began, Immaculee was home for the holidays from campus. Her father, in a bid to protect her, sent her to what he believed was safety, at a Hutu Pastor’s home together with a rosary.

For 91 days, Immaculee, together with 7 other Tutsi women hid in a tiny bathroom in the Pastor’s house, the door hidden by a wardrobe. For all those days, Immaculee fervently prayed the rosary. They all survived the genocide but unfortunately, her whole family was killed save for a brother who was away studying in Senegal and did not know of what was happening in his country.

Hers is a story of faith in the midst of chaos, intense fear for your life, immense loss and learning to forgive. It makes you ask the hard questions as horrifying as they sound. How can you forgive people who wiped out your whole family? And yet she did. One of her autobiographies released in 2006 is Left to tell: Discovering God amidst the Rwandan Holocaust.

She currently resides in the United States.

6. Jackie Kennedy

Former US First Lady Jackie Kennedy. Image courtesy of Internet Sources.

There is a movie based on the hours just after the 35th US President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, together with real life video clips, which I got to watch the trailer of sometime back. When John F. Kennedy got shot, he was riding in an open roof car together with his wife Jackie. The minute he gets shot, she can be seen scrambling to get to the back of the car.

What I learnt is that people have always thought she was trying to get away. In reality, Jackie was trying to get pieces of her husband’s skull that had been blown off, in the hopes that they might need them at the hospital to save his life.

My heart literally broke when I learnt this. What would you do when your husband got shot while you were sitting next to him? Something you don’t even want to imagine and yet this woman, throughout the whole ordeal by some miraculous strength, managed to compose herself. She did not even immediately change the blood stained pink suit she was wearing that day.

Often regarded as a style icon, for me, this particular aspect of her life really touched me.

7.Celine Dion

Singer Celine Dion. Image courtesy of The Sun.

And of course Celine Dion, one of my all time favorite singers. I began listening to her music at a fairely young age. Basically, my sister simply loved her songs and sometimes made me listen to her. Later on, I began reading about her life and love story with her late husband Rene Angelil and I developed a deep respect for her.

Celine is rarely in the tabloids for the wrong reasons. She’s one celebrity I think has managed to stay grounded amidst the glitz, glamor and fame. Her story with Rene was one I believe of pure love, tenderness and sacrifice.

In high school, our French teacher introduced us to Celine Dion’s French songs to help us learn the language through music. My favorite French song of hers is Sous le Vent featuring musician Garou.



8. Winnie Mandela

Winnie Mandela. Image courtesy of Internet Sources.

You are a young woman, with two toddler daughters. Your husband gets sentenced to 27 years in jail for his fight for freedom. You think that is the toughest thing you have to endure, only for you to begin being a target for the colonial government. You keep getting detained. Taken away from your young children. Tortured sometimes.

Eventually, it gets to you and you end up making some choices that are not so good in the long run. Your husband finally gets released but your marriage won’t last for long. In no time, you are granted a divorce. Such was the life of former wife to former South African President Nelson Mandela.

She may not be a perfect woman but her strength amazes me.

9. Margaret Kenyatta

Kenyan First Lady Margaret Kenyatta. Image courtesy of Internet Sources.

The current Kenyan First Lady, Margaret Kenyatta is a woman worth celebrating. She has been instrumental in her push towards better maternal health care with her Beyond Zero Campaign. Participating in marathons as a result. With her beautiful smile and quiet gracefulness, she has made Kenyans have faith in her as the perfect first lady. First Lady, Margaret Kenyatta, we celebrate you!

10. Edna Makello

And finally, my elder sister Edna Makello. I am not going to put up a photo of hers because she does not really like being in the limelight. Edna, I celebrate you this day. My sister happens to be the mum to a special needs child. It has not been an easy journey for her juggling between being a wife, mother to another child and giving her full attention to the child that really needs it. Nevertheless, she has miraculously managed.

I could go on and on about my sister because at some point, she was like a second mum to me given the large age gap between us. I have always known her to be very responsible. She is such a good cook, efficient, can be strict and often gives you that tough love. My sister will tell you as it is and especially when she wants you to style up.

She is equally talented. Can bake you a very nice cake on a jiko (charcoal stove). When she was younger, she was great at drawing Papa Smurf. The character from the cartoon series The Smurfs. I credit my earlier taste in music to her. So dear sister, hope you read this and realize how much you inspire your younger siz.


It was not easy compiling this list but I believe I have pretty much exhausted on all the women who inspire me and make me feel like I want to be better. Feel free to add others who personally inspire you in the comment section.

Happy International Women’s Day! You are all stronger than you think!




The Complex Subject That Is African Hair

This is the longest I have stayed with short hair. I think I cut it short sometime in July or August 2016 after I ran out of styling options. I didn’t realize then that it will stay short for this length of time. Trust me, it has not been an easy journey.

My hair is the kinky type and for some reason, I find it way easier to manage when at its full length. Sounds absurd, I know but for me, I tend to feel the kink less when it’s longer. I feel it more when it’s short because it coils, shrinks, gets untidy easily and the problematic areas are easier to spot. Basically, everything that is considered wrong with African hair in its natural form.

I’m sure you are probably wondering why I’m talking about hair when this is a Creative Writing blog and not a Beauty blog. I mean, I have to talk about hair! In as much as I identify myself as a Writer, I equally identify myself as an African woman, whose natural hair will remain a constant reminder of her heritage. I might as well address all the insecurities I face with my own kinky head!

As a child, my hair was literally unmanageable. There’s a humorous story that goes around in our family about how my mum, always ensured my hair was in a bonnet as a toddler. This is actually true and not fictitious. I even have a photo as proof.

I am told that my hair was too kinky to the extent that I would not let anyone touch it. The only time I sat quietly and still, was when my uncle on mum’s side paid us a visit and felt he needed to sort out my hair situation. So he asked for a comb and Little Miss Fussy was surprisingly, calm the whole time he combed the shrub on my small head. His hands must have had a magical effect on me!

Lower primary was no different. For some reason, my hair would stubbornly fail to grow at the back. That time, TCB was considered an African hair product of choice and my mum constantly used avocado in addition to that, as special treatment for my stubborn hair. Of course in lower primary, nobody really cares whether you have good hair or not, but that did not stop us from noticing the difference on our Somali and Indian counterparts.

I remember this Somali girl in my class who would take out her hijab, the minute she got to school and give us free access to her long, soft, curly hair. We combed and plaited and twisted until it was time to go home and she put on her hijab again, to avoid getting into trouble at home for letting her hair loose in the first place. The Indian girls were equally generous with their silky, dark hair.

I happened to chance on an online discussion once, where some women of African descent, complained of strangers touching their hair without their permission and I did not really seem to get what the fuss was all about.

These Indian and Somali children in primary school whose mothers, I presume, had painstakingly styled their hair neatly for school that day, still let us African children with our sometimes, rugged cornrows touch and play with their hair. I’m sure we always left it very untidy with our inexperienced little hands and yet an adult somewhere, felt offended when someone touched their hair, out of what I considered pure curiosity. It’s time our African manes also got attention!


My first day of high school, I was quickly drawn to the long, permed hair of some of the girls. That morning, my mum with a pair of scissors had cut my hair short, believing that it would be hard for me to maintain it while in boarding school. Hair that had taken years of tender, loving care to grow into a full mane. Probably the best I had ever seen my hair. How wrong she was! The school I was in, provided a blowdryer per house to be shared by 80 girls.

Mind you, many of these girls had short hair much to the advantage of the ones with longer hair needing maintenance. Plus perming your hair was allowed under the assumption that it was neater than natural hair. However, with perming, came the belief that natural hair was not as beautiful for us impressionable, teenage girls.

It was not long before I joined the bandwagon just to look prettier. And sure enough, the boys noticed! For a girl who had not really gotten a lot of attention from the boys in her first year of high school, it was indeed a pleasant surprise to have a couple ofย  “suitors” now.

In adulthood, my hair surprisingly blossomed. It was still kinky but it grew to lengths I sometimes did not expect it to. The first time someone touched my hair “without permission” was a Swiss friend of my cousins, who had never really experienced natural, African hair before.

She watched me intently, the previous evening while I undid the braids then waited expectantly, for me to come back from the salon the next day, only to marvel at how it looked. Obviously, my hair and that of another friend fascinated her to the point where, she took photos of our heads to show her brother in Switzerland.

I didn’t really find her curiosity offensive, as I had grown to appreciate my African hair to some extent at that point. That does not mean that I haven’t endured hairdressers, who gladly made mean comments while working on it or times when hair chemicals backfired on me. It takes a certain level of courage to finally admit that your hair is not perfect but you still embrace its imperfections.

Of course I haven’t been spared of the misguided belief that only housegirls have their hair short. Many times, during this current short hair stint, I have been asked by women why I do not like making my hair and each time, I have explained that the hours spent at the salon discouraged me at some point. The looks I got in return, were a mixture of concern and wonder.

Funnily enough, my eyes have been opened to the many natural, African hair beauty products in the market. I do not really remember a time, when they were this many and one of the shops I like frequenting while in the capital, is one that has a whole aisle of natural hair products! How amazing can that get. I have equally experimented with some just to see the results.

Nowadays, you don’t really need a blowdryer to soften and straighten your natural hair. Trust me, the heat from some of those things is enough to cook a meal so you can imagine what it does to your hair. Some of these hair products are all you need to get the desired result.

One thing I have learnt about African hair is that it can only be made maneageable when you fully understand it. No hair type is the same. I see this even in my own family. While my sister’s is long and soft, my mother’s is thick and can grow to amazing lengths and mine kinky and of medium length, yet we probably carry some similar genes being of the same family.

Patience also is key. African hair does not grow overnight. It takes a longer period depending on it’s texture. If you would love to have healthy, natural, African hair do not force it to grow. Nurture it patiently until it gets to that desired length. And once you realize that hair chemicals do not work for you, ditch them for good like I did along the way.

Wishing you a hairful journey!


Image Courtesy of Google

Are you a Writer or Poet?

Would you be interested in contributing to www.definitelylorna.wordpress.com, poetry of any length or a short story of between 2,000-2,500 words?

African themed stories are highly encouraged, though it would equally be refreshing, to read stories from other continents.

This is an upcoming blog therefore, submissions are voluntarily for interested persons. Hopefully, this can change in future.

Include a short bio of yourself as well as a recent photo together with your short story or poetry and send to lornalikiza@yahoo.com.

A separate profile of the Writer/Poet will additionally go up on the blog.

Looking forward to hearing from you ๐Ÿ™‚

Let’s Write!


(Upcoming Kenyan Writer, Scholastica Memusi’s Short Story http://www.definitelylorna.wordpress.com/growth-warrants-change was recently featured on the blog. She makes the first Guest Writer.)