The Legendary Wambui Njau

Wambui Njau

Wambui Njau- Victory, Dreams and breaking gender stereotypes.

Wambui Njau

A few years ago, an African woman found herself alone and isolated in a remote part of Europe. She reached out to a friend in an effort to create a network of women in a similar situation. The two women had a vision to bring together African women across Europe in friendship, sisterhood, and empowerment. Therein the African Women in Europe {AWE) was born with Wambui Njau as Co-Founder. Ten years later, AWE is going from strength to strength with over 1000+ online members. The members meet in person every year to motivate, inspire, offer mentorship courses and reflect a positive image for African Women living in Europe. I had the honour of talking to the inspiring Wambui Njau.

Wambui, a proud and strong woman of virtue who works in a male-dominated industry is the epitome of generosity. Before she became the woman she is today, she had to overcome a childhood trauma which she talks about in the book
African Women in Europe Vol 1

As the eldest in a family of eight, Wambui lived an idyllic life on the slopes of Ngong Hills – a place I know very well. Her parents were industrious, family focussed and goal-oriented. They brought up the children emphasising the values of togetherness, family and giving. They are still industrious, fully involved in their children and grandchildren’s lives and content. They taught her the importance of supporting one another, of educating self, breaking barriers and dismantling stigmas for the good of all.

Her parents who believed in the value of education, just like most African parents, wanted their children to have the best education, and they ended up in a school miles away from home. This meant they had to leave their home at dawn and return at dusk – they had a family dog that escorted them to the bus stop. The dog would signal to the bus driver that the children were on the way and the bus driver would wait. I found this story very endearing because traditionally most Kenyan families kept guard dogs and not pet dogs.

Wambui lives with her husband and children in the UK. She’s very involved in the community and she champions movements to educate girls to soar in a male-dominated industry. She is a good role model and example as she works as a project manager in the construction industry. Though life is not always black and white there are steps one can ensure are in place to live a fulfilling life and enjoy your job.

Wambui believes that if you want to fly you have to let go of everything that would weigh you down: literally and figuratively. The aforementioned trauma not only brought into her life a wonderful son, now a father, but the realisation that your past should not taint your present or future, and that there’s a silver lining in every cloud. The wickedness of some men does not mean all men are bad or evil. As a young mother, Wambui looked up to her mother on what values to instil in her son. Her mother is the glue that holds their family together and Wambui carried this virtue into her personal life. As adults now, the siblings act as counsellors for one another, I know the importance of this because I have the same with my siblings and it’s therapeutic when you open up to people who love you unconditionally and who know they can be honest without the risk of losing you. And despite being scattered in all the corners of the globe, family and togetherness never dies, especially now with the power of the internet.

Wambui is a motivational speaker on issues pertaining to the importance of diversity and leadership. She is also a philanthropist and have an array of children, not related to her, that she educates and mentors. One of her mentees, Jennifer Mate, is now at university and following into her mentor’s footsteps and principles by mentoring younger children. One of her life principles is the importance of self-belief and positive attitude towards life. Whenever something untoward happens, we should always aim to spin it and see the positive side of it. Even when there seems to be no hope we should not lose hope and be consumed with negative thoughts. She believes in human kindness, which I do too – that every act of kindness comes back tenfold.

Wambui runs a successful organisation called Fanaka Foundation UK where she collects and donates equipment for the visually impaired in Kenya and provides financial support to educate the disadvantaged. While she was being honoured with the Role model of the year by Women4Africa organisation, she met a Kenyan lady called Mercy Mugure who received the international award for her organisation for the disabled. Mercy told her about the plight of the disabled in Kenya, this included the story of Jennifer Mate, mentioned above, a visually impaired person who lost her sight due to lack of medical care from diabetes at the age of 10. Wambui took Jennifer under her wings. Jennifer explained the plight of many visually impaired women in Kenya, who can be attacked and not know the person and these perpetrators are never brought to justice. Wambui envisions a society where the blind can have equipment that would assist them in their day to day living, from walking sticks to talking microwaves.

She also founded Fanaka Women’s group with the aim of supporting one another and investing in Kenya. Talking to Wambui I realised what a wonderful spirit of giving she has – she donates books donated to her by good friends and well-wishers to rehabilitation centres in Kenya. You may be wondering why all her giving is centred in Kenya, but as the saying goes charity begins at home, and I’m convinced this will roll out to other countries. For example, in the UK, Wambui takes time off her busy schedule to talk to girls and young women on the importance of diversity and inclusion. She’s particularly encouraging girls to break the mould and join industries that are traditionally male in the believe that ‘what a man can do, women can do too if not better. This is not sexist but society’s ways of cultural unconditioning esp of gender roles and stereotypes – something I strongly believe in.

As a project manager for a multinational organisation in the construction industry, Wambui understands the value of commitment and responsibility and in her quest to enlighten and encourage girls to join in, she stresses the importance of knowing and acknowledging one’s worth. Life is a journey is self-discovering but believing in the validity of one’s dreams, staying driven, surrounding yourself with people who will raise you up, is the key to changing society as a whole in some fixed mindsets. For example, some men are now opting to be stay-at-home dads because they don’t want to miss a day in their children’s lives growing up; or some women are the main bread winners – if society accepts these things as the norm we, the people, stand a better chance of creating a balanced and fair society.

Wambui, a fierce feminist, is a board member of the Girl Child Initiative UK where she was also honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award by Girl Child Global Initiative founded by Muzvare Betty Makoni.
She has been acknowledged by many organisations in her work on community cohesion: some of these accolades include – Gathering of Africa’s Best (GAB) Award, Women4Africa as a Role Model of the Year, Lifetime Achievement Award by African Women in Europe as a Co-Founder of the organisation, and in 2017 she was awarded by the construction company the Community Cohesion of the year Award for her work in Diversity Champion and African women empowerment.

At the age of 55, Wambui is pursuing a Masters degree to facilitate her dreams because she believes that life is a dream where you must find your own purpose and make it a reality, and it’s never too late to pursue your dreams.

Be the first to comment

Join the discussion