If you could jog your memory back down the corridors of time… somewhere in the 90’s you will come across a lady throwing the crowds into frenzy with the art of hip dance –to the common coastal chant –‘Kataaa kata!’ Her infusion of beauty, grace, tact, art and charm – all in rhythm, could not be matched. So you see her bagging the trophy and the car keys of a car that had been passionately sought after by other well acclaimed dancers. You see her lighting up faces on the streets with folk stopping her for a chuckle,or even contacts.
Run back to 2015, the same still happens – only this time from a different motivation. She says she was flying back from United Arab Emirates after another electrifying performance. The money was good. The entourage was happy. There were more mega international gigs lined up. But she was sad. Very sad, she says. And she could not put a finger to its genesis. She did not take alcohol and smoke – thus needing a ‘fix’. She was not unwell. But the feeling would just not budge. She said she then heard a voice, ever so clearly, asking “Should this plane crash, where will you go?” long interesting short, she had an epiphany; that she was cut out for something more. She dissolved the 17 member band, declined all the gig contracts that kept knocking. Everyone was disappointed, she recalls.
She fumbled her way to Redeemed Gospel Church, Huruma, and her new life began. The transition from dance to depth was not easy, she reiterates. But she has a lot to show for it. “An amazing husband, Pr Isaac Migwalla – a graduate in geology, and two lovely daughters – Hadassah, 5, and Shekinah, 8.” Her Eastlands’ drawl and charming persona help for some good story telling. During the interview she is with her husband who is evidently her friend. He gets her; and completes her sentences when she is lost for the exact expression. It is no wonder they make a formidable team.Since his tenure, music albums rolled out. A number of the top Christian Taarab songs are by Princess Farida. If you have heard ‘Mpenzi Wangu’ – you could consider checking out the video too. It is (again) not without beauty, grace, tact, art and charm – all in rhythm. She has hosted radio shows that have had the phone lines blazing with feedback, questions and confessions. She has had stints of TV shows, motivational ministering in special events, a book – ‘The New Me’ – to mention but a few.
Now the new baby is Princess Farida Foundation, a not-for profit organization. It has a special girls’ empowerment arm –a 12 month programme termed ‘Hadassah’. It is out to redeem girls in precarious situations. From her previous way of life, she kind of knows what it is to dream big, to explore life’s new dimensions hungrily, and to have a lot of energy – all on the foundation of a warped self-esteem and ignorance. The glitzy lifestyle saw three marriages go down the drain because the husbands did whatever they could to be with her. She was made aware of men who literally went crazy from watching her ‘spell-binding’ performances – whose moves were laced with suggestive tones. She is convinced that effects of that magnitude have a spiritual influence – and thus the need for the right spiritual standing. This motivates her fetching girls from the murk of never-ending need to the solid ground of peace, self discovery and living their purpose. “There’s nothing more fulfilling than knowing you are doing what God created you for,” says the diva – still a wash with style. She has a way with colours and keeps up with what’s en vogue – modestly and creatively so. A fashion line is another thing up her sleeve.
Back to Princess Farida Foundation, having been a girl who went all out – in the not-so-secure world, she is convinced that she will tell her redemption story in the accent the girls in pretty similar situations understand.She wants them to eventually experience what she has – a great marriage, happy children an unquenchable passion for healing hearts. She is in the business of fixing future mums.
“Si hu reach out kwa madem wa mtaa sana sana, na wa ocha kiasi – lakini ni vile wako far. You can’t do much na hiyo distance – other than counselling on phone and praying for them (We mostly reach out to girls in Nairobi’s ghettos, and a few form the rural areas – you can’t do much with that distance),” the diva explains in the lingo of the girls she deals with. Most of the girls’ cases barely make it to the media, Farida reveals. They range from wanting parent-child relationships, to rape, those anticipating abortion,procuring abortions with instruments as crude clothes hangers, or reeling from the effects of abortion.Others they attend to include those in incestuous relationships, in relationships with gang leaders, HIV positive girls that are refusing to take their ARVs, those battling with gay tendencies, undiagnosed postpartum depression, the suicidal – to mention some.It is girls with gory details and with no avenue to express them, she punches on. “You see, the details of their circumstances are bent on the ‘unmentionables’ – so they keep quiet and die slowly – or FAST.”
Hadassah is a 12 month program based on the story of Queen Esther (previously called Hadassah) in the bible. “Our slogan is ‘Raising girls, crowing queens’. There is a queen in every girl,” Mr. Migwalla categorically states, adding that their work is about turning failures into lessons. “The area you are hit the most is the area of your gift. It’s about preparing the girls for the greatness they are cut out for,” he informs.
“We teach them faith – calling things that are not as though they are. We remind them who they are. Master pieces, works of art. We listen, guide them and pray for them – especially because some the problems are beyond physical and psychological interventions,” Mr Migwalla explains further. He appends that they have a volunteer doctor and a professional counsellor who they refer the girls to for further assistance – if need be.
“We encourage those who have dropped out of school to go back. We also help create jobs by sharpening and promoting their skills and using our networks to secure placements for them,” he tells.
Is the job easy?“No.” They both chime. “Especially because the country barely has established structures for handling such cases,”Farida says. “Having a central place to attend to these issues would help a lot. The government has stepped in, but the hitchis the lack of consistency in addressing the girl’s dire issues. We hear them towards the end of news clips – here and there; and see them (by chance) in a little corner of the inside pages of the newspaper,” she says with apparent concern,“I believe there’d be people eager to help if they came across this information – each in their own special way.”
Mr Migwalla says the issues are spread across the country. So the likes of Hadassah should be devolved to the counties for faster and better quality attention. Some tips on avoiding such grim eventualities and where to get help in case of a mishap should be frequently communicated and with the attention they deserve.And how about – more advocacy slots on the news? Let’s have some airtime and space to constantly remind gals (the future generation) where to get help. There is need for more protracted media campaigns like what we had on alcohol the other day, he observes.
Farida says the cases can also get quite demanding. Some girls can only cry during the set appointments –so sometimes one case can be attended to in a whole week. She says, they prepare mostly in prayer – for super natural energy to address the issues without caving in.
For the sake of work life balance they have a day set apart for their daughters, another for the music studio and the remaining for counselling/pastoral work. “We have an office for our counselling sessions and have learnt the importance of working 8am to 5pm,” Mr Migwalla adds.
Otherwise, they love what they do.They are happy to have so far saved 15 babies from abortion. “The first one is almost three years now,” Farida beams – the joy of motherhood almost making her stand up.“And the parents are appreciative,” she bubbles on. They also have a host of redeemed girls passionately working out their purpose and also helping in rehabilitating others.
Dad’s house rules
Isaac Migwalla says…..
- We have no passwords on our phones – We answer whosoever’s phone.
- We say the truth. We have no secrets.
- Family comes first – we attend to our children and ourselves before going to meet the world.
- We tell our children nice things – like, how great they are and how effective they are going to be…, How exceptional they are…. We say, ‘You are champions!’… ‘You are of signs and wonders’… ‘You are heads and not tails’….We celebrate their gifts.
- We treat them like queens.
- We pray together.
- We teach our children faith – and tell them success is not accidental – it’s intentional. Go for it.
- When we discipline them, we tell them why we are doing it.
- I am the first example of a man to them. So I treat them the way I would other men to treat them. I set the standard.
- We are a team. All the money is OURS. We feed from one basket.
- Our marriage had only one door – Entrance. We keep it spiced.