This post is long over-due. I do not know how to begin thanking you (Kenyans) for the support you’ve shown me since last year. Whether it was financial, or urging me not to give up when everything seemed to be falling apart, or simply offering up prayers for me.
Getting in touch with all those who have been a part of this journey has been a slow and gradual process. But now that I am more settled, I am working on communicating better with all of you.
I suppose I can say that this adventure to Spain began the minute I received my confirmation that I had been admitted to ISDE (Instituto Superior de Derecho y Economia) in Madrid to study for a Masters in International Sports Law in 2014. I had applied in June 2013 . It is a prestigious course, with a phenomenally high fee of 25,000 EUR (Roughly 3 Million Kenya Shillings).
This should have been enough of a deterrent – the fact that I thought there was no way on earth I could afford the fees, leave alone the living expenses. It would cost my arm, my leg and both my kidneys to go to Europe for a year! But for some reason, I knew that I had everything I needed to get to Spain even though my bank balance at the time showed evidence to the contrary.
I searched and researched for scholarships and grants- on the web, by asking family and friends, through emailing institutions… My efforts were unsuccessful. First, because I was going to study Sports Law; an area of law that was virtually unheard of (some Kenyans thought I had made it up- really, some of the comments I received would make an interesting book); second, because all the scholarships and grants that I came across were restricted to only EU Residents or restricted to specific courses offered in specific universities. Some of the scholarships available for my demographic (young, black, African, female) had nothing to do with sports law but focused instead on issues like Women Empowerment, African Leadership, Good Governance, Human Rights, Conflict Resolution… Which is all well and good, but aside from the negative issues plaguing our continent, Africa has so much more going on and Africans have so much more to offer.
So then I did the next best thing… I held a series of crisps and dips parties at my home. I invited some of my cousins, my closest friends, my brothers’ friends, my mama’s friends, my neighbours, my extended family for crisps, dips, tea, samosas, sodas, juice, maandazi (donuts), njugu (groundnuts) and a serious sales pitch.
The crisps and dips
I needed their help to pull off an epic fundraising campaign. A campaign that had never been done before in Kenya’s history with the hope of raising 6 million Kenya Shillings in 6 months to cover tuition, travel and living expenses for the year. Read more about the Sindikiza SnoLegal campaign here
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The “pitch”… One of the many times I had to do this.
The idea was to have several activities to generate money for my education. Sure, I needed them to contribute some money too but I also needed their help to reach out to other Kenyans to participate. I needed them to be my mouth piece wherever I was not present and most of all I needed to inspire them to be part of my vision for Sports law in Kenya.
The events that followed were the stuff that movies are made of:
1. Haba na Haba hujaza kibaba (Little by little fills up the measure)
Kenyans- those I knew, those I had the pleasure of meeting once and even perfect strangers reached into their pockets and made personal contributions towards my campaign. From as little as 1oo Kenya shillings (a little less than 1 EUR) to 100,000 Kenya shillings.
These contributions added up. My mum always told me that no money is small money, and this proved it.
I shall post all the names of my wonderful sponsors separately on a wall of fame. But each of their names is forever etched in my heart.
2. Kutoa ni moyo, si utajiri (Giving comes from the heart, not from richness)
There was so much good-will flowing from Kenyans of all walks of life and of all ages. Here are some of the non-monetary contributions and support that were offered for my campaign to make it fun, effective and successful. Some ended up not being used because circumstances did not allow but I appreciate that so many people offered to help in such a great way:
- Sindikiza SnoLegal advice, planning and strategy– Violet Kibera, Gladys Ouma of ICRC, Paul Ouma of Strathmore Business School, Odysee Ndayisaba of Climax Media
- Sindikiza SnoLegal Cocktail Fundraising Committee: Clement Paul, Gaudencia Ochwada, Alice Koech, Peter Otaya, Joseph Sitati, Ken “Ken-Tall” Omondi, Herbert Pamba, Cynthia Muyoti, Gerald Imbuga.
- Air tickets– Eng. Peter Otaya & Joseph Ochwada
- Snolegal official Website and social media management– Whive Kenya (John Karanja & Christian Kakoba), Sports Kenya- Richard Wanjohi
- Social Media campaign support– Go Sheng’ (Kelvin Okoth & Gathu Gitua) and Nairobi 2.0 (Kim Geda & Ashley Kaei)
- Poster deliveries to cybercafes in CBD– Nick Ochwada and his band of merry men, Albert Nashon and his group at Slumcode
- Sindikiza SnoLegal Campaign Infographic for YouTube– Dorian Nyoike
- Sindikiza SnoLegal Campaign music & videos– ShuKid, Dennis Nalyanya & YujoMich
- Sindikiza SnoLegal events photography– Anthony Okoth – Pikcha Guy
- Crisps for the Crisps & Dips parties- Gladys Ouma
- Club Room for Zumbathon– Gladys Ouma & her super awesome Friends
- Blogs on the Campaign– John Aggrey- Superfoota, Richard Wanjohi-Sports Kenya, Victor Nzomo-IP Kenya, Mwamburi Maole-mwamburimaole.wordpress
- Print Interviews – Clay Muganda (Standard Media), Josephine Mongare & Philip Mwaniki (Nation Media Group)
- TV Interviews– Mike Okinyi (Citizen TV), Sophia Wanuna (KTN Morning Express), DJ Hypnotiq (Kiss TV).
- Radio Interviews– G-Money (Homeboyz Radio), Adelle Onyango (Kiss FM), Joe Muchiri, Solo & Amina (Capital FM)
- Road-show truck– Philip “Pips” Okech- Oxygen media
- Super-bikes & Outryders– Mark Sagini & his Outryders crew
- Discounted venue and rate for SnoLegal events at Gp-Karting Nairobi– Courtesy of Paul Njoroge
- Slot at the inaugural Diva’s Clinique held at Windsor Golf Club courtesy of Azar Anwar & Njoki Kaigai
- Refreshments for the Sindikiza SnoLegal Zumbathon– Coca Cola Kenya courtesy of Waithera Kabiru
- Special Pay-Bill Account– Safaricom courtesy Safaricom Business and Slumcode
- i-Hub Nairobi– for providing the venue for the Sindikiza SnoLegal Live draw at discounted rate courtesy of Jimmy Gitonga
- Venue for first post-raffle meet-up at Strathmore Law School- courtesy of Dr. Luis Franchesci, Dean of Strathmore University Law School
3. Have you met Sarah?
This was the most important part in getting some of the celebrity mentors on board for the Meet the Mentor raffle. So many people have asked me how exactly I got all of them on my list. Some of them I knew personally and were already in my networks while others I had on my wishlist with no idea of how to get in touch with them. I did some ground work and discovered they were in the networks of some of the people I knew. I asked folks in my network to reach out to them and give me a warm introduction – once the introductions were done the rest was up to me.
Luckily the majority of them were game and accepted to be part of my campaign and some of the mentors on my list even reached out to their other celebrity friends to join in. This was incredibly cool of them. Here’s the final list of celebrity mentors who were on the Sindikiza SnoLegal Meet the Mentor Raffle:
- Dr. Manu Chandaria– Kenya’s most renowned Industrialist and Philanthropist
- Julie Gichuru– Celebrated TV Anchor on Citizen TV’s Sunday Live
- Janet Mbugua & Hussein Mohamed of Citizen TV- Kenya’s top Dynamic Duo when it comes to news anchoring
- Waihiga Mwaura– Sport Journalist on Citizen TV & CNN 2012 Sport Journalist of the Year
- Conrad Gray aka G-Money of Homeboyz Radio– One of Kenya’s most respected Radio Show Hosts and International DJ
- Adelle Onyango– Kenya’s young top Female Radio Presenter on Kiss FM
- DJ Creme de la Creme– One of Kenya’s most prolific DJs, TV Host on X-treme Live Show and Fashion Entrepreneur
- DJ Hypnotiq – Popular Kenyan DJ and TV Host on Kiss TV’s Live on Blast
- Judge Ian of Sakata Dance Show– One of Kenya’s Top dance choreographers
- Jalang’o– One of Kenya’s top Comedians and MCs
- Collins Injera & Biko Adema– Kenya’s top Rugby Sevens Players
- Azar Anwar– Kenyan Rally Champion & prolific Racing Driver
- Juliani– Kenya’s Top Hip-hop, Social Consciousness Music Artist
- Sauti Sol– Award winning Kenyan Music Band
- Heshan de Silva– Kenya’s youngest millionaire & Forbes top 30 under 30 African entrepreneurs
4. Word of mouth
The best way to get your message out there is through good old fashioned word of mouth. I had such a good community of people supporting me both on social media and on the ground that news about my campaign spread. People were speaking about it, and sharing my story with their friends and loved ones at their offices, at chamas (investment groups), at church meetings, at seminars, at concerts, even at birthday parties and weddings! Some were critical of its success but most were inspired by it.
I remember bumping into a long lost friend in a Nairobi Mall one Saturday afternoon and after all the hugs and the how-are-you’s he said “You know I heard about your campaign from one of my friends. I googled it and then I was surprised to find out it was you behind it!”. He immediately got on his phone and sent his contribution through M-Pesa (mobile-money transfer). I also remember being introduced to a guest at a wedding reception I attended who in the middle of our conversation randomly asked me “Hey, have you heard about this snolegal thing?” He had the most comical reaction when he found out that I was in fact SnoLegal. Word of mouth.
5. Family matters
I am not rich, and I don’t come from an affluent family. If I did, I would not have to go through this entire process of fund-raising. The best gift that my parents gave me was an education, the best that they could afford. I am fortunate enough that they could put me through private schools with the 8-4-4 syllabus. Hard work and industriousness was something that was instilled in me from a young age. Couple this with the creative freedom to use what I learnt in school to figure out how to solve problems and I soon became a pro at being resourceful; using what I have at my disposal to tackle issues in my life.
Believe me, nothing came easy for my family. Their love and support is immeasurable. We have struggled, and there have been days that life has not been rosy. As difficult as it is to imagine, we know what it feels like to go to bed hungry at night but still wake up and face the day with a smile ready to help others. And like my mum always says- lack of money should never be an issue or a hindrance to what you need to achieve in life. There is always a way. Credit where it’s due, my dad was instrumental in clearing my fee balance. I managed to raise 2.1 Million Shillings by the end of my campaign and I needed to come up with at least 800,000 more to cover my full tuition and figure out what to do about accommodation once I got to Spain. I negotiated with the school to give me a new payment plan to allow to pay in installments over several months. I don’t know how he did it, but he managed to get the remainder in time. Way to go, dad.
6. Getting to Europe
In January 2014 things had been very touch & go. Lets just say that a series of unfortunate events led to delays in processing my student Visa. But thanks to ordinary Kenyans who acted in extraordinary ways I got all my documentation in order in record time. Thanks to the folks I met at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Sports, CID, the doctors and nurses at Nairobi Women’s Hospital and a special thanks to Albert Nashon- founder of Slumcode who just happened to be in the right place at the right time when I needed him most.
I had already missed 3 weeks of class by the time I arrived in Madrid but the administrators, faculty and my classmates were very supportive. I quickly settled down and caught up with my studies.
ISDE Masters in International Sports Law Class of 2014
Despite all this, there is some exciting news concerning my learning experience and the continuity of the Sindikiza campaign that I will share with you over my next few blog posts.
Meanwhile, I am now in Lausanne Switzerland undertaking my internship at the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) as partial fulfillment of my masters course. I received this opportunity thanks to the efforts of Mary Nyokabi (Arbitrator- Sports Disputes Tribunal) and Andrew Mudibo (Chairman of the Kenya Table Tennis Association) who were gracious enough to recommend me to the ITTF. There’s so much I am learning about sports law and the sports world in general at ITTF: governance, drafting rules and procedure, policy making, contracts, arbitration & dispute resolution, bidding and hosting of events, anti-doping, intellectual property protection, data protection, classification for para sports to name a few.
As I type this post, I am reminded of Maya Angelou’s words “I come as 1 but I stand as 10,000”. I set out on this journey as an individual but I have only come this far because I stand on the shoulders of giants; and these giants encourage me to stand for those who are voiceless or suppressed. I stand for those whose dream is to bring glory to our country through athletic achievement, I stand for those who were told they would never amount to anything because they were better at sports than at books, I stand for justice for our sports men and women, I stand for those who desire to achieve an education of the highest standards but are unable to afford it, I stand for those young girls who are told that their dreams and ambitions are far too great for any man to tolerate, and I stand for the visionaries who will bring victory and positive change to our continent.
I look forward to coming home and being more valuable to Africa. For now I want to thank you Kenyans from the bottom of my very tall heart for being a powerful presence in my life. Each day I whisper a silent prayer for you to receive in ten-fold, the support, generosity and kindness that you have shown me.
May you be courageous enough to trust that you can achieve whatever you put your mind to. And at your moments of dire need may you never lack.
Love and Blessings,
International Sports & Entertainment Lawyer.
For more updates-