Shy is not exactly the words to describe Miss. Kenya runner-up 2005 Yvonne Okiyo a.k.a Miss Nairobi. Reserved would be a better word but behind the shy/ pretty face is an even prettier personality as Tim Kamuzu Banda recently found out over a drink with the lady that everybody believe deserved to win Miss. Kenya 2005.
With the dust well a truly settled on the Miss. Kenya 2005 competition, plus all the euphoria that has surrounded the outcome of the competition in the recent years, I came to this hoping that Yvonne would have so much to tell me about her feelings of Miss. Kenya but how wrong I was. Even before having the first sip of my ‘Mexican’ beer, Yvonne makes it quite clear that she has no intention of discussing the competition.
‘All I have to say about Miss. Kenya is that I went there to enjoy myself which is what I did. I wanted to do something for my community which did not quite work but other than that I met lovely people (including Loice and Nereah) and it was an eye opener to so many things I would like to do,’
explained sweet natured Yvonne.
Yvonne also known as Achieng is the last born in a family five children and just like any girl her age, she always wanted to be an air steward from the time that she can recall her primary education at Consolata Primary School in Nairobi. With maturity and moving to England where she joined secondary school, the air stewardess dream changed to be law. However, from the time 25 year old Yvonne joined Middlesex University, she realised that her calling was in a different field all together.
‘It did come at a time when I felt that the poor racial relations in England were barring many African the opportunity to achieve their goal whether it is in business, corporate achievement or entertainment,’
Determine to play a part in changing the state of affairs, Yvonne persued a degree in Sociology emphasising on Race and Culture. It was a discipline that opened her mind to so many things but she decided to go further and do a Masters which she did in Culture, Communication and Society at Goldsmiths University. Her first employment took her to Macmillan Cancer Foundation where she worked for the Black& Ethnic Minority Community in Ealing. The project was aimed at improving cancer service provision and the information needs of the community and raising awareness around cancer in the community.
That was simply a stepping stone for Yvonne who moved on to Lambeth Council where she is currently the Anti Race- Hate Crime Co- coordinator at Lambeth Crime Prevention trust. Her job is quite diversified but includes working with voluntary and statuary organisations including Arms of the government to develop strategy and policies on bettering race relations. She is also involved in sensitising the community about racial crimes such as domestic violence in a view of having them embrace the idea of reporting them and knowing their rights.
‘I felt that I had done so much for the communities in England that I have been involved in and neglected that of my own upbringing hence my idea of joining Miss. Kenya taking in to consideration that I have always enjoyed doing fashion shows but it is a shame that did not work out as planned,’
However that is not the end of the road as far as doing something for her community (Kenya) is concerned for Yvonne. She has a few plans up her sleeve which she hopes she will get the support for all geared towards doing her part for charity as far as Kenya is concerned.
It is hard to miss a word that Yvonne says as she is a very articulate and calculative speaker who talks like she had prepared what to say from the start. I am not only baffled at her awareness of current affairs, her beauty but the determination and the ‘never-say-die’ spirit that she brings out.
A staunch Arsenal supporter who could name for you the entire team from back in the 80’s, Yvonne loves football, travelling and reading. In fact, she confesses to have read one biography more than 10 times. That biography is ‘The Long Walk to Freedom’ by Nelson Mandela whom she counts as her role model alongside Wangari Mathaai, Hon. Raila Odinga for his fight for democracy in Kenya and finally the freedom fighter Dedan Kimathi.
As our rendezvous draws to a close, we have a few heated arguments on current affairs, relationships. Coping with negative publicity but the one that captures my imagination as my Mexican beers begins kicking in is her favourite food which we both agree that is ‘omena’ which we cannot agree on an English name for.
On my way back to the fishing boat, I cannot help thinking what a great personality, focused, intelligent and charming person Yvonne comes across as. Not a very common breed but then again maybe it is me always hanging out in the wrong circles.