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Mumbi Kanyogo

My name is Mumbi Kanyogo. I grew up in Nairobi, Kenya in a family of six however, I have been blessed enough to grow up in the midst of my extended family. Therefore, I appreciate the opportunity to be immersed in the community that is the Baldwin Scholars Program, in which there is a wide range of experience and wisdom in regards to womanhood, not only in terms of race and religion, but also age and expertise, which I think is integral to the sustainability of feminism.

I spent the last two years of my high school career in Mbabane, Swaziland pursuing the IB Diploma at Waterford Kamhlaba UWCSA amongst an amazing group of people who deepened my passion for home and the wider Africa. During my time there I grappled with ideas and passions ranging from Afropolitanism and Pan Africanism, to trying to understand whether my passion for women was better suited to feminism or womanism or indeed something in between.

The one statement, which aptly informs my passion for women and Africa, is Chimamanda Ngozi Adichies, “The Danger of A Single Story”. I come from a continent that is more often than not characterized as “The Dark Continent” – a place that lacks hope and promise and is usually epitomized(in the media) by a blood-thirsty dictator or a naked, starving child, waiting for an impending death as flies circle her frail body. Even as I engage in campus communities and clubs, specifically African Conversations Club, The Standard(a campus publication) and Women’s Collective, I strive to ensure that Africa is depicted and appreciated as a multi-dimensional place with a huge variety of stories. However, I do recognize that these narratives accurately depict some African realities; therefore I hope to pursue a double major in Public Policy and either Global Health or Political Science. I would like to help provide the resources and opportunities that so many Africans are deprived of, from the quality of our education systems, to something as simple as maternal health care.

Today, I find myself at Duke, striving to navigate my identity, given that on this soil I am black, African, a woman and a foreigner all at once. This is a combination of identities I have never had to occupy simultaneously, as such I would say that my current internal battles are concerned with understanding how I can do justice to these identities, whilst also attempting not to appropriate spaces and experiences which cannot simply be owned as a result of race, but are subject to the effect of geography. I am also trying to realize ways in which I can maintain a relevant connection with home in terms of culture, politics, development and literature. Therefore, although it does not encompass the entirety of my preoccupation with the African continent, you will often find me walking around campus sporting a bright head wrap. I am intent on making my Africanness visible! Through Baldwin I hope to grow as a woman, not only in terms of academic excellence and intellect, but also in relation to a spirit of activism and leadership.

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