The Girl from Kacheliba, West Pokot (Part Two)
Previously, on The Girl from Kacheliba…
This is the story of Miss. Sarah Chebet Pkyach, of the House of Longolomoi, First of Her Name, First of Her Parents, First of Her Kind, The Authentic Unbleached African Beauty, Kenyan Queen from the Land of Hidden Treasures, The Fearless, Peerless Daughter from the Village of Sangakai, Kacheliba. Protector and Advocate of the Least, the Lost, and the Last. Breaker of Stereotypes and Beacon of Endless Possibilities. The Ultimate Queen of the Forty-Seven Kingdoms (sorry, Counties). The Queen of Wakanda. This is the story of a Chepa Muron, The Daughter of Her Father. A Girl From Kacheliba, West Pokot County.
In the first part of this feature, Miss. Sarah Pkyach, the reigning Miss Tourism Kenya, candidly spoke about her journey to her current position. From how a simple dare set in motion a set of events she had never dreamt possible. She spoke of the genesis of it all, and how the voyage has been so far. In this second part, she speaks about the significance of her title to West Pokot county, her home. She talks of her differently a West Pokot girl now views herself. She fearlessly speaks about the misconceptions about modelling, her upbringing, and her journey to finding her kind of beauty.
The Homecoming. That was quite a spectacle…
I did not expect it at all. It was a surprise. I thought I’d just go home, my mum would cook good rice, call the neighbors then we pray and that would be it. But by the time I got to Trans Nzoia County, Pokots had packed along the way, singing and dancing. They escorted me home. There were almost 40 traditional dancers, the governor, my parents, local leaders. They were singing songs of praise in my honor. By the way it’s part of our culture to compose and sing the songs on the spot. They are so talented. We have a musical culture. I felt like a hero. It was nice.
How has bearing this title changed how a typical West Pokot girl thinks?
Girls from my county are now more confident. They are now more comfortable in putting themselves in slots that they had never thought of or that they thought were for a select few. It has also changed perception about West Pokot. I plan on empowering the girl child so much. In as much as people would think it’s a cliché, but the girl child still has a long way to go. I plan on being an instrument of change. We are here now, and we are moving.
How has your upbringing led to where you are today?
It has made me everything I am. My father for instance nurtured the confidence and courage in me. Back in Primary school he would make us stand in front of the whole family during holidays and make a presentation. My courage is effortless because he trained me from childhood. I thank my parents for everything.
Has it always been a smooth sailing?
Far from it. You know I was mostly an introverted kid, disappointed at a young age. Bullied at school because I used to be very tiny… But I’ve learnt how to live with people, how to interact with people, how to know what is real and what is not, how to avoid all these things that can confuse a young person. I have also learnt that life can be cruel, but you don’t have to become cruel with it.
As a person, what challenges have you overcome to get to this point?
There are a lot of stereotypes about a pageant girl, about how a woman should look like, about what defines a beauty. I am dark-skinned, and with not so that big a figure. For some, this might not be the ideal definition of beauty. Knowing myself as a woman, knowing myself as a girl and accepting me as I am was kind of tough. I learnt to just stand on my own and not depend on validation from anyone. Through this, I helped myself overcome rejection or disappointment from people jeering at you for how you look. I stood up and said I am beautiful, and with that I just blossomed into this person I am today, and who I am very proud of. I am unapologetically and authentically me, and I wouldn’t change anything for anyone.
What tops the list of the things you’d like to accomplish?
With this crown, I have no limit to what I hope to accomplish. I live by the mantra that I want to die empty. With everything God has given me, I want to use it to my highest potential. I plan to go home, lend a hand to my people. As Miss Tourism West Pokot, we started an initiative to help TB patients and totally stamp out the disease. My goal is to achieve zero TB deaths. I also plan to work towards commercializing beadwork to empower the women. It will cover economic aspect, culture promotion, and sustainability. The County also has the biggest black elephant, traversing three counties. We have a lot of minerals that are untapped. Getting the government to initiate manufacturing companies to exploit the same, and just industrializing the place, without polluting the environment of course, and bringing opportunity to the young people.
How about nationally speaking?
For Kenya, I don’t plan on working alone. I plan to work with all the beauties/queens from these counties to make Kenya the best it can be in terms of development and as a tourism destination. Spearheading the creation of programs that will motivate local tourism. This has not been fully been exploited, and I think we should start with home before calling people from outside. I also believe that when Kenyans start recognizing and embracing the beauty they have, they will start conserving it more.
Who is the one Kenyan personality you’d like to work with?
It will be an honour if I get to work with the First Lady, H.E Margaret Kenyatta. She is my role model. She is a soft spoken lady, she does not need to make noise to make a point, but she does make an impact.
Let’s talk misconceptions about modelling…
Modelling is not about beautiful ladies being paraded to show off their beauty and bodies, that these pageants are pimps. Or objects that can be paraded around as trophies. Its unfortunate that some people fuel this misconception. Modelling is wide, it’s a talent, it’s a career and it requires hard work. It should be respected like any other career. It comes with a lot of sacrifice and time investments. It comes with a lot of brainwork as well. Having said that, I appreciate the pageantry industry in Kenya because a lot is being done to change the negative perception, and more young people are putting themselves out there.
What do you have to say to the modelling prospects in JKUAT?
First, I don’t take for granted the platform the University put forward for these Mr. and Miss JKUAT competitions. This is a very important platform in Campus. It’s a platform to bring out a leader. I’ve learnt so much. It was my first step into modelling. The University funded me during Mr. and Miss University competitions through JKUSA. It therefore goes without saying that there are very good prospects for modelling in the University.
What question would you ask you?
Other people would ask me whether I starve myself to keep this body. You just saw the food I served so far from it. I don’t starve myself. I think it’s just a question of getting to know yourself, and knowing what works and what doesn’t.
Last time you were afraid?
Two nights ago…I was crying about Malaysia. Going on a world platform. The pressure is just too much. I don’t know if I’m going to face racism. I remember a friend of mine jokingly saying;
‘Umemake it, yani unaenda kuface racism mbele yangu’. But I’m up for it, and I’m ready for the world.
What talent do you wish you had?
I wish I could dance better…like extremely better. I’ve always wanted to be that extremely good dancer that gets everyone like whaat. I find dancing really fun.
A parting shot to fellow young people?
Fake it till you make it they say? But if you fake it and then you make it, you’re still fake. If you want something long-term, just be real. Put the work in it. Work hard till you make it. Get your purpose and work hard towards that.