My name is Sitawa Wafula . I love reading, finally got Aung San
Suu Kyis Biography after having one of her quotes, Please use your liberty to
promote ours, tattooed on my right hand for the longest time. I love travelling
not to any particular place; as long as I am out in nature, I am at home. I am
also a rape survivor living with a dual diagnosis of epilepsy and bipolar and
so when I am not reading or finding nature spots to appreciate God and His
creation, I am either blogging about life with a mental health condition ( or running my mental health social
enterprise; My Mind, My Funk ( which provides information and support to people with mental
health conditions and their families. Both of which (the blog and the mental
health social enterprise) have seen me gain recognition both nationally and
continentally; Top 40 under 40 Women Kenya 2015, National Non Communicable
Diseases Champion by Ministry of Health, Google Africa Connected 2014, Youth Philanthropist
by East Africa Philanthropy Awards 2013, Activist of the Year 2013 among many
other recognitions. (Note I did not start with the fact that I am a rape
survivor with a dual diagnosis because I am many other things before this, I am
so much more than my experience, I am beautiful and powerful African woman out
to change the face of mental health in the continent and enjoy every part of
that ride while at it who just happens to be a rape survivor with a dual
diagnosis of epilepsy and bipolar)
Audacity – Growing up, rape was
something a lot of people said was the girls fault and that caused me a lot of
self shame as an 18 year old who had just been raped. Mental Health conditions
had and still have an inexplicable amount of stigma attached to them. I chose
audacity because I took the bold risk that despite the stigma and
discrimination I was going to face in a society where no one openly speaks
about their rape ordeal or their mental health status by showing my face and
letting it be associated with this real but taboo topics. I am not ashamed to
be a rape survivor or to have the dual diagnosis because these are illnesses
and things that affect everyone of us in one way or another and it is about
time we showed the real faces and stop hiding behind World Health Organization
global round up statistics and whispering in fear.
 Hope – Through sharing my story, I have
witnessed amazing numbers of people and families transform from points of
hopelessness and despair to points of hope and looking forward to a future and
going ahead to build that future. I have attempted suicide before and know what
it is like to get to the point of being hopeless, I have lived in the side of
life where things look and feel all sunshiny.
Tenacious – Keep a firm hold of
something – An Africa where people with mental health conditions and their
families have access to information and get appropriate support.
Going through a rape ordeal and being diagnosed with a mental
health condition definitely had a profound influence on my life and has played
a key role in making me who I am today, if it wasn’t for these experiences, I
doubt the Sitawa the world knows would have come out.
Wangari Maathai from Kenya and the fact that she stood for what
she believed in, eventually preventing Uhuru Park in Nairobi from being grabbed
by the then government that was never challenged before especially not but by a
woman. I loved her way before the Nobel Peace Prize and I am glad the world
recognized her.
Aung San Suu Kyi from Burma who has been under house arrest for
so long in her belief in the freedom of her people and has refused to listen to
those who have told her to take the deal to leave the country.
My parents, they have held on despite so many challenges that we
have faced as a family.
I envision an Africa where people with
mental health conditions and their families have access to information and
receive appropriate support; I’d like to come up with a mental health care path
where people including those without mental health conditions where people know
about self-care, mindfulness, have all the information required and support
structures from counsellors, psychologists to psychiatrists, medication and
other forms of therapies. I have an accountability partner with whom I discuss
this and my many other ideas with.
Being in the background and being labelled as promiscuous or
immoral if they achieve a lot or are forceful in an area that is considered a
man’s world. I show people that despite your gender or dis(in)ability, you can
still make a difference if you believe in yourself and whatever you are doing
and never give up on yourself and what you have in your hand.
I meditate a lot, I meditate when I
wake up, I meditate before a talk, I meditate before I sleep…it helps me
relax, I used to have really bad anxiety (panic attacks) so meditation helps me
a lot. I love to sleep, every free minutes I get I nap it away.
Other than that as I mentioned
earlier, I love being out in nature, I live in a nice place where early in the
morning I can see and clearly hear the birds and during the day I can just seat
outside and enjoy the sun and the trees dancing to the wind. I also love to
journal, I have tens of journals in my house, reading and listening to music as
I cook myself recipes you can only get on sticky notes around my house also
makes me happy. Depending on my mood, I can do a dangerous TV marathon
Inspiration makes one see that nothing
is impossible, that even with their challenges and shortcomings as long as one
has life in them, they can scale to whatever heights and it not only makes them
see it, it pushes them to do it.
Celebration makes people who are
already doing something feel energized, every time I win an award or some
amazing people like you guys reach out to me to do an interview, it gives me
more vim to apply myself more in my area of work, and the more I apply myself,
the more value I add to my community and inspire others.
Empowering is a hand up (not to be
confused with a hand out), it uplifts one from one point to another, it takes
various forms and shapes from monetary to offering opportunities to
education/information. A lot of people have been inspired and/or celebrated and
feel the need to move to another level and need some hand ups to move to a
greater field of influence.
African women definitely have so much
potential in them, they are gold mines and this ICE concept is definitely a
game changer for them.
I’d definitely want to work in the Communications
because I strongly that with the correct information, we are masters of our
destiny. Because I got proper mental health information, I was in a bad state
of affairs and if someone told me I would one day be crowned among the top 40
under 40 women in my country or win any of the other awards I have won, I
couldn’t have given them a second, but with the right information, my life took
a turn around.
At the African Union, I would
definitely work on breaking down all the jargon used and deliver easy to understand
and act on messages to women so that they not only know their rights but play a
role in advocating for them because they will feel they own the messages and
the actions behind the messages is their responsibility and not high level
organizations and entities.

ask African Woman, What is that in your hand? Do not look at yourself as
African in the context of being inferior or 3rd world,
underdeveloped as the term as unfortunately been used in the past to mean or
Woman in the context of weaker sex, need guidance. But look at yourself as a
human being with so much to give the world just placed in Africa in a woman
body because God knew that’s the best way you can make an impact. You have
something great in you so don’t let yourself and your God down by bowing down
to the conversations that you are a weaker sex from an underdeveloped place.
Whatever you have in your hand, use it…i had a rape ordeal and mental health
condition diagnosis, look what I did with it, you too can do something great
with whatever you have, however negative it may be labelled.