Beautiful Kenyan born Valerie Kimani shot to fame after winning East Africa’s reality show Project Fame in 2006. Her prize was a three year recording contract with Gallo Records in South Africa. Her music embraces many styles R&B, Rumba, Jazz et cetera. To our readers and to those who don’t know anything about this vibrant inspiring African lady, below is a taste of what she is all about in her own words!
ElleAfriqueMag: Who is Valerie Kimani? (married?)
VK: I’m a quiet force. I’m a strong will. And I’m a delicate but unbreakable spirit. Married? Can’t wait to be.
ElleAfriqueMag: Have you always lived in Kenya? What’s it like living there?
VK: Yes I have (always lived here). I’ve travelled a little (not as much as I’d like to) but you wouldn’t believe how home sick I get when I’m away. I love it here, I guess because I understand it. It is home after all. And I love the people. Everyone’s so upbeat and so busy doing this or the other, and so friendly. Then there’s all this work happening on our roads, which is such an exciting transformation to watch. Of course when you drive away from the city it’s even more beautiful. It’s green everywhere. Every once in a while I drive past the Great Rift Valley and it still takes my breath away.
ElleAfriqueMag: Your twitter account says you are a singer, actor and mother. How do you juggle all?
VK: With a lot of help. I have a great support system and a wonderful team that works with me. Motherhood is quite demanding; you’re never off-duty when you’re a mum. But it’s a job I would never relinquish or delegate to anyone. How could I when I get paid in hugs and kisses, in laughter and in irreplaceable moments? Just being there is payment enough. When I’m done with my classes (I’m a student at the USIU), I’m very excited to still have hours in the day to spend with my son Zion before I have to get to a band rehearsal or a shoot. I have to be very keen on what my priorities are, and very honest with myself about what I can and cannot afford to do with my time. I do the best that I can and when my best falls short I don’t beat myself up for it, I just go back to the drawing board and try again
ElleAfriqueMag: At ElleAfrique Magazine we believe women empowerment is key. To be able to make it in the world especially in Africa, an African woman has a lot of walls to climb. What barriers have you come across and how did you deal with them?
VK: I’m also a believer in women-empowerment. Not because men don’t need empowerment, in fact, arguments have arisen recently that the boy-child has been left behind with all the affirmative action going on in favour of the girl. But I believe that as a woman, the challenges I face are of a different kind. They are complex and broad and can only be addressed by another woman. Being an African woman, I have had to look at my ‘Africanness’ quite critically. I have had to accept my continent but not allow the state that my continent is in to define me. But I didn’t always think this way. It wasn’t until I saw another woman, just as African as I am, break the invisible mould in my head, and have a significant positive impact on the world that I began to believe that I was ok as I am. That’s when I began to dream, to aim higher. I understood somewhere in the back of my mind that it wasn’t what you looked like or where you’re coming from that changes the world, it’s what you believe in and how deeply you believe in it. It’s the stuff inside you that moves people and changes the world
ElleAfriqueMag: Do you support any charities?
VK: I’m very interested with the work that PLAN does in Kenya. I have been in talks with them and am considering supporting it as they prepare to launch a fantastic campaign for the girl child. My work with the African girl to date though has been through my own charitable foundation called Valerie’s Concern. There are so many charities in the world already and at the beginning I questioned if I really needed to add my own to an already long list. But I look at the work we do with teenagers and young women, and I know that I must do this work. Call it my philanthropic duty.
ElleAfriqueMag: Name us any five African women who inspire you and would inspire our readers?
1) The late Kenyan environmentalist Wangari Maathai. She believed in the environment way before it was popular to do so. I remember watching clips of her on tv with her hair pulled out because she was defending a forest or a park. I learned integrity and steadfastness from her.
2)South-African songstress Lira. She’s my friend and my mentor who’s the true embodiment of grace, intelligence and strong-will. In her I see a beautiful woman with a beautiful spirit that’s truly inspiring.
3) Kenyan CNN anchor Zain Verjee. She used to tell the news to us now she tells it to the world. She inspires me to work even harder on my craft.
4) Miriam Makeba- I miss her. She seemed to transcend everything!
5) Patricia Amira. When I’m not singing or acting I’m dreaming of having my own talk show just like she does.
ElleafriqueMag: How did you spend Christmas (2011)
VK: I spent it with my great grandmother. Watching all five generations of us (my great-grandma, my grandma, my mum, myself and my son) together was so magical. Miraculous almost.
ElleAfriqueMag: Any New Years resolutions?
VK: Yes actually. Is that corny? This year I’m working on being a little more ‘others-minded’. Remembering birthdays that kind of thing. And doing more of the things I’m afraid to do. With January gone, I’d say I’m at 70% with those. Make that 72%.