T x Free Mind Sessions

As mentioned in my previous post, I had the pleasure of being a panelist for the Biashara edition of Free Mind Sessions. Free Mind Sessions is “a community that comes together once a month to chat about emerging issues as Creatives and Thinkers alike. Free Mind Sessions stands for something unique and powerful – being able to generate solutions together, as we grow each other.

photo by Kreative Vault

They host the event every month at The Yard which is inside the compound that hosts The Alchemist and several food trucks. It’s fitting that they host it there because the vibe and audience sync wonderfully- it’s chilled, expressive and vibrant. The team do a fantastic job with the event set-up.


photo by Kreative Vault

I was on the panel alongside some great people:

  • Charlene Migwe, Managing Partner at Considr, an innovative research and Monitoring and Evaluation firm that works with non-profit organisations, donors, corporates and government departments providing specialized services
  • Dean Okonji, Co-Founder and Business Development Director of Magiq Lens Kenya, a collaborative photography agency
  • DJ Andre, a deejay
  • Kevo Abbra, a fashion stylist, prop master, set designer and location & talent scout
  • Muthuri Kinyamu, Chief Evangelist at Metta and Co-Founder at Turn-Up Travel
  • Patricia Kihoro, Singer, Actress, Radio Presenter, Improv Comedian and Sporadic Blogger

We shared so much but here are some of my key takeaways:

  1. Don’t be Afraid of Time– Sometimes we are scared of the time it takes us to achieve. Time teaches us so much- to be patient, to be relentless, to be strong. There are important things we find when we allow time to take its natural course- so don’t rush yourself- relax and do your best
  2. Trust your Dopeness– Believe in yourself, believe in your work
  3. You Learn by Doing– The only way to learn the career that’s right for you, the type of food you like best, the kind of partner that suits you, is by doing- and that can be frustrating. But, by doing, you learn so much about yourself and open yourself up to the best opportunities
  4. Sometimes You Need to Put People in their Place– When you’re young, and particularly as a woman, some people feel that they can push you around and disrespect your time and work. Although I understand that it’s important to have ‘thick skin’, you can’t take everyone’s shit. Sometimes, you have to assert yourself and call people out. This can work out great and set a boundary for a future working relationship or it can put you at a loss. It’s up to you to assess what’s most important to you in the particular context
  5. Ask for Help When You Need It– Recognise when you need help and open yourself up to it. You can learn from other people’s involvement in your work and sometimes the best work happens through collaborative effort


photo by Kreative Vault

It was a wonderful experience- much gratitude to the Free Mind Sessions team for inviting me.


© Tessy Maritim

Rome Wasn’t Built In One Day- And Neither Will The Arena

Building something from the ground up is difficult. It requires:

– an unshakeable foundation

– builders, architects, interior designers, quantity surveyors

– functioning systems (think water, electricity, sewage pipes etc.)

When we started The Arena it all seemed so simple. We wanted to create a space for young people to interact and learn from one another. So we put together a programme, invited amazing guest speakers and hosted hundreds of young people at our events.

But with time, it’s become redundant. This became apparent to me earlier this year after we won a business start-up competition- what exactly are we trying to do? What’s the outcome? How are we measuring the success of our work? And most importantly, how do the people we serve have input into the work we do?

Criticism of your own work is a difficult task. But it must be done. Otherwise, how do you progress?

We’ve done well. We acknowledge that. But we’re at a stage now where we want to do more. We need to do more. And not so much quantitatively- but qualitatively.

Arena 100 main pic

So we’re hosting The Arena 100– an intimate buzz session to listen to your thoughts and ideas on the development and vision of The Arena. We want to know (among other things):

What are you working towards?
What steps have you made towards that vision?
What do you need as part of that journey?

We’re calling on young people in Kenya to join us as we build this Arena. To build an unshakeable foundation and functioning systems, we need you- our builders, architects, interior designers and quantity surveyors. We all have a part to play in creating this space and platform that will soon be a force to reckon with- not just in our country, but across Africa. 

It’s exciting and I hope you can make the time to join us! RSVP here.


© Tessy Maritim



The Last Lap

Fitness is a great way to test some key life values. If you can commit to a fitness routine, you can do anything really. Training your body to take instructions from your mind is incredibly difficult. But once you get it, there’s no stopping you. I was doing my warm-up on the treadmill last week and actively tried to use my mind to control my body.

I began running with a good pace. After 7 minutes, I thought, “Okay, this isn’t so bad. I can do this”. I continued for another 3 minutes. Another 5 minutes. And then another 2 minutes before I looked at the timer and realized I was running much faster than the time was moving. I was at a steadily increasing pace and it was getting difficult. I just kept thinking, “I’ve got this athletic gene, you know? I’m sure I can do this.” I looked at myself in the mirror with the most serious game face I could bear. Keep going.

The remaining 10 minutes were the most excruciating. I toyed with the idea of stopping. This isn’t even that serious, I don’t really have to do this anyway, right? My face was warm and glistening with sweat. My legs could almost not bear it, but they were listening to the strict instructions of my mind- keep going. In the last minute, my body almost gave way.

The last lap is always the most painful. You’re almost finished, but not quite. You often feel like you’ve done enough to warrant you stopping. But you can’t quite afford to yet.

Your last lap could be of your final year of school, last few months of a job or final round of a race. Keep the momentum. You’re almost done. This is the golden hour. It’s where your legacy lies. It could determine your final degree classification, as it did for me in university.

Control your mind. Feed it with positive thoughts. Stay motivated.

As I finished my run on the treadmill, I was panting and in pain. I wish you the same. Finish panting, finish in pain- but finish strong.



© Tessy Maritim

#faves – African changemakers

It was only when I came to study in the UK that I began to identify as ‘African‘. Before that, I was just Kenyan. I never saw myself in the context of the wider world and I guess that’s one of the benefits of studying abroad- you discover a lot of new things but also begin to see old things from new perspective(s).

I’ve watched myself become fiercely protective of African identity (if there is one at all). I recognise the difference between when an African speaks about Africa and when a non-African speaks about Africa. The former is usually from a place of understanding the many similarities between African nations while the latter is more often that not, bound with ignorance. I’m reminded of a time when someone asked me “Are you planning on going back to Africa?” Excuse me, but what do you mean?

Things are changing and there are people who are at the forefront of this process- undefining stereotypes and challenging global perceptions about Africa in small and big ways. For today’s #faves post, I’ve compiled a list of some of my favourite African changemakers. Here we go!

Africans are activists – Boniface Mwangi


(picture courtesy of bonifacemwangi.com)

Boniface Mwangi is a Kenyan activist and a photographer by profession. For me, he defines what it means to be a patriot. This past year working in student politics has taught me the importance of grassroots activism and community organising. When politicians misuse and manipulate systems to benefit themselves, the most powerful course of action is to take the streets and make our voices too loud to ignore. Boniface has pioneered and set the pace for other young Kenyans to take a stance and not let powerful politicians get away with setting our country back. His courage is inspiring!

Africans are creators– Sharon Mundia


(picture courtesy of thisisess.com)

Internet and connectivity is opening up opportunities for many to have a space of their own which they can use to express their creativity. Sharon Mundia’s ‘This is Ess’ is my favourite example of this. She’s created a brand from a simple idea, consistency and quality delivery. It’s a worldwide phenomenon but in Kenya and other African countries, there’s still a slow response to the huge platform that bloggers provide for brands. People like Sharon are changing this- one blog post at a time.

Africans are educators– Patrick Awuah


(picture courtesy of myafricanow.com)

Patrick Awuah left a career at Microsoft to set up Ashesi University– an independent, co-educational, public benefit education institution operating on a not-for-profit basis. I think it’s wonderful that there are some visionary leaders setting up educational institutions with a focus on how people can use their skills and knowledge to transform the continent. It’s so important that these universities exist to challenge the perception that one must get a Western education to succeed in life.

Africans are entrepreneurs– Tara Fela-Durotoye


(picture courtesy of globalblackhistory.com)

If you’re African you know the stigma that was once attached to careers that are not medicine, engineering or law. But things have changed and we have people like Tara Fela-Durotoye to thank for that! Tara is the Founder of House of Tara, a cosmetics company with a focus on make-up. It’s tough enough to be an entrepreneur, let alone in the untapped beauty industry. House of Tara is a reminder that Africans can succeed and pioneer, even in fields that are perceived ‘non-African’.

As a continent, we are nowhere near reaching our capacity. We are an awakening giant. Slowly but surely transforming our communities, our brands, our economies and our world.

I love you Africa!

Share some of your #fave African changemakers below!



© Tessy Maritim

Winning in a loss

Before my election began, I wrote down three cardinal rules for myself. I knew this election would be challenging and would really test my limits. I had to find a way to keep myself grounded and focused.

  1. God is always in control. I’m a firm believer that my life is in God’s hands. Whether I won or lost the election was a decision to be made by my creator according to what’s in line with my purpose. My only role was to do my absolute best. That’s the most you can do in any situation. If it’s for you, there is nothing in the world that will stop you from having it. If it’s not for you, take the loss as a redirection to what is truly for you.
  2. Competition is important. There’s nothing glorious about running a race with nothing at stake. It’s quite ironic but competition helps you focus on yourself better. Competition is a reminder that you need to be at your best. It keeps you on your toes and pushes you to your limit.
  3. Politics is politics. It’s just a game so it’s never that serious. Don’t sacrifice friendships or relationships for the sake of winning the competition. Try hard not to take things so personally. Focus on the prize and be strategic about everything.

I put my blood, sweat and tears into my election campaign. And I didn’t win. It’s so easy to get upset and vow to never try again. I heard a fellow candidate who didn’t win say that they would never run in an election again and it got me thinking- if you face a challenge with the mindset that it is either a win or a loss, you are already setting yourself up to lose. It’s never about the outcome- it’s about what you gain from the process. Whether it’s an election or any other challenge, the process is what builds you- not the outcome. So you have to value the process and perceive it as a win in itself. You are already a superior version of yourself just by virtue of going through the challenge. So when the opportunity for another challenge comes again, please don’t turn away- grab it with both hands and run with it! You have to try again.

Theodore Roosevelt says it best;

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Not winning is okay. There’s something to win in every loss. Look for the lesson, appreciate it and carry it with you.

(p.s. If you want a sneak peak into what students’ union elections are like at the University of Manchester, check out this cool video! Brief cameo from me, other candidates and the 2015/2016 Exec team)

Full elections results can be found here, if you are interested! -> http://manchesterstudentsunion.com/top-navigation/student-voice/elections/elections-results


© Tessy Maritim

#faves: Bible Verses

I got my first and only bible when I was about 14. It was a gift from my auntie. I wasn’t quite sure what to do with it- was I supposed to read it like a story? I couldn’t quite figure it out but wanted to make an effort to read because I wanted to strengthen my knowledge and understanding of God.

To this day, I haven’t read the bible cover-to-cover. Many of the verses I know and love come from church service. I’m also really fond of the ‘Bible App’ (available on both iOS and Android) which I downloaded about a year ago. It notifies you of a daily verse, allows you to highlight your favourite verses and enables you to connect with your friends on it and see what they highlight. It’s a really cool way to grow your knowledge of the bible.

So courtesy of the bible app, here are 10 of my favourite verses.



I love this verse because it’s a reminder that He’s got a plan for each and every one of us- and it is a perfect plan. No mistakes.



A couple of Sundays ago, I sent this verse to my youngest sister Tania and she asked me what it means to be made fearfully. I actually never thought about it. It made me reflect and do some research- in the bible ‘fearfully‘ is used in the context of respect and reverence i.e. “fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom“. My understanding is that this means we are created in the highest regard by our Maker.


When you are worried and fearful, this is the verse to remember. How comforting to know God walks with us even in the darkest moments.


Guidelines for love. I don’t think there’s much I can add to this that isn’t already said in the verse- perfection.


Discipline is never easy and but always worthwhile. This verse captures that accurately.


The strength of the Lord is in me. Powerful.


I love this verse because it is a reminder that even after preparing to face a challenge, it’s important to commit that challenge to God because ultimate victory rests with Him.


A wonderful reminder that no past mistakes or failure can cripple us.


Every situation we face in life leads us to fulfilling our potential.


Put your hope and faith in Him- he will not let you down!

Would love to hear some of your favourite bible verses! Share below in the comment box.


© Tessy Maritim

Monster(s) In My Head

We all have things we worry about. I certainly do. My anxiety is particularly worse when I’m alone. The scope of anxiety extends far wider than it should when you are alone because your mind is idle. If you’re not occupied doing something, your mind takes the opportunity and runs wild- sometimes with positive thoughts but more often than not with negative, poisonous thoughts.

I think my anxiety is far worse when I’m away from home. I spend most of my time alone and if my mind is not occupied, I start to think about home. I’ll remember that I haven’t heard from my Dad in a couple of days. So I’ll text him and wait on a reply. If there’s no reply after an hour I check to see if he’s seen my message. After another hour, I’ll text my Mom, my sisters, my cousin(s). And sometimes there’s no reply from them also. At that point, I get obsessive and stop everything I’ve remotely been doing and focus on waiting for a response from anyone. Why is no-one replying?! From there, it all goes downhill.

If you’ve been in a similar situation you understand how paralysing it can be. The worst thing about anxiety is that you don’t stop until you solve what you’re worried about- and sometimes that’s not possible.

Most times, you’ve created a situation in your head that actually does not exist. Or rather, as they say, “You’re mind becomes the devil’s workshop”. I’ve realised that sometimes you just need to focus on keeping productive.

My sister Tebby sent this list to me a while back with things to do to keep busy (I’m quoting her exact words from here):

  • Buy a pot and seeds and grow a plant.
  • Go ring window shopping (get fitted and all lol)
  • Cook something special and have a special dinner for one
  • Hire a bike and ride ride away
  • Go to the park and run
  • Make some flavoured water
  • Draw something
  • Do push-ups. Loads, the right way

Create your own and refer to it whenever you feel anxious.

As I conclude I’d like to highlight something very important- sometimes anxiety can be kept at bay with simple activities like going to the gym or cooking. But be aware that there may be a more complex underlying mental health matter that you need to speak to a medical professional about. Don’t let your mind paralyse your existence.


© Tessy Maritim