Nyokabi Ngari is a trained lawyer and a human rights activist based in Nairobi, Kenya. She is the founder of the African Woman Global Initiative Network. AWGI was established in 2018 as a volunteer organization for volunteer students to offer free legal advice to people in marginalised areas. The mother of three shares her journey with us.

Is your current profession, one that you always dreamed of?

Yes. I always dreamed of becoming a lawyer. Growing up, I looked up to Lady Justice Njoki Ndungu who I still really admire. She is a kenyan advocate and an associate justice of the supreme court of Kenya.

What was your favorite class in University and why?

That would have to be the Law of Tort.

I loved that it’s aim was to provide relief to injured parties for harms caused by others, to impose liability on parties responsible for the harm, and to deter others from committing harmful acts.

What was your very first job and how did you get it?

I got a job as a set books actress at the Kenya National Theatre just after high  school before the KCSE results got out.

I had auditioned for the role after coming across an advertisement on their notice board. I loved (…still love) watching plays so I used to go to the Kenya National Theatre a lot during my free time. That’s how I got to see the ad.

Could you share what a typical day in your life as a lawyer looks like?

As both a human rights lawyer and a director of an NGO ,my schedule is ever hectic if not always. I get up at 6am, have school runs at 7am and by 8am, go through my emails and make phone calls. Most of the staff at the organization are volunteers and partners so I have quite a sizeable load of work on my plate.

I usually have a lot of people seeking legal advice and legal support. As a result I end up doing a lot of follow up calls to clients. I have days in the week when I handle land disputes, domestic violence and a lot of other human rights violation cases. Sometimes I hold both local and international meetings all day with my team and with leaders from other organizations. Other days, I participate in development of policies as a legal practitioner. I  also make a point to follow up on various field projects I run in Mathare, Mukuru Sinai, Kirinyaga County and Muranga County on various legal issues. Depending on the workload, my day may end either at 6pm or sometimes I may have to work nights, up until 4am.

Could you tell us about one of your best career moments so far?

I’d have to say  one of the best moments  was when our organization was recognized and nominated for an award as a start up of the year. It was my biggest motivation to keep pushing. 

What are some of your career tips for someone who feels stuck and wants to move up the ladder at their workplace?

You need to tell people what you can do. You need to market yourself in a way. Accomplishments do not always speak for themselves. If you want to move up the ladder, it is important to speak to your boss or the person you report to and ask if there is a chance for a promotion. If there is none then it might mean it is time for you to move to another company where you can grow.

I believe in growth. If you feel you have given your all to an organization and believe you can do more, then go for it.

What advice from a friend or family has stuck with you throughout your career this far?

You get what you have the courage to ask for. = Quote I read.

You can never undo the first impression of someone. = Dad.

I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. =Mum.

What's the worst advice you've ever received?

Someone once said,”Kafi you should be a journalist!!! You definitely have the looks for it”
This statement was not only misplaced but also discriminatory as it suggests that there are people out there who work really hard to get certain roles, but end up easily getting disregarded just because they don’t look the part.

What has been your biggest challenge while trying to navigate your career as a young person?

Balancing a family, school and career is not easy. It has definitely been my biggest challenge. Before my children all joined school, there was only so much I could do. However, it keeps getting better with time.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I see myself as an Executive Director of an organisation that has grown and created a huge impact not only in Kenya but in other countries in Africa as well.

What are some of the key lessons you've learnt so far as a leader?

1. I have learned that patience and consistency are very key in running a business.

2. Treat your team fairly and respect them.

3. Have a clear purpose and be honest about your dealings.

4. Be respectful

5. Delegate duties. Don’t do people’s work.

6. Build a team that is clear about the vision of the organisation.