In an unlucky twist of fate, Nyakan Munyeki found herself staring at death. The pain was no less at a time she expected profound happiness. She was pregnant – with her second child – when she was diagnosed with a deadly condition.
“Placenta previa of the 3rd degree,” the doctor called it out on her when she was about four months pregnant.
She was told it is a dangerous condition. What she didn’t know though was that she faced imminent death in the period of her pregnancy. If she survived the nine months, then she would surely not live past the date of the baby’s delivery.
“’Is there anything that can be done?’ I asked the doctors. No one was willing to blatantly tell me the truth. I had to find out on my own — all mothers who suffer from the condition can’t be saved,” Nyakan says.
At best, nature was dabbling in the stuff of her soul and at worst, she felt cheated out of life when she was barely starting to live.
She had at most five months to live. One would think Nyakan went out of her way to savour her last days on planet earth. But no; she lived like life was still a well she could draw from. Her body had been taken hostage. She was, however, adamant that nothing could hijack her faculties– and so she decided to use them.
“I lived my life normally. But my friendship with God grew much stronger. The cohesion between me and my family got better. I filled my mind with positive ideas. I simply believed that the best would turn out, the diagnosis notwithstanding,” she says.
Her doctor required that she stays bedridden throughout the pregnancy. In the final weeks to delivery, Nyakan was wheeled into surgery for a caesarean section. The atmosphere, she recalls, was blithe and gothic. The hospital felt like the grim reaper’s sanctuary.
For whatever reason, a voice from inside assured her that she would come out of the procedure alive.
“I felt some unusual sense of calm over me,” she says. “I knew what I faced ahead. Despite that, I had a strong feeling that I would survive.”
Indeed, she woke up from it. But the surgery turned out to be a fierce fight for her life. She had blood spluttered all over. The first question she asked was: “How did blood come from all over to drain through my mouth?”
She had survived what apparently none had survived before. Her walk through the proverbial valley of the shadow of death gave birth to a fresh lease of life.
Throughout her life, Nyakan says that she handled life meticulously. She had an ambition to become the best possible. Born in a family of six siblings, she would be the only one to study through Kenya’s 8-4-4 system; her last stint being at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and technology (JKUAT).
After her graduation, she joined the corporate world as a business specialist. For 16 years, she worked in the developed world. The last job she held was at Kick-start International, a US-based organisation with branches in Africa.She had just been offered a position to be the Chief Operations Officer (COO) for Africa when she decided to jump ship to “discover her purpose.”
She reflected through her life. Her intuition sulked at the idea of becoming a COO. What would she achieve? Why would she choose to do a particular thing? What was it that she was created for? What was her purpose?
A flurry of questions. “At times,” she says, “it is good to meditate through a decision before moving ahead with it.”
Nyakan today, is the founder and CEO of Timeless and Magnificient Ltd; a company she created with her sights on the development of African economies. Without mincing words, she says what she does today encapsulates the essence of her living: Her purpose.
“Before taking the plunge into proprietorship, I had a reflection moment. I asked myself, ‘How has what I have been doing influenced the growth of Africa as a continent?’ While I know my expertise must have influenced Africa immensely, I felt I had so much more I could offer; something within me that I was yet to offer.”
Nyakan, through Timeless and Magnificient, has empowered thousands of Africans to realise their maximum potential.
“As a business, we want Africans to know that they can make it. We have engaged many through capacity building and training. When necessary, we develop strategic partnerships with an aim of achieving a greater goal,” says Nyakan.
She is the brains behind Timeless Women’s conference, which will be held at Safari Park Hotel, Nairobi from February 9 to February 10. With a spooky theme for this year, ‘Healed heels’, Nyakan predicts an explosive discussion that will bring together women from all walks of life to chat the way forward in empowering women.
Nyakan is grateful for “being born to parents who could put food on the table”. She may never have known what poverty is, but she does not boast a rich background either.
She is the embodiment of true hybrids; her parents passed just the right share of genes unto her. She says: “I have the charisma and intellect of my father, and the excellence and integrity of my mother.”
Her best friend, Anne Riungu, attests to these qualities. According to Anne, her friend is driven by passion for purposeful living. “She is indefatigable and self-driven. Once she has sights on something, she will pursue it to conclusion.”
Nyakan draws inspiration from world greats Martin Luther King and Oprah Winfrey. The tenacity of a man who had a dream amidst great odds always provokes a deeper understanding of purpose in her realm.
And in a world that has increasingly become impatient and judgmental, she sees hope in a girl who was told she couldn’t but who eventually rose to the top of her desired industry.
For a woman who came off ‘death sentence’ back to life, there is very little that can stop her star from rising above the mundane.