Deliberate and Afraid of Nothing

I had this crazy idea to do a glam safari themed birthday photoshoot while in Kenya. The vision was to take editorial pictures in unexpected outfits with the animal filled savannah as our backdrop. But 1, you can’t just walk around most game parks, because ya know, lions. And 2, I’m deathly afraid of animals. All animals. But especially big animals. In the wild. So yes, the idea was crazy. Nonetheless, I asked my intern Lontia to put together a mood board, pulled a few outfits, and reached out to the one Nairobi photographer I knew well enough to trust with this idea – Rich, who took our engagement photos!

Rich suggested we go to Crescent Island, a privately owned (by whom, is a bit confusing – some sources say its Kenyan owned, some say its white owned) wildlife sanctuary on Lake Naivasha, a two hour drive from Nairobi. Zebras, giraffes, wildebeests, antelopes, and many other exotic species were brought to the island (which is actually now a peninsula) to film the movie Out of Africa. Since there are no predator animals, people are allowed to walk freely amongst the animals without any fences or barriers.

So we show up, I’ve done my makeup in the car without messing up my clothes, which is enough accomplishment for the day, and even got both lashes to stick on. As we drive into the park, we’re immediately greeted by zebras, wildebeests, and giraffes, as if they were waiting our arrival.

I change into my first look, a heavy beaded gown that inspired the whole shoot. It was my reception dress for our wedding, and I was determined to wear it again while it still fit. We step out of the cars, ready to get started. But then Jonathan, my assistant for the day, needs to leave for a bit, and then it’s just me, Rich and his team, and the animals. I’m wearing 4 inch heels, in a dress that’s too tight after four straight days of eating chapatis, so my ability to run from danger is totally gone, and the one person I trust to save my life is no longer there.

With each shot, Rich tries to encourage me to take another step closer to the zebras. I approach them gingerly, and after a few paces, they retreat. I’m relieved, because that means they don’t want me any closer so I can stop moving. Rich is unconvinced. “Get a little closer,” he keeps telling me. “I can’t,” both my mind and my mouth convey. Yet my feet keep moving. For me, the point is not to get close enough to the animals to touch them. It’s to conquer one of my fears – my fear of animals – by placing myself squarely among them.

“I am deliberate and afraid of nothing.”

Audre Lorde

I always like to meditate on a specific word or mantra for each year, and this upcoming year of my life is all about being deliberate and unafraid. Being unafraid of taking risks, of the unknown, of change. Being intentional and deliberate about the things I want and deserve. Fear and lack of intention go hand in hand – one is an emotion and one is lack of action – both keep you from going after your dreams, fulfilling your destiny, and living your best life. Here’s to year 28: my year of being deliberate and afraid of nothing.

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  1. UNAFRAID! This. This is where I am going to. I keep reminding myself that God has told us that he will be with us, so what can mere mortals do? So yes, getting rid of fear. Happy birthday, again!

  2. Like Oliver Twist said; Can we have some more from this chapter of deliberate and afraid of nothing?
    I’m still very ecstatic to have met your warm soul here in Nairobi.Can’t wait for more of these posts!

  3. I love the photos Ijeoma, very inspiring! I’ve also had to miss your two meet and greets in Kenya for 1. Work related issues and 2. The fact that I live about 10 hours away from Nairobi, Kisumu to be exact, which is really annoying but I’m really looking forward to attending your third meet and greet event in Kenya, when it comes. you might really want to switch the location for the event and try out different towns but if it happens in Nairobi again, I would have to make sure I attend and see you. This has always been my favorite blog, like I literally hang around for new posts and more. My word for the year was ZEALOUS, I remember yours being EXCELLENCE. I’ve been able to accomplish most of my tasks and approach issues with a lot of zeal, which is a plus for the 24 year old me. Major shout out to Rich, Happy Birthday Dr. Kola

    1. I didn’t know you were in Kisumu hon I was there in December! No worries, next time I’m there I’ll be sure to do something, even if it’s small, in Kisumu. And I don’t know if I’ve lived up to my word for the 2018 but there are a few more months to be great!

  4. When we think you have surprised or done something other fears to do, you come up with expectations that exceed our expectations again. Just continue conquering mountains and exceeding your imagination Ijeoma. ??