Christine Demba had never thought that she was cut out for the modeling world. That was till pressure from friends and acquaintances over her ‘great super-model looks’ got her thinking about the possibilities that she could become a model.
“Surprised that other people could see the beauty in me, I borrowed clothes from a friend of mine and one fine day on March 16, 2010 I approached a camera man for a photo shoot to find out whether the same could be seen through my photographs,” says Demba, a gospel musician.
Dressed in colourful garments designed by her friend, one cannot fail to notice the potential in this beautiful, exuberant and courageous 23- year-old as a model.
“With the comments that I received from my friends after they had seen my photographs, I was really motivated and since then I have developed a passion for modeling,” says Demba who states that though she lacks information about the modeling industry she is hoping that she will get an opportunity to attend any of the modeling auditions held in the country. Her inspiration, she says, comes from New York-based Kenya born super-model Nancy Ajuma Nasenyana, Sudanese Alek Wek and Somali Iman Mohamed Abdulmajid.
Asked why she would want to model, Demba says that she wants to get the world to notice that it is not only thin girls who are cut out for modeling but people with the passion and the courage to do so.
“I want to leave an impact on society through my actions other than just showing the world how beautiful I am,” she says, adding that she also hopes to show the beauty in the African attire that is generally not recognised by many women in Kenya.
But behind the lively and hopeful character that Demba who also draws inspiration from the hopeful messages conveyed through gospel music and the Bible, lies a tale of pain and despair.
Born in Siaya District of Nyanza Province in the western part of Kenya, Demba attended Karopo Primary School and Siaya Township Secondary School where she discontinued studies in Form Two due to family discord.
“I do not come from a stable family background; though my parents had always been in disagreement, it had never affected us young children till I joined Form One at Siaya Township Secondary School and we somehow became embroiled in our parents” quarrels that made matter worse. I could not go on to Form Two as my parents separated and we had to leave with our mother who was not able to take us to school,” she says.”The separation had a toll on me and my elder and younger sisters.”
“We were now free to do as we deemed fit. Influenced by my friends, I began dancing in night clubs. It was an alluring break as I got a lot of money and I felt this was the only way I was meant to live as our mother could not give us what we wanted. But when I became pregnant I knew this was not a good life so I stopped dancing in clubs.”
She had to take care of the pregnancy alone as the man responsible distanced himself from her.
Life, she says, got complicated. She even got work as a domestic servant to cater for the needs of her baby and herself. Restless, she gave up the job.
“When I got saved in 2008 I went back to singing in church, something I had always done since I was six years old,” she says. “Singing gives me the joy I have always longed for and being back to church gives me a sense of being loved and belonging.”
Demba currently markets spiritual music for artists and also sings. She says she is looking forward to recording her own songs. Debra Adhiambo, her daughter, is now aged 6 and is going on to 7.
How has it been for her to transform from a secular dancer to a gospel musician?
“It has not been an easy transformation; while secular dancing could give me some money, the same cannot be said about being a gospel performer. However I thank God each day for this change in life because it gives me joy and makes me feel contented,” she says.
Though she is a solo performer “because I feel it is easier to manage a solo artist than managing a group,” Demba says, “I am a back-up singer with the Grace Band, a Congolese gospel group led by Ushindi Faida that has eight members.”
If she gets on the catwalk, and she has little doubt she will–Demba says she will use the platform to champion the rights of the girl-child.
“Having witnessed how it is difficult growing up as a girl I would wish to help bring up young girls in difficult circumstances. I would really like to see young girls grow up knowing what the world holds for them,” Demba says.