Happy Women’s Month!
You may have read some of this phenomenal woman’s posts right here on World Moms Network. One of our own contributors, Nancy Sumari, has agreed to be interviewed for my Phenomenal Women Series, and it comes right on time as we keep celebrating Women’s History Month and women’s excellence (something, I believe, we should do every month)
#WorldMom, Nancy Sumari
Sophia Neghesti-Johnson: So, Nancy, tell us a little bit about your self. Where are you from, do you have any siblings, and anything else you might want to add about your foundation’s details; so to speak.
Nancy Sumari: I come from a beautiful family of Arusha, Tanzania; one of the most beautiful cities of the world. I have 5 siblings – two boys and three girls. We grew up on a small farm house in Mererani, the world’s only known source of Tanzanite gem! It was filled with adventure, animals, and mischief and I loved it! My parents are both hard working middle class folks. My dad is a geologist naturally, coming from Mererani, while my mom loves to cook and runs her own catering business.
S: That sounds like a fun childhood! I know, you wear a few hats, and it seems there is much more to you than meets the eye. What are your favorite hats and why? (I’m referring to business, modeling, etc)
N: Hahaha I was about to say Berets… hahahahaha! (*I love Nancy’s sense of humor!*) I enjoy my family a lot, I am highly fueled by the work we do through our family foundation that promotes literature and technology through children and youth, I enjoy teaching, very much, and more importantly working with the dynamic team of content creators at Bongo5. As you can tell I enjoy service to children and youth because I also have been afforded chances and opportunities that have allowed me the chance to be the best of who I can be. I believe paying it forward is standard procedure for me and I enjoy it so much.
S: You were Miss Tanzania in 2005. How was it to be in such a pageant that year, in Tanzania? Was it much different than late 90s, much different from now?
Nancy Sumari, Miss World Africa, Miss Tanzania, 2005
N: I think it’s a lot different now because pageants are more frowned upon and viewed more as working against the women empowerment movement. In the 90s I think it had more flare and glam and overtime, especially here in TZ (Tanzania), it has not changed with the times and therefore lost a lot of momentum. We however have fresh leadership now and hope that with that we will get a fresh approach to pageantry altogether.
S: What has been your view of the business world, both locally and globally, as a woman and/or an African woman?
N: I try to focus on excellence and what I bring to the table in terms of my business-offering and my work ethics. Of course challenges are ever present in terms of stereotypes against women, challenges of equality and equal terms of pay etc. but I strongly trust and believe in excellence propelling one beyond the walls that man creates. I therefore focus on giving excellence and allowing that to fly open all doors of opportunity.
S: That is definitely a progressive way of thinking! A few years ago you published a children’s book, Nyota Yako, which was such a pleasure to read and own. What inspired you to write this book in particular?
N: I was uncomfortable to not have enough local content tailored to children on bookshelves in Tanzania. We didn’t have enough stories that honored our history and allowed these stories of our culture, color, vibrancy and awesomeness be told to children. I felt it was time to reach out to young girls and boys with stories of their mothers, grandmothers, aunts and women they know of, (or don’t know of,) but are from their communities, to awaken and inspire, and challenge them to rise above and reach their highest potential.
S: Now, you and your husband are both quite active in the community in one way or another. How do you balance marriage, parenthood, the many other responsibilities, and working together in the community?
Nancy Sumari’s community, where she works for children’s education
N: I think we treat it as a way that we continue to bond and spend time together doing things that we are passionate about and drive us. We don’t always agree but we definitely count our blessings to be able to run projects together that we care about and bring impact. We involve our kids also in the work we do, so it also is very fulfilling to have causes we share as a family and work towards together.
S: If you could streamline the top three things you deem necessary in a successful relationship, what would they be?
1. Unconditional Love
S: Let’s switch gears a bit. As you have had the chance to travel, tell us, what has been the most pleasantly surprising thing you have experienced?
N: I am constantly in awe of the rich history of the cultures and peoples of different nations and the great effort and steps taken to preserve their history. I am captivated by stories and I think it I may take up anthropology at some point in life. I love traveling in Africa, Europe and Asia. There are many parts of the world I am yet to visit, but I certainly keep a rather long bucket list. I recently returned from Amsterdam which was really beautiful. I rode a bike down a highway and had way too many saucijenbroodjes, patates and poffertjes. It was surreal!
S: Hahaha! They are pretty tasty! With the varied experiences you have, what have you learned about your self?
N: That I am an old soul. I thrive through old stories, cultures, diving into the past with hope that it may inform and build up on my present.
S: If there was anything you could tell young African girls, what top three things would you tell them?
1. Bloom where you have been planted – We don’t have the choice of our beginnings, but if we take charge of our narratives and focus on excellence of self and others, we bloom and consequently others do so too.
2. Trust in your journey – With the rise of social media, we often are enslaved with other people’s lives, their achievements, way of doing things, and often fall victim to questioning oneself. You are unique and so is your journey. Be the best, you can be, and let God do the rest.
3. Serve – in whatever capacity you are, we should all be able to give back. It is good for your soul and good for the world! Do everything in service.
S: The last question I have for you is this: if you could tell your younger self anything, what would you say?
N: Relax and stop worrying so much. Move with the flow of life and not against it. Pay attention, Show up and Show out and enjoy the surprises that await along your path!
~~End of Interview~~
Thank you once again, Miss Sumari, for allowing us in your world.
To the reader: If you’d like to see more of what Nancy Sumari does through The Neghesti-Sumari Foundation, Bongo5, JengaHub, and other exciting things, please click on the links below.
The Neghesti-Sumari Foundation
Jenga Hub’s Instagram
Jenga Hub on Facebook
Photos credits to Nancy Sumari
Happy Women’s Month!
A few days ago I had a meaningful and fun conversation with international Tanzanian model, Miriam Odemba. If you have Instagram you might want to pop on over and see what she is up to, as she is always inspirational, motivational, fun, and has the kind of beautiful smile that makes you want to smile as well!
Ms Odemba has agreed to answer some questions for us through this interview, as we celebrate women by showcasing phenomenal women who pursue their dreams and encourage others to do the same.
S: Hi! Please tell us your name and a little bit about where you are from.
M: My name is Miriam Odemba and I come from Tanzania.
S: First of all, I want to congratulate you on your success as an international model! What are some countries where you have modeled?
M: I’ve worked in Tanzania, of course, but in a lot of countries in Africa for various Miss competitions. I’ve been to Angola, South Africa, Senegal, Nigeria, Namibia, Kenya, Uganda. That’s mainly in Africa but I worked as well in China, in the United States with Elite Model Agency, in Europe, (Italy, France, Germany, Switzerland, U.K, Portugal), and of course in the Philippines for Miss Earth. I hope to visit more countries because my career is not finished yet.
S: Wow! Having seen so many places must have been very exciting! So in your travel and experience within the modeling industry, what are some differences you have noticed in how modeling is viewed in Tanzania and in other countries?
M: In Tanzania we need to have more things (in modeling). We need to develop this business. We don’t have that many modeling agencies. It is difficult to go international for models. This is why on long term I want to open my own model agency. Countries like Sudan, Senegal, Uganda they have more models. This is part of the Fashion Industry development. I think Tanzania has a role to play. We need to work hard to become international. Models are Ambassadors of their countries.
S: Well, let me ask you this: what was it like 20 years ago when you were one of the very first models there, and what changes have happened until now in 2018, for modeling in Tanzania?
M: I’m still a legend because I opened the door for next generation. There are a lot of changes because right now the young generation is more on social media and it is a good way to get some awareness. Before, when I was there (in Tanzania) it was only newspapers. Now you can be famous via Instagram. There are a lot of opportunities for African models because the African market is developing.
The industry has started to recognize African models. Naomi Campbell, Iman, Tyra banks started the move but now there are many African models (models of African descent, and directly from Africa).
S: Okay, let’s switch gears a little. You are more than a fashion model. Please tell us about your health initiative
M: What I’m doing with this initiative and with my foundation, Run with Odemba, is trying to give education for our young generation, and to help the Maasai people. I think we have a treasure in our country, we have a specific culture and we need to bring that to the world.
S: What has been the response from the community in Tanzania in regards to your health initiative?
M: Run with Odemba is a very good project. As for me, I love to exercise. I think it is both very good for health and to feel fine. That is why I’m trying to transfer that philosophy to the young generation and I think it should be a part of education. For myself, I’m a trailblazer and a warrior. I’m unstoppable!
Exercise is key for human beings. It should be a habit from the beginning. We need infrastructure as well. In Brazil for instance they have a lot of places for training. We don’t have that in Tanzania. I think it is very important to have a sport culture in Tanzania. Once more, models they represent an image, but they are as well ambassadors of projects and countries. Running with Odemba first edition was a good success, but I intend to develop it in the future; maybe with partnerships with schools.
S: So, what are your thoughts on being a woman and being in shape? Do you think it matters and why?
M: As a woman you need to love yourself. To be proud of yourself. Wake up in the morning and think you are beautiful. It is not only about being a model but being a woman.
If you do that every morning every day you will be grateful. I’m not a perfect person but when you believe in yourself you become perfect.
S: This might be one of the tougher questions for you, because you love people, but I must ask: if you were to name your top top top most influential woman and most influential man who you see as role models, who would you name?
M: Oprah Winfrey because she has a strong speech, and she always gives good advice. For men I say, Barack Obama, because he was the first black president of United States and …he’s classy!
S: If you could tell your younger self anything, what would it be?
M: I would encourage myself to study hard and when I get a chance not to waste it, Education is the future for everything, and most of all, I would advise to appreciate everything!
S: Please share three tokens of wisdom with young girls
M: Respect, appreciate, and love yourself.
We sincerely thank Miriam Odemba for spending some time with us here at World Moms Network! We wish her all the success possible!
This is an original interview by Think, Say, Be for World Moms Network.
If you’d like to see more of Miriam, her modeling journey, and her health initiative, please find her on
We are compelled to action. One year after President Donald Trump took office in 2017, the women who protested his inauguration in the United States still hadn’t forgotten a thing. In January of 2018 we took to the streets for a second time to lift our voices together after living through a year of pretty much what we expected when Trump took office. We accurately predicted that protections for most vulnerable Americans (people in poverty, immigrants, disabled persons, and children to name a few) would be under attack. Some foresaw that we might hear hate-filled vulgarities coming from the president, but I think few expected they would be so frequent. I knew that varieties of racist, anti-Semitic, homophobic, Islam-phobic, xenophobic hate crimes would rise, but I naively never thought we’d see white nationalists openly chanting Nazi slogans and marching with flaming torches in the U.S.A.
Yet last year saw a positive change as people banded together to support each other. The “Me, Too” movement showed the world through social media how common it is for women to experience sexual harassment and/or abuse. Danica Roem became the first transgender candidate elected to a U.S. state legislature through a smart, local, issue-based campaign in Virginia. We saw judges push back against attempts to ban Muslims from entering our country.
I believe all of these events – the good and the bad – resulted in the energy of the marchers being both undiminished and better organized as we rallied around the theme of “March, Act, Vote!” While the enthusiasm of the women around me in St. Louis was still strong, I sensed a difference in tone this time around. Last year, everywhere I looked (including in the mirror) there were women attending their first major protests ever. Their giddy energy was palpable and contagious. Just about everyone I knew who stayed at home in St. Louis knew at least one person who was flying out to D.C. to protest the inauguration. A feeling of novelty and joy in the event came with the solidarity of so many women expressing their disappointment, anxiety, and downright fear about what the future would hold with a confessed sexual predator like Donald Trump in the White House. It was a transformation of epic proportions.
This year, the marchers around me were just as enthusiastic, but instead of novelty, I sensed an overall air of resolve. Snippets of conversations around me revealed that many marchers had not been idle in the last year. Those involved in Black Lives Matter (a movement to stand against violence and systemic racism towards black people) carried their signs as seasoned veterans after months of tensions with the St. Louis Police Department. Organized advocacy groups like the League of Women Voters and Moms Demand Action for Gunsense in America were visibly out to harness this precious protest energy and direct it into registering more voters and taking more actions beyond the event. For me, this was incredibly heartening. My two big fears in 2017 were that all of the energy of mass protests would blow away in the wind without organization OR that the constant shenanigans from the White House would eventually wear down everyone to the point that people were simply accepting a new and horrible normal.
Did 2017 wear us down? Somewhat. Over and over, I hear the word “demoralizing” from my friends, colleagues, and group leaders to describe the past year. But an event highlighting positivity, like the Women’s March in January, goes far to beat back the darkness. An environment like that allows a space for us to draw energy from each other. The night before the march, Rabbi Andrea Goldstein of Shaare Emeth Congregation offered these words in her sermon:
“Ever look toward one another. Look for each other and find there – in community – comfort and inspiration in the collective power and strength that we have together to create the world we long to see. The world we know that God is waiting for. The world we owe our children.” The night before the march, she urged us to: “Look, look, look, look…look around. It will be the day we yearn for. Not soon maybe, but it will be.”
I chose to participate in the second Women’s March, but skip the speakers in favor of getting my daughters to their Saturday activities. As I was leaving on the train, I met a woman who was doing exactly the opposite…she skipped the march, but was headed in to hear the speakers. I asked if she wanted to take my sign that said, “Women’s Rights Are Human Rights,” with her. She enthusiastically agreed and as she headed off downtown, I thought about how in that brief interaction with a stranger, two women supported each other to literally carry our message farther. Maybe that’s the way it has to be in real life for moms who are changing the world. We carry the banners for a time and when we need to step back to tend to our kids, we lend our support to those who will carry them for us until we can come back.
On March 24th protesters will once again be out in force in Washington, DC as they participate in the March For Our Lives. Spearheaded by our country’s youth, the march on Washington DC demands that the lives of our children take priority over guns and that legislators ensure that the epidemic of mass shootings in our country be put to an end.
This is an original post written for World Moms Network by Cindy Levin