Back when I was in university it was customary to attend WAPI, a monthly artistic event hosted by the British Council at their offices in Upper Hill, Nairobi. My usual ‘partner in crime’ was @malel and we had a selective routine procedure, first sample the graffiti, check out the clothing designs and end at the music section. We never bothered to indulge at the Skills Factory section in the indoor hall that was meant to teach entrepreneurial skills, but on this particular day it played host to a fashion show and we couldn’t resist the glamour and ogling that came with it.
Photo Courtesy of Hiuhu Murimi
The best of thighs and breasts were on display, the crowd was getting bigger by the minute and we were lucky secure a spot close to the runway. The music was blaring and the hall filled with oriental perfume, Cindy Ogana busy dancing to the techno music while ushering in the models one at a time as they took command of the of the runway. As expected, we joined the crowd in rewarding the scantly dressed female models with a round of applause
Then I felt a tap on my shoulder, turning around a short guy quickly asked me “can you model?”, “No”, that was my straight answer. He pulled me from the audience and said “it’s pretty easy, just walk straight and back”. They didn’t have enough male models for their custom t-shirts and shorts and were in desperate need for a tall guy, seems I fitted the bill. Mr. @malel made matters worse; he insisted I have to take on the runway. I gave in and headed for the changing room.
When I was just about to let the zippers off one of the lady models checked into the changing room, quickly pulled my zippers up. She went on to change the modeling garments, my mind froze momentarily; I had to turn around just to convince myself it wasn’t real. She walked out without acknowledging my presence, phweeks!! I lowered my trouser once again and another female model checked in and it went on. I had to make a decision, “screw it”, I said then pulled down my trousers and changed into my new look.
On the queue to the runway the whole perspective of the event changed. The music was certainly louder and the thighs were closer, in some instance 10 cms away. Seems I had a lapse in concentration then heard NEXT and everyone was staring at me. I puffed my chest and strolled to the runway, the ladies screamed and the cameras flared. For a moment, I had the feeling of Chris Rock cracking a joke on stage, then to Kanye West receiving a Grammy Award and Will Smith on a movie premier.
The photographers urged me in sign language to slow down; it was time to invent some swag and E! News episodes came in handy. I paused for shoots at the end of the runway, went back and picked up one of the female models and did a gangsta couple walk on the runway. It certainly became fun as the photographers asked for more time to take shots.
It is worth noting before this event I was a total reclusive nerd who loathed attention. But on this day I lost my conservativeness, I lost my virginity of being on a podium full of people staring right into my eyes waiting for my next moves. It felt new, fresh, exciting, interesting and above all worth doing. Though I stood no chance of becoming a professional model, this particular experience enabled me to develop courage to do talks, pitches, TV interviews and presentations. Who knew it would take a bunch of half nude ladies and a screaming audience to make a good orator.