NANCY ‘AJUMA’ NASENYANA
Born in Lodwar, Turkana District on January 14th 1994, Ajuma was an athlete training with Paul Erang when she made her first foray into modeling, participating in the Miss Tourism Kenya competition in 2003.
Having won the 400 and 800 mt track events in the Kenya Junior Championships in 2002 she was now the crowd favorite in a very different type of competition. She won the ‘Miss Nairobi’title.
Through Miss Tourism, she came to the attention of Lyndsey McIntyre, the Managing Director of Kenya’s top modeling agency – Surazuri, who immediately spotted her international potential.
On the threshold of pursuing an athletics career Lyndsey persuaded her to meet some journalists coming to Kenya to do a story on her search for a Supermodel. They met at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport as Ajuma was about to board a plane to Sweden. The journalists persuaded her to unload her bags and accompany them to Turkana with Lyndsey for a photo spread for French Magazine Gala. The photographs taken were to provide the basis for Ajuma’s fabulous portfolio.
Surazuri then sponsored the 19 year old to enter the Ford Models Supermodel of the World Search 2003 to represent Kenya. This is the worlds premier modeling competition with over 50 contestants taking part in a high profile show in New York. Ajuma did her country proud by being the first black model ever to win a ($50,000) contract in an international competition that was not aimed solely at promoting black models.
Her career has snowballed. She is signed with the worlds top modeling agencies in New York, Paris, Milan, London, Spain, Tokyo, Copenhagen, Dublin, Stockholm and Cape Town, although Lyndsey remains her Mother Agent and Manager.
Ajuma has worked for designers such as Baby Phat, Vivienne Westwood, Issey Miyake, Ungaro and LaCoste to name a few. She is a favorite over the fashion week seasons and makes a hectic dash from New York to London to Milan to Paris to Kenya. She has shot covers and editorials for several magazines including American Elle and is starring in advertising campaigns all over the globe. In 2004 Ajuma won a 6000 Euro prize for being voted Best Model of Spanish Fashion Week. In August 2005 she was voted amongst the worlds 10 most beautiful women by US magazine ‘Complex’. She has starred in an art house movie that won an award at the New York Film Festival and has worked alongside Naomi Campbell and Alek Wek. In 2006, she flew with the Victoria’s Secret angels including Gisele Bundchen to participate in a fashion show in LA for which she was paid a staggering $10,000.
In 2007 she was flown to South Africa to take part in the huge Positive Rocks concert and show in Sun City where she and Aluchi were the celebrity models for the event.
It was a tough decision to quit athletics but she is not one for regrets. She has adapted easily to the traveling although she admits it can get lonely. However, her beautiful smile and genuine charm make her new friends wherever she goes - carrying the Kenyan flag with pride and grace.
Ajuma is now based in New York and is still represented there by Ford Models. She has shot campaigns for Motorola, Speedo, Vivianne Westwood and Target amongst many others.
Ajuma’s mother, Maria, was the first woman of her generation in the Turkana area to receive an education and she went on to open and run the Women’s Centre in Lodwar. Her grandfather is an ex-administration policeman who keeps two homes – a small house in Lodwar and a Turkana traditional homestead some 15 minutes drive from the town. He has three wives and 25 children and many dozens of grandchildren, including Ajuma.
Ajuma was educated at Greensteads and Greenacres, two excellent boarding schools outside Nairobi, which follow the British system. Her education was sponsored together with other young girls from Lodwar by the Womens Centre. After school she went into training for 400 metre and 800 metre track running and in 2002 she won the World Junior Championship National Trials and was third in the World Championship National trials. Her best times are 400 mt – 54 seconds,
800 mt – 2.07 seconds.
Ajuma is highly intelligent, charming and ambitious and it is these qualities that make her such a successful model as well as her slim toned body and fantastic bone structure.
CHECK OUT AJUMA’S PORTFOLIO ON:
She is also featured on Ones2Watch, a website featuring profiles of the worlds most promising models.