Sitawa Wafula: 17 Year Old Who Made History As First Kenyan To Win The BET Award

Sitawa Wafula is the best personification of disability is not inability. 

Diagnosed with epilepsy, mental trauma and bipolar disorder, Sitawa has gone ahead and given speeches in front of foreign ministers and government officials to holding TED Talks to share her unique story. 

“At the age of 17, I was diagnosed with epilepsy – which is more of a neurological illness. The year after that, I was sexually assaulted, the trauma of it affecting me psychologically….That unchecked trauma from the assault was later given a mental health diagnosis, bipolar disorder. In my early twenties, I found myself dealing with a dual diagnosis and not finding proper mental health information and support,” she stated. 

Despite her ordeal, Sitawa didn’t lose hope. She embarked on spending her time providing information and support for those who suffer from what others consider a taboo and curse. 

Here is her story as told by WoK.

The only Kenyan to win BET award

In 2022, Sitawa made history  by becoming the only Kenyan to win the highly coveted Black Entertainment Television (BET) award. She was named the 2022 Global Good Award honoree. 

Celebrating her win, BET put up a post in her honor, highlighting her achievements as a mental health activist. 

“We are proud to announce @wafulasitawa as our 2022 Global Good Award Honoree. The Global Good Award is our recognition of public figures who champion initiatives enacting positive social change and awareness. Sitawa Wafula is a Kenyan mental health advocate and activist, who started the first free mental health support line in Kenya,” the post read in part.

Started Kenya’s first free mental health and epilepsy support line

Over the years, Wafula has become a voice of hope and uses her personal journey as a rape survivor living with a dual diagnosis of epilepsy and bipolar disorder to provide people in Africa with information and support to handle mental health conditions and deal with everyday life. Mental illness is still stigmatised in Kenya.

“The silence and stigma around mental health has unfortunately been part of the African, and subsequently the Black Community’s culture. By putting a global spotlight on mental health, BET is paving the way for these conversations to move from taboo topics that are not talked about in our culture to conversations we can have on the dinner table,” She said.

Sitawa Wafula is a three-time award winning mental health and epilepsy crusader and blogger. She runs a mental health social enterprise called My Mind, My Funk, Kenya’s free mental health SMS help line.

In her life, Sitawa has bagged many awards for her work including being named Google Africa Connected Winner in 2014, 2013 Activist of the Year and 2013 East Africa Youth Philanthropist.

She has also presented a speech at a UN General Assembly Showcase in New York and has appeared in a number of TED Talks. 

When she is not investing herself in these projects, she loves nurturing her relationship with God, doing DIY projects, food, travel, and books.