Zamzam Abib is a Kenyan lawyer who has specialized in real estate, conveyancing, banking and finance, general corporate and commercial law, intellectual property and employment law. She is the first Somali woman to open a law firm in Kenya having established Abib and Associates Advocate in 2012 at the age of 29.
Here is her story as told by WoK.
Zamzam Abib Education
Zamzam was born and raised in Webuye, Western Kenya. She attended Lugulu Primary School then joined to Loreto High School, Limuru. Afterwards, she joined the University of Nairobi to pursue a Bachelor of Laws degree before proceeding to the Kenya School of Law.
Childhood Trauma and FGM
In an interview with KTN, Zamzam said she wanted to be a lawyer from a young age having seen the injustices in her community.
Along the way, she also toyed with the idea of becoming a doctor as she had an uncle who was a neonatal specialist. However, she reverted back to law.
From a young age, she witnessed a lot of abuse. In her community, people are supposed to marry within the same clan. Her mother was not from her father’s clan, hence, he was encouraged to marry another woman from his clan to get an heir.
Her mother had given birth to daughters only. The marriage brought a lot of chaos as the step-mother moved to a property where they were supposed to stay.
Prior to this, they had lived in a rental house. Her mother had been involved in the planning of the new house and she was not about to let another woman move into the property.
It took the intervention of elders to settle the issue by allowing her mother to move to the property and the other wife to another place.
Her mother was once viciously attacked by women from her father’s clan as her father and another male watched. They did not try to help her as culturally men do not get involved in women fights.
These events changed her mother and she became very harsh, especially towards Zamzam. It was so bad that she once asked her father if the woman was a stepmother. Her father, on the other hand, was kind towards her.
Another traumatic experience that happened to her was Female Genital Mutilation. She remembers being forcefully dragged to the dinning table and getting cut.
It was so painful that she left her body and would later in life go through hypnosis therapy to get some of the memories.
This made her feel even more betrayed by her mother and the rift between them grew. She also developed an infection and had to be taken to the hospital.
A month to her national examinations, her father passed away. This was very difficult and when she went to hug her mother during this period, she violently pushed her away.
After high school, she refused to live with her mother and stayed with several relatives.
The mother of two got an A minus in the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) exams but her mother did not seem interested in paying for her school fees. She applied for the Higher education Loans Board and joined the University of Nairobi.
One other incidence that continued to sour the relationship between mother and daughter was when she once asked for school fees and was called a tick.
Zamzam Abib Law Firm
Upon graduation, she undertook a pupillage with Anjarwalla & Khana Advocates before joining Issa & Company Advocates to set up and head the conveyancing and commercial department.
She has established herself in the law circles and has even worked with leading financial institutions.
Circle of Abuse
When it came tine for marriage, it was arranged by the community. The marriage was emotionally and financially abusive.
She would work but the man would misuse the finances. This led to a lot of pain and she eventually left the marriage although it took years for the divorce to be finalized. She got custody of their daughter.
The lawyer then decided to evaluate her life and all she had been through. She was even suicidal several times in her life. She went to a therapist and learnt about trauma realizing that it stemmed from her childhood.
This began the journey of healing her inner child. Through a mediator, she also started talks with her mother trying to find out why she was so cruel towards her. She was so detached from her mother that she had not even saved her number as mother.
Zamzam realized her grandmother was also abusive towards her mother and it was like the circle continued with her. She is determined to raise her daughter differently.
The 40-year-old found a second chance at love and is with someone who, although not from her community, cares for her.