Nice Leng’ete, centre, took on her Village elders to end female circumcision in her Maasai community.

Kenyan Wins BBC Inspirations Award

By Irene Gaitirira
Published June 27, 2018

Livey Van Wyk rose from HIV-positive outcast to youngest mayor in NamibiaA Kenyan is among three winners of an award that celebrates ordinary people with extraordinary stories.

Nice Leng’ete of Kenya, who emerged top, was among 20 people shortlisted for ‘doing remarkable things, people who have overcome enormous obstacles to achieve something extraordinary, or people who are breaking taboos and challenging stereotypes, or they are working hard to improve the lives of others’ selected by listeners from individuals who have been on BBC World Service’s Outlook programme.

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So what ‘remarkable things’ has Nice Leng’ete done to have impressed listeners and judges of the second Outlook Inspirations Awards as Outlook, one of BBC World Service’s most popular programmes marks its 52nd anniversary?

She is said to have been eight years old when she was due to be circumcised and become a woman ready for marriage. She is said to have hidden in a tree before begging her grandfather to let her complete formal education. Through her persuasion, the chiefs and elders of the Maasai community of Kenya and Tanzania, meeting at Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, agreed to abolish the cutting ritual. To date, Nice Leng’ete is reported to have saved more than 15 000 girls from female circumcision and hence her winning of the Outlook Inspirations award.

Nice Leng’ete took on her Village elders to end female circumcision in her Maasai community.

Her name, alongside those of Livey Van Wyk of Namibia and Brisa De Angulo of Bolivia were revealed on June 27, 2018 during a special live broadcast from the BBC’s Radio Theatre in London and aired across the globe on the BBC World Service.

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The Outlook Inspirations Awards, that were inaugurated in 2016 to mark the 50th anniversary of BBC World Service’s programme Outlook, celebrate unsung heroes or ordinary people with extraordinary stories from across the world.

While Livey Van Wyk became the youngest person ever to be elected mayor in Namibia in 2010 at the age of 26 years through her efforts to fight the stigma attached to living with HIV, Brisa De Angulo, at the age of 17, founded the only programme in Bolivia for survivors of sexual violence providing free social, legal and psychological services. The group is reported to have trained 80 000 people including judges, prosecutors and police on how to work with survivors of sexual violence and helped more than 1 500 children.

Mary Hockaday, Controller of BBC World Service English says the stories of the three winners “show tremendous courage and resilience in the face of adversity and they have each made a real impact on the lives of others in their communities and beyond.”

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