The definition of cool
Cindy Gaede is no ordinary woman, an interior designer, former model and founder of Fashion week Alaska, flight attendant with Emirates (Dubai), one of the best airlines in the world, sometimes described as a 5 star restaurant with wings.
Today Cindy, a woman of striking appearance, is busy marketing Aquawall Gym products, water resistance training gear for swimming pools and gyms. Those are isometric products used in swimming pools across the world for people of all age groups and people recovering from accidents. I am at Cindy’s place in Kórahverfi for this interview.
GW: Where are you from Cindy?
Cindy: small town called Ahero close to kisumu..famously known by people as Lake Victoria.
GW: Ok I must ask you since I‘m a drummer,,,,
Cindy: Yes you are a drummer, So am I.
GW: You are also a drummer ?
Cindy: Yeah I play bongos, bongo bongo bongo (knocks on the table)
GW: Do you play the Djembe ?
Cindy: Yes, I play the Djembe
GW: Get out of here
Cindy: No, I was playing at Lava Barinn this summer.
GW: So on the subject of drumming, in West african drumming religion takes an important place.
Cindy: Yes also in east and mid africa. In my tribe we drum a lot, We call it the bongos. The light drum, the tenor, the alto, I used to play when I was a litle girl in church. I hated it. (LOL)
GW: You didn’t like it ?
Cindy: No I was born that way, it was a talent I was born with and my mother always dragged me to churh to play drums there. Child abuse (jokingly).
GW: So it was something that you had a talent for but don’t necessarily like doing it ?
Cindy: Well it depends on the circumstances and you don‘t get a lot of opportunities to play the way you want to play.
GW: I see, well we need do something about that
Cindy: yeah I would really like that.
GW: Yeah we will.
Cindy: Kenya,,,,in my hometown Ahero, we have a lot of fish. tilapia. It’s actually available at Kolaportið now. The air is very humid there and it gets very hot. In North Kenya we have sand and a very dry climate. But in West Kenya which is called Table land, the land is totally flat, it’s hot and humid and it rains a lot.
GW: And how do you like the climate here ?
Cindy: It was difficult to get used to, but now it‘s ok, it‘s dry but I have grown accustomed to it. The other day I was in Kenya and it was to hot. You can‘t walk much it‘s just to hot. And the Mosquitoes have Wi-fi.
GW: Yeah here‘s Cindy, lets eat her !! LOL
Cindy: Yeah LOL.
GW: The political situation in Kenya is actually stable now,
Cindy: A lot of things have changed with social media, nobody is silent anymore. Now we have freedom of speech which before did not exist. So when people speak up the authorities need to act because people are not keeping quiet.
GW: Yeah well then it‘s very difficult not to.
Cindy Gaede with former Prime Minister of Iceland, Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir.
Cindy: exactly and then people have organized groups like on Diaspora, where we have people who are determined to change and stop all the bs and corruption in Kenya. We have funds, people taking part in running the organization. And then we have a tv station. People speak up and exchange ideas in an academic way, people like me who live abroad that want to go back to change Kenya. We who live abroad have certain privileges.
GW: So a lot of the people who are participating on this web and in this organization, are actually living outside of Kenya?
Cindy: Yes, all of them
GW: How many are you ?
Cindy: Millions. It’s not a small group. It started with the Diaspora group and then it went in to branches. And of course there is always a heated discussion in between those branches and that’s the fun part. And then when an incident comes up like with the terrorism last year , we come together and try to find a solution. Then Diaspora has a tv station in Atlanta Georgia, and if you have something you call them.
GW: Is the Diaspora Group preparing to run for congress ?
Cindy: Absolutely, now we have elections coming up so we are looking at 2017. We are not in Kenya, we are not at home, but there are a lot of people in politics in Kenya that value our opinion since we can vote online.
GW: Ah so you can vote online in Kenya, here in Iceland we cannot do that so Kenya is kicking our arse LOL.
Cindy: I know haha. And we are allowed dual citizenship.
GW: When did you receive Icelandic citizenship?
Cindy: 10 years ago
Cindy Gaede giving a lecture
GW: And was it an easy process back then ?
Cindy: yes, I came here as a teenager, I worked at Sjóli in Hafnafjörður and after 3 years I was actually asked I wanted to be a citizen in order to vote.So I was 24 or 25. I grabbed it.
GW: So maybe things have changed ?
Cindy: Some people cheat the system, they bring their brother in and say it‘s their husband and all of us are judged for those few bad apples.
Chinese investment in Kenya
GW: We were talking about Chinese investment in Kenya and for example, Dambisa Moyo, a highly respected economist from Zambia, says it‘s what Africa needs. Is it a positive thing ?
Cindy: I lived there in the 90s and going back today I see a big change.
GW: Roads, infrastructure,,,
Cindy: Yes the Chinese are building all this, did they get their deals with the Kenyan government cheap, of course, but they took things over and they are really working.
GW: There are many economists in Africa that totally agree with you.
Cindy, Well from what I have seen, I was back there the other day, I was there last year for the funeral of my grandmother, but this time I was there to do research. And maybe their work is cheap but they are efficient and strict and they get the job done and that is important. And China is going to rule the world, they are taking over.
GW: And what Africa needs is infrastructure, that is a key because without it you can not get anything done.
Cindy: Correct, the healthcare system is appalling, I was appalled with the conditions there. It is so bad you want to buy a coffin.
Cindy Gaede with the mayor of Reykjavík, Dagur B. Eggertsson.
GW: An african woman, in Kenya, who speaks her mind, and has strong political views,
Cindy: She is respected, before, women where not respected. Now we have women who speak their mind. We have Orie Rogo Manduli, the first woman who participated in the African Rally. She is a mentor. We have our current first lady, Margaret Gakuo Kenyatta, she is a firecracker, she makes things happen. Is it a tough world for women in politics, absolutely. You can get slapped any minute by the men. But the ones who got their feet in to it, they are working hard.
Racism in Iceland
GW: But you have actually been planning on a political career here in Iceland ?
Cindy: Absolutely, I‘d love to do it, I just have to make my Icelandic perfect.LOL I did lectures with Dagur B. Eggertsson the mayor of Reykjavík in the last campaign. It was very interesting and people were very nice. I want to do more work like that and run for office one day. There is a lot of work to be done, black people in Iceland are being called baboons and talked to like prostitutes. We are treated with disrespect on the bus and a lot of the times the bus wont stop for us. This problem has to be addressed and black people should express them self’s about this in the media.
GW: Those racist remarks. I have been hearing quite a bit about disrespect toward black people here since I started Sandkassinn. Is there a certain age group that’s particularly negative in that regard, more disrespectful, are older people behaving that way ?
Cindy: No actually older people are much better, if you speak Icelandic like I do, there is no problem and things are good. But it feels very bad when young people show you that disrespect, it makes you very sad.
Buisness – Fitness – Fashion – Emirates
GW: Lets get back to your buisness, you are actually leaving for Nairobi on Thursday again. So you are diving in to the fitness market in Kenya, lots of opportunities there.?
Cindy: Yes, This fitness gear is actually developed by a guy in Hungary who was a competitive athlete but he had to quit competing while recovering from injuries. So he developed this fitness gear which is used in water for his own recovery. His recovery and method then received a lot of attention and now it is being used all over the world. This is a system that eliminates injuries to your joints while training. It is resistance training in water. So you run in water, you jog in water, this is a good training method for most people, even those that are bound to a wheelchair.
GW: So we might expect a gym here in Iceland one day ?
Cindy: That‘s the plan, my dream is to bring it to Iceland, this is my home.
GW: And you are a trainer and a dance instructor as well ?
Cindy: Yes, I have been teaching african dance in Baðhúsið, briefly, I had to quit since I had other plans, but it went really well.
GW: You lost your parents in the 80s.
Cindy: Yes, it was hard of course, but you learn to move on.
GW: So let’s move on to a lighter subject, Dubai, Emirates. One of the most high class airlines available. Some people call it a 5 star restourant with wings. How was it working for them ?
Cindy: This is the ultimate luxury, you have business class, then you have VIP. It was a privilege to work for them. I applied online, then they called and I had to go to Munich, there where 2000 applicants and I was there as an Icelandic, not as a Kenyan. It was 5 days, and they made cuts until the last day. Then you were in. And there were only 17 of us that got picked in 2006. The first week I worked there I was a student, by the 2nd week I was the manager on board. It was the best experience of my life. It was a lot of fun. They build you up to be a business person. Not just an employe. And at Emirates you are an employe, but they train you to approach it as your own business. And what follows after a good days work is really priceless. You get crowned, acknowledged by the Sheik. You get your bonuses and you get your upgrade really fast and that’s ecsactly what happened. I’m really proud if this accomplishment.
With the Emirates
Then on a flight from dubai in to New York I met my x husband and moved with him to Alaska. We had a girl who now resides with her father over there, I also have a 15 year old son here in Iceland. But I came up with Fashion Week Alaska while over there. I trained the girls, I am not tall enough so I train girls hahaha. I’m really proud of the Fashion stuff I have done as well.
GW: So we might see Cindy the fashionista here at home ?
Cindy: If Iceland gives me an opportunity, I’m Icelandic. I would love to do Fashion Week Reykjavík. If’e got designers from Santo Domingo, so why not? It worked in Alaska, it should work in Iceland. We could do a thing in the Blue Lagoon and in Eyjafjallajökull, I’m game? –
- Gunnar Waage er blaðamaður og ritstjóri Sandkassans frá árinu 2013.
Hann er Trommari, Tónskáld og skólastjóri Trommuskólans, fyrrverandi deildarstjóri og einn af stofnendum Tónlistarháskóla G. Martell í Mexíkóborg. Hann lauk burtfararprófi frá McNally Smith College of Music, en duflar við kerfisfræði og er áhugamaður um bardagaíþróttir. Hann rýnir í þjóðfélagsmál og lætur sig flest varða.Hann er einstæður faðir, jafnréttissinni, fjölmenningarsinni og áhugamaður um velferð barna. Starfar við túlkun og þýðingar og fæst við spænskukennslu.
Hann er pistlahöfundur á Kvennablaðinu og var pistlahöfundur á DV en hætti skrifum á DV ásamt fleirum, í þeim tilgangi að sýna blaðamönnum og ritstjórn blaðsins samstöðu í kjölfar yfirtöku á félaginu í September 2014.
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