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RIP Fayah Mummah: Life and times of Njambi Koikai

Former radio host Njambi Koikai, popularly known as Jahmby or Fyah Mummah to her fans, has passed on.

She was 38.

For a long time, Njambi suffered from thoracic endometriosis, a condition in which tissue that normally lines the walls of the uterus, the endometrium, grows outside the uterus.

Last week, the ever-lively reggae emcee said that she had been admitted to Pioneer Ward at The Nairobi Hospital, where she appealed for blood donations.

“Hi fam, I’m currently admitted at the Pioneer Ward Nairobi Hospital and I kindly need Blood O positive. Kindly asking for blood donors for Mary Njambi Koikai,” she wrote on Instagram Stories.

Before her death and her last admission, Njambi had underwent a series of surgeries both locally and abroad since she was diagnosed with endometriosis at the age of 29.

She left Kenya in February 2018 for treatment in Atlanta, the US, where she stayed for more than a year.

While highlighting the effects of late diagnosis, she said that it took her 17 years to get a diagnosis for the life-threatening condition.

In a 2018 interview with the BBC, she talked about her struggles with the disease in her bid to raise awareness.

In the interview, Njambi said it had been difficult for her to have stable love relationships because of painful sex and partners who did not understand her condition.

When the interviewer asked if she had lost partners because of painful sex, Njambi said:

“Yes, yes, because the pain is so much that I don’t even want to go through it. And to find someone who understands that and is willing to go through that pain with you is hard. You know, to have to watch you go through pain every single month is crazy.”

In August 2023, she described herself as a miracle for staying four years without undergoing surgeries since returning from the US.

“Twenty-one surgeries. I am a miracle. I’ve been through ups and downs. Recovery has not been easy but I’m nowhere near those dark days. No lung collapses ever since. Rebuilding my body and strength,” she posted.

According to Endometriosis News, thoracic endometriosis, the presence of endometrial tissue in the thoracic region, may in rare instances lead to pneumothorax in the left lung of young women, according to a case study.

This condition, characterised by the presence of air or gas in the pleural cavity, can cause the lung to break from the chest wall.

In a social media post a few weeks ago, Njambi appealed to President William Ruto, days before he left the country on a three-day State visit to the US, to invest in health.

She appealed to the president to address the issue of endometriosis which is affecting many women in the country due to lack of proper treatment facilities.

“This is a sincere call of help to a few Kenyan leaders but allow me to address this to President William Ruto first as he makes his State visit to the US. Mr President, one of the thematic areas in your visit is investment in health,” she said.

“Atlanta, Georgia, is a dream city for every young girl and woman who has ever battled this horrific disease called endometriosis. Therein lies a centre dedicated to restoring the lives of young girls and women who are crippled by this disease.”

Because of her late diagnosis, Njambi said that the disease had caused a lot of damage to her body.

“After fundraising for specialised treatment, the extent of the disease had spread to my teeth, heart, appendix and affected my spine causing my organs to shift to the left,” she said.

“The adverse effects of endometriosis and adenomyosis cause infertility. One in 10 women are battling endometriosis worldwide. The numbers are staggering. Due to our traditions and taboos, young girls and women are shamed to believe that period pain is normal.”

The news of Njambi’s demise sent shockwaves across the country, with many people taking to social media to express their grief and pay tribute to the radio personality.

“My heart is broken. It is not fair. We lost Fyah Mummah Jahmby Koikai last night. Our warrior is gone,” nominated Senator Gloria Orwoba wrote.

She had also earlier appealed for blood donations on Njambi’s behalf after she was admitted again.

ODM spokesperson Philip Etale also paid his tribute by saying that he was gutted beyond expression.

“Fare thee well my friend, sister and just best friend Fyah Mummah Jahmby Koikai… You had a big family, just a big one… go well my friend.”

Njambi studied USIU-Africa and gained fame while hosting reggae shows on Metro FM and QFM.

She also tried her luck in politics, and in 2022 she unsuccessfully vied for the Dagoretti South parliamentary seat as an independent candidate.

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