Happy Women’s Month!
To celebrate, we are continuing our tradition of spotlighting the iconic, ambitious and diverse women of Ikigai. For this edition, we caught up with multi-talented artist – Philippa Ndisi-Herrmann. A filmmaker, DJ, photographer and poet. We talked to Philippa about her experiences as an artist and finding her reason for being.
How did your passion for the arts develop?
Since my late teens, I knew I wanted to do something in the arts. I was drawn to painting and writing, and I felt that film was a combination of both those things. Film is visceral, you can convey life experience through cinema.
How have films impacted your life?
Personally, films opened my mind to people who I thought were very different from me. Film enables you to learn about other people’s stories, it softens and opens your heart to other people.
I recently saw the documentary about Patrice Lumumba by Raoul Peck, and I was blown away. Though Raoul never knew Lumumba, Peck’s own personal feelings, stories and memories are sewn into a factual account of Lumumba’s life. The narrative still maintains its integrity and a personal touch to telling someone’s story. It added texture and depth that I hadn’t seen in a biopic before.
Filmmakers and artists are very powerful individuals because they can talk about our society, revolutionize thinking, empower and honour people. I try to do the same through my work by honouring life, be it my own or that of others.
Her keen eye for the beauty of life inspired her award-winning documentary, New Moon. Set in the coastal town of Lamu, New Moon, takes us on a journey of self-discovery as Philippa explores spirituality and religion.
Since the film, Philippa has found ways to celebrate and express her spiritual side through her work. As a celebrant and astrologer in training, she finds ways for individuals to empower themselves and affirm the beauty of life.
How has spiritually influenced you?
Spirituality is very important to me. My spirituality has helped give me clarity and inspired my faith in my path. I grew up Christian, and later became a Sufi Muslim which is the premise of New Moon.
I believe we are meant to leave the world more evolved and touch other with our light. Hence, I believe whatever tools God puts on my path for this, I will follow. For instance, I have recently launched a celebrancy side to myself. Wedding, naming and funeral celebrancy is another form of celebrating life in a way that is true to the people involved. The ceremonies are an amalgam of their cultural, spiritual and personal beliefs. I think for me, the celebrancy is a way of encouraging people to have faith and trust in their own understanding of life.
On the other hand, as an astrologer, I am able to give people some clarity and assist them to remember who they are and how wonderful they are. I believe it inspires others to be their best. Astrology has been a prolific tool in understanding myself – allowing me to explore my subconscious but also affirm my life purpose, my God-given gifts, my strengths and inspire my evolution. It is a subject that absolutely blows my mind.
I believe in fostering an intimacy with God and oneself and this constant dialogue guides our direction. Everyone has their own relationship to life. I find that when you can bring people together in a certain way, where they believe in love and life, it makes us affirm the power of life, and that’s what we need to do more of. In any way that that can happen, it is important to do that.
What would you say your reason for being – Ikigai is?
To inspire and empower myself and others to keep rising. In everything I do, I would very much like to affirm the beauty of life and empower others.
I have many interests. However, with everything I do, it is very important for me to honour life and bring people together.
Be it through her art or spiritual side, we are excited to see what the year holds next for Philippa. To keep up with Philippa and her exciting projects such as the Nairobi Social Club, follow her website or our events page.