The five women in the Real Housewives of Nairobi share their truth

The Real Housewives of Nairobi cast from left to right, Sonal Maherali, Minne Kariuki, Vera Sidika, Lisa Christoffersen and Susan Kaittany during the premiere of the show at Windsor Golf Hotel. Real Housewives of Nairobi will air exclusively on Showmax. Photo | Pool

What you need to know:

The reality show featuring Susan Kaittany, Vera Sidika, Sonal Maherali, Minne Kariuki, and Lisa Christoffersen, premiered this week

In the 80s the word ‘Housewife’ probably meant a woman who is a stay home mother and whose main agenda is to worry about the running and welfare of the household.

But over the years, women have asserted themselves in different industries to redefine the term homemaker. What does it really mean to be a housewife in the 21 century? Is it a stay-home-mum, who is dedicated fully to the care of her husband and children? Or is it a woman who has a full-time job and is a mother and wife as well? Or is it one who is running multiple businesses, while balancing the role of a wife and mother? Or that fabulously dressed career woman, with her tots in that Instagrammable shot? The truth is, a housewife today, can be any and even more of these women. 

Enter the Real Housewives of Nairobi (RHONairobi) reality show into the debate. Entrepreneur Susan Kaittany will make you question your confidence as a woman, socialite and business woman Vera Sidika’s ‘don’t care’ attitude will make you curious as to how far she would go to achieve her goals.

The soft-spoken Generali, real name Sonal Maherali is a sweetheart but don’t let this fool you, her firmness and ability to get things done is probably the reason why she got the nickname.

Minne Kariuki is an ambitious woman who is ready to step on anyone who stands in her way, and as for sportswoman Lisa Christoffersen at first glance, you will wonder what on earth an elegant grounded woman like her is doing in the show that is characterised with a lot of drama and pettiness. 

But together they say they represent the modern housewife, who is classy, fashionable, ambitious confident and sometimes petty.

The Real Housewives of Nairobi cast had a sit down with Saturday Magazine and shared their life experiences on what it takes to be them. 

Minne Kariuki

Minne Kariuki. Photo | Pool

A mother of one Minne Kariuki has acted in different shows including the Showmax drama series Single Kiasi where she plays the role of Mariah, a woman with a taste for the finer things in life. Dressed in a red bustier gown with a crown on her head she appears to have missed the memo on the colour code. All the other housewives are in royal purple. Her flamboyant lifestyle on social media might have also contributed to her being recognised by the producers of the show.

“I got a call last year from one of the producers of the show and they wanted to audition me for a role in the Real Housewives of Nairobi. I did the auditions in August—they came to my house and filmed me on my normal daily routine and honestly I felt very comfortable. 

I am a lover of the franchise and I love reality shows. I believe that we are human and we are not always perfect and people need to see our imperfections. For them to know that even if they see us acting on TV and looking fabulous that is not the case all the time. 

I’m a very grounded, authentic human being, and my marriage is very organic. My definition of a real housewife is not just the traditional housewife who stays at home. Housewives are women who are empowered, independent, and strong-headed, who also balance their family duties.

Before accepting to be part of the show I had so many questions in my head. ‘How will people judge me when they get to see the real me, and not on reality TV?  How will my family take it having cameras on their faces in our home? What about me? There are days I have no makeup on, not forgetting there are days I am happy and others when I am sad and frustrated.’

Still, I believe that even in my vulnerability and imperfections I am still perfect.

It is important for me to show my fans that there are ups and downs in life and if I do not celebrate myself who will? I’m a very authentic person and I do not live a lie even on social media. What you see on Instagram is real. I am not those people who post opulence on social media but ‘Vitu kwa ground ni different’.

I have been acting for the past 10 years and in most roles, I am cast as a slay queen, a high roller or a woman who is just sleeping with her blessers or sponsors. I feel RHONairobi will give me the perfect opportunity to tell the world who I am because the Mariah people see in the drama series Single Kiasiis not the actual me.” 

Susan Kaittany

Susan Kaittan. Photo | Pool

She is a lawyer by profession and the owner of one of the top beauty salons in Nairobi Posh Palace. Susan is a Pandora box that is full of surprises. She is a businesswoman building her own empire in the beauty industry and a loving doting mother to her two children.

“I am the Posh queen and on the show I bring fashion and sass— you know the Susan fabulousity? Period. I am a very private person and when the opportunity to become a housewife came knocking I said why not, because I am turning 40 soon and as a Posh queen it is time for me to stop being so private, live life and ascend. 

RHONairobi has had a tremendous impact on my life because there was no way I could be part of the show if I’m not real because it is 100 per cent reality. You cannot do it if you are fake. 

I have also learnt that vulnerability is a strength and you can only be vulnerable when you are sure of yourself and are ready to let people in. In the show, I have cried at times, fought, gotten fierce, weak, and strong which are all the things that define a woman.

A housewife in my own definition is a woman like me, one who has a family and knows where she is going and is successful. 

Are there times I have worried about what people would think? Yes, and the repercussions of exposing my children to the world. My children are dear to my heart and I have always sheltered and kept them away from the spotlight. 

But one of the reasons that I am proud of is because I own my s**t.  A lot of people think that I am a snob but then that probably means I am a really pretty snob …… (laughs), but what I know is that people do not just know me because I did not let them in and I was very intentional about that. 

I do not like people who fake lifestyles on social media. You will be loved more when you present the real you, and show your truth. You do not have to drive that expensive car when you do not have the money. This is a human story and journey and it is time for people like us to share our human experiences.”

Vera Sidika

Vera Sidika. Photo | Pool

She first shot into the limelight 10 years ago as a video vixen to the popular song ‘You Guy’ sang by Genge group P-UNIT. Her voluptuous derriere was what captured the attention of Kenyans. Her life has been nothing short of a reality show itself, travelling the world, having messy relationships, and undergoing a procedure to change the colour of her skin. 

She is now a mother to her one-year-old daughter and is expecting her second-born. She says filming the show while pregnant was one of the hardest things she has ever done. She is in her third trimester but the woman sitting opposite me during the interview shows no signs of being tired or anxious. She is dressed in a purple sequined dress, wedge heels – no flat shoes – and a feather crown. 

“My life has been an open book, but my journey with pregnancy and some of the troubles that I am going through will give hope to someone. I know there are people who think my life is perfect but I do not think there is anyone with a model life.

I am one of the celebrities who has received more hate than love. People have said that my life is fake, I am broke, and no longer relevant. You know what faking life is more expensive than living it. My life has always been open and real except for my boobs. 

Despite being in the industry for 10 years, I’m one of the few who are still relevant. I have gone full circle in my career. Being on a reality TV show was definitely on my vision board. I have travelled the world, I have gone through experiences and at this point in my life no one can tell me anything! 

My life has been a transition from one level to another, there was the wild Vera who was the video vixen to Vera the entrepreneur and travel queen.

As much as I live my life on social media I have never felt pressure to act a certain way to please anyone. I am not a people pleaser because I know the only people who care about me are my family. 

Sometime last year a photo of me with a flat bum trended and I am not ashamed to say that the photo was not real and I am the one who shared it online. Everyone jumped to conclusions, all I can say is that I like to play around, and tease. It was an experiment for me and I loved the outcome.

Getting married to my best friend Brown Mauzo is the best thing I ever did. It has been a good experience for me, my husband knows everything about me and there is a lot of transparency. That is because we were friends first before we became lovers. 

The biggest misconception people have about me is that I am stupid, but I am very intelligent, smart and calculative.”

Lisa Christoffersen

Lisa Christoffersen. Photo | Pool

Her ladylike demeanour can fool you to think that she is one of those women that get scared easily, but when you really get to know her you will realise that she is a combination of steel and braveness. On the first episode of the show, she opens up about being diagnosed with stage four cancer and being given 10 days to live by her doctor.

In the midst of the drama on the show, she is the peacemaker. She is also an accomplished sportswoman who has a passion to make sure more women take up space in sports.

“No housewives in the world has ever driven herself in a rally car to the premiere. I am passionate about rallying and making a grand entrance to this beautiful place in my rally car is just a statement I wanted to make. To show the world that RHONairobi is different and unlike anything else they have ever seen.

Mama Chui as people call me is a fearless woman who is passionate about life. 

It is interesting how came to be part of the housewives’ cast because I don’t watch TV, don’t listen to the radio and read newspapers. I did not even know that this franchise was on its way to Kenya. 

So I was quite surprised when one day I got a phone call from a lady who asked me if I would come in for a chat about being a housewife in the show. The first thing I told her was no, and that she had dialled the wrong number. I have never been a housewife and I am nobody’s wife. 

But because I do a lot of rally interviews and I am all about supporting women in motorsport in Kenya, I thought what do I have to lose? So I went to the meeting and they told me they wanted to come to my house and film me while at home. A lot of filming was done until one day they called me and told me they wanted me on the show. 

I have always been passionate about cars. While driving I feel in control. My father was also a rally driver based in Tanzania and he would take part in the East African rally. So this is something I have grown up with. 

I remember two years ago when I met Amina Mohammed who was at the time the Sports CS at the WRC rally event I turned to her and asked her where are the women, the only women I could see were the cheerleaders jumping up and down on the sides. I told her I want to change this. I want to start an only-women Safari Rally. 

Life is about not living in your regrets and I believe that when an opportunity to make a difference presents itself then I should be part of it.”

Sonal Maherali a.k.a Generali

Sonal Maherali. Photo | Pool

In the first episode of the show, Sonal is bold enough to speak about separating from the father of her four children and learning how to love people from afar. She is a luxury influencer, fashion collector and entrepreneur. She established her niche through luxury vlogging in 2010 and has since founded Simba Maharani, a luxury clothing and shoe line. Maherali is also an advocate for mental health awareness

“Everyone knows who Sonal Maherali is, and I think it was inevitable that I will be on the show. I was the first person to be floated for the show and it took me three weeks to say yes. The reason being I am already glamorous and famous on my own, the question was, did I really need to be part of the show? 

But I realised people only know Sonal Maherali the luxury connoisseur. I wondered how else can I be able to show people the real me and empower the girl child? 

Don’t let the opulence and expensive things and exotic places we get to visit while on the show fool you, being part of a reality show is a very intimidating experience. Having cameras following you every day recording every minute of your life is not easy. It reached a time that I even forgot about the other housewives because they became part of me.

I am also known as Generali because I get things done, and also because I am extremely soft-spoken but my personality is very strong. I might be five feet tall but I am mighty. The show has taught me a lot about sisterhood because even after fighting at the end we show love.”