Njambi Koikai

Media personality and reggae queen Njambi Koikai during a radio interview on November 11, 2021.

| Francis Nderitu | Nation Media Group

Njambi Koikai: 'Endometriosis didn't kill me, I'm here for a purpose'

What you need to know:

  • For 19 long years, the media personality and reggae queen has been battling thoracic endometriosis.
  • She has chosen to embark on an awareness campaign to demystify the disease.

“There is nothing more we can do for you.” Those have become words that are all too familiar for media personality and reggae queen Njambi Koikai, better known by the stage name Jahmby.

For 19 long years, she has been battling thoracic endometriosis, which refers to the presence of endometrial tissue in or around the lungs. Such cases are rare and can require multiple specialist treatments.

It has been an extremely painful experience for Jahmby who in 2017 suffered a collapsed lung during her menstrual cycle.

And all along she didn't even have the right diagnosis for her ailment. It was her gynaecologist who finally diagnosed her with endometriosis.

“I believe this condition could have been avoided if it were not for the misdiagnosis I got from the doctors I went to,” she says.

“My very able gynecologist at the Aga Khan Hospital took me through it and made me understand what this meant. He later advised me to seek specialised treatment,” she recalls.

To date, however, her lungs have collapsed on more than a dozen occasions.

Sought help from the public

Njambi Koikai

Njambi Koikai in hospital. 

Photo credit: File

After her story was highlighted in the media in 2017, Jahmby chose to embark on an awareness campaign to demystify the disease which affects many women. 

For her to get the treatment she needed, she had to seek Sh10 million from members of the public.

Thankfully, her prayers were answered as Kenyan musicians and TV personalities held a benefit concert to fundraise for her. 

A year later, she packed her bags and left for Atlanta, Georgia, where she was admitted at the Center for Endometriosis Care for advanced treatment. 

At this point, she had stage four endometriosis and doctors told her she needed to undergo lifesaving surgery.

“Soon after I was admitted in hospital I learned that my condition was even more dire than I originally thought. My full diagnosis was Stage IV Endometriosis, catamenial pneumothorax with diaphragmatic endometriosis, sigmoid and rectovaginal endometriosis, and abnormal appendix,” she said.

“I started a fundraiser because I had no insurance to meet the costs. Unfortunately, after I was admitted in hospital, I developed complications." 

The entertainer underwent excision of endometriosis in her pelvic, bowel, right lung and diaphragm at Northside Hospital in Atlanta while under the care of an endometriosis specialist and a cardiothoracic surgeon.

“I chose to seek treatment in the US because the doctors who attended to me have experience with this disease and understand its complexity. It was a very challenging experience for me as well as for my doctors because of the extent of the disease. But I am doing well, although I'm still fundraising, and any assistance is highly appreciated.”

Here for a purpose

So what has kept her going through all this?

"If it doesn’t kill me, I keep going. If I’m not yet dead, if endometriosis didn’t kill me, then I’m here for a purpose. I get my strength from God. I talk a lot about God because I experienced death. I have smelt death, I have been close to death many times," she says.

"When I was in the US for my last surgery, the doctors said that I had a hole in my lung that they can’t really fix it because they have done everything they can.”

The hole, which has since healed, came as a result of the many surgeries she had in Kenya.

“That last surgery was something out of this world, I literally felt oxygen leave my body and I was going.”

Thankfully, Jahmby, who returned home after spending almost two years in the US, has fully recovered from those extensive procedures and says life is already dramatically different.

“I don’t experience any painful periods anymore. I don’t have any lung collapse anymore. I'm breathing well without any complications and I haven’t been back to the hospital or admitted since I came back home.”

She says that due to the nature of her recovery after returning, she was required to be in a sterile environment.

“My recovery process was not a swift one, and there were days I felt so ill. Nairobi air is dry and quite thin for me and for most people who have respiratory issues. In that regard, I had a heater and a humidifier that was on at all times for the air to be moisturised. Some nights, though, when the temperatures dropped, my oxygen levels kept fluctuating. All along my doctors were on standby," she recalls.

Offer hope to others

With the worst of her endometriosis hopefully behind her, the reggae emcee wants to be a beacon of hope for other endo women.

“I would like people to know that endometriosis robs women of their livelihoods, careers, relationships, self-esteem, fertility and their will to live because of the pain. But there is hope. We can overcome it, and we should be steadfast in fighting for a cure.”

Regarding her love life, a coy Jahmby says she doesn’t like to focus on that.

“It's 2021 man, the sun is out, we are living such a good life. I have so much to do. If that time comes and when the right person comes, I mean yeah.”

Lost opportunities

Media personality Njambi Koikai who has had a long struggle with endometriosis.

Photo credit: Courtesy

She says that at the moment she has so much work to do.

“Remember I have been in hospital and I have been sick for 15 years. Can you imagine how many opportunities I have lost? I have had to put so many things on hold. Now that I’m fine, I’m chasing everything, I don’t have time.

After spending a year home recovering, in March Jahmby went back to what she loves most, radio. She hosts a show on Trace Radio dubbed Trace na Doba alongside DJ Selector Technics.

To appreciate the many people who supported her, Jahmby recently launched a football tournament Fyah Mummah Super Cup in Dagoretti where she grew up.

“Since I came back from the hospital I haven’t had the opportunity to see people and people also didn’t have the opportunity to see me. I said to myself, why can’t I bring people together? So I said, let me bring people together through football.”