Josephine’s Story



Josephine Titi

creative partner  Géhane Strehler

Africa feels like home. Home is weather, people, food. Back home we cook with cloves, cardamom, vanilla, cinnamon, peppercorns and other spices. 

The bravest thing I did is to go back to school. I wanted to get a better job and learn more about the world. I wanted to study Nutrition at university. I got three conditional offers. 

At the time, they were increasing school fees, so people rushed for places. All my places were taken. I was crushed. My friend called me and said ‘Hey! There’s a chance in clearance, call this number.’ So, I called, explained my situation, and they said, ‘Do Public Health.’ I had no choice. That was my only chance. 

It wasn’t easy. Starting at 9am in the morning. You have to get up early. Leaving at 6:30am in the freezing cold! The journey to the university took two hours. Assignments had a deadline. If you missed that, you won’t pass. Lecturers don’t want to hear you had problems. Or, that you were late, there was an accident. They won’t listen. No excuse. 

My greatest challenge was in the second year. A close cousin got cancer. Family is important. Accepting responsibility is too. I went to Rome to offer her support. There were no other relatives so I sacrificed my time. Unfortunately, she passed on, near the exam period in June. I had to help send the body back home and go to Kenya for burial. I don’t have access to the internet in the village. I missed filling forms, confirming my exams. They told me I had to defer to next year. This really affected me badly. My year gone, wasted. 

I wanted to give up altogether but decided to continue. I would advise never give up and go for your dreams! Sometimes, things don’t work out the way you plan. That’s part of life. But I didn’t give up on my dreams to work in the community, do my nutrition cookery classes tackling obesity, diabetes. Instead of taking tablets, give people cooking skills! Plants have medicinal properties. Food is your medicine. 

So, I formed a group of ladies, to come together and cook, only to find out you need a Food Hygiene Certificate. The ladies said to me, ‘If you want this, we can arrange this. Go and do the course!’ So, I took another year. When I registered, I found out they were also teaching nutritional skills! I only went for my Food Hygiene Certificate, but, finally got back into nutrition. It took me years and years. I said to myself, ‘You wanted to be a nutritionist, finally you’re doing what you wanted to do!’

The ladies were from different places, so we called ourselves ‘Multicultural Kitchen’. In every country, culture, society in the world, they have a pestle and mortar to pound herbs and spices. It’s universal. So, we made that our logo. My dream is to use my pestle and mortar, to heal with food. That is my love.

Josephine Titi

Giving Voice

Find out more about Giving Voice