Founder Reflections: People

Zane Wilemon

Co-Founder and Executive Director, Ubuntu Life

People.  People are what makes everything we do worthwhile.  Whether that be quality time with loved ones, trips with new friends, colleagues that we are hustling hard with to create a shared vision...it all comes down to the energy shared, formed and bonded with the people.This past summer in Kenya was such a high because of the people that made the journey worthwhile.  Featured below is a series of those people that showed up and/or continue to show up time and time again to bring light and love to all that we do at Ubuntu Life.

Team 1 started with a bang hosting Tribe members Clay Golden & Maren Miller, David Rodriguez & board member Jim McDermott.  From night life in Nairobi to connecting with our Ubuntu family to indulging in some of the Maasai Maras finest at Angama Mara it was a blast!  Jim has officially become a "lifer" for Ubuntu as I believe this was Jim's 8th if not 9th trip with us to Kenya. Collectively this team continues to inspire the direction of what it means to #liveubuntu!                              


Marketing team extraordinaire: Celeste, Dagny & Ariana were unbelievable with sunrise mornings and burning the midnight oil for a week filled with photo shoots, house visits to our Maker Mums and countless Instagrammable highlights...not to mention avoiding dive bombing bats in our house at night!  They are the creative leaders responsible for teeing up all the goodness that will hit our website and social through the rest of 2019!


Jman, Ubuntu Life's co-founder, politician and great friend is featured here with two of Ubuntu's Maasai Maker Mum all-stars, Nancy & Jacquline.  They have forged a unique friendship that allows Ubuntu the opportunity to continue a very special bond with the Maasai which empowers our brand to continue offering our customers such beautiful beaded products from season to season.

Grace Njeri was one of the nearest and dearest Ubuntu Kids enrolled in our program. Due to health issues Grace passed away this summer.  I hesitated to share this on my highlights from the summer, but not all highlights necessarily feel good. It's important to me that we share freely the bad with the good as that is the reality of all life. Grace touched my heart deeply and will forever be part of the Ubuntu story. We love you and we miss you our dear friend.

Jason Luce featured here with Emmanuel, one of our newest and brightest Ubuntu Kids. Luce has quickly become a beloved Tribe member to our Ubuntu family. He came to Kenya for the first time in December 2018 and returned this summer bringing his ex-wife Laura and their 3 young boys, Julian, Quincey & Wesley aka "Pasta Sauce." And if you're ever in need of one of the best hugs in the world...Emmanuel is your guy!

Our Family to Family team were absolute rock stars! We formed this sub group of our Tribe as a way for families to share a more intimate connection with our families in Kenya. This was our maiden voyage filled with visits to our Ubuntu Kids program, house visits to our Maker Mums homes, celebrations with our Maasai community and an overall deep dive into all things Ubuntu as well as walks with giraffes and zebras along the beautiful Lake Naivasha. Huge shout out to Ubuntu's head of foundation, Hanna Cofer featured here as well who led the charge with this crew!

Big love to our favorite safari outfitter, Angama Mara, who is ranked year after year as one of the best if not THE best safari outfitter in Kenya. This year we were honored to have them become a wholesale partner with Ubuntu Life purchasing our Afridrille shoes for their staff as well as for sale in their gift shop. 

Familia!! Amal and I loved having a window during our two months to host our sister Unushe in July. It was Unushe's first time to Kenya and a very meaningful trip for all of us!  An educator herself, she will be back to work closely with our Ubuntu Kids special ed teachers.

These two...the dynamic duo of all things design, they are responsible for creating the look and feel for what it means to "live that Ubuntu life!" Amal & Gladys have collectively grabbed the reigns of our product line and are daily transitioning what was once a wholesale line of products into the lifestyle brand of Africa!

Chelsea & Noemi Thom are two shining stars in the Ubuntu Tribe. Chelsea first came to Ubuntu as a photographer 10 years ago and has continued to show up year after year...but now bringing her 4 year old daughter along for the journey. I've yet to meet a single mom who keeps living her life...little one in tow, but sometimes it's hard to discern who is leading who?!

Paul Njuguna is Ubuntu's head of business development in Kenya.  He joined our team about 3 years ago and has become one of our greatest leaders. Featured here leading the charge with an all team meeting reminding everyone where we're heading and what needs to get done. Pauls favorite Ubuntu core value: Hustle Hard. Get it brother!

Mary Thuo is our most recent addition to our leadership team, however, Mary has been part of the journey since Day 1 of Ubuntu. Mary is married to Jeremiah & has watched Ubuntu develop since our infancy. As a lifetime educator, Mary is transforming our Ubuntu Kids program by engaging the parents of our kiddos in a way that has never been done before. Thank you Mary and I love you BIG!

Brittany & Drew Brees made a surprise visit to Ubuntu as first timers to Kenya. I was amazed at how quickly they became part of the Ubuntu family. I'm not going to lie I was definitely nervous when our Maker Mums got so excited that they literally lifted Drew off the ground and began throwing him in the air. Drew handled it like a champ! Excited about creating many more memories with you & the Brees family.