Ohio National Guard News

The Ohio National Guard celebrates African-American/Black History Month

Humble beginnings,
big goals for Ohio National Guard member from Kenya

Story by 1st Lt. Aaron Smith, Ohio National Guard Public Affairs

Afro-Deliciouz event: an educational community experience that unites people from different backgrounds through music, art and fashion. (Courtesy photo)

A younger Griffin Nyachae (left) and his cousins pose for a photo near Nyamira in the Nyanza Province of Kenya. (Courtesy photo)

Griffin Nyachae hosts the very first Afro-Deliciouz event April 20, 2017, in Columbus, Ohio. (Courtesy photo)

Photo by 1st Lt. Aaron Smith, ONG

Spc. Griffin Nyachae, a wheeled vehicle mechanic assigned to Company E, 1st Battalion, 137th Aviation Regiment, poses with items from his home country of Kenya, Jan. 24, 2018. In his civilian life, Nyachae organizes events designed to exhibit African culture, and hopes to eventually build sustainable housing for the less fortunate in his native Kenya.

COLUMBUS, Ohio (02/09/18) — Warm lights line the ceiling of a cozy bar in downtown Columbus. The establishment’s regulars sip drinks while enjoying the robust entertainment emanating from the stage in the corner of the room.

Musicians, vocalists and even a fire dancer take turns displaying their skills to the delight of the crowd. One common trait — the individuality of cultures they represent — unites them at Afro-Deliciouz, an event hosted by The Jamii Concept.

In the center of the room, amid the vibrant crowd recording a video on his phone, stands one of the organizers of this incredible event, Griffin Nyachae.

Also known as Spc. Nyachae, he is a wheeled vehicle mechanic assigned to Company E, 1st Battalion, 137th Aviation Regiment, based in Columbus. Nyachae, who joined the Ohio National Guard in 2016, grew up in a town called Nyamira in the Nyanza Province of Kenya. He spent most of his early education in boarding school two hours away, and as a result, was rarely able to see his home. The few months between semesters he was allowed, he would visit the slums near his home town and sell cutlery.

“The conditions in the slums were very appalling and inhumane in my opinion,” Nyachae said. “It wasn’t a pretty sight or morally right.”

After speaking with a family friend who lived there, he vowed he would do something to make a difference.

Nyachae came to America for the first time in September of 2010 with his father and uncle — the latter was a colonel in the Kenyan Army living in Washington D.C., while training as a logistics officer.

In 2016, shortly after joining the National Guard, Nyachae met and befriended Kevin Zamora, who at the time was studying law at Capital University in Columbus. Together, through their shared interests and passion, they created The Jamii Concept and Afro-Deliciouz.

The Jamii Concept is an aspiring nonprofit organization aimed at eradicating the slum living conditions in Kenya and other countries around the world while also promoting intercultural compassion.

Through community events like Afro-Deliciouz — an educational community experience that unites people from different backgrounds through music, art and fashion — Nyachae and Zamora are hoping to gain 501(c)(3) status for The Jamii Concept. This classification would enable them to raise funds for construction of modern and dignified housing to replace slum living conditions for people throughout Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, starting with Kenya.

Nyachae and Zamora are working with local architects and building developers to design a “pilot city” made from recycled resources that will also run on renewable energy, reducing the cost of living while simultaneously raising the quality of life.

“We have many hurdles ahead of us with The Jamii Concept,” Nyachae said. “But I am confident it will succeed and we will be able to provide those living in the slums a new sense of hope and a means of living a dignified and modern life.”

Growing up, Nyachae recalls his grandmother always telling him that he would do great things for his community and himself. Now he has his chance to live out that calling, not only through his service in the Ohio National Guard but also in his civilian life through his nonprofit aspirations.

“I mainly joined the National Guard because it’s something I felt I had to do,” Nyachae said. “I believe all residents and citizens of a particular country should have the experience and knowledge of how to work together to defend their state and nation. And in this case, being a resident in love with Ohio, it’s my duty to contribute and protect the state to the best of my ability.”

While serving as a Citizen-Soldier in the Ohio National Guard, Nyachae works full-time as a financial consultant, attends The Ohio State University and is pursuing his second degree, this one in World Politics and Public Affairs to support his aspirations with his organization. He continues to work with Zamora to bring Afro-Deliciouz events and the spirit of The Jamii Concept to neighborhoods across Ohio.

On its surface, Afro-Deliciouz is an entertaining experience, full of spirit and culture, but at its heart it is a vessel to help those who are less fortunate.

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