Gambian teenagers living abroad: Manyima Dibba is a budding fashion designer in Kenya

Written by Saja


Manyima M. Dibba is a young budding fashion designer living in Nairobi, Kenya.  She recently took part in the Nairobi Fashion Week 2014.

What’s On-Gambia: Tell us briefly about yourself?

Manyima:I am a 19 year old Gambian girl living in Nairobi, Kenya. I enjoy drawing, relaxing, designing and playing basketball.

In the Gambia, my family lives in Salagi but we are originally from Farafenni.

Why Kenya?

Well, after senior secondary my dad decided I needed to go out and further my studies. So they brought me to Kenya to study IT.

When was this?

I moved here last year in August. Despite the terrorist attacks here and there, Kenya is a lovely country with many beautiful sites.


You live alone in Nairobi?

No! I live with my big cousin and my elder brother.

Are there many Gambians living in Kenya?

Yes of course! We spend almost every holiday together. I believe we will have a gathering to celebrate the New Year.

You recently took part in the Nairobi Fashion Week (NFW). How did you get into fashion?

I have always loved designing and had a talent for it. I remember designing my Eid outfits and African dresses when I was in The Gambia.

Here, in Kenya, I got into it by designing my friends outfit for a miss competition which she won. That was where my first exposure came from.  The director for NFW was there and he loved the work and so he invited me to a meeting. He was impressed with my sketches and we signed a contract to be a designer at NFW.

How was it like taking part in the NFW?

It was exhausting, yet an amazing experience. I very much enjoyed it!

Are you following the Gambian fashion industry?

Not really, but I want to start next year so by December 2015 I can be part of the crew organizing Fashion Weekend Gambia.

How do influences from The Gambia find their way into your work?

I use the Gambian weather to make my designs.


Please explain.

Because of the heat and the beaches, I make my designs suitable for that weather.

Which fashion designers inspired you the most?

Kimora Lee Simons and Tyra Banks.


Not only do they show elegance and glamour in their designs, but they also show uniqueness in everything they wear.

Do you speak any Kenyan local language?

No, but I understand a bit of the most common language which is Swahili.

Are you missing The Gambia?

Yes, very much!

When are you returning home?

I will be finishing my school in July of 2015. When I do, I will go back for a short holiday then may be continue my studies in The Gambia or go out again.