Hi everyone, get ready to move your boombseys y’all, haha. I’m very much excited about my guest today. My favourite description of Kukuwa is that she is a 60+ young lady who is full of so much positive energy! Enjoy my chat with her.
Ama Duncan (AD): Welome Kukuwa and thank you for making time with me today.
Kukuwa (K): Thank you for having me.
AD: Please tell us about your life as a Ghanaian girl; how was it like growing up?
K: I grew up in Burma Camp, Ghana and my Dad was in the Military. So I was an ‘Army brat’, hehe. My Dad was also a Reverend Colonel and so I was raised strict. I’m number 2 of 7 kids and the big sister. You know Ghana was British colonized, so we did all the British things like Cricket, horseback riding, etc. At a point, I decided I wanted to be something bigger than just my parent’s daughter. I nicknamed myself Suzuki, hehe. Ghana felt small for me I wanted to expand. I felt there was something more out there. So at 16, I left home and moved to Ivory Coast with my friends after high school. I’m a linguist by birth and able to pick up languages very easily. I started speaking French at 3. Now I speak Ga, Twi and Fante fluently. I used to speak Hausa and Ewe fluently as well when I lived in Ghana.I went to university in Ivory Coast and I worked at their American Embassy doing translations. I did that for 7 years and transferred to Paris. French came easily for me, and the American Embassy there trusted me so I was working there as well. I stayed there for 4 to 5 years and transferred to the US. I worked in the World Bank too. My vision was to reach out and touch as enough people as I could. It was not even about fitness then. Then the dancing passion came along and kept hitting me. I began doing dance performances, forming groups, meeting drummers and I formed my group called Gye Nyame because I couldn’t do all these without God.
AD: Wow, that must have been a very beautiful experience. Let’s talk about dancing and Kukuwaa fitness. How did it start?
K: I went from Paris to the US. Jane Fonder and Richard Simmons in that era were doing Jumping Jacks and getting people to workout but I saw no dance. So I said, why doesn’t anybody change the trend, I decided to do it. During my lunch breaks I’d be teaching in the fitness center with African music. Then it was called Le Physique. I taught people from all these international organizations who understood international music. The gyms heard about me and I started spreading my tentacles. At a point in time I was doing 7 classes a day. I did that for 5 years and dropped to 5 classes later. During that time in Washington, I got married and had 2 beautiful daughters, Coach Cass and Samantha. Guess what, I broke my water teaching a dance class! Everybody was alarmed but what did I do, I said don’t worry about it, let’s finish the class. That was my level of passion. Growing up, my girls knew nothing but the music and dancing. I them in a lot of sporting activities as well.
AD: I’ve heard bits about the story of how your daughter was diagnosed with a certain disease, given 2 weeks to live and how you handled it. Please share this story with us.
K: Yes. My daughters were born very healthy. At age 11, Samantha was diagnosed with Lupus and the doctor said it would just deteriorate. At 19 she lost the use of her legs and her hands and ended up in a wheelchair. We moved from hospital to hospital, she lost a lot of weight, she was dying and the doctors told me that I had 2 weeks to bury my child so why don’t I go start making preparations for her funeral. And I said no! I refused it in the name of Jesus! I fasted and prayed and God showed me a vision. He said in Genesis 1:29 that He created all the grains and the fruits and the vegetables. I took her out of the hospital, brought her home to everyone’s shock because I wasn’t a doctor. I went ahead to buy a juicer, blender and a water purifier. I started juicing fruits and vegetables. Within the first week her hand that she couldn’t move started opening up and her leg which was hanging became a little firmer. Her belief in God was awesome. She kept telling me, ‘Ma I’m going to walk, I’m going to live again’. And I asked her ‘how do you know that?’ And she said ‘God told me’. I believe God handled both of us and brought us together. Second week was even better. I took her off food and it was all smoothies and purified water. The first month she came out of the wheel chair and could stand. Second month we went to therapy and now started eating salad instead of only drinking the smoothies now. It got so much better until Lupus attacked again because she went back to eating junk. She lost a kidney, but one of my sisters gave her a kidney. We went through battle after battle but today, she’s 35, wearing her heels, she’s dancing, she watches her diet and she’s fine.
AD: To God be the glory! Most children have a sweet tooth (even adults like me). What tips and advice do you have for mothers to help us give our children healthy foods?
K: Don’t get me wrong, they did have sweets. I would bake myself and I would make healthy cakes for them. But I wasn’t in control of what they ate outside when I wasn’t around like at parties or at their friends’. You can control what you give them at home. Like less sugar and preferably brown sugar. Oils like olive oil, grapeseed oil, avocado oils instead of vegetable oil. And salt, preferably sea salt. Stay away from preservatives and things that are not natural. These are the things you can control.
AD: We know you as this super fit amazing 60+ woman. For a woman in her 50s who is looking to start a healthy lifestyle journey, what tips can you share with her in order to help her not give up along the way?
K: When you grow older, your metabolism slows down. As you age you realize you’re getting bigger in your belly or your arms and you may not understand why. That is because when you are younger, you’re able to easily shed it off fast. You can replace white sugar with brown sugar. Our fufu, kenkey and banku are very heavy carbs and what I do is, I eat them during the day when I’m mobile and active. Cut the carbs off early to eat something lighter at night. The proteins digest easily so you can have them in the evening. But you can toss it with a beautiful array of vegetables of your preference to make it even healthier. Another thing is portions. We have to minimize on the portions we eat. If you can do that, you will see the balance in your body. Along with exercise. At least 15 minutes of exercise a day.
AD: Thank you for sharing. Tell us about your books and programs, and how we can access them.
K: I have 4 books. First one is African Health Secrets. Growing up in Ghana I learnt most of the herbal medicines from my grandmother who lived past 100 years. That’s about the contents of my book and my story about Samantha and Coach Cass is also in there about weight loss.
My second book is African Dance With Passion. I wrote it because of my dancing passion though I went to school to be a linguist. The other 2 books Kuwa Inaafa, and Kuwa Vizuri which are a three month program on weight loss. They are Swahili for To be Fit and To be well, respectively. I tailored Kuwa Vizuri after my daughter Samantha and autoimmune diseases and how to use nutrition to turn it around. Kuwa Inafaa is about me when people want to know how to stay the way I am.
My fitness program, Kukuwa Fitness covers the entire food, nutrition, and healthy living. So it’s Kukuwa fitness on all our social media handles. Our website is kukuwafitness.com. And we have a webapp kukuwafitness/workoutonline where you can go to and subscribe at an affordable rate for workout tutorials, choreography, healthy meals, tips, etc. Also we have africawithus.com where we bring who have never been here before and we give them an opening and introduction to Africa. We do community service as well, go into the villages and orphanages and give as much as we can be it food, water, groceries, flip flops, etc. We also accept donations as well as and these projects are what we use these donations for.
AD: Amazing! Please complete the following with a short phrase or sentence:
a. If I could advise my younger self in one short sentence, I would say “listen to adults”.
b. I am fabulous because “I take very good care of myself”.
c. One book that has greatly helped me in business is “Rich Dad Poor Dad”.
AD: You’re so amazing, young at heart and humble I must confess. Bless you for all you’re doing. We love you and we wish you the very best.
K: Thank you and it’s been my pleasure.
OMG! Wasn’t that an amazing interview?! Kukuwa is just amazing and I still cannot believe she is 63! I hope you enjoyed the interview and I hope you learnt something wonderful like I did as well. Please share in the comments below and access her health program and books as well. Know that all things are possible through Christ who strengthens us. Until same time next week, stay fabulous!
Kukuwa is Founder and CEO of Kukuwa® Fitness, Africa With Us and Africa With Us Foundation. Born and raised in Ghana, West Africa, she has been dancing since the age of 3 and dance is an integral part of her life, especially African Dance. She is the mother of two daughters who work with her – Coach Cass and Coach Sam. Kukuwa is also a Dance Fitness Consultant, Dance Choreographer, Personal Health Trainer, Author, and African Travel Curator.
She can say she is ageless, full of life and energy and continue to move her boombsey® in her 60s, feeling like 30s motivating and encouraging others to live their best lives through health and fitness the Kukuwa® way. She certifies instructors around the world either via online or live workshops teaching her brand of fitness and curating trips to the continent of Africa and the diaspora with her daughters Coach Cass and Coach Sam. Endorsed by Oprah(‘O’ Magazine), Essence, and People Magazine; Kukuwa a Certified Health Fitness Professional with American Council on Exercise (ACE) and has earned international acclaim as the originator of the Gye Nyame African Cultural Dance Company, and Creator of the Kukuwa® Fitness African Dance Workout Program. She is also an acclaimed author of 4 books entitled African Health Secrets, African Dance with Passion, Kuwa Inaafa, and Kuwa Vizuri that can be found on Amazon & Amazon Kindle.