LIFE

TO BE A WOMAN (I)

Growing up, I was surrounded by men; The only girl in my family and 1/3 of female grandchildren out of a total of 15. With my mum constantly travelling for work, I was left under the care of my father and older brother. It therefore came as no surprise that I developed some behaviours that normally would be associated with the male species. I was very competitive and at times violent (Possibly due to the wrestling we’d watch together). My behaviour was very similar to those of my brothers from mode of dress to eating habits to what I considered fun…like jumping out of a moving car

However, I did not always ‘fit in with the boys’ considering the fact that I grew up in an African country. Family functions would always serve to remind me of my place in society… the kitchen, or serving men. It always happened that after arriving at the event and greeting the early guests, I was sent into the kitchen to ‘find some duties to do’ (yet most times my aunties would send me out of the kitchen), while my brothers and cousins sat down and socialised or even began eating whatever food was ready. I was always caught between the two sides but I could never let frustration get the better of me least I risked embarrassing my father’s name and so most times I would end up washing the hands of the guests which I actually did not mind since most came up with interesting stories most about my dad as a teenager.

Further division took place with the actual meal. According to tradition, there are specific parts of a goat reserved for either gender for example the back part is for men who are required to eat it clean and then pierce it. For women, the kidneys. My father’s younger brother, Uncle Kimani, never failed to bring me the kidneys of the goat that had lost its life to satisfy the tongues of the clan. As I sit here writing this, I can hear him shout for me from the grill where all men stood tasting the meat as it was being prepared ‘Wambui! come!’ (sometimes he’d track me down wherever I was). I always expected it and he never failed regardless of the location woe unto me if more than one goat had been slaughtered.

Don’t get me wrong, culture is a beautiful thing, it is what determines our perception of reality and hence it differs across regions, countries and continents. I love certain aspects of my culture, the ruracio ceremony, the clothes, the language.. its all simple amazing but not perfect. This has been said before my the strong women in society but what harm does it do to ask it again? How can a culture so beautiful have so much disregard for women? Why is it that we are only noticed when labour is required, men are hungry or want to please themselves? It is a known fact that African culture bends over backwards in favour of the man child and despite there being changes in society, this characteristic is inherent in us so much so that should my brothers happen to make a mess in the house, I will be called from wherever I am to clean it up because I am a woman.

I used to be a firm believer in culture and the methods my parents used to raise us. I knew that when I did, by God’s grace, get the chance to raise my own family it would be in the same manner albeit with some modifications. Can you blame me though? I was ignorant having grown up and educated in an institution that is so close-minded that it teaches young girls to carry themselves in a way that avoid temptation of men and that exposing your shoulders regardless of the weather is not right in the eye’s of God. An institution that makes you believe you should stick it out with your husband even when things are bad and that women should not play football. On the other hand, men are taught that they are providers for the family and that they should protect and guard their family name. They are taught that women should be submissive to them and that is where the problem lies. It creates this ‘whatever I say goes’ mentality in their head from which stem a lot of problems. It makes them disregard the feelings of the women in society unless of course its their mother, sister, daughter or close relative (and this isn’t even always the case) and worse blind them to the fact that women are people as well.

Now all this may have worked pre-colonial era its all that they knew and it kept the society in harmony, but it cannot work now. The internet, International Business and cultural exchange have led to globalisation. We have and are increasingly becoming a global village, people are more educated and we are no longer (for the most part) embracing collectivism. So in as much as increased interaction with foreign cultures might make us cling harder to our own own, we must accept the fact that certain aspects of it must be left with our ancestors. Continuation of this culture can be through the languages, the food, the stories, the rites and rituals (some of them).

Having had the chance to experience more than one foreign culture has taught me one fundamental lesson; change will happen whether you like it or not, that does not mean we strive to fit in with everyone else. Instead, we should accept the change as it happens and adjust accordingly.

 

 

P.S/

I am still fundraising for Wezesha Binti to keep 100 young girls in school in Busia County, Kenya. To read more follow the link: FUNDRAISING FOR WEZESHA BINTI

To donate:

GoFundMe Page: Empower Girls through Wezesha Binti

M-Changa (for M-Pesa/ Airtel money) donations: Empower Girls through Wezesha Binti

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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LIFE

DEATH; THE EXIT.

‘ This is for my people who just lost somebody; your best friend, your baby, your man, or your lady.. mothers, daddies, sisters, friends and brothers, this is for my people who just lost their grandmothers. We will never say bye.’ – Bye bye Mariah Carey

When I was younger I always used to wonder who in my family would be the first to go. I was (and maybe still am) interested in my own position in that line. Unfortunately the list has begun to reveal itself..

This train of thought used to make me fear death completely, ‘how is it possible to just stop breathing ?’ ‘Is it painful?’ ‘Which is better; death in your sleep or being shot?’ Truth is these are just mundane questions whose answers we will never really know; one can only imagine , never actually coming to a solid answer. Why? Because we have to experience it.

I have a theory,

‘ A person in their final days knows it; they just can’t tell anyone about it for the fact that its personal. In any case, no one will believe you or they’ll quickly dismiss you as you talk to them, perhaps calling it ‘bad/dark thoughts.’

Now I’m sure you’re wondering how/ why/ when I came up with this. Well, simply from observation as well as hearing as people recount the last moments they shared with the deceased. There’s that line that is so commonly said ‘ Its like they knew they were going‘. The most intimate time I heard that line being used was after the death of my Late Aunt Ciru, and looking back at her final months and days, it was as if she knew…

Only problem is, being human, we never want to think about it [death], so we can only wait for it to show up at our doorsteps, something I must admit is quite the bad habit.

‘Why do you live like tomorrow is promised?’

How easy is it for us to say things like ‘I’ll do it tomorrow’ or ‘Can we meet next week instead?’ To be fair, I agree on the unpredictability of this life we are living. There are times when circumstances just do not allow us to do all we want/ set our minds to do in a given day. It may be stress levels/ unfavourable weather/ work overload, you name it.

However, if you really reflect on it, there’s been times you just rescheduled or procrastinated because you assumed ‘tomorrow‘ is another day that will be granted to  you. If you’re reading this, obviously your assumption came to pass, but that luck can’t last forever.

With death, more often than not, comes the feeling of regret. This emotion always reveals itself in subtle and not so subtle forms after the demise of someone. We always hear it, we always express it in our words…

We were supposed to..but I put it off’

‘I actually wanted to come see him/her last week..but’

‘I wish our last conversation wasn’t a fight…’

‘I wish I knew they were suffering/ I wish I did something..’

I have personally been a victim of this myself. Exactly one year and a week ago, my grandfather passed away…. unexpectedly. Just a week prior, mum had told me to call him and let him know that I was home. I instead suggested we go see him over the weekend when he was free (mainly because I’m very uncomfortable with phone calls, something I’ve really been struggling to change since). As you may already have figured it out, I did not get to see him because he proceeded to fall seriously ill a day or two later; and unfortunately he did not want us to see him in that state. I should have gone though, I should have forced issues, I shouldn’t have entertained guests in the house while he was dying in a hospital bed… (R.E.G.R.E.T). He died, and it took me months to be at peace with it and forgive myself for putting unimportant things before the ones that matter most to me.

There’s honestly nothing as bad, as looking down at the coffin of someone you love and get overwhelmed with sadness.  True, death is a sad occurrence in the fact that we lose someone we love, but it really should be about celebrating the fact that they lived and we got to be a part of their life. So tell me, why did I, why do we, feel regret when it happens?

‘We need to live our lives as if we were to die tomorrow.’ – Mahatma Gandhi

Death or even the thought of it, changes us; directly or indirectly and whether we like it or not.

I don’t know if you’ve read stories of patient’s who are given a few months/years to live and how they sometimes manage to accomplish a lot before their time comes. I always find such interesting. I mean, imagine ticking many things off your bucket list in a limited time.. the mere thought of going without having done much appears to be the force that pushes us to go the extra mile.

Maybe living with the thought that the next 24 hours may be our last is a habit we need to learn to practice. ‘If these were my last 24 hours, how would I want to spend them?’

How do you want to be remembered? and what do you want to be remembered for? Some of us will be great; known across all continents of the world, make millions. Some of us will be unknown; surviving, making money but choosing to remain unknown. Whatever our path, the destination is the same; 6 feet in. So what really matters is what you leave behind, how do you want to be remembered?

Truth is, you’ll mainly be remembered for the number of people whose lives you touched and somehow changed.

I’ll end with lyrics from a song I heard once, a while back that really are the reason I chose to write on this topic (I’ve never found the song unfortunately)

” I heard you die twice, Once when they lower you into your grave. The second when they stop saying your name.”

 

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‘You’re alive because you haven’t reached your best yet’ – Eric Thomas

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LIFE

SIBLING RIVALRY.

About 12 years ago, if I was asked about my older brother I would have very few positive things to say. Trust me my parents especially my mother gave me endless talks on the importance of having an older brother and how if they were to die at that moment he’d be the one to take of my younger brother and I.

I being the stubborn girl I was,refused to listen to them until they eventually gave up. I would literally find the smallest excuse to fight with him and when I say fight I mean literally that, the blows that have been exchanged between us would definitely have earned us roles in WWE ( who else was shocked to find out it was all acting? ). Funnily enough that was one of the few shows we could have been found watching in peace. He probably disliked me because he enjoyed being an only child and getting attention all the time until that attention had to be divided, or maybe it’s because I was just annoying. 😀 (If you know him feel free to ask).

I guess things begun to change when he left Kenya to study, you know how they say absence makes the heart grow fonder? I kind of missed his presence in the house but pride would never allow me to admit that. It was actually so bad I never used to Skype him cause I was scared my true emotions would show.

3 years later I also left my parent’s house to join him and I guess its safe to say we’ve grown closer.

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No we don’t look alike -.-

What breaks my heart is seeing our parent’s generation allowing material things to get in the way of their relationships with their siblings. These are people they grew up with somehow getting along and now they would go as far as wishing death upon them.

How does a fight even get to the point of wishing death upon another?

They say charity begins at home, maybe that’s why there’s no love in the world; there’s no love between us and our brothers.

How would you let a stranger come between you and your brother? To the point that you’d get joy from seeing your own blood suffer. Remember the methali(proverb) we used to be forced to write inshas on? Damu ni nzito kuliko maji. English equivalent: Blood is thicker than water.

Remember the stories you’d write? Why not incorporate that in real life.

How do we let the hate we have towards them blind us from remembering how good they were to us in the past, and possibly prevent us from experiencing the good times we could have with them in the present.

Only when they die then we will know..

Our pride will be the end of us all.

Why is it then when we disagree with someone we let it develop into an argument which ends up as a fight. We are all entitled to our own opinions, but that doesn’t mean we are right.

Why then can’t I be the bigger person in that situation and try meet the other person halfway?

Why would I then allow the fight to go on for years on end ? I can barely face the person while in the same room as them.

The worst thing about fights between parents and their siblings is that they allow them to trickle down to the next generation as a means of “shielding them”. What are you shielding them from other than the chance to get to know and interact with their own blood?

20 years might be too late to try forming strong relationships with someone you had the chance to get to know from the day of their birth.

I fought with my brother yes, we still do fight at times and we still have future fights to go, but that doesn’t mean we let it get in the way of our relationship.

I cannot expect myself to be closer friends to people I meet out here in the world than I am to my own siblings.

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Me and my baby ❤

Jealousy could be the issue.

You see them making a name for themselves and building themselves up, it eats you from the inside out, you do not like it. You had the same opportunities, you probably even got more from the parents that you share but you let jealousy consume you and you begin pulling away.

You then begin turning people away from them by spreading false rumours, they hear these rumours and laugh in disbelief but continue loving you..however they learn to love you from a distance.

You can’t stand to see your brother happy while you’re hating, you gang everyone against him and it makes you satisfied to see him all on his own.

Money , what is it other than paper that is meant to help in conducting business. Why do we use it as a measure of our wealth?

Or maybe we’re jealous of the people who steal our sibling’s hearts and turn their attention away from us. Well how else would you expect your family to expand?

You honestly do not have to agree with their partner of choice. It’s okay its just none of your business honestly. Now I’m not saying sit and watch as they are being led astray, by all means step in and advise them if you see them changing for the worse.

However, do not interfere where you shouldn’t. Welcome him/her to the family especially if they end up getting married and treat them with the same respect you’d want to be treated with by another family.

 

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Last words are so important.

If say, (God forbid) your sibling was to be called back by God today, can you remember the last words you said to them?

How do those words make you feel? Good or bad? Are you proud of your last encounter with them or would you wish to God you had another chance and you swear you’d do better?

Well instead of waiting to wish for better days, try make amends now, call them or text. It doesn’t matter if they don’t respond at least you’re at peace.

Lets not allow our siblings to suffer in silence when we are there to help them. <3.

Spread love. 🙂

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This is a picture that will welcome you to my late grandparents house 🙂

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Feel free to add your thoughts. 🙂

 

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