WILL THIS BE A PROBLEM: ANTHOLOGY 2 REVIEW

The Economy of Spoons and Other Short Stories

Lemmi say straight off the bat, this is not going to be a regular review. I will not analyze the stories in a formal way, I’m just gonna write about what I thought of the stories, what I liked about them and what if anything I felt should have been added. But mostly what they made me feel. Because I think it’s more important what a story makes you feel than how the sentences are arranged. Also, I’m gonna try to explain as much as possible without giving out spoilers.

I like short stories because when they’re well written they’re quite a treat. Also because I haven’t been able to write a novel yet, just short stories, so solidarity. But seriously, short stories fit in well with the stories we were told as kids. And I think being able to start and finish a story in just 3000 words, making it interesting and giving everything you’d expect to find in a novel takes real talent.

So, of course the first story you read in an anthology is the title story, right? Because by choosing that story as the title, they’ve made you curious. What’s the science of choosing a title story anyways? Why this story? Is it gonna set the tone of the whole anthology? Is there a secret message in it that will be unlocked in the other stories? Or was it just the first story submitted?

The Economy of Spoons is a story written by Kevin Rigathi. It is set in a high school, that place where all the important life battles are fought. After that we’re just dealing with the aftermath. Main character in this story is Sky, the kinda kid in high school that we all pretend we weren’t. In the periphery, barely standing out and majority of people will later ask “Who?” when asked if they remember us. I didn’t know what to expect with this story, so it was interesting to see where the author was taking us. The story started from the first sentence, building up to the end. The writing was light and fun throughout, sort of like running at a comfortable jog. And the twist at the end was very well done, not at all where I expected the story to go. Kevin is funny without taking himself too seriously, so it appears effortless. This was a fun read. Oh, also there’s an electronic toothbrush that’s used as a sex toy in the story. Yes. Someone needs to have words with Kevin.

With that story setting the tone, I was sufficiently intrigued about the rest of the anthology so I now started from the beginning and the next thing I knew I had read ¾ of the anthology in one sitting. It was so good. There is no specific theme to the stories, just a couple of good stories put together. I loved this, because the diversity of the writers made the anthology an interesting experience. One minute I was reading about the anguish of making bad choices in Jemmi by Judyannette Muchiri and the next I was reading a very intriguing afro-futuristic take on the old Pinocchio stoty, Pinocchia by Kena Muigai. This eclectic mix keeps the anthology fast paced without getting too much. It was soon obvious that I couldn’t know what to expect next.

I can’t say that there was any bad story in this collection, just some stories I liked more than others. What was exciting for me though, was discovering all these writers that I’d never heard of. Nadya Ngumi’s story A Fresh Start was interesting and different. Ms Takes by Nanania (please, someone tell me who this writer is because I must find her and read more of her stuff) had my mouth open because of how much it pushed the envelope. The Doctor’s Trick, collaboration between Kevin Rigathi and Sally Ireri had me in stitches; it is hilarious and bold and spunky.

Another thing that I really liked is how they punctuated the stories with poetry and abstract short proses. The break allows you to absorb the story you’ve just read before moving on to the next. Not that these poems and proses aren’t engrossing on their own. I’m still thinking about what Mbithe Mosa was saying in Limbic Resonance, still wondering if Sabrina Najib was talking about me or just colours in Orange Needs More Than Blue and I think Melchizedek Muya’s poem Rhyme and Reason at the end is the sweetest thing (insert heart emojis)

But one story that took me completely by surprise was I Shot The Cheating Bastard by Peter Nena. I was not ready. This story about heartbreak and pain punched me straight in my chest and I held my breath the whole time I was reading it. It’s the last story in the anthology and longer than the rest, but after reading it, you understand why they ended the anthology with this story. It sticks in your mind and lingers for a long time after, possibly while you are curled in a fetal position. It is a beautifully written story and the writer forces you to feel everything his main character is feeling while at the same time making a dark story humorous. I honestly don’t understand how Peter Nena had the audacity to unleash this on my unsuspecting heart. I need reparations or something.

A lot has been said about how Kenyan writing is not good enough and as much as I don’t want to take part of that, this anthology shows that people are just not reading Kenyan writers who are writing right now about the things that THEY want to write about. I had a conversation recently with a poet from the UK and they asked about what the writing space in Kenya was like. And I told them that we’re tired of being tied to our past and we’re now trying to build our own spaces and define Kenyan writing by what it means to US. This anthology is proof of that. Whether you think this matches up to your expectations of what you consider Kenyan writing or not, it’s really not it’s problem. It is here, and Kenyans have written it. It does not seek to be anything other than good writing and good stories. Take it, or leave it.

You can read and download the anthology here

To The “Good Men” Who Choose Silence

Recently, I watched a conversation on rape and sexual violence on Nigerian Twitter get derailed by men. I watched these men get into mentions of the women who were talking about it, castigating, insulting, and disbelieving them. They harassed them and taunted them and generally made an already difficult discussion even more unbearable. I even saw a man give an anecdote on how he forced himself on a woman. I imagined how difficult and triggering it was for the women having this conversation. Triggering because for majority of us, conversations of sexual violence are not just theory but out of experience. We have lived this, we know this.

A week or so later something similar happened on South African Twitter. The script followed was the same, the derailing tactics the same, the insults and mocking the same.  Whether it’s US, Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, whenever these conversations happen men will come out in large numbers to derail and belittle the conversation. In the end the discourse will end up being extremely violent to the women, some of who choose to fight back. I can imagine the emotional toll this takes on them and how discouraging it is.

While I was watching this conversation, I thought about good men. There were some men who were involved in this conversation, male allies who were helping the women to fight against the harassers, but they were very few. There are always fewer than the men who were harassing women. I looked at the TL and thought about how many men who were seeing this conversation happening considered themselves good men. I wondered what, if anything was going through their minds, whether they felt bothered by what was happening. I wondered if they felt any need to get involved.

A few weeks ago I had a conversation with one such “good man.” It was a long and tiring conversation. It was tiring because it’s a conversation I have had before and one I have seen many women have with men before. The gist of it was that it was unfair for women to lump in “good men” together with abhorrent men who abuse and violate women. It is also unfair to expect men to participate and speak up when these men attack women. It is unfair to expect all men to stand up for women.

It is easy to counter blatant, open sexism and misogyny. It reveals itself and never pretends to be something that it’s not and you can arm yourself accordingly to fight it. But it is much harder to fight benevolent sexism. This is the sexism which pretends to be good and in the fight for women in that it does not actively participate in the oppression of women, but it also does nothing to change the systems that oppresses women. Benevolent sexism is dangerous because it excuses itself and watches from the sidelines but then expects a pat in the back for not getting into the ring. Because this sexism knows there’s a problem, sees it, but choose to do nothing to stop it.

Many men who consider themselves good men, maybe because they don’t actively hurt women, or agree that a woman’s place is not the kitchen, or perhaps are raising their daughters the same as they raise their sons (forgetting their daughters are going to have to live outside their homes) but then keep silent when confronted with extreme situations where women are hurt, are benevolent sexists- although an argument can be made about their silence being a key reason why oppression of women continues. One thing that many men fail to understand is, as a man, whether you are good or bad, whether you actively participate in oppression or not, you benefit from it. Society is structured to benefit you. Every time a woman is denied a promotion because she’s a woman, the man who gets it has benefitted from sexism EVEN if he is qualified for the job. Every time a man is able to walk at night when a woman can’t, he is benefitting from an environment, which denies women freedom while he can do whatever he wants. And every time a woman’s “morals” are used as an excuse to abuse her, and yet a man can do the same things with no repercussions, he is benefitting. And so by virtue of being a beneficiary of this, men who are silent are not just ignoring what is none of their business. They’re actually ignoring something that works in their favour. By quietly accepting the world as it is, you are allowing it to continue as it is.

 

_20151206_100118

But there’s one other thing I have also realized based on my conversation with men, and the many interactions I have seen, men do KNOW they benefit from this system. And many men don’t care to change it. For a while I believed that it was ignorance and all we had to do was teach and show them and they’ll get it and change. But now I don’t think so anymore. The man I argued with straight up told me told me that he knows he has privilege, he knows. But he also enjoys this privilege. And he doesn’t see why he should bend over backwards to change that. So according to him, it’s unreasonable for women to expect men to do anything to change a system that works for them. Further, he considers the constant call by women for men to be vocal and active in this fight as an attack of men. WE are harassing them.

Another reason I know that these men are comfortable in the current situation is because majority of these men are very vocal when it comes to other injustices. I have seen these same men who claim they don’t have to talk about “women issues” be loud about pretty much every thing else. They rant at politicians, the government, religious institutions, racism and many other social ills. Some of these men even organize protests to fight against these ill. So it’s not that these men don’t care about society and creating a better world. And it’s hard for me to believe that you can be a proponent of justice and equality in every way, but should not be obligated to do the same when it comes to women. The most amazing thing to watch is a black man using the language of racism to talk to black women. This disconnect is fascinating.

It’s a truly perplexing place to stand isn’t it? To acknowledge that there is a problem. That women are under attack, that this should stop, that it is possible for you to help even in just a show of support…and then choose to be no more than a spectator. To claim that it is unfair to expect more. When people who despise you are cruel, they’re really just doing what you expect of them. But when people who claim to understand your plight or empathize with you stand aside and watch this cruelty; what are you to make of that? Is it because they’re afraid that they will first have to confront themselves and how they have benefitted? Is it because they recognize that they are not really that good, that they have been complicit and allowed men to continue terrorizing women?

Throughout history, women have always fought their own battles in their own ways. Whether men stand by them, against them or somewhere else entirely, there will always be women taking up this fight and standing up for themselves and each other. That’s unlikely to change. What needs a change however is ‘good men’ happy to point out the rotten lot should be stopped and then reeling back in shock when women say, “then help us stop them.” You cannot claim to be a good man when you allow a problem that YOU benefit from to continue. When you choose silence, when you know that your voice will have an impact in changing things. Either you are part of the problem or you are actively working towards the solution. Those who stand in the centre have chosen to be part of the problem.BHF_aKqCMAAJxkk

(With contribution by Kevin Gachagua)

#MyUnkemptHair: The Politics of African Women’s Hair

I grew up with my cousins, six of us. Like most Swahili families, we were various shades of skin tones and hair types. Our hair varied from straight Arab hair, to thick curls with everything else in between. Mine was what most would at the time consider as “regular African” hair; just a bit softer with a looser curl pattern. But compared to my cousins’ it was kinky. So, while my hair was always in cornrows theirs was in pony tails and ribbons. We used to go to the salon together and every time, there were questions about my hair. Why wasn’t it curly enough like the rest? Wasn’t I a real Swahili? I eventually stopped going to the same salon as them. When I was in high school I finally  relaxed  my hair like most girls who had my type of hair. 3 years ago, I decided to stop relaxing and transitioned into natural  hair. Throughout the time I had relaxed my hair, the comments never stopped. It was either too thin, not long enough, too hard, or not Swahili enough. One of my favorites was when non-Swahili people commented on how sure they were that my hair was awesome under my hijab and how they wished that they had hair like mine.

My decision to go back to my natural hair was informed in part by social media, having seen the natural hair movement by African-American women where they reclaimed the meaning of beautiful hair. The other reason was that I wanted to do this thing that was unheard of in my community for my type of hair; to keep it as it grew. I  also wanted to prove that it could grow long, even though its texture and type was not the kind associated with long hair. But eventually, I got over that and I have learned to love and enjoy it as it is. Right now I’m at the point where if I wanted to cut it, I wouldn’t think twice about it. It’s just hair, it’ll grow back. Not that I don’t care, it’s just that it doesn’t define who I am anymore.

A few weeks ago a Kenyan man tweeted that African women are using the “natural hair movement” as an excuse to keep untidy and unkempt hair as long as “we’ve put a flower or ribbon on it”. He also said  that natural hair works for only some people. It was pretty clear he was trolling. It has become common for men on Twitter to say controversial things to get the attention of women, especially feminists, so that they can use the reaction they get to reinforce their sexism. If they get a backlash, they will then backtrack and say “the feminists are coming for me” to show that feminists are unreasonable and cannot handle criticism. This is a silencing tactic, because they know eventually women will stop engaging with them and they can continue being sexist without any recourse. I am very aware of this. And most of the time, I ignore such trolls. However on this day I chose to respond. But I did not engage him directly but instead posted pictures of my hair using the hashtag #MyUnkemptHair. Other Kenyan women joined in and before long our TLs were filled with natural hair in all types and textures and lengths and it was a glorious lovefest.

I chose to respond for two reasons.  The debate on African women’s hair is a long and complicated one. In a world where women are expected to perform beauty for the male gaze, and where hair is considered a marker of beauty, a lot of women consider hair to be a part of their identity. And in a world where whiteness informs the standards of beauty, there are specific types of hair that are considered beautiful depending on their proximity to whiteness. Therefore, in the global scale of beauty, black women’s hair is at the bottom. Disdain and demonization of African hair in its natural state has been pushed by a media machine which elevated straight hair of white women or hair close to it(Asian, Arab). In Kenya and most African countries the shift to straightening hair happened sometimes during the 70s and 80s when women started applying curly kits and relaxers into their hair. Hot combs and blow drying was also used for temporary straightening. For most of us, cornrows were for school going children and grown women had straight and sleek hair. And in the last 15 years weaves became common.  This is what you call assimilation where members of an oppressed group takes on norms of a dominant culture so as to fit in and avoid dehumanization because of being different.

In the last couple of years, more African women have started wearing their hair natural. In the beginning there was a backlash that natural hair was unprofessional, as it didn’t look “attractive” and even though this has improved, this notion still persists in certain sectors. In 2015, I have heard cases of African women, in corporate spaces still missing out on career opportunities because of wearing their hair as it grows. In addition, there are hierarchies in which types of natural hair is acceptable. Looser hair, with big curls is preferred where kinkier, tight curled hair is still frowned upon.

When I posted my pictures, I deliberately picked pictures where my hair was uncombed or unstyled. Majority of them were wash and go (where you wash your hair and basically, just go). But because I have a certain type of hair and texture, my hair is considered the “good” kind of natural hair. But if a woman with coarser hair did the same, her hair will be considered unkempt or untidy. It is also ironic that right now my hair is considered “good” hair, a far cry from when I was younger and it was compared to that of my cousins. What this also shows is that for women, there will never be good enough. No matter what we do for ourselves, a patriarchal society will always tell us that we need to do more, change more to be desirable.

Through this socialization most of us have internalized these standards of beauty. We no longer have to be told by the media, we do it to ourselves and to each other.  And so it has become commonplace for fellow Africans to call our hair in its natural state unkempt, dirty and untidy. On the other hand, it is rare to find someone describe straight hair, whether it’s uncombed or just washed as unkempt.

And it’s for this reason I responded. In this kind of environment, our hair becomes political. And when African women choose to wear their hair in its natural state it becomes a statement of defiance. So when an African man comes out and makes derogatory remarks about our hair, or how we look, or our skin tones, he is not just commenting on physical aspects, he is actually reinforcing years of damaging and dehumanizing notions about black women, which are used to continue upholding white supremacy. What this man and many who think like him need to understand is that they are being used as a tool of our oppression.

The second reason I chose to respond was basically what the hashtag morphed into. When other women joined in, it was Kenyan women showing their hair to each other, loving on each other, supporting each other, uplifting each other. It was us telling each other, I see you, you are beautiful and appreciated. On that day I saw us, taking the power back, choosing how to see ourselves, how to express ourselves. Choosing that we, alone, decide what our beauty is and that it is vast and diverse and all valid. It was amazing. And since then, every time I see a woman wearing her hair as it naturally grows, I give her a smile, an acknowledgment that we are enough

And even though some men tried to change the conversation on this powerful thing and reduce it to us performing to them and seeking their approval, , in reality it was us showing them that not everything women do or how they look requires their nod to be termed as beautiful. And we do not need their permission to exist. On that day I saw the manifestation of what Ann Daramola repeatedly tells us, “Power, not Permission.

 

How To Make a Feminist Chicken Biriani

I haven’t blogged on here for 3 years. It feels kinda weird but also nice. I’ve missed this.

Feminist Biriani 

So earlier this year, I had invited a couple of friends to my house for lunch and tweeted about making them biriani. Some random dude on Kenyan Twitter decided to use that to mock me and Feminists in general. And so the term #FeministBiriani was coined. The food and the day ended up being dope and the sad man yelled at his keyboard because his plot to ruin my day was defeated. I took some pictures that day cos I wanted to tweet the recipe but then got lazy and too full.

This week, someone asked for a pilau recipe and as I was sending to her and a few others I decided to finally put down the recipe for the #FeministBiriani. Hope y’all enjoy.

*Warning* Using this recipe might turn you into a Feminist. Tread carefully. 

Ok, so Biryani itself originated from South East Asia, although even Wiki doesn’t know from where specifically. I’m assuming the Swahili learned it from Indian traders who came to the Coast back when. I’ve noticed that there’s slight differences in how the we make it and how Kenyan Indians do it today.

images

Image from Google.com

Like with everything else, there’s a specific way that biryani is cooked that’s considered the authentic way. In the older days there was no gas cookers and pressure cookers or meat tenderizers and all that. I remember the biryani meat used to be marinated in yoghurt and raw pawpaw to soften it. This also works with kienyeji chicken since it’s tougher. Sometimes they used to marinate and then slow cook it the whole night. The deliciousness of this cannot be described. Oh Em Gee! But I haven’t seen this method used in ages, especially the raw pawpaws.

Image from Google.com

Image from Google.com

Biryani basically is a rice and sauce dish. The rice is cooked separately and the sauce separately. Some versions of it have the sauce and rice mixed during the last stage of cooking and then served as one dish and another, they’re served separately. The mixing version works best when cooking either in a jiko or using kuni and is mostly done for huge quantities during functions. If it’s done well, I like this version cos the rice absorbs the sauce and it’s quite delicious.

CBNEJubVAAEaaN1

The original Feminist Biriani

This recipe I’m gonna share is my mum’s version of chicken Biryani and it’s my favourite because it’s pretty easy to make but also delicious. The taste doesn’t stray from the original biryani taste.

Ok, let’s start.

Ingredients

Sauce- For 4-5 people

  • 1 Whole chicken
  • 5 large onions
  • 10 Tomatoes chopped into pieces
  • 6 large potatoes split into fours
  • 1 medium sized garlic head, peeled
  • 1 medium sized ginger root- peeled
  • 2 table spoons of tomato paste
  • 1 bunch of Dhania
  • 1 Capsicum- chopped
  • 4 large Carrots- chopped
  • Oil- Enough to fry the chicken, potatoes and onions.
  • Spices- Cinamon, cardamom, cumin, black pepper. Grind loosely so that it still has chunks sticking out.
  • Alternatively, bottled Pilau Masala
  • Optional- Spanish Paprika, parsley and rosemary.
  • Secret Feminism Potion

Rice

  • 2 Cups Rice
  • 4 cups water
  • Salt to taste
  • Food colour- yellow, orange or red (or all)

Method

Rice:

I prefer cooking the rice first since it’s faster. This is cooked the way you normally cook rice depending on how much rice you’re making. Boil water with salt, add rice, cook. Or in a rice cooker as I did mine

DSC_0272

One distinct feature of the biryani is the colourful rice. There’s really nothing much to this other than food colour. When the rice is almost dry, before you cover to leave it to dry completely, mix a little bit of food colour preferably yellow/orange or you can do both colours and maybe some red, the more colourful, the better with a little bit of water, (don’t make it to watery cos we don’t want to make the rice soggy)

DSC_0277

Dig shallow holes in the rice and pour bits of the colour, each colour on a separate hole. Cover the holes and your rice and let it cook completely.

DSC_0280

Before serving the rice, mix it so the coloured parts can spread.

DSC_0296

Ok, now for the chicken sauce

Cut your chicken into desired pieces. Set it aside to dry. When it’s dry, dust it with salt and black pepper.

DSC_0271

Heat some oil and fry the chicken lightly. About 2 mins each side. We just need it to cook a little at this stage. Set it aside.

DSC_0288

Next, fry the onions until they’re dark brown. Blend them with a little water into a paste. Alternatively if you can find bottled onion paste, you can use that.

DSC_0233

DSC_0237

DSC_0285

Next, put some yellow or orange food colour on the potatoes, toss to coat them evenly, then fry them until they’re completely cooked. Set them aside.

DSC_0236 DSC_0244

Next, put all the other ingredients including the Feminism Potion in a blender and blend them into a thick paste. The trick here is to use the tomatoes as a base so that you won’t need to add any water. This sauce is supposed to be very thick so use as little water as possible.

DSC_0239 DSC_0243 DSC_0247DSC_0248

Pour this mixture in your pan. Add the spices/pilau masala and tomato paste. I like adding spanish Paprika cos it adds a certain sweetness and some herbs, but this isn’t compulsory. Add salt to your taste.

DSC_0254DSC_0257

The essence of this dish, is to allow the ingredients to simmer rather than boil. At first, bring it to a boil for about a minute then reduce the heat and let it cook until it becomes a thick stew. It should almost dry, no visible water just oil.

DSC_0260DSC_0259

When the stew has reduced and is almost dry, put in the chicken, add the potatoes and pour in the onion paste Stir thoroughly so that the chicken and potatoes are well mixed with the sauce. Increase the heat and cover for about 2 mins

DSC_0289 DSC_0290DSC_0293

Meanwhile, reheat the oil you had used to fry the chicken and potatoes. When it’s completely hot, pour onto the sauce, all around the pot. Turn off the heat, put in the dhania and cover and let it sit until serving time.

DSC_0294DSC_0286

And the sauce is ready.

Serve with a kachumbari salad and pilipili.

DSC_0297 DSC_0298

DSC_0299

Extra: Pilipili

Pilipili

DSC_0287

Blend the following together. The quantities don’t really matter, depends on how much pilipili you want to make and how hot you want it to be. If you don’t want it too hot, reduce the number of chillies. You can make a lot of this and put it in a jar and store in the fridge to use for later.

  • Green chillies
  • Garlic
  • Onion
  • Tomatoes
  • Carrots

Put the mixture in a pan, add oil and salt, put in low heat and cover. Put some lemon juice or if you have tamarind paste, or vinegar. Allow to simmer until it becomes a thick paste with no water, only oil. Adjust salt to taste and it’s ready to serve.

DSC_0300

(NB: Pics aren’t of the best quality, poleni)

Response to: The Big Brother Africa Fights: Another Feminist Facade

(Disclaimer: This is an old post, and I have grown since I wrote this. I now proudly identify as a feminist and feminist activist. I leave this post up to remind myself of how far I have come and that I should always be open to learning and unlearning)

I was seriously done discussing this issue because I felt I had said all there needs to be said. But I came across this blog post earlier today on willpress.blogpost.com

I wanted to comment on the  post but my comment was too long so decided to put it on my blog.

To the Author of that post,

First, I am not a feminist. I do not identify with any feminist movement, I don’t read any feminist books, and I can’t name a single prominent feminist to save my life. But I am pretty vocal about issues pertaining to women. Why? Because I believe that a healthy society requires healthy confident women. Sometimes I berate men like   here and sometimes I talk about women. But whenever a woman is vocal about women issues, they are quickly labelled feminists so that they can be put in a box which can ridiculed, and disregarded as “those feminists making noise about nothing again.”  These issues affect everybody. Why should I have to be a feminist to talk about them?

Secondly, I would like to draw your attention to an incident which occurred earlier on in the show (I can’t find the clip on their site, anyone has it?) where the said DKB and Prezzo were involved in an altercation for an hr where Prezzo repeatedly goaded him and asked him to hit him if he could. That argument ended without anybody slapping or hitting anybody. If you watch the clip you would agree that Prezzo was way more disrespectful that Zainab was. But DKB didn’t hit him. Why do you think that was. That is exactly why this isn’t simply bad tv but a “feminist” issue. DKB didn’t hit Zainab because she was all over his face. He hit her because she was a woman and he could.

Third, the reason there is a standard rule that you should not hit women because our biology is very different. Men are generally bigger and stronger than women. It’s interesting cos this is the first argument thrown at feminists isn’t it? Men and Women can’t be equaled because we’re biologically different? If a man chooses to properly beat a woman, then because of his biology, he can kill her. I know there are cases of women hitting men, women being stronger than men but those incidences are exceptions. An average man can beat an average woman to a pulp before she even lifts her hands. Physically, women (most) are weaker. Men shouldn’t take advantage of this.

If we allow for situations where it can be considered acceptable to beat a woman then we’ve lost the fight on violence against women. Who decides when it’s ok to hit a woman? How far should a woman go to provoke you before you hit her? How much should you hit her for each offence? Say if what Zainab did deserved a slap, if she had mentioned his mother, was he then allowed to kick her? Maybe the guy who slit that girl’s throat felt she had become too much. Hell, maybe she did mouth off to him. Did she deserve to die?? We live in a continent where in many parts women are still considered less than men. This isn’t a feminist issue. This is a society issue. We are either against violence on women or we’re for it for it.

Finally, there are very few situations where violence of any kind can be right (e.g. self defense). Two men using their fists to solve a problem is as bad as a man hitting a woman and vice versa. A true measure of a person is determined with how they stick to their principles when faced with a situation where they are pushed to go against them. Situations should not change who you are.

Regards,

Aisha 

Love Actually

It is with horror that I find myself drawn to write a post on Valentine’s. About love. It’s especially curious because I’ve been trying to  complete my holiday posts and it’s been difficult finding the right words and everything I write doesn’t feel good enough to be posted.  And yet here I am with sentences rushing through my mind begging to be let out. So here goes. But be warned, this post is more rambling than anything specific so bear with me.

Never is an emotion revered, vilified, ignored, ranted at and blamed as love is during this time. The ones in love can’t gush enough about it. The heartbroken are asking why, the cynics are dressing it in sarcasm. Love is everywhere.

Most of us, especially girls, got our idea of romantic love from the Cinderella and Snow White books that we read at a very early age. We would suffer, then our prince would come rescue us, and then we’d live happily ever after. As teenagers this notion was reinforced by the Mills and Boon books we sneaked into our rooms, filling our young impressionable minds with fantasies of tall dark handsome men who will come sweep us off our feet. This mindset usually set us up for our first heartbreak. Of course nothing works out as the books had suggested. Some of us become quickly disillusioned while others continue to hold on to the idea that he was just the wrong one. The real prince will come. Years later, we get on with the business of living and the dreams we once held about happy ever after are forgotten.

But there’s something I’ve noticed about my age group as far as love, especially romantic love,  is concerned. We don’t like admitting it’s a big part of us. When in a relationship, we try hard not to appear too in love. When we break up, we pretend it didn’t matter. Tuck it in out of sight. No one likes to see love’s disappointments  . Better go get drunk. We seem to be a generation scared of our feelings. My apprehension at writing this post shows how much we avoid expressing or talking about love. Don’t wear your heart on your sleeves, it’s unseemly

What am I on about? I guess I’m just lamenting the loss of love. These days people love in bits, always with an exit plan. We’re disillusioned and cynical. And afraid. That’s why the men walking with flowers today are behaving like they’re committing a capital offense. Yet I know of someone who married her first love, years after they broke up and lost contact. 2 people in fact. Then there’s also the couple that dated for 10 yrs. There were so many obstacles in their way, it always looked like they will never end up together but finally got married. Stuff that romantic books are made of.

So maybe there’s still hope for us. Maybe love actually does exist.

The Traveller: Getting to Dubai

I’ve always wanted to travel. The idea of going to far-away places, meeting different kinds of people, experiencing different types of cultures has a certain appeal. I always say that if I got really rich, instead of acquiring material stuff like most people would do, the money for me would mean freedom to go anywhere I want to. Live a year in Brazil, 6 months in Nepal , 2 years in Egypt (may they get peace and stability soon). Different places, different people.

Last year I finally decided to actually do some traveling rather than just fantasize about it. Even if it’s on a low-budget. So in December when my friend told me we should visit our other who lives in Dubai it was the perfect opportunity. The three of us have been friends since we were like 10. The friend who lives in Dubai has been asking us to visit her for a while but it’s never come through. So it was pretty exciting for us to finally get a chance for the three to hang out. At first we weren’t sure we’d make it this time either, and we almost cancelled a couple of times, but luckily we managed to get our stuff together and set the date for end of January. Due to logistics we ended up traveling on different dates with me travelling a day earlier and my other friend travelling the next day.

My trip was uneventful, thank God. Since this was my very first time venturing beyond our East African borders I was a bit apprehensive and my mum gave me enough warnings of “”don’t help people with babies, they hide drugs in their diapers!’ My flight was for 1640 and I arrived at around 11.pm Dubai time. Dubai airport is pretty simple cos everything is clearly marked and I went through immigration ok, though the guys there were rather unfriendly. Guess they didn’t like working at that time of the night. But I was happy that I was out of the airport in a short time.

I managed to get a taxi and direct it to where I was staying. My first view of Dubai was at night and it was amazing. Lots of lit up sky scrapers decorated the skyline.

Dubai at Night. Sorry for the not so clear photo

The taxi managed to get me to my friend’s house with her giving directions. One thing I noticed is driving is complicated. If you miss a turning, you have to go quite a distance to get back on the right road. There’s no U-turning on random places and you can’t go up pavements. Someone said as much as fuel is cheap, they do a lot more driving for short distance.  Oh, also the driver stopped at a red light at an empty road until it turned green. I imagined what our Kenyan drivers would have done. lol.But the roads are amazing. Super highways and complicated networks. Hopefully this is what the Chinese have in mind for our roads.

I spent the first day doing some mild sight-seeing while waiting for my friend who was arriving at 2am. I feel asleep at around 9 and was woken up by her “We’re in Dubai” screams.  She had arrived safely.

Finally the 3 musketeers were reunited!

Next: The Traveller: Confessions of a Shopaholic  

The Last Blog Post of 2011

For some reason I had an urge to write a final blog post for the year 2011. Ironic because I wasn’t much of a blogger in 2011. As someone likes pointing out, the term underfeeder has described me perfectly this year.

As far as my writing is concerned the second part of 2011 was hard. I simply couldn’t write. Not just on the blog but anywhere else. There’s nothing in my drafts, my laptop or scribbled in notebooks.

But I don’t want to write about not being able to write today. I usually do my resolutions and recap of my year on my birthday, but 2011 was a year of lessons so I thought I’d share those here.

  1. Friendship is a two way street. You give some you get some
  2.  You can’t be there for everyone.
  3.  Not everyone will understand No. 2
  4. And people won’t be there for you sometimes. Don’t judge them too harshly
  5.  Dreams require work to be actualized. Hard work.
  6.  There is no end to growing up. Just when you think you’re finally there, you find that you still have more to go
  7.  There is no end to making mistakes. And doing things you thought you’d never do.
  8.  Relationships take work. And patience. And pride swallowing. And ego-beating.
  9. You can make good friendships from the internet. But I already knew this from the last batch of friends I made back in 2004.
  10.  If you don’t take your talent and your work seriously, then don’t expect others to.
  11. Opportunities rarely come back a second time. Grab them the first time
  12. Manchester United can make me cry. I don’t know what that makes me
  13.  Love can eff you up. It will also jack your thug and you’ll start awwwing at cute kittens. SMH
  14. You can’t tell your boss what you think of them and expect no repercussions. No matter how right you are
  15. I am still stunted by my fears
  16. Everything has a lesson in it. Be open minded enough to learn
  17. I really don’t know anything about this life
  18. Surround yourself with people who inspire you to be better. Strive to be that to others too
  19. God knows best. All the time.

Ok. That’s all for now. I’ll do a proper post in April Inshallah.

Be true to yourselves. Stay blessed.

Love Aisha 

Untitled

like the breath that’s trapped beneath your tongue

the breath that spoke my name

scented with memories of our tomorrow

memories I try to capture between our entwined fingers;

i should have seen it in the way your hands claimed mine

that first time we touched

an extension of mine, trembling.

 

your smile pierces through my chest

stops to marvel at how well your rib holds my heart

dissolves into the butterflies in my stomach

and melts into the liquid holding my weak knees

i try to stand upright.

stubborn in my quest to remain unmoved, unaffected

a quest I lost when my heart answered your call

 

you came to me on a sunny day

took me by surprise

i was looking for you in the shadows

whispers against the dark clouds

steady, your light was shining

showing me the way,

leading me

guiding me to you

 

i trace the lines of your lips

as if they hold a secret

i memorize their shape

when you say my name

i commit them to my eyelids

because when it finally rains

i’ll harvest my tears in their grooves