Category Archives: Woman

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

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.



God Made Me A Woman: Part 3

“Like a compass needle that points north, a man’s accusing finger always finds a woman. Always.”
Khaled Hosseini ( A Thousand Splendid Suns)

Sometimes I feel like I’m the most unfortunate citizen of this world.

I am African. We who have been used and abused over the centuries, first by foreign powers who came and “discovered” us to our detriment and then by  our own leaders who believe our continent main use o help for increasing their wealth and big stomachs.

I am a Muslim. With Arabic ancestry. From the shores of Lamu where the first Arabs settled in Kenya. My Swahili dialect is filled with hot sands of the deserts of Arabia.  Also, right now, the world’s most wanted. In today’s world the word Islam most times connotes the image of a bomb strapped, beard faced fanatic. With madness in his eyes.

And then I am a woman. The default victim. Everyone’s scapegoat. An afterthought.

On any given day, I can find at least 2 articles in newspapers, on the internet or even  within conversations that make me feel attacked, belittled, oppressed.

A headline like “Woman sexually assaulted by Muslim barbarians” raises all sorts of emotions from me. This was from the Lara Logan sexual assault story.  My Muslim brothers attacked a fellow woman. Wooosah.

But from all these identities, I have found being a woman has been the hardest. Especially when it comes to personal goals . When you’re a kid you live in a world where you think every thing is possible. So you build your dreams with an innocence and naivety. When I was younger I wanted to be an actor. I did a bit of drama in school, but it was just for Prize Giving day occasions. I  imagined myself on stage the first Kenyan to win an Oscar. But that remained a vague dream. I’m a Swahili girl. I cannot be on stage. It’s just not done where I come from. Those who have, have had to endure a lot and fight hard for it. I commend them.

I have dreamed of many things. I have had to lay many of them to rest.  Stillborn pieces of what I could have been.

A lot has changed for women. Even for Muslim women. We are educated and we  are allowed to work. Note that I said allowed. It is never our choice. We are contributing members of our societies. But not too much, lest our voices become louder than our men. But we still have a long way to go. My friend recently quit her job because she was frustrated. She was qualified to be head of her department but they would not promote her because she was a woman. The cherry on top was when she had to train the person that they eventually hired. A previously dedicated employee became disillusioned.

When a woman does something wrong, the whole society feels like they’re entitled to correct her. She can be undressed in the streets for not dressing up to standards, she can be insulted in public. She is a woman, a community property; It’s their responsibility to keep her in the right path.

Women are still raped and abused. Simply because they’re there. Children are destroyed everyday. Simply because they’re female.

When a man does something wrong, it is his business. God will handle him.

I have been overwhelmed by the sentiment today. I am celebrated. The same mouth that called me a ho last night, is today calling me a queen. I wonder how that tastes.

I am not proud to be a woman. I had no choice in the matter. I just was. But I accept and I live up to it.

I am a woman; I carry with me the magnitude of the word. I celebrate myself.

Happy International Women’s Day. Beyond this day.

God Made Me A Woman.. Part 2

A couple of weeks back I was reading  World Without End by Ken Follet.  It’s 1000 plus pages long and interesting reading. Kept me in the house some days just turning pages.  The only annoying thing about reading a big book, is when someone sees me carrying it, and ask “are you going to finish all  this?” The automatic response I want to give is roll my eyes and say “No, I just carry it to try build my arm muscles with all this weight.” But since I suffer from good upbringing, I instead smile like the polite girl my mum would love to believe I am (I see your sniggers). What they don’t know is I’m a beast when it comes to reading. I devour books. I’ve been known to pull all-nighters and I once told my friends I would rather read than hang out with them.

Anyways, one of the main characters in the book is this girl, and her father tries to sell her. For a cow. He needed a cow and didn’t have any money to buy one, so he decided to trade his daughter for it. So he made a deal with this unsavory character; he didn’t even care about how the dude would treat his daughter or what he wanted to use her for (prostitution). As far as he was concerned, that was one less mouth for him to worry about.

The girl was  more shocked by her dad’s blasé attitude towards her. She was a woman and hence a commodity to be used as he saw fit. And the cow was more valuable than her! Worse, when the authorities were asked to intervene, they concluded that she was his father’s property and they could not interfere. Did I mention that the book is based on 14th Century England? No? Oh sorry, for getting you all worked up. This kind of thing only happened in the dark ages. Right now women have rights and are respected and have a choice in how they live their lives. Right?

I thought so too, and then I come across articles like this one, and I start thinking that maybe being a woman is the biggest curse that was bestowed upon me! Just for a moment though, because then the rage overtakes me and it doesn’t allow any thoughts of self-pity. HOW DARE THEY??? I’m consumed with the kind of impotent rage that makes me weep, because  I feel so helpless.  I can’t do anything right now to help these women and many more  like them.  I cry  when I think that right now in 2010 there are women who  are still not allowed to choose how to live their lives. I despair when I think of countless of women who are still denied their basic rights and endure horrific abuse in places like Afghanistan,  and DR Congo simply because they’re women.

None of us chose what gender we are. But somehow throughout  the ages being a woman has been considered a handicap and women are considered less than men. I know that huge strides have been made but as long as there is even one woman still being subjected to humiliation and degradation simply because of her gender, then not enough has been done.

Was God wrong in making me a woman?

God made me a woman…

What is it about us women that can drive us to make a man the sole and the most vital point of our existence? That makes us believe that everything else can stop to matter except that one man? Keeping in mind there are a million other men with more or less the same attributes? Is it in our genetic make up, or is it our emotions?

Before you roll your eyes and label this one more bitter and disillusioned male basher, please read on. I LOVE men, hanging out with them, loving them, just being with them. I believe that men and women cannot live without each other and companionship is very important. But this post was inspired by an incident.

A relative of mine recently split with her husband. That in itself is not stuff that makes blogs anymore, but what led to the divorce is. I think it warrants some recording. The couple had been married for about 2 yrs before the dude was transferred to another city. The husband wanted her to move there as well. However, it would have been very difficult for her to get a new job in the same caliber she had now in the new place. Second problem is that she had a son from a previous marriage. She had fought a bitter battle with her ex husband for the custody of the child, and eventually they came up with the agreement that they would share, with him visiting his dad, every two weekends, and spend half of his school holidays there. So if she were to move towns the dad would claim the child. For a while they tried the long distance thing. But the husband kept up the pressure and eventually she caved in.  So this smart, beautiful, successful woman decided to leave everything, including her son, behind so that she can go be with her man. And herein comes in the twist in the tale. The moment she tells the dude that she’s moving, he drops the bomb. Turns out, dude is already married to someone else, and the pressure for her to move was just a bluff so that he can use that as an excuse to split. Whooooosh!! That took my breath away too!

I’m sure every time she lays awake at night she thinks about all that she was willing to give up for this man. And just how close she got to losing it all. Including the man! I don’t have kids, but I’m lucky to know a number of mothers, and these women would die for their children if they had to. So for a woman to be willing to give up her child, then it must be one heck of a bond!

This made me think. I know of several women who have very successful lives i.e. job, family, friends, but the moment their relationships with their men have issues, then their whole world falls apart. I, myself have been guilty of this. There were times when my family life was falling apart, my career sucked, but because I had this man in my life, you couldn’t get the smile off my face and the joy in my heart. All was well with me.

You gotta give it to men. They have such a unique and interesting hold on us.