The Desperation Of A Job Seeking Kenyan Is All Too Real

So you are a young Kenyan of about 25, 26,27 years of age. You’ve just graduated from campus perhaps with a 1st class honors in a degree course, everyone told you was marketable back then when you were campus hunting. Or probably your parents could not afford the degree courses fee and opted to enroll you in a college to pursue a diploma or certificate course.

Or maybe you are that young Kenyan who falls in the category of campus or college dropout. Financial constraints often being the reason for your dropping out. Or in certain circumstances, you just didn’t feel your heart was there and chose to pursue your God given talents. Either way, you are still a 25, 26, 27 year old Kenyan who may just be, currently job seeking.

Image Courtesy of Job Finder

Image Courtesy of Job Finder

It’s a cruel world out here for job seekers, so you will quickly discover. Your parents or guardians who had previously catered for your pocket money needs, will probably cease giving you any money. Their argument often bordering on the fact that you are living and eating at home so you are comfortable and do not need extra cash.

They may not be out to spite you, but it will soon start feeling like it’s spiteful, when you realize that you have to actually explain what that 500 shs you are asking them to lend you, is for. And when you really want to buy something that is really important to you, but you just don’t have enough money for it, you will truly learn the essence of humbling thyself.

Thinking about student loans that need to start being cleared, will only give you ulcers. This is the time, you will begin to value being single, just to avoid extra stress from nagging boyfriends and girlfriends. Who wants to die early?

As you patiently (or impatiently) await any response from the various organisations you have applied for job vacancies, there will come offers from concerned relatives to take up that promotion job. The one where you have to wear that branded T-shirt and stand in supermarket allies, convincing unconcerned shoppers to try this new soap and get a toothbrush for free.

With your first class honors in a serious degree course, you will wonder silently, whether this relative is simply making fun of your unemployed situation by suggesting such or if they are the ones behind your downfall. Fret not, this is one of the realities you are going to face when you are right in the middle of your job seeking journey. Coupled with the regret mails that you will occasionally get, you might start wondering whether that generational curse thing was actually real.

At a time when most 25,26,27 year olds are actively job seeking with not much success, suggestions to attend primary, high school and what not reunions will start coming up in WhatsApp groups, where you have mostly been a silent follower. Judging from the Instagram and Facebook pics you have been seeing of your peers, you will start to believe that probably you are at the lowest of the success tier.

Your inferiority complex will go into overdrive and you may feign an excuse of working on the said reunion date just to avoid showing up. In reality, you will spend the entire day watching a repeat of the Being Mary Jane series you bought last year, with that annoying lump in your throat literally choking the breath out of you.

When the impatience gets the better of you, you will resort to hand dropping hard copies of your CV and testimonials, in those organisations where you think your kind of qualifications are needed. There you will encounter menacing security guards, who will intimidate you with meaningless interrogations, of your intentions to access the reception area. You will end up feeling like a criminal rather than a law abiding, job seeking citizen.

Finally, they might end up denying you access and have you unwillingly, leave your documents with them all the while knowing that, the documents may never land at the reception or HR office. The complete work of the devil, you will be tempted to conclude.

As you traverse the city or town in your job seeking efforts, you may probably encounter Network Marketers. These ones target the hapless job seekers with claims of making big bucks in a month’s period. By now the desperation is all too real for you and you may lack the energy to resist such kinds of business opportunities’ tutorials.

Google Images

Google Images

Your eyes probably too big to hide your anticipation for better days, they will let it drop how last month they had flown out of the country all charges paid, as an incentive by the Network Marketing company they are in. By now, they can actually see you salivating for the luxurious lifestyle. So they will proceed to let you know that with your qualifications and attributes, you can become a millionaire in a year’s period.

As you break into a wide grin that can barely be hidden and actually feels dumb, they will carry on telling you how you will never need to be under anyone and that you are now your own boss. By the time they get to the flexible working hours, judging by how much it is a struggle for you to get up in the morning, you are completely sold.

You will find yourself attending business opportunity trainings only to realize that in your unemployed state, you can barely afford the exorbitant cost of the starter kit. Asking a friend to lend you the money is inconceivable. Asking your parent or guardian to help you with the starter kit fee is even worse. So you will eventually resign yourself to your job seeking fate.

Eventually, the job interviews will start coming, one after the other. You may face stone faced panels that are not easily convinced and end up blabbering incomprehensible answers to their questions in your nervous state. They may right you off for being unsure of your credentials. The stab of rejection will cause you to self train yourself on your communication skills. You will then realize that with each passing interview, you are getting better and better.

The job hunting journey might as well be coming to an end.

Why Online Dating Is Another Form Of Being Lazy In Love

I have logged onto Online Dating sites in the past. I have managed to create an incomplete profile on one. However, I didn’t last more than a day on those sites. One site required that I pay some amount of money in pounds, to be able to read messages from guys who had commented on my profile.

Another site went ahead and matched me with some creepy looking fellows  from my locality. Actually, none of those guys came from within my area of locality. They simply were from the same country as me. So being one with such little faith in Online Dating, I quickly decided that it wasn’t worth the effort. In a country of about 47  million persons as of this year, I couldn’t miss eligible guys to date, so I figured.

Image courtesy of Google

Image courtesy of Google

I find Online Dating to be quite a lazy way of trying to meet potential persons to date. I’m aware of it’s popularity in the West. One person in the UK was gracious enough to explain to me that the reason why he preferred Online Dating, was because of his area of locality. It was a small town, with an equally small population so you literally knew everybody and had already exhausted your options. Online Dating was the only way you could go to find someone.

However, it is a known fact that Online Dating hasn’t quite caught on in the African continent. And for those in especially my country who engage in it, it is largely for ulterior motives. If you were to go the Online Dating route in Kenya, you are bound to meet with many guys online, who are just doing it for fun, looking for a sugar mummy or soliciting for sex.

Most of the women in my country who equally try Online Dating are those who are looking for foreign guys to elevate them. Indeed, there have been numerous cases in the past where Kenyan women met a White guy online, met in person eventually and started dating, only to end up sexually violated, dead or missing. For the few who met genuinely serious White men on the same platform, they only have their lucky stars to thank.

Love has over time taken a different dimension altogether. It is the reason why many people actively engaging in Online Dating, see no problem with sitting at a computer for hours, chatting with someone who is virtually a stranger to them. The most common explanation given for this being that, they lack the time or conducive environment to actually meet someone in their day to day activities.

Men on the other hand no longer have to chase if the Internet can do the chasing for them, by matching them up with women within their localities. Online dating has even made it easier for creeps soliciting for sex to get laid.

I’m very aware of the numerous online dating success stories, but that does not completely erase the fact that, these people were in reality, too lazy to meet someone eligible in person. Online Dating, despite its positives if any, is just but an easy fix for many who do not desire to put themselves out there in the real dating world. They therefore resort to technology that is going to speed up the process for them to get into a relationship.

Nowadays, we no longer value first dates and deep one on one conversations with someone we are attracted to. We do not even care to read facial expressions! I personally do not believe in connections formed via a computer or laptop. How sure am I that the person sitting on the other end is actually a genuine person not someone with ill intentions? How confident am I that if I send him photos of mine, he is not going to use them to create a fake profile elsewhere?

In this generation, we have reduced one another into commodities which can be solicited for, with a few specifications of how we would like them to look and where we would like them to come from. If we finally meet them in person on a date and decide that we do not like how they look or act, we can always relegate them to the back seat and get online once again, to search for another. So in a month’s time, we discover that we have been on numerous dates with people we hardly knew and we call that putting ourselves out there.

In reality, I find this exhausting. If I’m going to be out on dates most days in a week with people I decide I do not like, then I might as well resort to the old fashioned way of meeting eligibles. That way, at first glance and a few exchange of pleasantries, I can tell whether I would agree to a first date with this guy or not. And it is totally free. No payments.

Connections to me, are better formed in the real world. Sadly, we have decided that we do not want to put any effort in our love lives and prefer the easy way out, that is Online Dating. Indeed there is so much we can do to actually meet someone in person. We can decide to go out more, improve on our personal grooming, interact more with others, be more approachable…but we seem too lazy nowadays to successfully achieve that.

We just know that a dating site somewhere, will do all the work for us and we get to sit pretty, as we chat away with someone else, who is equally as lazy as we are. Never mind that you are going to encounter lots of dodgy characters online and suffer unnecessary frustration until you finally, if possible, meet that one person with whom you expect to click.

 

Teenagers and Sex: How Young Is Too Young To Be Having Sex?

Hello Parents, your children are having sex!

Surprised? Shocked? It’s happening. That lanky, innocent faced teenage son is getting some from a sweet faced teenage or younger girl somewhere.

But how would you know if you are a busy parent, who leaves the house by 6 am to beat the jam and gets back at 7 or 8 pm after being stuck in traffic for hours?

How would you know when you firmly believe that your children could not be exposed to sex at their young ages?

How would you know if you consider our parliamentarians to be working for the devil, for suggesting that the age of consent be lowered to 16 and not the usual 18?

Did it ever occur to you that an underage boy child can end up charged for defilement, for sleeping with a girl child who is equally underage and that the suggestion stemmed from a desire to protect the boy child?

But do you care anyway? After all, it is your underage daughter whose innocence was taken so this underage boy deserves to pay, doesn’t he?

Parents and especially Kenyan parents, you need to wake up and smell the kahawa!

Image courtesy of Stanford sexual health peer resource center

Image courtesy of Stanford sexual health peer resource center

When your 15 year old daughter ends up pregnant yet she has been in a strict boarding school for the better part of her life, in addition to residing in a gated community, where the watchman knows every resident by name and you realize the father is a clueless 15 or 16 year old boy from the neighborhood, then you will know she wasn’t raped as she would like you to believe.

She had actually been engaging in unprotected sex with the said young man while popping emergency pills afterward until sh&t happened, the pill failed to work and she is now expecting your grandchild. What more proof do you need that your children are getting it on like there’s no tomorrow and are none the wiser, on what precautions to take while engaging in sex?

Parents, forget the parent lock on the DSTV channels you consider too mature for your children to watch. Forget the forwarding of sexual scenes you actively do when your children are in the vicinity. These children know much more about sex than what you and your spouse have known in your 20 or so years of marriage.

Your teenage daughter could as well be sexting with a teenage boy who is actively looking up pornographic material. I once mentioned that an increasing number of Kenyans are addicted to pornography on the blog. A percentage of this number are teenagers. How do I know without statistics? Most people admit to coming across porn material in their teens. Many were not even actively looking for it but someone in their circle of friends was and shared with them.

Parents, do not for once be fooled by those innocent faces. Children as young as 12 are engaging in consensual sex. Note, consensual sex. So stop crying foul that your underage daughters have been defiled by boys, who didn’t know better when you discover that they are sexually active.

Since most African parents would rather die than listen to their children confessing to have broken their virginity, these children could be doing it with the utmost level of secrecy. And while many including myself consider teenage-hood or younger to be too young to be having sex, I’m not completely closed off to the idea that an increasing number of teenagers are having sex only taking it a notch higher in campus. And in campus, that is where all the sex happens, since they now consider themselves young adults with less supervision.

We are not talking about campuserians today, but the young boys and girls in high school and primary school in your houses. The ones you leave all day long over school holidays with dodgy househelps and distant cousins. Quite a number of boys had their first sexual encounter with the mboch. Yes, and they never reported the incident to you.

Others had male relatives give them unsolicited sex education that involved experimentation with girls in the neighborhood. Some girls ended up pregnant while accompanying the randy mboch to her weekly trysts. Plus the parents of nowadays are buying phones that can access the internet for children as young as 10, 11 or 12. This is where all the sexting and exchange of nudies is taking place.

So when you hear of teenagers nabbed while engaging in orgies reminiscent of the Roman times, do not be shocked. We have sexually active 16 year olds with raging libidos in our midst. And no amount of beating, teen service on Sunday, paraffin in boarding school food to kill libidos and exorcising of fornication demons, can change the situation unless we sit down and have a heart to heart talk with our children. Parents you need to do much more hands on parenting than what you are doing nowadays. Let the househelps do the washing and cleaning but do the raising of your own children for Chrissakes!

Dating nowadays among teenagers is not about exchanging pretty harmless love letters, in bad English with song dedications as a sign off. Dating nowadays among teenagers involves proving your love  lust by agreeing to let this boy or girl make his or her sexual fantasy a reality.

So if you are talking to your pre-teen or teen child about sex, it is time to cast African societal norms aside and ask the hard questions. Is he/she dating? Is he/she having sex? When exactly did they start having sex?  It may be the most unfathomable thing to do or believe, but it is much better to have a knowledge of what you are dealing with, than a horrible surprise of a sexually transmitted disease or pregnancy.

Are A Woman’s Strong Features A Determinant Of Her Desirability?

What makes a woman feminine?

Is it the shape of her face, her soft curves, the roundness of her bottom…? Are these attributes of hers considered female, what men are going to look at and say “wow, she’s hot!”? What about a female who naturally has strong features, otherwise considered “manly” or “masculine” in many quarters?

I sought to find out what 3 men thought about dating a woman who fell in the latter category. One mentioned that he wouldn’t mind the masculinity factor, as long as she possessed all the qualities he looked for in a woman.

As a matter of fact, for him, those special qualities would surpass her physique. However, he was quick to note that sometimes, the physical attributes of a woman contributed to the attraction factor, from the opposite sex. But all the same, he went on to mention female sport figures who possessed obviously, very strong features that he considered attractive.

The next man gave a complete no. He was very certain that he would not even be the slightest bit attracted to such a woman, just from looking at her strong features. The third mentioned that he tends to look at the physical attributes first in a woman.

He admitted to this being superficial and a mistake on his part. However, he highly doubted that he would get past the masculinity factor, in a bid to know more about her as an individual and what special qualities she possessed.

Well, not to judge these men for their honest opinions, I think the answers they gave me, are in truth a reflection of what many men and women alike, think about the desirability factor of a woman, considered to possess strong features.

Tennis Star Serena Williams. Photo courtesy of New York Magazine

Tennis Star Serena Williams. Photo courtesy of New York Magazine

One such woman regarded as masculine by many, happens to be tennis star, Serena Williams. To many, Serena could be confused for a man. Never mind the fact that she recently got engaged and could be walking down the aisle very soon. This is just proof that someone of the opposite sex, despite all the hullabaloo surrounding Serena’s physique, found her attractive and is willing to spend the rest of his life with her.

As an individual who has recorded huge successes in the tennis field, it was inevitable really for Serena to look the way that she does. An immense amount of training goes into becoming a professional in specifically, sport. Back in the day, when Serena and her sister were just beginning to learn the ropes of tennis under the tutelage of their father, they were just but normal skinny girls. But it would take a lot to mold them into the huge stars they have since become.

To exhibit the kind of strength and endurance that Serena exhibits on the tennis court, significant effort goes in building the right physique for it. And this is evident on many female athletes engaging in sports that need a high level of stamina, not only Serena whom many have singled out.

I tend to find musician Pink, equally possessing quite strong features which can be partly attributed to the fact that she’s also a gymnast. Many of her performances have seen her suspended in ropes while performing various tricks on stage. You need the right body for that.

Musician Pink during one of her performances. Photo courtesy of Google.

Musician Pink during one of her performances. Photo courtesy of Google.

Sports aside, in my usual routine of poring over the Internet for information, I quickly discovered that there are certain features in women, considered masculine. A square jaw was one of them. Some women I saw being pinpointed as seeming “manly” happened to possess square jaws.

There was equally the racist factor that singled out certain African-American women as being masculine just from their looks and what others considered linked to their heritage. It is sad that the former first lady of the US, Michelle Obama and British supermodel Naomi Campbell are some of those  Black women, whom if you dig deeper in the Internet, you will find many trolls calling them male or other unsavory names. A cruel reality of the many forms that racism can take including bashing genetics.

British Supermodel, Naomi Campbell on the runway. Courtesy of Elle.

British Supermodel, Naomi Campbell on the runway. Courtesy of Elle.

Back here in my country, the physical attributes of a woman equally seem to play a huge role for many in the desirability factor. There’s what biology and society’s standards of beauty have over time portrayed to be feminine. For quite a number, a woman is defined by the soft features that make her feminine. If she seems to lean more on the strong features, then something must be wrong, we tend to assume.

The fact that men are considered visual creatures may also partly contribute to this deeply entrenched idea of what a female should look like. Not to seem like I’m bashing the male, but it is accepted by many, that men look at a woman’s features that are different from theirs and therefore attractive to them. If the woman appears to look like a male, then definitely the whole idea is kind of distorted and the man can be forgiven for reacting with unmasked surprise, at this turn of events.

However, the often, negative, unmasked surprise goes both ways. Women may tend to question how female a fellow woman is, if she seems to come across as male. We assume that if this is how we look as females, then the rest of us should look the same. Quite a close minded view, you might be tempted to conclude.

Well, when genetic factors are at play as they always are in determining our individual physiques, there’s nothing much we can do about it. Looking at this whole issue from a feminist view, regardless of how a woman’s physique is, what she possesses in her mind, is far more important than a pair of well sculpted legs that may appear manly to some.

We need to stop this objectification of women, that tends to place more emphasis on what is considered sexy in a woman, at the expense of her talents and what she is capable of doing. Many women in the sports field are increasingly being objectified while pursuing what they are good at. It could perhaps be the reason why the likes of Serena Williams, have constantly endured castigation over how they look.

For many, if she looks like a male, then she definitely acts like a male and quite a number of men, may shy away from pursuing such a woman. Physical attributes have little to do with a person’s personality and a woman who possesses strong features, may turn out to be the most feminine in personality. However, many can agree with me that changing deeply entrenched perceptions may prove to be the hardest.

Thoughts?

The Bongo Phenomenon: Alikiba and Diamond Platinumz

I was born into a fairly small family. The second and last born of two daughters with a 9 year age gap between us siblings. Which meant that most of the time, my elder sister was away at school while I remained behind. To while away the time, I began developing an interest in music at a young age.

My tastes in music were influenced by my sister who had been a huge fan of the 90s RnB hits from the US and my parent’s love for Rhumba and Soukous. Mum and dad would sometimes listen to loud Rhumba and Soukous music from the DRC on those weekends when they were both home. For a long time, the Kenyan market consumed the RnB hits from the US, before we decided to begin appreciating our Kenyan artistes and playing more and more of their music.

By the age of 10, I knew most of the 90s RnB thanks to my sister by heart, in addition to the new pop ones that came out. I couldn’t quite sing the Rhumba because most of it was in Lingala with a mix of French which I didn’t speak then. But I could identify the ones I liked at that age. I remember my mum once wondering aloud, where I had learnt the music lyrics to many of the songs I sang along to. As you can tell by now, I was gifted in something else (writing), but listening to music was more of a favorite hobby and still is.

Sometime in 2002, Kenyans started being introduced to a lot of Bongo Flava from our neighboring country, Tanzania. At the time, I listened to the likes of TID, Professor Jay, Mr. Nice, Lady Jaydee, Matonya… It was a fresh kind of music that these Tanzanians crooned in the most fluent Kiswahili. It also proved to many, that you could pass strong messages through music. Like I previously mentioned, it took a long time before we began appreciating our own Kenyan artistes. So for a while, Bongo Flava ruled the airwaves together with foreign artistes from the West.

Alikiba and Diamond Platinumz would come a bit later into the Bongo Flava music scene. By then, I was a high school kid and by my estimation, I think these two guys began making hits at about the same time or slightly later for the younger, Diamond. Over time, Alikiba and the then Diamond, who had began with humble music videos, have evolved into two major acts not only in East Africa, but the rest of Africa as well.

Tanzanian Crooner Alikiba. Photo courtesy of Google Images.

Tanzanian Crooner Alikiba. Photo courtesy of Google Images.

I remember us being introduced to a young Ali Kiba singing the single, Cinderella back then. He was a pretty simple guy obviously trying to make it in music.

He would later on go on to produce a few more hit singles before disappearing for a while from the music scene altogether. When he next showed up, it was obvious that Alikiba was a changed man!

In came a polished, more sculpted Ali Kiba, with high quality music videos and even greater music. It wasn’t long before I decided that I really liked Ali Kiba as a musician. I mean, it was hard not to miss those abs in his music videos. His voice was equally a component of his music that I admired. Being signed to Sony Music Entertainment Africa eventually, went a long way in elevating Ali Kiba’s career.

As for the then Diamond, I remember him for Mbagala. It was the first song that introduced me, in particular, to this guy.

Tanzanian Crooner, Diamond Platinumz. Photo Courtesy of Google Images

Tanzanian Crooner, Diamond Platinumz. Photo Courtesy of Google Images

He seemed like just a normal next door guy and I didn’t really like his choice of shooting the song’s video, in the middle of an obvious rubbish dump. He looked nothing then like the polished Diamond Platinumz of today. But like Ali Kiba, he possessed the most beautiful of voices, a bit more mellow than the former’s and it wasn’t long before Kenyans took notice.

I once walked into our hostel’s kitchen while in campus, to find one of the lady caretakers who was an elderly woman,watching one of Diamond’s music videos with a mesmerized look on her face. She quickly pointed out to me that she liked the guy and how he sang. Recently, my own mum would seem highly interested in the Salome hit remake of Diamond’s featuring Rayvanny. She went on to ask me incredulously, how I could miss that beautiful voice.

Indeed, Alikiba and Diamond are the kind of crooners, who can reach all age groups with their music. However, in recent times, Diamond Platinumz is touted as the biggest act of the two.

Going by his personal life, he has got a pretty socialite and savvy businesswoman who is older than him in his life and who has already borne him two children. Plus his PR Team seem to really know what they are doing. Definitely, these things have kept him relevant in addition to his consistency, collabos with numerous African artistes and obvious talent.

There equally happens to be a rivalry feud between Diamond Platinumz and Ali Kiba in the Tanzanian music scene. Some of these feuds in the music industry according to my reasoning, are fueled by the comparison fact and especially if you are in the same genre of music.

Diamond and Ali Kiba happen to be two music artistes who have constantly been compared to each other. For sometime in the past, Ali Kiba did not seem to be getting it right but Diamond was the quicker of the two in revamping his image. Plus these guys were a kind of representation of the Bongo Flava evolvement. If TID had still been active in the music scene he could as well have been compared to Diamond and Alikiba. It is something that sadly, the two have none been the wiser on how to handle.

However, the direction that Ali Kiba’s music has since taken in recent times, was pretty smart on his part. I also consider the consistency of these two guys to be amazing. It’s something any aspiring musician can look up to and try to emulate.

Do I Make A Statement With My Natural African Hair?

I’m at that stage in my life when I have no idea what to do with my hair. It’s about slightly over an inch long (courtesy of a shave I did sometime in September last year, when I still didn’t know what to do with the full length, African mane on my head), partly chemically processed, partly natural. So on days when I’m leaving the house, I do the curl activator thing to make it look a bit presentable and comb it into an impressionable afro. If you can call it that.

This is my current hair situation. I was trying a kind of mohawk look sometime back.

This is my current hair situation. I was trying a kind of mohawk look sometime back.

 

This was my chemically processed, styled in curls hair sometime back at its full length.

This was my chemically processed, styled in curls hair sometime back at its full length. Forgive the 60s retro look that is oh, so old fashioned.

 

My once full length completely natural hair when I had belief in my original kink

My once full length completely natural hair when I still held belief in my original kink.

It’s not the first time I’m writing about hair on the blog. Because hair is a part of us. And especially African women who are blessed with kinky manes. That shrubbery on your head, if you would call it that on days that it just can’t sit right and frame your face right, always reminds you of your African roots. You can’t run away from it. You can perm it, like I have done in the past and recent past just to make it more manageable, but as soon as that growth of natural hair appears, you are reminded of your roots.

Not that it is a bad thing to be an African woman.

However, an African woman who chooses to embrace her natural kinky hair is a force to reckon with. I have seen celebrities try the no make-up look albeit successfully. I have also seen celebrities of pure African descent swear that the long, silky hair we were seeing on their heads was indeed natural. I have equally seen pictures online of natural, African hair that still didn’t look natural enough. So whenever I see an African woman walking around with what indeed looks natural and still appear confident in her skin, I silently salute her because I’m still not that confident with my natural one.

Nigerian Writer, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie who has a penchant for rocking her natural mane. Bellanaija.com

Nigerian Writer, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie who has a penchant for rocking her natural mane. Bellanaija.com

Take Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, for example, who is never afraid to wear her hair natural. She has actually talked about African hair in her books. She is also considered a feminist. Not the bashful kind of feminist who got the script all wrong and ended up appearing bitter instead of passing a message. Which actually brings me to my blog’s title today, Do I Make A Statement With My African Natural Hair?

In many ways, yes.

It takes a lot of courage for an African woman to choose to wear her hair natural. Not with the wide array of styles and weaves to choose from, coupled with all the tricks available, to help make your hair appear fuller and much more silkier than it originally is. Hair is considered sacred in many religions. They actually refer to hair in Islam as “ornaments” which a woman is supposed to cover, to avoid unwarranted attention such as admiration, envy, sexual attraction and the likes. This just proves how much power hair actually has and especially on a female.

Therefore, when an African woman decides to celebrate her actual hair by choosing to wear it natural, she is passing out the message that she embraces all that makes her African. Including her hair which had once been considered undesirable for a long time, by the African female fraternity due to its texture. A texture that seemed unusual when compared to Caucasian hair.

She is making a beauty statement that by deciding to take the often unpredictable natural look route, she is not fazed by the desirability factor. She is confident enough to work with what mother nature blessed her with. And trust me, African men are totally turned on by African hair on a woman’s head that is well taken care of. So a woman is not only making a statement but embracing that which makes her an African woman. It oozes confidence to the opposite sex.

And while it has taken a very long time for African women to love their natural hair, it is refreshing to see a natural hair fad in Nairobi, a city I have resided in for sometime. It speaks volumes about the liberation of the African woman, who tried sometimes unsuccessfully to achieve that silky Caucasian hair look. Who literally tied her head with a head tie on those days when she didn’t have her braids or weave on, because she was not confident enough to venture out in all her African glory.

That woman has since seen the light and is rapidly moving in a direction that celebrates what was once considered unusual. That woman can be called a feminist who accepts herself first, before she can begin to demand for gender equality and for more opportunities for the oppressed girl child. That woman is a shining light in a dark tunnel.

 

Why Our West African Brodas Will Always Be Appealing To Kenyan Women

I must admit that this is a topic that has fascinated me for a while. These West African brodas( that’s how they pronounce brothers there for those who are wondering) who land in this beautiful country of ours and within months, have managed to successfully date this Kenyan damsel, who had proven outta many Kenyan men’s league for ages. What is it about these men that makes Kenyan women go gaga and agree to settle down with, after the entire society had already written them off as “too old” for marriage? Talk about classic stereotypes.

Please note that after interacting with Kenyan women who are married to or in relationships with West African men and careful observation, I came up with the below list of reasons;

1.West African Men Are Expressive

A Nigerian man in Nigerian inspired attire. Photo Courtesy of Google Images

A Nigerian man in Nigerian inspired attire. Photo Courtesy of Google Images

West African men are quite expressive. From the way they talk to how they dress. One time I was at the Hub in Karen with some of my relatives and this obviously, West African guy that for some reason looked like someone I had seen before on TV or a magazine, was in all white. From the African inspired shirt, to the trousers, to the sandals. In his company, was this tall, svelte, fashionably dressed lady in jeans and heels whom I had no way of telling if she was Kenyan or equally West African.

Now Kenyan men are going to bash me for this, but you rarely get to see a Kenyan man in all white and sandals and still make the sandals look fashionable in addition to looking damn good! Our Kenyan idea of a man being extremely smart is the official suit. Blame “this official suit looking good” mentality on the British colonial influence, but it has taken a long while for us to see Kenyan men play around with color and other styles that are still dapper. Trust these West Africans to dress in all these bursts of color and still look manly enough, for Kenyan women to literally feel like throwing themselves at their feet.

A West African man will not feel less manly, for expressing himself to a woman about how much she means the world to him. Every woman, not only Kenyan, would want to hear it from a man she’s with that he loves her to the moon and back. We have our own cultures back here in Kenya, that frown upon men expressing their emotions and perhaps prevent our men, from going all expressive about their feelings. I don’t know about the West African culture, Ghana and Nigeria and the likes and what they think about an expressive man, but their men are not about to shy off soon from adorning their women with expressive declarations of what they feel about them.

2. They are providers

I’m not trying to imply that the Kenyan men are not providers. As a matter of fact, just so you know, I have never dated a West African man. I have only interacted with a couple. However, the West African man came to Kenya and took provision to a whole other level. Of course there are those West African men who have landed in Kenya while making money in unscrupulous ways, to be able to throw it carelessly on “trivial” things like spoiling Kenyan women silly.

Kenyan women on the other hand have a reputation of being materialistic. We all get lumped in the same category of golddiggers even though some of us, might have no interest whatsoever in the materialistic things a man has to offer. Kenyan women equally have an East African reputation of being aggressive if the number of single women, successfully raising their children on their own while catering for the childrens’ every need, is anything to go by. Plus there’s a new crop of men who simply refuse to provide for whatever reason.

So it’s not like women generally latch onto men for money purposes. However, the feeling that a man can actually provide for your every need and feel no strain nor complain while doing it, is quite refreshing for a woman. And this is where our West African brodas got the script right. They will provide and provide to their maximum abilities. And especially if he is an upright, law abiding citizen, a woman can’t really complain, can she?

3. Their culture is fascinating

African Print Fabric. Pinterest

African Print Fabric. Pinterest

There’s a fascination with West African culture in Kenya. I mean, we consume enough afrobeat music from West Africa already! Do they listen to our Kenyan music themselves? I have no way of telling. It’s a different culture altogether from their accents, food, names, how they dress, how they act. Even the West African man’s physical build is slightly different from the Kenyan man’s. Different is sometimes fascinating to a woman. It’s a mystery that a Kenyan woman would like to unravel. So coupled with the other two reasons, I believe we are still going to witness many Kenyan-West African unions in future.

Thoughts? I can take the stones thrown at me 😛

We Need More Positive African Stories

I’m becoming addicted to watching  CNN. Nowadays, American politics, the war in Syria (as if that’s not depressing enough) and small bits of pieces of News from Europe dominate the channel. A couple of nights back, I was watching the African Voices segment on it and it was refreshing to see Africa painted in a positive light.

There was this Rwandese guy who is a designer and designs really cool, African print bowties among other items of clothing. We saw him drive to the market to buy vitenges(African print material/African batik fabric), visit the barber shop to trim his Patrice Lumumba inspired look and go for a morning walk. And I was happy that the world was seeing a different side of Africa. Not the usual depressing news of war, starvation, terrorist attacks,  political coups, poverty, retrogressive cultures, illetracy and what nots.

Internet Sources

Internet Sources

That’s not all Africa is made up of. The negatives and unprogressive life. I know by now that the Middle East is starting to get pretty tired of all that negative reporting of the continent. The African continent equally got so tired of it a long time ago, that an African would not hesitate telling off a foreigner, who still views the continent through the misguided lense of the Western media. And I think CNN is starting to move away from the stereotypes and depressing stories of Africa. Kudos to them!

There is alot about Africa that the world needs to know. It really irritates me when I encounter individuals on Facebook groups, who still think that Africa is lagging behind in the 20th century, when the rest of the world is so 21st century. You need to open up your eyes to what this continent has to offer, other than what you have over time believed is the real thing.

A lot of foreign news reporters will mostly visit the marginalized areas of Africa or the slum areas or conflict areas and do stories about those. Their intentions may indeed be pure as they would like to bring these issues to the world’s attention. However, most of the time, these kinds of stories only serve to mislead the recipients, who may lack the zeal to dig deeper about the African way of life.

Africa is a progressive continent. There are developed urban areas, improved infrastructure, up to date technologies, learned individuals, talented individuals, exposed individuals. It’s not all about animals and living on trees wearing nothing but a flap of skin to preserve our modesty. As a matter of fact, I believe some of the well dressed individuals come from Africa.

Courtesy of Google Images

Courtesy of Google Images

What many people from the West may not know is that aside from the Maasai culture in Kenya, there are more than 10 other different cultures from the 43 different Kenyan tribes.

For the longest time possible, Western media really concentrated on the Maasai community. And with good reason, don’t get me wrong! This is one of the communities in Kenya and Tanzania that has upheld most of its original cultural practices pre-colonial times. It is a rich culture that tends to fascinate the West and people not from the two countries.

However, it would surprise many that other communities in Kenya despite the Western influence in their way of life, still carry out their respective cultural practices to date. Take this personal encounter, for example. I’m sometimes a storyteller, so bear with me on this.

A friend of a friend was getting married sometime in 2013. So as is synonymous with my country, we do a traditional wedding first before the White church wedding that is Western influenced.

Internet Sources

Internet Sources

I happened to tag along. Now in her community, the girls have to be covered from head to toe in two pieces of a lesso (wrapper) for the hubby-to-be to identify who his wife-to-be is. In our midst, there were two girls who had the same skin tone and similar looking feet.

One was of course the lady getting married. And we had this hilarious moment, advising her to tie a colored band on one of her toes and alert her fiance about it via text, before we came out so that he doesn’t get confused and fined, for picking the wrong girl.

So the older women covered us up, all girls about the same height in the lessos and we were guided outside where the ceremony was taking place. Believe it or not, the hubby-to-be seemed a little confused and nearly chose the girl with feet that resembled his wife-to-be, despite the colored band he had been alerted to earlier missing on the girl’s toes.

I mean, these are some of the cultural practices from other communities in Africa, that the Western media can do stories on other than the usual. Just to show how over time the African culture has blended in with the Western culture.

If you thought illetracy ruled the African continent, you should take a look at the highly talented graduates, from many of our universities. People who come out of campus not with a job mentality but a vision to be self employed and despite whatever financial constraints they may face, strive to achieve their goals. And many times, if they are committed enough to their dream, their efforts pay off.

We do appreciate the genuine curiosity of foreigners who would love to truly know about our continent. But just don’t lump me in the athletics team in campus overseas, just because you assume being a Kenyan, I can automatically run. Not all of us Kenyans have the ability to do long distance running and that’s because we are equipped and talented differently. We possess a diversity.

Being from the African continent and proudly so, I would advice anyone seeking to do an African story to intergrate himself or herself with the African society. Visit the developed areas, watch how the African carries his/her day to day activities and trust me, despite what we may face as a 3rd world continent, you are going to get beautiful, positive stories to tell the world about us.

The Kenyan-Indian Connection

Nairobi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Kenyan President, Uhuru Kenyatta after their press statements at State House in Nairobi, Kenya on Monday. PTI Photo by Kamal Singh (PTI7_11_2016_000128B)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Kenyan President, Uhuru Kenyatta after their press statements at State House in Nairobi, during the PM’s visit to Kenya. PTI Photo by Kamal Singh

The day before yesterday therebout, I chanced upon a post by a local media station on Facebook, claiming that the Kenyan-Indians had requested to be recognized as the 44th tribe of Kenya. So I was curious to read the comments and the vitriol that spewed from Kenyans could not be masked in the comment section. I’m not sure if the Indians among us read those comments and what they felt about it.

As I have already mentioned before on my blog for the sake of my foreign readers, the Indian community came to Kenya in the 1890s to aid in the building of the Kenya-Uganda railway. Many opted to stay and bring their families after it was completed. So when we are talking about the Asian community, as we like to refer to them in Kenya, we are talking about 3rd and 4th generation Indians who only know of Kenya as their home.

It may surprise you though, that the Kenyan-Indians upheld their culture and still practice many if not all, of their Indian cultural practices to date. It may surprise you further, that many Kenyan-Indians have chosen to get married to their fellow Indians and stick to their close knit way of life. To the other Kenyans, this tends to come off as snobbish and probably racist?

It’s not something we openly talk about but when given a chance, Kenyans can really talk ill about the Asian community. This was evident in the many comments I scrolled through on the Facebook post. Many of the bitter complaints arising from the kind of treatment metted unto them while working for Indian bosses, who have a reputation of being hard to please and too harsh for their liking.

In essence, I think Kenyans would really appreciate it if their Indian brothers and sisters chose to intergrate with them. I also think that the foreign culture of Indians in general greatly confuses them. It is a culture that is rich and Kenyans would love to understand it but fail miserably at it, with the level of silent suspiscion between the two groups that simmers just beneath the surface.

My childhood best friend in the 8 years of primary school happened to be a Kenyan-Indian. I have equally worked for an Indian boss. Therefore, when I talk about the Asian community, it’s not out of bitterness or a need for vindication. It’s basically to bring issues to the fore, that have for a long time been swept under the carpet yet they affect our Kenyan society.

Trust me, there are many Kenyans of African descent who have worked for Indian companies and bosses and have a long list of complaints regarding unfair treatment. But why is this so? Methinks colonialism and ancient Indian culture played a huge role in contributing to this kind of sour relationship between the Kenyans and Kenyan-Indians.

During colonial times, of course the Black Africans were at the lowest on the tier. As a result of their skin color and culture considered primitive by the colonialists who had their own hidden agendas, the Black Africans were looked down upon and suffered many injustices as a result.

The Indians were of course lighter with silky hair and therefore not really prejudiced against as much as the Black Africans were. They were of course not considered to be of the same level as the European colonialists, but they were placed somewhere in the middle, above the Black Africans.

It should also be noted that the Indian coolies who came to offer labor in building the railway line, landed in Kenya at a time when colonialism was just taking root. Coupled with their ancient caste system that grouped individuals in society according to their social standing, it was inevitable really for the Indians not to look down upon the Black Africans.

By Independence, the enterprising Kenyan-Indians already had a presence in many economic spheres. Not so for the Black Africans in Kenya who had been long suppressed by the colonial system. Indeed one of the first president’s agendas was to eradicate illetracy among mainly the Black African community.

It is however unfortunate that the preceeding generations of the Asian community in Kenya, held on to what their forefathers believed in and passed it down to their own children. The Indians chose to stick to the familiar thus limiting their interaction with the other Kenyans in society.

At my time in primary school, I would still see Indian kids from different classes, opting to form a large group of friends despite their age differences. The memory is still vivid in my mind when my Indian friend once tried to include me in one of these groups.

One Asian girl in particular, carried on speaking in Gujarati despite my apparent lack of understanding and my friend’s obvious struggle in communicating back in the same language, thus opting to reply in English. It was the last I would agree to tag along. However, there were and are still those Kenyan-Indians, who do not mind interacting with the Black Africans as was evidenced by my friend back then.

I think the thing that irks many Kenyans the most though, is the fact that we have heard of stories where if an Asian got married to an African, he/she would be considered an outcast by his/her family. This was quite evident in the My Bukusu Darling saga, where an Indian girl in Western Kenya fell in love with her father’s employee, an African and moved in with him.

It was evident that her parents did not agree nor approve of it and many Kenyans doubted the union would last. It is not everyday we get to see an Indian marrying a Kenyan of African descent. True to the majority’s doubts, the union between these two individuals did not successfully weather the family storm. Quite soon enough, the marriage broke.

This and many other misplaced beliefs between the two groups is what makes genuine interaction nearly impossible. Over time, Kenyans have equally developed an attitude toward the Asians, that further hampers hopes of the two groups integrating.

When a Kenyan walks into an Asian owned business/company as an employee with a set mentality that he/she will be mistreated, then justified acts of sternness by the Asians present, will be interprated as acts of cruelty. It is what fuels the constant whines and complaints about difficult Asian bosses and causes others to steer clear of the Kenyan-Indians.

As for the Kenyan-Indians, the mentality that an African cannot be trusted to do a good job, be a good friend or an upright individual, is what creates that level of suspiscion that you can almost feel, when sometimes interacting with an Indian. The superiority complex that still makes a section of Kenyan-Indians, to view themselves as better and of a higher social standing than the Kenyans of African descent further stretches the divide.

The Indians in our midst are an enterprising lot that have greatly contributed to the Kenyan economy. However, some of these backward mentalities, religious and social stances that we stubbornly hold on to, are what makes Kenyans be wary of the Kenyan-Indians and harshly criticize their suggestion of being recognized as a tribe.

My 2016 In Perspective

Happy New Year Readers!

I have been MIA for a while. Well, I’m back now and I decided to do a recap of how my just ended 2016 unfolded.

Favorite song of the year:

My favorite song of the year 2016 definitely had to be Yemi Alade’s feat Sauti Sol’s Africa. I loved and still love everything about this song from the video to the musical arrangement to the Nigerian meets Kenyan fusion. This is a song I will listen to for a long time.

Career:

My career decided to play tricks on me for the better part of 2016. Let’s just say I tended to make some decisions regarding my career that were not very wise as I would eventually discover. That’s definitely something that’s going to change this 2017.

Blogging and Writing:

Well, I have been doing these two for the longest time possible and 2016 continued to prove to me that I should keep up with it. I got opportunities to contribute to a Kenyan digital magazine twice for the October and December/January issues.

Earlier on in the year, I also got an opportunity to meet with a popular columnist on one of our dailies, who gave me a wealth of ideas as well as advice concerning the direction my writing should take. He actually inspired some of the changes I made on the blog. My most favorite posts that I did for the year 2016 had to be;

http://www.definitelylorna.wordpress.com/african-women-and-sexism

and

http://www.definitelylorna.wordpress.com/the-day-we-decided-black-lives-dont-matter

I’m hoping to do many more insightful and interesting posts this year so watch this space 🙂

Love Life:

2016 was pretty interesting on that front. No knight in shining armor yet. Lots of sifting through guys who are just not ready for committed relationships yet. I had a lot to write about relationships in 2016 on the blog plus valuable lessons were learnt. So let’s just see how 2017 unfolds in that department.

Family:

Thank God for family! How would we survive without that? Family came through this year for me every step of the way. The best feeling is knowing there are blood relatives, who have your back even when things might seem not to be going right.

 

For my fans who have kept up with me do drop suggestions on the comment section below, on topics you would like me to tackle this year on the blog falling under the categories;

feminist ramblings, banter, musings and relationships