Africa

Is The World’s Fascination With Africa Hypocritical?

A couple of weeks back, I happened to get into a conversation of sorts on a page I follow on Facebook centered on a certain meme. The meme in question had an individual announcing their desire to visit Africa, with the other person insisting that the individual be specific on which country in Africa, they would like to visit. Of course our opinions happened to be varied with other page mates concluding that a section of us were simply being overly sensitive.

However, I think we have very valid reasons as Africans to be skeptical about the world’s fascination with Africa. Having been categorized as a third world continent for the longest time possible in addition to getting quite negative coverage by the international media, we can’t sometimes really help wondering whether people from other parts of the world, genuinely appreciate our continent.

In certain cases, the desire by others to visit the continent has been in essence, to confirm whether Africans still lead lives as the primitive people they have since been largely branded to be. Not forgetting the fact that a majority of countries in the African continent have a dark history of colonization and therefore, are still a tad bit distrusting of the intentions of foreign visitors. Not that we feel a repeat can happen but past experiences tend to shape present perceptions.

Africa is a continent made up of several nations with very distinct cultures and ways of life but that has not stopped the rest of the world and especially the West, from failing to acknowledge this fact. Hollywood has often seemed confused and thoroughly ignorant about Africa when basing movies and shows  on the continent. It is always disconcerting for an African to watch a movie or show, that decides to mix two African languages, from two different countries and then try to pass it off as a movie set in one particular African country.

Even more upsetting is having to keep explaining yourself in a foreign country as an African, that where you come from is not plagued by war and disease. The idea that Africans still walk around naked, live in makeshift homes, possess primitive ideas and the likes, has failed to completely fade from the minds of  Westerners who seem to still feel the need to “discover” the continent.

I understand that for foreigners of African descent, their wish to visit Africa has always been to connect with their roots. For us Africans who have been born and brought up in our motherland, we may many times fail to understand this specific need.

Perhaps, we find it absurd that they would just desire to be in the continent, without being specific with which country in particular because for us who come from the continent, we can easily trace our roots. And our individual roots, happen to be centered around a particular locality and not the continent as a whole.

voiceofafrica.fm

Indeed one of the arguments that came up in the aforementioned conversation on the page, was related to this inherent need by African-Americans and people of African descent from the Caribbean, to visit the continent. However, this does not completely erase the fact that our continent happens to be the most misunderstood by many, often basing their view of the continent on hearsay.

Call it inferiority complex, sensitivity or what but Africans are increasingly getting tired of having to justify their legibility to others who are not from the same race or continent. Issues of racism and racial discrimination do not make it any easier for us. It only serves to heighten our skepticism of the world’s interest with our continent.

It should be understood that histories of oppression by others who felt superior to us, have contributed largely to Africans feeling the need to protect themselves from hypocritical intentions. We may argue that issues of xenophobia are perpetrated by Africans to fellow Africans and therefore as an African, I have no right to conclude that only those not from the continent discriminated against us and oppressed us.

Xenophobic attacks such as the ones witnessed in South Africa are deeply rooted on colonialism and the fact that Africans felt divided and denied of opportunities at that particular dark time. I’m no advocate of senseless killings neither am I trying to lay blame on the colonialists at this point in time. However, how a nation chooses to heal from past hurtful experiences, determines the way forward for the development of the nation in future.

I would like to believe that many South Africans have healed but there is still that percentage, that has not completely healed and are therefore willing to incite and attack their fellow brothers and sisters, whom they feel are taking away opportunities meant for them, the original citizens.

As a continent that is forever trying to get to the same level as other continents and many times falling short in the process, our main concern is being genuinely accepted as capable of competing on the same level as other continents. It may seem like a far fetched idea to many but past branding of the continent as incapable has contributed to our wariness. We may many times fail to understand other people’s intentions or might even be right about their hypocrisy, who knows?

Breast Ironing And The Fear Of Sexually Active Pubescents

Just when I had been tempted to think that FGM was the only remaining barbaric practice targeting the female sexuality, I was recently awakened to the retrogressive practice of Breast Ironing. Apparently, some African cultures such as the one in Cameroon find it okay for grown women, to heat grinding stones, spatulas, hammers and what nots, then proceed to press them on the chests of young girls, who are just starting to grow breasts.

The common belief behind this archaic and oppressive practice being that breasts are attractive to males. And so to prevent this pubescent girl from getting noticed by the opposite sex and possibly get pregnant if she gives in to their advances, these African mothers have taken it upon themselves to subject their young daughters to the unimaginable pain, of having their breasts pounded or massaged with these hot objects. The result; traumatized girls, shame in adulthood, malformed breasts, damaged breast tissue and sadly, in some cases, difficulty in breastfeeding their young ones later on in life.

Speaking up against breast ironing practice. Image courtesy of 9jas.com

The disheartening part about this practice is that it is carried out by mothers, believing that they are preventing their daughters from early marriages, unplanned pregnancies, unwanted sexual attention and incidents of rape. In reality, the only thing that this retrogressive practice succeeds in achieving, is promoting the lowest self esteem in women and furthering the stereotype that a female’s sexuality, is to blame for sexual violence or societal ills. These women have sadly been conditioned by their environment to think that by doing so to their own daughters, they are in fact helping them. Perhaps in the hope that they will thank them later in life for it.

I doubt whether these Cameroonian women, who have been subjected to breast ironing and are now forced to live with the negative consequences of the practice, actually thank their mothers for trying to cub the growth of what makes them beautifully female. It should be noted that most of these barbaric cultures sugarcoated as “tradition” and “helping the woman” do little or nothing to that effect. All of these cultures are characterized by one thing in common. And that thing is often to deny the sexuality of a woman by tampering with what was designed for a woman’s own good in that aspect. In the process, empowering the male’s sexuality.

In this breast ironing case, denying the sexuality of a woman and hampering the nurturing role of a mother to her infant. If this woman who has had her breasts ironed by heated crude tools in puberty, cannot be able to breastfeed her young ones and therefore nurture them, then she has been denied one of the crucial roles in motherhood. In addition to being repulsed by the image of her own breasts, flattened and ugly, from what transpired when she had just started to blossom as a woman.

Just recently, I was shocked and saddened by the fact that some young men actually thought that FGM was beneficial for a woman. We often say nowadays that the boy child has been neglected at the expense of empowering the girl child. However, that recent discovery I made on social media when I read a post from a young man encouraging FGM, makes me think that the girl child has hardly been empowered and that the boy child, is currently enjoying the benefits of being male and in a position to further oppress the female.

Breast Ironing and the tools used. Image Courtesy of Daily Express

The female’s anatomy and what makes her beautiful has constantly been considered a threat and something that needs to be kept in check, if these breast ironing and FGM practices are anything to go by. Society has since led women to believe that they are to blame if a man cannot control himself sexually. We have been conditioned to accept some horrific cultures as things intended to help the woman, even though the only thing they contribute to a woman, is causing her emotional and physical scars that are often times hard to heal.

Women have since been made to feel ashamed of identifying themselves as feminists, in the event of trying to speak up against some of these retrogressive practices that interfere with womanhood. A feminist who is trying to help the girl child escape some of these practices that do her more harm than good is often branded a bitter, wayward, male basher. But perhaps it is time that we decided to actually pay attention to what these feminists are trying to preach, in efforts of allowing a girl child to blossom as the woman she was intended by God to blossom into. In certain cases, only a female is better placed to understand the underlying consequences of some of these harrowing practices.

I tend to feel that the boy child is still very much empowered than the girl child. The boy child still gets to experience his puberty without much interference that will cause him permanent scars in future. Of course I’m not blind to the fact that some boy children, are denied the right to being children and going to school in the event where they have to herd the family’s livestock, get forced into being child soldiers and the likes.

However, society still gets to treat the boy children gently in terms of tampering with their anatomies as men. Circumcision for males is a rite of passage from childhood into adulthood. A badge of honor. Circumcision for females signals the onset of early marriages and is actually aimed at preventing the female from being sexually active or promiscuous to put it that way. In the case of breast ironing, subjecting the female to an unnecessary practice, so that the male can not be attracted to a blossoming female as if the male cannot interpret by himself, that he shouldn’t be messing with this young girl who is just but a child.

I’m in no way trying to bash the male with my sentiments as you can see both FGM and Breast Ironing practices are carried out by women on fellow women. However, what I would like to bring to the fore is the motivation behind some of these practices. Often motivations that come about in relation to the privilege that most males are accorded in patriarchal societies that do not value female contribution. Perhaps a father’s intervention could have stopped a mother somewhere in Cameroon, who had picked up a hot grinding stone ready to massage her hapless daughter’s chest with.

But males you will learn, do not hang around environments where the females outnumber the males in such societies. There are in fact oblivious to the going ons and may not really see the need to speak up against some of these practices, only choosing to openly agree with them if it so happened that someone sought their opinion. And so only a feminist’s voice can come in handy in such a situation, of condemning a practice that should have long been done away with. My heart bleeds for the Cameroonian or African female somewhere who was forced to undergo breast ironing.

 

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.

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

 

 

Behold, A Kenyan Christmas!

As is Kenyan tradition, many of us will travel upcountry or to smaller hometowns for Christmas. The upper middle class who consider themselves lovers of travel with disposable income, will however head to the coast or to an exotic hotel somewhere in the middle of the wilderness teeming with wildlife and have themselves a wonderful, drama-free Christmas surrounded by a spouse or partner and/or children.

Photo credits: Internet Sources

Photo credits: Internet Sources

For the rest of us headed upcountry or to smaller hometowns this Christmas season, here’s what to expect;

1. An Overflowing House.

A house that once consisted of ageing parents, will soon be transformed into a house teeming with humanity. All the grown children will decide to come home for christmas together with their offspring and hapless spouses, who lacked believable excuses to remain behind. Children from the city will suddenly whip out tablets laden with downloaded games, to which the neighborhood children or children belonging to cousins who never left the locality, will gawk at in awe as these “enlightened” city borns tap away with such dexterity.

Granny will suddenly want to brag introduce her successful children to her church women friends. They will always seem to come trooping in every single evening and struggle woefully to pronounce the city names of the little ones. Names like Tamara, Chantel, Kian, Jason…will prove such a huge task to grasp for these church mamas who are more conversant with the missionary names, Margaret, Jane, Lucy and the likes.

For the hapless spouse, they will only have to endure the inconvinience of a houseful with a most believable smile plastered on their faces, all the while vowing silently to skip next Christmas’ journey to their in-laws.

2. Sharing beds.

Most of the time, the youngest of the adult children who is not yet married and probably still in campus, will be requested to share beds with the children who sleep the worst. Just to appear polite, he or she will probably agree all the while knowing that texting away in the cover of darkness will soon be proven extinct, by these young ones who sleep as if they are in the middle of a swimming lesson.

Mornings will be terrible as waking up with aching and tired muscles and stiff necks from all that kicking and turning of the new bed occupants during night time, will be the order of the day. Plus they risk being dumped by that hot chic or guy who probably has started assuming they are cheating, that’s why they nowadays do not seem to keep up with night time texts.

3. Never ending chores.

With the daily influx of visitors coupled with the increased population in the house, chores will appear to stretch the entire day. The hapless spouse who can whip up some tasty chapatis will automatically be expected to cook two bundles of chapatis come Christmas day.

She will most definitely spend the whole day in the kitchen wrapped in a lesso while sitting on a low stool, cooking chapatis for everyone else in the house. When done, she will probably have a splitting headache from sitting too close to the carbon monoxide laden jiko and lacking in appetite, as the smell of cooking chapatis has bloated her tummy already.

Again there will be utensils to wash, a kitchen to clear, diapers to change for the toddlers who have eaten too much for their little stomachs to handle and tea to make for the older generation. By the time Christmas season is done, many who did the house chores will feel as if they had been to a bootcamp rather than a holiday.

4. Family drama.

Of course there’s that brother or cousin who never made anything of himself and has since decided the world must be against him. Or that sister who started giving birth in class 7 and over 20 years later has 5 children, with 5 different men and is married to a jerk, who beats the daylights out of her.

Those ones will decide to settle scores over Christmas lunch with relatives from the city they think abandoned them at their most vulnerable. The sister will start with sarcastic remarks aimed at a sister, who is probably doing well which will eventually escalate into a bitter exchange of words. The brother will visit the chang’aa den, add some weed to it and decide to smash the windows of another brother’s car. Chaos will erupt. Some will fight, some will cry, some will start packing up in a bid to return back to the city where they came from…

In the end, the elderly man of the house will bring order by threatening to curse anyone who misbehaves and reminding everyone, that they are related by blood incase they had forgotten. Christmas will still be celebrated and grandparents will be happy to see their children and grandchildren and to receive gifts from those who came home for the holidays.

 

For everyone else celebrating Christmas across the world, I wish you a Merry Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Are Nairobians Heartless?

Image result for nairobi

Ariel view of Nairobi, Kenya. Photo Credit: Internet Sources

I got the inspiration to do this post from Giulia’s  www.justanothersinglegirlinlondon.com/are-londoners-heartless. It got me thinking whether her perception of London, the city she currently resides in, resonated well with how Nairobians behave miles away.

Nairobi has been dubbed the “city under the sun” and to foreigners, it is the most hospitable and vibrant places to live in. With it’s cosmopolitan population, great eat out places to hang out, Uber taxi services, 5 star hotels, large malls and tourist sites, tourists quickly find themselves at ease within the city.

However, for a Kenyan who is new in Nairobi, it will quickly dawn on you how Nairobians can be such cold, aloof individuals. The explanation usually given for this, is the fact that you can’t just trust anyone’s intentions in the city. And of course the all too famous explanation, that life is fast in Nairobi and so people are definitely busy.

For a newcomer who has just landed in the city for whatever reason, you will quickly discover that Nairobians just do not say hi to anyone. Probably your attempts at genuinely greeting strangers on the street will be met with a suspicious look and quickening of steps. Trying to ask for directions will prove a futile attempt, as nobody will seem to believe that you are indeed lost.

If you are unfortunate enough to ask the wrong person for directions, you will quickly end up earmarked for a possible mugging, that will leave you even more scared of being in the city. A single Nairobian will rarely help someone who is getting mugged on the street not unless many eyes have equally seen the mugging take place and are swift to “help” with mob justice.

Mob justice usually involving clobbering the thief to death or near death. You will often wonder where this mob comes from for it happens within the blinking of an eye. But for the one person who sees someone being pick pocketed and keeps quiet, it is not so much because that person is heartless, but rather due to the fear of the unknown.

You are not sure if the thief is armed and whether they will turn on you instead for speaking out. So the seasoned Nairobian will look the other way and only mention the mugging once he/she gets to the confines of his/her home.

A newcomer in the city will also have to contend with brash touts and matatu drivers and extremely loud, disco like music in matatus. Your requests for the music to be turned down a little will fall on deaf ears. You will probably board the wrong matatu one too many times, only to be met with an unsympathetic tout who will admonish you loudly for not looking at the routes being plied by the particular matatu properly, before boarding.

Then you will be forced to pay the fare and then get dropped off at a place you are not even sure of, only to begin the hurdle of asking for directions again. And did I mention that the fare in the city, is never that friendly to newcomers, used to cheaper life in other towns in Kenya? The graffiti on some of the buses will remind you of some of the demonic signs to look out for, that your village pastor warned you about in one of his fiery sermons.

The many pedestrians on the street will literally suffocate you in downtown Nairobi. So will the matatus that cut corners and reverse dangerously within the CBD make your heart nearly leap out of your chest. You will also be privy to horror stories of individuals who met their death, from dangerous driving and reversing of matatus within the city centre or on various city routes. You will begin to wonder what brought you to Nairobi in the first place.

Neighbors will not seem that willing to befriend you. You will probably have to endure many greetings going unanswered and very few pleasantries from people who live around you. The few who will seem genuinely friendly, will only want to prod where you have come from and what has brought you to the “city under the sun”.

If you are a single male, you will have to endure sophisticated city chics rebuffing your attempts to charm them countless times. Either you will seem too upcountry to them in your thinking or dressing or too poor to take them out on a proper date to Java, Artcaffe, Brew Bistro and the likes. Your village accent will also prove to be a major turn off to the women of Nairobi, who speak polished British English.

However, you will soon get used to the fast life of the city, upgrade your dressing and manners and surprisingly, acquire the very mannerisms that repulsed you when you were very new. One day you will walk down the street and someone will be lying down on the pavement and you won’t bother to look, assuming he/she is probably drunk or one of the street beggars. It will then dawn on you that the city bug of coldness and aloofness has bitten you.

Who Said Small Town Girl Can’t Make It Big?

First and foremost, I would like to announce to my readers that I’m officially back in the blogging scene therefore, expect to see more of my posts from now henceforth.

So let’s jump right into today’s topic!

Quite recently I remembered a conversation I once had with someone I intended to date. I’m a small town born and raised girl. Well, not necessarily small town per se. I have grown up in locations considered major towns in Kenya but if you compare those major towns to Nairobi, where I currently reside, they are no match to the city. And Kenya, for my foreign readers is not a very large country. It’s big alright but not to the magnitude of Sudan, Brazil and the likes and not as small as The Central African Republic. Somewhere in the middle of very large and small. Anyways…

I have always considered our current Cabinet Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Amb. Dr. Amina Mohammed as a role model. Secretly, I have also harbored the desire to one day venture into Diplomacy.

kenyan Foreign Affairs CS, Amb. Dr. Amina Mohammed

Kenyan Foreign Affairs CS, Amb. Dr. Amina Mohammed. Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia.

So we were on a first date and somewhere along the way, my conversation with this guy veered toward school and career ambitions and for some reason, I mentioned that I would like someday to go the Diplomacy way in my career. This guy looked at me with a somewhat sympathetic smile and said, “Wewe msichana wa Nakuru uko na hizo mafikira?” For my foreign readers, he simply wondered how I thought I could make it to be a Diplomat, being a chic from Nakuru (my current hometown). Well, I was somewhat offended but being a first date, you kind of don’t show it. However, that particular subject ended at that point and we talked of other things instead.

Well, to cut a long story short, we barely dated. It didn’t work out very early on which was just as well, seeing that this guy wasn’t quite the ambitious type despite his surprisingly, good education.

Anyways, let me state to all and sundry that Amb. Amina Mohammed is actually a small town girl. A “very small” town girl who was brought up in Amalemba, Kakamega and attended schools in the then Western Province of Kenya before proceeding overseas for her university education. We talk of counties nowadays. Plus, she is of Somali descent where for a long time, educating the girl child in the community, was not considered that important. So anyone who thinks that small town girls from marginalized communities can’t make it big are thoroughly mistaken.

I tend to think that society has over time drafted this image considered “ideal” for a woman to make it big. She has to be the sophisticated type, from this exposed family, born and raised in a big city, beautiful, well traveled, of a certain skin tone…blah, blah, blah. The same happens in other parts of the world not necessarily in Africa. Just last month, a West Virginia Official in the US lost her job after referring to Outgoing First Lady of the US, Michelle Obama as an “Ape in heels”. With yet another woman of high standing, agreeing with her in the comment section of the offensive post on Facebook which read;

“It will be refreshing to have a classy, beautiful, dignified First Lady in the White House. I’m tired of seeing a Ape in heels,”

From the above incident, it is pretty obvious that society has over time set standards considered ideal, for a woman to make something of herself. And we tend to not quite believe that hard work, ambition and determination is often times all it takes, for a woman to be where she wants to be in life. I consider Michelle Obama one of those self driven women, who were ambitious enough to achieve what they wanted.

She did not come from a well to do family, but that fact did not stop her from making it to top universities to pursue her career of choice. It’s not a matter of what color her skin is or whether someone, somewhere, considers her a cousin to a primate, it’s all about what she has achieved as an individual and the possibility of a Black woman, to carry herself with such grace and end up as a First Lady of a superpower.

Many girls have been made to believe that they cannot achieve anything just from that mere fact of where they come from. Almost like their destiny has been mapped out for them by people who hardly know better. So she’s from a small town or community, then she only needs a basic education, a man to marry her and children to raise that will keep her busy.

Society does not realize that we are killing the dreams of many girls who could have otherwise made something great out of themselves. Who is society? Society is you and me who decide to give a free pass to girls from certain backgrounds just because we assume their social standing equates to success. Society is you and me who look at a woman’s skin tone and decide whether she can make it to an advertising billboard or not. Society is you and me who stereotype girls who come from remote, dusty locations as uncultured, unexposed and unworthy of any forms of success.

It might surprise you that most women who go on to become such great people came from places that can hardly be located on a map. They were not necessarily beautiful, vain or monied. They worked their way up. Got scholarships to study in prestigious universities, maximized on their special giftings and displayed a certain level of intellect that amazed all those who interacted with them.

I can’t really blame that guy I was on a date with for being stereotypical. I actually attribute his reasoning to what he has grown accustomed to seeing. Women not believing in themselves enough to come out of their areas of locality and actually achieve something tangible. It may have sounded really foreign to him that a woman somewhere thought that she could become something, he hasn’t seen other women becoming in that particular locality.

Women should stop believing in these baseless stereotypes. Women need to believe in themselves to the point where anything is possible for them to achieve. I still consider Amb. Amina Mohammed a role model. I still hope that someday, I end up in diplomacy. If it so happens, you my readers will be the first to know that I made it 😉