In Pursuit of Wokeness

I was a relatively sheltered child. My parents’ particular band of strictness coupled with my personality came together to make sure of that. I had few friends and I didn’t really like being outside the house. The few times I did want to go, say, to a friend’s house, I had to say where I wanted to go, why I wanted to go, what I was going to do, who I was going to be with, and what time I planned on coming back…and then wait for a no or a yes. This made me like going out even less because it just didn’t seem worth the hassle. Up until I was 14 my official curfew was 4 pm.  Most of the time, it didn’t bother me because I preferred to be reading in my room anyway.  When I describe details of my childhood to people, I get a lot of ‘woiyes’. I don’t blame them. The sympathy is particularly loud when I say that I never had any dolls (I asked my parents to buy me books instead, and they did) or that because I had few friends and hardly went out, my brother and I entertained ourselves all day long with silly made-up games and imaginary friends.  But it was pretty good for me and if I had to do it again I would change very little.

There is a point to this. Read more

Older, Wiser

Imali does not like people to make a fuss on her birthday. She is one of those weird people who have something against celebrating a feat that was not even your own—your mother did all the work after all. If there is anybody who needs a cake and the indescribable joy of seeing an unexpected Mpesa text, it is her, not you. But no, I honestly don’t know what she has against birthdays. A quiet ‘happy birthday’ and a few heart emojis will do for her. God forbid that you begin splashing it all over her Facebook timeline. What I do know is that I am one of those other kinds of people. The ones who make sure that anybody who happens to be in their life at that particular time, and sometimes even those who are not, knows from the 1st of whichever month they were born in that their birthday is coming soon. The ones you see posting things like ‘Queens were born in May’. Dare anybody use the excuse: “Aki I didn’t even know”. If you forget my birthday, that’s wholly on you and you shall feel my pettiness coming through when your birthday rolls up and you get not even a HBD on your timeline from me. Speaking of HBD…honestly guys, it’s not even a legitimate wish; you can do better. And the ones who say Happy Born Day…Why? Read more

Networking and Such Other Uncomfortable Activities

One of my favourite stereotypes is of the demographic referred to as ‘creatives’.

If you want to be thrown into this group at a glance, here is a quick guide. You only need to do something about your hair. Cut it short and go natural. Then dye it a colour like red, blonde or even green. The bolder the better. The last person who will be stereotyped as a creative is a woman with relaxed hair. Because perhaps the relaxer burns the all of the creativity away or something like that. No, those ones belong in finance or pharmacy. Or, get dreadlocks. Make sure you colour them too. If neither of those is for you, get an afro, preferably with a side part. Remember, bigger afros exude more artistry. And if your hair is in braids, try as much as possible to avoid kawaida braids. Marley extensions are very popular. Also, colour. Are you beginning to see a theme here? You can also do baby locks or shave half of your head and let the other half remain with natural coloured hair. A word of caution though, don’t go all out because then people begin to group you with the high school kids who stand in the middle of the street in groups to take selfies. Hapo Galitos on Moi Avenue. You need to be bold, but like, in an artsy way, you get? Read more

Unrequited

The way these things end depends on a variety of things. The weather. The place. The state of our hearts and whether we knew each other’s favourite colours. Or the shape of each other’s dreams. My favourite colour was blue and you knew this. You made a point of making sure I knew that you knew; trying to sell yourself, I guess. So willing. You were so willing to dive into whatever I was made of and discover everything there was to me; to clothe yourself in my scent, my opinions, my laughter. You were the kind of guy who describes a girl he likes by saying things like, “She’s an enigma; I can’t understand her and I can’t stop trying.”

The way it ended was with your broken heart in my palms and mine intact within my chest.

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Not Your Property

So there I was, standing at the stage, waiting for a mat and wondering why the sun had to be so unkind. There was nobody else there apart from a bodaboda guy whom I had already turned down because my issues with motorbikes run deep and I refuse to use them despite how convenient everybody else in Nairobi seems to find them. Story for another day. Then this random guy arrives and positions himself next to me. He has a struggling beard, an un-ironed shirt, and a nice pair of shoes. He looks like a regular, decent guy. I can already see what’s coming though, and I wince when he begins. Read more

Caught

On a cloudy Tuesday afternoon, it will hit you, perhaps for the first time, how little a human life costs. The price of a mid-range smart phone.

You will be clutching at your bag, taking short hurried steps along Tom Mboya Street. There are always people here, and now, as rush hour begins, it seems that the entire city is here. You will turn this way and that, dodging scowling men who bump past you, refusing to acknowledge the small space you take up on the street, squeezing past wide, waddling women, strolling slowly in the busiest part of town, gossiping probably, clapping their hands to punctuate their sentences. Read more

In Class

13/03/2017; 8:10 pm

I both love and hate classes like this one.

It is early in the night. The sun, fierce and unfeeling only a couple of hours ago, is gone, and now the air is lighter, easier to breathe, without all that thick heat weighing it down. Most people are home, I assume. Probably getting supper ready, showering, mindlessly scrolling through Facebook because they have nothing better to do. Or because they have not procrastinated quite enough yet before getting started on that very important thing that they have to get done by tomorrow afternoon.

Me? I am in class. Read more

Perspective

The first time I went there I thought, “Oh hell no.” It was an area of Nairobi I had been never been to before. Suddenly, I was thankful that my father had had none of my pathetic attempts at being Miss Independent, and had insisted that there was no way I would go by myself. When you’ve been sheltered all your life, you tend to be wary of places that don’t look like home. Dagoretti Corner Childcare Programme was further than Google Maps had let on. The buildings along the road had gradually became smaller and older, and the road dustier and narrower. The place looked like it belonged in its surroundings: small, run-down, dingy. The first time I went there, I regretted having committed myself to Pastor Enos. I regretted having heard him say that they needed me. I regretted refusing to do my community service at a more ‘upscale’ institution because I felt that I had made a promise to this home and that I couldn’t go back on it.

But today I regret my regret. Read more

How to be a student: A guide

  1. Begin the semester full of hope and purpose. You are well rested from the holiday, you were beginning to get antsy anyway—staying home all day doing nothing is lovely but even that can get exhausting. Plus when you’re home your mother delights in waking you up way too early (8:30 am) with a list of chores. Purpose to attend all your classes; you are aware that there is a correlation between class attendance and academic performance…or you are aware that your lecturers make a point of saying that each semester, so just in case they are actually on to something, you will give it a shot. Make up your mind to make school a priority and to begin doing your assignments and term papers and group projects as soon as possible so as to avoid that abundance of stress and anxiety towards the end of the semester when all of them are due. Bask in the glorious feeling of almost having your life together.

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