Grandmother came to town today

She looked at my lips 

Smeared with paint

And thought me a clown

She looked in unrestrained awe 

At my face heavy with powder 

And thought me a ghost

She gazed at my scanty hair

Singed straight with fire

And thought me malnutritioned

She saw my ears

Adorned in dangling hoops

And thought me a dancer

She saw the holes in my jeans

Rugged and distressed

And thought me a pauper

She saw the charcoal marks 

Traced on my eyebrows

And contorted her face

She saw the ring 

On the button of my belly

And thought me a magician

She took my hands and flinched

From the claws on my nails

And thought me a witch

Grandmother boarded the next bus

Lamenting and frail

Anxious to go back from whence she came


Mrs Featherhat

You strut in late

Upturned nose

Intricate hat

Voluminous dress

– – – – – – – – – – –  – – –  – – –  – – – – – – – – –

You strut in late

Pumps squeaking

Dress swishing 

Ostrich feathers on your hat

– – – – – – — – – – – – – –  – –  – – –  – – –  – – –
You strut in late

Causing commotion

Upsetting persona

Declaring disarray

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –  – – – – – 

You strut in late

Special seat at the very front

Hat obscuring

Disposition obliterating

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

You strut in late

Chattering choir

Congregation catastrophe

Clergy condescending

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

You strut in late

Mission executed

Jewellery jiggling

Frock frolicking 

The kinsman’s funeral

Let it not be said I did not attend your funeral

I’ll wear my frumpy dress

Stained with grease and oil

Smear ash on my face

As you are covered in soil 

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Let it not be said I wailed not at your funeral

My hoarse voice I will raise

Lest I upset the dead

I will mourn and lament

And upturn every chaise

Let it not be said I did not eat at your funeral

Fill up my plate with food for the mourners

I will eat with gusto

As it is customary

A spectacle a total fiasco

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Let it not be said I talked ill at your funeral

I will shave my head in mourning

And comfort your widow

I will give alms to your children

Wail till the dusk is falling

Let it not be said I did not dance at your funeral

I will wear my best wrapper

Swing my hips to the beat of the drum

A dance for the rich and the pauper

Let it not be said I did not praise you at your funeral

Mighty warrior

Lion killer

You died in bloody gore

A sight so sore

The statue

I pass by you everyday

Sunken eyes

Vacuum heart

Ashen skin

Earthy tones

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

I turn up my nose at you

Bent disposition

Lacking confrontation

Immobile stance

Stilled in an ageless dance

– – – – – – – – – – – – –  – – – –  – –  – – – –  – – – –

I envy you

Unperturbed by daily chaos

Unaffected by my anguish

Unbridled by my burden

The comb did not fall off

Currently writing this from a waiting lounge in Addis Ababa International Airport. Well, first I’d like to rant about how everyone has to remove their shoes for screening at the airport. Noooooo!!! What is all this madness? I have a fear of being barefoot, whether in the house or outside. I’m sorry oh sturdy forefathers of mine, I wouldn’t have survived during the Mau Mau expedition.
Moving on from the gory details of bare feet, I just resigned from my job in the middle east and here I am waving my incandescent flag of peace and tranquillity. Looking forward to the journey of self discovery,  and I would love keep my shoes on please.

My heart was heavy as I left, and it dawned on me as to why I never like to stay in one place or working in one job for a long duration. I greatly loathe feeling attached and having to walk away from the warm carnoodling cocoon of the little life I built around me. Nonetheless, change is inevitable.

I always try to capture the best moments from people, I suppose that’s why I always remember the good memories and my mind blots off the bad ones. It’s easy for me to have an argument with someone and have no recollection of it after sometime. I love to capture moments of love, kindness, courtesy, laughter and happiness. I think someone is most beautiful when they are kind, especially when the character is very rare in them.

I will readily recall moments of laughter shared. I will remember the moments of pain shared, because allowing someone to feel your pain shows that you trust them with your heart’s secrets.

It’s in the middle east that my natural hair journey begun. Uncertainty and freedom. The irony of the juxtaposition of the two words. 
Master: You can be anthing you want to be.

Hair: Can I….can I be natural?

Master: I repeat, you can be anything you want to be.

My friend told a hilarious story about African hair as perceived by an Asian. The two were in the store as the African was combing her hair, when lo and behold, when she lodged her comb through her hair, the Filipino lady was astounded that the comb did not fall off.( Haha I was seriously tickled by this)

I suppose we can add that information to the list:

If you comb through African natural hair, the comb will not fall off! 

The Filipino was also startled that African hair stood up on it’s ends when you comb it. Haha. Pure comedy I tell you. 

Not your white picket fence neighbourhood

The Nigerian man always looked intimidating, especially if I met him on the stairwell on the way to my house. Everyone said there was something fishy in his dealings, you know, being the stereotypical Nigerian, he fit the bill. He was married to a short round woman, who looked too well bred and sophisticated to be married to him. A few months later, after we moved into the flat, he was arrested for drug possession and deported to his country. 

No one liked the couple downstairs. They were the hand-holding type who whispered sweet nothings into each others’ ears. I think my initial dislike for them begun when they asked us to switch off our blaring music one early morning. Albeit, it was too early to play any music, but my mother played it nonetheless and I liked it. It gave me sense of comfort in the early mornings when I had to be at school by 6a.m. and I would hear the music till I rounded the corner, quite a distance from the house. I always imagined my mother watching me from the window of our fifth story house till I was out of sight.

The house on the ground floor was another pair of shoes. Talks of women coming and leaving in the middle of the night with questionable intents and morals were the talk of the building.

I wasn’t too sure about the house in the corner on the ground floor. I just knew that quite a handsome man who was in high school lived there and I was too young for him.

The couple upstairs had the most beautiful penthouse but the ugliest marriage. The man used to come in the dead of the night, as drunk as a skunk. He would then proceed to wake up the entire flat by incessantly shouting for his wife to open the door, though his cries fell on dead ears. He was a burly man with an enormous physic. Though if you met him in the morning when he was going to work, the sight was quite a contrast to the drunkard in the night. He would be well dressed, soft spoken and reserved. One would start to think they conjured up the whole shebang of him being drunk in the night.

The couple in the house next to ours used to hit his wife. That’s all I can say, as I had never seen the man himself and the wife shied away from the scrutinizing public eye.

The house above ours had about a million kids! Footsteps and stomping were the norm of the day as we were living directly below them.

I cannot speak for my family. I will not say that we were the normal family, but we sure were pretty close. 😛

Should children support their parents?

I come bearing a thorn in my hand and I’m going to prick where it hurts most, the heart.

I had a heartfelt conversation with my friend and colleague today. It was a topic that was burning in my heart. I had contemplated on it for quite sometime, making observations here and there.

I was born and raised in Kenya, ” a son of the soil” as the famous and well known journalist and playwright Wahome Mutahi used to say.

I have observed that certain obligations fall on a lot of Kenyans once they are grown up and have joined the job market. Most of us are expected to carry on the duty that was intended for our parents, and that is to take care of our families.

I write this from a point of earnesty and sincerity. I love my family deeply and would do anything for them. However, it can ensnare one in a path of playing a provider and make one stagnant in their quest for success.

I’m not averse to the overall notion of giving a hand to our parents, albeit those who do not earn enough for their day to day needs. Not at all. However, I believe that it’s when you find your footing in the marketplace that you can be able to generously contribute to the needs of your family.

As soon as I finished college, I felt like a huge responsibility was thrust upon me. I had to get a job and continue on the cycle of taking care of my family. Many African parents expect this. The children feel like it’s an obligation to do it.

I was comparing our African culture with that of a European friend and realized they vary immensely. Whilst I rush to send money back home upon receiving my salary, my friends are usually lax, family duty does not beckon them. All my African friends send money to their families upon receiving their salaries. By saying families, I actually do not mean to their dependants- husband, wife or children. I mean parents and siblings, and these may include a few next of kin.

I find this whole notion to be a “crabs in a barrel mentality”. When the crabs in are put in a barrel and one of them tries to climb up and vacate the barrel, it’s pulled down by the lot. It’s a “if I can’t have it neither can you” mentality.

Instead of building yourself up until you become stable enough to aid your family, responsibilities are shoved upon you and you are forced to play a parental role to your family.

It’s a parents responsibility to raise their children and leave them a good inheritance.

Proverbs 13:22

A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children, and the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous.

I compared my situation to that of my friend. I sought advice from him because I felt so weighed down with the heaps of parental role I was playing. He comes from a good family, well off. His parents supported him through university and even helped him in starting his own business. His question to me was why I was playing a role that was not intended for me in the first place. Did I have my own investments? Did I have surplus income that I could generously give away? Did I have enough savings?

The juxtapositions of the two scenarios is to show that there are two different types of families in the African household, speaking primarily of a Kenyan home.

There are the parents who build you and want you to establish yourself and flourish. Expecting nothing in return. I find that most of these families have successful people. Investments are encouraged.

Then there is the other type of family. The mentality that circulates in this type of family is that your duty is to get employment for the sole purpose of contributing to your family. Personal investments are frowned upon and every move you make is calculated with equal suspicion.

Personally, I find myself caught in between the two. I try and forge my way ahead, charting my own path. Sometimes this is frowned upon in my family. Some see it as a form of rebellion. That I’m forgetting where I came from, or forgetting who brought me up. On the contrary, the reason that I’m so stubborn is because I want to be successful enough to have an overflow that extends to my next of kin.

My advice to parents is to encourage the ambitions and dreams of their children. Who are we without our dreams and aspirations? When we cease dreaming, we stop living. Do not be so quick to thwart their goals and ambitions. My friend sent me a timely message about parents and their role to their children. As I paraphrase it, the message said that parents should do something to help their children have a softer “take off” , but not to take over their lives, as they themselves have their own lives to live.

Do not trample on the flower that desires to bloom.

Daddy lessons

It’s Father’s day once again. It’s strange that I never really think about this day. Fathers play an important role in our lives. They serve as a monument of protection and provision in most homes. They are the pillars in our households.

Nevertheless, let’s talk about the dwindling number of father figures in homes. Some men are emasculated in their own homes. Some fail to portray the role of a monumental superhero in their homes. Some are dealing with retrenchment, threats of foreclosure, and many unimaginable nightmares of the twenty first century.

Carrying the title of a father is second to none. You have eyes which look up to you. Eyes which behold nothing but the epitome of greatness. You have the opportunity to impact important lessons to your young ones.

Most people find themselves doing things just because their father did those things. For example, supporting a particular political party, or a sports club/ team. Mundane things like favouring a particular news channel, or subscribing to a particular newspaper or magazine. In important decisions about buying a particular car, or buying land, we mainly lean into our father’s treasured and well informed input, regardless of whether this information was gathered through word of mouth, on the streets or from a well researched base. We seek our fathers approval, and aim to please them.

It’s challenging to be a man, knowing that hard decisions are laid in front of you. Knowing that every move you make should be well calculated and beneficial to the whole family unit. Mothers keep the unit together, but I believe fathers altogether reiterate the force of that unit. That it is unshakable…We are proud to call ourselves the “so and so family”

I am, however, estranged from my father since 1993. I haven’t spoken to him in person since 2012. There has always been gaps in our communication, or rather, in our relationship. He’s no longer my superhero. In spite of this, I recall the kind of father he once was: strong, fearless and protective. The kind of father who was vested in my education, remembered every birthday, hoisted me up on his shoulders like the featherweight minikin I once was. I remember the father who never laid a hand on me in any form of punishment. I was always a daddy’s girl. Eager to please him. Learning that the shopping list I once titled as “stationary” should be spelled as “stationery.”

The father who bought me a George Orwell’s book, “Animal farm”, advanced edition. A book I couldn’t make head or tail of at the time since I was still young and I also averse to the repulsive looking pig on the cover.

I did read it though, a couple of years later. One of the best books ever written dad! You knew my passion for reading and encouraged it.

Writing this, I have no idea why I haven’t spoken to him in such a long time. Maybe I’ve fed the voices in my head and fattened them with tales of being an adult and finding my own path. Maybe someday, I’ll make sense of why he left in the first place. However, our paths are still parallel.

 I’m still reeling in dismay,

 I’m still nostalgic, 

I’m still waiting,

 I’m still weaving the road map to you,

 I’m still caught in a labyrinth

The world took me in it’s arms but once again I’m relearning lessons you taught me through George Orwell: 

“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

I’m still learning that a phone is not a substitute for a watch for telling the time. I used to either lose or spoil all the watches my father gave me for my birthday, and really thought that a watch was a fickle little thing. Somehow, every month, my phone acts up and I realize for the umpteenth time that I need to buy a watch.

“Watches are so named as a reminder- if you don’t watch carefully what you do with your time, it will slip away from you” Drew Sirtors

My father always bought me a gift on Christmas. The first man to give me a rose for Valentine’s day, (it’s funny how I’ve never received one since then!)

“By plucking her petals,you do not gather the beauty of a flower” Rabindranath Gatore

He always gave me pianos in every birthday, the older I grew the bigger the piano. 

“The piano keys are black and white but they sound like a million colours in your mind.” Maria Cristina Mena

Daddy lessons. Thank you dad! ☺

#why I quit my job

I love watching Jimmy Fallons’s talk show, especially the hashtag segment. He poses a question in the form of a hashtag on Twitter and people comment on it. It’s hilarious. One of my favourite ones is #whyimstillsingle, #don’tjudgeme and #howilostmyjob

My hashtag for today opens up a broad discussion. It treads more on honesty than funny.

Let’s kick off with a confession. At the tender age of twenty two years, I worked as a credit officer for a well known international organization.

I watched some of the people I considered as some of my best clients become as thick as thieves. My life was chaotic, filled with the humdrum of demanding loan payments, issuing warning letters, rigorous follow ups and confiscating assets.

No one is immune to the power of money. It’s how we choose to use that power that makes the difference. 

I watched as people who borrowed hundreds of thousands to a million shillings become paupers the next day. I also watched people who invested wisely multiply their income steadily.

I guess that’s the part people miss out on. Steadily. Success does not happen overnight. It takes years to perfect a talent, a gift, a trade or a craft. 

I’ve seen what money thirsty can look like in flesh and bones and I wouldn’t want it for myself. I know what looks good though.

Honest work.

Eventually, it pays off. 

So did my experience with money change me?

Yes, for the better though. It opened my eyes. Money is important, but what you do with the money is even more important. Money is a tease. Not there when you need it and plastered all over when you don’t. You have to be disciplined and accountable with money.

I basically quit my job because I became my job. A grim faced, foul-mouthed aggressive credit officer. I threw around words like disbursement and arrears when talking to my mother. The numbers on my phone were ninety nine percent clients and one percent friends.

I lost myself. As much as it was good to know I possessed all that passion, aggression and intimidation, it left me devoid of emotion.

“Do your job but don’t become your job. ” That was my first learning experience in my first job. 

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