Thursday, 23 January 2014

What is it with you, Mijikendas?

Lazy, Nyika (bush people), illiterate, ignorant and LAZY!

I bet somewhere they have coined a riddle to this effect by now. If they haven't then here it is,  'What is lazy, illiterate and ignorant?!' Heheheh!

First, i am tribal! Yes, I am indeed tribal. And i feel that as a Kenyan, i need not explain myself, because you get me, right? Yes, i know you do.

Secondly, i never like being on the losing side. No, i like winning. It is like an addiction that drives me so insane that one way or another i have to go back and take that one last sniff.  Only that i definitely know that it will not be the last, just like any addiction.

So you can imagine my deeply entrenched agony then to belong to the nine tribes of the Kenyan Coast!

One way or another, in the course of my almost adult and adult life, i have always found myself defending the reputation, actions and mindset of my people. I have found myself coming up with explanations, rationalities and even excuses for what we do, what we say and how we behave.

In most gatherings, it is always a surprise to people that a Mijikenda is part of them. It is even more insulting if i have to explain who the Mijikendas are and where they come from. I have had to deal with stereotypes left, right and center not only because i am a woman but worse because i am a child of the Kaya!

For a while i thought the problem was with the other people, i mean, we are a richly cultured community that is fairly blessed with resources at our disposal. We are a people who are balanced, grounded and at peace with ourselves, our gods and our environments. We make do with what we have, laugh easily, forgive fast and share with open hearts.We live for today, embrace family and know how to kick a party and dance to the music of life. We are a beautiful people. Which are all good things, right? I mean, how could people not see and appreciate this?

So i perfected the excuses and built theories to explain my community to these people. These people whom i thought were just oh so ignorant that it pained me.
Only that as i worked with the Mijikenda community these past three years, i realized that i was repeating these same theories more and more, and i was telling them to the Mijikendas themselves! 

Why, you ask?! Well, i guess i was just convincing myself that it is ok to be who i am. That it is ok to be at peace and content with myself, (like i was brought up to know,) even if that person is said to be a lazy and illiterate loud mouth!

But i am not ok. I am tired of putting up this face and pretending like everything is fine because it is not. I know so many Mijikendas who are learned and intelligent, but have nothing to show for it. I know so many proffessionals and retired experts who are back in the villages burning charcoal and drinking mnazi, while they could be sharing their expertise with the community. I know so many young people like me who just blend in the crowd and fit in while they could do something better and bigger. I mean, seriously, what is wrong with you, Mijikendas?

I am yet to tell you why we behave the way we do, i am still trying to understand it myself.

But for now, i think all i want to tell you my fellow Mijikendas is that it is not enough to be content, to be grounded and to be nice. It is high time we did more than ruffle the waters and make a lot of noise. We need to act! we need to stand up and be counted, not with the rest of the Country or the world, but among ourselves. We need to push each other, pull one another and demand only the best from ourselves. We need to change.

And to do this we need to be discontented, to be irked by what we know and reach for what we deserve. We need to demand this of ourselves before we demand it from others.We need to rebuild our identity before we ask to be recognized.

Then and only then, will i stand proud as a child of the Kaya!

Oh, and the answer is Mijikenda!

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Is a new breed of men cropping up?!

Yes...i know, i am told we are evolutionary species, and we do change with time. That is what is expected, anyway. But is it possible, really, that these brothers of ours are catching up? Could there be a new version of men, walking among us? :-)

I had a cherished visit from one of my log-book relatives from my dad's side yesterday, the very few who contact us anyway, and it was very interesting. Like any long lost 'relatives' we were updating each other on all the new development in our lives. It was a nice nostalgic experience we had, really.

Among the many new things that had happened to this boy, is that he had gotten a girl pregnant, moved her in with him, is paying for her school and is now raising a two year old girl while the mama is in school in another county!
Not surprised? Well, this boy, the one doing all these things, this boy, is just 22 years old!!!

Pardon me for acting so surprised, i was actually more angry as he was telling me all these stories. And i wish you could be there to see the look in his eyes, and the pride, and the confidence with which he was explaining these unfoldings to me. I was tempted to curl him up and put him on my back and soothe him to sleep. Probably when he woke up, he would realize it was all just a dream and come back to his senses.
Was this kid naive or what? Did he even know what he was talking about? I was amazed and confused to say the least. I was not sure whether to feel sad for him or to pat his back and congratulate him!

Here is a 22 year old boy, who willingly takes a pregnant girl in, pays for her school fees in a medical related school or something, pays rent, takes care of the baby's needs, stays at home to be with the baby while the mum goes to school!

I had a million and one questions in my head that i just could not voice. And after staring at him for so long, i finally managed to ask only one. 'Why are you doing all this?' i asked.

According to me, this boy had lost it. What about him? What about what he wanted to do? What about the opportunities and the potential he had to make something of himself? How does he end up at home with the baby and taking care of all expenses while the girl is easy breezy in another town, apparently in school? And how the hell did he end up here, looking to sell his television so that he could raise 14,000/- for her exam fees. Really?!!

 And the answer he gave me, was he was willing and ready to do everything for this girl just to show her his gratitude for loving him and agreeing to have his baby!
He apparently did not care what happened, whether she left or not, cheated or not, all he wanted to do was give his wife (yes, he calls her his wife) and his baby everything he can! And well, he says, the girl had nowhere to go and if he had left her she would have actually died! (Read killed herself) Is this boy just being played like a fiddle or what?

I was flabbergasted!

I mean what happened to those men who just do those hit and run stints? What happened to getting a girl pregnant and then denying that the baby is yours?
Or, or maybe acknowledging that the pregnancy is yours and then doing a disappearing act like you were wiped off the face of the earth?
What happened to dumping her at your rural home and moving on with your life while she toils and toils to feed the rest of your family.
What happened to normal 22 year old boys drinking and raving themselves stupid because apparently 'the party don't stop'? 

Granted, they are not the best of behaviors, and yes, everyone expects men to behave better than this. But to tell you the truth, women have had enough years of experience to know how to deal with such. We don't like it but we can manage. But this change of pattern? What is this? huh?

Seriously, is it that we women have become gurus at playing this manipulation game or  is a new breed of men coming up?
Is there an updated version on the release, say like "man 2.0" or something? Are men really changing and becoming more humane?
Or could it be that this is one of the indirect results of the many years of 'girl-child campaigns'? Are our efforts paying off?

Should we women let our guards down now and welcome a new breed of men that are more giving, considerate and responsible or is this case more the exception than the norm?

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Do i dare Disturb the Universe?

'Don’t mock the restless and the discontented. They change the world. The rest just accept and settle.' ~ Anonymous.

It is official, I am a very restless and discontented human being! I hope you get what I mean. Its not that I am so ungrateful, no.  I am just not so good in ok situations and often very unhappy in uneventful environments. I like running up and down doing 'something'. And if I cant do that, then I bury myself in books, movies or run off to my safe place, my sanctuary, my head!

Yesterday, I got to watch one of the greatest movies ever made in 2013. The Butler. And I wept my eyes out. So here is this old man, loyal and committed to the status quo no matter how much it hurt him. Served almost six American administrations in the white house. He knew his place and kept to it. Did the best he could. Outside, others were fighting for change. He survives it all. And gets to see the glorious end in 2008.
But I went to bed wondering, what was his role in all this? What part did he play to bring about this change? It is based on a true story, yes. And the fact that they made a movie about this man means that there is some significance to him, but what was it really?

I have said before that I have reached that point in my life where nothing scares me. Well, I think I have been lying to you and myself!

Ask me again what my greatest fear is...i dare you to ask me. ( Fine, you don’t have to insist, I will tell you anyway!)

The last six months, so many things have happened. More action than I have ever had the past two years. And I am not talking only bad stuff, I mean good things too. Work stuff, relationships, financials, family, social etc. You name it and I can give you three things that are better than they were 12 months ago. And I am grateful and happy.

However, at some point, this question just could not leave my mind, 'Is this really all that life is about?' I mean, so what if I have a job, and lets say I get married and have babies, and own a beautiful home and have enough money to do all I could ever want and take care of my family. And then what? or is it so what?

Have you ever wondered why you are here? Is there really something out there that only you is meant to do? Are we that significant really? Or is it just a game of musical chairs and chance that we are doing and if you don’t get to sit, then you are simply out. No hard feelings really, just the rules of the game. And if you get to the end, then good for you, you will have seen it all, like the Butler.

I know, the above question, it is such a clichรฉ question.And most of us would rather wake up go to work, provide for our families and go back to your bed at night. But do you think maybe there is more to life than that?

I am at point in life where I am yearning for more than all this. For some reason I feel like there is something out there that has just been waiting for me. To be frank, I could just be crazy or undergoing some kind of early mid-life crisis, because the funny thing is I have no freaking idea what that thing is!

So, as I begin 2014, I dare disturb the universe. To question, to inquire, to search. To embark on a journey, that most critical journey to find my purpose, my reason for being here. If it so happens that I don’t find it, then at least am going to have a hell of ride trying. And I am not going to rest until I am finally home.

And to answer your question, well, my greatest fear is to not leave a mark, any mark at all,  in the world. To be mediocre. To fade into oblivion and have no one remember me.  To  die with all this value and treasures inside me without having shared it with the universe. To be a failure. That...that is my greatest fear.

Because the truth is, I feel it to the core of my bones that I was born to do great things. I know it. And its not just my ego speaking.., trust me. ;-)