Let me clarify, these are not your normal ordinary crisps, no. These ones do not have to go through the trauma of processing and packaging in factories. You just have to stroll the streets of Mombasa huhuhu (my city my town) and the aroma of these fried slices will call you, and you will come running!!! Better still, just look for an Aisha in a buibui, or an Ali in a kanzu and ask them “where can I find babu kachiri?” Mombasa people are not just human beings, they’re angels, extremely generous and kind, almost to a fault.
Unlike Nairobi people, they’ll take you to babu kachiri and even order on your behalf. Aaaaah!!! they’ll wipe a wooden bench for you where you’ll sit drooling waiting for your turn. Babu kachiri sings you a Mijikenda song, while he interviews you. He’ll want to know where you’re from…how many languages you’re able to spit… what you do for a living…what’s your family history…if your ancestors had 32 or 23 teeth…but bla bla bla hutataka kusikia because all your heart will be longing for is kachiri, after 12 and a half decades, he packs some of these essentials in a transparent polythene bag, and asks whether you need “ukwaju” or “limau” , since “limau”-Lemon, sounds decent, you pick lemon. He helps you squeeze the extract and joyously sprinkles it all over your crisps, your scalp and even backbone gets some lemon juice. You won’t mind.
You don’t leave just yet, you give babu kachiri KES 20 bob, take a selfie at the “kibanda” making sure the pack of life is featured, after 55 hours of making sure you’ve taken the best shots, you immediately post the snaps on instagram with hash tags such as #mombasa #mombasathings #pwanimanenos #enjoyinglife #whenlifegivesyoulemonextract or even #SGRisBae
Then you walk away a happy human being…like you’ve just won lottery, waiting for notifications from your fellow Nairobi people double and triple tapping your photos on instagram, you pick the crisps one by one using your brightly polished talons, you chew like you’re going to be featured in those t.v adverts, a flawless human, an immortal being, you put some perm on your attitude as those magical crisps will burst against your teeth in your mouth, “Aaaah!!! cravings settled!!!” you sigh from the inside. Thank me later.
Aaaahh!!! You Nairobi people, I can’t take it anymore, before the sky looks bruised and they day dies, send me Google location of your babu kachiri, then I’ll find my way there.
To my little brother,
I am so immensely proud of you. I can’t even tell you how much I love you. You mean the absolute world to me and I want you to know that I will always be your number one fan.
I know that life is hard for you right now. You are growing and having a ton of new experiences that aren’t easy. You are finding out who you are and learning what you like and don’t like.
When you were little, you would climb into my bed when you had a nightmare. Your little hand would pat my head to wake me up and you would snuggle into me to feel safe.
Please know that I still want to make you feel safe. I will always try, but I can’t be there all of the time.
I am so proud of the man you are, the man you are becoming, and the man you will be. Sometimes though, I still see you as a little boy. Please forgive me when I overstep boundaries.
When I look at you, I see the little boy that reached for my hand when he skinned his knee on the concrete. I still see a little face crumbling into tears when his ice cream spilled.
You don’t need me to tell you what to do anymore. But, I still want to. I want to give you all of the knowledge that I’ve learned. I constantly forget that the best gift I can give you is to let you make your own mistakes.
You will make HUGE mistakes. These mistakes will lead to pathways you didn’t even know existed. These errors will take you down some of the most exciting roads. Embrace your mistakes. Learn from them, and above all else, forgive yourself for making them.
Trust your inner voice. Trust the tiny whisper of your heart that says to go on, that says to try harder. You’re a smart cookie, you need to have faith in yourself.
I want you to remember that you are loved and you are important. When life makes you feel scared and worthless, muster that inner strength to know that you are here for a reason. I have always known that you are special…
When you feel like giving up, remember that I support you. When you feel like everyone hates you, remember that I love you. When you feel like you’re not good enough, remember that you are my world.
Most importantly, I need you to know that no matter how far away life takes us, you can always call me when you have a nightmare.
Love, Your Big Sister
By Kimber Benedict
#Open Letters That Matter
Starting up my first pages of 2017 in sophistry. Well, I know May is here with us, but then I can’t keep procrastinating that I will continue blogging later. Sigh!!! Soooo many lessons I’ve learnt and embraced…if there’s any loving to be done had better be done now. Today. The power in kindness, and how you can kill them with vengeance of love and top it up with a smile and a stretched arm,…the resounding inexplicable beauty in choosing to be vulnerable, I’ve learnt to let what is be, well because, sometimes we don’t have the answers to all the questions…I’ve learnt to guard mine heart and soul, to forgive often and spontaneously, its healthy, it heals, it liberates…I’ve mastered the art of letting go. letting go the pain, the hurt, the stabs..its a cruel world!!!…And to become kind to myself inasmuch as I’m kinder to others.
I chose better, I chose sunshine and I chose rain, I chose happiness, I chose not to settle, Not to be comfortable with what I have, and where I am. I choose to push myself, push myself to continue being Hardworking, And well, to transfer my pieces of writing, and life moments here.
My diary Gallery of some of my moments in China.
Talk about Richness in culture! Then you’re talking about China. From tasty Street Pancakes…to the Baotu and Heihu springs of Jinan city, amazing and warm welcome at the Shandong Normal University, Confucian Culture lectures, visiting Qufu, Confucius Hometown, Jianzhi paper cutting,making Chinese traditional dumplings, Beijing’s Tianmen square and lots of other historical places, it was educational…!!!
Appreciation; Confucius Institute at Kenyatta University for the Summer Camp scholarship. As well as making my Chinese grow to a higher level, Xiexie Nimen!!!
Below is a screenshot of my 汉语水平考试 Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi HSK and HSKK RESULTS(lEVEL 2).
Ps; Next time I travel a different country I hope to bring with me a decent camera for quality photos, better still, vlog . I mean, why not?
I still remember those first years of school, the gateway to acquire the power to lead and slay…..And that beautiful teacher, Madam Merylyne, who my mother left under my care after crying my eyes out but finally despaired and got handed over to the 8-4-4 system that I hope to complete in no time.
And I remember one of those first questions ever that teachers struck “What would you like to be when you grow up?” And for the first time different careers were displayed by those little enthusiastic champs from different walks of life who subscribed to Mandela’s ” Education is the best weapon one can use to change the world” , There were doctors and medicine men, there were nurses and midwives, and policemen, bank robbers too! There were lawyers, judges and politicians, and pilots, and businessmen, and musicians,and teachers, and instrumentalists, and authors,….the list went on and on and it toke some decades for them to air out their aspirations. Earth, Heavens,Hell, the world and all it’s environs had to know!!!. And then there was this little girl who heartily screamed that she’d love to be a mermaid….and the future champs gazed, while others laughed their tiny lungs out. But it was not this Little girl’s fault. She believed in her own fairy world, (she still does), and had an addiction of watching too many fairy tales and her mum let her read every tale from The little mermaid, to Snow white to Rapunzel to Sleeping beauty to Goldilocks to Cinderella, Thumbelina, Beauty And the Beast, to Little Red Riding Hood, to Hansel and Gretel, to The Frog Prince…. her mommy also read them to her every night.
Okay, honestly, until now, I still may not know what I want to be when I grow up but I do know that someday I want to live in a house full of many books, and travel souvenirs. And the walls that aren’t covered in book shelves will be covered with photos of my family and friends. When I leave the house every morning, I will be heading to a job I love, And I will return to a person I love. So that’s the dream I’m working on.
You didn’t tell me that I had small hands as if it is a bad thing, hands too small to construct, to build, to hold, to love, to heal. Thank you for saying that they were easier to escape and enter within tiny spaces, to slip off handcuffs. You said that they were gifted, talented and blessed. You showed me that these finger tips can run through the same pages of books and heal the same number of souls as any other. If not more. You made it crystal clear to me that these small palms of mine could hold grains of sand tighter and butterflies safer. They were okay to gut fish and burn monuments, Your vast heart taught me that these little hands could rescue birds with broken wings and feed the homeless as well. You let me be sensitive to fire and snow alike. Thank you for letting me live a life that I would build Lego houses and ladders out of candy sticks as well as with heavy bricks. And for letting me cup my tiny palms and swim through oceans.
You said that if my hands got tired, I should go ahead and use my feet. And for telling me that I’m not too small…that nothing is too big. You believed, and made me believe that small hands aren’t a metaphor for my goals, dreams, aspirations or capabilities. And making me believe that even Rome was build with hands like mine. And that Art was curved, painted, and poetry was written by hands like these. And even if they are, thank you daddy for not just telling me that these hands are cute and soft. But for teaching me that they’re meant to block bullets and drive rocket ships. You made me believe that they’re strong as much as they’re beautiful. And that these hands are all that I need.
And I love you, for teaching me to live without them if I have too, For teaching me that these are just hands until I use them to create magic, to go beyond ordinary, beyond limits ever known and told, to conquer planets. And for making me understand that Aphrodite is as beautiful without her hands. And for the reminder that nothing should be out of reach. Nothing. And for telling me that with or without these hands, my finger tips aren’t the limit. I found all these in the way you’ve lived your life.
So here is a big THANK YOU DADDY.
So yesterday my Chinese friend asks me if I’m free and I pretended I wasn’t so we attended some Asian activities just within the school. We get there and take pews, different tables though. And just before I started gobbling down those queen cakes they had set before me… A foreigner comes by. He is a young strapping lad carrying a backpack. He asks me, “Ahgfdsbh khadhh vjkrcnslyfhui nhfksdah?”
I look at him, then tilt my head slightly sideways and upwards so that I’m gazing at the roof, then I fold my arms, I furrow my brows and carefully place my index finger on my bottom lip so that I look thoughtful. He has tiny, terrifying teeth and tinnier eyes, slit eyes to be precise!
“What is he saying?” I ask my queen cakes.
“Or maybe he’s asking me out.”
“Djhaghn mjjjhkmni imffjks nnasuykam ,” he says again.
I look at him, finger still on bottom lip, and nod slowly, as if I’m absorbing his incomprehensible words.
“What language is that?”…Of course I knew it was Korean, but the only thing I know in Korean is 안녕하세요! (Hello), I mean, How was I supposed to remember what my Korean teacher had been teaching for the last couple of months? How? How was I supposed to concentrate? While looking at lips that were telling a story, a smile and a dimple that made the story really interesting, and then eyes that made me forget if there was a story being told. How? Eh? Hooooow?
“Hanguk saram i yeyo? (Are you Korean?),” I finally gather strength and ask , shaking my head slowly and maintaining intense eye contact with the foreign fellow.
“네” (yes). He “Nees” me. So now I yelled a bigger Amen from within! This was the day that my gods had decided that a foreigner would drive heads of cattle to our homestead.
“Nsuirhn jd jsdfnusdnn uioddfsmm mcvjklmds ye yo!” the foreigner says, pointing at my face. He looks concerned.
“Ah, my face?” I ask, pointing at my face.
“什么?” (what?) I’m tempted to spit some serious Chinese on his face.
“Ah, don’t worry. I’m not having the unbearable pains of childbirth, this is just how I look naturally,” I assure him gently,… my skin is naturally oily, And I just came out this fully baked. In simpler terms, this skin is made of brown sugar, honey, cocoa, and 100 percent gold. So let’s do the math, Black woman + Education= LETHAL COMBINATION.
He glares at me for a moment as if digesting my earlier quirks about being a black goddess. He reaches for his backpack and opens it. He fumbles inside it a bit and his hand comes out of the bag holding some crisp, dollar notes.
“Endfh jka nyaesc amnauw basiuyr yu kliouawr xdgfuigh i ye yo,” he says, making gestures with his handful of money.
Baaaaaaaas! I realize that this young man’s name is Opportunity, and he is not even knocking at my door, but sitting right next to me with money in his hands. I am not going to let a little detail like language barrier come between me and Opportunity. After all, at least I knew the basics, it was his fault that he confused me to the point of numbness.
“Why do I fall in love so easily?” I think to myself while looking at his handful of money.
“What does he want?”I again speak to my yet to be consumed cakes!!!
Just then,a young Ethiopian female species approaches us quickly. She has a big, colourful weave, cleavagey top, (Nairobi’s room temperature being 14 Celsius..Lord!!!) a tiny khaki short, very long red polished talons and Maasai sandals.
“Phnafh wuubagvd yiueqwwjkb fgyq euiqwy uihjka ijwdsy i ye yo” Says the woman to Opportunity.
Then she looks at me and says , ” He’s with me”…And again with a little devilish smile adds, ” He’s mine”
It’s a bloody lie. I want to say it’s a bloody lie but she looks like she has won many catfights and isn’t afraid to get into another one, so I just say, “Ooh, sawa.” ( Oh, it’s okay)
At the moment my Opportunity is looking at this other fellow from my diaspora marveling at her fluency Korean.
“Vjewfh jhh jwoeruoirn pqlefrjhe i ye yo,” says the other woman to the man. She is blowing smoke from the corners of her lips.
The man laughs and responds to her in that strange language while still looking at their cleavages and maybe complexion. Then they leave.
A missed Opportunity. Arghhhhhhhhhhhh!
Then my Korean classmate calls and yells,”Hey friend, didn’t see you in today’s class, we’ve been learning about Self Introduction in Korean!!!” Then I cursed the gods for having conspired against me.
And I am left with my snackies at the table with one profound resolution: that Inasmuch as I’m supper busy doing both Korean and Chinese, I will never miss a Korean class.
Call me at 4am, before or after. Wake me up. I don’t care, I just want to hear your voice. Tell me about the bad dream you had, tell me why you can’t fall asleep. Tell me why you prefer to talk at night, or why the words only come spilling from your mouth when you think no one is listening.
I am here. I will listen to you when your shoulders feel heavy. I will hear your words when you feel crushingly small. I will sit with you in silence when you are slumped against your pillow. I know your sadness is not beautiful, I know it is overwhelming and destructive and ugly. I know you feel powerless and redundant.
So call me at 4 am. I prefer you to sleep any day. Don’t sit there on your own. Talk to to me.
I love you, and I care.
Religion is not stubborn ignorance in the face of science. Religion is a different way of understanding the world, of coping with our inescapable sufferings, with our unavoidable death, of establishing principles and values to guide us in life. While I am not particularly religious myself, I am bothered when intelligent people, usually of scientific or left-wing leanings, dismiss other people’s beliefs or criticize them openly. This world is big enough for Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, and Atheists (with a big A), don’t you think?
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“HOW STANDARDS CONTRIBUTE TO WOMEN EMPOWERMENT AND DEVELOPMENT”
Women empowerment is educating and empowering women with the skills and
confidence they need to secure a job create a healthy lifestyle and improve their standards in general.
Over the years women in Africa have faced many challenges which include: competition from well established male-dominated enterprises, lack of accurate information, support, and finance for expansion, risk-taking propensity, domestic commitments, female genital mutilation, gender discrimination and violence and stereotyping among others.
I have thought about a woman living in kibera, the poverty stricken slum at the heart of Nairobi. Again my heart breaks into countless pieces when I imagine of that little girl in Sierra Leon who will live with an amputated arm for the rest of her life due to civil war. And the Burundian mothers in Bujumbura who toil barefoot under the scorching sun of Africa.
Women are the backbone of rural economies in developing countries and in Africa, play a significant role to ensure their families’ well being. Their role is crucial is bringing about change in the community although they have been undervalued in societies across Africa.
It is an undeniable fact that when girls and women earn income, they reinvest 90 percent of it in their families. It is clear that higher economic outcomes for women, combined with smaller and healthier families, will yield multigenerational effects and create lasting change. Girls tend to make better employees and more reliable entrepreneurs of their own. However, they are pretty invisible when it comes to business, which is a big mistake! Women are givers. They will re-invest in your business and in their own communities and families as well because there is a huge potential in them. And yes, given the chance, they will re-invest in themselves.
There are deep rooted inequalities in African agriculture. Women farmers are often refused access to land ownership. Agriculture, Kenya’s most vital economic sector and women contribute 60–80 per cent of labor in food production, both for household consumption and for sale. But while they do most of the work, they lack access to markets and credit. They make up a large percent of the labor force, but only sell a small percent of the cash crops. Providing women with greater access to credit and other sources of financing can help reduce economic disparities.
“You educate a man; you educate a man. You educate a woman; you educate a generation.” Cliche. Right? But then sixty-two million girls worldwide are denied the right to attend primary and lower secondary school. In my country Kenya for instance, girls living in the rural communities are most disadvantaged as many start school but only a small percent finish.
The girl child in Africa has not only affected by adverse poverty and abuse in the home, but also by the discrimination they face at school with regard to subject choices seen as suitable for male learners, like mathematics and science. Women are not inferior creatures. Given the powerful data, the world cannot afford to deny education to girls. If we all take the plunge by holding hands in unison and give particular care and attention to women in Africa, then we are bound to make significant strides in every aspect.
Many girls are sexually harassed at school, and are often forced to drop out due to a pregnancy, possibly caused by rape. Drug, alcohol abuse and prostitution to support a habit are challenges most frequently faced by girls in urban areas which invariably affect their chance to receive a good education. The rate of HIV infection amongst school girls in this demographic is cause for concern. Despite the many challenges to overcome with regard girl children’s education, more girls are participating in higher education in Africa than before.
For years, women have been despised. They do not even dare report violence against them; they struggle to access justice in a criminal justice system that is not informed by or sensitive to the needs of women. In Africa, violence against women is accepted as the cultural norm in many societies and is often condoned by the community and sometimes state leaders.
While reading Desert Flower by Diriye, I got myself thinking, who will ever save African girls from traumatizing effects of Female Genital Mutilation? A cruel and perfidious war on little girls. Subjected to the practice at 5, and then forced into marrying a 60-year-old man, Diriye’s father subscribed to a local saying “Gabar ama gunti rageed ama god hakaga jirto” (A girl should either be married on in a grave) .Inasmuch as we claim to be in the 21st century, this nightmare is still a reality in some parts of my country. Hers is a story that lays bare the challenges girls go through to escape retrogressive practices imposed to us by society.
Although African women play and continue to play a significant role in the economic and social development of their countries, they are not recognized, they are not visible and not rewarded for their efforts. A number of African countries have adopted a tool known as gender budgeting in order to redress the bias in economic policies that favors men and boys at the expense of women and girls.
However, women in some African countries have moved into positions of political influence. Women increased their parliamentary representation. Still, the situation is far from ideal. Their presence in parliament has made a difference in the adoption of gender-sensitive policies as well as succeeding in passing various pieces of legislation, such as legalizing abortion, making rape a capital offense, countering domestic violence as well as ensuring child support. Because of pressure from women, some countries now have affirmative action policies, such as quotas, to increase the number of women in decision-making positions. The bill would have been weaker if we had just one sex in parliament.
The continent is so diverse thus problems are very complex “Therefore, in global debates, they should not be made simplistic or be reduced to a single denominator.”Girls not only need access to primary education, but must also be protected from violence and harmful practices.
While there is a need to continue with basic strategies to lift women out of poverty and to halt HIV/AIDS it is also important to put in place second- and third-generation strategies too that would provide immediate benefits to women. Empowerment of women should not be confined to a narrow range of sectors within countries, but should also ensure the equal participation of women in fast-moving global processes.
Enough is enough! We are no longer seeking promises, but are demanding action. Everything shall fall in place if we just uplift women. They are the real architects of the society. From the CEO who runs a Fortune 500 company to the housewife who raises her children and heads her household. Women are leaders. Like Chimamanda Adichie Ngozi observes, let us not teach girls to shrink themselves, we should not make them feel any less of a woman. I feel empowered that I made a strong choice that in no way diminishes my femininity. I am ready to break down walls and defy stereotypes, are you?