Monday, June 19, 2017

Lean on me

What are we afraid of?
What do we fear
We limit distance
So another may not lean in too much
Disturb  our little paradise.
Some open up. Like Tedi
They canjole, they console, they love with tears and sympathy.
They scold and console with tenderness.
and we:
Cold and constrained in our affections
Never get to feel the tenderiest of feelings
Those that result from allowing another
To be vulnerable around you

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Socialising the Introvert: How to have healthy Natural hair, NATURALLY

Plum and Cherries

2017 is a great year for natural hair enthusiasts. There is a lot to talk about. Where to get natural hair products cheaply, which YouTube videos are worth watching,which shampooing regimes to follow.
I get stopped on the street by beautiful girls who obviously have spent 5k on their hair this month. They want to know; how do you get your hair to curl like that?

And we end up having a great chat, I tell them how many minutes you should leave shampoo in your hair, which direction you should comb your hair after conditioning to ensure the curls are defined properly.

We talk about how hard it is to give volume to dry hair.
Such wonderful times.
I feel like Vera Sindika, almost turned famous. We exchange numbers and continue to exchange tips on whatsapp.

Sometimes hair becomes the perfect icebreaker to any awkward situation. It turns me from a gloomy, no morning person to a cheerful life of the party.

No. It doesn't.

And whenever someone starts to talk about hair or asks me about hair any time of the day, my mood just turns from sunny with a bit of cloud to cloudy with thunder and lightning.
Not because I think it is an insult to my intelligence to be chatting about a dead part of the body, it's just boring and I'm not a naturalista.

I just have hair that curls naturally, and until the natural hair wave hit the Indian Ocean shore I was peacefully minding my own business. The only trouble was the touts asking why I don't ask my boyfriend for hair salon money.

And elder women telling me how a little blow-dry would improve my appearance.
And my mother' friends asking why I didn't want to turn heads when I walk the streets.
And older men, people's fathers saying to me:
"You are a nice girl, why don't you comb your hair?"

Have a look at this scenario, 1992 in a school of  500 over Bantu school children, you are the only one that looks like a Cushite, or a highland Nilote.
And every Monday morning during parade Mr. Karimi reminds everyone that hair should be?....

"One inch from the head!" You retort.

For both boys and girls.
Trouble is, you hair grows more than a few inches every week.
No one is going to give you money for a kinyozi every week...

So my uncle would shave me using scissors. He hated it. He would leave it to the last minute and curse the whole time he was shaving, while I held up the tin lamp-kagwatira.
this is a tin lamp

In school, the girls, after confirming I had not put chemical, or hair glo, decided I had mucous hair. Not the mucous membrane. We had not learnt about that yet.
The mucous that kids in the plot have when they open the gate and you are wondering whether to apologise to your visitors for the view, help the kid blow the nose or close the door and move the party to the local coffee house.

So I became the Shumary girl with mucous hair. Or cow hair. Not the family cow you name Daisy.
A really big cow that is probably wild and head-butts all other cows.

I retreated deeper into my shell
I would have liked to wear a hat.

When I was not feeling like Nyameni a big brown cow, I was feeling like the bad continuous mucous that you get when you have been crying and keeps coming and coming and your cuff is no longer useful as a nose blower.

In highschool, when I guess I was at optimum health and youth, my hair grew and grew and a classmate, one of the witty ones wrote in my book that I need to get checked, my hair might  be a cancerous growth.

And my mother and grandmother felt very proud. They looked at it with wonder. Their friends talked about it.
When we went visiting friends, or had funerals, I had to have my hair blow-dried the day before.
 The women would sit and stare and say:

'Hi, the daughter of Nyawira was given hair.'
"Hi, ii it is past the shoulders.
And so I would sit there, while they talked about the hair.
And if it was the hot months and my hair had the brown tint, they would discuss the reasons:

'Is she eating eggs?'
"Yes, she never lacks eggs."
'And whyis it? It is very red.'
"I also don't know."
Then July would come and it would be black again and the conversation would change.

-he he he, this one is like for an Indian.-
And cucu would smile

Cucu told me one time,
"When I got married I hoped to give birth to a girl."

"So I could plait their hair. But yours is very slippery."

And one day a girl staying with us was straightening her hair with a tin cup,  I said I also wanted mine straightened. When she did one hair knot, it fell off.
It was a catastrophe. I had to be shaved.
I didn't mind.
But my cucu was not amused. "All the money I've spent on that hair, buying oil." The girl didn't stay very long with us after that.
It wasn't her fault really, how was she to know my hair could not take the tin cup heat?

After high school, I discovered an Ethiopian Salon and went in for a blow-dry and they used a flat iron to finish it off.

Cucu told me:

"Aai, that one you have put something."
 I was furious. Where would I get money for a perm?

So I went out and said to Toni, the local barber:

-Toni, I want you to cut off all of my hair-
"Do you get mad sometimes?''
-No I'm serious. I'm tired of long hair.
"You have no idea what you are asking me. I will not cut your hair, never."
-But I'm paying you!-
"I don't want your money."
"Suit yourself, I'll have it cut."
 I went to a barber that didn't know me and asked them to cut it all. He didn't hesitate.

And for a few months I walked around looking like a Somali long- distance- runner.

When it grew into an afro, I almost got a husband. One day I was walking in town minding my business when a man stopped me. Handsome man with an accent.

He poured compliments on me. Said he wanted to take me back with him to Zambia.
I had just bought a phone. He took my number.

Early the next morning I found several missed calls on my phone. He called but I was yet to recognise my ringtone. He didn't call again.

But my Afro grew.
And one day, while visiting friends, one of the boys said: We should wash Cecilia's hair, I'm sure it coils.
So they washed my head and of course it coiled and coiled and I stood there with water in my face while they looked and asked was I a Somali? I had not met my father yet, so I wasn't sure.

But I liked the curly me.

The Afro would add 3 three years to my real age, with curly hair it was hard for anyone to guess.

1001 experiments later, I learnt how to do my hair. I don't need to fuss over it. I just let it be.

And then the natural twist out wash and go fad began. And I was getting attention once more, and the hardest thing is to explain  to a naturalista that I honestly didn't do a straw set, I don't even wrap my head in a silk scarf at night.

So don't ask me about hair
Unless you are Sobiero and will give me a jar of flaxseed wax to replace my synthetic one, let's talk about something else. Or share whatsapp jokes, I won't mind. I won't hate you. I won't avoid you.

I don't handle attention very well I am a shy little bug that likes to blend in. I've had a mind to go back to straight hair, or get muongezo, just to avoid conversation.

Now I can exclaim how big this article is for someone who hates hair talk.

 ArtAttack Studio for letting me hang out in their studio as I typed this.
           Iris Styling for making me into a lady
           Hans Wear, Wangige market for the lace vest and shirt
           Kiini photography

Monday, June 12, 2017

Finding God: Can the fatherless race be saved then?

There is a time I didn't know God cared about me. In church they read to me Deuteronomy 23:2 – so no matter how much tithe I gave, no matter how many songs I sang, no matter how many youth projects I supported, I was still not welcome.  So I stopped trying.

But I did not stop appreciating the universe, and in the midst of my thoughts and confusion, I met a boy that asked me to read Acts 10:34,35.

And I felt stupid for all my effort at reading of the bible.  I had never read that.
So I started to think deeply about this God and the more I found acceptance from the true God, the more I wanted to be even more acceptable to Him. At last, there was something I could do that God would appreciate.

Knowing one's Creator is like going to Pixel Studios and meeting the production crew and being totally blown away by how real the meaning of animation is.
To know in the Bible God has said directly that He loves us, but the evidence of His love that I see each day, gives me peace, joy and fulfillment.

You know the song – talk? - One time I was thinking about how many times I have gushed out unintelligible streams of words in supposed prayer. Yet I was sure He heard?  And no time has He ever been unavailable to talk?  Because he was feeling sweet?  And all the hiccups you've had but when you explained things to Him, things got better? This love is like no other.
God's love
God's Love

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Burned bridges

Sometimes in moments of self-evaluation,
I wonder what happened,
Where did I miss a crucial relationship, an important conversation.

In the crucial ages of twenties,
When full of energy I built bridges and then
burned those bridges.

Could it have been otherwise had I been wiser
In all  that characterised those years
Did all the signs appear,how did I miss them?

Should have more loving?
I was caring. A little too much perhaps
Like Liking Ignored.

5 phrases you should drop this month

Mambo ni mengi

 I hate the above phrase. what does it even mean? Things are many? Is that even correct grammer?
Whenever someone says - mambo ni mengi- to me I don't exactly get an urge to punch them, but the feeling is close to that. I get annoyed. If you don't want to tell me you problems, don't, honestly I don't care that much.
 Just tell me you don't want to, I'll be happy not knowing.
But, mambo ni mengi makes me feel like you want me to probe,
you want me to beg you tell me what is wrong
 you want me to stop what I'm doing and engage you in small talk, as I try to find out which things are many.
That is why I walk away, then you say sinanga mzigo. Of course I won't carry unnecessary burdens.
 In fact I will avoid any burdens I don't have to carry, things are many for me too.
 So, things are many are yours. I don't want to hear.


 Who is not? Life is hard as it is. We are all trying very hard to find where the 90 bob soko ugali is left. Where they
 don't ask us to pay 5 bob for the plastic bag. Yes, we are all ng'ang'anaing. All of us, not just here in Kenya. In Tanzania,
 in Oman, in DRC, in Zanzibar and everywere else Kiswahili is spoken.
 When I ask how you are and you say you are wrestling. I want to ask you what are you are wrestling exactly. It brings to mind WWF
 which we used to watch on Sundays after church. I'm wondering if what you are wrestling looks like The Rock or Bret Hit man Hart.
You are wrestling and you still can afford to eat pizza once a week. Ama that's because unga ya ugali imepotea sana?
When you say unag'ang'ana. I think that maybe you have a chronic illness we can't talk about right now. Or maybe you have
 an Equity loan you have been paying back and now your salary is only good enough for rent.

Tunahustle tu

Is a phrase that is only separated from the above by a consideration of the demographics.
People born between 1983-1990 use this phrase.  1982 and in to the 70's are the ones who are perpetially wrestling. But these hustlers,they are always hustling or they have a side hustle.
 Their job is a hustle, getting into town is a hustle, making time to  chill out with friend is a hustle, unless it is to discuss what next hustle might bring in some cash.
Kuhustle, is okay, it shows you are occupied, you get respected for being busy.

 When someone calls and says to me 'umepotea' that becomes the end of the conversation. I am lost. Okay. So shall we start a sing song game?
 No, it's you who is lost
 No No, it's you
Aaai,,, me I'm not lost
Even me I'm not lost, you are one who is lost.
Give me a few minutes to sob, if this goes on I'll die. I will.

You know, if you calculate the life expectancy of a Kenyan female and consider that I have lived over three decades,
 you will realise there is a lot more we could talk about instead of this lost and found push and pull I'd rather not participate.
 We could talk about the impressive size of the Monarch butterfly's brain in relation to the
 miles it covers in migration. Then maybe we shall stop worrying about who is lost. A monarch butterfly's life might be in danger at this moment
 and here we are speeding the dial of my life expectancy. Do you realise if I had a child now the likelihood of seeing him graduate from high school is 37%.

Hello my friend, I haven't seen you in a  while. What is different in the world you live in?

Kunyeshewa nayo....

I was opening some social media accounts for a client. He was concerned about the type of traffic we could attract to the site.
"You have to be selective about the people you invite,sio watu wa kunyeshewa nayo.." he said.
He is  a Trump supporter and not a man to tell jokes so work came to a stop, it was just the perfect explanation for how content should be package. If you are gonna say something, please, put a little thought in it will you? I wonder how many people I would cross out of my social media
accounts if  I ever used the stated criteria.

This nayo.. phrase is too saturated in Nairobians' vocabulary. It only sounds like a real statement when Cess  Mutungi says it. Cess can say anything without sounding like an idiot.

Two Nairobians meet by accident at Kencom. They have not met in the last one year. Let us listen in on their catching up speech:

Mambo ni mengi
Kunyeshewa nayo..
Kung'ang'ana tu
Enyewe tunahustle.
both of you, go home already okay?

Efficiency, why we must learn to be.

 There are no schools that you will sign up to to learn how to be efficient. Most will teach you a profession or a skill and it's up to ...