Despite not having blogged in forever, you guys are still visiting!!
I love y’all.
I’ve been writing lots and taking lots of hijabi fashion pics, just haven’t had the time to upload since….
I was MOVING CONTINENTS.
I am officially living back in Kenya, after having liked in the UK for 8 years.
I still don’t really believe it myself.
When you realise what are your own.
And what are others.
I’m pulling out of the rats race.
I just don’t want to be a rat.
And I don’t want to race.
I want to be successful on my own terms.
Not what my mother or my peers deem as successful.
I am done.
We are a generation of women who have something to prove.
Our mothers, did not get to achieve their greatest dreams.
They neared the glass ceiling, but did not break it.
And so, on our shoulders do their expectations lie.
We need to be educated, well bred, respectable young ladies…. who can do it all.
Motherhood, career, success AND riches.
Yet, the glass ceiling has already BEEN shattered.
Albeit a little delayed in Kenya…but…
I do KNOW I can shatter any ceiling I want.
I just…don’t feel the need to.
Part of growing up is separating parental expectations, from your own expectations of yourself.
I don’t need to prove myself.
But I don’t have to.
Basically, all this spiel and over justification, is me trying to say: Its okay not to want it all.
I make people uncomfortable.
I don’t know why or how I do it.
I just do.
I’m a woman.
I also have a big Afro.
Did I mention I was African too?
A female, brown skinned, Muslim, afro sporting, Arab-African.
I just put so many different kinds of people on edge …it would be funny if it wasn’t a little tragic.
Why do people feel so affronted by what or who I am?
I find myself constantly explaining myself:
I am Kenyan. Yes. But I am Kenyan Arab. Yes, I am Arab by ethnicity. Originally my family were from the middle east.
I am not poor.
Even though I am African.
I am not oppressed. Even though I am a Muslim woman wearing Hijab.
I am not married. And I do not have 10 kids. *Grits teeth* Even though I am a Muslim woman wearing Hijab.
I will not straighten my hair. It grows out of my head this way.
Yes, I know I speak good English.
Yes, we have Muslims in Kenya.
Yes, *groan* my parents paid lots of money for my university education. Sorry to disappoint you I’m not poor. Even though I am African.
I spend my day deflecting these kind of questions.
Sometimes, I feel, wouldn’t it be easy, to try out being white and blonde for one day?
Just so that I can be the current post card version of what the world seems to deem ‘ideal’.
And then I remember its kind of fun being me.
It just so happens that I am many labels all at once.
And people have a field day trying to choose which label to ascribe to me each day.
Am I Muslim?
Or am I Muslim and Black?
Or am I Muslim and Arab?
Or am I an Educated Muslim Woman?
Or maybe today I am a poor African?
Maybe I should use that to my advantage 😉
As always, my travels are never without drama, intrigue and most importantly, shopping.
Spending my money on shiny, new things takes me to a happy place. Sue me :p
I met a beautiful, tall, very talented MAC sales lady. As she managed to make me part with my hard earned money in return for make up and false eyelashes, while deftly complimenting my eyes and skin. She rained compliments on my gullible credit card, telling me that I have beautiful dark eyes (which I do), and gorgeous skin ( which I do not). I appreciate a good sales person. She made me feel at ease, complimented me, and helped me with my purchases.
More interesting was that she was clearly a ‘people-person’ That odd blend of person who finds other humans infinitely interesting. She wanted to know where I was from (Kenya), and then made a clear distinction by asking me where I lived (UK) She wanted to know my age (26, same as her), and how long I was going on holiday for.
Airports are my kind of place. Because I would so enjoy asking those kind of questions.
I, like my beautiful saleslady, enjoy peeling the layer of social niceties, that hide the person beneath.
Where is that man with the briefcase rushing to?
Does that harrowed looking woman own her own business?
What is that elderly lady smiling at so smugly?
Where is that group of middle aged women going?
That odd looking couple – are they married?
I love solving people-puzzles. Looking around and putting two plus two plus three.
And there is no better place to observe people than an Airport. Or perhaps a Coffee Shop. Better still, and Airport Coffee Shop 🙂
9 out of 10 I am probably wrong.
Mainly because I am also of the class of people we would most likely call ‘socially inept’
I wonder if this is behind my fascination with people.
In any case.
I sit here on this Kenya Airways flight and all I can think of is how I can’t wait to get home.
Warm sun beating on darkened brow.
Heavy kisses of a humid day.
A welcoming handshake,
In an African smile.
“On the case against Mr Ruto and Mr Uhuru, the chamber was satisfied that they are criminally responsible for the alleged crimes as indirect perpetrators of the crimes. But the Chamber does not believe that the Kenya Police was involved in the crimes. It is for this reason why we did not find the evidence against Mr Ali enough to sustain the charges… the chamber found substantial ground to believe there was an attack against civilian residents in Nakuru and Naivasha, in particular those belonging to Luos, Luhya and Kalenjin tribes.” Judge Trendafilova
Kenyans reactions on twitter:
@kenyangetter ‘Why was everyone banking on riots on the announcements? @reuters *sigh* ICC
@TheRealBraWilly ‘Wot will b impact of ICCs veridic regarding Ocampo6 (now 4) on the yet 2b confirmed national elections? We are all wondering’
@capitalFM_kenya ‘ ICC website crashes as Kenyans eagerly await outcome of cases against six kenyan suspects Ocampo6’
‘Allahu Akbar Allah Akbar’
The call to prayer reverberates in the air.
Shimmering through the sunlight.
Gliding past lace curtains, through windows and open doors.
To rest lightly on the ears and hearts of the beloved faithful.
Asha leans her head back against the turquoise window sill
The fluttering lace curtain tickles her face.
A humid breeze languidly strokes her cheek.
The call to prayer is her favourite song.
With a stirring deep in her heart,she answers back the call softly:
‘La haula wa laa quwwata illa billah’
A heavy sigh escapes her lips.
And as her eyes flit over the landscape of rooftops from her vantage point, she feels her heart twang in symphony with the call.
Almost like it’s calling out to her personally.
‘Come out here Asha.’
‘Come and be.’
Shaking her head to disperse the pointless musings of her restless heart, Asha goes to make ‘Wudh’u’: ablutions for her noon prayer.
There is no time for silly thoughts.There are prayers to be made. Cooking to be done. And she has to get back to the office soon.
As she walks out she catches a glimpse of herself in the mirror. Full lips. Almond shaped twinkiling brown eyes. Curly wisps of hair have escaped from the confines of her professional hair bun and fall prettily accross her shoulders. ‘I have a beautiful face’ she muses. And as she turns to walk out of the room, ‘And a generous behind too! That is after all, my African heritage!’
Asha is half black. Half Arab.
She is a black Arab. Or an Arab African.
Caught between two worlds.
…..To Be Continued….
I just read an article about Africans coming home. (In Msafri magazine while on the plane coming errr..home. So it was very appropriate really. Lol. )
It was about young, professional, skilled Africans living the dream – in Africa.
Gone are the days of queuing at the US or UK embassies, hoping that the un-smiling visa officer would bestow on you the magic ticket that would allow you access to the ‘American Dream’, a land of riches and success.
A lot of people are realising, that they can have their cake and eat it, right here at home.
You don’t have to be in a tiny apartment in a foreign land, far from home and everyone you love, to eke out a living in the world of success and money.
With the right job and mindset, a beautiful life can be had in Africa. A fact known for a long time now, by many expatriates who came to Kenya and refused to leave!
Beautiful weather, gorgeous beaches, lovely atmosphere, cosmopolitan, diverse, family, friends….That is what Nairobi means to me.
Who wouldn’t want to live here?
The power cuts, and the rising cost of living, the politics and the car jackings – those are minor inconveniences in the grand scheme of things. (I may think differently after my 100th power cut)
Nonetheless, I am seriously considering coming home to roost.
The sooner the better.
Karibu Kenya 🙂
My very first blog post. On my very new mac.
Yes, Im flossing :p
SO tired. SO jet lagged. SO SO shattered. And I still have a 9 hour flight to go.
I just boarded a KLM flight from Manchester. It dropped me off in Amsterdam. And now, I’m aboard Kenya Airways to Nairobi.
After being hassled in Manchester about an extra kilo (!) of luggage, being looked at blankly as I struggled with my three suitcases (yes three!), and feeling strangely alien in Amsterdam….it was with a great sigh of relief that I saw the smiling faces of the Kenya Airways crew.
For a moment I stilled, and swelled with pride. KENYA Airways. Unapologetically Kenyan. And as I walked down that aisle, I stared back at those mzungu faces with confidence and…a bit of swag. 😛
There is this feeling that as Africans we always have to feel inferior. Like our skin colour makes us somehow…less. I feel it. In every stare. I every flat smile of every person who asks me that annoying question: ‘where are you from?’
I am Kenyan dammit.
I am African.
I am unapologetically Brown.
And I am coming home.
With a purposeful stride, I looped round the neighbourhood. Past scruffy cats, stinking storm drains, and many, many, kiosks. Little shanty houses. Made of corrugated mabati and pieces of left over wood. I scanned the area looking for one specific kiosk; ‘Ma vitu mob’ kiosk.
As I walked in, my eyes adjusted to the dim lighting. A single naked bulb hung from the ceiling. The whirring of machines, and the soft glow from several computer screens lit the place with an other worldy glow. My eyes swung to the swarthy man at the counter. I had to squint to see him clearly through the smoky, dark room.
‘Ah, ni Kamau!’ I thought.
Its kamau. I’m sorted. After some coin had exchanged hands, I settled down to wait.
A shimmer of bright orange caught my eye. A triangle of silky fabric. Luminescent in the darkeness of the room.
A ducked head.
And a glance.
Sweeping dark eyelashes, thick and slick, like weary candle wicks. Was she looking at me out of the corner of her eye?
Yes she was! I saw that. With a grin, I settled more comfortably on my stool. Waiting would be entertaining after all.
Her smooth, dark skin glowed.Her teeth, a startling white against her lips. Was that a smile? I smiled back…. inwardly. Kamau could be back at any moment.
With a heavy heart, I forced myself to look away. I have no time for beautiful girls in silk, orange scarves. I don’t have time for anything really. Anything other than feeding this heavy hunger in my heart. I faced the counter and hunched my shoulders to wait.
A few empty seconds ticked past. My heart as still as a crocodile sunning itself. Every inch of me painfully aware of her innocent glances my way.
‘Umm, would you help me please? Computer ime freeze’
Now I was staring at pools of liquid brown honey. I felt like I was standing at the edge of my sanity. Diving into those swirling, molten twin pools would undoubtedly be my undoing. Helpless to resist, I fell into her gaze. A rare smile cracked its way painfully across my face. I shouldn’t, but like a lamb to its slaughter, I allowed myself to be led to the offending machine.
Control. Alt. Delete.
The machine whirred back to life. Magic. With another rare toothy smile (what was wrong with me?) I turned to face her. What did I expect, a pat on the head? Disgusted with myself, I forced my face into a disapproving glare. She shrank back visibly. Oops.
I adjusted the volume of the glare. I’d forgotten how menacing I could look. In my world, a valuable asset. With a grunt, I indicated the fixed computer and waited expectantly. A stammered thank you floated from her lovely lips. The tip of her tongue darted out to wet the dryness that had suddenly afflicted them. I felt the same way. Parched. And she looked like a long, cold drink right now. Shaking my head at my cheesy thoughts with a wry smile, I turned to leave.
I could wait outside.
Dancing with fate, is not a game I like to entertain.