Woe unto you Taita Taveta Professionals!

img_8779Have you ever wondered why most Taita Taveta County locals live in abject poverty yet the county is endowed with vast natural resources that would transform their lives significantly?

Again, are you surprised that the county has countless professionals in various fields that could use their expertise to convert the Godly given resources to riches yet only a few are willing to work for their people?

Think about it this way. For those who were brought up in the villages would agree, as a teenager we all dreamed of a sense of waiting for real life to start once we moved away from the rural area. We thought everything was happening elsewhere, that towns were focal points of economic growth, innovation and paid employment.

We all yearned to leave for the city (Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, you name them). We all wanted to ensure that our generations don’t go to the same schools we went to. We thought urban residents had better access to education and other better opportunities. Many people still think that’s the case.

Now, this is the reality. We have all run to towns…neglected our villages in the name of searching for greener pastures. We have left our women to be assaulted as was the case in Taita Taveta County, where we heard of claims of women who had to undergo the ordeal of having their private parts searched at the mines. We have left our land to be grabbed by non-locals who are well connected yet locals keep fighting for the small plots left under their names.

These last two weeks, I worked from Taita Taveta County courtesy of my employer, the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights and got the privilege of attending a public inquiry into the mining sector, specifically to ascertain the veracity of human rights violations in Taita Taveta County.

It pains me to listen to the narratives from my motherland.

Woe unto you County professionals, you have left our mothers to die in hospitals for lack of enough medical staff in our public hospitals. For your information, we were ranked among counties with high maternal deaths in the country according to a report released by Ministry of Health. We are also leading in recording high numbers of defilement and early marriages for underage girls. Our girls have been turned into prey by male predators! Who will fight for them?

Another horror story here…Imagine losing your child because of fighting for your land! Why should one of our own lose life because of property rightfully his? All this, I believe, could have been solved if our learned friends would be there for our mothers and fathers we left back in the villages.

Politicians have taken advantage of my folks back home. I have heard about that, too many times it sickens me. I am a member in almost all Taita Taveta Groups and you know I get tired reading about the issues that get posted there every day.

The Politicians, they say, promise heaven on earth. Too bad the rhetoric is always the same year in year out! My folks still walk long distance in search water. Nothing much has changed yet we keep on voting leaders every general election.

We used to sail high in education. During my time, I remember we produced some of the best students who joined National Schools and always made this County an envy of many. My parents, my aunties and uncles despite going to school barefooted and on empty stomach, they always produced exemplary results (they made me believe that. Ha ha, all parents tell us so). Now, we lead from the bottom because our siblings do not have role models. We are busy working to make ends meet in urban cities and have no time to go back and mentor those behind us!

Time has come to join hands as Taita professionals to help our county. Let’s go back home and replenish what was taken from us. Let’s rebuild what was destroyed and stop them (whoever they are) from grabbing what rightfully belongs to us as Taita’s.

As election nears, let’s not allow our people to be once again lured into voting leaders who do not have our interests at heart. We will have ourselves to blame if our parents, siblings and neighbours continue to languish in poverty after next year’s polls. It is our turn to set the agenda and vote in leaders who will forge our county forward.

Blessed is the Land in Taita Taveta County.

 

One step at a time….

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Patience, my sister and the owner of this blog said I could be a guest writer here for a maximum of 6 months then I pack my lessons, create my own blog and leave. Ours is a relationship with conditions, it has always been like that for the longest period of our life, so worry not, I am used to this. So I will pull through.

I love writing and I think it is really humbling that she gave me this chance to allow me to grow grammatically, and who knows, you might be reading my columns on the Daily Nation, The Standard, The People Daily or even the Star. I will not take 6 months on this ground, I want to take less. Is that being too ambitious?

Before anyone puts their expectations on me, I would like to say that as much as her friends say that we look alike, Lol, I will rush to my main point which is to say that I will keep this strictly my age. Maybe we look alike, but we are surely not age-mates. I am a few years below her age and  still getting some experiences in my life that she already passed through so to expect me to think and write exactly like her is raising the bar too high for me. Be kind, Annegrace. Okay? Thank you.

So after thinking for sometime I thought of what better way to start this journey other than beginning with something positive. I mean, to set the mood right.

Like many young girls, I looked forward to growing up. I looked forward to being 13, then 20 and finally 22. So, Seventeen is the number of the list of things I asked God to grant me as I turned 22 years last year. I was looking at the list today and guess what, I ticked 16 of them! I mean, I couldn’t be happier. The only one thing I did not tick was the one written ‘I would like to be a better writer (open my own blog)’. Isn’t God amazing? And this one hasn’t been answered simply because I have not put any effort on it. So this one let us just say I have not given God anything to bless that is why it is delaying.

I have began this journey exactly one month to my next birthday so I still have time to accomplish it. It’s at this point I mention that my birthday is on 18th September and I cherish books and shoes as my birthday gifts, just in case you may want to know. Hehe. Thanks in advance.

Number 2 on my list was  the grade I wanted to see on my Degree Certificate as I was looking forward  to graduating this year. God gave me exactly that and I was very excited. I graduated on 15th July this year. By the way, I was very happy during my graduation more than anyone will ever know. I will explain.

Last time I was in Nairobi I told Patience and my brother that for the longest of time I wasn’t proud of my high school results. I would not mention it to anyone and if I did I would not feel proud about it. So for the longest of time I felt like I had put myself in some kind of prison and the problem is, no one even knew about this. So early this year during my Internship I made a decision to free myself from any little bondage I kept myself in and let myself enjoy freedom in every aspect of my life. I mean, Nelson Mandela didn’t suffer for nothing. The first time I got the chance to put my faith in action was in the midst of a lot of people. Family and friends. During my graduation party. I did it and I have felt very happy ever since. I told everyone about this silent bondage I have been for this long. So in Campus, I put all my efforts in my studies and even did my own research project and got an A (I could have decided to buy one for Ksh.3500, but finishing school goes hand in hand with being broke so anyway), I felt extremely proud of how far I had come. I indeed gave God something to bless and He did.

On Friday I got a text from someone saying how much of a blessing I have been to them. Actually, two people! Oh wow, this is the reason I ticked number 7 today. I had told God that I wanted to be a blessing to people. I know you are imagining ‘huh, just 2 people and you are here all happy’. Yes, I did not give God a specific number. Lakini, people in this town are mean even with their blessings. So perhaps I have been a blessing to a bigger number but only 2 cared to say. Maybe the question will be, how many people have been a blessing to me and if at all, I  have told them so?

I am writing a bigger and better list for my next Birthday as I push myself towards achieving those things. Otherwise, I am honoured to be here. Have a blessed Wednesday🙂

Thanks for passing by, my name is Adeline Nyange.

Count your blessings…..

My flowersIt has been said that Africans tend to be unnecessarily affiliated to the spiritual, divine or rather supernatural. Whether you grow up in town next to those loud Gospel churches or in the village like I was, close to the more somber like a funeral mood sanctuaries, religion and the tendency to ascribe meaning to a higher power is always there with you. It starts from the mundane things of life- weather and the reference of rain as divine and drought as judgement or a bad omen. Then it transcends to more serious issues such as child birth, success in one’s life, marriage sustainability and even longevity in political office.

There are many reasons as to why people go to church and many of us love specific things in church. It might be the electric praise or deeply emotive worship songs especially those done in the minor keys. (My favourite is A and E minors). It might be the sermon for the day, or even the monthly events on topical issues. Churches have also evolved to be core to the social fabric of the community- place to meet with family and friends. Whatever the reason, to some, Sunday’s always feels complete when the main plan includes that walk, drive or mathree journey to church.

I am a frequent church goer, at least my mum raised us as such. I sometimes in my naive extremism find it very awkward when I call my younger brother and inquire if he went to church and he says no. I am like, maybe I should tell mum that you actually woke up and decided not to go to church. Anyway, as they say, kila mtu na maisha ya, yake (each to their own- choices and destiny). So I let him be. This does not mean I go to church every Sunday’s, no I don’t; but I make it a deliberate decision to go to church unless, there is an extremely valid reason as to why I shouldn’t.

In some churches, there’s this segment for prayer requests. So the Pastor receives many prayer requests from the congregation and the pastor reads them out and says, let’s join in prayer as we pray for these and the many unspoken prayer requests you might be having. It is only then that I have found such impact and gratitude when I consider what God has preserved me from. As I keenly listen to each prayer request, sometimes I am overwhelmed by emotions. Other times I am just mum, struck in shock. I am like God- that could have been me, barren, in ICU, going through chemo, watching the last minutes of an accident victim but you are so good to have preserved me from all these. Not that I am special anyway. These moments make me realize how ungrateful I am and sometimes perhaps even inconsiderate.

Have you listened to people’s prayer requests and realized you do not have a problem? You have your rent paid up to date. Your salary checks in on time, actually by the 22nd (I understand some folks are paid by this date- tell me if you are one…Lol)

Ok, even if your salary checks in late, at least you have a salary to take care of your needs. Think about this person who has a child at the ICU for four months now and the bill is hitting over 3 million. Think about this parent who is praying over rebellious teenagers, who don’t seem to obey anything she says. Think about this husband who has been tarmacking for the last five years and is at the verge of giving up. Here you are with a job, and the much you can do is fuss about how tired you are and how you spend most of your time searching for the next greener pasture. Hands down.

If you look at these opportunities, though mundane, actually you realize that it is not that you are special but it is just by that higher power.

Church continues to remind me of how grateful I need to be. Reminds me of all the many blessings I take so for granted. Reminds me of being thankful, counting my blessings again and again, noticing the simple gifts and pleasure of life not as right but as a gift from the Almighty God.

I have come to acknowledge that I am healthy not because this is my entitlement, but because God, as Hezekiah Walker sings has favored me. I have come to that place of living my life as if everything and each day is a miracle. This is that shift- from what I have and not what I lack. Every prayer request read reminds me to be more thoughtful and mindful of others.

The moral of this blog this week, is to challenge each one of us to appreciate each step along the journey- big or small and to be content with the steady progress realizing someone somewhere is making a prayer request on what you think is your entitlement.

So if you have been wondering what to do in the next few minutes, look around and just for today, choose to be forever grateful.

With Love,

Patience.

Then, be prepared, next week, I am officially introducing one of my guest bloggers. She’s more than excited to be on this platform. On the other hand, I am looking forward to seeing what she brings on board. So lets all wait for this, and shout……………suprissssssssssssssseeeee!!

…When It All Becomes A Memory…

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It’s Monday at 1730hrs. I have ticked everything on my to-do list for the day and I am excited about going home. I am stuck on the traffic jam at Mbagathi road, that stretch just before the Montezuma and Monalisa Funeral home and there is this huge signpost that points to the funeral home. It is so screaming, you can’t miss it. Then I remember this online version I had just read a few hours ago.

The most unfair thing about life is the way it all ends. I mean, life is tough. It takes up a lot of your time. What do you get at the end of it all? DEATH! What’s that? A bonus? I think life cycle is all backwards. You should die first; completely get it out of the way. Then you live in an old age home. Then you get kicked out when you are too young, you get a gold watch or a pet cat. You go to work, you work forty years until you are young enough to enjoy your retirement. You do drugs, alcohol, you party, you get ready for high school, you go to grade school, you become a kid, you play endlessly, you have no responsibilities, you become a little baby, you go back to the womb, you spend your last nine months floating….and you just finish off as an orgasm.

I kind of liked it, ohh, actually I liked it a lot. It is true that this whole life cycle is so backwards. I love the way it ends, “…..you should spend your last nine months floating….and you just finish off as an orgasm.” How I wish that was the reality.

So I turn off the radio in my car, as if to listen to something, but to actually give space to my mind to ponder on this question- the efficacy of life- What is this life all about? Why are we here in the first place? Are we sure that’s what our maker intended it for you and I to be where we are today and that it is pleasing before His eyes? That wherever we are placed, it is at the right place. That we belong to the right family, our birth order is correct, we work at the right office, we hold the right position, we earn what we deserve, we are married or have married the right persons and that it is ok for people to die despite the fact that it hurts us so much?

I have come to the place of observing the frequent times I stop and spend some extra minutes on the obituary pages as I flip through the newspaper pages every morning. Not that I have a particular liking but as I grow older, I tend to look at news from this other dimension of the transient nature of life. You see, I lost my father in 2014, and for the first time in my life, I sat down and asked myself, what next? So he is gone to meet his maker and then what happens to us? Or rather, is that all? Like he was here, to work, get married, get his own children, work every day of his life providing for us, then one day, it all goes to the grave. Just like that? Is that all?

Ok, assuming that is all, that we are here to follow a particular path, which clearly looks like it’s a trail that is somehow predetermined, how do we reconcile ourselves with mortality and make the most of our days on earth?

One thing is for sure, as long as we are alive today, then we are surely heading to the grave. Sooner than we know it, we are heading there. And since we do not know the time and venue of our predetermined exit, the next question lingering in my mind is, is it right, perhaps, to think about legacy. And here I am not talking about grand projects, a street named after me or even the airport but just investing each day to ensure that my actions inscribe a remembrance in people’s hearts and lives. You see, life is fickle as it can get and any candid discussion with a critical care specialist tells you that even the best hospital in the world might not be able to resolve this paradox- why some live longer on life support and go back to health and why others come with sometimes the most minor health situation end up in that wheel chair to the cold room. You know, you drove yourself to the hospital and came out in a coffin. Be that as it may, I am finding myself at times like this with slow traffic questioning what I will be remembered for.

Will I be happy to say, I danced my all when I got to the dancing floor? Will I be happy to say, those that I loved, joined me to the dancing floor and together we had a time of our life. Have I danced my all when my favorite song Flavour by Sexy Rosey featuring P Square was playing? You know I can play this song looped. I love the energy and the attitude in this song. I like it playing when I have closed all windows in my car and I have raised the volume that the only extra thing I can hear is the vibrations on the sides.

Will people describe my life with this kind of energy? Did I enjoy each minute of my life knowing clearly that my life will soon come to a close and while it comes to a close, I want to be remembered for living life to my best, I want to be remembered for loving everyone even when they didn’t deserve my love, but conscious of the fact that, I won’t let people take advantage of my love and misuse it in the process. Aware of the fact that everything I have in life- breath and good health; family and friends, that opportunity to be in gainful employment and make an impact in the nation and this world are not guaranteed but just as short-lived.

I want to be remembered for a great legacy I leave behind lest people hear of my exit with excitement and go like, ‘Finally she is on the roll call or the typical ‘good riddance to bad garbage?’

I want to be remembered for being there for my family and friends when they called me to be there for them. For being there to celebrate the birthdays with my nieces and nephews. For being there during their graduations and celebrating them. For buying that pair of catchy heels I saw zooming past the duty free shop as I connected flights and being able to walk in them, with the knowledge that one day, I will not be able to wear them again. Because all this is transient. All this is vanity, as the good book describes it. Therefore, let it not be said that I lived my life in regrets, sorrow or sadness. I want happiness to describe my days, because this too is a choice I make.

It is most likely that as you read this, you are either grieving, have grieved or about to grieve the loss of a loved one. Adversity they say introduces a person to their real selves and it is in such moments that we get that rude awakening that we just can’t float in space…live without the thinking of tomorrow in terms of savings and preparing for that unfortunate turn of events. But even then, living each day as it comes with its fair and at times unfair share of trials and tribulations without the assurance of life means that I only have now, today, to make it count. Therefore, I want to be alive in each step of my life, to value each moment, because sooner or later, it will all be a memory.

This girl is back!

After three years of not posting a blog post, I am back! Actually, I had to count, I was like, when did I last post my last blog post? Then I released it was in January 2014. Imagine? And now it is 2016 that is almost coming to a close.

What has this girl been up to? After three years of not blogging, what brings her back on board? I recently met one of my avid readers and his first question to me, “Why did you just close us from your life?”  Mmm, my reply, “I am soon inviting you back.”

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Blogging is exciting and to hear that many people genuinely feel that I should start blogging again, who am I to say no? There are many reasons as to why I write and there is every reason as to why I should start writing again.

So this is going to be an exciting journey for me. I am going to share with you my perspectives in life, my worldview and my reflections. Please remember, these are my own views, again I insist, whatever I write her, this is the way I see my world, this is Patience’s world.

I promise to write once a week, I promise to keep my posts quite personal and short.

Hugs! Hugs!

2013 in review. Thank you for reading my Blog!

Because you took your time to read my blog,  here is 2013 in Review. I hope to be with you in 2014.

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 17,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 6 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Some respect for the dead please, Mombasa

When death strikes

Cemetery in Mandal, Norway.
Unfenced Cemetery in Mandal, Norway.

We hurt, we mourn and then bury and all we are left with, is nothing but memories of our loved ones. We do all we can, so as to give the deceased their last respect here on earth. But how do we do this?

Family members by the graveyard
Family members by the graveyard

As the culture is in Kenya, we try our best to conduct impromptu fundraising, so as to meet pending medical bills and prepare for a decent burial ceremony. Depending on what you wished for, or what your immediate family decides as well as many other considerations, the deceased will either be buried at their homes or even at the cemeteries as it is with many, who have spent their lives in town or those without land back at home.

My first time to visit a graveyard was during my stay in Norway and I actually  blogged about it. Such was a peaceful experience and a great site to behold. Fast track the moment to last weekend and my heart bleed with bitterness.

Helpless graves by the dumping site
Helpless graves by the dumping site

One of my cousins, Jones Mwalegha passed on and I had a chance to travel to Mombasa so as to bid him goodbye. The burial took place a week after his death and therefore, many of us including his immediate family members had fairly come to terms with his departure.

Friday night, we all converged so as to make final plans for the following day. It happened that my nephew John and I were assigned to ensure that the burial site was in order before the body could be brought for burial. Saturday morning, before I could get there, John calls me and says, “Patience, I am afraid there is some more work to be done here. Please come over and let’s discuss about this.”

Makaburini, Kisauni
Makaburini, Kisauni

Makaburini in Leisure, Kisauni

This was at 10am and the burial was scheduled for 3pm. By 11am, I made my way to the cemetery in Kisauni, a place known as Makaburini. Accompanied by one of my cousins, we stop by the entrance to this cemetery and we are met by the stench that seems to have been the norm as informed by some of the people who reside nearby.

Makaburini, Kisauni,Mombasa
Makaburini, Kisauni,Mombasa

Clearly, we can spot my nephews car parked at some point, but we cannot see him. So we call him and ask him to give us directions to where he is. He waves at us from a distance and unfortunately we have to walk all the way, to meet him there.  I look at him and wonder what could he be doing by the dumping site? And how is he managing the stench? So we decide to walk towards him. We realize he is accompanied by a group of about four men, who we later understood that they were part of the crew that was working on constructing the grave.

The grave yard under construction.
The grave under construction.

One minute into our walk, we realize we have to be extra careful not to step on human faeces that were the reason for the stench. Later, we were informed that the area served as toilets for the nearby slum dwellers. Such was a nasty experience, at one point I almost stepped on some faeces, urgggh!

Some of the cemeteries in Mombasa are in a better condition, so why is this place as it is? I ponder? Deep down in my heart, I felt the pain of losing my cousin refreshed. Is this where we will lay him? The site looked so miserable. I have always thought that it is automatic for people to have some respect for the dead and hence respect the grave yards. How did this place end up as it is? Who are the authorities involved? Why do people pay money to have their loved ones buried here? Why? These and many more questions crossed my mind.

Cemetery turned dumping site

Cemetery turned dumping site
Cemetery turned dumping site

I quickly had a chat with the people tasked to construct the grave and the stories I heard were miserable. For my family, my cousin had lost his wife thirteen years ago and it was his desire to be buried next to his wife. But, 13 years down the line, the place has slowly graduated into a dumping site and a few graves a seen as part of the garbage. What a sad site!

As a family, we did pay Ksh.31,000 for the whole construction that I was later informed catered for the construction materials and for the space. Really? I ask? So I put on my journalistic face and approach the caretaker manning this specific cemetery. I ask all the blonde questions and request him to explain to me like a three-year old, how he manages to convince anyone that he works at this cemetery and that he is happy working in the condition as it is.

Family and friends walk towards the grave.
Family and friends walk towards the grave.

While at this discussion, I have pleaded with him that there is a need to clear the surrounding area and maybe do something to the faeces lying all over, before the burial session later in the afternoon. He tries to gather his crew, who are not so happy, simply because Saturday, to them is not a working day and they do not get paid for it.  But you see, this is none of my business, all I want is to have the area cleaned.

As this discussion progresses, it is clear that someone is not doing their job. So I ask, who is responsible for this mess? How come we have lost respect for the dead? He explains to me that he has tried his best, to have the area better than it is, but the city council responsible for its maintenance is yet to do something. He also mentions that the situation is worsened by the nearby slum dwellers who have been littering the place at night. He goes ahead to offer solution and says, “Once we have this area fenced, things will be different. It is hard to clean this area every other day and then it gets all littered at night.”

Blame Game

Mwalegha is laid to rest
Mwalegha is laid to rest

I will tell you for sure, this guy like any other human being, he had all sorts of people to blame and not himself. I was tempted to ask, where does the money people pay go to? He claims to have three workers and one of these is on leave at any given time so he cannot get all of them to work at the same time. But I am a grown up and I can clearly tell that I am being lied to. The garbage at the site, leave alone for the faeces, is garbage that has overstayed, garbage accumulated over months. The weeds and the unpruned trees makes the whole area look so bushy. Thank God none of us had a snake scare. A number of insects, rats and other rodents, have made this place their homes. The place has also become a hide-out for drug abusers.

Mwalegha is laid to rest
Mwalegha is laid to rest

So this gives you the scenario at some of the places we lay our beloved ones. Really, what happened to this specific grave yard? Who is fooling who? What is the county government doing about this? What about the money paid for this facility, where does it go to? If the dead woke up today, will we be ashamed of neglecting this place to such extent? I managed to contact the governor’s office at Mombasa and yes, I was promised that something will be done as soon as possible.

Over to you the Municipal Council of Mombasa and the various authorities…….please, can we have some respect for the dead?