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 as often as I can, I promise to keep my posts quite personal and short. I promise to also share some blog posts from bloggers that I follow.

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?

My life without Jinxy!

Jinxy's playtime
Jinxy’s playtime

It will soon be two months since Jinxy  (my pet cat) left home. Some people are still doubtful about Jinxy’s absence and many wonder how she is fairing wherever she is.

Yes, I am at that point of my life, where I really, really miss Jinxy in my house. All I am left with now are sweet memories and a name that will not be forgotten any time soon, at least, not by my neighbor, who still calls me “mama Jinxy”.

Jinxy, who came to my place last year in July, was a gift from one of my girlfriends, who thought she would be great company to me. She was right. She knew of my love for cats and I always told her how I longed to have my own. So, she went out to make my dream come true.

Jinxy and I had a special bond. She was the baby of my house, complete with very clear rules to my visitors on how to handle her while at my place. Sad, many of my friends do not like cats, so they didn’t give her the best treatment. So I banned them from visiting my place. Plus there are those who also threatened not to visit me as long as Jinxy was home.

Jinxy after a shower
Jinxy after a shower

Jinxy, a little kitten

She came in as a little kitten, pretty and very innocent. She looked a little shy and not so friendly. After a month, she believed that she was in safe hands and immediately became very friendly and playful. She was all over the house, entertaining my guests including her many boyfriends. I know she didn’t have any girlfriends, because only those boyfriends were ever lurking in the vicinity and always fighting for her when she was on heat.

Jinxy and her boyfriend playing.
Jinxy and her boyfriend playing.

Of late, I get home and it’s so empty. I miss her meowing in the morning as I leave the house. You know, just like a little child, begging her mother not to leave her behind. I miss her, meowing in joy when she finally heard my car alarm lock as I came back and she would stand by the balcony, almost jumping over to welcome me back. Should I stop by at my neighbor on the first floor, she would make so much noise and my neighbor would go like, “There you go, Jinxy clearly does not want us to talk anymore.”

Jinxy with her prey-live grasshopper
Jinxy with her prey-live grasshopper

By the time I opened my door, she would be all over my legs, following me everywhere and at times, I thought, she watched me as I changed clothes, because she would just stand there gazing, as if saying, “Hurry up, let’s go, I am a little hungry and I wouldn’t mind some more food.” I would start by giving her some milk and she would be very happy, then she would crave to go out and play with her friends, sorry, her boyfriends, and I would let her leave the house.

Fed up of the same old, same old friends, she would come back and sit next to me as I relaxed. If bored, she would play with her toys and if bored again, she would go to her cot and sleep. So for a year, my house was full of activity. When I went to sleep, she would invite her friends over. I always left my balcony door open all day long and all night, so they sneaked in. Should I wake up at night, they ran away, because they knew I did not like them much.

All grown up and pregnant

Pregnant Jinxy taking a nap
Pregnant Jinxy taking a nap

Jinxy was one cat I loved to hate. There are times I got home tired and all I wanted to do was to sleep. But there she was, playful and reminding me that she needed food. At such moments, I felt if I had a choice, I would give her away that very moment.

One year later, there she was, all grown up and pregnant. She finally gave birth to four kittens, very beautiful kittens.  Two months down the line, they were all taken away; I received tens of requests from people who wanted the kittens. Unfortunately, I only had four. So I gave them out on the basis of first come first served and soon they were all gone. Jinxy and I went back to square one.

Jinxy's four kittens
Jinxy’s four kittens

But again, I was faced with a dilemma. My work involves a lot of travelling, sometimes almost every week and my good neighbor, whom I used to give the responsibility of caring for her while I was away was slowly getting tired of my requests. She would occasionally ask…”Are you travelling this week? And do you plan to take Jinxy with you?” Hehhehehhe, indeed I read this as a red flag.

I am so grateful to Renee, she has been so helpful, but I know she couldn’t do this for so long. My siblings and my boyfriend have also had to take care of her, once in a while, and I am grateful for that. I will give each of you a thank you gift.

Jinxy and her kittens
Jinxy and her kittens

So giving Jinxy away was definitely the hardest thing to do. But some things have to be done, anyway. Many people wanted her and when the first person failed to show up the first day, I was happy. I didn’t even call her to inquire why she never came to pick her. I got one more month to be with Jinxy before she was picked by Eunice, another friend. Her mother wanted a cat to clear the many mice that were destroying her garden in Nakuru. We all laughed because Jinxy had no experience in hunting. Things change and now I am informed she has since learnt to hunt. She loves her new residence in Nakuru and I am informed she is fairing on well. I hope to visit her one day.

My small bro holds one of the kittens
My small bro holds one of the kittens

This is just a small note, pouring out my heart, that I accept the situation that I indeed miss Jinxy, but yes, life has to go on. I have photos of her and her kittens and I am grateful for the time we shared.

To replace her existence, I have remodeled my living room and in addition, brought in two living plants and I am excited watching them grow. All I need to do is simply water them twice a week. It is less work and allows me to travel without worrying of who will take care of my plants!

In house living plants/flowers
In house living plants/flowers

A man without a purpose is like a ship without a rudder- a waif, a nothing, a no man” Thomas Carlyle

Women, why women just won’t stop fighting!

I am a strong feminist and I love and strongly support the whole feminism ideology. I am of the belief that men and women, though not equal in every sense, deserve equal opportunities. So for me, it is not a question of being like men, but more on value – placing the same value for both genders.

Women attending peer exchange in Nairobi
Women attending peer exchange in Nairobi

I know and strongly believe that this is a heavy topic, that started a long time ago and that is not coming to an end any time soon. However, many things baffle me about this ideology, especially from the women’s perspective. I am currently a board member for Association of Media Women in Kenya (AMWIK) and I believe that this is a good platform for me to champion women’s agenda for the current generation and even the next generation of media women in Kenya.

We have to fight

I wonder whether it perplexes you as well. Why is it that when women are talking about equality, gender rights, women empowerment, always have to use these terms “we have to fight and we have to continue fighting, the fight does not stop today.” Two weeks ago, I attended public gender forum at the Nairobi’s Safari Club, a monthly event organized by Heinrich Böll Stiftung and the issue of women fighting for what they call “their rights” came up.

Women attending peer exchange in Nairobi
Women attending peer exchange in Nairobi

This specific gender forum was unique in many ways. It brought together about 30 women from across the region of East and Horn of Africa to deliberate on the topic-Constructing Political Spaces: Making Quotas Work. The primary objective of the Forum was to provide interested parties with a platform to interrogate the quota debate, interact with the high level gathering as they share the outcomes of the peer review exchange that was held that week, as well as their experiences.

As explained on the invite letter, Quotas have emerged as a key instrument for advancing gender equality in elected and public offices in the East and Horn of Africa, following a long and sustained push for the equal participation of women in governance by feminist activists, gender scholars, women’s sector practitioners and feminist political actors. In the East/Horn of Africa region, the push for affirmative action in favor of women in governance and the adoption of quotas to create special spaces for women has seen an increase in women’s representation in legislative bodies over the last couple of decades. Although strategies are very much shaped by the local political and cultural context, the question of how women can successfully negotiate political spaces and influence legislative and political decisions in a male dominated realm is a common concern across the region.

Kenya's Easter Achieng (L)makes a point during the peer exchange
Kenya’s Easter Achieng (L)makes a point during the peer exchange

The panelists were drawn from Uganda, South Sudan, Burundi, Rwanda, and Kenya was represented by our very own Honorable, Priscillah Nyokabi, Women Representative from Nyeri county. One of the things I picked up from all these women despite their regional differences is that all women are fighting the same battle world over. They have been fighting and yes, they vowed to continue fighting.

Politics a male dominated field

“Patience, this is indeed a fight and we have to continue fighting. Politics is still a male dominated field; it is not an easy road for women. Our society has a long way to go until we are accepted to play the same role as men. I am the first-born in my family. I have younger brothers. In my culture, a mother is referred to, by the name of her elder child. My mother was never called Mama Nyobaki, they named her after my small brothers. This changed, but it only changed, when I contested for the political space and I won, then people now started referring to her as Mama Nyokabi. The world out here is very harsh and therefore, we are not backing down, the fight continues.” She said.

Hon. Priscillah Nyokabi
Hon. Priscillah Nyokabi

I pause and wonder, women have been fighting forever, do they still want to continue fighting? Where are we heading with this? Can we revise our strategies? Why do we feel that we do not deserve these positions as women? As Albert Einstein says, “Doing the same thing the same way, over and over and expecting different results, is indeed insanity of the highest level.”

Can we mentor young women and see them grow and ready to take up these positions? Is this possible or am I just being too ambitious?

Daisy Amdany, governance, development and women’s rights specialist says “Patience, women face unique challenges and we cannot back down now, we have to continue the fight.” “But for how long?” I ask?

Are we trying to say that women are second class citizens who cannot go for top leadership positions without the affirmative action? I stand to be corrected, but I have a strong belief that, a time has come for women all over the world to change strategy. It’s time to take stock and see if we have to change our system of carrying out our mandate as women.

Let’s go beyond fighting

Prof. Maria Nzomo makes a point at the E/A regional peer exchange
Prof. Maria Nzomo makes a point at the E/A regional peer exchange

I highly concur with Kigwa Kamenchu commenting on the same issue on the social media platform, “Patience, I’m with you here, after a while it must be beyond fighting, begging or engaging in acrobatics for people to see your worth. The women’s movement needs to take stock of where it currently is as well as the context of the situation. Right now tribe is the main mobilizing force in Kenyan politics, a collective consciousness by women of their issues is non-existent, sub-sumed by the rallying call of the tribe. And it is for this reason that women believe that they have to continue to ‘fight’ to get space, because the system has no time or place for them. It is time to go back to the drawing board. The other question would be of what importance is it for women to be in leadership, for what reason should they rally together, what value would it bring?. If the answer to this question is not strong or urgent enough (as it was in Post 94 Rwanda or Liberia), then Kenyan women’s movement will just keep on mark-timing and benefiting a small few.”

Somaliland women participate at the regional peer exchange in Nairobi
Somaliland women participate at the regional peer exchange in Nairobi

My thoughts based on personal experiences and even that of other people who are not for the fighting business, is that, fighting doesn’t lead us anywhere. Empowerment does.  If you are qualified and you can prove that you are up to the task, you’ll get that position, especially on the job contracts, regardless of your gender.

“The meltdown of a self-proclaimed feminist? I always say, nothing can put down somebody who is great. If you are good you will excel no matter the circumstances. Let all women concentrate on being good at whatever they do. Nobody will put them down.” Remarked Anthony Wafula.

And right there is our challenge. Women need to position themselves. Probably, this is the only way, we will eventually stop fighting.

 

Kenya: It’s a sad state of affair!!

I am Kenyan and I am in Kenya right now.  It is in deed a sad state of affair. As it is now, the government of Kenya has confirmed that, at least 69 people are feared dead and over 175 people are nursing injuries. It is also believed that  others are still held hostage following the terrorist attack at an upmarket shopping mall in Nairobi’s, Westgate.

I am not so sure of what to say, but I want to quote one of the Kenyan’s media personality, Caroline’s Mutuko’s facebook status update. It in deed sums up my thoughts following this horrific attack. I am happy that I am alive today, my family, my relatives and my friends are all fine, this is everything I am grateful for at this time. Please pray for Kenya, please pray and pray hard. We need all the mercies at this point.

“PUTTING ONE FOOT IN-FRONT OF THE OTHER.

I’ve been at work for the last two days but not on-air.
Today is the first time since this crisis began that I will be on-air. I’m scared, I’m lost and I’m also very, very sad. So are you.

There are people who have more pain in their hearts than I can imagine and for some, life will never be the same again.
For some, their belief in the power of prayer has multiplied and for some, their cry is singular – why God why?.

This morning – we need to put one foot in-front of the other and with the confidence that only a Kenyan has, we will walk.
Walk.Tall. To school, to work, to hospital and yes to the mortuary……

Step 1 – Today, we walk. We walk tall. We walk together.” From Caroline Mutuko

Below are some photographic accounts of what has been captured following the attack. Please note, these are very graphic images.

Here are the links:

http://jadejela.blogspot.com/2013/09/collection-of-photos-from-westgate.html

http://www.buzzfeed.com/rachelzarrell/terrifying-images-from-an-attack-at-a-mall-in-kenya

http://totallycoolpix.com/2013/09/graphic-the-westgate-shopping-center-shootings-in-kenya/

This is how women should BE!!

“Legs together, face sideways” that could soon be law regarding how women should sit on motorcycles (bodaboda) or bicycles in Kisumu County and maybe the entire nation. A member in the Kisumu county assembly has proposed a motion to have women from the county barred from sitting on boda boda’s with their legs apart facing the rider.

Motorcyclists in Kisumu CityThis is clearly what I call, a country of double standards and I see it as a move to demean women. Does it mean that women will always be the passengers? Did we ever imagine that the said women will one day be the “riders” and men the “passengers?” Just thinking aloud!

From early childhood, girls are taught that their well-being and ultimate success is contingent upon acting in certain stereotypical ways, such as being polite, soft-spoken, compliant and relationship oriented. Throughout their lifetimes, this is reinforced through media, family and social messages. It’s not that women consciously act in self sabotaging ways; they simply act in ways consistent with their learning experiences.

Kisumu County

This is indeed what Kisumu County is saying, by proposing a motion that seeks to discourage women from sitting on motorcycles astride.

I personally look at it from many angles. I am not surprised that such a motion will pass and maybe, not only for Kisumu County, but implemented countrywide.  This is a country of double standards where there are clearly set ways of how women should behave and how different men should.

Motorcyclists by the lake side in Kisumu

My country Kenya, or should I say, Kenyan citizens, espouse double standards, on a different scale altogether. This is a country that has a clear mindset, that women will be the passengers and not the riders, and therefore, let’s goes ahead and set a motion that explains how women should sit on motorcycles.

Many a times, these boda boda riders have no helmets to say the least.  The issue of protection for me is key. However, no one really cares about that, but why?

 If the women were the riders, will the same motion apply? If the women in this case wore trousers, will the same motion apply? But, hold on, this is the same country that has areas where people think it is wrong for women to wear trousers because it is culturally and morally wrong. I pause to ask myself, “wrong, according to who?”

The answer that always comes up is, “wrong according to our society.” So wrong according to the Kenyan society. Isn’t our society changing over time?

When men cook, they are chefs

ChefsListening to a Gender Analyst at a public forum a week ago, Baraza Nyukuri said, it is sad that in Kenya, this is where we say, free cooking is for the women but when men are cooking, they are specialized chefs and need to be paid.

I agree with him. This is the same society where we condemn women for engaging in commercial sex and term them immoral, yet, we never see the other side. The truth is, “Behind any woman prostitute, lies a man prostitute” and that is not something we can debate about.

This is the same country that fought against an advert that advocated for women using condoms as a way to protect themselves and their loved ones against sexual transmitted diseases (STD’s). The advert, which had female characters, went viral with Kenyans and church experts coming out to condemn it judging it as promoting promiscuity and morally wrong.

Now, we have a similar advert on our televisions, with the same message, the only difference is that the characters are male. So what are we saying?

Safaricom's Model's
Safaricom’s Model’s

Two men have signed an agreement to share a woman, and that makes huge news in Kenya, Television, Radio and News papers giving it prime allocation, because this is really huge news. Howcome, we never report it and term it morally wrong when a man is being shared by even four women. I know your answer; men are allowed to be so! Again, why the difference??  Double standards!!

It is time we refined our debate about gender. It is time we figured out that GENDER is about roles, responsibilities given to each one of us and not necessarily our biological differences.A woman preparing fish in Kisumu City

“Power for women is not going to be by invitation, but by inversion. Responsible goodwill will not come from nowhere; it must be done by choice”, remarks Professor Maria Nzomo.

Women have been fought since then, and they continue to be fought. It has been a long journey for women, but the struggle continues….aluta continua.