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?

The Parenting Crisis in Kenya!

Crying Baby at the Supermarket.

Kindly watch the above clip before reading this blog post.Funny, huh?

Is there a fixed manual/ model on parenting? I am sure this is a good question that many parents would ask on the realization that they are about to get a new role, that of raising kids. Again, this is a question; many parents would ask even when they feel pretty much experienced in parenting.

A Swahili saying,  “ Kuzaa sio kazi, kazi ni kumlea mwana” loosely translates to, “ Giving birth is not a hard task, the hardest task is actually in the raising of the kid.”

Class one pupils
Class one pupils

Last weekend, one of my childhood girlfriends, Kate visited me for a sleepover. This was very special for me because, for the first time I got a chance to see her son, Lee, who is now five years old. Looking at how privileged I was to get a new nephew, I had to do my best to make an impression. My girlfriend and I had a lot of catching up to do, yet, we had to ensure that Lee was still part of our conversation.

Many are times, he looked lost but he engaged in playful moments with Jinxy (my lovely pet).  As we went to sleep, we opted to be in the same room so that we could extend our conversations throughout the night.

At 1.20am, I put off the lights and this little cute boy challenged me. “Mum, are we sleeping already? We haven’t prayed.” Of course we let him take us through the night prayer making us repeat every word after him. Ohhhhh, that was very sweet of him.

Now, that is a great boy and I am sure every parent would like such a child, right? Fast forward to the following day at 11.45 am. I have to go to church and the two have to go back home in preparation for re-opening of schools and of course for Cate who has to go back to work on Monday.

By this moment, we definitely had become best of friends and therefore, not wanting much from his mother. Even before we left the house, Lee clearly lets his mother know that he will be staying behind with me. After a little persuasion, we head to the parking lot. Lee gets to the back seat and makes himself comfortable.

Kate and I, give each other side glances and she tells me, “Kuna shida.” From the back seat, Lee emphasizes his point again. “Mum, I am heading to church with aunt Patience.” Kate does her best to explain that they will be back next time and yes, he will get a chance to go with me to church or even stay longer. Your guess is as good as mine. Lee, doesn’t agree to any of the suggestions above.

Jinxy taking a nap
Jinxy taking a nap

Drama unfolds when we finally get to the stage where they have to alight so as to head home. Lee, still seated at the back seat refuses to come out of the car and I am left stranded. Within me, I really wanna maintain my position as a really good aunt by not hurting his feelings, and at the same time, I really wanna rush to church as I was getting late.

Cate raises her voice, forcing Lee out of the car before he starts to scream at the top of his voice. We are parked by the roadside. The scene looks like, a woman who has just grabbed a stolen boy. I felt really sad but I had to drive off, leaving Lee is in tears.

10 minutes later, I make it to church. Incidentally, Mavuno Church is starting May series dubbed- Planting Oaks of Righteousness. The whole series revolves around parenting roles in Kenya. Pastor Oscar Muriu and his wife describe various parenting models in Kenya and as he does so, I am thinking of Cate and his son Lee.

Future parents enjoying a stroll in Oloitoktok
Future parents enjoying a stroll in Oloitoktok

Pastor Oscar describes the above example of what Lee had just done as an example of “ Child- directed families” which seems to be catching up with parents in Nairobi and many other major cities. Here, the children as low as 2 years clearly know their place in life and demand for their rights, including right to be heard.

But then, this is not a very unique system in European countries. On stepping in Norway 3 years go ago, I realized that Norwegian children are protected and many know how to demand for their space in life. “Nei papa, Nei mama”  words used to negate what their parents tell them, are quite common as you walk along the streets. Coming from an African background where the society does not expect you to argue with your parents or even negate what they said, I found this really strange. However, with time, I got used to it. Some of my foreigner friends made lots of fun about this. “In Norway, protection laws are set in this order…Children, Women, Animals and then Men (If necessary).

Ok, now let’s ask ourselves, as a parent, is there a real practical way to bring up your children? With all the exposure and changing times? How should children behave towards their parents? Pastor Oscar gives a few tips in the link below as he clearly states “There is no parenting manual.”

Kids enjoying themselves
Kids enjoying themselves

Of concern to me will be, as parents do we enjoy our children enough or are we just over burned by the task of raising our children in the best way possible? What memories are we making out of parenthood? Will it be an experience that we can all look back and be proud of? Do we feel happy as we reminisce our childhood memories? Will our children be proud of us? Remember, our children will be children only once, so what are we doing so as to create good memories together?

“It is not the time we spend together, it is the time we spend to ignite good memories” Joel Osteen.

Mavuno Sermon on Parenting Crisis in Kenya.

Kenyans, When will we be ready?

Women at a women’s seminar

This is one of those topics I am deeply sentimental about. Talk of women empowerment verses male chauvinism or male domination; whatever you may call it really drives up my emotion.

One of the on-going debates in Kenya today is centered on the realization of the “not more 2/3rds gender rule” set out in the new constitution.  The rule requires that not more than two thirds of elective seats are held by leaders of the same gender. This means that in the next Parliament, there must be at least 117 women MPs. Now, this is music to my ears. However, it has been a source of stalemate with divided groups supporting and opposing the gender rule.

Seeking a temporary solution

 As it is now, Kenya’s Attorney General, Githu Muigai who is the Government’s chief legal adviser has now decided to seek a temporary solution to the stalemate occasioned by this constitutional requirement.

Attorney General Prof Githu Muigai

Many would ask, so what is the debate concerning this provision?

I feel I know where the problem is, Kenyans do not believe in women leadership and that is why there is a problem achieving this rule. I strongly agree with one David Makali, a long term serving journalist and political analyst when he said in an interview, “There is a good crop of female presidential candidates, but I am pessimistic about a woman presidency just yet. There are too many forces against them.”

While he has his own doubts concerning female leadership, he does not believe in youth leadership either;  “The youth are not reliable and will not be a defining factor in the forthcoming elections. I do not think they can cause much change even if they took office.”

Women follow the discussion on gender rule

I recently posted this on my facebook page (It is time we voted for a woman president in Kenya. This is the only way we can make a change in this country) and going by the feedback I received, I think we are far from embracing women leadership. In a nut shell, this is what it says, that Kenya is neither ready for a woman president nor any other woman leader for that matter. But why is this the case? When will we be ready? What do we need for us to be ready? I have a strong feeling this is a wise change that we all seem to be resisting.

 “Surprisingly America is not too there even after over 200 years of independency. We have no single woman who has fought a good fight to bit this course. When will it be, I still do not know.” Remarked a Kenyan responding to my facebook posting.

Seeing beyond the impossibilities

Mombasa residents attending a civic education

This is what I offered as my reply: “You may need to change your thinking and see beyond the impossibilities. There are other countries that have had women Presidents and these too, looked beyond your reasoning! Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is the President of Liberia, an African country because Liberia believed in her!”

Still not convinced by my sentiments, he wrote back: “Patience, not in Kenya.”

But what makes Kenya different from Liberia?

He blames Kenyan politics and politicians. From his explanation, I deduce this: That male chauvinism dominates our thinking as a country and this is the reason we cannot have our current legislatures support the amendment of the bill concerning the gender rule stalemate. Because of this, we will always remain where we are and keep complaining of all the vices that face us as a nation!

Women celebrate at the launch of Women s National Charter

Change is important for this country to move forward! I’m convinced beyond doubt that a woman president is all we need now!

Change is vital

Albert Einstein said, “Doing the same thing and expecting different results in insanity.” In a few months, we celebrate Kenyan Jubilee; 50 years of independence. For 50 years, we have had a male presidents, so why can’t we believe that we can usher in a new era with different leadership in all areas, starting with the top boss?

Samuel Macharia thinks it has nothing to do with gender. “I don’t think it’s about ones gender, it’s all about leadership. I wouldn’t vote for anyone based on their gender, male or female. There are women who are great leaders not because they are women but because they are leaders. That said I think the way forward in this nation is for us to recognize the power that the constitution has vested on the people and for us to arise and ensure that all the institutions are functioning as they are expected.”

Charity Ngilu(in white)after the launch of the Women’s Charter

I am looking forward to seeing what the next general election teaches us. There are myths that need to be broken. Top on this list, is the myth that women cannot make good leaders; they can only be good as deputies. The other myth is that women are their own enemies hence they cannot vote for one another. That women sabotage each other in all areas and that many women who want to take leadership positions in Kenya are divorcees and people who do not uphold family values. Some people argue that many women lack the X factor that cannot be explained, but one that is necessary for leadership or that women have too much on their plates, hence cannot take up key roles such as the presidency.

A friend based in Norway, which is one of the model countries that has managed to ensure that equality prevails in almost all areas of their governance wrote this in reply to what Kenyans wrote concerning my post on facebook.

“I find this strange that Kenyans do not believe in women leadership. Could you point out all the female leaders that have been around the world until now -makes it a bit strange that Kenya is not ready for a female leader. I feel that it makes Kenyans seem defensive and old fashioned, not innovative and not inventive at all which I think is important for a country to improve and develop.”

Women follow proceedings on gender rule

At this point I rest my case. For those who had no idea that there are a number of women who have taken leadership positions and excelled, this is an important link to follow. Women Prime Ministers and Presidents: 20th Century

All we need now is a paradigm shift; to change our thinking and believe that change from the status quo is actually possible.

 “Don’t just stand for the success of other women – insist on it.” – Gail Blanke

It’s time for Bold Conversations!

I wrote this blog post on Sunday, so that I could remember most of the things and maybe put them in my own perspective. Have you ever prayed and strongly believed in God for a miracle and the more you prayed, the worse it got? Have you ever felt offended or insulted by God? Have you ever got to a point where you doubted if God is real? 

These are some of the questions we reflected on last Sunday as we came to an end of the July series, Bold Conversations at Mavuno church in Nairobi. The series that has been headed by Pastor Linda Oluoch, has been quite inspiring and I found the last series quite captivating.

Pastor Linda of Mavuno Church

Linda is very dramatic in her preaching and I love the way she contextualizes her messages almost always leaving the whole congregation in unbridled mirth. The Bold Conversation has been about persistent faith. The kind of faith that says……“You know, I am trusting in you God, whether you do it now or you do not, I still know you are God.” 

Linda gave a number of examples in real life. When we are trusting God to answer our prayers, either concerning our search for a job, change of workplace, in our relationships, marriages, in our families or school, we want God to act according to our wishes. However, this does not happen all the time and therefore, as human beings, our natural response is to discontinue our prayers with a sense of offense or disillusionment, or even with bitterness.

Linda cautions, “Those feelings if left unchallenged can settle down into a mindset, a way of thinking, an outlook or a frame of mind about a particular situation.” Many will reason, if I cannot trust God with these simple prayers, how else can I trust him with great things in my life? While at it, many things seem to change direction.

This is the place when we are advised to take a step of faith, and declare that in His slumber land, God is working something special for each one of us and therefore, “Be stubborn, know what you want, pray boldly and don’t give up!”

Great Faith, Positive Thoughts

Almost all biographies of the most successful people in life will rarely miss this: that the journey had not been easy, a lot like most roads in Kenya, where massive potholes are a common eyesore, unpaved surfaces and other obstacles render movement uncomfortable. However, most of us need to remain focused on the destination. When you leave Nairobi for Mombasa, all your focus should be on you getting to Mombasa.

This is the great faith we need to have considering that in Kenya, we have accidents almost on a daily basis. But trusting that your driver will be careful and the rest of the other drivers on the road will be equally careful, if not more, is dwelling on positive thoughts.

Linda encouraged the congregation, illustrating the importance of often having bold conversations with God. You know the kind of conversation with hands held akimbo, “God, I am believing in you concerning this and that. You will not push me away. I am trusting you to take care of me. Remember I do not have a plan B, so you would better act now,” said Linda.

Whenever I hear such, I miss some of my friends in Norway. Many were the times we had philosophical discussions based on the word of God and around the church and we never reached a conclusion or agreement. After this particular service, I engaged a Norwegian friend in a conversation explaining how great and inspiring the service was, and your guess is as good as mine. We started a new bold conversation. 

Invisible Hand, Supernatural Power

He had very valid points. “Yes, this message from Mavuno Church is probably encouraging for those who believe that the Invisible Hand or God could and would always interact in one’s life… And giving hope even though it sometimes looks like there is no supernatural power working and making life move in the direction that one thinks is the best,” explained this Norwegian friend who is not sure that there is a God who is always present and eager to help every human who asks for it.

I explained my case, that the difference between the two of us is our varied beliefs mentioning that, I have always thought that life will be quite boring if God answered all our prayers as if he was an automatic teller machine (ATM). Even so, we don’t always find an ATM working, sometimes you desperately need money, but when you finally spot an ATM, you find a bold message, “Sorry this ATM is out of service for now, try again later.”

“I just have a weak belief. That way I do not get so disappointed when nothing happens. I am just hoping sometimes and happy when it seems like there is some power working,” he added. I miss such discussions. In Kenya it is not easy to find friends who do not believe in God or Invisible Hand as my Norwegians friends would refer to Him.

As we ended our discussion, he asked me to think about this and I am handing it over to you as well. “Is there a chance that our plans are corresponding to the plans that the Invisible Hand has for us? What is the probability that we could have the same plans? What is the probability that He will answer our plans if they do not correspond to those that He has for us? If not, then what?” He asked.

As I discussed this with a Kenyan friend, he had different thoughts. “Patience, interesting philosophical conversation. And I like the contrary thoughts of your Norwegian friends. Have you ever asked yourself whether God really exists? Or is it just a sense of faith transferred to us from people around us and for lack of a contrary belief, or since it has always been that way or out of fear of the unknown, we tag along? But then again, can so many billion people all over the world be so wrong to believe in a non-existence? Bold conversations indeed!!!

Where there is no longer any opportunity for doubts, there is no longer any opportunity for faith.” -Paul Tournier

 

Monica Wangu Wamwere: The Unbroken Spirit.

The last Wednesday of every month, the Kenya National Museum has always had a screening to enlighten both locals and foreigners about Kenya through films. Of all the films I have watched, January through May, one film stands out- Monica Wangu Wamwere: The Unbroken Spirit.

Jane Murago Munene, Film Director

This film directed by Jane Murago Munene, is a dedication to one Kenyan woman who deserves accolades, at home and abroad. The film has won First Prize, Best Documentary at the Pan-African Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou (FESPACO). The film illustrates the indefatigable efforts of Monica Wangu Wamwere, mother of human rights activist and politician Koigi Wa Wamwere, who was detained as a political prisoner during Daniel Toroitich arap Moi’s rule.

The Unbroken Spirit explores the search for justice by Koigi Wamwere’s mother for her three sons and forty-nine other detainees locked up during the clamour for multiparty democracy in Kenya. It is a story of courage, determination and power for the powerless. Above all, it is the story of a mother’s unconditional love.

Many of us know Koigi Wamwere as a Kenyan politician who has stood strong to defend the interest of Kenyans and to ensure that by all means, Kenyans get the freedom and change that they so yearn for. The greatest part of this struggle and which led to his detention was the clamour for the repeal of section 2A of the constitution in the early 1990’s to allow for multi-party politics.

Koigi Wa Wamwere

Until I watched the film I didn’t know much concerning the reality that lay beyond the struggle. Through it, I came face to face with the pain and suffering that the people in the struggle and their families went through every day. Monica and other mothers had to camp at Uhuru Park for almost a year together with other women in demand for the release of her sons and other detainees. In the film, many years later, Monica recalls this torturous ordeal with surprising laughter.

Throughout the film Mama Koigi’s strength and determination is vividly exhibited. She says it is this shear determination that made her start a lobby group after severally witnessing her sons arrest and detention. She recalls that it was a long and lonely journey especially when many wrote her off and thought she was fighting a losing battle. However, nothing would distract her from her goal, which was to eventually see her sons released.

Koigi Wamwere who was present during the screening of the film says he does not regret any of the hurdles he went through. “This was not a matter of courage, it was a necessity. Yes, I suffered at Nyayo House and I was unjustly detained without trial,” he said.

“Kenya is bigger than individual politicians,” said Koigi Wamwere after the screening as he explained his motivation to go through this painful torture, tribulation, and even depression in fighting for Kenyans’ rights.

“There has been a lot of focus on parliament and the statehouse and that many Kenyans only want to maintain the status quo. In our own little ways, we have to critique the government and keep fighting. We cannot give up. We have come a long way but if we are not careful, everything we have, we are bound to lose it overnight,” he warned.

Monica Wangu Wamwere, Koigi’s mother.

Koigi wa Wamwere recalls that after all the torture he and his brothers finally went into exile in Norway and Sweden. (He refers to Norway as a little Heaven on Earth). His mother hoped this would give her some relief. However Kenyan government officials still followed her time and again, and tried to persuade her to convince Koigi Wa Mwere to come back to Kenya, at some point offering her land and houses for her other sons. She however questioned Koigi wa Wamwere’s part in all this and her strong will egged her on. She never relented.

Looking at the strength of Monica Wangu Wamwere in the film, I also see that of other African mothers who are vital pillars in their families and who relentlessly stand up to be counted in times of controversy and adversity. While the government of Kenya continues to honour heroes and heroines, Monica Wangu Wamwere is one woman who deserves respect, admiration and official tribute.

Koigi wa Wamwere.

For many Kenyans who have no clue concerning the struggle and torture that some of these political prisoners went through, Monica Wangu Wamwere: The Unbroken Spirit, is a must see.

Kenyan Salons- The New Market Place!

Women at the saloon in Nairobi

I love to go to the salon, this is a fact! I enjoy being there for various reasons. One, the gossip, and get it clear that I do not participate in the gossip. I just listen and smile and finally giggle, you know the innocent girl that I am(“wink”). Women, I really don’t get this, should you want any latest gossip on anything in this Nairobi City, go to the town salons. And you should you want estate gossip, go to the estate salons. I just realized that women cannot stop gossiping at the saloon, even on very intimate issues.

Two, which should have been my first reason, I definitely go to the salon to have my hair done. Depending on what I want to do with my hair, which is really nothing but simple lines or braids, I take anything between 4 to 6 hours. This involves undoing my hair, washing, straightening it and finally having my hair dresser plait or braid my hair.

At a Nairobi Saloon

I took my Norwegian girlfriend to the saloon with me and she kept counting the hours I spent at the salon. “You can only spend this long at the salon in Kenya, in Norway you know they charge you per hour. You have spent six hours; the least you would have paid is at least 2000 Noks (approximately Kshs. 26,000). Good to note that I never went to the salon while in I was in Norway, I had short hair which I managed on my own and when I finally got tired of it, I did my hair through a Nigeria friend, who charged me quite reasonable, (700 Noks, approximately Ksh.9800). This tells you how expensive life was on the other side and the reason as to why I just couldn’t afford to make it to the salon twice a month as I would do in Kenya.

Topical Discussions

Braiding in Progress by my saloonist

Three, I love to go to the salon just to listen to some of the discussions going on, on various topical issues in Kenya. I enjoy listening to other people’s opinions and their view on life issues. I have two salons in town that I frequent, reasons being I love the hairdressers for their perfect work and of course for the personalized services that they offer. A few days back I heard this discussion and I am actually contemplating giving it a trial. I was informed that over the years, the number of women coming to have their hair done by fellow women seems to be reducing at a very fast rate. The reason being many women now prefer to have their hair done by the male hair dressers. Good to note that the number of male hair dressers is also rising at a very fast rate. I am informed that, many women too prefer to have male gynecologists as opposed to having female gynecologists. “The truth is, men have a tender touch and are more patient with us women. Some female hairdressers are jealous of us and therefore, want to do shoddy work, just to make us look ugly.” Remarked a lady at the salon.

As the discussion got hot, one of hairdressers remarked, “I pity these men that you all flock to, many of you are slowly turning them into women. I knew of this young man, when he was a man, I saw him a few days back and I got worried. He now has long hair, wears studs and even shaves his eyebrows.” She continued to explain concerning this young man. Then swore that she will never ever let her son work in a salon.

My braids almost done.

Then another lady remarked, “I know of a couple who broke up because of the same reasons, the man was slowly changing into a lady, with all ladish mannerisms. Which lady wants to compete with a man in grooming? It cannot happen. Then, he finally lost interest in his wife, because he will spend all his days touching women and massaging them at the salon,” she added.

Evil Women

While the women seemed to be making their contributions into this story, I wast seated quietly taking notes in my head. Others commented on how evil women have become. They go to the salon dressed in hot pants and insist on having specified men to do their pedicures and of course they sit very suggestively. Mmmmm, women do we really do this?

Final stage of my braided hair.

Ok, enough information on that. But this is really what makes my day at the salon. Initially, I was used to having ladies pop by at the salon selling earrings, necklaces, nail polish, shower caps and such stuff. But, to actually see hawkers coming in with food stuffs, tomatoes, onions, rice, fish and even (boiled eggs), I just couldn’t hold my laughter. I had to take a break; I faked to be pressed so that I could make it to the loo, just to laugh it out. Be warned as a customer, if you took items on credit, you will be the next topic of discussion. “Tell you client who took my 3 kilos of pishori rice, it’s time she paid up. I need to go for more stock. I need her number, I would like to remind her she needs to clear her bill with me soon,” commanded the rice hawker as she went around pursuing us to buy her rice.

Kenyans, ain’t we just peculiar, I love it this way!

This summarizes my stay in Norway. I have a thousand memories and each passing day, I miss my friends in Norway!

African Press International (API)

< Patience Nyange, Nairobi – Kenya

When I got a mail from African Press International asking me to write about my stay in Norway, I went blank. This is because I tend to imagine I have so much to write about concerning my 16 months stay in Norway, the land of the Vikings.

I went to Norway as an exchange participant under a journalistic program funded by Fredskorpset Norway, FK. I was selected to represent Association of Media Women in Kenya, AMWIK where I have been a member for the last 4 years. In Norway, I worked for two organizations, Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation, NRK, where I did English features for Jungeltelegraphen, a weekly show broadcasted on NRKs P2. I worked with the show hosts, Sigbjorn Nedlad and Arne Berg, my two great colleagues, who came to Kenya, just two month after my return home. “You know we miss you so much and your absence is…

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