#YesAllWomen

Because it’s about time.

in transit

#YesAllWomen

Because all women have walked to their car in the dark, keys clutched tight in hand, one poking out between two fingers.

Because when I go out to bars or clubs, I have to think about whether what I’m wearing is too suggestive, instead of putting on whatever I please.

Because I feel the need to apologize when I’m not wearing makeup or my hair hasn’t been washed, or when I’m generally looking anything other than flawless.

Because there was nothing I could do about the man who touched me inappropriately in the middle of Gillette Stadium as I waited for my then-boyfriend to come out of the bathroom. IN THE MIDDLE OF THE STADIUM.

Because there was also nothing I could do when a man touched me inappropriately in the middle of a crowded street, his arm around his girlfriend. Because retaliating in the way I wanted to…

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Shut Up, Go Watch A Soap

The #YesAllWomen hashtag made me remember all the ridiculous experiences I’ve had because of my gender. No eye rolls please.

I’m a patriot but Nairobi annoys the hell out of me. It’s full of small irritations. My mum calls them Mang’ore (spelling?) which means extremely tiresome, bothersome problems in Kikuyu.

We can start with the Kenyan pastor, based in one of Nairobi’s slums, who asked women to come to church without their underwear. Disobedience had serious consequences.

Why this directive you ask?

So that God can enter the women. I’m quoting this directly. It made news on some global sites of course. Good Lord. I mean riali, really?! It’s embarrassing how some of my fellow Kenyan women are willing to blindly debase themselves in the name of religion. I was sufficiently mortified on their behalf.

I hate it when my country represents me in this way. You think people remember that the FIRST AFRICAN WOMAN to win a Nobel Peace Prize, the late Prof. Wangari Maathai, was KENYAN? Nope. Majority remember the insane things we do as a nation.

Pastor aside, there are our wonderful Members of Parliament a.k.a. MPigs (most of whom are overpaid, over glorified figures of nothing), who decided to remove the clause that requires a husband to seek consent from his first wife, to marry a second.

Fix the cases of children in the Northern provinces missing school because of the lack of food?
No.

Examine why it is that Kenya is losing so much money from never ending scandals like Ango-leasing etc?
Don’t be foolish.

Pay the Kenya Police enough so they can stop taking bribes and serve the nation better?
Hire better private security services like KK Security, and stop annoying us.

Address the threat terrorism is causing before raising your own already bloated salaries?
Don’t be silly, peasant.

In response to outraged female MPs, one MP on the floor of parliament (dunno what they call it now under the new /not so new constitution), said and I quote,

“When you marry an African woman, she should expect a second wife, a third, a fourth….” Cue laughter from the floor of MPigs.

As an African woman, I find this incredibly insulting. My brother tells me I can’t handle African men, and maybe he’s right. In my opinion, polygamy is unnecessary. I’ve seen it stress out a relative who would be so far if he had only kept one household.

Why, why, why do my African men go out of their way to enrage me? Technically it’s not all African men and more like an 80% majority.

But it’s not just the men. One of my family friends saw me at Galleria the other day and was all, “You better keep that figure of yours until you find a husband.”

She was beaming, like she’d just given me the biggest compliment ever.

Like that’s my goal. So after I get married I should what? Drown myself in KFC and Mayo?

Women are socialised to aspire to marriage. I can’t remember what Sociologist said that. My mum hides it but I know deep down she’s worried I’ll never get married. She winces every time I tell her that marriage may/may not happen for me. I love men it’s just that… story for another day. Whenever I recount how I declined a date with some guy, her face drops. She nearly cried when I hinted at how I may/may not want children. I was told to spit those words. She’s old school. By the time she was 23 she was working, married to my dad and expecting my older sister.

But she isn’t all bad. She has complete and sometimes irrational faith that I can achieve any goals I lay out. The archaic view of women that plagues Kenya annoys her. She nearly choked when my aunt from shagz (upcountry/countryside) told me to leave my mum with a baby if I ever decided to leave for my Master’s.

Family aside, there’s those strangers who after sizing me up give the classic, “What? You don’t have a boyfriend?! Aii!” Since they don’t know me, they have no idea that my singledom stems from my social ineptitude, gamophobia and a deep distrust of people in general. I’m flawed, who isn’t?

Honestly though, must I attach myself to a man to be validated?

Apparently, yes.

We had a family emergency last month and I had to go to a police station. Do you know what my brother said when I called him?

“It’s better you wait for unko(uncle) so he can go with you guys.” He was dead serious.

Now why do you think, a woman would need to be escorted by a man, to a place where she’s meant to feel safe and heard?

“Because they won’t take you seriously,” he said in a flat tone.

He was just stating a reality that apparently I’d denied all my life. I watched this docu by Kenya Human Rights Commission which highlighted the worst of post election violence. There was this one victim. Seeking justice, she went to report how she had been gang raped during the chaos. The police laughed her out of the station but not before they insulted her: she was told that she probably enjoyed it, and anyway, she didn’t look like a virgin. Virgin, non-virgin, why is that the point of focus here??? Rape is rape, fools. Also, because virgins have a look. Such infinite wisdom.

I saw this doctor for a check up and after I told him I wasn’t sexually active he said with a lecherous grin on his face, “So you retired?”

I never started you fool.

I had a retort ready but I just let it slide. Why? My mother had lectured me so many times on my angry outbursts against chauvinism that I second guessed responding to a man who was clearly out of line.

Most of my life, my brother has called me a feminist.

I never put a label on it: I’m just aware of the discrepancies between the treatment of men and women.

When I was younger, questions  on why my brother did not wipe the table or wash the dishes were met with “that’s not what boys do”. I’m talking a couple of years ago, when I was a teenager formulating my self-identity and image of what it meant to be a woman. In his defence, my older brother did cook for me when it was just me and him. Still, we need to reassess what we are teaching our sons and nephews in regard to women and how they should be viewed. But what am I saying when kids nowadays are bombarded from all directions by multiple rappers and musicians calling women ‘bitches’ and ‘hoes’. Women saying, “These my bitches” isn’t any better either.

The other day I was driving my little Vitz, which may I add gets so bullied on the road, that I have abandoned all attempts at getting over my cursing.

I was driving along after I’d left Junction, trying to join the other road so I could drive back to Karen. But oh no, Mr. Big Stuff in his second hand Prado was being an ijiot(idiot) and refusing to yield so I could join the next lane. I had indicated and everything. But when he saw me, he wouldn’t yield and accelerated instead. This is common in Kenya, people refusing you way as if you’re in a race to their house. This time I thought it was completely unnecessary and reckless. We both stopped because we would have crashed into each other. I rolled down my window and said, “Please, go ahead.”

Guess what he said?

“Are you trying to insult me?”

On what planet is ‘please’ and ‘go ahead’ an insult?? I wanted to shout that my mum drives a better car than you, which she bought with money she’d made, so don’t try and make me feel threatened you ingrate. But I didn’t, mostly because he’d already driven off. His son in the passenger seat had watched the entire thing and was grinning. The situation was entertaining to the kid because his father was showing him that women should be degraded, and that it’s a fun activity which should be done often, and as a source of amusement.

It’s just exhausting being female in Kenya (I’m fully aware things are worse elsewhere e.g. Saudi Arabia).

Most men are either:

  • Looking at your posterior when you walk by: I unfortunately cannot hide mine. My friend was like, “You walk towards someone and they think you’re slim then whaaat?! You pass and they start thinking “A$$ A$$ A$$ A$$” à la Big Sean.” Yup, I hate my over sexualised society.
  • Brushing you off: I was at a convenience store when this guy comes in. I was at the till, had my money out to pay and errything. The guy passes me, places his milk on the counter, pays and leaves. I ignored it. Before I even recover from affront number one, another man comes in and starts asking the cashier if she has change for a thousand. Was this for real? I’d had enough. He was rude and I told him upfront. He apologised saying he hadn’t seen me. I proceeded to tell him that of course he hadn’t, because women were nothing in this country so why should I be seen? He apologized again and walked away shamefaced as the female cashier said, “Ni kweli.”
  • Endlessly churning out taunts: Any attempts at standing up for yourself as a woman are quickly met with mockery. Sadly, hardly ever are there many variations from the standard “Go join Maendeleo ya Wanawake” or “You’re from Nyeri”. If you’re going to be mean, get some new material.

Given that some of my leaders, the ones who are meant to set an example for men nationwide, go around making a sport out of slapping women, the only trickle down effect we’ll have in Kenya is misogyny.

I’m not a feminist. Not a man basher. I’m not a cold bitch.

I’m just me with my opinions.

If you can’t stomach the video, the audio only is below.

PSYCHO KILLER, QU’EST-CE QUE C’EST?*

We don’t have Halloween in Nairobi. The trick or treat part just doesn’t work. There’s guards, guard dogs or both, depending on where you live. In surbabia, aka Karen and other environs, the most interaction people have with their neighbours is when you have to yield to their car or get a random letter (which isn’t a party invite) informing you of the loud music you’ll be hearing two weekends from now. It’s not a trait I’m proud of as a Nairobian, but who cares, it’s not the point of the story.

I didn’t even remember it was Halloween until I sat at my desk at the job they’re not paying me to do (internship) and the Google Doodle told me about it. The Halloween Doodle was fun, chopping off the dangling spiders from their webs, etc.  Yes, I have no life.

Of course some people  in Kenya celebrate Halloween, but it must be in a removed sort of way. There used to be a Halloween party at Village Market but I dunno if it still happens and I can’t be bothered to Google it. Wait, there was the Heineken party at Sankara: make of that what you will.

There are a couple of songs that weird me out completely.

Muse’s Resistance – This song has THE CREEPIEST OPENING NOTES I HAVE EVER HEARD. Play this while I sleep and nightmares galore. http://https://soundcloud.com/muse/resistance

Let’s not forget Uprising. There’s something unnerving in the way he sings the chorus. Points to the animator for making those teddy bears look so deranged.

Magnificent by U2. “I give you back my voice?” Who are you talking to Bono? Hmm? It’s just eerie. And what’s with the floating sheet in the video??? Symbol for something? Honestly, why can’t people just make music and leave all the suggestive occult sh*t aside? (I have no confirmation of this so please all illuminati-is/isn’t-real-blah-blah-type people, please don’t kill me.)

Lady Gaga Born This Way – “Doesn’t matter if you love him or Capital H.I.M.” Really? Less than 30 seconds into this video and I hit pause.  Paparazzi, the only other Gaga song I like besides Just Dance, is equally strange but in a nice, tolerable way. Like the guy who’s kind of creepy and has a thing for you, but makes you laugh occasionally and is completely harmless.

Marmaduke Duke– Rubber Love – “Regular except for the number…999.”  It’s stupid but I can’t even type the alleged devil number. I’m just juvenile that way. I remember blissfully listening to this a while ago on Mao’s Show on XFM and then one bloody day….tun tun tun, I heard one of them creepily whisper 999. The wtf look I gave my radio that day signalled the end of this song for me :(.

Neil Young’s Don’t Let It Bring You Down – This has such an unsettling, peaceful vibe and I love love love it. He has such a nice, pained way of singing.

The reversed audio of We Found Love by Calvin Harris & Rihanna. I know reversing songs is so cliché but hell, I heard what I heard. If you haven’t heard it yet, go listen. Or don’t. It almost killed it for me. Probably because I unfortunately came across it late at night.

I Came for You by The Disco Boys – This one, I know I’m a little insane for finding scary. I don’t know why, but I swear when I hear this song it’s like some personal ode from the Grimm Reaper: he’s coming, and he’s going to get me eventually. And yes, I’m aware we’re ALL going to die someday, not just me alone. And I know that the song refers to a past action and that my fears represent the future. Of death. Ugh.

At Night by Shakedown – Classic song, lyrics are a bit weird. Nice silly video though. A lot of people remember when they first heard their favourite song but I rarely do which is sad. But for this one I remember being at my cousin’s and she’d just gotten a Now! Hits CD (no eye rolls please). I heard this song and something just went off in my head.

Kesha’s Die Young Video is so unnecessary. Firstly, what is she even saying? I like Kesha. She’s mad and doesn’t care, which is…refreshing? I love the beat, but the video? I just refuse.

Fragment Two – These New Puritans. Favourite eerie song. No description needed. Just listen.

I won’t even talk about bands like Slipknot because just looking at their album covers is haunting. I’m not hating on metal or anything, but I get nothing from listening to music that is audible yet incomprehensible, despite it being in a language you understand. I don’t want to end up like the audience in Scott Pilgrim, obliviously dancing as the Tukamoshi/Yamagoti Twins (I can’t remember their names, it’s been years) chant something along the lines of “Kill yourselves” over the beat.

So no thanks Metal, I’m neurotic enough as it is.

I have to close with the classic “I was afraid…..I’d eat your….brains. Cause I aaaam evil.” Priceless.

PS. I misspelt Halloween every time I typed it. Who knew it had two Ls??
*Talking Heads – Psycho Killer

Your Body is at the Bar, your Soul is on the Dance Floor.* I Wish.

On Saturday, it’s like God hinted that He likes music because He allowed some crosswinds from the Ng’ong Road area (Club Ichonic) to waft the sounds of DJ Marc Romboy to my chilly Karen window. Being half asleep, I wasn’t even upset by the fact that yet another Under Construction event was passing me by.

I enjoyed the minute long interlude of House beats minus any accompanying dark thoughts. There’s no way I can positively say it was DJ Romboy’s mix I heard at that moment because I was not at the event (obviously) and DJ Cortega et al were also playing that night.

Or maybe I heard my own things. Flu meds.

I’ve been using them to treat my cold which has associative symptoms from hell. Although really, honestly, sick or not, due to other circumstances beyond my control, I would not have gone. Boo hoo.

Moving on.

The link to the playlist I made and turned to as self compensation for missing the event.

http://8tracks.com/looplikesreplay/some-type-of-mellow

Since Spotify decided that the entire continent of Africa is inconsequential, I cannot access my account.  I may or may not rant about this later. I now dwell happily on 8tracks.

*DJ Cleo – Good Music. I think. I’m not completely sure which artist sang these words.

“SKY IS BURNING BUT AT LEAST WE KNOW WE’RE WARM”*

I live in a country where the sun shines nearly every day. If the sky isn’t completely clear like today, it’s slightly patched by some pretty looking cloud patterns. There’s hardly ever any wind blowing and the heat is intense. It’s January and today the temperature is expected to reach a high of 29°C.

Pretty Patterned Sky   Pretty patterned sky.

It’s not hard to understand why I prefer to be indoors right now. On the other hand, a friend of mine in Penn has been complaining about the bitter cold so it seems a bit selfish of me to whine about this annoyingly beautiful weather. I’ve never really been a sunshiny type of person despite living in Nairobi all my life. It also doesn’t help that I’m feeling all melancholy for no reason and it feels….wrong not to be smiling in the glaring blue cloudless sky.

In an attempt to reduce the blah feeling I’ve been trying to cover up so as not to slight the weather, I’ve compiled a playlist with some of my favourite covers, remixes and songs that have been nicely sampled. I know it’s a lame pun but whatever.

Here’s my Covering up in the Sun Playlistspoti.fi/W1UwnH 

I’m aware that this is not a video to the Pumped Up Kicks Butch Clancy Remix but this guy still leaves me stunned.

There’re some sampled songs, covers and remixes I couldn’t find on Spotify:

Ghetto superstar by Pras ft. ODB & Mya sample of Islands in the Stream by Dolly Patron, Peter and Kerry cover of Teardrops, Waiting in Vain by Les Nubians……

Time After Time – Eva Cassidy

Smiley Faces – Juan Jose Amaro Fernandez

One Thing – Peter and Kerry

Thinking About You – Theo & Zonke (original Love Lost – Alan Braxe & Fred Falke)

Call On Me – Eric Prydz Remix

Pumped Up Kicks – Butch Clancy Remix

Beaches and Friends – Hey Champ Remix

Reminder – RAC Remix (My favourite remix)

*Rogue Wave

SERIOUSLY AFRICAN

So I decided to grow out my hair. I have no idea how it’s going to turn out but I really don’t have a choice seeing as Relaxer messed it up.  I can still remember how excited I was to get tongs singeing up my hair, trying to get loose curls like the kids smiling on the Beautiful Beginnings relaxer packages. It started out good but after nine years of chemicals on my scalp, I’ve had enough of the pain and hair breakage.

Anyway, the point is that I’m over it. So that’s why I’ve been “weaving it up” for the past two month. I’ve honestly never been such a big fan of weaves. They always make me feel fake but I don’t have a choice. My natural hair is currently at an awkward length, and seeing as I’m not bi-racial but fully African, my hair isn’t curly à la Halle Berry.

My natural hair cannot and will never blow in the wind and I’m okay with that; the problem is the rest of the world isn’t.

It is beautifully African hair but because of the brainwashing on what acceptable hair should look and feel like,  it falls in the unacceptable category. At least that’s what my hairdresser and her assistant think. They always seem glad when they cover up my hair with extensions. When I brought up how we all have different types of hair she said, “I married a Borana so thank God my kids have nice long hair but they still have dark skin, but you know people normally grow out of that.”

So as they are weaving my hair, I feel like I’m kinda cheating. I want my hair to grow out how God intended it to grow, but I have to attach fake hair to my own hair. It’s weird. Anyway, the point of this is to reaffirm my “Africaness” so I will devote this entire post to African Music, which has always been awesome it just took the Western world a little time to realise that. So here’s some of the African music I love…

First up is Doo Wop (That Thing) by Lauryn Hill. I know she’s not African but she’s African by extension. Plus the lyrics “Hair weaves like Europeans, fake nails done by Koreans” were a major inspiration for this post. Weave? Check. Nails done by Koreans? Kind of, because the nail polish I’m hooked on is a Korean brand. Neon Pink all the way. So anyway, I remember first seeing this video on KTN when I was like eight and thinking how awesome it was that they showed two eras at the same time. One of my favourite videos.

 

Kenya – Walitutharao, aha aha ahao, Exponential Potential….

Juliani. I love this guy. He’s a Christian rapper and he can still bring it. Bahasha ya Ocampo and Exponential Potential are so good! Then of course there’s Believer by Jahawi ft Kevin Samuel which reminds me of NYEs in Diani. Jiachilie by Anto is really nicely chill. I heard him perform at Que Pasa a few months ago and he was really good. Kigeugeu everyone knows. Mulika Mwizi shows just how much Kidum’s popularity locally has grown considering most people had no idea who Kidum was when he won the Kora Award. Then there’s Madtraxx, Camp Mula, Jua Cali, etc etc. Mwewe by SEMA is beautifully melancholy. All time favourite has to be Kare (P-UNIT), Tie Dero (Mercy Myra) and Tafadhali by Simply Thomas but Matatizo by Just A Band which of course featured in the awesome Nairobi Half Life movie, is a close second.

 

South Africa

Aside from Chad La Close being total eye candy and a super underdog, SA is always doing things that surprise the rest of us. Although I’m not so keen on the slightly smug ad showcasing South Africa, “We don’t think we can change the world, we know.” Yah yah, okay.

There so many good artists but Liquideep has to be my best. I still can’t believe I missed his performance at Blankets and Wine, sigh.  I heard it was epic. Double sigh. I could hear the music from my house. So depressing. My favourite song is still Settle for Less, but Still had me obsessed for a while.  Of course there’s Mi Casa, Goldfish, DJ Cleo, Freshly Ground, Toya Delazy, Lira and other South African artists whose songs rock. It’s VERY annoying when I hear a good song from SA but can’t Google the title cos I can’t understand the local language!


 

Nigeria – My Najerian Brodas and Sistos!

Big Brother Africa fiasco with Goldie and Prezzo aside, I really like Nigerian music especially Naeto C. I think this country has taken off on so many levels it’s a bit ridiculous. Their fashion week is awesome, the musicians are great. Oleku by Ice Prince has to be top for me, thanks to SOUNDCHECK on DSTV where I first heard it; haven’t stopped loving it!

 

Of course there are the various countries whose songs I love like Gold Digger by Jackie from Uganda. Orchestra Marrabenta Star de Moçambique with Nwahulwana is simply amazing, heard it on 90210 of all places.

So that’s it,  if I start talking about every country this post will be really long. If I forgot any songs I’ll just add them later.

“I WAS IN THE 212”

The Artist

Azeaila Banks. It’s a little hard to add a Miss to her name. She looks so pretty and then she opens her mouth and it all goes to hell.  I first heard about 212 some months back on a UK chart website. If you can overlook the continuous references to sex in her music, Azeaila Banks is good. She’s an incredible rapper and a good enough singer. Plus I like the way she dances in the video because like her, I have a funny way of dancing. When I heard it on TV playing on a runway during one of the Paris Fashion Week shows I was like, “Finally, some global recognition.” A part of me was sad though, because I’m a bit selfish with the song I like, which is completely daft.

 

Music and Me

I play 212 in the car and every time I’m in traffic (which is often in Nairobi) I have to turn it down because she drops the C-word with such ease.  The “Whats your d”&! like homie” line doesn’t help much either. I’d love it if her songs were not so over the top sexual. I think she has more than enough talent to rap about things without bringing copulation into it.

I really like her style and I don’t think she’s anything like Nicki Minaj (who can be spastic at times). I actually thought she was British at first and was impressed to find that she’s actually from New York. Here’s an interview of her by SwaggerNewYork. I’m not a big fan of cat-eye sunglasses but they work for her.

 

And…You’re On

Live performances aren’t really her strong point. They feel stifled like she’s trying to back up the track instead of the track backing her up. This misses the point of a live performance. It feels like the way most Kenyan artists perform live, like they’re trying to play catch up to their recorded voices. She should perform this song without her recorded voice on the track. I think it would help remove the pauses she makes as she raps which are VERY annoying. They completely interrupt the flow of the song. Plus it sounds like she exhausts her voice in some parts, causing her to let the recording take over.

At least I like her energy during the performances but I’m going to stick to her recorded stuff. It’s a pity because music sounds so much better live.

 

A Little Extra

Now, I’m not hating (or maybe I am) but her performance at Karl Lagerfeld’s house was so random. It was so awkward and so unfitting for her to perform there. I know most fashion shows have awesome music but this wasn’t a fashion show! I swear I felt embarrassed for her. The performance felt so long: not because she was boring but because the crowd was terrible and the setting just didn’t feel right. Big mistake on whoever advised her to perform there. Why would she perform for a group of people majority of whom would probably turn up their noses if they passed her on the street? Whether or not Karl Lagerfeld is a fan, there are things that shouldn’t be done, I’ve decided. On the other hand, I have to give her marks for performing with such zest in front of such a crowd. Yes I know, I’m contradicting myself.

I don’t get why overly wealthy people feel the need to invite a singer for a private performance if they have less than fifty people in attendance. It just feels like medieval times where the jester performs for the blue-blood court. No offence to Azealia because she’s anything but a jester when it comes to talent. What I mean is that the performance was simply unnecessary and a waste of Azealia’s time. But kudos to the bald guy next to the big screen who nodded his head along to the beat.

The painful perfomance reminds me of The Good Natured performing Skeleton in front of a crowd that behaved like they were watching some really boring PSA about vaccinations. Worst. Audience. Ever.