I often hear researchers say that talking to taxi drivers is a good way to get a sense of the political atmosphere of any place. My experience with one tells me that Kenyans are angry and despondent at a political system that has completely failed them. While I was in a taxi today, the driver was very vexed, and I decided to hear him out. It turned out that he was so ideologically grounded, it felt like I was in a Sociology 101 class that was speaking to the realities of what is happening. He spoke with a lot of … Continue reading Lessons from a taxi driver
“What is feminism?” is a question that I have been asked very many times. Last week alone, I was asked the question three times. As people ask this question, many do not hesitate to share their understanding of feminism with me. The most common ones tend to be feminists as women who hate men, with intentions to be like men and go against nature by dominating over men. After responding to this question during a radio show last week, I got into a discussion with a feminist friend who had listened to the programme, and we both agreed how difficult … Continue reading Every struggle needs feminism
A few months ago, I planned a group interview with residents of certain parts of Nairobi. When I got to the venue of our meeting, I asked the guard to allow me in for the meeting. To my surprise, her response was, “unaenda ile mkutano ya waluhya?” Quite irritated with the question, I informed her that I didn’t know the ethnic identities of the people that I was meeting. Shortly after that incident, I attended a meeting in a different community in Nairobi. In this meeting, no one seemed to know the name of any of the people they were … Continue reading This is how low we have sunk
“I packed my bags and left.” That is the opening line of Dambudzo Marechera’s book, House of Hunger, a statement that I find symbolic, and perhaps indicative that this is Dambudzo’s way of preparing to share with his readers about his journey in life. Journeys are interesting because no matter how much you have, quite often you leave all that behind and take just what you need for a particular journey. I’ve gone on journeys with just a pair of pants, two blouses, a few sets of underwear, a tooth brush and toothpaste, because that is all that I needed … Continue reading I packed my bags and left
Chimamanda Adichie often speaks of how she became aware of her blackness, when she left Nigeria to live in the US. It had never occurred to her that her skin colour had any significance, other than being one of the skin colours that exist. After living in two countries that are not my country of birth, like Chimamanda, I realise that living abroad can make one conscious of things that one would ordinarily be oblivious of. Many times I don’t realize some of the things that I am now conscious of, until something happens. My most recent is the consciousness … Continue reading Where do we belong?
Every month, the watchman of the building I live in asks me to lend him 1,000 or 2,000 Kshs, with the promise to pay me back at the end of the month. He rarely pays me back on time, because things always come up. Although he watches over property worth several hundred million Kshs, his earnings are barely enough to see him through the month. This man walks three hours every morning to get to work and back home every evening. He works 12 hours a day, without a lunch break, and yet he cannot afford to pay 40 Kshs. … Continue reading Obama’s visit tells of a society in need of emancipation