Closest to Death!

lartrne

There was a time I saw death standing right in front of my eyes. The very face of something I had been taught to fear and hate throughout my life. It was not so long ago. About a decade to be precise. I was a young bubbling innocent girl in my very early stages of development.

Before I proceed, it is paramount to mention I was raised up in the private hidden bucolic areas of my country. To get to our house, it is mandatory to alight five kilometers away since that is the maximum distance most automobiles can cover. Then, you will have to get a boda-boda and instruct the motorist to escort you “Kwa Chief.” You will be sure to get there as the chief, a loud gigantic man with a protruding stomach and blood-shot eyes, is a very famous person. Not for his good deeds but because of how he mistreats his wives, one of whom I heard flee for her dear life. Our house is adjacent to the chiefs.

Back then, the walls of our toilet were made up of a mixture of animal dung, and a brown loam dug from the river. The roof was however made up of a tiny piece of shiny, silver aluminum foil. It lacked windows, just a little door made of the raft which wasn’t a door at all. To begin with, if one was unfortunate to be taller than the required one and a half meters, it was mandatory to bend to fit in the loo. And it was located several meters away from our hut as a measure of getting rid of the ever-present foul smell. The latrine was strategically built next to our bamboo stalk fence. All the other huts were to be found several meters away from ours, all thanks to our grandfathers who allocated big farms to their children. Perhaps, nursing the hopes their children will sire forth many offspring. Now, this is the place I nearly succumbed to fate, a doomed destiny.

On this particular occasion, there had been a torrential downpour. My honest and hardworking mother, the typical Proverbs 31 woman, had left earlier for the “shamba.” I woke up much later and felt the need of relieving myself. Off to the latrine, I went, whistling some Sunday school hymns my pastor had taught me.
I strained to open the latrine flap and it couldn’t. Perhaps due to the occasional expansion and contraction as I learned much later in my Physics class. The urge to pee on me increased each passing minute. I couldn’t hold it up anymore. I made up my mind to go pee behind the latrine as I was certain that was one place my beloved mother would never attempt to set her foot.

Alas! Before I knew it, one of my foot found itself in the eighteen-foot pit, all thanks to an opening made at the side of the latrine by the rain, and which apparently, I hadn’t seen. In another split second, my second foot was in too! I was drowning in the filthy, disgusting mixture of human and animal waste! I could not contend with the knowledge that I was drowning in the waste of the most feared medicine man in our locality. That person who always shields himself with leaves and whom you will permanently find taking several laps around people’s huts at night covered in gray ashes. I always see him “borrowing” our latrine in the middle of his petrifying performances.

I gave out a massive yell fit to awaken the dead. By this time my instincts had instructed my tiny, slippery hands to get hold of a branch, which probably a drunk, arrogant latrine builder had apparently left dangling on the side. God bless him!

It was my scream which attracted my mother’s attention, and she came running. I had previously never seen my mom on her heels.
Thanks to this incidence, we now thankfully own a decent toilet.

Advertisements

MY WOES WITH UNDERSTANDING PARTICULAR LANGUAGES (PART 2)

elders1

There was a day I was arraigned before the council of Luo elders to explain why I do not understand Luo. The day seems like yesterday to me. It was a while back in June 2013. The thought that not knowing particular languages could land me in the hot soup had not crossed my mind even once.
This particular morning, I was summoned to attend my grandmother’s council of elders’ meeting. Apparently, she did not refer to it as a meeting. The boy who was sent to call me said, “Dani luongi” (grandma is calling you). After inquiring for interpretation from a generous guest, I set off to my grandma’s ‘makuti villa.’
I was shocked and surprised to meet the entire council of not-so-friendly looking elders assembled outside our house. Comfortably settled on plastic chairs in a circle. I cannot recall the exact number, roughly about ten with the majority being women.
Because I was in my village, I had to go around, greeting each one of them, slightly bowing down and shaking their right fingers with both my hands. This form of greeting is mandatory if you are keen on gracefully avoiding future “beef” with the elders. Now, the elders in my community are greatly feared rather than respected. People say they have been given the powers to either bless or curse someone and whatever they say must come to pass. Of course, to me, that is such a far-fetched folktale. However, I was not ready to let the experiment begin with me. No way, my life was starting to get perfect and sweet.
As I greeted them all, I would utter the only Luo word I knew, “oyaore” (good morning), taking all necessary precautions to avoid our eyes locking. When I was done with the formality round, my grandma ordered me to sit down on an empty chair which I had surprisingly not seen. The chair has been carefully placed at the center of the circle. “Damn!” I said to myself, my teeth rattling together as a result of combined emotions of rage, frustration, and nervousness.
I obeyed and my grandma officially “flagged” the meeting. At the moment, I had no clue what it was all about. I thought they were about to pay tribute to my deceased mother whose burial was to take place the following day. The elders, who were around seventy years of age, considering their haggard, wrinkled looking faces, fixed all their piercing eyes on me. They were my grandmother’s best friends. Hence, I was nervous. Why on earth would a sixteen-year-old Adeti be so crucial to sustaining an elder’s conversation?
Then my grandma broke the peaceful silence by asking me the fundamental question. Why is it that I do not comprehend Luo? The question hit the nail on the head, tearing my broken heart into two. However, as I was so dumb in the Luo language, I took a whole five minutes to understand the question which to me seemed like an eternity. ‘Nkt!’ My grandma cursed. The other elders followed in a suit one after the other, throwing accusing glances at me. The whole world seemed to crumble around me.
What followed was them discussing among each other what kind of punishment they should award me. At least that is what I understood judging by their emotions, angry looks on their faces and their tone which had now raised to its peak. What they meant, I never had the chance to know as I was afraid I might find out its meaning which may turn out like a curse. My life is way much better not having my grandma’s ranting playing in my head all the time. All that time when I was in my grandma’s boiling pot, I faked a smile, flashing out my set of carefully brushed and well-maintained teeth. I hoped to impress them just like what any other ‘good’ child does. It never worked.
For the following ten or so minutes, I remained mute, either nodding up and down or sideways as my intuition will instruct. I pretended to enjoy the conversation whose meaning I could not decipher. Their conversation was fully in coded language. At a particular point in the conversation, my grandma would point her walking stick towards the hills. Her action got supplemented by the other elders who pointed towards the lake. Then they would break into a deep hysterical laughter, and I would join in. I could not tell whether they were cursing, blessing or laughing at me.
All of a sudden, their “this is not a joke’ facial expression would return. And I would do the same. Seating upright and leaning towards the speaking elder the way a keen student does during an important lesson in class. Their conversation continued. I felt the urge of hugging my grandma’s friends for making what would have otherwise been a ‘dry’ conversation lively. I was fully aware they had ganged up on me, but that did not matter at all. As long as my input was not required, I was at ease.
Then all hell broke loose. My grandma called out my name so loudly that I feared the evil spirits must have heard it. I was startled. But God is kind and gracious. At that very moment, my younger sister interrupted the smooth flowing session saying I was urgently required in the kitchen. I was on my feet even before she uttered the entire message. Needless to say, my sister spoke in fluent Luo dialect which I did not understand. I told my grandma in broken Kiswahili, which to me appeared as a perfect eloquent Luo that I would return in the next five minutes. I fled. And as expected, I never went back to that horrible council ever again.

 

Image credit: http://www.southworld.net/elders-as-peacemakers/

MY WOES WITH UNDERSTANDING PARTICULAR LANGUAGES

learn-2001847_960_720

I was brought up in a surrounding where I had the chance of learning up to fifteen languages. But I only managed to gain two, Kiswahili and English. If you ask me, I’ll tell you its because I never had the interest in these languages as Adeti could not see where she would apply them.
From the very second I landed on this world, the universe demanded I should know Luo because my father is a Luo. Period. I obeyed, and I was very diligent in the Luo language during my first four years in this world. Then I moved to Coast province, a land of the Bantus. Most if not all my neighbors communicated using their native Bantu language which has other minor subdivisions of nine languages. The trick with these Bantu languages is if you understand clearly even a single language, you understand them all. The languages are one and the same with a few different pronunciation for certain words. I failed to learn all of them because I was not interested and being an introvert, I spent most of my time indoors.
I later came to know that my mother is a Luhya. I, therefore, had the chance of understanding Luhya. But I did not. I never admired the way Luhyas always provide extra details in everything they say. I didn’t like the way they had to speak so loudly to each other especially when they are on the phone. I didn’t admire how fast their tongues twisted whenever they prayed. Most of the time, it came out as though they are speaking in tongues and that to six-year-old me was super scary. My mother had a brother whom courtesy demands I should refer to as an uncle. He would visit most of the weekends, particularly on Sunday. And they would share stories, lots and lots of stories in Luhya at the top of their voices. My sisters and I were forced to raise the television volume to the highest possible level to enjoy our ‘Samantha Bridal” show. Therefore, I refused to learn Luhya. My mom, however, went out of her way to ensure I knew how to count in Luhya. I still do.
Living in Coast presented me the unique chance of learning the coastal language, Kiswahili. I loved everything about Kiswahili. I loved the way the Swahili people rolled their tongues as they uttered every word. It was brilliant, unique and very sweet particularly when they are in an argument. The other primary reason I had to learn this language was it is examinable, and I didn’t want to have poor grades.
Just like Kiswahili, English was mandatory to know as ninety percent of all examinations is written in English. From the first day, I stepped in kindergarten until I cleared high school and even now as I am in University, English is the everyday language the teachers use to explain any concept. In my first week in Kindergarten, I was taught how to count in English, how to call my mama and papa in English and I learned the English names of certain foods I loved, like ‘uji’ in English to be porridge.
When the doctor officially announced my medical condition as partial deafness, I had the chance of learning sign language, but I never did.
When I joined finally high school, I had the opportunity of learning Chinese, French, and Germany but Adeti never did as she didn’t see where she would apply them. The thought of leaving my country someday to visit either German, France or China was too far-fetched. It seemed impossible and unrealistic, and so I denied myself the chance of reawakening the possibilities.
I was privileged to join a university in ‘Kikuyu’ land. The dominant language used in local business transactions was Kikuyu. It is two years now, and I have not learned even the simplest form of greetings in this language. And I don’t think I will.
When I had the opportunity of interning with people from other countries, particularly Pakistan, I had the chance of learning Urdu. I had become so tightly attached to one of the interns from Pakistan, and she was willing to teach me Urdu. I managed to learn about ten words for a week then forgot all of them, and I still cannot recall any up to date. I don’t think I will ever be ready to accommodate any other language besides English and Kiswahili.

MY MAGICAL MOMENT WITH AN AIRTIME

card

My authentic first time to lay my hands on an airtime, the precise first time I actually legitimately owned a scratch card to use on my personal phone, was several months after I cleared high school. I know it sounds like I have gone bananas to claim I had my first mobile when I was seventeen considering this generation characterized by great technological advancement, but I did. For those who are not acquainted with me let me shed some light on my identity. I am Nyar Jimo, daughter of the soils of Nyakach (a little known district in the interior of Nyanza Province, Kenya, made up of very hardworking individuals who earn an honest living), raised up in a modern family that wholeheartedly embraces traditional standard of living. For example, we do not make our tea using chemically processed milk, we like it raw. We contentedly leave alone electric cookers and in its place use jikos to cook our meals. We are not afraid to prepare raw fish or chicken from scratch, we till our own land, we have never found askari a necessity as we cheerfully sleep next to our rungus fully primed to face any intruder who may attempt to steal our sleep among many other improvised activities you can certainly guess… Owning a phone is usually left for the highly educated, those who have fully satisfied serikali requirements by magnificently completing their high school education. Actually it is not a written law, no one has ever said such rules hold water, not even my papa. This rule is one of the natural phenomenon I would gladly add as the eighth wonder of the world. It is complicated to explain…Or maybe it was for the reason that no one had ever dared to confront my papa, a handsome old man who rarely tolerates nonsense.

There I was, standing before a sturdy shopkeeper buying my own airtime. As he detached it from a bunch of others, I felt like he would tear it into two. I held my breath like a prospective suitor who had just revealed his intents to the father of his expected fiancee. He queried if he could scratch it for me and I yelled a big “NO!” That was my first scratch card and I desired to do the whole kit and caboodle on my own. I gave out a deep exhalation of relief when I finally had it on my fingers. I went home, switched off the TV, turned on the lights then stared in awe at the credit card. I smiled at it. Such an imperative task required absolute silence. I read keenly every freaking information on it. Observed its color acutely. Then I turned its other side. It read something like Dial *130*16-pin digits#…”Cool”, I thought. “But where are the 16 pin digits? I can’t see it,” I couldn’t see it at all. I had deeply counted the number of digits on the fine-looking scratch card and it still didn’t amount to sixteen. “Math error,” I thought and recounted again. Then it finally dawned on me there was a place written scratch gently behind the card. I chuckled at my extreme level of obliviousness. I tried scratching gently with my nails but they were too short and nothing came out. I went all over the room looking for a coin to perform this so important task. I found one, a one shilling coin I must had forgotten about a week ago. “How gentle is gently?” I inquired at no one in particular. I remember holding the coin so diligently, rubbing the scratch card as though it were a new born baby, strategically beginning the task from the furthest corner of the silver coating that the supposed 16 digits had been hidden yet no figure came to vicinity. My heart nearly bounced a bit. Had the shopkeeper sold me a counterfeit card? I inquired alarmed.

But alas! My elder sister came in at that instant disrupting the unique moment. “Ni nini hiyo unafanya? Enda uwashe jiko!!” Like a sheep, I obeyed intending to finish my mission once the jiko was lit but it never was. I came, found my ‘I know it all sister’ had already scratched it on my behalf and had even gone ahead to subscribe to some service she claimed will automatically double the amount of data I had. Oh men! How she ruined it!

Image credit: http://techmoran.com/slashair-com-wants-kills-scratch-cards-paperless-airtime-topup-solutions/

THIS IS NOT THE LIFE I WANTED TO LIVE

LAWYER

This is not the life I wanted to live. I wanted to have my own family, a good job and lead a quiet life. That was what I yearned for and I was so certain I was going to have it. I worked hard for more than twenty years following the education system you had already established hoping that it would lead me to my land of milk and honey. I faithfully sat for all the exams you had set to clarify whether I was really worth the life I wanted to live and I excelled in them. I managed to grab a slot in the best institution you had accredited; an institution you were satisfied would produce a lawyer fully baked as you had hoped. My dreams nearly came to pass. After graduating and securing my dream job with a very promising firm, I was certain my dreams had come to pass. Of course it had as long as I was ‘playing safe’.

I was comfortable with my life until the cries of my people reached my ears. ” Where are our activists?” they cried, almost pleading. I played deaf for quite some time until I could no longer take it. I strengthened my hands and dug deeper into cases no one dared pursued. You see in my country, all cases are safe to take as long as you are not opposing the ‘ high and mighty’. The longer you stay and the deeper you dig, the more you will understand.

I went ahead and took such cases for the sake of the oppressed and my life has never been the same again. I have formed numerous enemies but it is a act that i you don’t have enemies, there is nothing you have really stood up for. I can no longer walk in public as i wish. My identity is always concealed under blonde wigs and heavy makeup. I can no longer live my life in one place, am always on the run like a fugitive because my precious lie is always in danger. I have never admired a gun but i am forced to posses it. Yes,  i always do this just to fight for my people.

fighting you is like fighting the wind. You have ensured everyone knows just how powerful you are. No justice as always. But why am I trying so hard? Is there any pay for it? The answer is a big NO but i am confident someone somewhere is looking up to me. One day that generation will rise against you and finally defeat you. Probably at that time, the men you hired to take away my life would have completed their assignment…

 

CHANGING LIVES THROUGH MUSIC

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Have you ever heard about East Africa Gospel Awards? Meet Faith Daksha, the founder of the award. She shares about her music career and her fashion design enterprise.

What strikes you first about her is her humility. She is among the lucky few who were able to identify their talent while still young. “I used to perform in school parades, Christian Union and church gatherings since I was in class four at Baba Dogo Primary School. I also began composing my own songs,” she says.

She attended three different high schools including Baba Dogo High School and Mathare Community Outreach Secondary School. “When I cleared high school, my sponsors granted me a trip to Malawi, it was really fun.” She confesses she had set her mind completely in pursuing music related career. When I inquired about her parents’ reaction to her career choice, she says, ” My parents ‘left’ me when I was in class seven. I had the freedom of choosing whatever course I wanted to enroll in.” She studied video production at Dice Ministry and graduated in 2013.

Two of her songs; Kule Kule and Jesus never disappoints can be accessed in you tube. She has also collaborated with well-known musicians like Hellen Mtawali, Absalom, Danny Gift, Boss m.o.g and Papa Sammy. “I sing for my God, He has brought me this far,” she adds. She is currently working on an album which will be released in late September during the official launch of East Africa Gospel Awards at Safari Park Hotel. ” East Africa Awards will be recognizing talented gospel musicians in East Africa Region who are committed to spreading the Good News through music. We will also be mentoring upcoming musicians. Many people are really gifted in singing but they lack someone to guide them. We are working hand in hand with giant companies to make it a success,” she says.

Besides music, she owns a fashion design business, Daksha Designs which majorly deals with African attire. ” I love everything about fashion and design, which is why I came up with Daksha Designs. Daksha is an Indian name meaning son of a king.” Unlike many fashion businesses, with Daksha Designs everything can be done from the comfort of one’s home. ” As long as you have specified your body size measurements and the kind of design you want, we sew, package and deliver them to your door step. Prices vary depending on the kind of design you have requested. It ranges from 500 to 3000 Kenyan shillings. We are based along Thika Road, Nairobi.”

Her hobbies include designing, cooking, singing and travelling. Concerning her future plans, she says she hopes to own a recording studio. ” I also want to expand Daksha Designs; I want to create a brand. I believe East Africa Gospel Awards will have impacted musicians positively. The biggest challenge remains getting finances,” says the soft-spoken young lady. ” Single!” she immediately interjects accurately guessing what my next question will be.

She advises anyone who has a great dream to fully trust in God and act according to their faith. ” Don’t give up, its only a matter of time before things work out,” she concludes.

To make an order on any designer attire you may want, kindly get in touch through their Facebook page; Daksha Designs.
image

THIS IS HOW YOU WILL KNOW IT’S YOUR TALENT

got talent

Do you know what your talent is? If yes, how did you discover that it is your talent? Did your family and friends first tell you, then you went ahead to explore it? Or did you first realize it, worked on it then showed the world that it is your talent? If you still don’t know your talent, have you ever wondered how others discovered theirs? Well, you need not to worry, I will share one of the ways you may discover what your talent truly is.

The mind is the source of all talents. To discover what your talent is, you need to know how you best express the idea or issue that is burning inside you. How do you express your emotions to the world? How will the world know you are angry, curious or excited? Do you write your emotions down? Do you recite them like a poem? Do you sing them? Or do you draw them? Which medium do you use?

Are you fond of taking actions based on your emotions? When you are frustrated, do you run for miles and miles or do you release your stress in a punching bag or pillow? If yes, try exploring athletics or boxing. When someone passes unfair judgement on you, do you try to reason with them or give them alternatives? If yes, try exploring leadership or public speaking. When you encounter beggars on streets, are you moved by their current situation to the point that you do all you can to help them? If yes, you are greatly gifted in mercy. Ordinary people will reason that poor decisions brought them on streets instead of coming up with ways to help them. When you want to express your unique culture, do you come up with unique fashion designs or make jewelry? If yes, that is your territory. When you identify a pressing problem in your community, do you try designing apps, web pages or coming up with unique technology that address the problem? Are you quick in identifying market gaps in your community? Try exploring entrepreneurship. Do you love taking lots of pictures? Try modelling.

What you do best with least amount of effort is your talent. In other words, it’s what you do when you stop doing what you were told to do. Some pass their exams without even trying. Others are good in interior designing, cooking or hair dressing. The list is endless.

However, our society glorifies some talents at the expense of others. Singing, dancing, acting, leadership and public speaking are fully recognized while others like mercy, cooking and interior designing are completely neglected. The society expects everyone to know how to do them but the reality is that some do it better than most and go unacknowledged.

Everyone has a talent. The task is to discover what your talent is and put it to good use. Our talents are our way of serving humanity. We don’t use it for our own benefits but for the benefits of others. If you know what your talent is, please invest in it. Your profession may present you many opportunities but your talent will take you much further. After all, you didn’t choose them; they chose you and believed you are the best person to have them!