What did my body do to you?

I remember growing up having an enormous appetite that my parents used to commend and me being a mommy’s and daddy’s girl, eat I did. After class 8 I had this, should I call it cute? No, I won’t brand it anything as that never crossed my mind. I had this belly and I recall vividly that after meals I’d be so full that the only thing I did afterwards was sleep. I’ve always been useless after meals, especially supper. This perhaps explains why I stopped taking a heavy supper since I have to stay up and function as an adult. So many things to be done.

I had this cute long sleeved white, warm, night dress that had cute little pink flowers all over it and whenever I would wear it to bed, my tummy would stretch it out and no, it never even crossed my mind one bit. Imagine my shock when I grew up(after high school) and started hearing phrases like:

no, tuck you tummy in honey.

With that tummy you shouldn’t buy a body con dress.

Oh no, I’m planning to start hitting the gym, nimenona aki! (I’ve grown fat). Says the lean bodied lady.

Where did we lose it? Is it the magazines? Social media?

The thing with cameras is you can always position them at a certain angle to bring out your best features. So you tuck that tummy in a little, you pop the butt backwards, smile and voilâ, your end product is a goddess (which you already are without all the posing by the way). When you scroll your social media and see your friends all poised and sharp, you start hating on yourself.

Why do my things rub against each other? I want a thigh gap like her.

Why do I have to sweat so much after walking a short distance? She doesn’t.

She’s doing well. I’m not.

Stop. Stop. Stop.

Stop comparing yourself with others. We all grow at different paces and no, there’s no perfect women. By virtue that you’re female, you have the estrogen hormone in your body that is responsible for your feminine features. Trevor Noah, in one of his stand-up comedies said that black is about size and shape. That with a black woman, you can gently slap the right butt cheek and wait for the wave to hit your hand on the left butt cheek hehe. So why are you trying so hard to strip yourself of what makes you you? Your femininity. It’s your biggest strength. Joan Thatiah in her book, Things I will tell my daughter, elucidates that we live in a society where everyone else, who has no experience whatsoever in being a woman, takes it upon themselves to tell you how you should live your life.

Be yourself. No, not like that.

You shouldn’t speak like that, ladies don’t do that.

You should smile more often, it’s unladylike to frown a lot.

I say, tell them to buy a journal and write their opinions in it!

Be you. The world will adjust.

Love your body. If you want to be better a version of yourself, hit that gym, start the morning runs but do not do it because someone body shamed you.

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ACT ON MENSTRUATION WITHOUT HESITATION

This an article I wrote following a training on Menstrual heath Education that I attended in Kampala, Uganda starting 27th April to 1st May, 2015 that, unfortunately, never got published as anticipated.

The future of girls in East Africa remains bleak as many are dropping out of school due to, among others, menstrual related challenges. The society’s stereotypes inculcated in them pertaining menstruation being a curse, makes the girl child believe that their future is bleak the moment they spot blood on their underwear. In Uganda, 61% of girls admit to missing school due to their menstrual period, the numbers continue to soar with each passing moment of our ignorance and the statistics are bound to rocket if we do not act on menstruation without hesitation.

Irise International, a UK charity, organized a training on Menstrual Health Management at Entebbe in Uganda from 27th April to 1st May, 2015. An eye-opener for the Irise ambassadors who were in attendance and a reiteration of what we all know but take obvious. Providing education on menstrual hygiene is paramount. In order to break the silence and rise above the stigma, girls need to be enlightened on the normal physiological process they are bound to undergo; menstruation, because girls matter.

Light needs to be shed on the facts and the myths used by society to put the girl child down. In addition, men need to understand that menstrual hygiene management affects them directly because everyone is a product of a missed period however much they consider women “unclean creatures.” These beautiful, promising young girls should not be bashed, perturbed or miss opportunities because they are menstruating instead, we should empower the girl child to be bold and unshakable on matters concerning her menstruation cycle. Statements such as, “I cannot trust a creature that bleeds for five days and does not die” from our male counterparts are demeaning, disheartening and exposes men’s ignorance on this global phenomenon; menstruation.

The lack of clean water in some areas, sanitation and medical care has negative consequences, especially for the female members. Menstruating girls and women are forced to use mattresses, old cloths, drying them in moist places this, almost always lead to vaginal infections. This is because menstruation is a taboo issue and menstruating girls are flushed to open up about their menstruation.

In addition, there are different ways of relieving painful cramps and getting pregnant is not an effective method. Alternatively, one can take painkillers, exercise, place a warm water bottle on the stomach and incase of severe dysmenorrhea or menorrhagia, a health care should be contacted.

The constant emphasis on our patriarchal society is counterproductive since it takes two to tango. The facilitators of this training spiked my interest the most since they gave up their daily routine and commitments to come and echo how serious menstrual health education is to us and to our sisters, brothers, parents and friends. You can corroborate with me that most people expect a stipend even after offering to volunteer therefore, these facilitators are an inspiration to me and my fellow ambassadors and they should be to you too because if they can, why wouldn’t you?

Last but not least, this training in Entebbe, Kampala taught me many new skills for instance I was able to learn how voluminous effect one’s body language and choice of words has on a conversation. For instance, when trying to convince a chauvinistic, misogynistic set to win politician that women’s anatomy is not something to be used against them. Therefrom, this menstrual hygiene day, break the silence, become a superhero and help to ensure that no girl is ever held back by her period! Act on menstruation without hesitation by supporting friends, teaching others and keeping girls in school. Be your own super hero.

“Maybe I’m tough because I’m a girl.”

If I were born a boy, my father would’ve raised me to be one hell of a macho man.

Growing up I did everything with my dad. When he was changing light bulbs, I was there handing him the bulbs. When he was fixing the doors lock, I was there handing him the screws. When he treated our chicken, I was there to hold their beaks open. When he went out to let loose our fierce dogs, I was there tying up three as he dealt with the other four. When he was slaughtering a chicken, I was there!

I highly doubt there is anything I cannot do by myself. I have done most of the things ever since I left my dad’s shadow by myself. I have moved out and moved in alone. I have fixed my fitness bicycle from only parts to a fully functional, aesthetic piece that I could ride on. I have fixed my bed from pieces, tightened the screws by myself. Oh and its still sturdy. I have fought my way through a lot of things. Growing up, my dad made it a song that only the tough survive. Tough I was made. You have to stand up for yourself. Standing up for myself I did.

The world is a strange, beautiful and dangerous place. Everyone, who has no idea on what it is to be you, will feel like it’s their place to tell you how to live and be and they will breathe down on your neck hard if you let them but I made a decision way before I turned 13 to never let other people to decide who I am. I want to decide that for myself.

I watched a certain series a while back, The Brave, if I’m not wrong and there was a soldier amongst the 6 who was a woman. She was strong, poised and her demeanour a sight for sore eyes. She knew she had to put in work to get to where she was and she never let her femininity stop her. She did not let superiority complex infiltrated men intimidate her either. This one time they were on a mission to save the ambassadors daughter from a heist and a little girl was passing by the gates. She saw the lady, gun hanging off her straight shoulders and stared in awe.

“You’re tough… but you’re a girl,” the little girl stammered in awe
“Maybe I’m tough because I’m a girl.” She replied with a smile and straight shoulders, her sophisticated gun dangling off them.

Never underestimate a strong woman.

You can watch that here:

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=193478867888203&id=120404095195681&_rdr

It’s one of the most profound things I’ve heard in my life and I couldn’t help but think about it this morning. I hope you never let being a woman stop you and I hope, as a man, you never let women be intimidated out of achieving their full potential by men with delicate egos. These are your sisters, friends, mothers and daughters.

Add this series to your watch list! 🙂

No, it does make you a woman

Bleeding four or days a month has absolutely nothing to do with being termed a fully grown woman or a woman for that matter.

Menstruating has, for long, been used as the pillar in defining womanhood. I beg to disagree. A young girl of 12 years begins her menstruation today(thanks to genetics and the foods we consume) and we call her a woman? In what aspect is she a woman? Menstruating means she can get pregnant, yes. But has it come to that? Reducing womanhood to the ability to conceive and bring life into this world?

My bleeding is not enough to enable you brand me a woman.

What could a 12 year old possibly know about being a woman? Close to nothing, I presume. If you told her she is a woman I am certain that she’d look up at you with big, round, cute, innocent eyes and blink in confusion because she cannot comprehend your insinuation. She knows not the first thing about making decisions, being assertive, thinking as a rational human being, leave alone as a woman.

A woman is the embodiment of strength. She is expected to be a career woman and be a mother. To be dominant at the workplace but submissive in the household. To be stern but kind. To shoulder other people’s troubles and still stay strong in her own. To be strong physically but not so strong that the men in her life feel insecure. To raise a bunch of children and still maintain her performance in the workplace. A woman can choose not to cry now because she needs to be assertive. She can choose what to do, say she gets pregnant and the partner forsakes her. A woman can raise a child. A woman can create a schedule that fits her and make it work. A woman can choose to be a career woman or a housewife. A woman can make her own decisions.

Can a 12 year old do these things?

Can she decipher that daddy was just angry, not at her, when he unintentionally raised his voice at her? No. She will cower in fear and confusion.

A woman is a person who is able to make sound decisions, stand by them, tell right from wrong, be a functional social being and a responsible member of society, one who can exist on her own.

So please, enough with telling girls they are women the moment they start having cramps. Its because of this thinking that some rapists think it justifiable to dehumanize a girl and rob her of her innocence.

Lets know what we mean by what we say and no, talk is not cheap.

Talk is powerful.

Of feminism and bitter women

Lately, feminism has become synonymous with man-hating. When people think about feminism, they think about bitter women. Nevertheless, can you blame this notion? Most women out here claiming to be feminists have no clue as to what feminism is all about and what it means to be a feminism. Basically, any woman feeling hurt or stepped on will lash out and claim feminism to her aid. It has become a against every man movement. Which is a complete distortion of the original meaning of the word. I like Chimamanda Ngozi’s we should all be feminists book where she addresses the unequality issue in Nigeria giving examples of daily happenings in Nigeria. Merriam webster’s definition of feminism is the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. Its all about equality. Some careers that used to be deemed male jobs can now be done by women too unopposed. Feminism is not about shaming men for basically being men. If a man cheats on his woman then he is not validating the feminism movement so women will come together to breathe fire and brimstones on that man. God help such a man for hell hath no fury like a scathed woman. They will cry, mock, joke and do everything to make this man hate himself. But again, not to defend this man but a man’s philandering ways do not make him misogynistic. It only makes him human. It saddens me that somewhere along the way we lost the bigger picture of why feminism is here. Its not here to give fuel our victim mentality. No. Its here to empower us and enable us do things that only men could before there came about the feminism movement. To create awareness that your sex should not be an hindrance to the heights you can scale. This goes to the men and women alike. Feminism is not here to separate and create wars led by bitter women to whom life has been difficult. Lets face it, everyone of us has problems. Yours are not the only problems. I understand, women can have it rough but sometimes its not because you’re a woman. It could be because you created these problems for yourself or they are consequences to your actions and you’re quick to blame them on your male counterparts. They are as human as you are. Remember that. And never forget that feminism is about equality and we are not looking to wipe out and trample on men to make it. We can make it together. Be careful not to fight oppression with oppression. We will be fighting a losing war if we cannot reclaim feminism to the former glory it held and stop hiding behind the word.

The men who point fingers at women

My facebook news feed has never been a bore. If its not Game of Thrones memes, medical students humor (themeddybear) then its Josephine Onyango. Hehe. She will make you laugh- if you share her views, make you lash out- if you have no thick skin and make you cry if you’re the sensitive type. So, this morning on my rare prowls on facebook, I was met with a post by, of course, Josephine and it really piqued more than my interest that I had to let you read it too.

At age 0, my biological father denied my mother’s pregnancy.

Also at 15 I took my dad to the DO because he refused to pay for my school fees. He wanted me to be a tailor. I was a girl. That’s what girls do.

At 17 I took my uncle to the DC because he stole my dead dad’s pension which would pay for our school fees. He is my father’s brother. We were girls.

At 18 my uncle said I will never finish school because I will get pregnant. No use educating me. I am a girl.He is my mother’s brother.

When I got C+ my uncle said sarcastically that he thought I was going to make it to university. He is my father’s cousin.

At 22 a male cousin tried to sell me to fuck a dude for money.

At 23 I took my baby daddy to court because he didn’t want to support his daughter.

At 24 my grandfather refused to pay my college fees with my own mother’s money.

At 30, I met my biological father for the first time, he took me to a bar.

At 35 today, I don’t have a home to go to because I am a girl. And because I am grown. I don’t have to like people who clearly don’t like me and I am supposed to find a home for myself somewhere 😂

Yet you want to sit and tell me not all men are bad if the ones supposed to protect me never gave a fuck about me. Been fighting all my life. I will not hide the sins committed against me!

What happened to you because you are a girl? Share.”

Wow, right?

This really got me thinking. Is there some truth in her experience? Absolutely! Its the men closest to us that end up causing more harm than good. It the relatives that rape our young girls. According the the Wangukanja Foundation survey of March 2016, nearly one in three Kenyan girls experience sexual violence before the age of 18. It is the harsh reality we exist in and what’s even more disturbing is that rape is rarely reported in Kenya due to stigma and a lack of faith in the police and the criminal justice system.

Sexual violence aside, what of emotional violence? This is the worst. The victim is made to believe that she is nothing and unworthy of love and what’s worse, some believe their perpetrators and grow with a self loathing no number of showers can wash off.

And you still wonder why the girl child empowerment is on the rise? Women have grown to know nothing but fight for their survival. We shout to be heard otherwise we our voices will barely be whispers.

Then there is the pimping of young women just because they possess a vagina and what better way will a woman rise than sleep her way to the top? Courtesy of our female socialites, our girls are growing up believing what they see on the media and how big butts are the in thing and how you ought to have a shade lighter of skin to be a real beauty, how there is power in possessing pussy. Is there though? Oscar wilde said, everything in the world is about sex except sex. Sex is about power.

And if you read into why he said that you will realize that he had a point or maybe he didn’t. He was a social critic anyway.

So, is there some form of power of the pussy that if wielded correctly will make a woman formidable?

I think not.

As for the baby daddies willing to make babies but run when they cry will forever be a mistery to me. This is why the male contraceptive should be developed SOON. These same men are out here looking to marry single women, not single mothers. The same women they made mothers are ostracized and accused of foul morals and that they should keep their legs closed by women and men alike. The same baby daddies who shy from supporting their babies or buying some rubber before asking the woman to go pop some magic pills.

As for the women who get pregnant to trap the man, we see you! Yours is a tale for another dawn.

Lastly, as a man, where do you fall?

Are you the chauvinistic, domineering one who believes that women, starting from the ones in your life, have no capability to amount to something? Or the one that defends and protects them from the men out to shame them?

Mob psychology or dependence?

Will You Marry Me?

Have you watched the Being Mary Jane series? No? Perfect. Mary Jane kept me glued to my laptop for days on end and I just could not stop clicking next.

Mary Jane has been around for a while now and I got interested when amidst banter with some lady friends of mine, they suggested that I watch it. In my head I always thought it was a high school drama series till I started watching it.

Being Mary Jane is a series shedding light on the woes of a successful, single black woman. The breadwinner to her family and above all a friend, a sister and a fantastic news anchor.

Her story is profound. Mary Jane sets out on being the best professionally and she has her house, attires, killer heels and expensive bottles of whiskey to show for it.

She works ten times harder than all the poeple in her life to make a life for herself and she does. Until she decides her biological clock is running of time. She dates Andre(have you watched Power series? Yes, that sexy beast, Ghost) for a while, even falls in love with him and just when she thinks God’s given her the sign that he’s the one(after a drunk night he confesses to being in love with her. Talk of music to her ears!)she steps on his wedding ring. LITERALLY. It hurts like a mother and she does what any sane person would do.

Kicks his cheating ass out.

Apparently, Andre forgot he had a wife and kids the whole time. Hahaha. Men!

But just like any sane person, they kiss and make up(more like they fuck at the gym after the fight) and well, she’s an addict. She needs her fix. Andre is her fix. So its all pull and push until Andre files for a divorce and moves in with Mary Jane(bad move).

Mary Jane finds her bliss. Right under her own roof.

Only her bliss is a hobo and isn’t planning on actually marrying her.

It culminates like every love story. Hurt.

Andre moves back in with his wife and she forgives him. It takes strength and then some to be a wife!

Mary Jane had stolen his long time boyfriend’s sperm; David( after which he confronted her) and she almost uses it but smart outweighs crazy and she doesn’t.

David and Mary Jane had started dating way back and she had gotten pregnant and chose to abort because she did not want to ruin her life and become another black woman statistic. So she opts for cryopreservation(freezing her eggs) on national television which leaves her vulnerable after she’s told her eggs are no longer viable and with her age, 40, there’s not much they can do.

This is why she feels cheated when David gets married to another woman because she is carrying his child because that should have been their baby.

She beats herself up for not having it all and what she had done wrong and for a while tequila is her best friend.

Can she have it all?

If you had to choose, would you choose a succesful career or a full, noisy, happy household? Can you have both?

Because, remember, you can have anything in the world but you cannot have it all.