I am a Nairobian | I choose to write

Yesterday I went for a public reading organised by the Young Writers Project in Nairobi & met lots of awesome people who I only knew from Twitter…good times.

And on Saturday & Sunday, I was going through a phase. It was called, “My body is mine…it’s my choice, ergo I want to lose my virginity…” can’t find a taker, though. Being as I can’t walk up to a guy Madonna-style (I’m nowhere near the Material Girl in very many senses…) and express this desire. That sort of leaves one person, X.

About the reading….I went because of a wonderful AIESECer called Lionel Oduol who was going to read an excerpt of his work (read the full version here) who told me about it at the AIESEC (from this point onwards referred to by the symbol @) office at my school (yes, I joined @, don’t ask…). Going to the event page on the Facebook revealed that an high school mate of mine would also be reading some of her work (read it here) & gave me that much more motivation to go to the event. I guess my conversation with this girl who was in my year at my school who claimed that we are inarguably the most disloyal bunch of ex-school mates…so I was going against the grain…with much enjoyment on my part. Good times…

My body is my own, I decided over the weekend. All those people in my life who have an opinion on it that I factor so greatly in my body-related decisions? They count only as much as I let them…and I choose to have myself as the #1 body decision-maker in my life. So my body is my own. To treat well, to share with a person or people, to have all to myself. So I decided that I want to lose my virginity. Because my body is my own & I want to get rid of the thing around my neck the thing that…ah, you know what I mean.

Little problem: one needs an accomplice & to keep quiet when one makes a decision of that sort. I failed on both counts. I told my twin, and E & L….get a grip, sister. Take it easy…you are LIBERATED. The lines I have not used on myself. To think that guys try to convince girls to go to bed with them; this girl was doing quite a job all by her lonesome… I talked to all these people because I wanted to make a safe, smart decision…..but I failed to consider the implications of this question I was asked by my friend L on telling her I wanted to lose my virginity:

“And who do you want to lose it to?”

What?? I was stupefied by her question. The one and only, I said. Talk is cheap, and so is your body if not much thought is being put into the actions you plan. My biggest issue….that I may get pregnant….so  how to stay un-pregnant.

Continued weeks later:

Not how to stay un-hurt. Or how to act when I was reeling in shock at X’s response: NO.

I went to Mathare Valley (a slum in Nairobi) almost 2 weeks ago. I am a changed woman. It is good to be an @er…..but I am not an @er. I know, I flummox myself, too, and I’m the one speaking. Mathare changed me & made me realise a few things. Such as what, you may ask?

I am a RICH GIRL. So what my bank balance was once 11KES? At least I have never looked around me and seen misery everywhere. I had to use a bathroom and so was led to the lone one at one end of the slum. To say I was traumatised would be the understatement of the year. My first thought when I left the facility was, “I would never give birth to a daughter in this environment.” The irony that is life, twisted and ugly; a lady that didn’t know me gave me water with which to wash my hands. Her child’s sex? Female.

Africa shall never develop as long as we think some white man will come to sort us out….yet the said white man is the only one that dares venture into the slums. If it hadn’t been for these 3 @er interns, I would probably never have ventured into the valley (which is, quite honestly, an abandoned quarry). 10KES away on a matatu, a world of differences away. The white man has a colourful story of African poverty to tell on his return home and what do I, a Kenyan, have? I thank them, though, for opening my eyes to my city. And I want to say here: Jan, thanks a mil 🙂

The generosity of the poor. Here’s a cup, offers the girl’s mother, clean your hands with this water and soap. You may be a stranger but I shall help you. The chances that that would have happened in my old neighbourhood, right. What spurs these people who have so little to give? Lessons to learn, I guess.

Amazing graffiti. On the walls around Mathare that were not made of mud. It put a lot of the things I have seen on the side of town in which I live to shame. The vibrance of the colours, the artistic voice of the young people who had pointed those walls. These people the city has cast aside are alive, and well…..and creative. And they are telling their stories on their walls.

I have amazing strength. I can haul timber as well as any boy. I can speak Kikuyu, inarguably the language of business in Kenya, to the benefit of those I’m with. I went to Mathare with an @ intern I had picked alone at the airport. He has opened my eyes to myself. I, it turns out, know lots of people-this is something I can harness. I am capable of so much… Thank you Mathare 🙂

Clarity. I place X on a pedestal. But there are things that are more important. Friends, family, love. And not the sort of love I have for him, the sort that my brother feels for me…. X has a life of his own, why don’t I? Why do I find it hard to say, “This far is enough”? “This is what I want”? Why do we go back and forth and say things in a convoluted fashion? Why do I agree so easily to be beaten down about my body? Part of it came from me mis-hearing his ‘mentor meeting’ as ‘Mensa meeting’… Thinking to myself, “I’m smart, too..” had crazy results.

I met someone on the night of the day I went to Mathare. Smart, interesting, not X. I projected all the things I want on him, then I remembered I have X. Except I realised I want to be with X because there is so much to gain being with him, than to lose without him. Sometimes he feels so inaccessible. And yet…. So what are these things I projected? Desire (yes, I said the D word, so shoot me), openness…this guy I had just met, he was telling me so much, expressiveness…the feeling that I didn’t have to push him to a corner to hear his voice ring clear and true.

I am a Nairobian. I shall return to Mathare. I choose to write. I shall post an entry at least once a week. I choose to write; I have no plans of letting all those who habour this or that opinion of me rule my life. I am a Nairobian who chooses to write…

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2 thoughts on “I am a Nairobian | I choose to write

  1. Mugendi says:

    Sometimes you need to remove yourself from your current reality to see what is really going on with the world. I have not been to Mathare, but I have been to Soweto in Kayole, where I have seen people who have practically have nothing to give open their homes and take you in and share the little that they have… Quite a contrast from the shuttered lives of many in suburbia…
    Your life is your own, for the most part, and sharing it is often a conscious, deliberate decision…
    Choose to write. Awesomeness will no doubt ensue.

    • theshaboozle says:

      What spurs them, though, I wonder? Or maybe the milk of human kindness flows that much more easily among the poor.
      What does ‘for the most part’ mean? That some of your life is up to someone else to decide on?

      I choose to write….and thanks for the faith 🙂 🙂

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