Tag Archives: African Parents

LOVE MY SKIN

I love my skin and all it holds. This has not always been the case. In fact it took a while for me to get here. But as we all know, as we grow, we become ourselves, feel more comfortable in our own bodies and embrace our authentic selves – flaws included. It all started when I began to realize that self-love is the best love…there is nothing like it out there!

Growing up, I remember being mocked because of some of my misaligned teeth. There was a time I used to beg my parents to take me to get braces to straighten my teeth. But you know how African parents are, if it’s not an absolute necessity then it’s not happening. Somewhere along the way, I developed the habit of laughing while covering my mouth so people wouldn’t see my teeth. It wasn’t until halfway through my first year of college that I put an end to this habit. I realized then that I couldn’t spend the rest of my life stifling laughter and hiding my teeth out of fear of what people would say. Besides, I had no aspirations of being in a toothpaste commercial. So I embraced my teeth and stopped hiding them.

It was after my first year in college that I began wearing clothes that revealed my legs. For starters, it was my first love affair with summer and there was no way I would survive that heat in jeans. The last time I had worn such clothes was in my prepubescent days. While at home from boarding school, during the holidays, I was the girl in the neighborhood wearing pants and a baggy t-shirt.  I gravitated towards outfits that would cover my legs because I don’t have what beauty definers and keepers classify as feminine legs. That summer I realized that I could cover my legs or find a student budget friendly way to rid myself of the stretchmarks or embrace the legs and live life. I chose to embrace my legs and live life.

Over the years, I have came into myself, flaws and all. Comments that people make about my flaws that would previously have bothered me don’t anymore. People will always have something to say after all, especially when you are comfortable and confident in who you are. Their opinion is most often than not a reflection of how they feel about themselves.

Society is more keen on pushing these cookie-cutter beauty standards than it is on embracing the beauty in all our differences. We all, at one point or the other, buy into these ideals and even alter our behavior or lifestyle in order to fit in. If the powers that be wanted us to fit in then we would all have been created with the same look, fit, talents and skill set. But that is not the case. We were all created different. It is these differences and the diverse beauty that they bring that ought to be embraced and celebrated.

Love yourself with everything. It might take society a while to catch up, but love yourself nonetheless. Self-love is powerful.

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MAMA’S WORDS – ANGELS ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THUNDER

BY WINLET

My maternal grandmother is one blessed with wits that well match her cheer and constant laughter. Stories she has told us by candlelight, by the fireplace, and outside her house as we enjoyed the warm sunny afternoons, still linger in my mind and will probably stay in my heart for as long as I’ll be able to remember.

Grandma had a beautifully furnished bedroom. It was nothing fancy. Just a small room, but very neat(I carry those perfectionism genes 🙂 ), clean and decorated with beautiful crocheted cloths and simple antiques. She referred to it as her ‘sanctuary’. The first time I walked into it, I knew then why she spent so much of her morning time locked up in there, singing hymns and praying. I certainly would choose to stay in there and write, listen to music, read or just sleep.

One rainy evening, we followed our doting grandmother, and huddled in her sanctuary where she offered us a snack of fried dry maize (It’s a Luhya delicacy). We loved listening to her, loved her cheery voice and definitely her stories. Occasionally, the loud clap of thunder would make us all jump. She laughed – really laughed.

“That shouldn’t scare you at all. You know why? That’s just the angels in heaven, rearranging God’s furniture.”

I was surprised. In all the few years I had lived, I had never heard such an explanation for thunder before. I had read stories in the story books at school about gods getting angry at humans; none of them fascinated me as much as her explanation.

I couldn’t help smiling as I pictured white-robed angels with feathery wings, shoving sofas and chairs and TV sets across the bare wooden floors of heaven. Without doubt, this heightened my awe and respect for angels as I’d imagined them in my mind.

I loved and still love the way this beautiful woman talks. “Angels moving furniture…”

MAMA’S WORDS – THE FEAR IN ME

By TED

As a kid my mother always told me, “Just continue playing with me and the next thing you know you’ll be feeding on tripe and ground maize meal for breakfast in Migori”. I always thought this was her way of keeping me in check (it did work) because I had truant tendencies. She taught me to always evaluate my answers before responding. Looking back now, I look at the threats and they seem to have rubbed off on me to date.

In my mid-early twenties (it exists), my friends find it awkward that I can’t swim and have no interest whatsoever in learning how to defy God and move in matter that wasn’t designed for me. Don’t get me wrong. Swimming is cool and if I could flap my feet in water my mother would probably be grandma by now. So two weeks ago I had an experience that made me re-evaluate my stand on large and semi-large water bodies (tubs included). Up until last week the reason I gave for not being able to swim was seeing my friend almost drown while in primary school. Well, it is a partial reason but I couldn’t swim even then.

The last straw before I was shipped off to boarding school at the tender age of 9 involved swimming. I lived in an area where friends weren’t a common scene, so when I found friends, I was going to ride or die with my homies. My new friend, Moses, was a light skin boy with a face you’d think was stung by bees. He was light for days and had a really chubby face. He cried a lot in every confrontation and would turn pink thus the bee analogy.

The biggest thing at the time was rabbit rearing and if I kept on going right now I’d be a millionaire or a plenty- thousandnaire. We’d sell our rabbits for double the price we bought them and my mum thought this was the best way to keep me out of drugs (truancy) and teach me about the value of money. For the better part of our trade, I got to understand that money earned must be spent.

During one of our rabbit sales, we had to deliver the furry beasts to an individual that lived near a man-made dam. As juvenile delinquents (I was the Tupac of kids), we decided to dip our feet in the water just to get a feel. In no time, things escalated and we were in the water splashing around like rabid dogs. For the first time in my life I felt one with water. That evening I got home, ashy as macadamia nuts and eyes bloodshot. My mum, thought this was all part of my running around and dust allergy so she didn’t pay much attention to it.

Every time I took a dip in that murky water I felt at one with nature as much as I could feel the weeds frolicking my bottom. I was the king of the self-generated waves and I loved it. I’d always find a reason for being late and my mum probably knew I was fooling around but she couldn’t put her finger around it. These escapades went on for around two months before ego took it all to the wretched ground it came from.

My neighbour’s kid (The loudest hungry kid you’ll ever meet) one day asked if he could accompany us to our liquid state. He was probably four years younger than us so that was out of the question. A taboo of sorts. What did he know about diving in water with nothing but your skin to cushion your splash? Apparently plenty since his school had an actual pool. In my denying him, I didn’t put into account of how he knew we were non-youtube trained swimmers.

So on this day I get home jovial as ever. My neighbour said hi, something she only did when she’d snitched on me. I knew I was in trouble when I could smell fries but I couldn’t see them. My mum didn’t even smile when she saw me (What happened to unconditional love?). I made my way to the bathroom and all through the shower I could feel the belt land on my back. I cried myself to the point of coiling my body at one end of the bathroom.

True to my instinct, she knew about my Olympic training classes. I played it cool and this time, the belt was nowhere in sight. “I can smell chips mum, have you brought me one?” Before I could be directed, I had a conversation in my head on how this was going to play out. I was brought back to earth with these words, “If I ever find you in that water, you won’t be coming back to Nairobi! I’ve packed your things. You’re going to Migori tomorrow.” I thought I’d beat her by crying in the shower but my nasal passage had other ideas. I dry cried myself to the kitchen and sobbed through my fries and sausage.

After spending the week with my grandma, which was surprisingly better than I thought, I made my return to the city. I was sent to boarding school immediately after. For all I can remember, that was the last time I voluntarily immersed over one-third of my body in anything other than a shower. From that one week, I learnt two things. Never respond without thinking of the consequences and swimming isn’t cool.

So on my behalf of my mother I’d like to apologize to every girl that invited me for swimming and the most I did was stare. I’m sorry to any girl that thought sharing a bath tub was romantic and I turned down that chance, I’m reforming. I can do half a tub now. And to my future kids, I’m sorry but you aren’t swimming under my watch and if you go tell your grandma, you won’t even play in the rain. To my mother, thank you for preparing me on Tsunami avoiding tactics.