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Have you ever had one of those social media moments where you are not sure on whether or not you are becoming too much? By liking someone’s post every damn time they post? Not because you like them but because you resonate with them? Okay, maybe you actually like them but that is not the discussion here. This week I had one of those. Stories of courage is hosted by someone whose posts I almost always resonate with. And so I always like them. Now the problem came when I couldn’t access the number to book for today’s event for some days. And disturb I did ,to the host of Stories of Courage. I sent them a text and even a message on Instagram. No response. I had decided to call them when finally I accessed them on Watsapp. Now, I’m not the kind to push things. Especially when they involve me getting something from someone else. I would rather just leave it.
But this is Stories of Courage we are talking about people! There was no way I was missing this specific edition. Not with the guest speakers lined up this time round. And that is how I justified disturbing the host all those times. Just in case you are wondering who were the guest, Boniface Mwangi, Abigail Arunga and Jeri Muchura. I’m not one to be taken in by celebrities, and few known characters intrigue me. So why would two of these guest make me break my social interaction skills to just go hear their stories? It was personal.
I love reading books. And of late I have narrowed down to African literature. For a while I was among the complainers on how African books are never found on the internet. I’m even cringing with shame thinking of how foolish I was. So there I was ranting on how I could get kina John Grisham books in those free websites for downloading books but I couldn’t get Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s books. All was good until I started writing more. I grew comfortable in my writing. I have started taking it seriously. Toying with the idea of even doing it for pay. That means honing my skills and improving my writing. In the process of self discovery I have also discovered my dream of writing a book or books. Then I saw Kinyanjui Kombani’s plight of his book being used by several campuses. In Kenya, I already knew authors don’t make much money unless your books are used by schools. And here is a guy whose book is being used by schools and they are photocopying it instead of buying it. And right there again I knew how much of a failure I have been. In my whole being of shouting to anyone who cares to listen on how I love African books, the last African literature book I had owned was in primary school and bought for me by my dad. I had never bought someone’s book. But I had had the audacity to look for the free PDF version on the internet. Shame on myself and everyone else who does the same. To cut the story short I bought several books from Magunga bookstore. New York ran a piece that elicited a lot of emotions on Magunga bookstore being an online bookstore that only sells African literature. In that piece they mentioned that Abigail Arunga and Magunga are a couple. Why that interests me is because Magunga is always mentioning Jaber in his articles. So anyone who reads him, which I do, already has an idea on what kind of a woman he dates, at least some bits of her. And to make matters more personal, she has self published. Like written her own book and published it for herself. How very interesting!
On Boniface Mwangi, I never thought much of him and his protests until I heard him speak during interviews. To say I enjoy any time he is on a panel is an understatement. That guy just makes my days. But what intrigued me further was when he walked out on Jeff Koinange. Now, among the few(less than 5) Kenyans that impress and wow me with what they have done with their lives, Jeff was one of them. Was. I loved how he had used his own journalism brilliantly to win awards not even other black people let alone Africans had ever won. On high school his shows at K24 were the only thing on TV that I enjoyed beside music. Being such a keen follower of Jeff, it definitely caught my attention, the wrong direction his show on KTN has been taking since our current duo took the presidency. Slowly by slowly he has been falling down the staircase. So to get a guy I thought as ordinary but examplary, Boniface Mwangi, walk out on a previously extraordinary man, Jeff, piqued my attention. That right there is a man who knows what he stands for and is not willing to negotiate on it at whatever cost.
And right there ladies and gentlemen, is how I was personally excited to be attending this edition of Stories of Courage. To get a bit of Boniface Mwangi, confirm if Abigail is Magunga’s girlfriend and finally hear what that author is made of.
Without much thought, this has been my best edition. I have attended around three or four editions. Because I have found myself in those people. If you ask me to tell you about their stories, even after hearing them few hours ago, I might not. But I have carried a few ‘lessons’ from them.
Just do it. I know you have heard this a thousand and one times. But all the time an artist speaks, just look, there must be someone asking them how they got out there. And their answer is always the same. They were doing whatever they love doing when those various opportunities knocked their doors. If its singing, writing, performing spoken word, whatever it is, just do it. And keep on at it. Don’t wait for an opportune moment because it will never come. And whatever life throws at you, don’t despair, something good might come out of it.
On sex and depression. On a light note, all editions usually have some sex and depression coming up. Talk about this things. I posted an article on daddy issues and I have gotten various kinds of responses from it. I’ll definitely do a post mortem on those replies and if possible even run guest posts on that. My best friend thought I over think this things since its not like I went through such a horrible childhood. But that “normal” childhood I went through depressed me. Literally. And to say that Africans underestimate depression is only the tip of the iceberg. Abigail thinks that all Kenyans should undergo therapy. Its that serious. Anyone talking of depression always gets people saying “it will go away”. They make you feel like a weakling and a failure for not being able to handle seemingly normal stuff that people go through even worse and come out okay. And one thing Marcus Olang, host of Stories of Courage, usually insists on is talking. Talk about what ails you. Don’t let people belittle your problems. They are yours. Just because someone was paralyzed by a car accident does no reduce the pain you feel when a razor blade cuts you. Rant about it. Shout about it.
And finally, surround yourself with people who get you. Form your own tribe. People who speak the same language as you do. Who understand where you are going. Interestingly Jeri Muchura said that for those top gigs she has gotten, shooting for Safaricom’s calendar, and winning Mohammed amin’s award, it is her friends or editor that forwarded her names. They believed in her even when she wasn’t an year old into photography. Now imagine the catastrophe, if your closest people, think of that thing you are passionate about, as just a hobby? Surround yourself with people who see your potential and are not going to let it just sit there unused. For Jeri Muchura, its her mother who bought her her first camera. Abigail is actually dating Magunga. She is the famous Jaber. And according to her, both of them being artists works well for them. Be there for people. Don’t just encourage them verbally, if you know your friend is good at something, go out of your way to ensure they take it up and excell in it, you never know they might be the next big thing.
I have laughed, but above that I have been inspired. I actually did not know how I was going to write this piece, what’s with the excitement in my system and so many things to tell you about. Reminds me on feminism.
A guy stood and asked about feminism. Why we ladies only take it up when it suits us ,like for example, we’ll prefer to be protected during war or an emergency but want the guy to pay the bills. Feminism has a lot of definitions depending on who you ask. Even Chimamanda differed with Beyonce on their understanding of feminism. But one universal meaning of feminism is this, that women are human beings and should be treated as such. If you believe in that, you are already a feminist. If you add a but to that, you are the people frustrating progress in society. For example those who say, women are human beings too who also have a right to work but when they get to the house they should not neglect their feminine roles like cooking. All discussions should be made with the simple baseline that women are not super human beings neither are they weak, they are simply human. My answer on whether we misuse feminism, some ladies do. But by my definition of feminism, I know of men feminist. Men who treat and take women as fellow humans, and who admit and recognize male privilege and do everything to end it. Feminism is not as complicated as people want to make it seem. Next time you are confused about it, replace the word woman with human, and if your point still holds water then its valid.
All in all, today has been one of those extremely good days. To top it off, I walked around feeling very beautiful. I rarely think of how I look which translates to me never taking much concern with how I dress. I’ll forever thank Kawi snippets for the gift of giving me my first ticket to Stories of Courage. I’m always asked how, it was through writing. At least for once writing paid off. And now I’m hooked. For all those wondering how to attend, just go to social media and google Stories of Courage, its only one event by that name in Kenya.
Otherwise, keep on doing what you love. Nature has a way of aiding those who are good and passionate at something. Talk about what ails you. If its the corruption or relationship issues, don’t assume on the way its normal, rant about it. Women are just humans like everyone else. Respect that. And finally, do you. Follow your dreams, and enjoy what you love.

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