..and watch the me that I create.

I was asked why I don’t hope in something some days ago. And I gave an honest answer. That I’ve tried that before and I didn’t get what I hoped for. I’ve wanted things so badly just to end up scarred so badly. I have believed in people just for them to turn around and shoot at me. I have raised my hopes high just to not be shortlisted.

But as I sat down today, I realized that one way or another, I always get what I wish for. Problem is, I rarely wish for stuff.

Instead I hide my heart in walls where it can’t be hurt, but that means it can’t be made happy too. It means I aimed for ‘good’ things, or other average things, not too high, lest I fail and die from the failure. It means I give myself to people in bits and pieces, lest they are unable to handle the full me. It means I walk around occupying the least space, lest I show them how I look when inflamed and fully myself.

Out of the four travel destinations that I had for this year, 3 have come to pass. Only 1 remaining. All of them were funded by other people. You could call that luck or coincidence. But I believe in neither. I don’t think its a coincidence that I have only gone to the specific places that were in my bucket list.

Nevertheless, I am an evolving human being. A friend of mine described me that way. I had never used those words, though nothing could be truer about me. That i’m that cat with more than 9 lives.

Its like I die every single season. And the me that resurrects is usually very different but obviously an updated better version. Its the reason I wouldn’t delete the posts I wrote here a long time ago, even when I now don’t endorse some of those messages like Christianity. That was still me. I am not embarrassed about it. Because without that me, there wouldn’t be this me. So I honour myself by acknowledging how far we’ve come and how far we’ll go.

Speaking of how far I can go, it is on that note that I imagine. I’ve always been afraid of letting my mind be free. Because for me to imagine is to hope, and to hope is to believe, and to believe is to work towards making it a reality. Previously I was worried about that. Reality. Because things didn’t go my way a bit too often. And that made me afraid.

But then, what am I without imagination?

If there is a man whose mind I bow down to in admiration, it is Ngugi wa Thiong’o. That man wakes up all my cells in my brain. Who comes up with satire like that? I have read hundreds of books, and I have never encountered satire served while hot the way Ngugi does it. If I believed in heaven, Ngugi would be the saint I would be looking forward to meet first.

But what caught my attention in regards to Ngugi and allowing myself to imagine, is knowing that he wrote the current book that i’m reading; Devil On The Cross, while in prison.

Its not as much as writing while in prison that caught my attention, it is more about, a man deprived of food, writing a whole book based on a feast. It is about a man experiencing the worst that a government can do to its own, still envisioning brighter days for his country. It is a man with the worst reality, imagining the best one yet, that he will most probably never experience.

And as I set out to define my self for myself, I realize that either way, whether I define tomorrow or not, I shall see tomorrow. So wouldn’t it be better to live it in my own terms? It feels so damn good to tick a bucket list. I have gone to beautiful places that weren’t in my bucket list, but the places I enjoyed most, the places my soul got birthed anew, were those ones in my bucket list.

I have been heartbroken thoroughly, but there is a particular sourness to a heartbreak from a person I chose purposely unlike those who chose me and I just went along. I am in no way endorsing heartbreaks, I just think its more worth it if it was entirely of my own doing than of circumstances.

I didn’t want to sound like a motivational speaker. God knows my beef with that career is indescribable. But there are few things that I’ve written down as goals or wishes or dreams that haven’t come to pass. It reached a point I was scared of writing bigger dreams down. I didn’t understand why at that point, but as I later understood, it was because I didn’t believe I was worth it. Others seemed better suited for that kind of greatness.

But a sun can only be dimmed for so long before she asserts herself. And an ocean called a lake for a short while before she reminds them what she is capable of. So I take a pen and a paper and allow my mind to envision itself wherever it wants. I discard my reality and go to far away places. Or better yet, I use the reality that I don’t like to find out what I like.

And I can feel my soul waking up. Imagining is like food to my soul. As I said, it gives it hope. Hope brings me alive. My best part in Sarafina was that last moment before the final song, when Sarafina gives a speech. A hopeful speech. That part used to light me up as a small kid. I didn’t know what apartheid was exactly, but I could tell that ,that expression on her face as she spoke, belonged to a person who doesn’t yet have what they want, but not only can they see it, they can feel it too in their bones.

A while ago I wrote that I wanted someone, anyone to call me back to life. Turns out that only I can do that. And when we say we are fully human and fully God, they scorn at us and call it blasphemy. But how can they explain the fact that some of us die and resurrect ourselves back to life?

Anyway, a new dawn is upon me. It feels so damn good to start anew. Someone told me that I only write about sad things here. While it is true, that my sad self is the better writer, it is also true that unlike sadness, happiness radiates itself too brightly to be captured in words. At least for me. Sadness is the moon up there alone, sometimes full , sometimes half, but still describable. While happiness are the Sun’s rays. How do you capture them well in words? Yes, they are there but in an elusive kind of way.

But who knows? Maybe one day i’ll serenade you with happy stories. For now, you sit back, and watch the me that I create.

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Lamu, most pristine place in Kenya?

This is the most pristine place I’ve ever been. I can confidently say its not overrated. If you love yourself you should visit Lamu at least once in your lifetime. At least once.

Unlike Mombasa or Malindi, its very homely. Everyone greets you on the streets, especially in Lamu town. Before I came here, terms like Shela town and Lamu confused me. Besides being the name of a county, Lamu is an island. People pay less than 200 shillings to get here from the mainland. The old town, where people built houses over 600 years ago, is a UNESCO Heritage site.

The island has a beach on one side. Like an hours walking distance from the town, or you can pay a 100bob from the town. Shela is part of Lamu island. Its just where the beach is at. Because of this, most hotels in Shela are pricier than those in Lamu town.

Speaking of accommodation, I have totally loved Lamu as a tourist destination. It caters for everyone. You can find a place to sleep in regardless of your budget. Made even more affordable by platforms like airbnb, and Jumia travel. A millionaire will fit in perfectly and feel at home as well as that solo traveller who has saved the few pennies she had to treat herself.

Speaking of Solo travellers, I think its always cheaper to travel as a group or even two. Things like accommodation reduce significantly in price when you sleep in a double room and cost share compared to sleeping in your room, or even boat rides you can negotiate as a group.

But this is pure heaven for a solo traveller. Its safe. Extremely safe. I know most people don’t associate Lamu with safety, but it is. I don’t think anyone has attacked the island itself so far, all said attacks have been on the mainland, which is Lamu County. So when the media keeps on saying bandits or alshabaab in Lamu, its not the tourist destination they are referring to, it’s inland towns like mpeketoni.

Plus I think the small population makes it more safe. Its like everyone know each other. Even in our deras, people could still spot that we were visitors. And due to the small population, when you travel during the low season, the beach is almost empty. You can even walk nude for a few minutes without encountering anyone from afar. Which is a heaven on earth for solo travellers concerned with their safety. You can just swim in the ocean and no one will touch or even get near your things unlike other coastal towns.

Which makes this place pristine. Everything about it has a way of making you feel as though it was just like that a millennium ago. Its so untouched. Everything from the sand dunes to the houses to the dhows.

On activities, I think that will depend on you. I think you should go to Mombasa or Malindi if you feel energetic, Lamu is so laid back that i think it would be wasted on you if you came and didn’t sit still and just take in this serenity. For the adventurous, activities like snorkelling exist. For the laid back, take a tour in the old town, eat their food, swim in Manda, and relax. You won’t have missed much.

But by all means, take the sunset cruise, that is a must do. Its just as the word describes, a cruise around the waters during sunset. I don’t even know how to explain it. Its so damn heavenly.

Otherwise, even if its the last thing you’ll do before your die, visit lamu. It’ll give you a glimpse of the heaven you are headed to.

Nairobi to Lamu by Rail and Road.

Travelling to any part of your country shouldn’t be an extreme sport. That’s what I was thinking as that guy described his trip to Lamu. But knowing how my soul is attracted to extreme sports, i knew that a flight was out of question now, I would go to Lamu and ensure I got the police escort this guy was describing.

And as my dream came to pass yesterday and today, I think that guy exaggerated a bit. But seeing that he attracted four local tourists to Lamu, maybe the tourism ministry should hire him.

From Nairobi to Mombasa we traveled using the Standard Gauge Railway. And though patriotic to my country, i think the only good thing with it, is the time it takes. Which i’m still disappointed with anyway. I remember the first time I saw the maximum speed being 120km/hr and I was shook. Buses on Mombasa road cruise at higher speeds than that, which is dangerous anyway, and here is our world class train trailing itself at the same speed. But seeing that there is no jam or potholes on the railway line, it ends up being an hour or two faster than the buses.

And then there is the scenery. It gives you a glimpse into the savannah grassland, something not many Kenyans are familiar with. And if you are lucky, you’ll get to see elephants and giraffes when you pass through Tsavo park. For the introspective ones at heart, a window seat in the SGR is definitely a treat.

Once in Mombasa the heat catches up with you. But luckily we arrived at night, so we weren’t that toasted by the heat. Though we still had to sleep with the fans on.

For the bus to Lamu, we chose Tawakal. From the online reviews we had googled, the fare was 800 or so, but we found it at 1300. The distance is 320 kilometres from Mombasa to Lamu. It’s not that far, but the roads are quite rough thus the bus takes 8 or so hours, plus the various stops on the way compound matters.

What surprised me was the vegetation along the way. In my head, I expected tall palm trees all along the way. Like its hot, but there is also water and humidity from the ocean being nearby.

Right after Malindi, the vegetation changes from green leafy trees to short green shrubs. It’s like a wet desert. The plants have characteristics of desert plants, from thorny shrubs to spiky short dense acacia looking like shrubs. But they are green. Like the way plants in dry places look like immediately after the rains. That shocked me tremendously. It was the opposite of what I expected. Plus how is it so yet I don’t think water is such a problem huku?

Anyway, you know you are in Lamu County when you start seeing patches of water everywhere. And the palm trees return. Looking all sexy in their tallness and shapes.

And yes, at some point we were escorted by the police, it just wasn’t as dramatic as that guy had made it seem. We had left with the 7am bus. It had picked us up at mtwapa. By around 9.30 am we had a stopover at Malindi. There are various police checks after that where everyone lines up with their National Identification cards.

Mokowe is like the last town the buses reach before dropping people going to the islands at the dock where people take a boat to Lamu. It was such a sweet relief getting to Lamu town. The people are so friendly (duh!)

I haven’t given you a scary story like that guy did, but I hope you now realise how easy it is to cross over from your routine place to Lamu.

Bee sting.

Mbichagraphy

I got stung by a bee today. For the first time in my life. It saw the back of my head, chose a spot and zoomed in. I had to remove it physically.

At first it was just a painful sting, and then a few minutes later, the pain increased to almost unbearable levels. I could feel the specific place it stang pulsating with pain.

If I believed in omens, I would have googled to see if being bitten by bees is a sign of good luck or something equally frivolous( hehe) .

And as I entered the house, I wanted to tell someone about that bee sting. I was itching to share it with someone who gets it. I didn’t get to tell anyone.

Do you get lonely? We asked ourselves a while ago with my friends. It was a vulnerable question, at least for me. Because admitting that I do , meant admitting that I needed people, that I needed someone to tell about a bee sting.

And I’ve lived my whole life aspiring to never need people. I discard humans who look and act like they don’t need me as fast as I unfollow misogynists from my social media timelines.

Needing human beings would require me to admit that the ones I once needed weren’t there for me. And that hurt. And that made me feel less worthy. And they failed me.

It will require me to let go of my defence mechanisms. Defence mechanisms are there for a reason. A nation doesn’t train its military for fun purposes. Same with my insides. They didn’t build those walls because they were idle.

Allowing myself to agree that I need people, will be to look at myself and somehow think that i’m not enough. And I am not. I exist in an ecosystem. Organisms in an ecosystem coexist with each having its own function to play in the overall scheme of things. I enjoy meeting my friends. They build me up. I love listening to my brother, and his laughter. That boy warms my heart. And on and on I could go on.

But imagine taking the trained men, they are usually mostly men, from an army barracks, and telling them to drop their guns and go greeting people outside there just like that. No plan, no strategy, no nothing. That the defence they’ve been putting out, is no longer required. That its safe out there. And even when it isn’t, they are perfectly capable of handling it without their learned defence mechanisms.

That’s how I feel.

Out there. With no gun, no strategy, no plan. Greeting humans. Potential enemies. Potential bad people. Potential suspects. They could be great humans too. They could be lovely souls that will warm my heart. They could be my partner who thinks going to Congo isn’t an extreme sport.

But how will I know?

I need people.

This might take a while to sink in. And its okay. For it to take time. For me to take time. Crashing walls is easy. But collecting that debris isn’t. And cleaning up the space. And rehabilitating the place maybe to a beautiful garden. Beautiful things take time.

So I watch some lady with a voice i’m extremely envious of, with confidence for days, as I let it sink in, that its okay to need someone to tell about a bee sting.

Finding my nature.

Sometimes we live our lives not knowing what eats us up. We know it hurts, but we don’t know where exactly it does. We hop from one bad situation to another good one to another not so bad one and assume its the law of randomness at work. Not figuring out that there is a pattern behind it. A pattern that once deconstructed, though hard to, will give our situations a depth, that others call fulfillment. Which is better than just a good day or a bad day.

I went for a bad date a while ago. Had you asked me then, why I felt the way I felt about it, I would have given you a myriad of reasons. But seated here in my room, at 4 o’clock in the night, wondering why its so bright already and listening to silence, I realize, that the date was never bad. Or rather not in the way I thought it was.

I was bad. A part of me that has been faulty came out to play fully, and that spoilt it for me. And it has taken me over a month of self introspection to stumble upon it. A month of trying to find out where specifically it hurts.

I never thought I was good enough. I’ve never thought I’m good enough. Exhale. The kind of statements that let me be free once acknowledged.

I could go on and on about how that’s weird considering how good I am in one two three, but that doesn’t change the fact that I didn’t think I was. Never thought I was. Except when I was a kid, and I thought I was wiser than Solomon, good old days those were.

There is a lightheartedness that comes with acknowledging that this part and this part of me hurt. Its like having my room bright in a night kind of way. Its still dark yes, but I can see almost every inch of it. In the darkness. Bright darkness. Like this shouldn’t make sense, but it does.

Healing. Hardest process I’ve gone through to date. Its like performing surgery on your own heart. With no anesthetics. Maybe someone to point out the abnormalities that stand out. But technically, only I can do this for myself.

Today i go to meet out some people that a month ago I would have chickened out from meeting. Because I would have thought that I was not good enough or achieved enough to participate in a circle of achievers.

And as I struggle with getting out of this hole of thinking that I am not good enough, I also realize that a part of me that couldn’t be bridled has always had my back. I have showed up to places even when I was intimidated by something or someone. I have dressed up and gone, even when I felt that it would just be as well if I slept. I have raised my hand even when I thought my neighbour knew it better. I have hoped on trains, not knowing what will sustain me there. I have dragged my nervous self to people I would rather listen to, and instead I talked.

Those situations have allowed me to see myself. Its like a mirror. To see the fear in my eyes. The scars in my heart. The unexplored vastness of my brain, the beauty of my tortured self. To see myself.

And though sometimes what I see there scares me, it mostly frees me. To know that next time when I’m preparing for abcd, it won’t be random preparation, i’ll focus on A, now that I know that’s where it hurts.

I feel still. Like clear fast moving waters. Its like my tumultuous world was waiting for me to realize this before it calms down.

There is this man, called David Attenborough. Man is old. With a voice for days. Not for TV. There is another man I met in church, and anytime he spoke, we all loved his voice. It belonged to a television set. Not to announcements in church. That church man knew he had a good voice. A booming good voice meant to be enjoyed when announcing grisly road accidents and corruption cases because that’s the only place a majority of us have heard good booming voices.

But not this our man. Not David Attenborough. I don’t know whether it was a case of him choosing or nature choosing. But either way, he ended up in nature.

That man makes you see the ant he is explaining as vividly as if you were an ant. He makes you a snail as he takes you through the life of a snail. From the moment he starts speaking, you lose yourself into that world.

His is not a booming voice. Nor is it loud. Its a voice that the gods choose to present the work of their hands to mere mortals. Its the voice that birds trust with their lives. Its the voice that lions allow into their space without being alarmed. Its the voice that underwater fishermen trust to convey not just the difficulties of their work but also the beauty of man’s resilience in any environment.

I love what that man represents. He makes my days. Seeing him trying to decipher nature. Maybe its not him. Probably its the scientists behind the project that do the research while he comes to bless their work with that heavenly voice. Maybe he is the director of some of those projects. I don’t know.

But what I do know, is that it would be a shame if he didn’t think he got this. It would be a waste if he struggled all of his life not knowing what he is made of and for. And I don’t want my life to be a waste or a shame.

So using kindness, I find my nature, and make you a female bowerbird, as I take you through the life of a male bowerbird performing for a mate. I find my voice, and its unique use, and be still in it. I find my nature.

I feel like a nomad.

There is this song I’ve been binge listening to. Its sang by an African man with a deep voice. And no instruments. The background is the sound of people humming. They sound like men mostly. Then at the chorus they join the man singing in such beautiful harmony.

Its a sad song. Sang by a man. Explaining how he is feeling about a life situation beyond his control. He doesn’t blame anyone about it. Not even himself. Its just what it is. But he does something else beyond express his sadness.

He asks for help. He tells whoever he is singing to, that they should answer him when he calls. He says he feels alone. With bones creaking. And a broken heart. And with that he beseeches this person to not hide his face away from him.

I feel exactly like this person. Except that I don’t ask for help. I can explain how I’m feeling. Or at least try. But it never occurs to me, that when my bones creak, when my heart hurts, when I feel like a nomad, I can actually ask for help. That sadness can also be shared. That I can specify what I want from someone at that point.

Today someone who knew how I was feeling called me. It only later occurred to me, that she didn’t call for whatever she called for, she called to give me an opportunity to ask for help from her. And I didn’t. It didn’t even occur to me till much later.

And I hope, that as I continue feeding my soul to this man’s voice, I shall borrow a leaf from him. And learn how to ask for help. How to express myself as vulnerably as he does. That I shall be able to pinpoint to where it hurts.

For now, I feel like a nomad.

18th,October- 2003.

It wasn’t my first. Maybe my second or third. But its the most memorable.

The weekend started on a high note. Rather, a joyful note. Classes ended at around 1pm. After lunch the whole school got to work. Cleaning, scrubbing, picking litter, arranging, preparing. In the evening we would have visitors. We had to be ready for them.

We sang as we washed the classrooms. We almost brushed the grass outside spotlessly clean. Even cobwebs that were nonexistent were removed. The trees were pruned. Lights on the rectangle in the middle of the school were repaired, after all, they were only used five times in a year. Two times during the director’s sons’ birthdays, and the other three times were for occasions like this.

We didn’t even need supervision for anything. Everyone was motivated. The dorms were squeaky clean. Our clothes neatly arranged in case any of the visitors wanted to see our things as they were in the habit of doing. Even our hair, though undone from the month or so since we last saw barbers and saloonists, were well brushed.

4pm. We had finished all activities. Now we waited. But unlike visiting days where we waited neatly in classrooms to be called as the parents came, this time we waited outside. In a disorganized manner. The teachers, for this one weekend, wouldn’t use their canes on us. They became a part of us. For this one weekend in a term.

So we all pretended to be doing something outside, positioning ourselves in such a way that we would see their lorry coming. From Nairobi. We waited. Excitedly. Expectedly. Anxiously. Any car that approached would raise our hopes just to dash them when it turned out to be a local vehicle plying that route.

The sun would be setting in that direction from where the visitors would come from. But who cared about looking the sun in the eye?

And then the frenzy. No one can claim to not have been the first one to see the truck. But that didn’t matter. Not when everyone was running to the assembly ground to welcome our visitors. That was the only time, in the history of that school, that students could be the first ones to welcome visitors.

They hugged us. Made jokes about how they were almost not coming. High fived those too behind in the circle to receive hugs. Asked us how we were doing. Not expecting complicated answers. Just normal stuff.

Then they prayed. With us. They thanked God for the journey mercies, and prayed for the weekend. A short prayer. Longer prayers would be done later. The older boys in class 7&8 would then help them carry their equipment into the hall. That would be our home for this weekend.

All was going well. Until Saturday night. As usual, we had eaten, played games, had a session in the hall full of preaching, singing and praying. This was the last session of the day, before going to bed.

So we have eaten supper and are seated down waiting for our visitors turned friends to come. Mwikulu is playing from the speakers. Small animated chatter can be heard across the hall.

Then abrupt silence from the back that sends chills to the front with its eeriness. Before we could digest what was happening, screams. Those ear piercing screams that cut across your heart. So we all turn to look behind and we see nothing. The door is opened. The door was at the back. Its dark outside. The screaming students from behind there are under the chairs. We are now confused. What is happening?

Seconds later we get our response. I am pulled first before I see it. I am seated at the end of a bench. Next to me is the middle space where people walk to the front. With my bible and notebook in my hands. The next moment i am at the end of the bench. Near the wall. On top of bodies hiding under the short benches. Things were flying around. Bodies were falling around.

Someone hands me their pair of spectacles. She’s under bodies. And more are crushing on her. She just holds them up, I take them since my body is on top of the pile. I still don’t know why the whole hall is hiding. Why my fellow pupils are screaming their lungs out. Why is the body next to mine shivering? Why is that other person who is whimpering squeezing me to the wall? Why are they using our bodies as a shield, those under us that is?

It roars. That’s when I look at it. Yellow faced. With red horns out of the head. Skull like eyes. Bloody red mouth. Green ears. A dark flowing robe. A skeleton on the front of the body or what looks like it. Long skinny white hands. And nails. Long bones that look like nails more than 20centimetres long.

I froze.

I couldn’t even look away. It noticed me looking at it, and made a roaring noise facing our side. The benches were our saving grace. They were arranged too closely together, preventing it, with its huge body size from coming to get us.

The screams had died down. Some were crying. The hall was filled with whimpering, sniffs and terror. You could literally feel the room beat in symphony with the erratic heartbeats of the 98 primary school kids in it. Gladwell fainted. Lucky held me to prevent me from falling. Loise was at my other side. Crushed between me and the next body. Hiding in between. No one was breathing.

It reached to the front. Followed by its minions. None of us remembers what happened immediately afterwards. Or how long it took us to start breathing again. Or who carried Gladwell outside. Or how our bodies untangled. Or how the owner of the spectacles I was holding, found them in her blind state. Or how our bodies stopped shaking uncontrollably. Or how terror eased out of the room.

But what each of us remembers, is that; on the 18th of October, year 2003, on a terrifying Saturday night, the 98 of us, gave our lives to Christ. After having seen the devil.