It is not your heart that I want

It is not your heart that I want,

I know you are another woman’s man,

And its not like I don’t care

Or  that, that means less to me

It’s just that- she can have your heart

For it is not your heart that I want

You are conflicted about the two of us,

Will you betray the heart of the one who loves you dearly? 

But I find your dilemma unnecessary,

 She can keep your heart

For i am no keeper of hearts

I want many things from you

None include you having my heart 

Some involve me sharing parts of you with her

While the rest is dependent on how generous you will be with yourself

So worry not,

For  it is not your heart that I want. 

She can have your heart

I want the rest of you. 

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Teju Cole – Every day is for a thief

Who is an African writer? This discussion has been going on for the last few years. Especially with renowned writers from Africa being based abroad and their books published there by international publishing houses. Or the other case being that we only celebrate African writers on the continent once they have been awarded by outsiders. 

So is an African writer, someone of an African origin living anywhere? Or an African citizen( a citizen of one of the African countries) who writes while based in Africa? Or anyone who writes about Africa? Or what? 

This has been a closely tied debate with other hotly contested topics like POVERTY PORN. Africa is known for many things, among the leading being poverty and suffering. But that’s not all there is. Which is why artists in Africa have been trying to tell our stories through their various mediums. Stories of our lives, beauty and pain. It might have poverty in it, but that is not all there is to it. 

What brought this discussion to mind is Teju Cole’s book- Every day is for a thief. 

The English and flow of language used in the book is okay with me. The writer knows how to write, for lack of better words. 

But my bone of contention comes with what is inside that book. As I started reading it, I felt as if I was reading a book written by a white person who has never been to Africa and the only stories they heard about Africa were of poverty and corruption. So they just came to confirm if those stories they heard were true, just to find it worse than they expected. 

Not that Nigeria, where the book isn’t corrupt or isn’t struggling with poverty, but if that is what Lagos is majorly about- corruption, violence and normalized chaos, then the book does a very good Job of painting that picture. 

I just thought that there is more to Africa. That if you aren’t biased, then you’ll observe both the bad and the good, not the bad only. 

Now, I wouldn’t want to restrict someone on what they are to write about, but I think painting such a grim picture of a place isn’t realistic or fair to that place and its people. I think this is what people call poverty porn. 

That book left a bad taste in my mouth. 

Gambia- Sona Jobarteh

There is this song called Gambia by Sona Jobarteh. The last song that was on reply like that was Hello by Adele immediately it came out. 

This song is giving me this euphoria that I can’t explain. Like I’ve been high on this song since Jana. Like really high. The dreamy kind of high. I feel giddy with excitement. My mind and body can’t sit still. Like I’m just high on something. 

I love music. But beyond that, there is music that makes love to my soul. And this one right here is one of them. 

It has made me feel like my dreams will one day come true. I listen to that song and I see my footprints in Lesotho. I can feel myself watching the Victoria falls inside the beats of the drums. 

The song ends and I see myself at my death bed, happy, content and satisfied with the places I went to. With Africa. God knows I love my continent! 

In my last semester in campus, I attended this talk by some big shot in the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) east Africa. He was from Congo. He was impeccably dressed. He had prepared his speech for a thousand students. Only ten of us showed up. 

But still, he gave his speech with the same vigour as if he was talking to millions of people. That man made a serious impression on me. I remember everything he said and how he said it. He told us he was from a small village in Congo. And as a young boy, he had been herding goats. Now as a grown man, he was busy being chauffeured around in a new country to speak to their best universities( he didn’t say that, I just observed it, he was busy talking about serious stuff)

That man made me realise that we all have our locals. Some people stay in their locals forever. Some go and come back to their locals. Some go and never come back. Some foreigners come and make new locals the places they’ll be buried in. 

And as for me, listening to such music and relating so well with an environmentalist from Congo, makes me feel as if Africa is my local. In my head, i don’t expect to find much difference if I go to a village in Liberia or I live in Accra. The languages will differ, but inside us,I think we are the same. 

That similarity is what is making me enjoy a song whose meaning I don’t know. That sameness is what will make me pack up and go work in North Africa. I feel the corners of my local calling my soul. My mind is long gone from me. While its just going to be a little while longer, before my feet follow suit. 

Viva Africa!

Year of yes- Shonda Rhimes

This has been a personal one. Like this isn’t exactly a review since my personal life is intertwined with how I perceived it. 

I’ve heard of this book and seen it doing rounds for quite a while. But it wasn’t until a friend put up a screenshot of it that I considered reading it. And I’m glad I said yes to reading it(hehe;). 

I found it unique. Like the author decided to focus on a certain decision she made and it lead to life changing decisions that warranted a book. Like I haven’t seen that round. People write memoirs, others write about their careers or lives.. Not specifically about a certain life changing decisions. In simple terms, Shonda Rhymes just did her. You know the way we say , just do you. 

And for me that is has been what this book has been about for me. About being myself. Giving myself permission to be authentically me. 

She started from a point where she just was. Like sometimes we dim our light and try to adjust to the dimness in the world. We forget our unique characteristics and just blend in with everyone. 

And just like her, I’ve realised that it is so easy to blend in and try to be like society. It starts with small everyday decisions, till finally you don’t want to look in the mirror because you can’t recognize the person who looks back to you. One gets used to the emptiness that comes with being everyone else while neglecting being yourself. We all numb it differently, some of us eat, others get addicted to alcohol or porn, others create a persona and convince themselves that it is who they are. 

It take courage to go back to yourself. And she did that. You can see her struggles. Her fear of being stunning. When you lose touch with yourself for so long, you just can’t go back and pretend all is well. It takes work. A lot if work. A lot of rectifying, unlearning, leaving, learning. Its like starting to know yourself all over again. And not just knowing but doing. 

Like if you know you love travelling, travel, if you love money, look for it, books-read them, singing-sing. Loving yourself moves from thinking about yourself to taking care of yourself. Its not easy, especially after a long time of being everyone else, but your heart will feel at home. And nothing beats, the excitement of doing something that the inner you loves. 

While reading this book, I have laughed, I have cried, I have paused and thought, I have let go, I have collected pieces of myself I had distributed in oceans far away. It has continued a conversation I had in my mind about loving myself. This book has greatly enriched that round table discussion in my head. 

If you can, say yes. And read it. 

Below is my favorite page of this book

Own your normal. 

Yesterday morning I had one of those awakening straight up talks from one of our loyal customers. You see, instead of staying idle while looking for a job, I decided to help out my parents in their business. And with time I’ve become quite good at it. To the extent that even our customers are nowadays commenting on how good I am when it comes to running the part of the business I run. 

Back to yesterday morning, that man asked me what I was doing in life- like am I still in school or what. And I told him that I was doing my parent’s business, as I waited for a job. And he was stunned. Like why on earth would I be looking for a job while here I am doing well in business?

So the for the next like twenty minutes or so, he put his case across. That no one becomes a millionaire or even rich or wealthy by being employed. Business is the only way to wealth. And he gave me examples. Of my father. Of him and his siblings. 

He used to work for a company called BAT in 1980s. They used to pay him Ksh 16,000 then. I know- that was reaction too. Like the guy was earning soo much money in a time when his month’s salary could buy acres of land anywhere in the country by then. And for ten years he saved. And then quit to start his own business. And his business is doing well if you ask me. Some years back, he was a renown wealthy business man in our sides of Ukambani. 

And out of the 50 or so siblings in their family, only him and his brother(another of our customers too and a wealthy business man too), quit formal employment to start businesses. And in their entire family, only them are wealthy right now. All the others who got employed didn’t see the light( his own words). 

So his advice to me? I should look for money and start my own business. Its the sure pathway to financial freedom. He gave me valid examples. Of people who started businesses, and now their kids are running the show in a bigger better way. Like the Peter Mulleys. A local valid example that I can look upto and maybe relate to and live upto if I follow this path of wisdom that this man is showing me. 

Obviously we moved on from that man’s business to others in the course of the day. But his words stuck in my mind. 

Not because I want to be a business person, but because of how true they were. 

But most importantly, because of how my heart didn’t want that truth. 

I could be a business woman. And I’m sure even with major setbacks, I would ace it. I would be one hell of a successful woman if I choose business. That, you can bet your kidneys on. 

On the other side, in my entire life, I have never ever wanted to be a business person. Maybe as a side hustle, but not as my main thing. 

What I want when it comes to finances is not what people would term as normal. I’ve scared of saying this aloud. Because the world thinks its only sane for every one to want to be rich. 

But I have never wanted to be wealthy. Or filthy rich. 

Enough money to give me my needs? Definitely yes. To buy the cars I want at the time when I want them? Yes to that kind if money. To buy a farm in a dryland area and make it the greenest place in that ecosystem? Yes to that money. Enough money to invest in environmental startups? Yes. 

But enough to not know what to do with it? No to that kind of money. More money than I need to finance my desired lifestyle? Nope, not me. More money than I can use in one lifetime? No to that kind of money. 

Me being this way has always kinda made me ashamed of myself. Like can’t just be like normal human beings who want lots of money, kids and marriage? 

How do you face an old man showing you the way that works and tell them that financial stability doesn’t matter to you if your heart isn’t in it? And where is your heart? Will you eat that environment you are passionate about? Will travelling buy you a car or place food on your table? 

Yet, its what my heart wants. My heart wants what it wants. I’m teaching myself to love myself. Love comes with acceptance of who that person is. It comes with respect to the person’s wishes, desires and goals. 

So slowly by slowly I am learning to give my self the freedom to be. If I don’t want business, which is a sure and true way to a green plateau, then I should be okay with it in my heart. I want rugged plains and deserts and freezing mountains. And that is okay. Its my normal. 

Your normal or what the world terms as normal, shouldn’t drown my normal. Or rather, I shouldn’t allow it. And the only way is to first of all accept that I am normal. Which then makes my desires normal. It may not be your normal. But it doesn’t make mine less normal. 

This is for me. To giving myself space to just be. And more yes, to reading books that make look into myself and find  myself. 

This has been inspired by Shonda Rhymes- Year of Yes. 

 

Ask for help

The first time my friend broached the topic of therapy, I thought it too far fetched. In my head, only people who have gone through very traumatic events go for therapy. And I wasn’t one of them. 

The second time she did, I kinda thought about it for a while. Not because therapy had stopped being for very traumatized people but because my issues that were not going away were becoming traumatic. 

The next time I found myself looking for a counsellor, it was purely out of my need for help. I recognized that I was doing badly and unless something changed, I would be doomed. So this time round I didn’t need to be told I need the professional kind of help. 

I looked for opinions. For some of my friends, their lives had worked out without going for therapy. Some had prayed and trusted God and He had healed them. Some did some programs that helped. Others, their lives just worked out somehow. 

For me, God was not working out the way I expected. My circumstances were still the same and the miracle worker was still on His throne. Life was also not ignoring my issues and moving on as it was supposed to. I could see and feel the effects of my problems in everything. 

So I decided to seek help. And though I’m just starting out, I’m just glad I’m on this this journey to begin with. It feels soo good to receive help after crying out for months. I know it might take years to deal with everything, but I’m just glad, I didn’t ignore myself this time round and asked for help when I really needed it. 

My relationship with God right now isn’t in the best of places, its actually the worst it has ever been since I gave my life to Christ over a decade ago. But I’m not worried about that for now. One way or another ,love will find me. 

What I would tell myself over and over again; ask for help. From whatever quarters that work you. From God, your friends, your parents, your older siblings, from books..whatever just works for you. 

And though things will not work out for you immediately, that simple step of asking for help might be the beginning of your journey to freedom. Just reach out to someone. Unlocking yourself might be the gateway to living out your life in a fulfilling manner. 

For those like me who don’t like asking for help at all, its okay. I took my time. And that time showed me I needed help. At first I felt I had failed myself for being in a position where I couldn’t help myself yet everyone else seemed to have it together. People with almost similar stories to mine seemed to not lack a night’s sleep, yet here I was, overwhelmed by life. 

But the more I stayed down there, and looking at the dreams I had for my life, I realised I needed to be better. Not for anyone’s sake but mine. That if life didn’t play me a fair card, it didn’t mean I had to stay beaten forever. I reached a point I wanted better for myself. 

I got people in my corner who wonder what ‘issues’ are those I always complain about. They think life wasn’t thaaat bad for me. Like I take life too seriously. Or maybe I exaggerate things, its not like anyone’s life is all happy and no valley, right? So why the constant need to deal with my past that isn’t anything to write home about anyway? 

And was I the person I was four years ago, I would have listened to the above words. But I learnt to own my pain. That if being insulted hurts me, I shouldn’t downplay that in favor of those going through more hurtful things. Without this realisation; that if I feel pain, regardless of the magnitude of the source according to society, its valid. Your pain is valid. Mine is. Though different, never take yourself for granted simply because nani went through worse and got out of it alive and well without much struggle. 

I start off my 2018 on a low or high note depending on which side of the spectrum you are on. And I sincerely hope this year will be the one I learn to shower myself with love and allow myself to be showered with love from those who matter. I don’t know what’s your hope for 2018 but I hope that you make it out alive being in a stronger relationship with yourself. 

May 2018 be kind to you. And remember to ask for help. You will thank yourself later for it. 

WE NEED NEW NAMES – NOVIOLET BULAWAYO

This one is a roller coaster. That’s the best way to describe it. 

Before I read it, I thought it was written a long time ago. Like over 10 years ago. Reason being that for the longest time ever, I have always heard about it. I heard of it before I heard of Chimamanda. 

Just to read it and realise it is barely a decade old. 
I have loved the African setting. Like from the words used to the songs to the way of story telling. And the author doesn’t bother trying to make it palatable to non africans. Which is a good thing if you ask me. I mean, John Grisham never explains what a jury is in any of his books. 
The first half of the book got me at the edge of my seat wondering what next. Like I just couldn’t help flip the pages. It lost me a bit when we moved from Africa to America. Then we went right back after a few more pages. 
Overall , its a good book, hands down. It makes one face the reality in our society without any sugarcoating or ‘buts’. You know the way Kenyans will name the bad things happening in their country then add a “but we have good runners and good weather..” etc. This book doesn’t give one space to run away. And anyway, it shows you that even running away is futile. 
Its a heavy book though. Don’t read it when you are looking for inspiration or motivation. 
I would rate it at 8/10.