MY TWIECES

Yes, it’s a word. My word for my twin nieces; Never mind that I am in no familial way related to their mama. More complex? Alright. Think of someone you know who you cannot absolutely, totally and completely do without in your life. Not your significant other either. A friend who is truly closer than a brother? Now we’re getting warm. That is the relationship between my twieces’ mother and myself.

The angels in question are two adorable girls who hit the one year milestone on 19th July 2011(yes this is a true story) and who long before that date had firmly established their place in my heart and those of their other “aunties”(I use this term very loosely).

Their names are testament to the wisdom of their lovely mother: Pendo and Nuru. With names like that, who wouldn’t find them adorable? And they are. They’ve already taken up their positions on the temperament wheel and aren’t afraid “kujitokeleza”(show their true colours) when the situation calls for it. Just thinking about them gives me a warm feeling.

Pendo is the feistier of the duo, she tells you; you rarely tell her. Nuru will also make her presence known but more by being there as opposed to vocally like her sister, much like her name. The girls will definitely be talkers. They are surrounded by people who want for them all the love, security, joy, excitement, wisdom, favor, peace and success they can access.

I’m sure by now you’re wondering why I’m waxing sentimental about babies you barely know. Well, they have a story. Like many of us who walk the streets with our power suits, taut faces and laptop-bags, there’s more to the picture than meets the eye. These adorable totos almost never saw the light (no pun intended Nuru). This is where Mama Pendo and Nuru(aka Mama Twins) comes in. She is one of the strongest young ladies I know. When I say young I mean not yet at the point where she would normally be having two children and a all that comes along with.  

However this remarkable girl loved, lost and found the most amazing new love of all, that of the two cuties whose mother she proudly is. With the babies’ biological male parent out of the picture, surviving on an intern’s allowance and only months to graduation, Mama Twins braved society’s glare and moved in with Gramp- and Gram- Twins and began a journey that has been and still is a many-splendored thing. They’ve been through it all: financial struggles, emotional warfare running the gamut from anger to joy through pain and back again, physical strain and injury scares but have never lost faith in God and his power to bring them through it all. The amazing bit is that my twieces found a way for their Mama to sieve out her real friends from the hangers on and everything in between. Also those that stayed true have been brought together in a way they never would have before as in their own way each gave of time, heart and whatever resource in standing with Mama Twins. Moments shared in trips to visit the beautiful new family and prayer circles over every single issue have definitely created a bond that is sure to last. Pendo and Nuru have created a family larger than they may ever know and they are yet to meet and get to know them all.

We may know of or know about someone who’s been through the motions and is still coming at life both guns blazing like Mama, Pendo and Nuru. And if you do, I hope you recognize the strength, beauty, faith and courage that is unique to them simply by virtue of the fact that they and their families are healthy, strong and very alive. Having a child is difficult, that is the reality. And that is with both parents. Now imagine going it alone and with not one, but two totos. It’s almost nothing short of miraculous. Well since it’s the baby girls’ one year anniversary:

Here’s to You, now and always!

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Of many worlds

Type. Type. Then that annoying red line appears under my British-spelt words. What? That is correct. And it is. But my word processor is set to American English. 

So I change it. And type…type…type. Then that horrid red line again. What? That word is correct. And it is. It’s an American spelling. But I am now using British type setting. Not to mention our education system also styled after the UK and you can see my dilemma.

So I change it back to American. And keep typing till the very end and then proofread with eagle eyes. O the bother!

I love tea. I am addicted to tea and must have my minimum three cups(make that mugs with a capital M) every day. Morning, afternoon, evening and before bedtime…did I say three? Oops! Apparently tea-drinking is very Brit. Quite the capital non-alcoholic beverage. It used to be coffee for me(strong and black thank you), the all-American favorite, ’till I switched and could not really understand why. It was simple natural progression. I think.

When I dress, from the fashion rags to fashion columns in the dailies, I can place myself in the American style casual-smart section. When I was younger I loved plaids, tartans and tweeds. Catch me dead today in anything plaid unless it’s burberry(ahem, or barberry, by that Kenyan; you know- the one that looks like the real one but isn’t?). And you guessed right I shifted from Brit dressing to American style get-up.

When I want to buy anything, I must bargain unless I am in a retail chain store and even then I know when the ‘sales’ are on. I make it a point to know where to get the same items for way less from anything from vegetables to shoes and everything in between. ‘Nyama choma’ and arguing over politics are mandatory for me to take my place among my brethren, the Kenyans.

When my aunt, uncles and cousins come a-knocking, I better switch to the tongue that my mother was raised speaking(Isn’t it ironic how we say our ‘Mother-tongue’ yet in Kenya the child is supposed to take on the Father’s birth language?), before I am considered a “snub-nosed-city-girl” by The Family.

Kiswahili/Sheng mixed with English is the only way to make yourself understood: period. “Si i’m sure you jua what i’m semaing? ” To be able to board and depart from the infamous “mathrees” and eat cheap but filling meals at the local food kiosk, my tongue would be out of place without a smattering of Kiswahili peppered with the right amount of sheng; depending on the service provider. ‘Swa-sheng’ also gets you in with the cashier most places from the mpesa stall to the kiosk in the housing estate and some of the best jokes aka ‘mchongoano’ are expressed this way.

Oh and did I mention the two years or so after high school I spent drilling punctuations and pronunciations in French into my young brain? Parents with a vision, who take their darlings to foreign language specialists to help them ‘secure’ that lucrative six+-figure UN post in T+n years. This section includes the kids sent to schools that are easily recognized by one word, you know the ones, not like others which had to have nicknames so you don’t have to say St. Francis of the Holy Tri-une blah…blah…blah.

From well-meaning parents to the television shows to the silver screen, literature and now the advent of the all-encompassing social media; I am yet to know who or what I truly stem from. You see I’m Kenyan by birth and my tribe is pre-detrmined by my father’s origins, but I watch predominantly American shows, drink tea and write like a Briton, watch local shows and interact with fellow Kenyans who speak and act like both Brits, Americans, Nigerians and Kenyans(sometimes not very well i’m afraid), transact in English and Kiswahili, read and hear a smattering of French and now I’m learning to speak social. Yes social; the online lingo that connects you to your Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Doodle, Netlog and all other social network buddies.

Who am I? I’m a child of many worlds 😉

 

RIP Acapella

Today I saw a fellow presser post a song by the Acapella company and it brought back fond memories of my interactions with this amazing genre of music. I remember groups like the Acapella Vocal Band (AVB) and The Acapella Company, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, All4One, Take6. Closer home we had Pentharmony, Voices In the Light, Masters’ Voices, Votaries and all the other little known high-school and campus groups that never made it past their school years.

A capella music is soulful, soothing, expressly moving and allows you to know exactly how an artist’s vocals sound because there is no use of musical instrument other than the vocal chords of the performer. I love it because it separates the real singers from the wanna-be’s. Even on albums by celebrated artists, there would still be an intro or outro with just vocals paying tribute to one of the most instruments of the trade: voice.

I write this sadly because I can hardly call our artists of today “singers”. What with the advent  of auto-tune and all other forms of digital manipulation so the music can sound just so. It breaks my heart to see young and old alike idolizing people who cannot hold a proper note simply because they possess a certain sphere of influence either through their lifestyle or poorly put-together popular “song”. I appreciate a dance tune just as much as anyone who is so inclined but I prefer real music, vocals that have been worked on through sheer practice and patience and which carry a lasting message.

I guess a capella has now been replaced by the innumerable live bands that are mushrooming all over the country and I will salute them for doing their best to revive real music, albeit accompanied by instruments other than voice. They do give a refreshing break from the clanging noise that is the “music” of our generation.

If there are any a capella bands still out there, please show yourselves? As for the existing bands that have the ability to incorporate it into your acts, please do?

Bye Bye A capella! For Now…

LEADING OR BLEEDING?

 

Servant Leadership

 

For so long I have agonized over this question. First off, here in Kenya, for the longest time, politics and religion were the mainstay of current affairs or news. We ate, drank, argued over and even sadly so, fought over the same issues for the longest time. Granted, there’s still too much politics everywhere from parliament to the boardroom to the pulpit, yes, the pulpit. But our scope of who and what leaders are had narrowed so much so we forgot to recognize true leadership in our everyday interactions.

A leader via the free dictionary is ‘one who is in charge or in command of others’. Google search says ‘a person followed by others’. Oxford shows that it is ‘the person who leads or commands a group, organization or country’.

These definitions make sense. My problem is that those who we call leaders today lack one or all of these qualities. Note: I haven’t began to talk about “good” leaders(those are a rare breed). Among those labeled “leader”, ranging from the august house to the pulpit, who is in charge? Who is ‘being followed by others’? Who ‘commands the country’? Now let’s not even get into where the followers are being led or what they are being commanded to do.

To bring it home, we recognize tribal leaders, political leaders, religious leaders, CEOs, family heads, student heads and it’s African to consider the rich to be leaders as well. It is only emergent generations that have broadened this scope to industry leaders in all disciplines with a special focus on artists or ‘creatives’. Poets, writers, newsmakers, celebrities, musicians, opinion leaders and the like have taken on the leadership title in recent years. It is still confusing for the older folk as they wonder how we can hang onto every word from a celebrated singer or media personality but what they don’t realize is that leadership is largely defined by what people think of you. The impression one leaves on a supposed ‘following’ is what makes them worthy of a following. We have had nominated, elected and appointed leaders thrust upon us in all areas of functionality but these people are not considered real leaders if they do not prove themselves worthy of the title.

What gets to me is that so many people holding ‘leadership’ positions forget that the role is synonymous with responsibility. There is no true leadership without accountability, integrity, honor and a sense of humanity. Which makes me wonder how we have church heads underpaying staff, condoning and perpetrating immorality (sexual or otherwise) and hampering individual and communal development. In the same vein, political leaders majoring on the minors and ‘minoring’ on the majors while the country’s economy hangs by the tailcoats, citizens starve, borders are insecure and children cannot access basic education. Then we have industry leaders fleecing the workforce while offering no employment security and opportunistically cutting costs at the expense of both laborer and end-consumer. Tribal heads seeking selfish interests and the rich only getting richer with barely a backward glance at the ever-increasing chasm between the majority of the populace and themselves. The whole picture reeks of poor leadership.

For they that are yet to figure it out and are already in ‘leadership’ positions, no one is born with the label “leader”. Yes, there are those that have natural tendencies that predispose them to ably take up positions but a title is simply that: a title. Leadership is proven. I don’t remember where I saw this, but you are not a man or woman of note simply by being born a man or woman; you must BECOME that notable person. This means it is a process and one that allows for mistakes but also demands that those wrongs are righted as soon as is possible because the expectations of a leader do not allow for laxity.

I appreciate all who rightfully take up leadership in whatever field but I implore you to remember the following:

  1. Leaders move (guide) people from where they are to where they ought to be
  2. Leaders are accountable to those that instituted them
  3. Leaders are influence, not command, people to do the right thing
  4. Leaders are servants, it’s not a right
  5. Leaders are accessible to their followers
  6. Leaders must be honorable (honesty and integrity)
  7. Leaders must uphold justice
  8. Leaders do not need titles of note-they just are

To Whom It May Concern:

 

Toonology

I am a slightly depressed cartoon lover. Yes, I said it. I love toons. Since I was a child and even when my outer inner adult tried to outgrow them, my outer child has held fast.

 

Cartoons transport one to a happy, hyperbolic and carefree fantasy world. We all need a place like this. Maybe your happy place is filled with food, music, flowers or anything that simply lifts you above the droll quality that life can sometimes take on? Then now you understand my fondness for cartoons.

 

However over recent years, cartoons have taken on a quality that belies the innumerable changes that have  become the norm in our generation. What really irks me is the adult content on some of the ‘cartoons’. I mean surely 7year olds and below need not be introduced to the birds and the bees as is the case with some new generation toons. The widespread use of “grown-up” language also rankles my chain. I want to be able to watch toons with my kids but as things are going I may start hunting for dvds of my old favourites and stock them up for later. Cartoons are supposed to make us laugh, in fact, double over in laughter, sing along to the catchy songs and want to buy all their merchandise(all the while pretending it’s for the niece/nephew/son/daughter but happy it is in our house). Cartoons remind me of friends because when I was little we would plan playtime around the various cartoon showtimes on television. As soon as it was 5pm, all toys would be unhanded and all children would run into the nearest neighbour’s house and scramble for the best vantage viewing point in front of the TV. Afterwards, we would all be herded out and into our various homes all the while singing refrains from our favourite show. Cartoons didn’t focus on who was the skinniest, prettiest or could kill new unimaginable creatures. True, there were those, but most were community-centred like the little blue guys(Smurfs, Gummy Bears and Ewoks). In the event that you wanted true heroes, never fear for in came Captain Planet, Transformers, Sheera and He-man, swooping in to save the day and invariably the planet The message was largely about giving and sharing and caring…ah…reminds me of the Care Bears. And those that didn’t have that message were downright silly like Tazmania, Road Runner and Wacky Races. You see toons were not meant to scare or alienate any child watching from any corner of the globe. Good always won over evil and the antics along the way were hilarious.

I tend to have many favourites of every single thing, from music to food and everything in between. So here are some of my all time fave toons in no random order: Tweety and Sylvester,  Road Runner, The (original) Flintstones, Pink Panther, Wacky Races, Muttley, Transfomers(original), Sheera, Smurfs, Ewoks, Sheep in the Big city, Popeye, The Addams Family, The three musketeers, Animaniacs, Pingu, Dora the Cat, Chip and Dale, Dinosaucers, Dexter’s Laboratory, the Powerpuff Girls, Darkwing Duck, Elmer Fudd, Ghostbusters. Ok this list is getting to long so to all toon lovers out there add your toons and keep loving ’em, won’t you?

The Noble Woman

The Noble Woman

by Shirleen Imbuye on Wednesday, February 23, 2011 at 3:00pm

For the longest time, I have struggled  with the Proverbs 31 woman. Struggle is an understatement. When I have read about her, it has often left me feeling bereft, discouraged, angry, (not sure at who,) that it is a portion of Scripture that’s quite ambigious. I have felt this way because, honestly this woman seems like only a few of them can attain her status.  It makes me wonder what Maya Angelou’s inspiration when she wrote the piece ‘Phenomenal Woman.’

 

In church there has been preaching about her, and at the end of the day when I assess myself in light of the Proverbs 31 woman, my efforts and achievements appear to be totally obscure to the point of embarrassment. However I learnt something new today. Proverbs 31 woman is in each and every one of us. She is embedded at the very core of our spirits and souls before the Lord began to form us in our mother’s wombs.

 

It is encouraging that Ruth was one noble woman that is mentioned in the Bible; and there is a cross-reference of her noted in this particular chapter of Proverbs. Her being pointed out is something worth noting because she was a woman just like you and I, perhaps her experiences were different from yours and mine, one this stands out though is; she lived, and left a legacy for the rest of us womenfolk.

 

Within you and I there is the potential to live the life of Proverbs 31 woman. We may not go out and do exactly as she did, however I believe God has put it in you and me to surpass her because through Christ, He is able to do much more than all we ask or imagine according to His power that is at work within us. I do not think God ran out of potential, talents, and ideas for Him to have us be copy cats. Point is, each one of us is very unique and have a unique assignment from Him and it must come to fruition before our time expires here on earth.

 

Instead of bickering, muttering in my thoughts and spirit, and asking a zillion questions about who in right mind thinks anyone can achieve Proverbs 31 woman status, I have asked God and will continue asking to help me understand how I can be that woman noble character who fears the Lord and show me practical ways in my current status, situation, in my day to day, in this day and age on how to live to this potential and have loads of fun while at it.

 

This is my hope and prayer for you as well that you may seek to be noble women as God has ordained and commands in this day and age, in the places of influence He has placed you in and will do as the seasons come and go.

 

You touch a soul, you transform the world.

 

PS: Featuring yet another budding writer. Noble in her own right 😉

Ancient thoughts by Faith Kathoka

Ancient thoughts

by Faith Maua Kathoka on Tuesday, July 5, 2011 at 4:00pm

I pulled up the sleeves of my sweater

I wanted to look like I was fittin’ in

The click

But she stood out

I envied her

I wanted to be in her group

Fate would have it

I was

She talked and I really wanted to be her

She knew what she wanted

Focused

I had no clue what I was there for

Just to make sure I graduated

And not repeat any courses coz I got a very bad mark

She was talented too

Could sing

Act

Lead

Confident

Poise and charisma

She got enough proposals from dudes

They all wanted to date her

She took her time

And settled for the best

Her reflections in class were deep

She charmed the lecturers

She knew her lines

What cords to strike

And when

I wanted to be her

Her friend

In her click

But I wasn’t

In her first semester

She had a GPA of 3.7 out of 4.0

I had a lil over the pass mark 2.something

She had enough friends and running over

She could afford a packet of yoghurt daily

A lollypop and a black forest to go with it

If I bought any of that

I was sure to starve one day in a week

I wanted to be her

She was a leader in the Christian union

A position she did not vie for

Was elected, chosen

I worked hard for years

Two to be precise

So I could be the editor of the campus newspaper

And worked hard to stay there

My circle of friends thinned out more

She never worked hard on keeping any

Many worked hard to be kept by her

She was a leader

Just naturally

I wanted to be like her

Today I saw her

She came by for a party in our court

She didn’t look the part

A lil sad

A lil lonely

As she walked in to the party alone

Walked out occasionally to make a call

I saw her

As I walked out with my fiancé

She did not notice me

Or preferred not to maybe

I was sad for her

As she inhaled another puff of smoke from her cigarette

I remembered her life

How I wanted to be like her

She walked past us

As she gave herself a hug

My fiancé held me tight

I don’t have everything I ever wished for

But I have what I need

And best of all

I have relentless love

She broke up with her boyfriend of 5.6 years

I can’t help but realise that

I have not worked hard to earn his love

I did not vie for it

I was chosen

And with that thought

I inhale another puff of his love

God’s love

 

PS: My girl Faith, this is a heartfelt read!(Originally an FB Note)