I’ve been sitting on this post for a while now (although I suppose another way to say it would be that I’ve been “lulling over this post”). You know when you have so many thoughts that the only way to put them in words is to write them down, but then writing them down only makes them feel more and more confused and at some point you’re kinda tripping over everything and you can’t really tell whether there’s a point or whether the point will be legible to anyone reading except for yourself or whether even *you* can actually see the point? Well. Yes. That.
Location: The Murumbi African Heritage Collections.
This weekend my sisters and I were invited over to dinner at a cousin’s. It’s one of those situations where it’s a distant cousin– our gukas (grandparents) were cousins, which technically makes us third or fourth cousins (?) and while we’d seen each other once or twice at family get togethers, we hadn’t really had the chance to hang out. When our parents were our age, though, they roomed together for a bit, which gave the whole scene a feeling of deja vu, like history was replaying itself during our dinner. Our cousin is also newly married, which meant that we were meeting his wife for the first time. You know when you find yourself sitting with a couple that’s so beautifully in love that it just kind of extends throughout the room to everyone? That was the experience of dinner, and I’m still moved by the warmth of your love for one another, and by the genuine way in which you welcomed us into your home. So, to M and D, before I go any further, thank you for dinner, for wonderful conversation and for sharing the story of your love.
Location: The Murumbi African Heritage Collections.
When I was growing up, I wasn’t much of a fan of history lessons. It was interesting but ultimately all too tedious to memorize the names, the dates, the numbers. I was always much more interested in the stories of these people than in the collective stories, which meant that I ended up choosing geography for my final exam– which wasn’t that much more interesting but for some reason the prospect of memorizing rock names was a little less daunting than of memorizing the entire history of Kenya.Continue Reading
January was full of lots of beautiful things: a lot of art, of good food, of friendship, but it was not without its low moments. I remember speaking with a friend a few hours after the new year had begun and they confided in me that it felt like there wasn’t much to celebrate given that some rough things had been happening around them at around the same time. To this person, I love you, I love you and I really hope that January has brought you some kindness and some beauty. <3
Some spaces that carry magic in them, simmering with the promise of stories. If you listen carefully to the trees whispering, the water roaring, the birds humming, at first everything sounds like separate strains of meaningless noise but keep listening and watching and the music starts to form before your eyes.
In our old family home (and probably yours, too) there’s a cabinet that’s filled with photo albums. We’d look at them once in a while on our own, but when they really came out was when we had visitors. After lunch, or during tea, guests would receive a stack of photo books whose height was directly proportional to how long it had been since they’d last visited us. First time visitors got the whole tour: spanning pre-baby photos to present day reality, more common guests only got only the more recent ones. People who visited all of the time usually would get nothing. The ritual was reciprocated when we visited other people as someone played the narrator, giving us context as we pored over volumes of family memories on our laps.
The first few minutes of the new year found me riding on the back of a moto (motorcycle) in Kigali, my black scarf waving behind me, tulle skirt shaking in the wind. As we zipped down the road from Remera to Kimihurura, on either side of us you could see the hills rising, on their faces painted white and orange dots: white ones from the street lights on either side of the roads that wind their way around Kigali, the orange ones likely filament light bulbs inside and outside the homes. Kigali was a lot of things, and while my first post was a lot of gushing, there were a few things here and there that I did not like, as is the case with every experience. But all in all, it was some much needed time away, and almost as soon as I was back in Nairobi I found myself intensely craving the adventure of travel again.
Freedom Interrogations, by Michael Onsando: “Last night, just before I fell asleep, I thought of a lover. I often do. I haven’t learned how to put it off yet. Love is always a present, never a past. But there are many things that distract me. Like listening to India Arie and writing. Or, reading My Ngoc talk about pain in more ways that I had previously considered possible. Or going the roof and listening to the silence of a city that dreams of freedom.”Continue Reading
I don’t tell this story much, but the first time I cut my hair in college, I hid away for a day or two. When I finally left my room, I kept my hair hidden under a Kenyan flag bandanna, so that for about 2 days none of my friends– with the exception of Princess Daisy, who had cut my hair– had any idea. I felt like the self version of Coyote Ugly. Before college, I’d only had my hair this short many years before as a five year old, an age during which I looked so incredibly awkward that my hair would have been the least of my concerns, if I had even cared about how I looked.
This year I: finally graduated, moved back home, turned down my admissions to Columbia’s MS in Journalism program, wondered if I’d made a mistake on both of these, floundered as I tried to figure out what to do next, applied for a bunch of things, got rejected for a bunch of things, got a job in consulting as well as a research fellowship, ended up stranded in Kenya due to visa issues, and then I (and this was where/ when the magic truly started to happen): made my sisters and friends do things for me and for this blog.