African Woman, feminism, I am not a feminist but...., Learning to Live a Balanced Life, Life Lessons

Black history month is here! Feminists, independent or autonomous black women?

My black history number one is always Wangari Maathai and all the women who have led the way here. Do you guys remember the Fourth World Conference on Women that took place in 1995? I do. After the conference, my father and the men of my childhood started to deal with women’s insolence, opinions and expectations with the answer “this is NOT Beijing, woman! If you go on like this, you have to move to Wangari Maathai!” Wangari Maathai was in Beijing in 1995 and she was divorced. When people in my childhood spoke about her, they said “she left her husband.” However, when I read about Wangari in the teenage years of discovery and defiance, I read that her husband had divorced her with the verdict that: “Wangari was too educated, too strong, too successful, too stubborn and too hard to control.”

Well, that made my mind up right there. When a man left me, I wanted him to say exactly those words, and nothing else. By the time I was twenty years old, I was referring to myself as a feminist, a word treated with contemptuous sneers in the circles I grep up in. A woman’s commitment to self-sufficiency astounds and scares. In Sweden, I sometimes get the question or the affirmation regarding how neglecting African men were of their women and how independent African were as a consequent. In the same sentence was the well-meant concern for how exposed the African women were to the men’s whims. I have not experienced African women as more exposed to men’s whims than the women of any other continent. Women in Sweden were and still are, in my observation, as vulnerable and exposed as the women in Kenya. The main difference I can discern between Sweden and Kenya, is that in Sweden, the word feminism is thrown about proudly, together with equality, human rights and other powerful words of the 21st century.

D:DCIM100DICAMDSCI0416.JPGMy mother was brought up by strong women and she made sure to extend us the same courtesy to my sisters and I. Obviously, we, as in most other societies, were brought up to be men’s support systems and reproduce. Therefore, we were military trained to find mates as soon as we could reproduce. I was, among other things, taught how to be a wife, a mother and a daughter in-law – to soothe, distract, coach, massage egos and nurture. A contradiction of myself, submissive when it served the family and tough as nails when it served the family. I was advised to always have a secret stash of money for myself that he didn’t know about. It was recommended that I find ways to keep myself busy so I wasn’t spending my days waiting for him because, apparently, idleness makes a boring, uninspired and irritated companion. I was expected to be his whole support system when he had none. However, I was also expected to be able to raise the next generation on my own, dependent only on other women’s wisdom and support. Hence, we were explicitly, implicitly and repeatedly taught to actively and consciously separate our support systems from the men’s. We were challenged to make our own friends, independent of the men and incorruptible by the men. Although impregnation or fertilization is dependent on men’s presence and continued existence, motherhood was not. A healthy, self-sufficient, holistic, autonomous individual that could live with or without a man. A rock.

Kenyans moving towards feminismDid the men get the same training? I have no idea! But here we are.

Both in Kenya and Sweden, most women always worked and still work just as much or more than the men. There is no fancy word to describe their freedom or captivity. Historically, men were of course the official bread winners, in both societies. However, women have always contributed, only without the trumpets going off to announce and thank them every time new shoes, blankets, curtains, school books and pens, children’s underwear and other necessities appeared miraculously. Traditionally, at least in parts of Kenya, women could not inherit property from their parents. So, the options were either to marry or make money and buy their own property. Even when a woman succeeded to get married, if she failed at generating her own income, she would be keenly aware of her destitution if the marriage ever fell apart. Her only hope was that the children, if she had any, would inherit their father and take her in when she was too old to take care of herself. No woman in any continent thinks that is fair or sustainable, therefore women’s perseverance at work and marriage.

In a world of shit hole countries and inter-country walls, I am learning to become untriggered, but I can still get a little sore when I am asked how I could become such a feminist, coming from Africa where women are so oppressed, with suggestions that maybe, I am reacting to the oppression. Fortunately, or unfortunately, I was not taught anything else.

Is that feminism or autonomism? Does it matter what it is called?

 

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African Woman, How to Live a Lifeless Life and Sustain a Loveless Life, I am not a politician but..., Life Lessons, Love is..., Loves of a Life Time, Mental Health

Love Is…Undeserved Compliments

Hi lovely people! Have you been wondering how to know that the man/woman etc human in your life loves you?!

London show your rump to trumpWell, it is easy. You know that day when you wake up feeling like a sack of rotten potatoes?

No?

Ok. Lucky you!

A crate of rotten eggs then?

You know like the one the lovely British people planned to throw at POTUS a couple of weeks ago?

No? Oh well. Then it just me.

I have these days covered before they even arrive. I have several bad-hair-day scarfs and paraphernalia. I have a hat. I have umbrellas. I have hoodies. I have an afro in braids. There is that fleece that  I only wear when I am feeling like crap. It’s grey and it is sooooo comfy and it smells of laziness, sofa and TV.

20180113_181714Since I am a beehive of activity even on my worst days, I need to throw the rubbish out. On the ground floor. I drag myself from the sofa, take my red coat for a flush of color. My older sister always said that a click of red lipstick, or anything red, on black skin makes you look like sunshine. Even on wintry bad days.

My human says: “WAIT!”

I look around at him ready to pounce.

Me: “What?!” you know, daring him to say something awful.

20180113_181716(0)My human: “You look great! Let me take a photo!”

Me: “Really? Dude? What do you want?”

click. click.

My human: “Look!”

And I do look OK. It is not the end of the world. So I pull myself together and smile at him.

20180113_181704“Take one more photo then!”

I still have an inner child that loves attention and thrives under the gaze of love. But I do this thing when I am very happy that gives me #crazyeyes.

What does it matter when there is one person in the whole wide world that sees something good in me?! Something that looks good even on my worst days.

#YouAreNotCrazy. You are #Passionate.

/Linda

 

African Woman, Fashion & Style?, Learning to Live a Balanced Life, Mental Health, Self Love, Therapy Sessions

F$£K New Year resolutions!

Hi guys! Hope you are having a nice 2018 so far? For me, it’s the 60th of January 2018, this month never ends! This morning, I did the math of how to survive the coming unbearable THREE days until payday on the 25th. At 08:00am, I had a few Swedish crowns left in the account. At 16:00, I have 0 crowns left and it is still 3 freaking days to go!

It is rocket science.

65th January 2018

In Kenya, this is the week mama mboga – female grocery store owner – sells on credit. 90% everyone of her customers is broke after all the celebrations planned with the purpose of emptying pockets. If mama mboga is feeling cranky, she closes down during this week and rests in wait for end month.

mamamboga
Eat Well – Only, not in January…

Screw the suckers!

Independence day on 12th December comes first and it expects every self respecting Kenyan to celebrate the republic. Then comes Christmas. No words needed, right? By the time the New Year comes, no Kenyan is calling any other Kenyan for any reason whatsoever. There are things you don’t have to pay for – #PleaseCallMe and #PleaseSwishMe. The pain in all Kenyan asses, School fees, is not to be ignored.

As a young Nairobian, I used to move back to my parents’ or siblings’ homes for the whole of January.

In Sweden, my life is upside down and I am an adult not young anymore. So, I cannot move back to anyone’s home. When I did the math this morning, I realized I had a few coins left for my survival and smiled. I then decided quite promptly that I had to go shopping for some cheap food for the coming THREE days. We have a grocery store, not so far away, that usually has some cheap edibles short-dates on Sundays. I never bothered to shower since it is a short walk. I the applied a little lipstick to fool the fools and a winter hat does the trick. I am as dry as a withered thorn-pine in the desert so I took a drop of oil on my palm, the oil running out too, added a little luminator that too is running out! When it rains, it pours! and matched out whistling happily. I was looking fly! Like a million Shillings!

Shopping 60th January 2018Remember I have promised to stop buying useless crap in 2018 so I can save money and be rich? Well, that was rich coming from me! As I turned to go into the grocery store, I saw the 70% off poster on the window of some store. Or 30% sale price. These poster are usually in red, so you couldn’t miss them if you tried. I feel happy because I understand that on the 60th of January, most shopkeepers multinational retailers selling crap know that I have only a few coins left so the sales posters are a way of being nice to….waaiit for it….ME!! I match into every shop that has a sale poster on. I am listening to Adele’s, Make You Feel My Love. There is no other way I can show myself some love on a day like this.

I even bought a Pomelo on sale! Seriously, sod off and f4£k off with all the freaking new year resolutions! I have been shopping! I have new crap! I feel temporarily elated. And don’t you dare give that crap about the elation not lasting! I am perfectly happy with temporary bliss! I have no fresh groceries but who cares?! I can raid the freezer for the next 3 days.

If you are good with the January planning, can I move in with you for a couple of days?

#YouAreNotCrazy. You are #Passionate.

/Linda

African Woman, Learning to Live a Balanced Life, Life Lessons, Loves of a Life Time

Dream Men

Maasai Cricket warriors
Maasai Cricket Warriors by Francois Nel/Getty Images

When I see this picture of black men moving their bodies with ease and control; displaying this capacity Africans have to embrace new things and learning without prestige. learning them without abandoning what they already know. I remember my dream man.

As a young girl growing up in Kenya, I never had a dream wedding, just my dream man. He was black, like the men who brought me up – he was dignified, he was “the silent, strong type”. My father drunk too much, so my dream man did not drink. My father smoked and every hug left me feeling like I was hugging his shadow and the real man, my father was hidden behind the layers of cigarette smoke and alcohol. My future man would not smoke.

He would look like that man swinging the Cricket bat and I would adore him and he would adore me. Maybe, if he was kind, I would even *let* him have a mistress to massage his beautiful ego.

And then I moved to Sweden and my dream expanded in form and content. What a twisted rope life is!

African Woman, I am not a politician but..., I am not a racist but..., Life Lessons

Born, bred and intellectualized in #EastShitHole

ShitholeThe land of many many wonderful people who reared me with confidence, civility, trust and love.

We are here. If colonialism, dehumanization, the slave trades and all the other genius plans in history didn’t kill us off, nothing will. Except the nuclear bomb that will not discriminate the shit holes.

We are here. Live. With. It.

 

 

African Woman, Art & Culture, feminism, Life Lessons, sex

Lady Chatterleys Lover Vs. Kenyan Independence

Lady Chatterley’s Lover was on TV this holiday season, and of course, we watched it. The details are irrelevant except the affirmation that I love the endlessness of the Lady Chatterley and Oliver story. But, every single time I watch or re-read Lady Chatterley’s Lover and get astounded, it is ruined by the context in my head.

The context is:

Lady Chatterley LoverIn 1959-1960, when the Penguin trial was ongoing in Britain, to un-ban D.H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover that was banned under the Obscene Publications Act 1959; my father was 12 years old and mother was 10. In Kenya, a state of emergency had been ongoing since 1952. Kenyans were rebelling against colonialism. In 1959, a good number of Kenyans, both men and women,  were tortured, raped, humiliated and murdered. In one such camp, Hola camp, the deaths of over ten detainees kicked the already rolling ball of freedom.

You will now think that I should have forgotten about colonialism and be able to enjoy a good story, dramatized as love. Well, I don’t go around thinking about colonialism. I go around thinking about freedom. The freedom to do whatever the heck I want. And in 1959, when the Great Britain was banning books that described sex, my grandmother assured me that she was still having the wild romp in the wild. Although it was banned as wild, primitive and unnatural by the masters of the world.

My grandmother was married to Rubeni since she was fifteen. Or, rightly said, they were partners for life. Their marriage was not a documented matter. Nor was it a Imprisoned by Societal Expectations kind of marriage. In Kenya, in 1959, marriage was a Together for Survival kind of agreement. Scratch my back, I scratch yours. I may love you, I may not love you, but if I respect you and we are headed in the same direction – I will loyally walk beside you. The religion and law of one God and one partner for life, came with the masters of the world.

So, every time I see Lady Chatterley’s Lover, the contradicting thought in my head is how a society can be fighting for a freedom for themselves, that is already a freedom elsewhere; a freedom that they call primitive, unnatural and wild when exercised by others, but a freedom they want for themselves nevertheless.