#WeStandTogether

From a morning filled with laughter, jokes, people milling about doing their business and others scouring the depths of their photo albums to keep up with the #10YearsChallenge, to events so horrific and terrifying that shook us all as Kenyans.

The moments that followed after I saw an active shootout ongoing in a city I call Home, a city I grew up in, a City my family lives in.
I held my breath in as I called and texted family to know if everyone was alright, and I clutched my hands in prayer, asking God to protect those still stuck inside.

The people inside were someone’s father, someone’s sister, someone’s mother, someone’s friend,and I could only just imagine the fear while one awaits to hear news about your loved ones.

After almost 14 hours of keeping up with all the news, local and international, the area was secured and all hostages rescued and the terrorists defeated.

For most, the horror ends there.

For others, the horrors had just began.

One who had to cover herself with the blood of her fallen comrades and stay still as bullets rained.

One who hid in a toilet as the terrorists combed through the plaza.

One who kept on waiting for hope, already accepted death, said his goodbyes.

One who called his father and ,made it out alive, but lost his brothers.

One who passed by fallen Kenyans, people who were moments ago, alive and going on with their lives.

700 made it out alive. Scarred. Traumatized. Survivors.


14 passed away.

14 never made it home.

14 friends.

14 family members.

14 people who left home with no idea of what the day holds.

Prayers came in all directions.


Support showed through.

Hundreds showed up for blood donation.

Mama showed up with tea for the brave souls that undertook the rescue mission.

And then came the hate.

My close friend locking herself in her room in the Campus hostels to avoid the taunting of her school mates.

Your neighbor Muhammad is now no longer your good friend, but a terrorist who needs to go back to his country.

People calling for raids and attacks on Muslim and Somali owned businesses and Worship places.

This is not my Kenya.

This is the time to RISE above the hate.

Terrorism has no colour, no religion, no community, no tribe.

We all are affected.

As a country.

As a people.

As a community.

Choose love and peace above the hate and division.

#WeStandTogether

#WeAreOne

#WeShallOvercome

cursed

Cursed one

‘Ulolaaniwa’

He never wanted me

Never will

A father is her daughter’s King

Mine is my nightmare

A father is to hold you

Mine is to hit me

A father is to love you

Mine loathes me

A father is to protect you

I need protection from him

A father is the light in his daughter’s eyes

Mine snatched all the light away

A girl is blessed to have her father alive

Mine is cursed to have me alive

I was taught

From when I could understand

Stay out of his way

He’ll kick me if I don’t

Stay out of his sight

What new curse could he come up with today?

Let him not hear you

You don’t want to be hit

I wonder why

He could never love me

I’ve tried my best

1st in all my classes

Until he made me drop out

Wasting his money

Only to be married

An excellent cook

Until he burnt me ‘accidentally’

A voice like a bird

Until he had me caged

Silent

Silent tears

As I cradled my broken arm

No hospitals

So it never healed right

A painful reminder

Each and every day

That I am cursed

Cursed to be born

Cursed to be his daughter

Cursed to be a girl

Simply cursed for who I am.

blind

Love blinds

So people say

Well, it never did me

I just chose to ignore

Ignored when he raised his voice

Ignored when he broke the TV

Ignored when he threw words around

Ignored, but felt it each time

Then he first raised his hand

I ignored

He left

I cried myself to sleep

I chose to be blind

I held it in

Chose to ignore

For my little 2 year old boy

I chose to be blind

Until I couldn’t anymore

Then I tried leaving

But I couldn’t

Mama said

What would people say?

Baba said

Think of your son

Auntie said

I probably deserved it

Society said

A woman should persevere

And everyone saw

The bruised arms

The black eyes

But everyone chose to ignore

They all become blind

He is my husband

I love him

I should persevere

Maybe, I did deserve it

I’ll hold my tongue

Never ask where he is

Never argue

Never raise my voice again

Blind to his faults

Then came my little girl

One look at her

And I knew

I wouldn’t let her live like I do

I’ll show her what love is supposed to be

Not a broken heart

A twisted arm

Or a bruised eye

Her Mama will make her proud

And I left

For my walking son

He shouldn’t be like

The monster he calls father

Love is not this.

I choose not to be blind anymore

Society be damned

I am no more blind

This time I choose to be deaf

Let them talk

hurt

First time she did it

We both were shocked

I was hurt

Bleeding

And not just from the cut

The one she placed

Right above my eye

8 stitches

But the pain

Was not as much as

The one in my heart

I was hurt

She said sorry

She was angry

It’ll never happen again

She held me as we both cried

And I believed her

And it happened again

A screaming match

Followed by a thrown vase

Then a cut again

This time my arm

And again

A blow to my head

She took me to the ER

Laughed off with the nurse

Men and their competitive nature

Got beaten up trashtalking

Said his team was better

I couldn’t say a word

Disoriented

Confused

Hurt

And again

And again

Every time she’s angry

Every time she’s upset

Elaborate lies

Made up stories

Who do I tell

Who do I confide in

That the one I love

Hurts me the most

S.U.I.C.I.D.E.

Ssshhhhhhhhhh…

Don’t talk about it

Don’t even think about it

The more we ignore it

The more it’ll go away

Soon enough, it’ll all be forgotten

Killing oneself?

That only happens in the West

If you ever feel like doing it

Probably because you don’t believe

You lack faith in God

You have no hope in life

Stop thinking about it at all

It’ll all pass

And you’ll move on

So forget about it

And Ssshhhhhh

Never bring it up again.

The amount of times I’ve been silenced on suicide and mental health astonishes even me at this point in life, never have I seen people be so ignorant and treat a matter as taboo, even when it happens several times in their community as they treat mental illness and suicide. It looks like staying silent on the matter is just increasing the rates by the tens and thousands.

In 2017 , suicide rates in Kenya raised by 58%.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) states that close to 800,000 people commit suicide every year, which means one person every 40 seconds.

Kenya is ranked as 6th in Africa for the highest number of depression cases reported.

For ages 15-29, suicide is the second leading cause of death.

And get this, males are at a higher risk of suicide than females.

Toxic masculinity, where men aren’t allowed to feel, talk about their feelings or express emotions should stop.

We have big issues to address in our community, and instead of treating it like a serious matter which needs attention, we push it aside, sweep it under the carpet and hope we never have to ever talk about it.

Suicide is not a single thought, of I want to die.

It’s walking up in the morning wishing you had died in your sleep.

It’s feeling no will to continue living, barely surviving

It’s wishing you never have to explain, why you always tired and down

Wishing you’d just fade away and no one would notice

It’s trying to escape the suffocation

The drowning, the exhaustion

It’s thinking you don’t have anything to live for

No one cares

No one ever did

No one will ever do

It’s not wanting to cause pain

Not wanting to be a burden

It’s feeling left out

Like no one can understand

They never do

They never will

It’s feeling too much

Then nothing at all

Craving the lightness of just being a soul

It’s the depression talking

The misery setting in

And anxiety rooted within

It’s the dark thoughts clouding all good

That even when you try to remember that there is hope

It disappears

Cause in the end we all are alone.

That is what feeling suicidal is to me

That even when you want to hope

It runs fast leaving coldness

It’s losing one’s self to

Numbness

Darkness

Drowning

Cutting

Jumping

Hanging

Swallowing

Hopelessness

one small act and it’ll all fade away

No more pain

No more dismay

No hurting anymore.

But see, all this is a LIE. PEOPLE CARE.

Even when we think that it’ll all end with us, it doesn’t.

We still have mountains to climb

Sunsets to watch

Drinks to enjoy

Rains to dance in

Oceans to explore

Cultures to experience

We are yet to love and be loved

To care and be cared for

And it all begins with me

And you

You mean the world to someone else

You never are alone

Stop with the depreciating jokes

Every morning

Tell yourself

You are strong

You can make it

You can make it

You can make it

Then strive for it

Strive for a better day

Strive for a real smile

One day at a time

Just one more day at a time

Smell the fresh earthy smell after rain

The warm coffee scent

The rich chocolate taste

The feeling of the first morning ray

The sound of the chirping birds

You never are alone

Seek help

Lean on others to support you

To family and friends dealing with people struggling with mental illnesses and suicidal thoughts, talk about it, don’t shun them away, and later wonder why they never said anything, why you never noticed and that you were always there. If you can’t handle it, ask a professional to intervene.

Be a good listener, listen well.

Offer emotional support.

Encourage them to seek help.

Remind them that the sun will rise again.

HER STORY

 

SENSITIVE TOPICS AHEAD!

 

I write this to share a story I hid deep inside, a story I fear being read, a story I wish no one ever experiences, but sadly many do.

I grew up surrounded by men, an only girl in a family of seven, I loved and trusted all my brothers, for I knew safety was home. safety was in the confines of our room, our room, one I shared with my 3 brothers. Growing up, money was tight but still life was good, we went to good schools, slept with our tummies full and walked around well dressed. I remember family road trips to the rural,  food made from mud and of course, family. Family made everything better.

One trip was different though, coming back we had a new guest to add, a cousin who wanted to study in the city, tired of the local run down college back home. A Harambee was done, and he was sent away to live with us. I was happy, gained another brother, 7-year-old me couldn’t stop smiling, another family member, another blessing.

“I know it’s hard adjusting to live with an extra person in a crowded room kids, but remember a guest is a blessing, I don’t want to hear any complains, understood?”

We all understood, no body wants to embarrass Mummy, so we all promised to be on our best behaviour.

Days passed, and we all got along so well that when asked, 7-year-old me had 5 brothers now, 5 brothers to play with, to eat with and to go home to, where home was safe, safe was our home.

A community pool opened up in our neighbourhood, one that was affordable to us, provided we saved up a week of our allowances, a measly Ksh 50 per head, so we did. And I couldn’t have been more excited, even though the only waters I knew were the rushing stream near Grandma’s house in the village and the big lake, where only big boys could swim because of the sharks and crocodiles.I’d watched Jaws with my brothers, there was no way I would risk swimming in shark and crocodile infested waters, I heard even an anaconda was spotted swimming one day! Finally I would know what it was like to swim. I couldn’t even sleep the day before.

Clad in my first ever mtush Disney one-piece,I was the happiest 7-year-old girl in the pool, it even had Bella and Cinderella! I stayed in the kiddie side of the pool, splashing water and holding the rail and kicking my legs into the water, enjoying with all the kids my age, and occasionally hitching a ride on the backs of my brothers’ backs, while others pretended to be sharks, it would have been the best day of my childhood, if the story ended there. The reason I probably remember everything in detail was because of the events that occurred after it.

My new ‘brother’ wanted to carry me around in the water, so I hopped excitedly, hoping for another games of Jaws and Crocodiles, only he was the monster after all. Creeping hands into my beautiful Disney one-piece, one that I found and burned a couple of years ago.

“SSSSShhhhh, don’t make a noise, I promise you’ll enjoy it, don’t let anyone see”

I didn’t enjoy it, I was confused and angry and scared, I was terrified. I didn’t know what was going on and I couldn’t tell anyone, not even Mummy, because she said

“NO COMPLAINS. BE ON YOUR BEST BEHAVIOUR”

That was the first time it happened, in a public pool, in front of my parents and 4 siblings.

Days later, it happened again.

Being the youngest and in Class One, school always ended early for me, I loved it because I had more time to read and play. I had a very healthy books collection because whenever I did something good, I was always rewarded with a new book, it wasn’t new in age, but it was a new story to read. I knew all about the Cunning Fox, the Quick Hare, the Wise Owl and the Brave Lion.

I had left school early, as always and I was excited to be home. I had recently passed my Mid Term examinations and I already had 3 books waiting for me at home. If I had realized earlier than it was home, I would have willingly stayed bored at school till 5 waiting for my brothers than go back home.

It cornered me in a room, alone and scared, still in my uniform where I was gagged and shoved on the floor. I tried fighting but it twisted my arms, successfully dislocating a shoulder, I think I passed out several times where I woke up in pain, in bed, face free of the tears I had wept, begging it to stop hurting me, begging it to stop, crying for it to leave me alone. It said it would kill me if I ever said anything, it was easy to squeeze my throat, it showed me by doing it. Or smothering me with a pillow, it was easy to do it too.

I walked around with a dislocated shoulder until it was too painful for me to handle, I showed Mommy and told her I had fallen in school playing at the monkey bars. It said no one would believe me, even if they did ask me, what happened, how was I to know what was going on? How would I say it? Every one was blind to it, and they loved it so much. When it realized, it had hurt my shoulder bad enough that I had to go to the hospital, it started being “nice and sweet.”

For 3 years, until it moved away to start a life, it bribed me with sweets and soda, promising never to hurt me again, never again. It was sweet to me for a long time, long enough for me to nearly forget.

But it happened again, again and again.

For 3 years until it moved away after finishing college.

I had stopped talking as much, no one noticed.

I didn’t want to leave the house as much, no one noticed.

I grew terrified of my own father and brothers, no one noticed.

It said I deserved it anyways.

I was JUST  7 YEARS OLD!!!!!!!

I took an oath to hate men, they were monsters, I had lived  and slept in the same room as one.

The room that was safe, haunted me in my nightmares.

I had night terrors, no one noticed.

I woke up in tears, whimpering and crying no one noticed.

I’ve never spoken out loud about IT, how could I?

I see it every holiday when I go to Grandmas

I see its wife

I see its daughters

I know Mum and Dad love it so much.

They call it son.

So how could they believe me?

No one would

They never noticed anything, why would they now?

The rage I feel for IT is so consuming so powerful

I wish I could burn it to ashes with my eyes

I shall never forget it

Never forgive it

The monster that I lived with

I can’t say who I am, or who IT is,

I never was one to cause chaos, I wonder if anyone would believe me, if they did, what would happen to it? Will they risk breaking up not one but two families based on something they never knew about?

I’ve seen around and I’ve heard the excuses.

“It’s too late”

“You should have spoken earlier”

“Why did you stay silent”

“We can’t do anything”

Sorry, I was scared for my life

I’m sorry I lived in fear

The statute’s expired while I drowned in nightmares

Since I can’t sue you here

I leave with my scars and cries

See you in the Court Above.

I still live with nightmares, I’ve seen therapists, counsellors and life coaches, it does get better, but when?

Every time a story like mine comes up in the news, I wake up terrified of my own shadow.

Every time I see the backlash and stigma in this topic, I am relieved I never shared mine, then angry, so angry and furious that our uneducated and uncivilized society would blame the victim, again and again.

I contemplated killing myself when I was ten, ten year olds SHOULDN’T EVEN THINK about killing themselves, but I did, I have tried several times, but I now know that it wasn’t my fault, I DESERVE TO LIVE, I DESERVE TO BE HAPPY.

Slow but steady, I have rough nights where I wish I could just off myself, I hate being touched by anybody at all times, I have panic attacks randomly and I am on depression medication. I have never been in a relationship, simply because I still do NOT trust easily, I understand that not all men are monsters, but I am yet to believe it myself. It took me years to accept love from and trust the male figures in my lives, my father and brothers, SEVERAL YEARS.

I AM A SURVIVOR!

I tell my story, not to gather any pity, but to remind others and myself, I have lived this far, reached this far, and hopefully will one day reach where I want to be.

“WhAt WeRe YoU WeArInG?”

A one piece long-sleeved Disney swim suit.

“YoU sHoUlDn’T hAvE wOrN tHaT!”

I was 7, and I was swimming.

“YoU InStIgAtEd It!”

I was  SEVEN YEARS OLD!

“PrObAbLy DoN’t FeAr God?”

I was raised in a Religious household, Religious God-fearing Household.

“WhY dIdN’t YoU SaY aNyThInG?”

I was terrified for my life, I was tied, gagged, smothered by a pillow, choked and it dislocated my shoulder.

“YoU cOuLd HavE sToPpeD IT!”

HOWWW????? I WAS SEVEN! HE WAS OLDER! STRONGER! MORE POWERFUL!

“ThReE YeArS? YoU oBvIoUsLy LiKeD iT iF iT hApPeNeD fOr ThAt LoNG!”

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Any more ignorant and stupid idiotic questions?

 

All those who blame sexual abuse victims are as bad as the abusers themselves, we fail to provide a proper supporting society, and continue to stigmatize and terrify the survivors more.

UNTIL WHEN WILL PEOPLE SIMPLY UNDERSTAND THAT NO IS NO!

Child molesters and sexual abusers might be the scum of the earth.

We live in a terrifying world where a Sexual harassed or abused victims called a liar, even when there is proof, a coward for not stepping up sooner, a

Rape culture trivializes the experience of women while at the same time blaming us for what we’ve experienced. It perpetrates myths about why men rape and simultaneously underplays and exaggerates its impact on victims and survivors.

1 in 3 women has experienced sexual harassment.

Every 5 minutes, someone somewhere is being raped.

To every survivor reading this.

You are strong,

You are beautiful,

It was NOT your fault,

It never was, never will be.

I am sorry for society, its backward thinking and stupidity.

YOU ARE NEVER ALONE!

#METOO

 

 

*BASED ON A TRUE STORY, SOME DETAILS HAVE BEEN EDITED TO PROTECT THE SURVIVOR. 

 

ORGANIZATIONS THAT CAN HELP:

Childline Kenya : www.childlinekenya.co.ke

Wangu Kanja Foundation :  www.wangukanjafoundation.org

Gender Violence Recovery Centre (GVRC- Kenya):  www.gvrc.or.ke

Centre for Assault Recovery of Eldoret (CAR-E): +254 532033471, +254 53 2061005

Gender-based Violence Recovery Centre- Coast Province General Hospital ; 

Helpline: 254 20 2179519 / 2179521
Airtel 0734 466 466 , Safaricom 0722 208 652

 

Divinity FGM Rescue Centre: http://divinityfoundation.com/

CARA Girls Rescue Centre: https://caraprojects.com/

Women’s Rights Awareness Programme (WRAP): http://preventgbvafrica.org/member/womens-rights-awareness-programme-wrap-2/

 

 

Listen Up, NO means NO.

I feel my heart heavy

My feet dragging on

Everywhere I look

I see pain and heartbreak

Girls been raped

Abused then accused

There was consent

They lied

After all, they enjoyed it

And then they were asked

Why didn’t you speak up sooner

Stop changing the narrative

We know what happened

Even when were not there

We know

After being told

To cover up

Wash up

Clean yourself up

Then shut up

It’s done anyway

We’ll raise you higher up

Worry not,

We’ll give you free tuition

To cover up this flawed situation

Come on, we are in a corrupt nation

Seems like we gained naught from our education

That No means No

Say yes, say Yes

Even, when you tried to say no

We’ll prove it was yes, it was yes

Before educating me for free

A price you want to buy me

For my silence, for my screams

I’ll give you a lesson for free

NO MEANS NO

I say NO to your price

I shall not be bought

I say NO to silence

I stand NOT alone

I say NO to rape culture

I only wish I was heard

When I first said NO.

Let’s learn consent

If I was tricked into it, then it’s a NO

If I was drugged, Then it’s a NO

If I said yes, then changed my mind, it’s my choice, and I choose to say NO

If I was held hostage, knife on my throat, Trust me it’s a NO

If I did NOT explicitly, without doubt, force or willingness, say Yes, then it’s a NO

I owe you nothing

No matter who you are

Not my body, Not my choice

It’s mine, My decision to make

And if it’s a NO, It’s a NO

Take a hint, and LET GO, It’s A NO

How many more times

Do I have to repeat myself

I seem to be not passing the message through

But if I will be believed

Then

See you in court

See, I kept an If

Because in this corrupt country

With most high ups deep in bigotry

I doubt that I’ll ever be heard

But for you, listening

Reading this, and understanding

Share my story

So we can stand together

To fight this creature

An ugly monster

In the form of rape culture

#metoo

I Shall Vote

On an empty stomach

Holding a dying baby, 

No doctors in sight

I shall Vote

As my brother falls in battle

And my cows to their deaths

And as my crops dry up

No worries, I shall vote.

As hunger and famine plague me 

And the rivers dry up

Water, but a passing memory

I shall Vote.

I shall vote for one,

Who cares about me and my children

Me and my needs

Me, the common Mwananchi

For I shall Vote.

For one honest and true

Just and wise

Humane and a true leader

I shall Vote hungry, thirsty and sick

But nevertheless, I shall vote.

An Appeal to Your Hearts.

1.3 Million people suffering

1.3 million lives at stake

Bodies dropping by the hour

Listen carefully,

This is an appeal to your heart.

“She walks kilometres

Hours pass her by

Searching for life

Water for her family

He walks on and on

Only to find mud

Muddy dirty H2O

Water for his family

Thirsty and tired

They move forward

Contaminated waters all around

Water for their families

Passing by carcasses,

Wealth they had once possessed.

Dry withered plants,

Food they thought they had.

Listen carefully,

Close your ears

And open your heart

This is an appeal to your heart
Together

Me and you

Can make a difference

Clean water for them all.

This is an appeal to your hearts.

 

Listen carefully,

This is an appeal to your heart.

Images all from Google showcasing the drought and famine present in Kenya currently.

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