I read some really interesting books in 2017.
- On Black Sisters Street: Chika Unigwe – I read it in the context of the current mass migration tales and I helped me imagine the kind of backstories that some of the migrants are fleeing from.
- The Woman Next Door: Yewande Omotoso – Great read. As I read it I kept thinking it would make for a great TV mini-series.
- Rape: Pumla Dineo Gqola– Eye opening. Educative. Informative. Heavy topic, well written.
- When Breath Becomes Air: Paul Kalanithi – I cried after reading this one. It made me think of legacies and the things that drive me.
- Small Great Acts: Jodi Piccoult – I love her writing and as usual, there was a deep ethical question to ponder.
- An Elegy for Easterly: Pettinah Gappah – I am not a big short stories fan but I love the author and the stories did not disappoint. Must admit to the fact that I kept thinking back to these stories during Mugabe’s exit.
- Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City: Matthew Desmond – I love these kinds of books that delve into one deep topic. It was interesting to also see how eviction has interlinkages with so many other issues: unemployment, poverty, crime, food shortages.
- The Mothers: Brit Bennett – I enjoyed this read, it was an easy read but raised so many questions for me – especially on the role of faith in our lives.
- The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Pearce: Jeff Hobbs – Forgetting whether it is the author’s story to tell, this book broke my heart. For anyone that wants to read Hillbilly Elegy, I would rather recommend this one.
- Stay With Me: Ayobami Adebayo – Loved, loved, loved this one. Definitely recommending it to one and all.
- Who Will Catch Us As We Fall: Iman Verjee – Great story on Kenya post-2007. Faultless.
- Lyrics Alley: Leila Aboulela – This book made me dream of visiting Khartoum and The Sudan.
- Beneath the Lion’s Gaze: Maaza Mengiste – It helped me understand so much about Ethiopia. Definitely a must read.
- Kintu: Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi – A book from home. I initially thought it would be too ambitious and then under deliver but no, it was a great book to read. Get it.
- Pachinko: Min Jin Lee – I have a thing for dynastic reads and this delivered exactly what I love: joy, sadness, tears, laughter and triumph.
Posted in books, home
Tagged Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀, book club, books, Books reading, Chika Unigwe, Evicted, Iman Verjee, Jeff Hobbs, Jodi Piccoult, Kintu, Leila Aboulela, Maaza Mengiste, Min Jin Lee, Pachinko, Paul Kalanithi, Pettinah Gappah, Pumla Dineo Gqola, The Mothers, Yewande Omotoso
This definition of her: to go from her father to her husband, to be pretty, docile – a man made tragedy. Her soul was made of larger, more powerful things, things that create or desecrate armies and galaxies. This is why when she loves she changes kingdoms, and when she hates she destroys legacies. Nikita Gill, Jasmine, A Princess That Belonged To Herself First
Posted in books, Heart matters, home, marriage, school, working
Tagged books, Books reading, Chicken, church, faith, fish, friendship, gender, marriage, new year resolutions, pasta recipe, poetry, recipes, Sunday Reads, working
I love New York, I just love it and so I wanted to share a couple of books that remind me of the Big Apple.
- I have shared before that I did not really like Open City and I thought he was just showing off.
- I LOVED Behold the Dreamers. I felt it was more relateable.
- Everyone is raving about the Leavers but I felt it would have been a better short story but it gave me a glimpse of Upstate New York.
Do you love the Big Apple and have you read any books based on this city?
Posted in books
Tagged Behold the Dreamers, books, Books reading, Imbolo Mbue, Lisa Ko, New York, Open City, Teju Cole, The Leavers, travel, travelling
So I recently had occasion to reflect on the past year and to start planning for 2018 and decided to close out the year by reading ten books until the end of coming February. SO here is my reading list (the ones struck off are already complete):
Kintu – Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi
- All the Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doer
Little Fires Everywhere – Celeste Ng
Her Body and Other Parties – Carmen Maria Machado
The Leavers – Lisa Ko
Pachinko – Min Jin Lee
A Column of Fire – Ken Follett
Negroland: A Memoir – Margo Jefferson
Dear Ijeawele or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
The Warmth of Other Suns – Isabel Wilkerson
- Their Eyes were Watching God – Zora Neale Hurston
- Between the World and Me – Ta-Nehisi Coates
- The Gene: An Intimate History – Siddhartha Mukherjee
- Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind – Yuval Harari
Always Another Country: A Memoir of Exile and Home – Sisonke Msimang
Posted in books, life
Tagged books, Books reading, Celeste Ng, Chimamanda, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, essays, fiction, goal setting, goals, Isabel Wilkerson, Ken Follett, Kintu, Negroland, non-fiction, Pachinko, reading, Sisonke Msimang, The Gene
Fill your life with women that empower you, that help you believe in your magic and aid them to believe in their own exceptional power and their incredible magic too. Women that believe in each other can survive anything. Women who believe in each other create armies that will win kingdoms and wars. Nikita Gill
Posted in books, design, home, working
Tagged Beneath the Lion's Gaze, book club, books, Chicken, church, faith, Grace Mugabe, kids, Nigeria, race, recipes, Sunday Reads, white, women and work, working
Posted in books, design, home, life
Tagged Afghanistan, Africa, books, Books reading, cooking, faith, home decor, ministry, motherhood, Nairobi, recipes, Sunday Reads, Uber, women
“Silence is often a woman-flavoured thing. It is guilty of holding countless women’s names and voices hostage inside of its spine and its ribcage.” Nikita Gill
Posted in books, Heart matters, home, marriage
Tagged books, Books reading, cooking, entertainment, India, Indian cuisine, marriage, Pasta, pasta recipe, recipes, Sunday Reads
I miss my gal pals the most when I see stuff like this that we could do together .
I particularly think of the things that I have missed out on with my better female friends: baby showers, bridal showers, high tea, being able to do random things together, road trips, dinners, first homes, come meet my new guy, the new baby, watch a new show together and laugh about it – just a lot of stuff. Yes, IRL I have friends and people I do this but it’s also different.
From the blog post:
I particularly love #2,6, 9 and have done #3 – adult baking dates are awesome – 10, 13.
The comments as usual provides such gems and so here is my to do with a friend list.
- Volunteer together at a cause that’s meaningful to either or both of us.
- More concerts – I watched John Legend with a pal and her cool mom and it was awesome!
- Coworking sessions. Yes to these.
- Sit together and read dates.
- Sleepovers with no husbands or kids.
- Pottery / learn something class.
- Try and commit to an exercise class together.
- Talk about podcast episodes we both love. Tried to get so many pals into this that I am glad I can do it with my sister and partly with The Mr.
- Watch TV shows together and make comments in between, ideally together or even if separately, concurrently.
- Same day road trips and do stuff along the way or at the destination.
- Supper club where each person brings one.
In fact, I decided to have a little snacks and games afternoon at my place next month! Done!!
Posted in Heart matters
Tagged baking, books, classes, Cup of Jo, exercise, female bonding, female friendship, food, friendship, Podcasts, reading, TV
Against the backdrop of the political shenanigans in Kenya, I read this very interesting book on Kenya by a Kenyan Indian author.
About the Book.
Haunted by a past that has kept her from Nairobi for over three years, Leena returns home to discover her family unchanged: her father is still a staunch patriot dreaming of a better country; her mother is still unwilling or unable to let go of the past; and her brother spends his days provoking the establishment as a political activist. When Leena meets a local Kikuyu artist whose past is linked to her own, the two begin a secret affair—one that forces Leena to again question her place in a country she once called home.
Interlinked with Leena’s story is that of Jeffery: a corrupt policeman burdened with his own angers and regrets, and whose questionable actions have unexpected and catastrophic consequences for those closest to him. Who Will Catch Us As We Fall is an epic look at the politics and people of Kenya.
So my general thoughts:
- The book had quite a slow start, I mean you could tell she is hinting at something that happened in the past but she wasn’t going to give away anything quite so quickly.
- I thought it was a good attempt for the author to include Kiswahili phrases but it probably needed an editor who also spoke Kiswahili as in the absence of that the book had basic editorial mistakes like the police moto: Utumishi kwa wote, not utamishi kwa wote; Jogoo House not Jogo House.
- I thought that the city of Nairobi could have been more prominent unless the narrow lens through which it was presented was necessary to present how insular the Indian community in Kenya is?
The book had a few major themes that were particularly meaningful to me.
- Love that she talks about the race/tribe relations between Indians and Africans in Kenya. How there is a sense of mistrust and almost antagonistic hate or resentment. This was best played out by the employer – employee relations by the Indian mama and her Kikuyu/ African maid.
- I thought the discussion between Jai and Ivy at the SONU meeting about what makes a Kenyan Kenyan quite insightful. It made me wonder whether by the same reckoning I would be classified as one because though by birth and upbringing I am one, then again, am I actually one? Will Indians ever be viewed as Kenyan?
- My surprise at Jai choosing to study at UoN instead of going to England which as the mom confirms is the better option and generally the done thing among this sub population.
- It was interesting to read about Pio Gama Pinto because he is one person who history has not represented very well even all these years later.
- Jai could play outside but Leena couldn’t.
- Jeffrey just “took over” his friends wife like she was a spare item and no one questioned that.
- Also the fact that the wife just rolled over and adjusted to this new reality.
- The dynamics between a maid and her employer were very startling and playing into the perception of race and/or tribe in the book is the difference in treatment for a maid between a white and Indian employer.
- Jeffrey wielded significant power and that was how over time he was able to become as corrupt as he was.
- Who really ran the home between Jai’s parents, the mom or the dad?
- Leena’s characterisation of being in Nairobi vs being in London and how one can reimagine / build it up into something bigger than it really is. (p. 335)
- I loved the following quotes that best typified Nairobi.
“I love this country but I must accept it for what it is. A place where thieves are celebrated and good men die unremarkable deaths.” (p. 357)
“Nairobi is a sly town. It is so small that run-ins with people one is trying to avoid are a common occurrence, yet it is segmented enough to keep two searching individuals apart. (p. 384)
Not as ambitious as Dust but for a contemporary book, it was a great effort and I would certainly recommend it to anyone.
Posted in books, Heart matters, home
Tagged books, Books reading, Dust, gender, home, Iman Verjee, Kenya, Kenyan Indians, Kiswahili, Nairobi, power, race, tribe, Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor
Posted in books, home, marriage, working
Tagged Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀, books, Books reading, cooking, Kenya, lentils, marriage, Ngugi wa Thiong'o, Nobel Prize, recipes, Sunday Reads, weddings. planning, women, women and work, Zeitz Mocaa
When I moved to Cape Town, I did not expect to like, or GASP love it, as much as I did Johannesburg. Two years on, I feel like I am cheating on my first love but here goes a list of things I love about the city.
- Franschhoek and the annual literary festival
- The Book Lounge
- The Mountain View
- Camps Bay – I don’t do this often because it gets touristy and it’s a big contrast to the daily inequality but occasionally, I do note its’ beauty and appreciate that.
- Wine Farms
- Unstuffy Markets – Mojo Market, Old Biscuit Mill and Oranjezicht. For some reason in Joburg, peeople need to dress up and then get to markets and look like they just walk up like that, URGGGH!!
- An Evening BSF Class
- The Promenade
- Being able to walk around to most places
- A main street that means not having to get into a mall unless you want to, Yay!!!
- Off-street Parking
- Kalk Bay
- A gorgeous CBD
- Love the pace of drivers and their general chill
- It’s a very outdoors and family-oriented place
Posted in books, good, Heart matters, home, life
Tagged books, BSF, BSF International, Camps Bay, Cape Town, driving, family, lifestyle, markets, Table Mountain, walks, wine
I have spoken about podcasts and how much I love them here so many times before. Here are some of my favourites and as an added bonus recent episodes I have listened to that I just loved (please click on the image to get the episode that I loved).
Posted in books, Heart matters, home, working
Tagged books, Call Your Girlfriend, Ear Hustle, Favourites, Fresh Air, Guns, Hidden Brain, Hillary Rodham Clinton, HRC, love, Podcasts, prison, Robert Peace, Roxanne Gay, stuff about me, stuff I like
I recently noticed that I have been reading a lot of Nigerian/ Ghanaian authored books and so I set myself a challenge to diversify my reading to other parts of Africa. Here are some of the books on my to-read list.
- Lyrics Alley – Leila Aboulela (Sudan)
- So Long a Letter – Mariam Ba (Senegal)
- Beneath the Lion’s Gaze – Maaza Mengiste ( Ethiopia)
- Flame and Song – Philippa Namutebi Kabali-Kagwa (Uganda)
Posted in books, Heart matters, home
Tagged book club, books, Books reading, Ethiopia, Flame and Song, Leila Aboulela, Maaza Mengiste, Mariam Ba, Philipa Namutebi Kabali-Kagwa, So Long a Letter, Sudan, Uganda
Posted in books, Heart matters, home, school, working
Tagged books, Bridge Schools, children, death, discipleship, education, elections, Feminism, history, Inspiration, intergenerational mobility, Kenya, mentoring, stories, tea
What’s on your nightstand?
My bible, two or three books I am currently reading, a bottle of perfume, two birthday cards from family, a coaster (for my nightly cuppa tea), some paperwork I need to file.
What is an ideal day?
Predictable i.e it goes according to plan with nothing unexpected.
What trait do you deplore in other people?
Dishonesty, lack of conviction.
What trait do you most admire in other people?
Honesty, loyalty and ambition/drive.
What is your greatest extravagance?
Books, tea and stationary.
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
Hopelessness and having nothing to look forward to.
Who’s your favorite hero of fiction or movies?
Moses from the books by Barbara Kimenye
Mountain or beach vacation?
City, but if I had to strictly choose, then beach.
What do you most dislike about your appearance?
My buck teeth.
Posted in books, design, Heart matters, home, life, marriage
Tagged 90s Music, ALU Mauritius, books, Books reading, decolonisation, education, faith, Kabali-Kagwa, Kenya, Kenyan elections, Kintu, marriage in Kenya, motherhood, music, Nigeria, photography, race, recipes, Refugees, Sunday Reads, Uganda
Posted in home
Tagged Africa, books, children, Christianity, decision making, Development, faith, home decor, marriage, open marriage, parenting, recipes, relationships, Sunday Reads
Why has South Africa been labelled the ‘world’s rape capital’? What don’t we as South Africans understand about rape? In Rape: A South African Nightmare, Pumla Dineo Gqola unpacks the complex relationship South Africa has with rape by paying attention to the patterns and trends of rape, asking what we can learn from famous cases and why South Africa is losing the battle against rape. This highly readable book leaps off the dusty book shelves of academia by asking penetrating questions and examining the shock belief syndrome that characterises public responses to rape, the female fear factory, boy rape, the rape of Black lesbians and violent masculinities. The book interrogates the high profile rape trials of Jacob Zuma, Bob Hewitt, Makhaya Ntini and Baby Tshepang as well as the feminist responses to the Anene Booysen case.
I thoroughly enjoyed the book and would happily recommend it to anyone. It is obvious not a light or easy read and so even the review will have to be organised the different themes that I picked up on. Please get the book and share it with your friends and loved one and most importantly, men.
What is Rape?
- Rape is not a moment but a language (p. 22)
- Rape is violence and not sex (29)
- … the believability of a rape survivor depends on how closely her rape resembles her society’s idea of what a rape looks like, who rapes, who can be raped, when and how. (29)
- The story told by a woman needs a body of evidence. It is not an interest in the pain of the rape, but a burden of proof placed on the survivor or victim of rape. (29)
The Black Woman as a sexual and rapeable object
- At the same time that the rape of slave women was routine within slavery, slavocratic society created the stereotype of African hyper sexuality which sought to both justify and authorise the institutionalised rape of slaves. The stereotypes held that slave women could not be raped since like all Africans they were excessively sexual and impossible to satiate.(43)
- At the same time that slave women were being routinely raped as a means to multiply their masters slaves, slave men, especially when they were African slaves were cast as dangerously sexual, with a ravenous sexual appetite better suited to slave women but with a particular danger to white women. (43)
- While the rape of slave women was profitable, it also threatened ideas of racial hierarchy and produced anxieties about race-mixing … of the unspeakable sexual intercourse between white women and slave men … about the loss of control over the bodies of white women, as much as it was about the idea of white women becoming impure. (45)
- Until the abolishment of the death penalty, no white man has been hanged for rape, whereas the only Black men who were hung for rape had been convicted of raping white women; no white man or Black man had been convicted and sentenced to death for raping a Black woman. (52)
- The image of poor, young Black men as the figure of the rapist is not the reality SA women live under. (11)
- We need to confront violent masculinities. We need to confront and reject violent men and the patriarchal men and women who enable them. (67)
- “Your silence will not protect you.” Audre Lorde (67)
- “All our silence is … complicity.” bell hooks (67)
- If we accept that it is time to render all forms of gendered violence genuinely illegitimate in all spaces we occupy, then it follows that to do so we need to stop making excuses, that we take up the challenge to constantly debunk rape myths wherever we encounter them because all gender-based violence is brutality, a form of gender war against survivors’ bodies and psyches. (143)
- Rape has survived as long as it has because it works to keep patriarchy intact. It communicates clearly who matters and who is disposable. Those who matter are not afraid of being raped because they have not been taught to fear sexual assault. (21)
- Patriarchy trains us all to be receptive to the conditions that produce- and reproduce- female fear, especially when it is not our own bodies on the assembly line. (80)
- All men, no matter what race, class or religion have patriarchal power and can choose to brutalise and get away with it. (151)
- Tired, hungry, distracted women are easier to control. (40)
- The republic of SA has the contradictory situation where women are legislatively empowered, and yet we do not feel safe in our streets or homes. (65)
- The manufacture of female fear uses the threat of rape and other bodily wounding but sometimes mythologises this violence as benefit. (79)
- The threat of rape is an effective way to remind women that they are not safe and their bodies are not entirely theirs. It is an exercise in power that communicates that the man creating fear has power over the woman who is the target of his attention: it also teaches women who witness it their vulnerability either through reminding them of their own previous fears or showing them that it could happen to them next. (79)
- The manufacture of female fear requires several aspects to work:
- the safety of the aggressor,
- the vulnerability of the target,
- the successful communication by the aggressor that he has the power to wound, rape and/or kill the target with no consequences to himself. (80)
- Women are socialised to look away from the female fear factory – to pretend it is not happening and to flee when ignoring it becomes impossible. (80)
- Excuses make violence against women possible – they are part of the complicated network that says women are not human so our pain is generalised, unimportant, so we give violent men permission to keep all those they deem vulnerable such as women, men, and gender non-conforming people or children. (151)
- South Africa has a greater problem with the existence of the […] rape survivor and victim that trouble by pointing to her/his/their own pain in South African public culture. The rapist is welcome to live and boast and be celebrated or lambasted for his hypermasculinity, even as he continues to flourish financially. (165)
This book helped me to understand the sexual objectification of African women and how we are often viewed as desirable and rapeable things by White and African men at large. Specifically for the White men, that attraction that often precedes that revulsion for deigning to be attracted to this lesser thing. Also, I could see how the morality laws are mainly to tame African men’s (sexual) appetites from being unleashed fully on (tired, hungry and distracted: read as helpless) White women. So on the one hand, it is perfectly fine to protect White women while on the other, prey on African women and continue to rape them and then blame them for it afterwards.
I also have a response to the cry “Not all men … ” if, and indeed it is the case, all men do not rape why do other men not call out these known rapists? Why don’t societies evaluate their ideas of a man and get their sons to grow up in a way that does not require them to diminish or brutalise women in order to feel fulfilled and accomplished. Being a man does not involve violence, rape or other attacks on women.
When I read the chapter of the female fear factory, I finally had to confront my own habits to counter this fear of being raped: smile at a group of men when they greet me even if I do not want to greet them; do not enter a loo if it is in a deserted part of the mall and there is a man outside; wear clothes that do not show my form if I will be going to certain crowded places; don’t walk in certain places after dark and the list goes on …
In closing this poem fully captures some of what this book tries to address: if he raped you, why didn’t you change/ who can be raped and how do they need to act afterwards? Also, this little paragraph about why the image of an independent black woman is a relic of racism.
Posted in Heart matters
Tagged Being Black, books, Books reading, Feminism, feminists, Gqola, men, Pumla Dineo Gqola, rape, South Africa, women