Thi is sadly Kenya …
… and then this is Nigeria
Update: This post on the Nigerian version.
The finalists for the 2018 Caine Prize for African Writing were announced earlier this week. The Caine Prize for African Writing is a registered charity whose aim is to bring African writing to a wider audience using our annual literary award. The finalists hail from Kenya :), South Africa and Nigeria and here are their short stories:
I wanna challenge myself to read them all and then guess which one will win. Join me?
- A great cup of tea – my sister recently got me some passion and lime tea from Kenya and it is YUM!
- Long lazy weekends.
- Discovering a lovely little restaurant and liking it.
- Church services at 12 O’clock in the Fall/ Winter months.
- One-on-one heartfelt chats with friends.
What about you?
I read this book over the December holidays and was sooo excited, I am not sure what happened and it’s almost four months later that I am here gushing about it. Urgggh!! Please see below my thoughts under the different themes, page numbers are provided in brackets for you to follow.
- This is a book for us women, refugees, blacks (6) and I totally totally agree.
- I love that our time in Nairobi overlap – when she returns from Canada. I know all the landmarks she mentions of Nairobi. It felt so good to read a book about a place that I knew and know of so intimately. Double yay!!
- I thought it was odd that she kept referring to her folks as Mummy and Baba??? So odd coz those are two different languages in my head and I would have gone with either Mummy and Daddy or Mama and Baba.
- I wondered also why she protects the names of her own kids but not Simon’s eldest two. Not sure what that’s about is it maybe that they are adults and the other two are minors?
- The things said to them about a male child being preferred to daughters. And how this is often blamed on the mother in a way that gives the husband carte blanche to stray in the name of looking for a son (pp 7 – 27). I know this reality all too well and all I think is Biology lessons are important for all.
- It’s so subtle but her talking about not participating in the street games and fights as much as the local kids do coz it could turn on you:
“I had to choose how I would distinguish myself and I knew that it had to be safe.”(9)
- The plight of house girls and domestic workers – all too relatable ( 50).
- Having read Pumla’s Rape, it resonated with me how she spoke about the incident of being sexually attacked: her response and that of the adults around her (52 -55). Also, in the light of #MeToo, I thought it quite bold that she opened up about this incident.
- The urgency for them to receive their citizenship. Yeah, I get that (67 – 68).
- I remember the following events but was probably too young to consider their true impact on history: Chris Hani, Mandelas release, the IFP-sponsored murders and the election.
Growing up Foreign
- Being called an African monkey. While that did not happen to me, I know about being called a refugee almost as though it was a dirty swear word.
- And the rules that their mom had them follow because growing up in another country with parents working full time, there is not a big social infrastructure to support the parents. So rules are key or in young people speak, rules are bae.
“… the immigrant child knows that outside is one thing but home is another country.” (83)
“The immigrant child knows that the key to survival is in the inflection points. … The key to survival is in blending in first, in learning how to be just like else as a first step to freedom. You have to know how the inside works before you can stand outside and make everybody laugh.” (90)
“The immigrant child doesn’t make any noise. … She is preparing for the day when she will have mastered the art of being normal so that she can stand out.” (90)
- How she always talks of her sisters, so beautiful and in some way the story is as much about them as it is her. Yay sisterhood.
- I understand when she talks of her discovery of her race in the States. The same thing happened to me in RSA.
- Being foreign in South Africa has shown me that White ones are still preferred to Black ones. Sad but fact!
- On discovering that your mom is not just a role – mom, wife, friend, daughter – but actually a woman with dreams, feelings and thoughts quite apart from me even. GASP, SHOCKING.
- How their mom almost became like an older fourth sister but their dad remained a dad. I find this to be the truth with us too.
“To know your mother as an adult is to finally see that she has lived many more years as a woman than you have been alive. To be a grown woman who loves her mother is to understand that it is no easy thing to raise children so beautifully that they don’t worry about you until they are grown up and ready to carry the complex burden of that anxiety.” (304)
- Class: I enjoyed reading about her relationship with her nanny especially when they were both pregnant. I thought it was the most honest tale by a middle class Black woman that I could totally relate to.
So please go out, buy the book read, it, share it and enjoy it.
Now, to make friends with her in real life?
Posted in books, Heart matters, home, Motherhood/ Parenting
Tagged about me, Books reading, foreigners, growing up., home, Kenya, life, love, motherhood, Nairobi, race, Sisonke Msimang, sister love, South Africa
So this is my current handbag that I bought at Maasai Market in Nairobi, Kenya
- Brown notebook and a pen
- Black kindle / novel
- Contacts lenses
- Lip something or other
- A pair of sunglasses
- Ear phones and obviously phone
- Pink Wallet
- White power bank
- Spectacles Case
- Green scarf
So, what’s in your handbag????
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
Posted in books, design, Heart matters, home, working
Tagged Africa, Cape Town, church, cooking, faith, gifts, home decor, Issa Rae, Jonathan Ball Publishers, Kenya, parenthood, pasta recipe, Petina Gappah, pressure cooker, race, recipes, Serena Williams
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
I recently read this (poetry) book and it was amazing. A workmate recommended it and initially I thought poetry *insert puke face*. ASIDE: Am I the only 8-4-4 product that does not appreciate poetry for leisure? Anyway, its ~165 pages and since most of the poems are a couple of lines, I finished it in one fell swoop. I LOVED IT, did I already say that?? Below are some of the amazing poems I loved.
There is danger in letting people misname you. If you are a fire, do not answer when they call you a spark.
Tell the story. Give it a name and skin of its own.
Please go out and get the book. It’s a lovely read.
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, life, school, working
Tagged Africa, Angela Merkel, drinks, entrepreneurship, Get Out, Kalushi, Kenya, motherhood, Movies, Nigeria, parenting, recipes, Rwanda, technology, war
Posted in Heart matters, home, life, marriage, school, working
Tagged Chimamanda, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, cooking, Feminism, feminists, Kenya, language, marriage, recipes, risks, Roxanne Gay, women and politics, women at work, Women's Day
His talk was titled “Decolonising the Mind, Securing the Base”.
- We exchanged our accents for European accents and in exchange for access to African resources.
- If you know all the languages of the world except your mother tongue, you are enslaved. If you speak your mother tongue in addition to other languages, you are empowered.
- Names and language is the imperialist’s last battle for the war that begun with the sword.
His talk was disrupted, I think wrongfully but here are a couple of other views you could check out.
Posted in Heart matters, home, life, working
Tagged Africa, Christianity, DIY, Kenya, life lessons, motherhood, Nairobi, PhD, Podcasts, Refugees, Uganda
- How to read more books this year. I am definitely taking it to heart by reducing my junk TV viewing and making sure I always have a book as I go about various chores.
- A reading list on Kenya in case you are interested.
- If a story moves you, act on it!
- This article on insecurity made me stop and think. Really hard!
- Somali nicknames are hilarious 🙂
- So many white tears in this article. I see that they have only a given demographic of foreign spouses married to South Africans.
- Also, this IS cultural expropriation.
- More on how couples deal with finances.
- I didn’t know there were Nigerian Jews in Johannesburg. Today’s fact!!
- What does it mean to be a boy or girl? National Geographic asks 9/10 year old kids.
- Stealing from one of the comments, “This is by far the best article I’ve read regarding LBGT and the gospel.”
- Chocolate cake and another vegetarian pasta recipe.
Posted in books, Heart matters, home, life, marriage
Tagged Books reading, Christianity, culture, faith, foreigners, growing up., homosexuality, Kenya, marriage, money, names, Nigeria, pasta recipe, race, recipes, selfesteem, Somali
Posted in books, home, life, working
Tagged Africa, babies, books, home, Kenya, Kenyan elections, Kenyan music, music, Nairobi, Obama, race, recipes, Sunday Reads, women and work, women at work
Posted in Heart matters, home, life
Tagged authentic life, education, giving, Kenya, life lessons, Mathare, meal plans, motherhood, Nigeria, US election
- Women, language, rites of passage and the khanga.
- Cobalt mining and the lost lives in The DR Congo.
- Rhino poaching in South Africa.
- Attitudes to marriage in certain communities.
- Nairobi’s art and culture scene.
- Pssst! Africans also migrate within the continent.
- SERENA. WILLIAMS. SWOON!!!
A reporter asked Williams whether she should be considered one of the greatest female athletes of all time. Her perfect response: “I prefer the words ‘one of the greatest athletes of all time.’”
Posted in good, home, life, marriage, working
Tagged DR Congo, Kenya, marriage, migration, Nairobi, poaching, rhinos, Serena Williams, South Africa, women