Tag Archives: Kenya

The Kenyan Land Question

Spent the morning reading about how the Kenyatta family came to amass so much land in Kenya.  It’s not particularly long but I had a few other things to do which meant it took me longer than usual. Here are some interesting excerpts:

A CIA report prepared shortly after Kenyatta’s death said that while Jomo Kenyatta owned only about half a dozen properties covering roughly 4,000 hectares (mainly farms in Kiambu and the Rift Valley), his wife, First Lady Mama Ngina Kenyatta, owned at least 115,000 hectares of land and also had a big stake in ruby mining and in beach resorts around Mombasa.

However, a group led by … opposed the buying of land for resettlement; they argued that Africans could not buy back land that was originally theirs, a contention that did not go down well with Kenyatta because “there were no free things and that land was not free, but must be purchased”. Kenyatta’s position mirrored that of the outgoing British colonial administration … It is believed that one of the main reasons Kenyatta was selected to lead the country’s transition to independence was because he had made a secret pact with the British colonial government not to hurt British and white settler interests in the country.

The criminalisation of groups demanding land justice has created resentment among disenfranchised communities. This does not augur well for the stability of the country. As the TJRC concluded, there is a very close link between land injustices and ethnic violence in Kenya.

… the newly created National Land Commission that is mandated to look into these issues and to bring about some form of adjudication or restitution for the landless has not yet yielded significant results. On the contrary, the Commission has recently been embroiled in various corruption scandals related to land, which has further eroded Kenyans’ hopes of finally settling the land question.

Read the full article and feel something or at the minimum understand the complexity around the land question in Kenya.

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State of Kenya and Nigeria in Song

Thi is sadly Kenya …

 

… and then this is Nigeria

 

Update: This post on the Nigerian version.

Small Thursday Challenge

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?

 

What’s making you happy now?

  1. A great cup of tea – my sister recently got me some passion and lime tea from Kenya and it is YUM!
  2. Long lazy weekends.
  3. Discovering a lovely little restaurant and liking it.
  4. Church services at 12 O’clock in the Fall/ Winter months.
  5. One-on-one heartfelt chats with friends.

What about you?

Book Review: Always Another Country – Sisonke Msimang

Always Another Country: A Memoir of Exile and Home by [Msimang, Sisonke]
 Buy here

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.

General

  •  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)

Sisterhood

  • 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.

Race

  •  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!

Moms: 

  • 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?

What’s in a Bag

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So this is my current handbag that I bought at Maasai Market in Nairobi, Kenya

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Handbag contents

  • Brown notebook and a pen
  • Black kindle / novel
  • Tissues
  • 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????

 

Book Review: Who Will Catch Us As We Fall

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.

Race/ Tribe

  • 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.

Gender

  • 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.

Power

  • 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?

Home

  • 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.

Sunday Reads

What Home Feels Like

Sunday Reads

Recipes
 

Sunday Reads

Source

I read something lovely recently

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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.

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Please go out and get the book. It’s a lovely read.

 

 

 

Sunday Reads

Source

Recipes

Sunday Reads

Recipes

Belated: (Women-related) Sunday Reads

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Three thoughts on Ngugi wa Thiong’os public lecture

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Source

His talk was titled “Decolonising the Mind, Securing the Base”.

  1. We exchanged our accents for European accents and in exchange for access to African resources.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Sunday Reads

  1. Interesting take on development in Africa through the tale of the seed industry in Uganda.
  2. Even I got punished for speaking an African language at school.
  3. More women than men in Lesotho are in school.
  4. Technology is definitely making life easier for refugees.
  5. This seems like a simple DIY even I could do.
  6. As Christians we do not look to our circumstances but the hope of Christ and His promises!
  7. A mistake is just a moment in time.”
  8. Be ambitious for life and not just work. Yes!
  9. Ten places to visit in Nairobi.
  10. Six hot podcasts on and by Africans to listen to.
  11. Yummy lemon cake.
  12. What is a PhD?
  13. Awwwww at this cute child‘s response to her mom. Oh dear for this old man.
  14. Lime zest and cardamon mandazi.
  15. Some really inspirational girls!

Sunday Reads

  1. 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.
  2. A reading list on Kenya in case you are interested.
  3. If a story moves you, act on it!
  4. This article on insecurity made me stop and think. Really hard!
  5. Somali nicknames are hilarious 🙂
  6. So many white tears in this article. I see that they have only a given demographic of foreign spouses married to South Africans.
  7. Also, this IS cultural expropriation.
  8. More on how couples deal with finances.
  9. I didn’t know there were Nigerian Jews in Johannesburg. Today’s fact!!
  10. What does it mean to be a boy or girl? National Geographic asks 9/10 year old kids.
  11. Stealing from one of the comments, “This is by far the best article I’ve read regarding LBGT and the gospel.”
  12. Chocolate cake and another vegetarian pasta recipe.

Sunday Reads

  1. Loving these sets of articles about women, women and ambition and the work place.
  2. Thinking of doing this for someone I love.
  3. Something about this video made me so homesick for Nairobi.
  4. Some tips for all the new moms out there.
  5. Love that this guy acknowledges what White Male Privilege has meant for him and his accomplishments.
  6. Kenya goes to the polls in  August this year. A quick primer of some of the issues.
  7. Some great African books to look forward to this year.
  8. Somehow not a fan of all these baby products that work on selling fear to parents.
  9. Some more Obama stuff.
  10. We cannot run from God’s voice, where is He calling you to today?
  11. An effective way to incorporate prayer into your life.
  12. yummy fish recipe.
  13. Getting kids to [always] eat veggies.

Sunday Reads

  1. This article on that tragic election.
  2. This lady trying to make sense of that election (1,000 comments but good).
  3. An education on the for-profit education sector in Kenya and Uganda.
  4. Extra-judicial killings in Kenya. HEARTBREAK!!
  5. Undertaking a life audit/ preparing for your 2017 New Years’ Resolutions.
  6. Why it is important for adults to give back in their community.
  7. I am definitely a sampler. I used to be a compartmentalizer before I got married and had to force diverse groups of friends to meet 😦
  8. Simple items that you can turn into a gift by framing them.
  9. Yummy vegetarian meals.
  10. Debunking the myth of a biological clock.
  11. Who are the middle class in Nigeria? PS: This is not a direct economic answer.
 

Sunday Reads

  1. Women, language, rites of passage and the khanga.
  2. Cobalt mining and the lost lives in The DR Congo.
  3. Rhino poaching in South Africa.
  4. Attitudes to marriage in certain communities.
  5. Nairobi’s art and culture scene.
  6. Pssst! Africans also migrate within the continent.
  7. 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.’”
Enjoy!!