Posted in Heart matters, home, Motherhood/ Parenting
Tagged Africa, Africa's a Country, bible god, Bible Study, cooking, gardens, grandparents, ice cream, ice cream maker, marria, North Korea, parenting, Quinoa, race, racism, recipe, technology, The Confidence Gap
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
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
There’s a crescendo of voices saying, ‘If you don’t do X or Y, you’re doing it wrong,’” Monk says. The result is “a kind of over-preciousness about motherhood. It’s obsessive, and it’s amplified by the Internet and social media.”
Posted in Heart matters, home
Tagged careers, daddymons, exercise, fatherhood, fitness, Grey's, growth, India, lessons for my daughters, motherhood, parenting, race, recipes, resilience, sin, tea, white, White guilt
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, 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 Heart matters, home
Tagged Africa, Cape Town, children, female friendship, friends, friendship, history, Johannesburg, life, Podcasts, race
i’m just incredibly tired of this rhetoric where apparently we have to be super gentle and coddle white children through the shock of realizing they aren’t actually better than everybody else, there’s just been an imbalance in their favor throughout history; that we should be understanding of how hard it is to accept that they may not have earned everything they have
and yet nobody gives a thought to how painful it must be for children of color to be taught that they have to be on guard against prejudice or violence at all times, that sometimes people will treat them badly for no reason and there’s nothing they can do about it
no, no, that’s just the facts of life. just standard growing up stuff. being conditioned to handle constant dehumanization is not as hard to cope with as maybe not being as good at life as you thought you were.
We mentally compress our networks when we are harassed, bullied or being threatened by job loss. We close ourselves off, isolating ourselves, creating a huge blind spot where we can’t see our resources, allies and opportunities.
Posted in Heart matters, home, school, working
Tagged Being Black, Christianity, family, food, friendship, language, motherhood, Movies, networking, parenthood, PhD, race, school, selflessness, Sunday Reads, telly, The Bachelorette
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
I happily enjoyed all of these books that I would happily recommend any of them.
Posted in books, Heart matters
Tagged Africa, Ama Ata Aidoo, Angela Duckworth, chick lit, Chika Unigwe, death, Emma Straub, Grit, Jeffrey Archer, Jodi Picoult, life, marriage, Paul Kalanithi, Petina Gappah, Pumla Dineo Gqola, race, Sinead Moriarty, womanhood, Yewande Omotoso
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.
- 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
Dr Lwazi Lushaba has had his name all over the #Fallist debate and today I read an open letter he penned to his Department Head.
In the afternoon of the 24th August 2016, the HoD of Politics at UCT addressed to me a letter, whose contents we shall in a moment discourse about. He opens the letter with the following salutation; Dear Lwazi. He could as well have written; Dear Dr. Lwazi Lushaba. It would not have made any difference. For, I cannot say with certainty what I, in his modern imaginary, represent. Accordingly, I have permitted myself the liberty of leading him to the abyss wherein dwells the shattered fragments of my being so he may recognise me for what and who I am. I am of those whose skin colour makes them objects of scorn and disregard. I am one with the black children of Masiphumelele, Imizamo Yethu, Gugulethu, and other black slums who with their tender bare black bodies play all day long in stagnant pools of discarded bathing water, urine, menstrual blood, vomit of drunken black souls, and perhaps discharge from a backyard abortion performed on a body too young to bear life. I am one with those in this country who grow up certain that success is destined to elude them because they are black. For us it remains dark even though the day should have started.
It is a heavy letter and it touches on an entire PhD worth of themes but it’s a worthwhile read because it summarises cogently the state of the races across institutions such as universities and the work place. Please bookmark it and read it when you get the chance to.
- I have read ten of these 50 must-read books by African female writers.
- Exclusive Books publish their first newsletter focused on African Lit. Great start.
- A South African church in pictures.
- Hot jams to get you ready for the week ahead!
- “Beyonce’s style of feminism is not my own.” Chimamanda Adichie.
- I would venture a guess that most black women have this growing up with black hair story.
- On intersectionality. Yaa Gyasi’s essay on what it means to be Ghanaian in America.
- Pettinah Gappah’s recent short story.
- Love and Johannesburg. The couple reminds me of the Mr and I.
- 21 gifts for the creative black woman in your life.
- A guide to Africa’s dictators. Here and Here.
- Rachel Strohm highlights work by the team at Democracy in Africa in putting together a long reading list of articles on African issues by African scholars.
- This page showing Everyday Africa.
- But why is my leader like this? Not sure we need mandarin studies in Uganda just yet.
Posted in books, good, Heart matters, home, life, marriage, school
Tagged Africa, African Presidents, Africans, Books reading, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, faith, Feminism, Johannesburg, Museveni, music, natural hair, Pettinah Gappah, race, Yaa Gyasi
The story that you have asked me to tell you does not begin with the pitiful ugliness of Lloyd’s death. It begins on a long-ago day in August when the sun seared my blistered face and I was nine years old and my father and mother sold me to a strange man.
Memory, the narrator of Petina Gappah’s The Book of Memory, is an albino woman languishing in Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison in Harare, Zimbabwe, after being sentenced for murder. As part of her appeal, her lawyer insists that she write down what happened as she remembers it. The death penalty is a mandatory sentence for murder, and Memory is, both literally and metaphorically, writing for her life. As her story unfolds, Memory reveals that she has been tried and convicted for the murder of Lloyd Hendricks, her adopted father. But who was Lloyd Hendricks? Why does Memory feel no remorse for his death? And did everything happen exactly as she remembers?
Moving between the townships of the poor and the suburbs of the rich, and between past and present, the 2009 Guardian First Book Award–winning writer Petina Gappah weaves a compelling tale of love, obsession, the relentlessness of fate, and the treachery of memory.
The book reminded me of the book, We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo particularly when she talks of the Harare township where Memory grew up. The characterisation of township life was totally believable and reminded me of my experience growing up. The book also does a good job of personifying the life behind bars and the dynamics of womanhood and female friendships.
Overall, Gappah is a lovely story teller, she builds it up slowly and steadily then lets it slow down later. I loved the pace. It totally sucked me in and I read it over a day or two. Then at the end I just hugged the book and smiled. The story continually switches between a flashback to the past and present time. Despite this, it was still easy to follow the broader tale.
Common themes raised in the book include: language, memory, family (siblings, mother-daughter, husband-wife), religion, colonialism(or race as a subset). Various questions I had though while reading the book include:
- In light of the decolonised free education in our lifetime protests currently happening in South African universities, is the best education White/ Western and in a foreign (ex-colonialist) language? To what extent has this changed? Would you/ I feel comfortable to take our kid to a native school ala Spilt Milk? I am not sure. In terms of decolonising language, the best book I have read on this topic so far is Decolonising the Mind by Ngugi wa Thiong’o.
- The book also touches on Africa’s complicated history with the White Man. Was Lloyd African? Why because he spoke the language and understood the culture / had allowed himself to be immersed in it fully? If we contrast Lloyd and Alexandra the sister, who is more African?
- Colonialism and the White Mans’ burden also comes across when we look at the motives of Lloyd in adopting Memory.
- That duality of existence that I find so intriguing about South Africans and now Zimbabwe. That deep belief in ancestry and mainstream religion or a more modern life. I grew up raised in a predominantly Bible-focused culture and so this duality is totally alien to me.
- Do we trust our memories? Is it ever as we think or are there things we remember that as we have gotten older we have to come realise are not as they were. As the last child in my home, I have some clear memories of myself as a child but to be honest, I know that a lot of them are mainly based on what I have been told and not necessarily what I particularly remember. What are your earliest memories?
In closing, I am not sure why they did not translate the Shona bits which made me wonder who the real audience is here. It was quite frustrating for me a non-Shona speaker.
Posted in books
Tagged Book of Memory, Books reading, education, family, language, memory, NoViolet Bulawayo, Pettinah Gappah, race, religion, Shona, Zimbabwe
It is a really interesting time to be in South Africa, what with all the #Fallist talks and the different dialogues happening around race, culture and identity. Last week, I attended the Open Book Festival in Cape Town and happened to attend two talks that had me very excited.
The first related to decolonising institutions. Although most African countries obtained political and some level of economic independence, in the main very few countries embarked on that extra step to decolonise their culture, their thinking, their language and their identity. My personal view is that this is vital and regardless of the length of time that has passed from independence, no country is fully emancipated until they do this and I suppose this is where South Africa is at the moment. Slightly controversially, I think that it is the colonised
Black people that must fully lead in this process and set the agenda. Also, less clear to me is the question of language. Can a revolution led in the “colonisers” language ever be taken seriously? Or have that full acceptance and recognition? While I am not fully convinced it can be, I am not sure what the counterfactual is.
This talk also touched on the question of privilege which led me to think of my own story and my privilege. As I am obviously Black and female this makes class my privilege because through class, I can transcend some of the discrimination I would otherwise face. For example, I am really grateful that I am privileged to be able to outsource some of the things I don’t enjoy doing around the house to someone else and pay her to do them on my behalf. Some of the expectations that I am graciously excused from as a new wife by my extended family. I am extremely grateful but also, with privilege does responsibility also increase. To give back, to ensure justice and reduced inequality for others that are less fortunate. To do something.
The second talk was on feminism. The panel has become my ultimate girl/writer crush/ perfect dinner guest list/ people I must meet before I leave the earth. The moderator was Mohale Mashigo and the panelists were: Yewande Omotoso, Nnedi Okorafor and Pumla Dineo Gqola. After the session was over, I just wanted to sit and bask in the warm fuzzies generated by that session. Nothing I love more than passionate and educated women with a strong opinion that they are happy to share and loudly at that. For the hour that they spoke, it was nice to talk about common and sometimes not so common experiences we share as women. When did you first know that you were a feminist? How do the books that you read portray female characters? Media? TV? Is feminism for all? Is this brand of feminism accessible to all or are there some class privilege undertones? When the struggle is so tough, how do you reignite the joy and keep the focus? I am obviously not even summarising the discussion well but it was a very interesting discussion.
L-R Mashigo, Okorafor, Gqola, Omotoso
Posted in books, Heart matters
Tagged Being Black, Binti, Cape Town, Feminism, feminists, identify, Mashigo, Nnedi Okorafor, Open Book Festival, Pumla Dineo Gqola, race, The Yearning, Woman Next Door, Yewande Omotoso