July: Updates on life, COVID-19, travel and stuff

It’s Wednesday and I am still wrapped up in a warm duvet as I type this on my phone. It’s my way of checking in with the blogging universe while doing everything I can to stay warm here in Nairobi.

I’ve been here for 3 days and I have consumed more coffee, worn more socks and sweaters than I could ever comprehend at such a time. It’s got me fully aware of how much I am sunny through and through and I know I will enjoy some heat when I travel back to Mbita soon.

Every time I come to Nairobi I love visiting places that call unto me like book shops and jewellery shops mostly to buy earrings and accessories that I wouldn’t get at a fair price either in Kisumu or Homabay. So this time around I got notebooks and pens from Miniso, body splash from a store in town and bookmarks from Hilton Arcade.

There’s something about freedom of movement that has me appreciating life pre-covid. We could breathe freely without masks, walk in and out of places without fear of contracting such a deadly virus and travel to places unhinged. Now, coming from a town where the curfew is at 7pm to a city where it’s 10pm, it’s given me more time to catch up with family while still adhering to social distancing rules and regulations and that is something I found so precious in such a long time. I truly hope that we would overcome this pandemic, build upon our health system and come August next year elect more leaders who are accountable to us and responsible in fulfilling their duties.

On writing: I have been writing and it’s good to have that going so I truly hope it’ll work out and I have to push the release date given how many rewrites I am engaging in.

All in all,it’s been a good week thus far and I hope for the very best going forward. Have an awesome week wherever you are.

Looking for excuses, finding them and missing out on life.

I am in one of my moods, or as my sister says “in my feelings,” because I have been on the road non-stop for a week.

I love my sleep and can recharge for hours like a cat. So, this past week had me travel to Nairobi, then Kisumu and now I am back in Mbita because my best friend was getting married and I had the honor of witnessing her wedding as a bridesmaid. It was more of a firsts for me because it was the first time I had on: block heels (3.5 inches) for the whole day, had my eyebrows trimmed, and wore make up!

Days have gone by so fast, and I had been looking forward to being selected as a 2021 IREX Community Solutions Program Participant and for a program that’s very competitive, I felt ready this year, made it past the first round and got my regret letter after the second round of interviews. I was crushed. And what I learned about that moment, reading that email is that my mind completely played out various scenarios for me: I play a role in something I am passionate about and with a great team I get to see public primary schools improve their structures, I see it in the eyes of the children in rural communities when we are constructing classrooms how eager they are to step into new, permanent and well ventilated classes. So, not getting into the program this round, does not mean that I stop working.

On writing: I have been writing a new book and in my head it is complete and perfect, but on paper, let’s just say that I need to go stationery shopping and get everything going right. I have perfected giving excuses every time I want to write and this has resulted in downloading more DJ mixes, drinking more coffee and reading books🤦🏾‍♀️, help!

On reading: This year has been the best for I have bought more books and this has also seen me not read as many titles from Netgalley, and I hope to catch up on the reading soon. I have also read more titles from Pulitzer Prize winners in the fiction category.

I am currently reading Should You Leave by Peter. D. Kramer and he’s writing from the Psychotherapist point on view on advice, when it comes to the age-old question in a relationship, “should I stay or leave?” Coming from a Psychology background and training, reading this is like learning and rediscovering my love for therapy and what it means to help someone work through the dilemmas they have.

I have been making excuses on working out and writing and now I am reaping what I’d sowed and it’s started with a guilty conscience and every time I see the schedule I stuck on my wall, I cringe. Part of me is acting like it’s not bothered and the other one is losing it’s marbles, and the wisest of them is slowly coming to an understanding that I am focusing on the output but not the input and could try and see the growth or set tasks that could lead to the goals I want to achieve, now if only I knew how!

Have a great week, I’m still working until Wednesday when all schools are supposed to be closed here in Kenya.

Out and About: Mombasa, Kenya

And somewhere between my home and the sandy beaches of Mombasa, I did not write neither a word nor come up with a story idea for the 10K novel writing challenge.

A part of me was disappointed on 7th October when I tried to sit down and get some words down and nothing came to mind, and once I got on the road, I got caught up in the sights, loved the company of my sisters and in between laughs, I let go, until…yesterday.

So, I’ll bombard you with pictures (the nices ones) of my trip and maybe this will get me writing again or get me to focus on an idea for at least an hour this evening.

The view from Mama Ngina
Fort Jesus in Mombasa
I took this while we were taking a stroll along the Bamburi beach
sunset at the floating bar at Mtwapa

New Year Updates

Is it too late to say happy new year?

How’s your week coming along? I was looking through this blog and almost kicked myself for having taken such a while to check in with the blogiverse…I hope you are well and working towards whatever resolutions you made.

So, here’s a list of some insights into what I’ve been up to in the past 8 days:

  • I traveled back to Mbita
  • Dusted, aired and mopped where I stay and it never hit me just how exhausted one can get from bending under a bed trying to retrieve an eraser!
  • Visited a school in Mfangano Island which is considered to be in one of the extreme inaccessible places in the whole island.

  • Gained weight 🙂 thanks to all the coffee dates I had with my cousin and the holiday food.
  • Started working out- just finished day 6 of the 30 day fitness challenge! I can’t feel my thighs.
  • Gave this blog a new look, grey is so last season!
  • Writing the next book, hoping to release it this April.
  • Receiving reviews, through calls and texts from readers on just how much they were moved by reading my book, Sifuna, and recommendations on how to distribute the books.
  • Updating my wardrobe, wearing more jean trousers and a bright t-shirts 🙂 okay, I did this once! I still love my black and grey t-shirts.
  • Drinking lots of Love Tea from Kericho Gold- because I love the strawberry/vanilla/raspberry flavor.

Have an awesome weekend!

August: Updates on reading, writing, travel and love

I have been writing this post in my head for the past eight days. Procrastination is the fuel that I can never shake off, just like my love for pencils and erasers, I know how to put something on hold until I cannot anymore.

This is evident in my writing and publishing journey and for a long time the pressure to just get up and do it, haunted me, until I woke up one day and shoved it down my throat with a slice of chocolate cake at Java.

August is here and I love the sun! I am loving the heat more than I thought I would 🙂

On reading: I have been reading some awesome titles and sharing my views on them on Netgalley, Goodreads and Amazon. On working with people and building relationships, I got to read People First by Mike Nutley. On always staying on top of your game, taking a step back, re-evaluating your goals and pressing on, I got to read Tired of being Tired by Juliet Jones.

I’m currently enjoying Scout by Sanjiv Lingard about this 17 year old girl, Scout, who has the ability of tracking. It started with her being able to find any misplaced item, to her Mother-when she would up and leave, and now the police want her to help them find a missing child.

On writing: My most recent posts have been inspired by love and I am glad that happened, however, I am looking forward to improving my focus on writing a full length novel by September whilst talking to a Publisher here in Kenya, to work on some terms of engagement that would lead to publishing the manuscript.

On travel: I was looking forward to traveling this first week of August but had to cancel my plans due to a pending meeting at work. However, I’m not bummed by it because this meeting means a lot more to me, for it will chart the course for the next projects I’d like to work towards.

I did however get on a matatu to Kisumu so fast when I heard that my nephew was around looking forward to spending his holiday in the city. We always have a good time together and I hadn’t seen him in a month!

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On love: I wish I had the right words to explain this and more so, to name the precise moment that I had an epiphany on love. The truth is, the greatest thing I’ve learned this year is that love comes from within and the most difficult journey is loving yourself first and always. If you achieve this, then for some reason, the world is drawn to this light that stems from you and that’s where it gets tricky…and I really wish someone would explain to me why it is that when you meet someone, suddenly everyone wants you too?

So, this August I am challenging myself  and I came across this Ted Talk at the right time because I’d love to try something new every day for the next 30 days!

How’s your August thus far?

Have a wonderful new month!

What happens when you set out alone?

A friend asked me this question today. We were by the road waiting to hail a probox (a public means of transport here-meant to ferry four passengers, but usually ferries eight or nine depending on size) and she’d been thinking about the turn her life’s taken.

See, I learned that some ‘aha’ moments asail you smack in the middle of your daily hustle and bustle. So, when she asked “what happens when you set out alone?” Off the tip of my tongue came the response “you grow, and you’re never the same after that.” She shook her head and said “you’re always so deep, like who cares about that? What about never meeting the one you love? What about you know, never seeing all the countries or making money to live off in retirement?”

I smiled, my readily available reflex action, and answered “you asked me a question and I gave you an answer that speaks to me, if it does not do the same to you, then you are on course, find your answer.” We hailed a probox and got in the front seat- two young women, one’s hippy (she’s the one) and the other thinking of what’s happened in her life in the past one month!

So, here goes my update on this life!

  • I traveled to Arusha, Tanzania and spent 4 days engaging in a forum on sustainability of projects in East Africa.

  • I learned that I am truly a tropical person because it was 10 degrees Celcius in Arusha and for the love of me, I had two cups of black coffee between four o’clock in the evening and dinner time and another two before bedtime.
  • Visited a beautiful resort here in Mfangano Island in Kenya- there’s something about being by the shores of Lake Victoria that’s calm and centered.

  • Working with communities has been a real thrill and it is great seeing the work thrive- seeing the projects we’d talked about being constructed and people lighting up when they see me to simply say “thank you and we finally believe you,” that hurts more than it warms my heart sometimes. Development is a process.

  • On love, I’m learning that I have love to give and sometimes…that’s all that matters and when I look forward to good, it comes my way. Sometimes, the unexpected comes and I am hurt but healing is also a part of growth.
  • On writing, I’ve bared my soul a couple of times and if you’ve read some previous posts, therein lies the truth of my love, however- I am currently writing a novella, hope it will be something worth reflecting on.
  • On aspirations: Got two regret letters from fellowships that I hoped to be a part of and getting turned down for Future Leaders Connect 2019/2020 hurt me more than I expected it to- so I remember walking to the mini-mart here in Mbita and buying a tab of ice-cream and eating it as I walked back home.

I seem to have grown taller, chubbier on my cheeks and I am still learning that life is more about the small wins you cherish because waiting for big wins is wasting away and missing out on what could lead you there.

Have a lovely week and I do hope that wherever your journey leads you, you’d blossom, like Grumpy always tells me!

 

Inspired by a telephone conversation

It is 1:00pm as I write this and the sun is having a family re-union here in Mbita. How are you doing? How was your Valentine’s day?

I’m asking because the last time we talked, I briefly touched on traveling to Homabay County and the possibility of relocating to the county for work. Well, my Valentine’s Day was spent on the road.

I took a matatu from Kisumu to Homabay town and then boarded another one to Mbita and let’s say my first night was hot and humid. For a town that’s bordering the lake, I’ll say that the day is hot but so far my tour of the place is limited.

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Mbita, courtesy of Google Maps

The transition from Homabay to Mbita took one hour and I remember sitting in the matatu wondering just how I was going to get to Mbita by 2pm and clean the new house, fetch some water ( because Homabay county and water shortage is a one side coin), get some yoghurt and sleep. Yes, I was craving yoghurt whilst seated in a matatu and the gentleman beside me had this big green X-Tigi power saver phone and he couldn’t help but keep his conversations on loud speaker.

So, the man on the phone asks him “where are you?” and he answers “Nyangweso,” and for the love of all lies, I burst out laughing. He turned to me and smiled then the other man asked him “are you drinking again? why is it that I can hear a woman laughing?”

He clicks and sits upright on his seat then answers “I am seated next to a King’s daughter and you are talking about drinks and women? What is your problem?”

The other man laughed and apologized but by this time, the tout had already started shouting that he needed two more passengers before leaving for Mbita. I looked back and the fact was he needed three times the number he’d shouted.

Oh, the number of things hawkers wanted to sell to me as we waited, I almost bought super glue!

So, when I got to Mbita, I took a stroll in the evening and captured a two photos during the onset of the sunset. A little birdie taking a rest from flight and the clouds.

As dusk settled in, I managed to have some of the yoghurt I’d bought and watched Plan B, a movie that’s just got the right amount of serving for any hopeless romantic and it was airing on Lowladee’s Youtube account.

I am looking forward to quite a long weekend and I hope I can go exploring to see what’s great here.

The good news is that I have two huge rooms- a single mattress and my books and it’s gotten me writing again and trust me, you’re up for another short story series, once I get the details of the guy penned down. [Have you ever had a persistent dream involving a guy you randomly met? If you have help a Writer out, I think I have a crush on someone who I do not think I will meet again.]

Have a lovely weekend!

Aki si I have been quiet!

Can we just take a moment and appreciate this moment right here? Happy Saturday world, or should I say blogiverse? Well, it’s been a minute (as Kenyans, Nairobians in particular love to say when they haven’t seen you over two years) and I have so much to share and adventures on the road that involve Chinese contractors and a bit of conversation around politics and whatsapp.

I visited Homabay county last week and in my stack of cards it means I’ll be relocating to the county to work with various communities as scheduled in my time frame. So I boarded a matatu from Kisumu and settled in the front seat right next to the driver. He was chatty and threw in a few jokes here and there but as were approaching Oyugis, this guy just slowed down and turned to me and asked “Mrembo uko na shuka?”

I shook my head as aggressively as I could because hey, I have seen to many Nigerian and Bongo films to know that no stranger is allowed access to my personal items, what if I start doing handstands in supermarkets? Or worse off barking like a dog? Eh, gaki!

So he says, “Hawa wa Chinese wanatengeneza barabara na vumbi iko hapa, hata mimi naiogopa.” I released the breath I was holding and told him not to worry about it and he does his best to shut the windows even though his window doesn’t go all the way up…he drives off and let me tell you, there’s nothing as interesting as stepping out of a vehicle and spitting dust! If there’s anyone from Oyugis…please, drop a comment, ease my tender soul and tell me to suck it up, it’s just dust!

So, that was the beginning of my short visit and turns out there’s a lot that Homabay county could serve but hey, you know a place that’s in need of a shake up, because it’s like a sleeping giant, well…that’s how I felt and still feel about Homabay.

I loved visiting the Mbita Tourist Hotel because the fish+kachumbari+sukuma is to die for and the view, amazing because I’m a water sign and a daughter of the Lake, so water’s like my feel good, peace out, chill out vibe.

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My view from the restaurant, it was a bit cloudy.

Now, it’s been 21 days since I wrote anything and my manuscript progress report could easily be scored as an F, but I am not so worried about it. Given how much time I’m spending on getting things done at work, I feel too drained to write anything coherent and will have to work harder to build up on my process and schedule writing time.

In other news, I can safely say that following (10 reasons why I’m not fit to be a Fashion Blogger) I have since become a better sister, keen on the instructions my younger sister gives me while she’s taking photos of me. She’s still peeved that I do not wear make-up, my attempt at wearing a red-lippie still didn’t cut it.

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I think I aced this pose, but Jackie thinks not 😦

On reading, I’ll say that I read Sidney Sheldon’s The Silent Widow and that book gave me shivers. I’m looking forward to reading Grit & Grind by Rhonda Vetere to get my mind in the frame of hard work, passion and goal pursuit.

It’s all good world, have a lovely weekend and I’ll probably share some village chronicles once I settle down.

 

Cultural Celebrations in Kisumu

I love festivals!

This year, the National Cultural Celebrations are taking place in my county, Kisumu. So, there was no way I was going to miss out on this and it was quite an experience that I had to capture so many moments until my battery died.

The events dates are: 19th-23rd September 2018 at the Jomo Kenyatta Sports Ground, Kisumu.

Here are the highlights of my short visit:

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a dance 

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Prof. Wangari Maathai is one of my role models on resilience, and this artwork just blew me away.

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Have you ever wanted to dip your hands into a pot? I’m Luo and these are my native dishes, eish…Obambo.

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I met Richard. He designed and created this massive fish and I had to take a photo of him beside it.

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Maasai dance troupe waiting to perform.

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🙂

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In the end, I bought two pairs of earrings and a bangle that drew my attention. I love glass earrings:-)

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How Sim Sim saved my life

Let me tell you about the time when eating sim sim saved my life.

This was around 2013 and I was working for an organization that had just embarked on community entry in Siaya. It was my duty to work with the local administration and this included doing a census of every village I  was assigned.

Have you ever visited fifty four homesteads in six hours?

I visited more than this and given the varying terrain, it meant walking for hours, meeting and greeting everyone I came across and mapping my way through each homestead whilst keeping an eye on landmarks.

On this particular day, I had carried one liter of drinking water and two apples. We got to the location, some place called Boro and had to make our way around a village there and then proceed to another village near the Lake, miles away at Harambee. It sounded like something simple, but by midday, I had already emptied my bottle of water and we had just arrived at Harambee.

I had to visit at least a hundred households by four and I had already consumed my second apple.


It gets to three in the afternoon and we have covered more than half the homesteads. Yes, all thanks to this Village Elder who insisted that I call her “Min Rosa,” and who walked like she was floating on water, especially when we’d be climbing rocks, or walking through cassava and maize plantations. We get to this plain field and I put my bag down and ask her if there is a shop around.

At this point, she looks at me, places her hands on her hips and says “the only shop we have is at Harambee, it’s two hours from here.” Now by this time, my knees are stuck to one another, my breath is coming up short and I know for sure that I am going to die of hunger, thirst or the heat. I am in Siaya somewhere near the lake and hippos love strolling the main land in the evening, and I don’t want to meet a hippo or get eaten by one. I also know that in my condition I cannot outrun the creature!

Min Rosa just stands there, then she says “give me a minute, let me send word to my home,” and she takes off.

I lie down and think of all the jobs that I could be doing. I think of the way I knew I would be a Counselor and now I was dying of thirst in a remote village in Siaya.


Hunger is a beautiful tormentor.

See, as I am lying on that ground, I see this wild plant(Lantana Camara), the Luos call it “Nyabende,” they have these tiny seeds that look like blackberries and are quite tasty. (Don’t ask). The plant itself is a treasure because you could use the leaves as a broom, as an air freshener for your pit latrine, or as tissue paper (and it’s pretty rough on the ass). So, I look at the Nyabende all around me and I think, well, this is like the situation with the Israelites, even though I could use some chicken and chapati, nyabende is just as well.

Related image
Nyabende aka Lantana Camara/Photography Art Plus

I try to get up, but cannot move my upper torso. It was like a failed sit-up. So, I keep trying but by this time, I know two things for sure: my vision is blurry and I cannot feel my limbs.

I stay there for a while hoping it’ll pass, but the more I try to blink my eyes, all I see are dark shadows. At this point, I remember, praying, asking God not to let me die out in the sun miles away from my Mom.


When I come to, Min Rosa is on phone beside me, my t-shirt is wet, so is my face and hair. There is a small girl with a blue basin seated beside us and she is looking at me like I fell from the sky.

“Did you get your friend?” I finally ask Min Rosa.

“Yes and now, you decide to die while I have turned my back? Why couldn’t you shout my name? You know the heat is too much but you did not say a thing, we could have asked for a glass of water at the last house we visited, why would you want your people to send me to jail? I have two children and a lazy husband, who will go to the farm when they send me to Kodiaga…”

I remember turning to the girl and asking what she had in the basin. She removed the lesso and right there were these round balls of sim sim. She said she was taking them to the market to sell and I reached into my bag, gave her a hundred shilling note and asked her to empty the sim sims in my bag.

Before she started emptying them, I had already eaten three balls.

I ate some more then it dawned on me that I had no water, so I had to ask Min Rosa to make a stop at the next home so we could ask for drinking water but she shook her head and said “Jogo jojuogi, kidwaro lokri jajuog piti piti to temie” (they practice witchcraft, if you want to be a witch, running naked into the night, then try).

And that is how sim sim saved my life!


By the way, this is what I was talking about:

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Wait, did you know that Sesame is gluten-free? Like these seeds are so awesome that the greatest producer of Sesame is Myanmar? Oh, wait and yeah China, India and Mexico too.