Tag Archives: kenyan youth

POLITICS, THE CHURCH, AND POSSIBLE CONFLICT OF INTEREST

So, I’m a deacon now…………………………………….

in church!

Gasp!!!!

I and other deacons were ordained last Sunday in front of the entire church (Wahu and Kamande included).

We had to kneel and say vows, and stuff (it was funny… I haven’t knelt in so long, it felt weird).

There was also no lunch or special snacks afterwards, so that kind of sucked. And, I still had to teach Sunday School (a role that I take great pride in, but I thought they would give us a break, seeing as it was such a ‘special’ day).

But, I’m not too bothered by this.

Deaconhood suits me; I wear it well, if I do say so myself. Although, technically, it’s been less than a week, and I actually haven’t done anything deacony yet.

But, I am supposed to do something deacony this Sunday, and it’s making me a bit uncomfortable.

Okay, here goes…

Our church is hosting a super Harambee (fundraiser) this coming Sunday to raise funds for a bigger sanctuary (we congregate in a nursery school; I for one think it’s cute, but you know churches and their expansionist policies)

A very important guest will be in attendance, and I am very conflicted about his possible presence on Sunday.

You guessed it!

It’s our very own deputy president of the Republic. If you’re Kenyan, I’m sure you didn’t have to try that hard to figure it out. His name has become synonymous with church fundraisers lately, so, it’s pretty obvious I was referring to him.

Now, I am not trying to be sanctimonious or nothing, because even I have a past, and the church accepts my offering every single Sunday. So why should she react differently when it comes to the deputy president’s contribution?

Well, for starters, there’s the nagging possibility that the money he’s dishing out to all of these churches is part of his ill-gotten loot (he’s perceived to be one of the most corrupt individuals in the country;- where there’s smoke, there’s always fire, people).

I have heard some of the older congregants brush this off claiming that ‘everyone steals’. I don’t think that’s true, and even if it were, shouldn’t the Church be standing up against this vice.

How?

Not accepting stolen public loot from corrupt politicians seems like a very great place to start, don’t you think?

I mean, how can the Kenyan religious fraternity claim to be admonishing corruption and at the same time be in the front lines when it comes to receiving ‘alleged’ proceeds of corruption?

I have raised this question in regards to the deputy president’s impending visit to our tiny church, and this is the response I keep receiving:

At least he is returning some of the money back to the public. He’s better than those who don’t return anything‘.

Wow!

This is just sad.

We have grown so accustomed to being stolen from as a people that we applaud those who steal from our public coffers and ‘return’ a negligible proportion of it as charity.

And, it’s not like this charity comes without strings attached.

Of course, he’s doing this for political goodwill. He knows with the Church’s support, it’s much easier to win his desired political post. Otherwise, he would have contributed silently without all of this hullabaloo.

And, how can we criticize someone when we have already accepted money from him?

I feel like his (and other politicians’) donations have the potential to gag churches disabling them from ever criticizing bad governance.

Knowing all this, how can I possibly in good conscience, appear on Sunday and perform my deacon duties?

I am so troubled…so, so, so troubled!!

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But, I hear there will be good food. I love food. Food always makes me happy, which can come in handy as I try to grapple with the realisation that we accepted *allegedly* stolen money to build a bigger sanctuary.

And I am also going to need a lot of good food because later on that evening, Arsenal will be up against Tottenham. It’s a scary game!!!

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For those who follow me on Facebook, my new position might come as a surprise to you given the numerous anti-religious posts that I share on the platform.

Don’t be alarmed! I’m not leading a double life. I have very strong criticisms about Christianity as a religion, and I am very vocal about this at home and even in church.

But, I have learnt to separate the religion/theistic dogmas from the faith. I have learnt to focus on the faith aspects of the predominant religion that I have been exposed to, and mix these with my own inherent and acquired values.

In short, I have come up with my own faith, because I feel that’s a right for every human being- to choose or create your own beliefs (sounds ridiculous I know but it works, for me at least).

And what better way to change what I think is wrong with the church than infiltrating (I use this word very lightly) the institution and working on it from the inside. I feel that this is a more effective way of fixing the problem rather than just throwing stones at the institution.

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Anyway, let’s see how Sunday goes…bye for now!!

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DEPRESSION, SEX, AND DRUGS

Ask anyone who knew me in campus or two years after that about the kind of girl I was, and they will probably tell you a myriad of stories, all of them revolving around my drinking and smoking.

This is despite how sweet and innocent looking I was. Exhibit A:

My habits were not only bad, they were excessive. I tend to be a slave to routine, and unfortunately, those days, alcohol and cigarettes were a big part of my daily life.

Whenever I look back at how I used to live my life a few years ago, I see that my habits were extremely unbecoming of a woman with a forehead such as mine (I’d like to believe that there is a code of ethics that girls with HUGE foreheads have to live by; such facial features are a gift that come with their own set of rules and morals).

But that is the girl I was back then.

A heavy smoker, an alcoholic, and a depressed little girl trying to hide herself and her forehead from the world.

Of course, with the excessive alcohol intake came the many sexual escapades, some of which were a pretty risky undertaking.

There was A LOT of sex! A LOT!

And there was also the RA (rheumatoid arthritis), most likely triggered by my excessive smoking.

Even that didn’t stop me from engaging in these harmful activities. In fact, the pain from the RA fueled my drinking and smoking because they helped me forget about the pain and also the shock of having such a condition at such an early age.

Yes, I was using drugs and sex as a way to cope with things, and I had been doing it for years without realising it.

It’s like I wanted my life to end, but I was too scared to go through with it the quick way (although, I did try once and it failed miserably. It’s crazy; after a failed suicide attempt, shouldn’t you get like an epiphany or something, that leaves you wanting to live your life better?)

The epiphany never came in my case.

And so, I chose the slowest, most painful, most accessible, yet most concealed way of ending my existence.

The drinking. The smoking. The sex.

No one knew that I was on a mission. I don’t think even I knew I was on a mission.

On the surface, I thought I was doing it because I liked it; but, on further introspection now, I can see that I was doing it to cope.

Unfortunately, I had no clue what it was that I needed to cope with, which fueled my frustration further.

So, even though I promised myself not to kill myself, I found relief in engaging in such risky activities because they had the potential to do the job for me.

There was something wrong inside; but I didn’t know what was wrong, I didn’t even know how to find out what was wrong.

So frustrating!

And so, the drinking, and the smoking, and the indiscriminate sexual activity continued.

But even the most well laid out plans can backfire, and my deep conscious’ attempt at ending this seemingly miserable life through drugs and sex, wasn’t working.

I was as wreckless as I could be, risking my life in ways that you can only imagine, and not even a scratch (okay, maybe apart from the RA, which came and went as it pleased- it wasn’t doing its job fast enough, and I wanted results).

I was tired. I was bored. Nothing was working, and so, I became recluse.

The more I spent time alone, listening to my thoughts, the more I became aware of the sadness that had engulfed me mentally and emotionally.

I had never known I was sad. I had never known how sick sadness was making me mentally.

The sadness was emanating from wounds in my past (mostly childhood) that had never healed; grief that I had never properly processed; anguish and pain that I had never acknowledged.

Bad things had happened to me, and I buried these memories so deep making them virtually non-existent.

But they didn’t go away, and I continued piling memory after memory, pain after pain.

Introspection led me to start reliving these memories instead of running away from them.

It felt like an endless horror movie each time I did these mental exercises, but they helped me gain a better perspective of my experiences. They helped me validate all of the anger and all of the pain that I felt I wasn’t allowed to feel.

For the longest time I had believed I wasn’t allowed to mourn the death of my mother, abandonment by my father, or the loss of my innocence at such an early age; they happened, and there was nothing I could do to change it, but to just move on like everyone else, and forget.

But that wasn’t right. The girl inside needed to be heard, needed her pain to be acknowledged, needed her vulnerability to be seen.

No one else could do this. No one else but me.

Bearing witness to the pain inside helped me heal. The inner me could now trust herself to be open, and I am a beautiful sight.

I learnt to love the wounds and the scars and the damage inside, and to accept them as a part of who I am.

I learnt to authentically love myself despite of how messed up I was, despite all of the miserable choices I had made.

I also learnt that there was so much more to me than my trauma.

I learnt that I am obsessed with routines, and I absolutely THRIVE when there’s a routine in place.

I learnt that I love to be alone. I love being left to my own devices for long stretches of time. I find it so refreshing.

I love to hear the sound of my laughter. It makes me laugh more.

I love to eat (alone), and to cook for myself. I find immense pleasure in spending time by myself doing normal, simple things.

I love to read. Economics is a great turn on for me.

I learnt to look deeper past people’s actions in an attempt to make sense of why they do what they do. This little nugget helped me come to terms with my mum’s suicide, and my dad’s leaving.

And, of course, I learnt more about my sexuality. What I like, what I don’t like; who I like it with, and who I don’t like it with. I’m still at the sex-without-commitment stage because I’m really into variety and I LOVE my own space. But now this is no-risk sex. It’s clean, it’s fun; no alcohol or drugs . My physical needs are met, and that, for me, is a top priority.

Maybe in time, I will learn how to share myself emotionally and mentally with someone. But, I am not there yet.

I also learnt that there are people whose regular presence in my life has been a boost to my mental health.

Wahu, my adopted mummy is number one on this list. She is my rock. We are INSEPARABLE!!

My best friend John is also on this list. And so are my nephews and niece, Justin, Jude, Aiden, and Jasmine, plus my annoying brothers.

I have learnt to follow my intuition, my own voice, and the more I do, the more I end up exactly where I want to be. Fulfilled!

Most importantly, I have learnt to value myself. To appreciate myself even when no one else does. To feel beautiful inside and also to acknowledge and appreciate how physically attractive I am.

And to learn and love people… just the way they are…

Have an awesome rest of the week, won’t you?

BEFORE YOU GET A SPONSOR- LESSONS LEARNT FROM SHARON’S DEATH

When the news of Sharon Otieno’s death broke two months ago, the whole country froze! It was all any of us could talk or think about for the many weeks that followed.

I remember that day like it was yesterday. My parents were accompanying me to Komarock to see a parcel of land (because in my father’s eyes I’m still a baby who can’t be trusted to make big decisions- there’s also the small matter of him being a licensed land surveyor making him much more experienced in these matters than I will ever be).

In the car with us were two other friendly surveyors from the company selling the land, and the news of Sharon’s death was all we talked about to and from Komarock. The details were still sketchy but they spread like wildfire on social media, giving us a lot of material to discuss.

Her death continued to make headlines throughout October as the prime suspects were arraigned in court.

Why has her death been so captivating?

– It was the way she was murdered- it was beyond macabre; the gory details of the murder of this young woman seemed to be straight out of a horror movie script

– it was the fact that she was pregnant- 7 months no less; (FYI in Swahili, an unborn baby is known as kilenge; I just thought you should know)

– it was the fact that there were stab wounds on the foetus’ body. This is just another level of inhuman.

– and it was also because of who was implicated in the murder- a sitting governor! The father of the baby she was carrying!

That man was granted bail a few days ago after spending a month in jail. On that day, there was a jubilant crowd of his home supporters outside the court room ready to embrace their son. (Can I just point out that many of those supporters eagerly awaiting his release on bail were women- talk about being our own worst enemy, ladies..)

I did not see a crowd full of the slain woman’s family’s supporters. There were no placards demanding justice for Sharon and her late child.

The main suspect, was out. He was happy; he was relaxed.

He gets to hug his family members. That must be a relief.

I don’t understand why his wife is still with him, though- I hope I never have that level of ‘grace’.

Plus, I don’t envy her at all, woi; I wouldn’t want to sleep in the same room with such a man.

Let’s put this into perspective- your husband is accused of murdering a girl, his lover to be precise. She is young enough to be your daughter, and it turns out she was seven months pregnant, with his child, no less.

How are you supposed to be even in the same house with such an alleged monster, leave alone let him lie next to you for an entire night? What level of sanity are you required to have mastered in order to even stand to look at him…to hear him speak as if everything is normal, and that everything in the news is a bunch of hogwash?

I just can’t!

And her kids! Her kids! Jesus, they must be traumatized by their father’s alleged actions. They are probably not getting over this soon. (I am trying to put myself in their shoes-hopefully, they are good, sane kids. On the other hand, they could be horrible, entitled kids for all we know, and they are sleeping very well at night, their mother too).

He gets to resume his duty as governor because in our Constitution, you are not guilty until you are proven so by a court of law.

So guess what Migori?! You have an alleged murderer, and a confirmed sexual predator preying on young women in your universities as your county leader- you guys must have won some raffle!!!

I wonder how the murder, the investigations, the arrests have affected business and investments in Migori county. That would be a super interesting case study on why having an alleged criminal as your county governor is bad for business. Maybe then Kenyans will learn to choose leaders of good character (a girl can hope).

Okay, back to the story.

So, he has been set free on bail, and I expect he is going to move on with his life, and to do everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, to put this matter to rest (including appearing in a local church unannounced; because PR is important even when facing murder charges).

He is a powerful man, and powerful men have the means to make things happen.

Everyone is going to move on with their lives.

Everyone except Sharon….

Except her unborn baby (her kilenge)…

Except her living kids…

Except her mother and father…

I dare say that even her former husband is not going to move on from this treacherous ordeal.

This is a sad story but one that is full of lessons for everyone that it has touched.

I think the biggest lesson I have learned from this deadly love affair is one on the power dynamics of sponsor-sponsee relationships.

It is quite obvious that in such relationships, the sponsor is the one with the power, and he/she can use any means necessary to make you do as he pleases.

There is no love; they just like the fact that they can control you.

There’s no equality here, your only value is providing pleasure, mainly of the sexual kind (which is also the best kind FYI especially if there is no power play involved).

They are also deriving pleasure from how easily they can control you mentally, emotionally, and physically.

There is even no semblance of respect; you are a mere tool that he/she can discard once your purpose is done, or once you begin to appear like you are becoming a threat.

Woe unto you if you think you even have a chance to wrestle this power from him/her.

That’s when you become a threat. At this point, you need to be neutralised.

From my understanding of the case, Sharon thought that she could control her sponsor and make him do her bidding. She completely overestimated her position in this arrangement. This was her fatal mistake.

DO NOT make the same one.

Another critical lesson closely tied to the one above is that you shouldn’t try to outsmart or trap your sponsor.

These individuals are significantly older than you, almost twice or thrice your age. How in the world do you think you can outsmart them, or try to trap them?

These people have lived. They know all the rules of the game, and they already know every move your naive self will make even before you think of making it.

Don’t go playing mental games with these people because they will mess you up. Stick to your lane, sponsee, and only play such games with your agemates (although this might end in disaster as well, so it’s just best to avoid setting traps for any individual you are sleeping with just to be on the safe side).

These are not individuals to have children with- you are not trapping your sponsor, you’re trapping yourself- to a lifetime of fights, disrespect, shame, and money problems (the same ones you were trying to avoid by trying to baby trap someone).

Final lesson- Never get in too deep with these individuals. You need to leave some wiggle room so that when shit hits the fan, and it will eventually, you can flee unscathed.

That means no kids.

That means keeping crucial information about yourself secret from your blesser so that they can’t use such information against you.

That also means not participating in any illegal business with your blesser. You are only there to exchange your sexual goodies for monetary ones; not try your luck at being a crime lord.

If you are already in the mix, be careful. Your sponsor can just as easily throw you under the bus when you guys are finally caught. Woe unto you if you had been the face of the operations. You, my friend, are in shit because the only one paying penance is you, you gullible fool!

I don’t think there’s a happy ending in a sponsor/sponsee relationship. The dynamics of such relationships make them too cumbersome and dangerous to be appealing to anyone, and yet so many of us, just like Sharon, are falling into this trap head first.

It’s just best to avoid these kinds of arrangements. Period.

Only greed and blind ambition can drive you to invite all of this unnecessary drama of super old, super creepy, super dangerous, and let’s not forget, utterly demeaning sex into your life.

Simply living within your means will save you a world of trouble.

But, if you must have a sponsor (because your greed is beyond your control, and you are only thinking short term), you have to realize you are only a service provider, there’s absolutely nothing special about you.

This is a business like every other. Provide the service, receive your payment, and wait for the next time your services will be required. Never let it get to your head if you want to keep your head, you feel me?

Parting Shot:- Know your place, sponsee, know your place.