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Photo Courtesy: Good Samaritan

Ask anyone who has lived in Mombasa before moving elsewhere, what they miss most from home (apart from the food of course), in that same list, Jumuah (Friday) would appear. Now Friday is usually a grand day for Muslims all over the world but when it comes to a place like Mombasa, where the area is highly populated with Muslims, it becomes more than the prayer part alone, it becomes a cultural affair.

I love Fridays for many reasons. It’s not just the end of the week. It’s the day homes get busier than usual. The men are choosing their best sparkling clean kanzus before they get ironed, surat kahf is reciting in the room and in the neighbour’s house and the neighbour to the neighbour’s house too. It’s the day everyone cleans up earlier than usual (apart from the earlier working class birds), the smell wafting from the homes is from the strong lovely scents of oud. The men are extra smart in their neat kanzus, trimmed nails and moustaches and well-combed beards. Women are not left behind as they clean themselves and wear their lesos/praying attires and join the friday prayers while some decide to do it at home in their own solitude and privacy. The typical Swahili neighbourhood is all about good perfumes and scents at this moment.

Now maybe that happens in some other places too, but have you seen the groups of men going to the masjid for the prayer? Have you seen the kanzus all over the streets? The restaurants taking extra orders for special biryani and from all corners, voices calling to prayer and preaching can be heard. You go to the shops at 11:55 a.m. and one door is already closed with the attendants hurriedly serving the remaining customers because ‘hallo? don’t you know it’s Friday?!’

Messages of duas and well wishes are not to be missed on this day as people remember one another in their prayers.People who don’t usually pray may appear on this day and sometimes, earlier than usual. The preacher is preaching in a rhythmic, poetic manner and the rewards of this prayer makes it a lot like the best day of the week. Once the prayer is done, see the multitudes of Muslims streaming out of the masjid, greeting one another; big smiles, big hugs, kinda like a weekly reunion.

At home, Friday means a special meal. It means eating biryani, if not, then the nearest to it, many a times, pilau. There is even extra effort to have fruits on the table and salad and kachumbari and fresh juice and hot chilli, I mean, just the sort of meal you’d look forward to every other week.

The children are home earlier than usual and this day becomes the best to invite family and even friends over for meals. There is a lot of togetherness, love and co-existence vivid than any other day of the week. It is in a great way similar to Eid days.

Those who go abroad especially Western countries, sometimes they barely even hear the adhan because masjids are miles apart. Most of the times, families are totally separated which makes it almost impossible to have a wonderful get-together after the Friday prayer. I mean, isn’t it a privilege being at home? In a place where Islam has become a way of life, we don’t have to struggle to get permission from work or school to attend the prayers. It’s a privilege you can put on the qur’an in the office and no one will grumpily shout to you, ‘get yourself some earphones!’ It’s a privilege we get to hear khutbahs in our own mother tongue, Kiswahili. I mean some Muslims out there are listening to khutbahs experiencing language barrier and not understanding one word. It’s a privilege that we are surrounded by mosques all over, we can even choose which one to go to. It’s a privilege we are so close together in our neighbourhoods and livelihoods, we don’t have to hide practicing our beliefs. We don’t have to struggle to have gatherings. I think it’s a privilege to be a Muslim living in Mombasa. Ever thought of it that way?

Picha: https://pixabay.com

Sikilizeni kwa makini, mwenzenu nipo matatani…
Kwa mkubwa mtihani, ulonipata duniani…
Na nimekita mawazoni, sijui nifanye nini..
Nimefika njia panda, jamani nifate ipi?

Mimi ni mke nyumbani, na pia mimi ni mama…
Pili nilikua shuleni, na chuo kikuu kusoma..
Kishida nilisoma jamani, kwa juhudi zake mama..
Nimefika njia panda, jamani nifate ipi?

Kwa kupenda Rabana, shahada nikatunikiwa..
Kwa kweli niling’ang’ana, mwishoe nikafanikiwa..
Nikapata wangu bwana, harusi nikafanyiwa..
Nimefika njia panda, jamani nifate ipi?

Sasa nipo kwenye ndoa, mume wangu kakatalia
Amelitia kubwa doa, ndoto zangu kutimia…
Nikimweleza huniondoa, hataki kamwe kusikia…
Nimefika njia panda, jamani nifate ipi?

Hataki nifanye kazi, ataka nikae nyumbani..
Kinyume atakavyo mzazi, niwasaidie mashinani..
Hawana kazi wala bazi, na watoto tele nyumbani…
Nimefika njia panda, jamani nifate ipi?

Nina madada nyumbani, bado wapo masomoni..
Kuwasaidia natamani, ila kweli siwezani…
Imenipa tafshani, nakaa bila amani…
Nimefika njia panda, jamani nifate ipi?

Kando na ya nyumbani, ninazo ndoto zengine…
Uhandisi uwanjani, nifanye kama wengine…
Hunichoma roho ndani, nikashindwa nisinene..
Nimefika njia panda, jamani nifate ipi?

Nawaomba ushauri, njia ipi nifatilie..
Niende zangu kazini, wazazi wafurahie..
Au nikae nyumbani, mume wangu aridhie..
Nimefika njia panda, jamani nifate ipi?

Asanteni.

Utu  mkakosa, mkanivunja uti

Mkanilainisha kama poda

Nikawa chakula cha mchwa

Mkanisahau

Navuma gizani

 

Majira yakaficha weusi wenu

Mkasihi jumuia isahau

Ikajumuika

Mkasali kwa sauti gugumizi

Mkanifukia

 

Kisu kilichonisafirisha  gizani

Keki chapakua, msimu mtamu tena

Kwa wepesi viuno mwakata

Kinyume cha  rai za nafsi

Mwangwi wa bezo wavuma gizani

 

Mbaya mimi siko. Mnafuraha?

Mwizi mimi siko. Akiba mnazo?

Simo idadini. Shibe mnayo?

Wageni hawalaumiwi

Utu  haba ni giza.

 

Burdani ni ua la sumu

Laficha ukweli leo, kesho halimo

Uongo hauna starehe

Kwa miyayo tu, mawimbi yataibua

Uongo mlioficha miongoni.

 

Navuma gizani, sikio hamna

Vitenge mwajikwatua kote nyajani

Pambio zateleza vinywani

Hatimaye kukaripia ndugu adui

Ndimi. Vumi. Pepo

 

Ngoma ni tamu, waichezao hawachoki

Wana kiu cha matunda, rangi si hoja

Yawe kijani au manjano

nyayo nyekundu kwa vumbi

zameremeta kama mshale wa moto.

 

Hatima yangu mwaitamani?

Maficho kwa stesheni

Na chini ya msalaba

Hatimaye kufanywa

Kuni. Kaa. jivu baridi

 

Je? kama sanda yastiri

Mbona mkanifukia?

Mwaficha nyuso kwa matendo yenu?

Fumbueni macho muone jua

Tiba ni toba

 

Mtapona lini?

Nasikia nyayo juu ya kifua

Mwakimbiza nani leo?

Jua likitua, mtacheka.

Kesho mtalia.

 

Shehena ya wivu kinywani

Wakongwe bado wala chumvi

Ajabu!

 

  1. Hili ni shairi huru.
  2. Ritifaa ni sanaa ambayo inahusisha mtu aliyekufa, akiwasiliana na waliohai
  3. Picha kwa hisani ya http://walterastrada.com. Inaonyesha mtu mwenye hamaki kipindi cha 2007/2008,ambapo kulitokea ghasia baada ya upigaji kura

Photo Courtesy: MTY Organization

Hey Amedo,

Assalam aleikum,

I would have said Ahmed but then who recognizes you with that name anymore? Haha, you are all grown Mashallah. I hope that’s how it is spelt? The Mashallah I mean and the assalam aleikum up there…haha what do I know anyway? I’m just this old pal from upcountry living in Mombasa. I remember hearing your parents use such phrases so many times…ah, your parents. I miss them, you know that? I wish they could see how grown and smart you are right now. Your parents and I, we had this special kind of relationship. I bet you wouldn’t remember much though. You were just eight when that unfortunate accident happened right? *Sigh*

When I first came to Mombasa twenty years ago, I remember how warmly I was received by your parents into this neighbourhood. I still remember your dad, tall and lean, with such a loud laughter, welcoming me like I was a long-lost brother. Your mother, on the other hand, prepared dinner for both me and my wife that night. “I bet you are tired,” she said in her shy voice. I was a bit puzzled with the reception. We were different people, different tribes, different cultures, different religions…what could have made them so comfortable to bond with us immediately? My wife was a bit suspicious at first. You know, we had heard of rumours about the Mombasa genies and how witchcraft is so common and human sacrifices are made to become ‘viti’. Well, we never even understood what those viti were. As far as we knew it, viti are chairs. Nonetheless, my wife, she was a bit worried at first. But then by the next three to four months, we had interacted with almost the entire neighbourhood. We came to learn that this is just how Mombasa is. Warm and lovely; feels like home. It is why we decided to remain here longer. We decided, this is the best place to raise our children.

After your parents passed away in the accident, your divorced aunt moved in to take care of you and your younger siblings. Your aunt was another very lovely lady. She is charming and full of life; the kind to hear her voice sweeping the compound as she sang famous taarab songs. She is the one who taught my wife how to cook biriani and pilau and all these tasty coasterian foods. I never get enough of these foods.

It was all going well for us until Timmy died. You remember Timmy don’t you? Sometimes I see you walk by my home and I yearn to talk to you, ask you if you remember him, if you remember how you two used to play football together, or how you used to stay up late playing PS until your dad would come force you out of our homestead. If you remember that your birthdays were only two weeks apart and that today, he would be 22 years old like you are. Perhaps that would lessen how much I miss him. But then every time I want to start up a conversation, I see the lines form on your forehead. I see how quick you respond just so as you can leave, how bothered you seem by just calling out your name. I never understand it. Maybe it’s my age; old folk what does he want? Or maybe my skin colour or maybe you just don’t recognize me anymore. Maybe…the maybe’s are endless.

Timmy…my only son, my lovely boy, died ten years ago. Both of you were just twelve years old. My son, he was killed. Do you remember? Do you remember the shrieks of pain? The screams? The tear gas, the fear, the stones, the chaos? Do you remember the 2007 post-election violence? You were young but you couldn’t forget how Timmy died right? Your best friend, your brother from another mother, could you? There was too much smoke, wails, angry protests and there we were, caught up right at the middle of it all. Our neighbourhood had always been peaceful, serene…what was happening now? How could everyone forget our brotherhood so fast? We were among the few “outcasts” in the compound. After more than ten years in Mombasa, we suddenly became “outcasts” because our skin colour was darker, our mother-tongue accent betrayed us and our features were clearly “not of here” and that was enough reason to have knives stabbed into our bodies. Because of my origin, my vote automatically meant someone and some party, and at that point, my tribe betrayed me, betrayed us all. We were robbed and deeply injured that night…but one more thing, we lost our son.

It took me three months to heal my wounds and my wife’s’ but we still have one wound that will always remain a wound; unhealed and it just has one word, Timmy. Your aunt has been there for us, all this time, for better for worse, just like we stood by her side whenever she couldn’t afford some bread to feed you all. But you worry me. You my son, worry me.

I see how opinionated you’ve become. How strong and firm you are. It is good. But yet it could be dangerous. I see you sit with your mates barazani, I see the fury in your eyes, the anger in your tone. I see you young men discuss politics like this is a battle field and you want to win at whatever cost. I see you argue, I see the clenched fists and the tribalistic insults. I see how your friends look at me, how they purposely shout out “Kila mtu arudi kwao” when I pass by. I see how you all are invested so much in politics you forget you are supposed to be friends. I see how some of you have stopped talking to each other because “he is pro-someone” and you are “anti-them”. I see how much belief and trust you have kept towards these politicians.

I know it is your right to have an opinion, to vote and to be politically affiliated. Yet I want to remind you my son, when your parents died, I was the one who came to your home and took you for the next few nights, I want to remind you that Timmy was your friend despite me and your parents having different cultures and political opinions. I want to remind you that when we were stabbed, it was your aunt who washed off the blood in our house. That she was the one who nursed our wounds like she was paid for it.

I want to remind you, that during those ugly, dark moments it wasn’t my favourite politician who stood by me, by us. It wasn’t my tribe, or my mother-tongue accent that helped me through those difficult times. It wasn’t your favourite politician either. It was you and your people. It was my neighbours, my friends, my associations who have totally different opinions from mine. But we knew that friendship or any other form of relationship should never be sold for the sake of dirty politics. This game is too dirty. My son, I see how you and your friends are too aggressive in this whole politics business, remember, the game is too dirty, too cheap for your hands.

I am so proud of who you are, what you’ve become; an educated focused man who wants change. I guess we all need the change, don’t we? Just never forget that no change comes from animosity, rivalry, hatred or stubbornness. Remember that for better for worse, none of the politicians will be at your doorstep to help you with your personal problems other than your personal friends and relations. I need you to never forget the humanity joining us; these small joyful moments we have shared between us all; as neighbours, as brothers, as co-existing human beings, as people of the Coast, whether by nature or nurture, as people of Kenya. Never forget that we are naturally bonded as humans before politics ever divide us.

This coming election, my son, remember my words. Remember that chaos will never beget change. That your voice in the call of peace is important and necessary. Remember to hold your friends close together, in unity and preach to them peace like you preach politics and politicians. Remember my son, no more bloodshed, no more Timmy’s, no more crying over spilled milk. Let’s all hold hands and pray for peace and unity. Remember we are One Kenya, One people. This elections, as you cast your vote (or not), remember peace, peace, peace!! May God protect us all. God bless Kenya!

Your next door neighbour,
Baba Timmy.


 

Photo Courtesy: https://youth4developmentkenya.files.wordpress.com

What is more interesting than standing together for Kenya that is united by all means? What is more interesting than a walk that preaches for peace and propagates for unity of all? The Dumisha Amani Peace Walk is a walk organized by MTY organization in conjunction to both MUHURI and Manyunyu community. It will bring together more than 200 youth to propagate the message of peace and unity. The peace walk shall start at treasury square and it will also entail performances by artists, holding hands pledges, peace mascots, security, media coverage and lots of fun, love and unity. Not signed up yet, text 0705 586 076. CHAGUA AMANI!!

 

 

Photo Courtesy: Unknown

Of Blame Games
Stop. Let’s stop right there. Let’s have a moment of silence. Let’s take a moment to understand what is happening before pointing fingers or saying what’s wrong or right. A young man was killed by the mob; a wanted young man, part of a gang, and his mates now want revenge. But that isn’t the full story is it? There is a whole lot of things that have gotten us to where we are. One of which is the blame game.

Let’s stop because the too strong blame game will not bring any results. We need to critically look for a way forward soon and soon enough. We need answers not speculations. We need to come together not split further into antagonists and protagonists.

Of lost Youth, Drugs & Unemployment
What could have gone so wrong? Is it that we were raised in such a wrong way? Is it that our parents and leaders have failed us? Is it that we are too cool for planet earth? But no. We are all to blame. Parents, Teachers, Leaders, Peers…We have failed each other. We all have an equal role for we have brought ourselves down. Let’s not say there are no jobs. Let’s face it; jobs can be found. You just need to seriously look and TRY. Problem is, there are no jobs that we think we deserve. The problem is when we say, I have an education so I can’t, shouldn’t and wouldn’t ever be a shopkeeper or a tailor or anything else that appears minor in our eyes. Let’s accept that our youth have gotten the wrong idea of life and success. Let’s accept that this is the generation that watches macho violent movies and we forget those are but fiction that we forget the part ‘Don’t try this at home’. This is the generation that is sooo obsessed with ‘Being Someone’ such that any way to get to that is good enough. Drugs that are easily found by teenagers, how does that happen under our noses? How are we training our young ones to be steadfast and upright in such a century? How are we being role models to the youth such that they can be something in this life without harming others? Allah (S.W) says in Surat Ra’d: Indeed, Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves. Can we be the change first?

Of Tearful Mothers and Hurt Fathers
We can all agree on this; No parent ever wants to see their children lose their way, being in the wanted list or harming other people (Not unless the parent/s themselves are involved) So let’s not be too quick to say, ‘How did his/her parents let him become a goon like that? It must be that they were negligent.’ Okay maybe they are negligent. Maybe they failed at some point in their parenting. Yes maybe they should have brought forward their spoiled child for rehabilitation or for justice. Maybe they should have tried harder…but who are we to criticize when we haven’t even heard their side of story. How can we ever know how much they battled and wept for the children or they still do? Perhaps they also had some little hope for them to reform, maybe they didn’t want to give up praying just yet.

Let’s take a moment to reflect on what happened with Nabii Nuh when he was asked by Allah (S.W) to ask all the believers to leave with him on the ship as from the qur’an.: “And [Noah] said, “Embark therein; in the name of Allah is its course and its anchorage. Indeed, my Lord is Forgiving and Merciful.

And it sailed with them through waves like mountains, and Noah called to his son who was apart [from them], “O my son, come aboard with us and be not with the disbelievers.”

[But] he said, “I will take refuge on a mountain to protect me from the water.” [Noah] said, “There is no protector today from the decree of Allah , except for whom He gives mercy.” And the waves came between them, and he was among the drowned.

And the story goes on and he says:
“And Noah called to his Lord and said, “My Lord, indeed my son is of my family; and indeed, Your promise is true; and You are the most just of judges!”

He said, “O Noah, indeed he is not of your family; indeed, he is [one whose] work was other than righteous, so ask Me not for that about which you have no knowledge. Indeed, I advise you, lest you be among the ignorant.” (Ch 11:41-48 Quran)

Does that mean that Nabii Nuh failed as a parent? No. Or when Qabil killed Habil, did that make Adam (A.S) a bad parent? Some children are but tests to their parents and as much as some have contributed to their children’s ugly behaviours, some are nothing but helpless souls. We should be encouraging them to bring out their children for rehab instead of throwing off words to judge their parenting. We should join them in prayers for today it might be their child tomorrow might be yours. Yes, life is that scary.

Of misplaced priorities
Where is all our concentration? No, let’s be honest. What have we given our priority to? Hasn’t it been politics and what which politician did what or arguing over who is a better candidate? Hasn’t it always been on petty issues like what day was ‘real Eid’? Haven’t we put too much energy debating and roasting one another online over ridiculous issues like who holds a fake account and whose wife was seen where? For how long have these gangs been harassing different communities? Long enough to bring about call to action. I won’t discredit the efforts of some individuals and few leaders who’ve tried taming the situation but this should be something we all come together for; not with too much anger and remorse, but with wisdom, prayers and smart strategies.

Of unethical images and their widespread
Please people, it is wrong. It is so very wrong to publicly share photos of a dead individual especially when it shows his/her face or that makes him identifiable. It doesn’t matter if someone was a thief, a goon or a ninja assassin because when one dies, they just become a body. Those widespread photos won’t hurt him, but will hurt his loved ones who probably have no involvement in his/her actions. It is disturbing that you share those images even when you put a huge disclaimer that the photos are disturbing. I mean why are we so hungry to be the ones to spread some news? Please adapt the golden rule which says, ‘Do unto others as you would have done unto you’. Now maybe you are not a thief or a goon on the wanted list, but I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t want such disturbing photos of your brother or friend or even someone you know being spread after they die or killed or suicide or during an accident…whichever the case is. Give the dead their privacy and respect. Their judgement is now upon the Most High.

Of second chances
I’m just trying to imagine, what if one of the gang members really wants to surrender right now?? But then there is the wrath of the people awaiting him. Would he really surrender? Should he? Would you, if you were in his shoes? We say we really want to help our young ones and children, but are we ready to give them second chances? Can we accept them back and forgive them? Perhaps they need reassurance. Maybe not all, but even if one is ready to repent then that’s a win for a community.

Remember the story of Ghawrath bin al-Harith. When the Prophet received word that some of the tribes of Ghatafan were mobilizing an attack on Madinah, so he undertook a small expedition toward their territory but they fled before the Muslims arrival.

However, while the Prophet was resting under a tree, an enemy warrior by the name of Ghawrath ibn al-Harith, who had pledged to assassinate the Prophet, quietly took the Prophet’s sword as he slept and suddenly declared, “O Muhammad, who will save you from me?” The Prophet awoke and simply replied, “Allah.” Ghawrath inexplicably dropped the sword and the Prophet picked it up and asked, “Now, who will save you from me?”

Ghawrath was astonished and pleaded, “Be the better victor!”
The Prophet Muhammad forgave him. He asked Ghawrath whether he believed in the truth of Islam and Ghawrath replied, “No, but I promise not to fight you or aid those who fight you.” The Prophet let Ghawrath return to his tribe, whereupon Ghawrath said, “Verily, I have come from the best of people.” (Mustadarak al-Hakim, Sunan al-Bayhaqi, and Ibn Kathir in al-Bidayah wal-Nihayah). Food for thought.

Perhaps there is too much bitterness right now; of harmed individuals and robbed people. There are also revenge plots looming, God have mercy on us…
It is understandable why people would choose mob justice any time, but can we come together to sincerely help them, forgive them? Can we come together to make a special prayer for our lost youth? Can someone who knows how to go about this, arrange please? I mean, last time we had drought we came together to pray asking for rain alhamdulilah, why not do it again, for our brothers and children and future generations too? After all, it is only Allah who can grant guidance to people. Why can’t we have these many sheikhs come together with our leaders and parents for prayers and for a way forward?? To ensure that those who need rehabilitation are taken there?

May Allah guide us and our young ones and our children and protect us from all evil and bloodshed. Let us remember to pray for ourselves and our cities and communities frequently. Ameen.

 

Photos Courtesy: www.msa.co.ke / (#KiparaPhotography)

Martin Luther King Jr once said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’” » Perhaps we really underestimate the power of coming together, of empathy and humanity, of love and kindness but let’s take a minute to be the ones on the other end receiving all the love and pure energy from all kinds of people. Try to imagine the bliss and the peace.

You being the one in a rocky hospital bed fighting for your life. You being the one who slept hungry for the past two days. You being the one who was robbed off your rights. You who couldn’t sleep because of a huge debt to be paid. And then someone and someone else and someone else, from different parts of the world come together and just decide, ‘let us relieve from him this burden’. Imagine the weight being lifted off your shoulders, the worries in your heart and the endless thoughts in your mind. This is what Mombasa Toa Donge lako is doing for so many people from years back.Indeed, when it comes to humanity, no deed is considered small.

Yesterday was my first time to attend the annual Iftar event usually held by the community group for orphans of different areas and my second time to attend any of their events. So basically, i’m not an active member but I’ve been spectator for long enough to know that this community group is doing a HUGE MEGA difference in people’s lives. Maybe they didn’t do it to you or your next door neighbour but they’ve held grand projects that have turned around the lives of some people. Let’s give credit where it is due; this community group is doing a much better job at the welfare of the society more than our leaders combined.

So I was just seated at the front rows silently as the program started and we heard the anasheeds from different kids, then a short quiz and then came the most moving part of the live testimonies from people who’ve been aided by the Donge group. You know, I just was watching Erray’s parents talk of their gone son and the great support offered to them both financially and emotionally and I just had mixed emotions. I see his mother cry when she talks of his son and his orphaned daughter and then I imagine how much more tears would she have shed if they never had a chance to even try out medication, or pay for his medication, or how they would start adjusting their lives to give a good life to Erray’s daughter without help. None of us can ever imagine. Several other people gave their testimonies and I was a bit overwhelmed seeing how successful the projects were. Trust me, it’s different when you see it online and when you actually see these people live like you really know them. When I saw baby Rahima and her mother I was immediately like, “Ah! I remember this cute face!” And it is just so nice to see these people with smiles on their faces, healthy and back on their feet. That, that right there is something we should never undervalue; the ability to put a smile back on someone’s face is a tremendous job.

The orphans that attended were 200 from 3 different institutions; both boys and girls and they were all too curious about the whole event. One of the caretakers of one institution was telling me, “This is the first time we have been taken to such a trip so they were really excited. We had to come half of us because we couldn’t all fit in the car.” When it was time for iftar, I saw some of the kids barely touching the snack container, another one was trying to peel off the egg layer from the katlesi. A friend of mine seated next to me asks them why they aren’t eating, the caretaker says, ‘hatujazoea hivi vyakula vya waarabu’ (We are not used to this Arab kind of foods. So the container basically had Potatoes, bhajia, kebabs, katlesi, tea/coffee, dates and mitai and I could see them scrutinize the food, dissecting them like it’s a biology experiment.
“What do they usually eat?” I ask.
“Ugali mostly with vegetables. Sometimes rice. Sometimes Chapati. Sometimes we have people bringing pilau for us. But you know Arabic food like this, when we leave here that’s the end of it…Look at their hands,” she holds one arm to show me, “see all these dark spots, it’s because of mosquitoes. We sleep at a school on the floor with too worn-out mattresses. Sometimes we get people who remember us. Sometimes we don’t. But life moves on.”
“Were the kids excited about coming here?”
“Of course they were…they won’t comment here but I know when we get back home they will all be having too much to say.” (In case someone is interested in visiting their institution; ‘Vision of Hope’ the lady is Zeitun Mwaka, her number is 0711 415 626 or her colleague Najma Mwanasiti: 0707 343 444) Yet I am sure there are many more orphans out there who are totally oblivious to what good delicacies look like or a good bed feels like. They are out there and they need us to go to them.

It was just a great feeling seating with them, eating next to them, praying beside them, seeing them rejoice eating biriani and other platters of food. Hearing them sing alongside brother Nassir as he sings his nasheeds; just too heartfelt.

I remember the excited looks of the children as they were given ice cream after the meal and it was in that merry moment, I noticed a young girl who went and gave a group of orphans some packets of chauro and I looked at how everyone was scrambling to get a packet and I say, ‘if only we appreciated these tiny blessings that we tend to overlook.’

Oh! and before I forget, I did get feedback from one of the orphans. As I was leaving some teenage age was happily telling her friends, “Nnashiba alhamdulilah! Mungu awabariki Donge” (I am full alhamdulilah. God bless Donge) by the way, the girls didn’t know I was listening so this was definitely genuine feedback. Imagine the rewards of making 200 orphans (and several other people) happy plus, in Ramadhan!!

I know the Donge staff, admins, volunteers, members and active members hear this a lot,but we just want to say it again. Thank you for being role models of kindness and humanity in the community. Thank you for being a symbol of hope to others. Thank you for your dedication and sacrifice. For your endless effort and patience to ensure projects are successful. For changing people’s lives and for restoring our faith in humanity. May Allah bless all those who attended, all those who made it possible, all those who participated directly or indirectly, all those whose hearts were in the event despite their absence. May the spirit of togetherness shine on for generations to come, may our intentions remain pure in helping people and may we be the hope in such a dark world. Ameen.

I just want to end it with this hadith, “Ibn `Umar (May Allah be pleased with them) reported: The Messenger of Allah (sa) said: “A Muslim is a brother of (another) Muslim, he neither wrongs him nor does hand him over to one who does him wrong. If anyone fulfills his brother’s needs, Allah will fulfill his needs; if one relieves a Muslim of his troubles, Allah will relieve his troubles on the Day of Resurrection…” [Bukhari and Muslim]. Keep doing good, keep being good, every small and large deed counts in Allah’s eyes.

Photo Courtesy: https://s22.postimg.org

Warning: This is going to be a long one 😉

Everyone can agree that Madrasas make up almost the biggest part of our great childhood memories or perhaps the worst. This is where we got shaped and molded into the characters we are today. How we were shaped however, is a different story. They say, the end justifies the means… or does it? If anything, Madrasas are the best example of this phrase.

Back down the memory lane, most families had neglected the Madrasas. Secular education was given the priority giving minimal time for the children to adopt Madrasa teachings. This in turn made the children consider Madrasa as ‘not-so-serious’ a place. It was like the damp spot where parents would take them on weekends so that they don’t bother people back home.

If you ask anyone about their Madrasa days they’ll mention a lot of punishments where students were subjected to individually or as a group. First mistake would always be ‘getting late’ because hey! It’s weekend! The entire family is going for a wedding somewhere and you spent an entire hour crying why you are being left behind while they’ll be enjoying some good biryani with roasted chicken. So you get to the gate, eyes red and swollen and you find a whole group standing aside while the assembly is going on. You become a bit relieved that you are not alone. However, once the assembly is over and the teacher on duty confronts you, he surprises you all by checking the uniform instead or whether your nails are clipped. So you end up with double punishment. But it never ends there does it? You somehow end up in the noisemakers list in class and the ustadh gives you ‘THAT look’ of ‘Too many mistakes in one morning young boy’!

There was always a lot of fun associated with all the mischief which involved incomplete assignments and ending up doing the assignment at the corridor, making fun of other students or rhythmic and loud reading during classes; which more often than not irritated the teachers, a lot of skiving where one or a collective group would go out for lunch break and decide not to come back because you decided that your family will not go for that wedding without you, a lot of ‘tell your parent to come tomorrow’ because let’s face it the teachers were having up to their necks dealing with stubborn kids.

Coming back to class late was a norm because you got caught up in the games you were playing or were waiting in line for your potatoes and other snacks to be prepared; and so when you reach the class you know what’s waiting inside so you all stand by the door deciding who was bold enough to ask for permission to get in. Then there were those days we’d be sent home because we had applied henna on Eid day despite it being against madrasa rules or for the lack of payment of fees on time…yeah the list is endless!

In attempt to change the ‘relaxed-mode’ children had on madrasa, the teachers always opted to cane the naughty children, especially with the famous kikoto (A local type of cane commonly made in Coastal region by use of Reeds.)


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When it came to the need for students to learn, caning only brought fear into them making them memorize things they don’t understand in the least bit. My mother tells me of how when they were young, they’d go to madrasa sit in straight lines and start singing what they’ve been taught, swinging themselves frontward and backward. How they’d put small pieces of kashatas between the mashaf pages then come back and start eating them piece by piece while the ustadh is not looking. They’d then quickly go back to chorusing with the rest, turning their oily mashaf pages. It seemed all merry when the whole class was chorusing like that…but now many years later, she confesses that then, she, and many others did not even know what they were saying. The caning only prompted them to cram something so that whenever the teacher asks a question, they had an answer. Nonetheless, the caning was fruitful when it came to hifdhul qur’an (memorization of the holy qur’an).

So basically, punishments differed on 3 factors: The teacher himself, the personality of the student and the kind of mistake done.

We all had some experience with the ‘bad news’ ustadh who you’d carefully avoid on the way even if you’ve done nothing wrong. He is always ready to cane; always ready to strike; always armed with his kikoto. Yet others would go for other less violent kind of punishments like making the students kneel, making them stand the whole session, pinching, sweeping, squatting, washing the washrooms, cleaning corridors, extra assignments, calling of the parent or being detained from going to tea/lunch break.

This however also differed according to the child in question. For some children just the mere mention of ‘I’ll cane you’ is enough to scare them and make them do the right thing. They’d weep like no one’s business if you even jokingly mention that you’ll summon the parent. Yet another child is so used to the canning that it doesn’t matter anymore. It’s routine now and thus, doesn’t mould them in anyway. Sometimes, it even made the students become more rebellious and beating them was as useless as screaming on their faces. But this same naughty child if detained from going to have lunch, he tends to settle down. A lazy child would detest being given extra assignment and that would be the perfect punishment for him/her.

When it comes to collective mistake i.e. the whole class making noise, or late comers, the teacher would ask them to sweep the classroom or wash the loos for the older students. For some children, telling them to go out of the class as punishment acts as the best thing for them. It turns out to be ‘free-class-to-have-fun’ oh yeah, and to make more mischief. So the child’s personal character always factored in the kind of punishment.

How the child/children are punished depended on the kind of mistake too. For a mistake like late-coming, the punishment would be lesser than the ones who got into a fight. Or noise-makers compared to the ones skiving classes.

The teachers would always use the small punishment methods and only when things really escalated is when the parent is summoned.


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It’s no secret that Madrasa punishment is better than school (before the anti-punishment law came in). Yet still, there were/are parents who still go to complain once their children are canned or in the least, touched at all. The parents would sometimes respond to complaints from the Madrasa by transferring their child to another institution which ends up making the child always half-baked with information and sometimes in character too.

We all have experienced or at least witnessed the dramatic parents who are always so protective and just at the slightest caning of their child, they’d appear at the institution and start shouting to whoever they can throw words to, threatening to report to the police if their children are canned again yet they are in the first place responsible for the negligence the children have on Madrasa. If the parents showed the children how important Madrasa is, the mischief would be less and they’d be more serious on Madrasa education.

Punishment systems have changed over the years. This could be because the teachers realized that they are using the wrong approach in the desperate need of making students prioritize Madrasa studies. Nowadays, there is less caning. We can’t say it has stopped completely but teachers are more and more adopting the alternative punishment systems like giving them extra assignments or sweeping classes and corridors amongst other methods. Different Madrasas have also tried different ways to make Madrasa more interesting for children i.e. including extra-curricular activities and trips too. They also involve the parents a lot more than before on the issues of their children.

The best move Madrasa systems have taken, however, is ensuring that their teachers undergo teachers’ training before stepping into class. This is unlike before whereby anyone with the knowledge could teach regardless of whether they knew how to handle the mentality of children or not. Some Madrasas would let the older kids teach the younger ones just because they had a little more knowledge than the little ones, or the smarter kids would teach the other kids when a teacher was not around. So now we have better teachers who have studied psychology of the children and are able to deal with them in the right way.

The punishments have been the better evil for many of us. Apart from the notorious students whom we’d tell ‘haskii la mwadhini wala mteka maji mskitini’ to, many owe their good discipline to the Madrasa teachers who ensured they behave. Many of us wouldn’t even know how to recite Surat Fatiha if not for the canning. The punishments done in Madrasa have mostly been moderate apart from a few cases and they seem necessary in order to straighten the children up.

Apart from that, we got the many memories from these days; the days we did mistakes and cried even before the teacher raised the cane, or the days we knelt down until our knees ached, or when we were late and were sent back home; half happy half miserable, or those days when someone stole and we’d have soot applied on his face (someone mentioned this and couldn’t help but imagine and laugh). As much as we as a community have undermined the Madrasa for so long, we have to admit that we learnt good lessons and became better people from what we learnt back then.

I know some really hate the memories they have of back then or of the entire madrasa system, and some would enthusiastically want to debate this whole punishment issue, nonetheless, I guess at the end of the day it is only each one of us who can judge and perceive those days as they will. Everyone is entitled to their opinion after all.

In my opinion, there is improvement and gradual process in the Madrasa systems which hopefully will make more students serious on the deen education which has been comprised for so long. As for the punishments (the moderate reasonable ones that is), I hope they still stay in the system until the later generations. In the current dark world, we need a system that will still humble us and mold us to be better individuals.

Photo Courtesy: http://www.lamupaintersfestival.org

Just like any other place, the Coast too has it’s good, bad and ugly. Sure enough, what’s below is only part of the story and not the full picture. There are several other personalities and several other perceptions. So kindly read this without being judgmental. There’s always another side of the coin 😉

1. The man rich in culture: He is the typical ‘Coasterian’ from head to toe. He is proud of his culture and traditions and would never trade it for anything else. He is always in a kanzu and kofia or otherwise a kikoi and shirt. His shoes would always be the makubadhi just like his coffee would never be espresso, latte or cappuccino. He would even ask, with eyebrows raised, “Why on earth would I drink that when there is kahawa tungu?” (In Kiswahili of course). So nah, the sugarcoating of these fancy names don’t move him in the least bit. You wouldn’t miss him in traditional events like the lamu cultural festival or mawlid and zefe. His house preference would always be the Swahili traditional homes so definitely, his wife choice would be a woman who knows enough about udi and asmini and a lot about samaki wa kupaka, mkate wa mofa and matobosha. He probably works as a fisherman or in the traditional businesses that have been existence since his forefathers. In the evenings he’d be seated at the baraza with friends chit-chatting or playing backgammon. His accent is not ‘Westernized’ so the ‘T’ in Fatma comes out mildly as it should be. If you are a visitor at the Coast, this is the guy you meet and see ‘the Coast’ all over him.

2. The Maalim: The man with the longest beard? 😀 His clothe of choice would always be the white sparkling kanzu. He is the sheikh; the ustadh. People trust him and value his opinions. He holds some knowledge in religion and preaches. The community treats him like the village elder and thus, involve him in many of their problems. He is respected and honoured. He is definitely the man to go to when in trouble.

3. The Mganga? Before you meet him, you will come across his poster or a piece of wood on an electricity pole advertising his ‘skills.’ Oh, he promises a lot of things; to cure your ailment, to get you a good job, to know if your wife is cheating. The only thing he won’t promise you is heaven. You’d find his home in a dark town in a dark village in the darkest spot of the mtaa. Creepy? I thought so too.

4. The lazy bone: He has no idea what is happening in his life or those around him. He is pretty much non-existent. He is jobless and is not ready to look for one. His wife/mother/woman of the house ends up spoon-feeding him because he’ll never bother provide or bring something to the table. In the evenings you’d find him at the baraza with his two kilos of miraa. He is so comfy and you’d wonder how they can be that relaxed without a penny.

5. The shy guy: He is genuinely shy. Not the social media guys who claim to be shy because this one definitely is. He is raised with high Islamic and traditional morals, he’d blush if a girl said hi. He is more often than not a loner or with few selected friends. You never have to worry about his behaviour in front of your parents because he knows his limits.

6. The sea-lover: It would be so wrong to be born at the Coast and not love the sea right? He cherishes the sea than anything else. It’s the place he goes to early in the morning for a jog, or at lunch hour to eat or when is stressed, when happy, when he is bored, when everything and nothing happens…you’d find him there. The sea is his home.

7. The odds beater: He is the man who proves against the stereotype that Coast folks only await for the mangoes to drop. He is ambitious and passionate in whatever field he has taken. He may be very well educated but he may also be not. However he is still very successful.


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8. The slippy mouth: He knows all the insults in the world. Everything in his conversations and talks must include an insult even when it’s totally out of context. Doesn’t matter if he is joking, laughing, greeting, teasing a friend,angry or frustrated; an insult will definitely appear somewhere in his sentences. Most probably he grew up with the habit or adopted it. He doesn’t care what you’ll think of it but you better be prepared when talking to him; your ears will beg for mercy. Oh and by the way, he’s also very loud in his speech so you’ll hear the insult even when miles apart.

9. Mommy’s boy: Most of the times, a boy like him comes from the upper class but sometimes from the lower class too. He’s been pampered all his life and been given all he ever needed. He barely knows how to survive on his own and depends highly on his mum/parents to sort things out for him. He loves his mum genuinely though, we can’t argue about that.

10. The gentleman: He may be similar to the shy guy but not necessarily. He is charming, a man of his words and most of all, humble and gentle to the people around him. He is a principled man and knows how to deal with people. Husband material? Most often than not.

11. The man of four wives: He will say he has a big heart which is spacious enough to accommodate four ladies 😀 Cliche much 😀 Never debate polygamy with him because you’ll fail miserably. He finds solace in his women and is proud of himself. Wonder all you want, he still made it through with his wives 😀 or maybe he didn’t but he still doesn’t regret his ‘venture’ into polygamy.

12. The pious one: Born in a family with good morals, raised well enough, ventured into religious education and has succeeded in being a scholar. In other scenarios, he pushed himself single-handedly into piety-hood. May be young but holds an ocean of knowledge in him. May be a hafidh too (memorizer of the qur’an) and people around him value his wisdom. He may or may not be a preacher but his opinions are still highly respected due to his level of piety.

13. The drug-addict: The most unfortunate scenarios of them all. He probably started early with small stuff like sheesha and miraa before graduating to marijuana and the likes. He may be from a broken family or is a neglected kid and sometimes, he is just a spoilt brat. He met other birds with the same colours and now they flock together terrorizing the community around them. This kind of story most often than not ends miserably or terribly except if he is lucky enough and got a hand to pull him out and into rehabilitation. May God protect us from such scenarios.

Oh well, we still love the Coast don’t we? With everything in it and every kind of personality we still love it here more because no place will ever feel like home more. Hey Coastal men, found yourself up there? 😀

 


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Picha: https://www.123rf.com/photo


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BARUA KWA RAFIKI(1)
Rafiki ninapotuma waraka huu,sina uhakika kama utakufikia.huenda uliniblock. Lakini nadhani huezi kuniblock maana mara ya mwisho nilikuacha na simu ya kabambe.Lakini kama ulipata simu ya ndoto zako yenye kila kitu mpaka nailcutter,basi labda umeniblock.Haidhuru.
Barua hii naiandika nikiwa hapa hotelini na kikombe cha kahawa.kama ni zamani na wewe ungekua hapa na kikombe chako cha chai.lakini ulinitenga. Hatuongei tena. Maskani ulibadilisha. Hunipigii simu kama zamani kunicheka timu yangu imefungwa.yule binti uliyekuwa ukinipigania nimpate usiku na mchana,nilimpata.lakini hauwezi hata kumuita shemeji. SABABU YA SIASA. Sababu tulitofautiana kimawazo. Sababu hatuko chama kimoja. Lakini rafiki mbona hawa tunaowapigia kura wanalala hoteli moja,magari yao yamefanana. Kwanini sisi tutengane rafiki?
Nimeishiwa na bundle kama kawaida yangu,na hapa nilipo hakuna WIFI. Nitarudi tuongee nikikopa credit. Rafiki yangu mpendwa,ni mimi rafikiyo wa tangu utotoni. Mapacha tusiofanana.

BARUA KWA RAFIKI(2)
Rafiki naskia umemuoa mchumba wako wa miaka mingi.Hongera.Nawatakia kila la kheri.Japo ulivunja ahadi yako ya mimi kua chandama(bestman) wako.
Rafiki ulisema ukijaaliwa watoto utawapa majina mazuri zaidi duniani. Lakini mbona rafiki mbona unaita watoto wa wenzako majina mabaya mabaya? Mbwa,mjinga,mshenzi,hayawani.Na mengine yasosemeka wala kuandikika? KWA SABABU YA SIASA.
Rafiki samahani,najua sikulishi,sikuvishi wala sikubabaishi
Lakini unapoteza muelekeo.
Samahani rafiki,shemeji yako ananiita.
Wacha nikamsikize.
Nisije nikampoteza kama yule mwengine.

BARUA KWA RAFIKI(3)
Rafiki,kama ungekua shabiki wa nyimbo za Diamond kama mimi,ningesema umeamua ukae kimya kama huyo bingwa.Lakini wewe ni shabiki wa King Kiba. Kibao chenu cha mwisho ni “Aje”
Lakini mbona kwetu pia huji?
Ama ukaniita mimi nikaja na rafiki zangu?
SABABU YA SIASA.
Rafiki,basi angalau na sisi tutoe nyimbo inayoitwa “Chuki”tupate pesa kama Diamond na Kiba.
Lakini kuekeana chuki kwa sababu ya siasa hatupati kitu.
Alafu hii barua muoneshe na shemeji,yeye ni team Diamond.mpe namba zangu angalau nimrushie hii nyimbo mpya.

BARUA KWA RAFIKI(4)
Hongera rafiki.Naskia umenunua gari la ndoto zako,WISH.Natamani na mimi nilijue nambari ya usajili(number plate)kama ninavyojua nambari za usajili za Gavana,Senator na Mbunge wetu lakini haiwezekani.Angalau kama ungetimiza ahadi yako ya kuandika mstari wa shairi langu ‘SIRI JAPO SIO SANDA,ZANGU NITAZIKWA NAZO’ nyuma ya gari lako,pia ningeliona ningelifahamu.Lakini pia hivyo hauwezi.SABABU YA SIASA
Siasa ndo itakayokufanya unipite mimi nikitembea,huku umefunga vioo,na tunaishi mtaa mmoja.
Rafiki kama hio chuki itaniwezesha na mimi kununua gari pia kama lako,maana ndo gari la ndoto zangu pia,basi ingekua afadhali.Lakini hio chuki inatubomoa,haitujengi.
Nimefika kwenye hiki kichochoro hatari,nisije nikaporwa kikebe changu cha simu,ni hiki hiki tangu uliponiacha…

#SIASASICHUKI
#TAHADHARI
#SimulizizaMalenga001

Photo courtesy: https://historiamolim6000.files.wordpress.com

Just before Gulf African Bank hosted their women empowerment event at Whitesands in Mombasa, I came across a comment in one of the posts and someone was saying something like, ‘Why would Gulf take such an event to Mombasa instead of Nairobi where people will surely attend?’ My jaw almost dropped. Excuse me? Really now? Are you even for real??! LOL Don’t Mombasa women deserve a chance to learn, network and get empowered too?!!

For so long we’ve been hearing of how Mombasa people are always waiting for Manna from the sky, or of how the women have nothing better they can do than get married early, adorn themselves all the time and attend weddings in a fashion-competitive way. For so long we’ve been undermined, underestimated and under-rated…but not anymore. We are not going to accept it anymore! Now we say, Enough is Enough!!

Okay maybe it is true. Maybe our grandmas sat at home and never ventured enough into tapping into their talents and areas of expertise. Maybe they weren’t as educated as we are, maybe they had different priorities than we do, maybe they failed in some places, maybe they lacked focus at some point…But still, this is not exactly true. Since way back, Mombasa women have been bringing on the table way more than ‘the man of the house’ in many houses. Go to these areas heavily populated with original Swahili women and the Mombasa folks, look at them, ask about them. You will see mothers waking up at the crack of dawn, cooking mahamri or uji or whatever it is, to sell and earn money. You will witness single mothers educating their children at the cost of not just their sweat but happiness too. You will find women whose husbands left a long time ago with no return. You will find women sacrificing all they have to provide for their children because their father hasn’t yet brought money from Suudiya, or is a drug addict or is unemployed. You will see them going door to door to sell you whatever business they could get hold of at that moment. You will know of women who belong to rich families yet decided to follow their path and make their own money. For someone else, it is easy to undermine her effort but she is doing something isn’t she? She is cooking, she is sewing, she is mending…just because she isn’t a degree holder swinging around her chair in an office, does that make her lazy? Despicable? Unwanted? A by-the-way woman?? Just because she doesn’t hold a fancy name to her business, just because she is doing it with her own hands instead of importing from Dubai and Malaysia…just because that is the only knowledge they have of, does that make her effort, any less??

So on Wednesday and Thursday, I was at the Gulf Bank women empowerment workshop and I was amazed, or rather, the event was A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. I was there doing what I do best; observing people, and I realized how much this perception of Mombasa women and Mombasa folks generally is really under-rating our efforts, talents and intelligence.

There I was with over a hundred women from Mombasa; talking of empowerment, of business, of goals, of rise and fall. Here were women, each one having a story to tell. And yes, they are from Mombasa. Successful business ladies who people never bother to acknowledge their efforts, their passion and determination. Here were women with registered and unregistered businesses. Here were women making a difference.

I look at Banu Khan from UN women; with all her positive energy, her vigor, her charm, her confidence my God, she could move mountains in you. Then I look at Tahia Tajdin as she talks about audits and how to be tax compliant. And she goes a step ahead to explain critical elements we always assume and ignore. And she was there, so good at the math I was marveled. We ended up calling her ‘Madam Tax’ 😀 I listen to Zeinab Sheikh of Zeiruq Agency giving her journey to success; her very inspiring story from zero to millions almost got me to tears. I listen to how much she repeats the words, ‘Prayers…I just had prayers’…before ending it with; ‘God has a purpose for your pain, a reason for your struggle and a gift for your faithfulness’ and it hit me so hard! This woman is a believer (God bless her soul) and in her words was so much to contemplate about. And hey! These women are from Mombasa!! Why doesn’t anyone acknowledge that? Why doesn’t anyone acknowledge ‘mama Makuti’ who started a business of selling mangoes with only 300/= until now she runs her own construction business which awards her tenders worth millions? Or of these aggressive upcoming young ladies doing a lot for themselves and for the community too? Why aren’t we remembered for producing inspiring ladies like Ms Nawal Mohammed, first female board member of Gulf, or of the two female branch managers of Gulf out of 5 branches in Mombasa? Why doesn’t anyone give us a pat on the back for women like Laila of Soul Sisters Network, or of Fatma Mazrui of Nitume Online or Jamila El-Jabry of Life in Mombasa, of Nafisa Khanbhai of Dear Diary Initiative, of the ladies running ‘Inshape fitness’, of all these ladies participating in community events at Mombasa Toa Donge Lako and many other groups, of Binti Naji; the lady with an ocean of wisdom and intellect I never get enough of her…of Waridi and her magnificent aura of confidence running her business ‘Waridi fashions’? I mean, if I continue writing these names, will I ever end it today? In a crowd of over 100 women, almost ALL were running businesses of their own. Of all kinds and shapes. Women of different tribes and religions. And there are MANY MANY more out there. Trying. Building their dreams one at a time silently. Of course not; not a day, not two days will be enough.

I work with ladies who are constantly researching about business markets, they have dreams and goals. I have lived with such women. I have interacted with them. I have seen them. I am one of them.

These ladies need a genuine round of applause; a heavy one with confetti to cream it up; for being go-getters, for striving too hard, for so much sacrifice, for so much dedication…and for persevering a bad attitude on Mombasa women; yet they have proved everyone wrong.

I remember when I first attended the Gulf event, I wasn’t even speaking to the person next to me until she started teasing me for my ‘introvertism’. By the time we had the breaks where people were networking, my colleague Rahma was the one busy telling people about my blog and praising it too much, telling everyone you can advertise on my blog and about my writing services, I almost thought it was hers instead of mine. 😀 The next moment I was in a round table with some four ladies when this topic on undermining Mombasa ladies came up, I was barely participating until I jumped in, ‘You guys just gave me an idea to write about!’ Then it all started, ‘Ohh you are a blogger?!’ etc etc and the next moment another lady joined us,one of the four by the name of Faiza was introducing me. She had her tone upright and straight, ‘Do you know she was nominated for BAKE awards? Aha!’ and she said it too well I almost asked for some attitude and confidence tips from her 😀 Trust me, by the time the event was ending, these ladies had given me enough inspiration to talk about myself and the little much I do. I was exchanging numbers, noting down names, sending links of my blog…and it still got me thinking, perhaps this is what we have always lacked; the push. The previous generations of Mombasa women lacked education (majority of them), they lacked opportunities, but importantly, they lacked empowerment…yet they still did great in whatever small businesses they ventured in. Let’s give credit where it is due. They may have had issues with fear of taking risks and of exploring opportunities, but we have to agree that they did try. We are trying right now and we are changing!…For the better.

So from today henceforth, Mombasa women where are you? Let us put up an oath that we are never allowing anyone from anywhere to criticize, undermine or sabotage our image. The next time someone talks of how lazy and dependent we are, talk of the great Mombasa women you know. I am sure your own mother is one of them. Let us not allow ourselves be treated like women of no focus because we are not that. We are women of substance, women ready to make changes, ready to defend our reputation…women of VIGOR!!

I don’t know if Gulf African Bank personnel and UN women too can ever realize how much they have impacted women’s lives, not just by the 2-day workshop, but by empowering women always. Very lovely ladies like Najma Jabri, Muumina Bonaya, Wanjiru Gathira, Beatrice, the beautiful ladies of Gulf, together with the MD, Mr Abdulkhalik, the other staff & speakers mentioned above and the man of the event, Peter Pasaka… May God bless their souls for such a wonderful workshop!!

I may not be able to mention all the wonderful women who are beating all odds to get to their goals but i’ll just make this shout out for everyone: To all the Mombasa women creating a difference and working very hard, I salute you!


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