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’ ๐Ÿ˜€ 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. ๐Ÿ˜€ 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 ๐Ÿ˜€ 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!

Please do not forget to share this and to subscribe to the website too! subscription can be done on the lower right end of the website. Thank you! ๐Ÿ™‚

Photo Courtesy: Butterfly.4.Weddings (http://www.imgrum.net/)

There are 8 kinds of women you almost never miss in a Swahili/Mombasa wedding:

1. The epitome of beauty: The most beautiful lady in the room. You would almost confuse her to be the bride. She is gorgeous and she knows it. Make-up done perfectly with a Cinderella gown that makes her the princess of the night. She walks gracefully, head held high, appears in the dance floor, interact and doesn’t miss out in the photos.

2. Selfieeee: You will never miss a selfie freak. Always taking photos from the moment they step at the hall door, to when they are walking, seated, dancing, eating, all poses you can think off. She could have 50 photos of just a single evening.

3. Make-up gone soo wrong: The kind of lady who makes you question whether you are too ignorant about make-up or she really looks the way you see her. You question her brain, her mirror, her friends, her family, the entire humanity who walked right by her and never said a word. Not even, “honey, I think some water on your face will do you good.”?!!

4. Always the dancer: She is the great dancer. She knows her moves well and all songs can be danced even the one you would just sit and have your hand hold your chin? Yeah, that song too. She can dance it. So of course, you never miss her being in the dance floor.

5. Fashion police: The keen eyes scrutinizing what everyone is wearing, what colour, which jewelry, what they should have done differently and what would match best with what. Plus they never miss someone to discuss the fashion NO-NO’s with at the wedding.

6. Family-tree narrator: This is the historian. “See the lady in blue? she is the daughter of the woman in green. The woman in green is the step-cousin to your late mother. And your late mother had a great step-grandmother; she is the old lady talking to the young lady. The young lady is your step aunt” bla bla bla… They know most people in the wedding. They can connect the dots of family lineage back to your ancestors.

7. God! I_AM_BORED woman: She is mostly at the event because she has no choice. She is just staring at people, rarely interacting at all, appreciates the food being served, has a faint smile on her face and the moment the bride sits on the stage, she is gone!

8.The psycho kind of writer ME:The moment she takes a seat, she starts eating. She wants to get done with it already and forget about food. Next she is in pauses between chronic texting syndrome and staring at people silently like a serial killer and psychopath studying her victims. She looks at people like story materials and study expressions, impressions, abbreviations you name it ๐Ÿ˜€ She stares at the corner of the eyes of the bride trying to find tears, study body language and think of all the story ideas she can get from one event. There is no selfie taken at all because she is the same way you’d see her on the street buying tomatoes. She can’t interact much because hey! ‘I am just from greeting someone across the hall. I can’t dare do that again. Too much attention.’ She is always looking around just in case she sees a familiar face or an old friend. Not that she will walk to go say hi, rather she’ll just wave and plaster a big smile like, ‘if only you were closer i’d give you a hug.’ You know, Mombasa weddings are partly re-unions, everyone knows everyone sorta thing. She looks confused and lost. All people are going to take photos with the bride she is still seated at the far end row alone with empty seats beside and around her. She is trying to dissect the song lines and read between the lines and sometimes question the sanity of the singers with very cheesy lines. She waits until the bride is walking right beside her so that she can hug her and congratulate her. Then hurrah! ‘I think I just got something to write about from this.’ ๐Ÿ˜€ Okay I know I am bizarre and weird but at least you got something to read today! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Have a blessed weekend lovely people ๐Ÿ˜€

Photo Courtesy: http://cosmouk.cdnds.net/

The past two days at the first annual Islamic conference were just A.M.A.Z.I.N.G!!! Alhamdulilah; just the kind of things that can make me feel the thrills for the rest of the year ๐Ÿ˜€ I mean, one sheikh Rishard can make your entire week wonderful so you can imagine having him plus sheikh Kishki plus Al Qahtani plus Abu Hamza plus Ismail plus Abdulghani Bashir plus sheikh Suleiman from different parts of the world, all under the same roof on the same stage! May Allah bless them for all their outstanding lectures and to all the organizers, volunteers and donors who made this event a major success mashallah. It was too exciting I wish I could literally drag everyone to come and learn from them. If you missed it, you REALLY missed out! Lol okay I won’t add any more pepper to the wounds but I can share something I learnt from sheikh Abdulrahman Mansur Al-Qahtani; one the most humorous and coolest sheikhs of our century ๐Ÿ˜€ Maybe next time we can have both Mufti Menk and Nouman Ali Khan on the same stage and we all know how that conference will rock! Ameen to this ๐Ÿ˜€

So sheikh Al-Qahtani talked about the promises made by Allah in the qur’an and how Allah is speaking directly to us. So many times we are swept off by life, with it’s tests, with it’s demands, always busy, always in a rush with the worldly affairs and it’s fanciness we forget the most important thing; what brought us into this world.

The Prophet salallaahu ‘alayhi wa aleh wa sallam said that Allah said (in hadith Qudsi): “Myself, Mankind and Jinn are in a great serious state. I create them, then they worship other gods that they make for themselves. I bless them with my bounties, then they thank someone else for what I sent them. My Mercy descends to them while their evil deeds ascend to Me. I endear them with My gifts even though I have no need to any of them while they alienate themselves from Me with their sins even though they are desperate for My help. Whoever returns to Me , I accept him no matter how far he is. And whoever turns away from Me, I approach him and call on him. Whosoever leaves a sin for My sake, I reward him with many gifts and whoever seeks to please Me, I seek to please him. Whoever acknowledges My Will and Power in whatever he does, I make the iron bend for his sake. My dear people are those who are with Me (i.e. whoever would like to be with Me, let him supplicate to Me and remember Me). Whoever thanks Me, I grant him more blessings, whoever obeys Me, I raise him and endeavor him more. Whoever disobeys Me , I keep the doors of My Mercy open for him, if he returns to Me, I bestow him with My Love , since I love those who repent and purify themselves for My Sake. If he does not repent, I still treat him by putting them in hardship to purify him. Whoever favours Me over others, I favour them over others. I reward every single good deed ten times over or seven hundred times over to countless times over. I count every single bad deed as one unless the person repents and asks for My Forgiveness in which case I forgive even that one. I take into account any little good deed and I forgive even major sins. My Mercy supercedes My Anger, My Tolerance supercedes My Blame, My Forgiveness supercedes My Punishment as I am more Merciful with My slaves than a mother with her child.”

Subhanallah, the weight of this hadith qudsi is heavy. So much to question ourselves about. Like how much Allah keeps blessing us, granting us what we want, forgiving us, forgiving us again and again and what do we send back to Him? ‘their evil deeds ascend to Me.’ Yet still He made promises to us; the ungrateful weak humans.

The first promise is: “So remember Me, I will remember You.” Surat Baqarah: verse 152
I am pretty sure we have come across those angry memes on the blue ticks on whatsapp. You are in dire need of help or perhaps just someone to talk to, the ticks have turned blue, the last seen is every past second you check…yet no reply. It is annoying, sometimes heart-breaking. But this is us human-beings. Have you tried Allah? Have you tried talking to Him directly? In your sujood? In your dua? Anywhere anytime??! Do you remember Him at all? We keep saying that communication is a two-way thing then how do we expect Allah to remember any of us when we don’t do the same to Him? Not that He needs us, but because WE NEED HIM! So remember Allah as many times and in many places as possible. Remember Him and He has promised to remember you!

The second promise is: ‘ If you are grateful, I will surely increase you (in favour)’ Surat Ibrahim: verse 7
But how many times do we thank Allah? Sincerely thanking Allah from the bottom of our hearts? For both the good and bad in our lives? He says: ‘when you thank me, I will give you more’. It is a promise. So thank Him. Thank Him for every small and big, Good and bad. And remember; even that the bad you go through is good in disguise. Again, have trust in Allah! ๐Ÿ™‚

The third promise: ‘Call unto Me (and) I shall respond to you!’ Surat Ghafir : verse 60.
The thing with Allah is that your messages to Him are delivered spontaneously and so are His replies. You may not know it but Allah has already answered your prayer the moment you make it! Even when you don’t see an answer, His silence is the answer. Sheikh Al Qahatni said: Allah answers your duas in 3 ways: I know you have heard of this so many times but look at it keenly this time round. Let it sink in the mind.

1. He answers your dua immediately. Yep that is when I say; Blue ticks and typing (not literally, His way is way faster than that but you get me right?!) ๐Ÿ˜‰ Trust me, if you have ever made a dua with so much sincerity from the heart, you will relate to this perfectly.

2. He doesn’t give you what you want so that He prevents you from some harm. We have cried. Most of us or all of us for something we wanted so badly. You cry your eyes and heart out but the answer you get is ‘silence’. You pray and cry in days, in months, in years and you give up because you think Allah doesn’t feel you, doesn’t love you…then some day years later something better happens in your life and you are so happy and you just say, ‘I’ve never been happier that what I wanted never happened!’ Ever done that? or heard someone say that? It could be for a job they wanted so badly, or a spouse, or a journey or a child…it can be anything. Yes, that is Allah, loving you and protecting you always. Have trust in Him!

3. Allah doesn’t answer your dua so that you can get abundant reward in jannah. All this pain and heart-ache you are going through right now, be patient about it. Be happy with what Allah has prepared for you. Nabii Ayub aleyhi salam was tested with sickness and loss of wealth and children and Allah answered his dua 18 years later. Mind you, he was a prophet and his dua is immediately accepted yet Allah answered him only after all those years. Be patient. Don’t say that is a prophet I can’t wait that long. Yes, but you can wait for as long as you can.

There are several other promises Allah has made to us, but we are just too blind to see or too unfocused to understand. Verily, in the qur’an and hadiths and hadith al qudsi, you will find Allah repeatedly telling us talking to us, promising us, giving us hope…

“Abu Dharr reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, relates from his Lord that Allah said:

ูŠูŽุง ุนูุจูŽุงุฏููŠ ุฅูู†ูู‘ูŠ ุญูŽุฑูŽู‘ู…ู’ุชู ุงู„ุธูู‘ู„ู’ู…ูŽ ุนูŽู„ูŽู‰ ู†ูŽูู’ุณููŠ ูˆูŽุฌูŽุนูŽู„ู’ุชูู‡ู ุจูŽูŠู’ู†ูŽูƒูู…ู’ ู…ูุญูŽุฑูŽู‘ู…ู‹ุง ููŽู„ูŽุง ุชูŽุธูŽุงู„ูŽู…ููˆุง

O my servants, I have forbidden oppression for myself and have made it forbidden among you, so do not oppress one another.

ูŠูŽุง ุนูุจูŽุงุฏููŠ ูƒูู„ูู‘ูƒูู…ู’ ุถูŽุงู„ูŒู‘ ุฅูู„ูŽู‘ุง ู…ูŽู†ู’ ู‡ูŽุฏูŽูŠู’ุชูู‡ู ููŽุงุณู’ุชูŽู‡ู’ุฏููˆู†ููŠ ุฃูŽู‡ู’ุฏููƒูู…ู’

O my servants, all of you are astray except for those I have guided, so seek guidance from me and I will guide you.

ูŠูŽุง ุนูุจูŽุงุฏููŠ ูƒูู„ูู‘ูƒูู…ู’ ุฌูŽุงุฆูุนูŒ ุฅูู„ูŽู‘ุง ู…ูŽู†ู’ ุฃูŽุทู’ุนูŽู…ู’ุชูู‡ู ููŽุงุณู’ุชูŽุทู’ุนูู…ููˆู†ููŠ ุฃูุทู’ุนูู…ู’ูƒูู…ู’

O my servants, all of you are hungry except for those I have fed, so seek food from me and I will feed you.

ูŠูŽุง ุนูุจูŽุงุฏููŠ ูƒูู„ูู‘ูƒูู…ู’ ุนูŽุงุฑู ุฅูู„ูŽู‘ุง ู…ูŽู†ู’ ูƒูŽุณูŽูˆู’ุชูู‡ู ููŽุงุณู’ุชูŽูƒู’ุณููˆู†ููŠ ุฃูŽูƒู’ุณููƒูู…ู’

O my servants, all of you are naked except for those I have clothed, so seek clothing from me and I will clothe you.

ูŠูŽุง ุนูุจูŽุงุฏููŠ ุฅูู†ูŽู‘ูƒูู…ู’ ุชูุฎู’ุทูุฆููˆู†ูŽ ุจูุงู„ู„ูŽู‘ูŠู’ู„ู ูˆูŽุงู„ู†ูŽู‘ู‡ูŽุงุฑู ูˆูŽุฃูŽู†ูŽุง ุฃูŽุบู’ููุฑู ุงู„ุฐูู‘ู†ููˆุจูŽ ุฌูŽู…ููŠุนู‹ุง ููŽุงุณู’ุชูŽุบู’ููุฑููˆู†ููŠ ุฃูŽุบู’ููุฑู’ ู„ูŽูƒูู…ู’

O my servants, you sin by night and day and I forgive all sins, so seek forgiveness from me and I will forgive you.

ูŠูŽุง ุนูุจูŽุงุฏููŠ ุฅูู†ูŽู‘ูƒูู…ู’ ู„ูŽู†ู’ ุชูŽุจู’ู„ูุบููˆุง ุถูŽุฑูู‘ูŠ ููŽุชูŽุถูุฑูู‘ูˆู†ููŠ ูˆูŽู„ูŽู†ู’ ุชูŽุจู’ู„ูุบููˆุง ู†ูŽูู’ุนููŠ ููŽุชูŽู†ู’ููŽุนููˆู†ููŠ

O my servants, you will not be able to cause harm to me and you will not be able to cause benefit to me.

ูŠูŽุง ุนูุจูŽุงุฏููŠ ู„ูŽูˆู’ ุฃูŽู†ูŽู‘ ุฃูŽูˆูŽู‘ู„ูŽูƒูู…ู’ ูˆูŽุขุฎูุฑูŽูƒูู…ู’ ูˆูŽุฅูู†ู’ุณูŽูƒูู…ู’ ูˆูŽุฌูู†ูŽู‘ูƒูู…ู’ ูƒูŽุงู†ููˆุง ุนูŽู„ูŽู‰ ุฃูŽุชู’ู‚ูŽู‰ ู‚ูŽู„ู’ุจู ุฑูŽุฌูู„ู ูˆูŽุงุญูุฏู ู…ูู†ู’ูƒูู…ู’ ู…ูŽุง ุฒูŽุงุฏูŽ ุฐูŽู„ููƒูŽ ูููŠ ู…ูู„ู’ูƒููŠ ุดูŽูŠู’ุฆู‹ุง

O my servants, were the first of you and the last of you, the human of you and the jinn of you, to become as pious as the most pious heart of anyone of you, that would not increase My kingdom in anything.

ูŠูŽุง ุนูุจูŽุงุฏููŠ ู„ูŽูˆู’ ุฃูŽู†ูŽู‘ ุฃูŽูˆูŽู‘ู„ูŽูƒูู…ู’ ูˆูŽุขุฎูุฑูŽูƒูู…ู’ ูˆูŽุฅูู†ู’ุณูŽูƒูู…ู’ ูˆูŽุฌูู†ูŽู‘ูƒูู…ู’ ูƒูŽุงู†ููˆุง ุนูŽู„ูŽู‰ ุฃูŽูู’ุฌูŽุฑู ู‚ูŽู„ู’ุจู ุฑูŽุฌูู„ู ูˆูŽุงุญูุฏู ู…ูŽุง ู†ูŽู‚ูŽุตูŽ ุฐูŽู„ููƒูŽ ู…ูู†ู’ ู…ูู„ู’ูƒููŠ ุดูŽูŠู’ุฆู‹ุง

O my servants, were the first of you and the last of you, the human of you and the jinn of you, to be as wicked as the most wicked heart of anyone of you, that would not decrease My kingdom in anything.

ูŠูŽุง ุนูุจูŽุงุฏููŠ ู„ูŽูˆู’ ุฃูŽู†ูŽู‘ ุฃูŽูˆูŽู‘ู„ูŽูƒูู…ู’ ูˆูŽุขุฎูุฑูŽูƒูู…ู’ ูˆูŽุฅูู†ู’ุณูŽูƒูู…ู’ ูˆูŽุฌูู†ูŽู‘ูƒูู…ู’ ู‚ูŽุงู…ููˆุง ูููŠ ุตูŽุนููŠุฏู ูˆูŽุงุญูุฏู ููŽุณูŽุฃูŽู„ููˆู†ููŠ ููŽุฃูŽุนู’ุทูŽูŠู’ุชู ูƒูู„ูŽู‘ ุฅูู†ู’ุณูŽุงู†ู ู…ูŽุณู’ุฃูŽู„ูŽุชูŽู‡ู ู…ูŽุง ู†ูŽู‚ูŽุตูŽ ุฐูŽู„ููƒูŽ ู…ูู…ูŽู‘ุง ุนูู†ู’ุฏููŠ ุฅูู„ูŽู‘ุง ูƒูŽู…ูŽุง ูŠูŽู†ู’ู‚ูุตู ุงู„ู’ู…ูุฎู’ูŠูŽุทู ุฅูุฐูŽุง ุฃูุฏู’ุฎูู„ูŽ ุงู„ู’ุจูŽุญู’ุฑูŽ

O my servants, were the first of you and the last of you, the human of you and the jinn of you, to rise up in one place and make a request of me, and were I to give everyone what he requested, that would not decrease what I have any more than a needle would decrease the sea if put into it.

ูŠูŽุง ุนูุจูŽุงุฏููŠ ุฅูู†ูŽู‘ู…ูŽุง ู‡ููŠูŽ ุฃูŽุนู’ู…ูŽุงู„ููƒูู…ู’ ุฃูุญู’ุตููŠู‡ูŽุง ู„ูŽูƒูู…ู’ ุซูู…ูŽู‘ ุฃููˆูŽููู‘ูŠูƒูู…ู’ ุฅููŠูŽู‘ุงู‡ูŽุง ููŽู…ูŽู†ู’ ูˆูŽุฌูŽุฏูŽ ุฎูŽูŠู’ุฑู‹ุง ููŽู„ู’ูŠูŽุญู’ู…ูŽุฏู’ ุงู„ู„ูŽู‘ู‡ูŽ ูˆูŽู…ูŽู†ู’ ูˆูŽุฌูŽุฏูŽ ุบูŽูŠู’ุฑูŽ ุฐูŽู„ููƒูŽ ููŽู„ูŽุง ูŠูŽู„ููˆู…ูŽู†ูŽู‘ ุฅูู„ูŽู‘ุง ู†ูŽูู’ุณูŽู‡ู

O my servants, it is only your deeds that I record for you and then recompense for you, so let him who finds good praise Allah and let him who finds other than that blame no one but himself.”

Keep having faith, keep being strong, keep thanking Allah, keep trusting Him and most importantly; keep smiling ๐Ÿ™‚

Are you for real? Are you sure you really want to go out in this weather of Mombasa?! It is either very hot, or too humid or raining or cloudy with mud and ponds of water from last night’s rain. Alright I get you. You probably have no option, do you? You need to buy the groceries, pick up your laundry, renew your passport, buy your child’s coughing syrup, send a parcel to Nairobi via bus etcetera etcetera. I totally get you. But do you know that you have a simpler way out of all of that?? Have you ever heard of ‘Nitume Online?

Nitume online is a company that was formed to help make your work easier at the comfort of your home and office.We will do your Mombasa errands for you. Here are some of the reasons why you should try out our services:

  1. Cheap: I know you had probably made an assumption that our services must be expensive but guess what?! Our costs can go to as low as 150/200/300 shillings per delivery and according to the services you need. Mind you we also do the shopping for you so isn’t that so worth it?!
  2. Timeliness: You don’t even have to worry about being late because it is simply out of our dictionary. You are going to have your stuff done/delivered before you even have time to complain. ย  ย  ย  ย  ย  ย  ย  ย  ย  ย  ย  ย  ย  ย  ย  ย  ย  ย  ย  ย  ย  ย  ย  ย  ย ย img-20161121-wa0006
  3. Safety: The way the world is right now, you can barely trust someone assisting you carry your luggage but here is the thing about nitume-online. We don’t out source people or vehicles to do our job, it’s all an inside job; our people, our vehicles. We therefore take responsibility of all that happens during their services. Worry out! ย  ย ย 13319864_1716978655185543_5638814440969145447_n
  4. Perfect communication skills: Have you ever had to talk to customer service and you regretted why you did in the first place? Rude, being kept waiting for too long, no replies to questions etc None of that happens with us. We are always a call away with all the answers for your queries and requests.
  5. Convenience: It is a convenient for everyone. For the boss and the employee, the man and woman, the old and the young, the husband and the wife, in short; EVERYONE.
  6. Satisfaction: Client happy, we are happy too. It’s always a two way thing. Both parties win, both parties are satisfied.
  7. Offers: We do give offers from time to time. As of now, we have the ‘Wishful Wednesdays’ where your wish becomes a command ๐Ÿ™‚ We offer free delivery hours between 9 a.m to 12 noon. This offer will be going on until January the 3rd, 2017.



Perhaps you should really try our services and find out for yourself what you’ve been missing all this time! log into: www.nitumeonline.co.ke or simply dial: 0708 099 099/0780 099 099.

P.S: We are currently hiring sales person to join our team. Please drop in your CV if interested: info@nitumeonline.co.ke



Binti naji:

Is a mother to two lovely boys,has an 8 hour job, and a voracious reader turned into a writer by passion, the blog is literally about love, life and inspiration, we all wanna go out there and tell our stories and Bintinaji is one that finds solace in not only sharing her stories out there , but inspiring others who could be going through the same, Binti is more sentimental but tries to come to reality once in a while, “In our sad moments, we ย become poets”-Anonymous , guess that is where it all started.

The ย blog is as new as a few months old, is divided into poems, relationships section, parenting and general views or blog section.Go out there and show her some love now, will you? ๐Ÿ˜‰ย www.bintinaji.co.ke




Salaam everyone! My name is Kadzo,and I am a lifestyle blogger from Mombasa currently residing in Nairobi, and my blog is basically an amalgamation of my experiences.It’s a place for me to express myself creatively whether it be through writing, photography, film or art. I can’t lie, i’m also such a style freak and i love to share my beauty,fashion and style favourites. Essentially,my blog is a channel for me to create and interact with other creative people in the world, and sometimes that means pouring my heart out in some very heart to heart types of posts.I know, i basically said a whole bunch of things on here but if i were to categorize what i do into a few words, those words would be Fashion, Faith and Lifestyle…andย a whole bunch of awesomeness! I hope you check me out! ย http://nownotforever.blogspot.co.ke/

Shout out to Lubnah for being such an awesome sport and making this profile of awesome bloggers.Thank you!!!




Lalbiby Mansoor:



Fun. Quirky. Relatable!!!


As a writer, Lalbiby Mansoor lives in a crazy, magical world with outrageous expectations. She believes that paper will listen to you more than any human would. And for that, she started writing to open up her soul. She is an introvert, coffee addict, shoe freak and writes about anything that pops in her mind. She is very wordy and her blog is purely non professional!




Imran Abdallah:

Is a Computer Technology undergraduate studying somewhere in theย wilderness of Central Kenya, who’s always either goofy or mature-ish depending on the mood you find him in.

After a ย mysterious radiation accident, he discovered that he possessed an incredibly dangerousย power that allowed him to string words together to form meaningful sentences and so he started his blog to test the limits of hisย new-found power.

He writes on just about any topic his mind wanders to and in any genre his heart takes to but his fascination with science means that you will occassionally find more than a few scientific quips thrown into his blog posts. Don’t hesitate to have a look! ย https://mylitcorner.wordpress.com/








A writer who enjoys reading. Motivated by challenges and experiences. He expresses himself through words on paper in poetic form.

Blogg- jduddson.wordpress.com




Ibrahim Ochanda;



A -: Dreamer |Thinker |Ambitious |Cool |Blogger; ย Ochanda, a full time comp. Scie. Student offers you access to the sanctuary of his mind. In his post you could read his mind through his thoughts, personal opinions and more than once his dreams. All of these captured beautifully in poems and well crafted articles ranging from social issues to political views. ย The blog is more of a motivational forum through a unique way of writing.



There are many more writers, bloggers, artists, poets that are not mentioned here. Some are still carving their way to greatness while others already have their crowds. It’s just upon the readers to explore the Coast bloggers and see what goodies they have to offer!


I’ve been having the art vibes of late and i’ve been trying to showcase the artistic minds that we have around here. The below profiles are written by the writers themselves. Luring enough? I bet you are about to discover that rightย now. Simply click on their links or to access their blogs directly!

Let’s appreciate each others work. Let’s appreciate the mightiness of the pen together!




Farhaz Khan:

A Kenyan blogger based in the port city of Mombasa who has just been in the business for a year and shows great potential. Kenya Blog Awards Nominee for the year 2016 under best creative writing category and manages to pull off a runner up positions in a tight contest. Nonetheless, a creative writer whose style and choose of words is just unique and always inspiring. KHANFARHAZ describes blogging and writing in famous words of Anais Nin,โ€œWe write to taste life twice.โ€ He is the brains behind this blog and has tried to touch on a variety of aspects affecting the society, contemporary issues and even creative writing. Mostly talking of day to day activities and his writings not only make sense to contemporary issues but also as a reader you live each moment with him as you read through this blog. He is and erudite blogger who is ready to showcase the current and actual situation as it is. A promising blogger indeed. Read his work at:ย https://khanfarhazart.wordpress.com/



Abdulqadir Mahmoud:

What do you do when your phone is low on battery, or when your laptop is dying off, or when someone wants to pay you doubleโ€ฆyou Recharge. As superior as we are to all that, we often too ware out to a down low while trying to find our way in this maze called Life. Recharge is the kind of blog where life is mapped down to give direction to anyone who needs it. It is a place of connecting with your lost self and giving you back to you, because the only person who can save you, is you. When you fumble to stay strong and dearie life is showing you some tough love, Recharge is the place to be. In simple terms, you know that feeling when all you want to do is lay in bed and just comprehend the painful pangs pulsing out of your heart, burning, eating you slowly and making sure it lets you feel the agony of every bite before it takes another, and it never lets you do anything so that you suffer its anguish? Yep, you need a Recharge. So plug yourself in at www.selfcharge.blogspot.co.ke and free yourself from this dearie sweet monster, called life.



Salma Abdulatif:

mostly referred to as Salummy or Salmun. She is the lady that will never sit back and wait for wonders to happen.

From the lands of the Seas and Camels, a writer was born. A writer that not only seeks to express, but also to impress. A writer that does not only speak through her pen but one that bleeds with the readersโ€ฆopens wounds untouched, cries amidst the sunset and the sunrise with her pen because she was told by her very own Bic, that as a community, the Bics and HBs have surrendered their lives to her.

Salummy has in her the magic well-crafted that it has powers to transform dead communities and the living corpses. So on her site are 10 categories; Creative Fiction, Creative Non-Fiction, African Contemporary Stories, Poetry, Fashion & Design, Airlines and Marine, Things you need to know, Guest posts, Religion & Interviews and Food& Drinks. Her site is like a small mall, all under one roof.

Do not forget to check www.salummy.co.ke for some of her amazing piecesโ€ฆ



Abdul-Rahman โ€œAbu Amirahโ€ Ndegwa:

Is a creative writer based in Mombasa. His main line of writing is flash fiction and short stories with most of his characters assuming Coastal personas once he gives them permission to have a home in his blog akhymjanja.co.ke where they interact with the readers. His short story โ€œThe Swahilification of Mutembeiโ€ has been short listed for the Writivism 2016 Anthology to be published later in the year.

Abu Amirah also writes for tendi.org, an ensemble of Coastal writers formed after a Kwani? Creative writing workshop in 2015 and also writes the weekly column โ€œSwahilific: Diary of a campus girlโ€ in lifeinmombasa.com, Coastal Kenyaโ€™s premier lifestyle magazine.

He is still a work in progress!



Jamila Hassan:

Is founder of Life in Mombasa, Life in Mombasa is a blog for those exploring Mombasa food, culture and architect. Her blog was awarded the ‘best County blog 2016’ by BAKE ( Bloggers Association of Kenya).

The aim of the blog is to change the face of Mombasa, to show the different types of culture through photography and personal blogs. ย She holds a Bachelors degree in Arts emphasis on Interpersonal communication from Metropolitan State University in Minnesota (USA). You can view her blog at www.LifeinMombasa.com




Mohammed swabri karama:

Ukumbi huu wa mashairihub.wordpress.co

m ni ukumbi wa mashairi ya kiswahili. Tungo zina daraja. Mtu huanza kuwa mshairi apate cheo awe jimbi apate cheo awe shaha kisha awe shaha wa mashaha. Tungo ndizo zinazompa mswahili wasaa wa kueleza fikra zake na mawazo yake alioyonayo. Ukumbi huu ni katika kumbi chache kabisa ambazo zinajitahidi katika kuiboresha fani hii. Ijapokuwa ni fani nzito ila mwandishi anajitahidi kadri ya uwezo wake kutimiza masharti yote ili aweze kufikisha hidia zake kwa hadhira kwa uwazi kabisa na kugusia maswala ibuka katika jamii.




Swaleh Arif:

Still ‘a very new newbie’ in blogging yet a promising blogger.

The third eye isn’t a blog meant for everyone. Only open-minded individuals with a desire to do good and change the world around them will benefit from it. With it’s insightful narratives and eye-opening arguments, the reader should expect to be awakened, but only if they choose to. Emphasis on quality over quantity is observed in this site so as to truly impart tools that will assist the reader in their journey to discover their true selves and open their inner eye.

Issues tackled are mainly racism, government, human rights and topics of similar scope. You can always read his articles at: https://swaleh7arif.wordpress.com/




Rashid Shariff:

Could there,ever,be something serious in funny stuff and funny stuff in something serious?

Exploring different fields, ranging from neuroscience,marketing,economics to social psychology.Rashid Shariff(the guy in the pic) demystifies concepts in these fields using pop culture, and how you can apply them in your day to day life.For example,an article to be published on 2nd August 2016 will show the connection between Gangnam Style and Vilfredo Pareto’s 20/80 principle.








Interested?…find his articles at Shariffspeaks(www.shariffspeaks.wordpress.com) or (shariffspeaks@wordpress.com)




Zubeda Mohamed:

Swift Hands is a literal collection of life put in paper, they are not stories to read and just leave reading. Every part, each piece explains life. If the articles were colours, they would’ve been painted on walls to light everyone’s heart. Touches every vein and pierces the heart, positively!

You can read her amazing master pieces at:ย http://swifthandsswiftness1.blogspot.co.ke



Abdulmutwalib M. Saggaf:

He is a believer of pen is mighter than sword that is why he expresses his thoughts in his blog (saggaf93.wordpress.com).


Saggaf is known to be a flexible and hardworking gentleman. As in this age where men are thought to hide their emotions and feelings ,instead he expresses it through his writing and fashion style. For example an ย article that he wrote on this named as “Dress for Success” and ย other articles like ” I should be working” which is one of his own favourite pieces among others. Saggaf is also a social media enthusiast well known as @saggaf93 in his social media platforms ,a vlogger,a keen model, a student, a friend, brother and uncle.

Over all he is just optimistic guy who is working hard through different channels of life to turn his possibilities into realities.





loves the written word and other than being passionate about branding and graphic design,he has a deep fascination for computer tech.

He jots down his thoughts about life in general, most especially about the society and he has been actively generating posts with the prefix โ€œWe live in a society….” Via his ย  page โ€˜Shamsudin Writes’.

He believes there is a lot to be done on society as regards social, economic,spiritual and political improvement.

His topics range from leadership,financial freedom, motivational and inspirational articles. He is more polished in public speaking than writing but firmly believes anything can be learned and acquired.

Once asked what he does during his free time,he said he enjoys reading books.

His favourite mantra is โ€œHolding my pen to speak from my mind to yours so we can reason together.” You can read his work at:ย https://shamsudinwrites.wordpress.com/





Is a dedicated mother, wife, and community activist who has lived in three different continents. Born of a Kenyan mother (Mombasa origin) and an American father, she explores life’s many questions through a multi-cultural,Islamic, and feminist lens on her blog at www.mwanawapate.wordpress.com

Besides her 9-5 job, she serves as the secretary to the popular community group based in Mombasa called Donge La Mombasa Welfare Group (www.dongelamombasa). She is also the founder and director of The Fatma and Khadija Memorial Library.

She lives in London with her husband, children, and beloved fish called Joho.



(Beyond Mombasa)




Is a blog by hibaaq osman


She may still be very new in the field but she has us drawn to her posts.

Some people write in hopes of finding a door out of their pain,and giving hope to the broken.

They just spill their hearts out,express whatever we are unable to say and someone somewhere relates to it.

They motivate and inspire us through their words.

This is what vintagediaries


is all about.



Ahmed Shayo:

His blog talks about the most intimate things that revolve our lives. He speaks of our darkest fears, shedding light to thoughts that linger in secret corners of our hearts. He talks of love, sadness, death and life in a holistic approach, and he does that with a poetic literature that beats your imagination. Epic poetry! Check out his art at:ย Ahmedshayo014.wordpress.com


These are definitely writers to check out and enjoy what they have to offer. More profiles to come up soon in shaa Allah!



Photos Courtesy: lifeinmombasa.com, http://blog.jovago.com/, http://www.travelstart.co.ke/

There is a reason why people from all over the world keep saying, ‘Mombasa Raha’. Of course the statement is not over-rated, if anything, Mombasa can be the best place to take a break. And by Mombasa I am referring to the larger Mombasa of the old times that extends to Lamu, Malindi and Mambrui on the North and to Likoni on the South. We just have too many blessings to ignore. Here is why:

1. Mombasa has the most hospitable people: Oh yes! This is the place where you need direction and the person drops everything they have in hand to escort you to your destination. This is the place where people can welcome a total stranger who needs a bed into their homes. We have seen since ages ago, our grandparents allowing exchange students and tourists to live amongst us and within our premises and most of the times free of charge. Well maybe security issues have disadvantaged this tradition to go on as before but still, in some places in the Coast it still happens. This is the place you can comfortably talk to a stranger in a public vehicle and chat like you’ve known them forever. This is the place you greet anyone and they reply even when you don’t know each other. I mean, go to Nairobi and try saying hi to someone on the street and see how they will freak out like you are the psychopath who has been stalking them in forever. Especially if you have a beard! man you are doomed ๐Ÿ˜€ But we’ve been doing it here in forever. We have neighbours living close together as one family and sharing both the good and bad moments together. Well this may have changed with time but it still happens in some places especially during the month of Ramadhan where neighbours, friends and relatives take plates of food to one another which is commonly known as bembe and sometimes even eat together. The place just becomes too comforting and the unity makes your heart bloom with joy.

We also have people assisting you with fare in a public vehicle when you have lost your own. People defending you when you are being mistreated or taken for granted. I remember an incident where two young high school boys were boarding a matatu but unfortunately, the driver took off just after one had boarded; leaving the other one behind. So the one who had boarded told the conductor he needs to alight because he cant go without his mate. The young boy really looked confused and agitated. It seemed like he was going to boarding school which may be far and perhaps had his own reasons why he wanted his mate to be with him. But the stubborn conductor wouldn’t let him alight with the saying, ‘si atakufata nyuma tu’. The boy kept insisting as he helplessly stood near the vehicle door. The more the boy pleaded, the more the passengers got agitated as well. So they started telling off the conductor, ‘wewe acha mtoto ashuke bwana’ and they really seemed irritated by how the conductor was ‘bullying’ the boy by not allowing him to alight. So it went on until some ladies in the car said, ‘usipomshukisha basi sisi sote pia twashuka.’ When the conductor saw that the pressure was rising, he decided to let him alight. If you were in the car, you’d think all those people knew that young boy by the way they were complaining. So yes, definitely this is the place you will find the kindest and most hospitable people. They can sacrifice their own dinner or their savings to let you, the visitor eat very good food, be comfortable and to your full.

2. Food? Is that even a question? The best of recipes and foods come from here. From the delicious breakfast of mahamri and mbaazi, with tea or coffee commonly known as kahawa to the heavy lunch of wali wa nazi, samaki wa kupaka and fresh juice and ending it with dinner that could be anything really. The varieties of food are uncountable; giving you the utmost satisfaction by eating whatever you love most. Could be mishkaki, shawarma, biriani, pilau etc etc. The desserts are not any less mouth watering! To make things even more interesting for a visitor, there are cafes and ladies beside streets selling palatable food and bites at every corner in Mombasa and you may end up getting confused where and what exactly to eat. You can always ask those who travel out of Mombasa what they miss most, our Coastal food is always mentioned! Oh our mothers and ladies are just blessed with that kind of hand that can mix up anything and end up making a new invention; a superb recipe haha.

3. The Coastal beaches, hotels, historical sites and wild life parks
are just a wonderful place to relax your mind and have the peace of mind that you just need. The breezy Coastal beaches are filled with coconut trees that make it such a wonderful scene and some magnificent hotels are positioned right at the shore. What more would you need? You can always wake up early to watch the sunrise at the beach or the sunset.
The places to visit are many and it’s your choice to just make up your mind on which shore to explore on your sunny Sunday and yes, you can get an exciting ride on camels, donkeys and horses as well. Historical sites such as Fort Jesus and Jumba La Mtwana have so much meaning to the residents of Mombasa and they display the deep culture that has for long been an attraction for tourists.

4. The deep culture and beautiful people
in Mombasa make it an interesting place to be in. We have all sorts of tribes inter-marrying and associating with one another. As such, we have inherited so many cultural traditions all at once. The Swahili, Arabs, Bajunis, Indians, Mijikenda, Barawas, Somalis amongst many others have been able to adapt each others traditions and live peacefully together despite a few differences here and there. There are several festivals such as Lamu Cultural Festival, Lamu Food Festival, Shela Dhow Race among others. Don’t hesitate to join the festivity!

5. The outstanding evenings- In Mombasa, the afternoon is usually the nap time for many who are free and the evening comes with such merry. You will find men just after their evening prayer seating with their mates, drinking kahawa chungu sometimes with haluwa or tende as they play backgammon. As for the ladies, an evening in Mombasa is not complete without the delicious viazi karai, bajia with chatini and ukwaju, sambusa, vitumbua amongst many other bites or sometimes it would simply be eating of the famous mabuyu, achari and sunflower as they sit watching TV, listen to taarab or most commonly chat with fellow women in their lesos and deras in their homes. The mabuyu and achari from Mombasa are used as gifts internationally so I guess this is where we make them best I guess? As for the children, you wouldn’t miss seeing them jump and run about playing with their age mates. You won’t miss to see boys and young men playing football in different grounds. They would go to buy barafu or babu kachri (It consists of a thick tangy potato gravy, sprinkled with crushed potato crisps and khara sev (a fried crispy snack made from chickpea flour and spices and topped with a spicy chutney) to spice up their evenings too. Well, what is life without food anyway? Sometimes they go for outings and walks in places like light house, buy kachri (crips), sit by the beach or go for ice cream. To top it up, there is no annoying jam to slow down your day. Here, people are always in the celebrating mood. Any day any time is the time for an outing. Where else do people have such spectacular evenings filled with joy, merry and children’s laughter?

6. Among the best of house wives come from the Coast. Ladies are taught from a very young age how to cook, how to handle a home and children such that when they get married, they are experts in being exemplary house wives. Being a house wife is really underestimated yet the work the ladies do to ensure their homes are up to date can’t be ignored. They beautify themselves with piko and henna for their husbands, use vikuba which have different flowers like vilua, mawardi (roses), Asmini (Jasmine) sown together to perfume their hair and the most commonly known Udi to perfume their clothes, bodies and their rooms. They wouldn’t miss a couple of lesos in their wardrobes from the famous Abdallah Leso with powerful messages and sometimes with mafumbo and methali.

7. The traditional Coastal weddings are just another thing!! The setting, the food, the pretty ladies!! During weddings, ladies wear crowns, necklaces (shada la pesa) or any other designs made of money and sometimes gift it to the newly weds or their relatives. I previously wrote an entire article about Swahili weddings, you can always check it out!

8. Religious Upbringing:
As much as the Coast has different religions, the majority are the Muslims. Children are encouraged to go to madrasa at very young age, to participate in religious challenges as well as memorization of the holy book. We have Christians as well who have their own schedules for the young people and gladly, we have been able to inter-mingle with other religions without any problems. Such upbringing is to instill upright behaviour and humbleness in the children.

Mombasa and the Coast at large has been on the edge in the past few years. Things have changed, situations have changed and the people keep changing. With the coming of technology, many of the traditions, values and morals have been going downhill too. Nonetheless, today, let us just forget all the ills of Mombasa and appreciate the good and the multiple blessings we have. These are but a few, there are many more. I am not saying the above mentioned doesn’t happen elsewhere, I’m just saying this is ‘home sweet home’.

Photo Courtesy: Unknown

Hey you over there. Yes, you! This is kindly for you. I hope this letter brings my concern to your gentle heart. Please give it a minute or two, or perhaps a few minutes of your golden time. This is for everyone and for no one in particular. This letter is to my leader whom I hoped would hand me a ladder to my dreams; to the rich of Mombasa whom I wished would stretch their hand in the pursuit of supporting me; to my neighbour whom I believed to help me when in need. Donโ€™t be mistaken, this is definitely for you just as it is for anyone else. THISโ€ฆis to whoever it may concern.

Mombasa. The place with the most beautiful sunset on earth; the area of undeniably eye catching blue waters and ever-green palm trees bowing down to you, a region of rich and deep culture which we inherited from diverse tribes and races; the place we forever will cherish. This is home sweet home.

This city has grown so much over the years and the changes canโ€™t be defied. We have grown to be like the mysterious city where all we can see is the sickening mixture of success and failure; unity and selfishness; joy and grief. The Mombasa that the older generations knew of was the one that had a vision; a vision that was later diluted with the lethargic nature of the current generations. All we have now is a mishap of ideas within the community where everyone talks but no one acts. The great say, an idea is only when it is implemented. There are many ideas but the implementation remains a far-stretched theory. So where are we heading to when all we do is jog at the same spot year in year out?

We have now inherited a multi-cultural personality which would be to a great advantage if we could join our thoughts of religions and education system to be unified. Truly, love for your people is not bought-it is gained through community awareness and progress. So how much do we really lose if we put aside all our differences of social class, religion, tribe and whatever else that separates us from the ultimate success?

I have always been amused to hear of how the Mombasa we know of was during old times; how everyone was a brother to another even when there was no blood relation, whereby a neighbour could punish another neighbourโ€™s child for some wrongdoing, how people would support each other in weddings and funerals; it all sounds like Mombasa was this one big family where everyone knew everyone but it didnโ€™t just end at the knowing each other, it went further to deeply expose the brotherhood and unity that was there. All this harmony and peace was suddenly grabbed from us by the unknown and all we are left with are skeletons from the past.

The blessed month of Ramadhan; the month of mercy and forgiveness, has always displayed the golden hearts of our people in a platter. There is the great sense of unity and love as we join hands in this glorious month and it is so touching to see ourselves remember the poor, do charity in abundance, remember our neighbours for the first time in months, visit the sick, join hands to do community work and so much more. This doesnโ€™t just define us as religious beings only; it defines us as a community. It shows our real potential and ability to do a great job to reap fruits for our people. It is out of the prayers that I have that I am hoping that this unity could be extended throughout the other eleven months; not just for our sake but for the betterment of our children too.

It is high time we embraced our fears and grief; it is due time we stopped stigmatizing the homeless child that lies on the dirty road with nothing but a piece of torn cloth to cover the body, the poor old frail man who owns nothing but the soul in him, the woman who wakes up before dawn and walks for miles in search for any random duty to make her ends meet, the man who struggles to push an overloaded rickshaw as he sweats profusely under the bright sun; this man who would probably just cough one day and spit blood and becomes his doomed end. It is important for us to tackle our egos and have a more gentle view on others. We need to appreciate every minor character in this tale of Mombasa; all these people we ignore and sometimes abuse, yet they are the growing power of our town.

Letโ€™s turn our focus on the moral rot and impunity in our region; let us put our energy together in fighting all odd and immoral trends that make us walk face-down in shame. Let us fight for our once most peaceful environment. We have to bring back our love for each other, the harmony, the tranquility, our traditions, our language; that Coastal flavour that we can never find anywhere else.

Just as I want to be a Kenyan proud to be a Kenyan for what Kenya does for Kenyans, I want to be overly proud to be a Coasterian for what the Coast does for the Coasterians to gain ultimate success as a unified County. Let us all unite; be it Muslim, Christian, Hindu or Atheist; be it rich or poor; be it literate or illiterate. This is the time to join hands.

My bottom line is just; peace, love and unity once again for us all.

Yours faithfully,

Lubnah Abdulhalim.

(A citizen of Mombasa)

Photo Courtesy: Salem_Beliegraphy

Mamaโ€™s laughter was always hysterical. It would echo all around the three-bedroom house. It was something I always enjoyed hearing, especially when Mama Aisha came home. The short stout woman always had a story to tell; an adventure to narrate. I would hear her talk endlessly as if there was no tomorrow. White saliva would gather at the end of her lips and she would rarely pause during her narrating spree. Being the young boy I was, I always found it amusing just watching her lips move up and down. I usually wondered whether mama really believed her stories. I never asked but whenever Mama Aisha was telling her endless stories, I would keep glancing from mama then to her, trying to capture mamaโ€™s expressions.

Mama would squint her eyes tightly to show how deeply engrossed she was in the story and she didnโ€™t fail to bulge her beautiful black almond shaped eyes when there was need to. In short, she was a good listener, whether she really believed the stories or not.

I could not withstand missing out on Mama Aishaโ€™s adventures and thus, whenever I would just hear the doorbell and her loud voice start narrating from the doorstep, I would quickly slip out from my room, run downstairs and sit on Mamaโ€™s laps.

โ€œ Hehe! Mamake Fatma!โ€ she started with a great urgency.

โ€œEhe? Nini tena?!โ€ Mama asked quickly; always prepared for a story.

โ€œToday at the marketโ€ฆhehe!โ€ she said; purposely pausing to keep us in suspense.

โ€œWhat happened in the market?โ€ Mama asked from the kitchen as she made her some juice.

โ€œThat ladyโ€ฆI donโ€™t even know what she was thinking!โ€

โ€œWhat lady?โ€ mama asked excitedly.

โ€œJumaโ€™s niece! You do remember her right? The one who had gone to America for her studies!โ€

โ€œYes I do remember her. Her name is Leila. What happened to her?โ€ mama asked, more calmly.

โ€œI donโ€™t even know where to start!โ€ The suspense growing ever more.

โ€œFrom the start mama Aishaโ€ฆfrom the start,โ€ Mama said, rolling her eyes.

โ€œBasi Leila leo! She came to the market in those short tight dresses from America. She didnโ€™t even have her hijab on! I heard she snatched a mzunguโ€™s husband and came with him to Kenya. So sad!โ€ she said as she vigorously shook her head.

Mama shook hers too, as if in shame.

โ€œWatoto wa siku hizi!โ€ mama Aisha said before circling her index finger around her temple, as if to express how much abnormal the current generation is.

โ€œMay God guide us and our children. Western life is really having a negative influence on our girls and boys,โ€ mama said, caressing my hair.

โ€œYes indeed,โ€ Mama Aisha said before she stood up to leave.

She chattered away until she was outside the door. I always stood out to see her disappear into the third lane with her quick steps, frequently throwing the edges of her long scarf to her back. Each day she would go to the market and come by with a brand new story. It would either be about the thief that was beaten up or how the vegetable vendor smells like rotten fish. As I escorted her with my eyes as she walked away, I always wondered what it would be like to have a mother like that.

I grew up frequently hearing mama being called โ€˜mama Fatmaโ€™. I always wondered why they still called her by my older sisterโ€™s name while she no longer lived with us. I still remember that tragic incident that shattered our family forever; the night when Fatma called from America. She had finally graduated and now she had her degree in hand. Mama sounded very excited talking to her; telling her to take the first plane back home. Suddenly, she fell silent and handed papa the phone. I stood still at the door, listening quietly. I could see how much mama was straining to hold back her tears. Papa took the phone, gesturing to mama, as if asking what was wrong. It didnโ€™t take long before I saw papaโ€™s face turn red with rage. His voice grew into a thunderous roar as he barked several questions into the phone at once.

โ€œWhat do you mean you got married?! How could you do that without seeking our blessings?!โ€

I didnโ€™t like the sight of my parents but for some reason I couldnโ€™t detach myself from the room. I looked at mama once again who was now seated at the edge of the bed, hugging herself tightly and crying silently. I stared at her for a while before I was startled by the end of the conversation when papa slammed the phone into the floor. I had never seen him that livid, even for a policeman who had been through so much stressful times. Papa had always been very patient. I always considered him to be the coolest police officer ever, and now I held my breath, unsure of what would happen next and afraid for the first time ever around my papa.

He moved around the room in restless steps, fidgeting with his fingers. He then sat next to mama before he turned to her after a short pause.

โ€œYou knew that she was interested in an English non-Muslim man?โ€

Mama nodded slowly before sniffing loudly.

โ€œIโ€ฆI tried to stop herโ€ฆI did, I swear!โ€ She sobbed.

โ€œYou should have told me!โ€ papa said with finality before he stood and left.

The whole neighbourhood soon knew about Fatmaโ€™s marriage. It wasnโ€™t surprising at all that they knew even without mama telling them. The news just had to get to Mama Aisha and the whole neighbourhood soon knew the story. Some friends came to console her silently and Mama Aisha was obviously there. Soon though, as with all other stories, it died away and people found more interesting topics to gossip about.

We didnโ€™t hear from Fatma for quite some time. It was much later that she called to inform Mama that she was expecting a baby. Being the golden heart lady that Mama was, it wasnโ€™t surprising that she was soon in frequent communication with Fatma. She often tried to give the phone to papa so he would also talk to her but he would push it off by saying, โ€˜I donโ€™t have a daughter.โ€™

Papa was my biggest role model and mentor throughout my life. He was tall, masculine and his brown skin shined under the sun.  He walked in quick steps and he spoke very little. I looked up to him with so much admiration as he sat with his colleagues and held what seemed to be very important conversations. He never spoke much but it was very clear how the visitors frequenting our house respected his opinions and thoughts. My friends were always amused that papa was a policeman, but what was even more amusing was that he wasnโ€™t rough as many expected; he was simply a tough hard-willed gentleman. He and mama always took turns entertaining guests at home. They would talk on politics, the society and many other things. I always felt proud when heโ€™d call me along to sit with him as he spoke with his guests.

He sometimes took me along to the police station where he worked in Mtwapa whenever he could. Because of this I always though he wanted me to become a policeman like him and like his father and his grandfather too. It felt like family heritage that the men ended up being protectors of the law, or more importantly, guardians of the common mwananchi. In fact, for the sake of continuity, I never imagined myself doing any other job apart from being a police officer. So I just followed him without complaining.

Mtwapa was the kind of town that had a stretch of bars from one end of the town to the next, which meant the police always had their hands full. I would stand outside the police station and watch drunkards stumbling as they walked past and the provocatively-dressed women who had no business being out so late.  It was a queer town. When sunset approached, just before the evening prayer, I would get a stool from the office and sit by the gate next to the guard. I was always amused and concerned by the sheer number of bars situated just next to churches and mosques. It seemed like a never-ending struggle between servants of their own desires and purists. There were times when I could hear the call to prayer blend with the loud booming music from the nearby bars and Iโ€™d just shake my head. Strange world.

When papa was done with his work, he joined me where I was seated, shook his head and said, โ€œWhere Satan is involved, fickle humans always grow weak. It is the end of the world.โ€ I slowly nodded in agreement. I was thirteen years old; old enough to understand his perception of life.

One day, after another long one at school, I stood by the bridge together with my friends watching the beautiful ocean beyond. That had always been our norm. We would stand there for as long as it would take before dispersing upon hearing the evening call of prayer.

I fastened my steps and dashed into the house to avoid mamaโ€™s scolding for coming late but she didnโ€™t even notice my entrance. I could hear some loud weeping from the sitting room. That isnโ€™t mamaโ€™s voice, I thought to myself. Puzzled, I peeped at where she was seated and saw that it was Mama Aisha who was crying uncontrollably.  She was chattering away, pausing once in a while to wipe away her tears and blow her nose. I couldnโ€™t clearly hear what she was saying but I could read the deep grief on her face. She kept calling out her eldest son in a depressing tone. I inched closer to the door to eavesdrop some more when papa appeared and gestured to me to follow him.

I rushed into my room, dropped my back pack and changed into a kanzu. Papa was walking really fast and I could see he was deep in thought. I tried to ask him what had happened to Mama Aisha but all he did was whisper, โ€˜Not now!โ€™

When we got back home after prayers, Mama Aisha was in the company of another elderly lady. I could see that she was still crying and all I ever heard was, โ€œHe was going to Dubai and now they say they found him at the Kenya-Somalia border! This is too much! They wonโ€™t even allow me to see himโ€ฆโ€ Papa interrupted my attention as chaperoned me off to my room and ordered me to stay in there.

Back in my room, I pressed my ears to the door. My curiosity was really getting the better of me. It was hours later after I had climbed in bed when I heard some commotions from our front door. I rushed downstairs immediately to find Mama Aishaโ€™s husband at the door, yelling at her.

โ€œCome back to the house woman! Why are you bugging everyone about your useless son who canโ€™t even help himself?!โ€

Mama Aisha cried as mum held her hand.

โ€œIโ€™m looking for help unlike you who does not even care about his own son! The only thing you ever know to do is spend your day at the maskani and chew khat and get high on your family!โ€

I stood still on the stairs hoping I would not be noticed. Papa led Mama Aishaโ€™s husband out of the house and they talked for a moment. Then papa called Mama Aisha outside as well. I never found out what happened next for I was asked by mama to go to sleep.

The next morning Mama didnโ€™t come to wake me up for morning prayers. I woke up several minutes late and rushed to my parentsโ€™ room. Mama was busy folding clothes in a suitcase and Papa was fully dressed; checking some papers on the bed.

โ€œWhere are you going papa?!โ€ I said as I went to kiss his hand.

โ€œYou have to go to the mosque by yourself today son. I will pray on my way to the bus stationโ€ he said without looking at me.

โ€œWhere to?!โ€

โ€œTo find justice son. To find justice,โ€ he said as he picked up the now closed suitcase and left the room. Mama followed him to the door and waved him goodbye.

โ€œWhat is happening mama?โ€ I asked, worried without question.

Mama took my hand and made me sit down next to her.

โ€œYour dad is going to help Mama Aisha find her son. He will be leaving with her husband to find out what really happened.โ€

โ€œBut why was he arrested mama?โ€

โ€œThey say he was caught at the border heading to Somalia. The police are now holding him as a terrorist suspectโ€ฆ.so sad. Iโ€™ve seen Hassan grow up in the neighborhood all his life. He was a good boy,โ€ mama said, tears welling up.

โ€œDo you think that he might really be involved with terrorists?โ€ I asked as I stared at mama, scared of the answer she might give.

โ€œThat is what your papa has gone to find out. There might be a misunderstanding, maybe a case of mistaken identity, or at least we hope it is soโ€ฆLast we knew was that he was heading to Dubai for a business trip.โ€

โ€œBut what if he is found guilty mama?โ€

She took a long breath and said, โ€œThen it would be very unfortunateโ€ฆโ€ She patted my back and asked me to prepare myself to go to the mosque.

A week passed without a word from papa and mama was getting so worried. The days seemed so long and the nights were dragging. Mama could barely eat. She had dark marks under her eyes and her face was so pale. Weeks turned into months and the silence was deafening. But Mama was not alone in this misery. Every evening upon entering the house from school, I would hear mama Aishaโ€™s loud weeping; she had not only lost her son but her husband too. Mama was mourning silently, she would let her tears flow yet she was too quick to wipe them away. She made sure to smile when with me to make me believe that she was alright yet I knew how much she was hurting deep inside. Then finally we got the call we waited so long for; a call from papa, only it wasnโ€™t papa on the phone but someone else using his phone. No one had to tell me that, it was just so clear from how mama talked. She had started talking with a very excited tone before her voice slowly died away.

โ€œWhat do you mean?!โ€ she said in a slow yet anxious tone. Her eyes were watery and her hands were visibly shaking. My heart was beating fast and I kept hovering around mama, trying hard to hear what was being said on the other end. Mama suddenly dropped the phone and fell on her bed. She sat frozen as tears welled up her face.

โ€œWhat happened mama?! What happened?!โ€ I asked, panicking. She sat still in her position, staring at the wall as the tears mixed with her running nose.

โ€œWhat happened?โ€ I asked, almost shouting and in my anxiety, I broke down too. I hugged her and stayed in her arms for the longest time.

Papa and Mama Aishaโ€™s husband had been shot; Mama told me in the quietest, most depressing tone. Millions and millions of questions raced across my mind as the house started getting crowded with visitors coming to console us. I watched Mama as she sat silently in a corner, wiping her tears. Mama Aisha was seated next to her and she kept wailing uncontrollably. I was confused and depressed, but mostly I was angry; I did not know what or who exactly I was angry at but all I knew was that the fury inside me was going to consume me. What had happened to papa? What had gone so wrong that he was shot? Who had shot him?!

The next morning I bought all the local newspapers I could get my hands on and sat in the sitting room, poring over each one.

โ€˜A local policeman shot dead by unknown people during his investigative probe into the arrest of one terror suspect โ€ฆโ€™

โ€˜โ€ฆshot along with the suspectโ€™s father where he was planning to release the terrorist suspect from the hands of lawโ€ฆโ€™

โ€˜It is alleged that the policeman had connections with the terror suspectโ€™s handlersโ€ฆโ€™

โ€˜As to the question of who could have carried out this heinous act, that still remains a mysteryโ€ฆโ€™

โ€˜Could it really be possible that an officer of the law was so deeply connected with a terror group โ€ฆ?โ€™

I pushed the newspapers away. My anger had now turned to bitterness and my mind seemed to be moving in circles. I wanted to scream, I wanted to cry, I wanted to hit a wall; I just needed to do something. I looked up to see mama standing at the window staring outside with longing; as if expecting papa to appear any moment. She sniffed slowly and wiped her tears every once in a while with her head scarf.

โ€œI talked to Fatma, she cried so much. Your papa died before they reconciled,โ€ mama said between tears, โ€œShe will be flying in this evening with her husband.โ€

I moved to where she stood and hugged her tightly.

Strange world this is, I muttered to myself, where in the struggle between good and bad, the bad always won!

I did not know how, but I was going to avenge papaโ€™s murder somehow. Even if it meant the death of me!

…Even if it meant being on the Wrong side of the law!

#To be continued…