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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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If Monday had a low esteem then this is how he would look. But he doesn’t. In fact, he is very self-assured, assertive with several saltbae (I just had to mention him somewhere 😀 ) pinches of an ego.

Mr. Monday always had the ability to get your attention even when after you had sworn upon your own death to NOT even glance at him. He is irresistible. Maybe not the prince-charming kind of irresistible, but the You-can’t-ignore-me kind of irresistible. You can totally close your eyes with the heaviest , darkest blanket yet he would still appear in your nightmares.

Monday is a short, stout man in his mid-thirties. He is brown, a bit plump, with dark hair. He always wore his suits in such a magnificent manner. His attire was so neat, so well-pressed such that a housefly would die just upon his landing on such an attire. His shoes were always extremely polished. They were black, blacker than black because no shade of black was ever going to describe this kind of black. Would make you wonder what is he using? Because hell no, even kiwi is not that black. I mean, you could look at his shoes and see your ugly face reflecting right back. Even the shoes have a prettier look than you do 😀 Monday walked tall always, confidently putting his hands inside his side pockets. If you wear your heart on your sleeve, sweetheart, please meet this man who wears his ego on his sleeve. Despite very well knowing that most people didn’t like him (sometimes for no apparent reason), he would still carry himself with so much aura of awesomeness. So yes, you just. somehow.had to look at him. One way or another. Nonetheless, believe it or not, sometimes Monday was just but a victim of unfortunate coincidences and awful circumstances.

So on this morning, Monday walks up to the stage and meets a crowd of other neat men and women waiting for the bus to arrive. He decides to stands at the far end of the stage, a few steps from a young man drinking his coffee. The young man raises his eyebrows from his coffee cup and looks at Monday. He doesn’t just look, he stares at him as his eyes scrutinize him from head to toe. Monday stares back as his huge bulb eyes narrow as if squinting at the young man. All of a sudden, an old lady bumps into the young man and the good tasty coffee all ends up being swallowed by the plain, sparkling white t-shirt. The young man exclaims with anger. He curses. Then curses again. The old lady tries to apologize but the young man is busy wiping his shirt desperately. He then looks up at Monday with a glare. Giving him that ‘it is your fault’ scowl. Monday shrugs his shoulders and looks away at his watch. He is running late.

The bus finally arrives and everyone quickly rushes in. Monday takes the front seat next to the driver as he watches the young man rush away; probably going back home for a quick change. He adjusts himself in his seat and focuses ahead as the bus takes off. The driver strikes a conversation but it is rather a boring one. Who wants to talk about the weather on the beginning of a fresh week? Monday doesn’t respond to him. The old driver tries once again to bring another topic when a cat suddenly appears on the road. He desperately reaches for the brakes as the bus screeched to a halt. The back passengers start yelling at the old man. “I hit my head!” “Old man you need  spectacles now!” “Urgh! can’t we have a peaceful morning?!! Is that too much to ask for?!” The yells keep coming. The old man frowns before apologizing. He glares at Monday and he stares back without a word. He adjusts himself in his seat then drives off.

Monday walks steadily into the office. He doesn’t greet anyone because no one needs his ‘hi’ anyway. Except Positivity. Right when he passes by her desk, she’d always have a kind word to say or a greeting or just a bright smile. So as usual, Positivity enthusiastically extends her hand to greet him.

“Goodmorning Monday! I hope you had a lovely weekend!”

“Oh hey, goodmorning Pos. My weekend was fine. I hope so was yours,” Monday speaks for the first time.

“Oh yeah…I even got to make my favourite home-baked cookies. You wanna taste?”

“Why not?” He smiles as he takes the cookies from her. He then wishes her a good day before disappearing into his compartment.

Human noisily slides her chair to Pos’ desk.

“Ahem ahem…Pos huh?”

“What is it Human?” Pos laughs lightly without moving her eyes away from her computer screen.

“So now your new nickname is Pos huh?! Nice!”

Positivity laughs again.

“What is the issue anyway?”

“I just don’t get it! How on earth are you able to strike a conversation with Monday, make him talk back and even smile! God! How?!!”

“Because I don’t have an attitude like the one you have.”

“But everyone dislikes Monday. Except you.”

“Okay,” Pos turns around her seat and looks at Human, “So tell me, what wrong has Monday done to you?”

“Can’t you seeee it?!!! The guy is always frowning. Full of negative vibes. I don’t even want to look at him, he might just ruin my entire day. Bad omen…”

Pos laughs at Human’s expression and sits back comfortably.

“Okay, let’s do some profiling here. Have a look at Sunday and give me a short profile on her.”

Human laughs loudly as she looks at Sunday who is fast asleep, her head bowed down on her desk.

“Sunday is always tired and sleepy and lazy…but then…she always makes people happy. She is a nice soul.”

“Okay. What about Saturday?”

Human stretches her neck to peep at Saturday who is busy working on something while whistling.

“He is full of enthusiasm and energy. Always.”


“Oh my good Lord! Friday is the happiest being on this earth!”


“He is not in yet…as usual. He doesn’t come to work much or in time but when he is here, he does his best to make it up. And you wouldn’t even have to complain about how good his work is.


“Wednesday is a hardworking chap. Got no complaints for him.”


“Tuesday is such an ambitious soul. She knows what she wants.”

“Owwkayy! Now Monday?”

“Urgh!! Told you! Monday is just Monday. No more no less. Or wait, there is a bit more 😀 Monday just brings the gloom to the office. Pos, just look at him! Look at his tight lips that almost never form a smile! He reminds of Trump you know. Gloomy; gloomy miserable chap. Or maybe I shouldn’t compare him with Trump, that would be extreme 😀 But then he.just.doesn’t.give a good feeling.”

“Well, he smiles at me!”

“Ah isn’t that a miracle already? But you are an open-minded soul; a kind one so maybe…or it could just be because of your delicious cookies that you keep bribing him with!”

They both start laughing.

“We both know it has nothing to do with cookies. He has his good side too. You just need to stop focusing too hard at his ugly side. Yes he has issues; maybe too rigid and angry, but maybe he’s got something that makes him this way, something from the past or present, something that makes his plate full always? We can’t ever know. Remember how long it took before he could ever say hi back to me. Yes he isn’t such a charming soul but we all have our off ugly sides too. He probably just needs more friends and he’ll change. If you could find something nice to say about everyone then you can never miss a nice thing to say about him too.”

“Owkaaaayyy Mrs. Mondaaayyy, I’ll think about it maybe! I said maybeeee,” she says as she laughs again; sliding her way back to her desk.

Positivity shakes her head with a sigh, “Attitude. Attitude everywhere.”



Long time back in Mwapata land lived a small boy of nine years. His name was Muja but famously known as ‘Muja the kind hearted’ by everyone, big and small.

Muja lived with his father and mother who were quite old, but they brought him up to be a very good boy.
Muja was always kind to old people and even small children and not forgetting the animals. He would always help an old person cross the road or help an old woman carry her heavy load and if a small child is in distress then yes of course Muja would be right there to assist in whatever the problem is. As for the animals, he always had a very soft heart for them and did not like to see anybody hurting them.

That is why he earned the name ‘Muja, the kind hearted’ , and all people referred to him that way. As soon as he appeared anywhere, someone would be heard as saying “here comes Muja the kind hearted” and thus was loved by everyone. No one would want to harm him in anyway but would always have a kind or a soft word for Muja.

Now, Muja’s daily routine would be to wake up very early in the morning at the first call of the rooster’s “cock-a-doodle do” in order to fetch water from the well to wash himselfup and also to make sure his parents had enough for use.

Then after drinking his tea, he takes his bag and on his way to school he goes – up the lane, up and up the hill then at the top of the hill he takes a breath and looks down at the view which awaits him and he says to himself “ Oh! What a beautiful village we have….” And then jumps and trots down the hill towards his school where he knows his friends would be eagerly awaiting his arrival so they can play together a little bit before the bell rings for assembly.

As soon as school ends for the day, Muja has no time for friends but he would rush out of school and climb up the hill and run all the way home for he knows he has got chores awaiting him. One of them being to go and fetch firewood from a nearby bush for his mother. He would always be cautious about his mother’s warning of never going deep in the bush for fear of wild animals.

The one thing that the Mwapata Land boys liked best to do was to hunt for the many beautiful little birds who were all over the place. So after school they would normally be out with their catapults trying their best shots with pebbles at them, for they say they are very tasty when roasted. However, everybody knew of Muja’s weakness where these little birds were concerned and wouldn’t even stop to fight in order to save them. So whenever the area boys are already at their mischief, one is normally kept on guard to look out for Muja and the moment he sees him coming, he would yell ‘run ,Muja the kind hearted’ is coming, then they would all scatter in different directions in fear that if they will be caught then anything can strike them. Oh! Yes, they would even go as far as calling the birds as “Muja’s Birds.”

One day as Muja was collecting his mother’s firewood not so far from his home lane, he thought he heard his name – so he stopped picking up the wood to listen but only silence met him, he then continued to pick his firewood but it didn’t take long before he heard it again and this time it was quite clear for he had moved up a bit in his collection and this is what he heard from a tiny small clear but sad voice ;

“Muja,ooh! Muja
Please, please
Help me……..”

And it continued on and on as he moved towards the voice only to find one little bird trapped and could not free itself to fly off. It was so frightened that if it was found by one of the boys it would soon be on a fire being roasted and to be made into a nice meal.

So Muja rushed to it and said ‘Oh! You sweet little bird, don’t be frightened, Muja is here now to set you free”…. And you know what? Muja did just that, he carefully removed it from the trap and set it free to fly away in the skies and the little bird was so grateful as it flew away saying:

“Ooh! Muja, Ooh! Muja
Thank you for saving my life.
Ooh! You kind hearted Muja….”

Muja found himself smiling silently and went to collect his wood to take to his mother who would be waiting for it patiently in order to start cooking their dinner.

When Muja got home, he explained everything to his parents. His mother told him “Muja, you are a fine boy” and his father said “Muja my son, you will one day make a fine man”.
These compliments made Muja’s heart fill with joy for he always appreciates his parents’ comments as they meant a lot to him.

After his mother cooked dinner, they sat down to eat and then he helped her to wash the few dishes they had and prepared himself for bed for he knows again at the very early call of their rooster’s ‘cock-a-doodle-do’ he would have to be up once again.

Such was Muja’s daily life routine except for weekends when he gets the chance to at least play football which he loved very much with his friends. But of course this is after he had done all his chores first and then he would be free to play.

Days went on and fell into nights and nights dawned into beautiful mornings as Muja’s life continued but unfortunately with the busy schedule he had, his studies seemed to suffer. This was because the only time he had for his studies was when he was in class , so he had to struggle extra hard – more than all his fellow students in order to keep up with them. But Muja being Muja – he was determined to make it so that he may be able to have a better future than the current one he was having.

One Wednesday evening when Muja went out for his normal firewood collection, he was met with quite an incident that would make him remember this day for the rest of his life. He started picking the firewood at his usual spot on the edges of the bush, but this time his mind seemed to be quite far and didn’t realize that he had actually entered the bush which his mother always cautioned him about. In a trance like manner he continued on with his wood picking until suddenly “WHAM” right into a trap he walked and thus found himself entangled in a net and as much as he tried to free himself – it was just an impossible task. For the first time by looking around he realized that he had walked far into the bush and his heart started pounding so fast ‘doom,doom,doom’ that he could hardly hear anything else . He tried his level best to calm himself down so that he can think of his next move, so after just a few seconds which to him seemed ages he managed to calm down and could look at the surroundings properly. All he could see were trees and trees which seemed to be bending towards him and he could only hear the eerie sounds of the bush habitants whom he couldn’t see.

Time did seem to have stood still but he felt it must be quite late and was thinking “now my parents must really be worried!” and tears started to roll down his cheeks. He really wished for anybody to come by and help him, maybe a hunter…. Then he started screaming “help,help,help” at the very top of his voice but only the echo of his voice seemed to answer him with the same “help,help,help” screams – but he did not despair nor did he give up. He would rest a bit and call out for help at short intervals.

It went on this way until he started shaking with fear and when he was just about to give up – you won’t believe what happened. Muja had already given up and thought he would be a meal for one or another of the wild animals but his kind heartedness was about to pay now, for he suddenly heard that lovely from a long time back voice say:

“Ooh! Muja, Ooh! My kind hearted Muja,
Don’t be afraid – your friend is here
To help you…….”

And yes, looking up – guess who Muja saw? That’s right, that little bird he once saved and wondered privately how this little thing would be able to help him. In a matter of seconds the little bird started tweeting in the bird language and from all directions – all Muja could see were wings and wings flying into the call of his friend and it communicated to them to start cutting the net with their beaks. Since they all knew the kind hearted Muja who had many a time saved them from the Mwapata land boys with their catapults – they were more than happy to help getting Muja out of the trap.

They didn’t waste any time in doing just that and within no time Muja was freed by his bird friends and they started escorting him out of the bush right up to the main lane. That’s when Muja found out that it had already gotten dark and knew how worried his poor parents would be – his little bird friend said:

“Ooh! Muja, Ooh! Kind hearted Muja,
This is where we leave you for we
Have to go and sleep now…….”

And Muja said to them:
“Ooh! My lovely friends,
I say thank you very much for
Saving my life, I shall never forget
This for as long as I live…….”

Off they went back to the bush and Muja started running up the lane towards his home not even thinking about the firewood….and just as he was about to turn around the corner he bumped into an old man who held him steadily before he could fall and said in wonder “Is this you Muja? Is it really you my son…?” his voice full of emotion and Muja replied “father, father, oh! Am I glad to see you again”

They hugged and started walking together towards their home where they found his mother right at the gate with such a worried look on her face. She too couldn’t believe her eyes when she saw her son and tears of joy ran down her cheeks as Muja ran towards and hugged her so hard while he too started crying not believing that he wasn’t actually eaten by the wild animals and that he was back home with his mother and father.

After resting and being given a bowl of porridge, he told the whole story to his awed parents and promised them that he will never venture again into the bush. Thus, he went to sleep with a big smile on his face knowing he was safe in his parents’ home.


P.S. The book is in print form too if you would like to get a hard copy please inbox me in my Facebook page: strokes of my pen

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I have a dream. Just so-big a dream that would make you stagger because of its weight, if I handed it over to you. It is what makes me wake up each morning with new hope, new faith and new dedication. There’s always something special about living your dream. It is what drives you to wake up cheerfully and ignore the Monday blues, the over-load of work on your desk or that your cat actually drunk your milk that was for breakfast. There is something more to it, some power…it is all hope that your bright day will soon come. It’s about having focus on what you want to do, being dedicated and putting in a lot of hard work. I met so many talented people in my life, people who actually sleep on what God has bestowed on them and expect just one day a miracle will happen and they will have all they ever wanted. Maybe they seize to realize that miracles ended with prophet hood or maybe they still live in the fantasy of that song we sang at kindergarten whereby the farmer luckily digs out some diamond: “Bwana Tumbo mwenye shamba alipanda viazi, akachimba chimba chimba akaona almasi! Lo! Lo! Bahati kwa mtu mwenye shamba!” is that so??

What makes a dreamer an achiever is the passion one has towards what they do, however difficult it may seem or how monotonous it may be, without complaining, but instead, doing it to their best. It is just like that stubborn maths sum that doesn’t want to be solved yet and X doesn’t seem to appear on your way but you keep trying till you succeed. This just reminds me of a regular quote by someone very special, my mum: ‘for you to succeed, you must try and try and try’ and yeah after all, nothing comes on a silver platter!