This Could’ve Been An E-Mail ,.

So, I’m ready to get back to sweating the “small stuff” again. I think I am the pettiest creature ever created. The smallest of things get to me. I am still not sure how this came to be. My eyes sell me out. One look at you and you’ll know you done got on my last nerve. Even under these masks. Anyway ..

In a world where everyone strives to be discernible, I struggle with wanting to stay invisible. I am the work behind the scenes type of person. I’ll help you but don’t mention my name. Leave me out of the accolades.

Contrary to what most of my people know of me, I have always liked my name to be mentioned last.

Believe me, this is not a way of self-deprecating, it’s more of a coping mechanism. Less is more. Less information, less people to disappoint. I win. Or so I think.

This could work against me at some point you say. There’s someone who’s willing to jump ropes and take credit for my work. They’ll be out there and use their name because (I) didn’t want to be out there. They win.

Do they though 🤔

Growing up, we were raised to believe that to be seen was unseemly, that calling attention to yourself was inappropriate, that staying small and quiet and undemanding was the path to being loved and accepted.

But how is the world made better by me being unseen and unheard? Choosing to stay invisible is easier. It’s a quick solution to not wanting to be objectified. Criticized. Unloved. Unheard.

This year, I’m purposely granting myself permission to speak. I may not benefit but my child and the next generation will.

Am I going to be perfect in all this? Ofcourse not but I’ll be liberated.

The purpose is to challenge and insist. To rock the boat. To speak my mind and wade through the shame that comes along with snide comments. The goal is to have tough conversations and not waiting for the time to be convenient

There is room for everyone to shine. This season, I’m everyone.

A caterpillar does not become a butterfly until she is ready.

Be seen.

Love, P.

Live On The Right Side. Sleep On The Left.

If I could sum up this year as a whole then all I would say is ‘Wow Sis! Really?!’

2020 is like that friend of yours who stabbed you in your chest while smiling at you. All the while deeply apologising for inconveniences caused.

It’s like that one work mate who empties the coffee pot and doesn’t care to brew a fresh one.

2020 is like that one aunty who everyone avoids at a family gathering because she keeps asking about your weight and lack of husband/wife. You know that feeling where you feel you should talk back and defend yourself but be damned if you dare to ?

2020 sure does feel like packing for your summer vacation but getting to your destination and seeing snow. Like, what am I going to do with all these skater dresses?

I don’t mean to exaggerate but it sure does feel like we’ve gotten a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

The year is like that one ex boyfriend or husband who breaks TF out of your heart but refuses to leave your house.

It’s like your overbearing neighbor who’s past life seems sceptic but you just can’t put a finger on it. You see them and you’re forced to keep your distance cause you know that’s trouble.

I mean, you ever watched a movie and slept 20 minutes in? Yea, that’s what we all did as of March this year.

Are we still thriving? surviving? Living in uncertainty? Yes.

Do I love the circumstances? No.

Am I learning anything? Probably.

It’s teaching me to tell people that I love them when they’re around.

It’s okay not to be okay. Things/ People can switch up on you no matter the bond or history and it’s okay too.

It’s okay to not overextend. Be selfish. Don’t drain yourself.

One thing that 2020 has taught me relentlessly, is that my time isn’t guaranteed.

That is an invaluable lesson in living life to the fullest and creating an impact that goes beyond me.

This year has forced me to read my books. To update my resumes. To delete and block contacts. To shoot my shots at job openings that I don’t fully fit into the criteria.

Things I have been procrastinating about. I’ve been subjected to being 100% content with vibing alone.

Is it because I feel like time is fleeting? If so, why did it take a whole Pandemic.

Why are we oblivious of the fact that we are on borrowed time?

These are hard lessons that will probably last a lifetime. It’s what we will hopefully tell our children. How we “overcame the war”.

Avoid the plague. Be present. Be here now.

Love, P.

Living as An African in Germany

“I am expected to be grateful to be here. But have I sold my soul to the devil?”

In lieu of everything that has been happening in America, there’s hushed tones about or if  racism exists in Germany.
Sensitive topic ofcourse. Such things we talk about only when we are having our get togethers at house parties.

There’s alot of Kenyans in Germany and most of us were lucky to get here before the immigration crisis began. So we found our way around and until today, still trying to make a name for ourselves.

I understood racism in my adult years, away from my home country ofcourse. I was conscious of my skin colour when I got here because that’s how one is referred to. “Die Schwarze”  It’s an accepted term, it’s normal but I take offence when someone doesn’t say my name.

In essence, I do not feel restricted, but I feel very aware of being different all the time.

Black people living in Germany, have historically been treated as inferior citizens and up until the 1930s, the country had hundreds of ‘human zoos’ where African people were put on display for ‘ethnological expeditions’ and the viewing entertainment of German people.

Germany’s colonial history isn’t much talked about.

Once after leaving work in the coldest and gloomiest of Winter, I was waiting for my bus home. The bus driver almost passed me by. After getting in he said, “Bitte nächstes mal ihre Handy hoch heben dass ich Ihnen sehen kann” that basically means, he didn’t see me and I should keep my phone up so the light can signal that someone’s there. I was standing on a well lit street.

Small comment, I let it slide. I did not want to argue with anyone and get in trouble. My residence permit was still in process. Also, I mean I’m a black person, at night. It’s only fair that I make myself visible no? (Literally)

I’d personally say racism exists but very subtle. It’s thrown in a conversation casually.
I have been called a nigger atleast 5 times. We experience this so frequently it’s almost becoming a way of life. Its either we retreat with rage or tears.

It’s trying to find an apartment online, get accepted but being turned down because you met the landlord in person.

It’s sending job applications to organisations that are in need of your skills but get denied because of “language barrier” but most times it’s because of your 2nd name.

Its failing to integrate fully at the work place or in class because of the colour of your skin.
It’s going to an expensive restaurant as the only black person and all eyes are on you.

German people are typically closed off to outsiders or people they don’t know personally but they are oddly at home with staring.

Though Germany has a law against racism, the General Equal Treatment Act, its scope is too narrow, only targeting private institutions suspected of racial discrimination. It does not cover racial discrimination committed by the state, which includes police brutality and racial profiling.

Incidents of racial injustice are not “effectively investigated” which denies justice for the victims – that’s according to the United Nations’ Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent that went on a tour of Germany to meet with government officials and legal experts.

When I have this conversation with my German friends, they get very upset about it which I guess is understandable.

Instead of becoming offended we should take some time to actually think about the issue and educate each other. The amount of comments from black people who have attempted to live here demonstrates that this isn’t simply an issue about growing a thicker skin. It’s a systematic issue that is going to take some time to overcome.

No country is perfect on race issues, but Germany has a lot of work to do.
“Racism has always been present, but sadly we also have this problem. We should first sweep in front of our own door “

Angela Merkel referring to the unrest currently happening in the USA.

Conscious Of Two Worlds

It took me almost a year to write something. I usually feel the need to explain my absence but at the same time I  don’t want to, if that makes sense?

I’m not going to discuss the lockdown  and quarantine restrictions. Its not what got me here anyway.

I was recently reflecting. Like I always do. It just hit me that I’ve been away from home for 10 years.

Moving abroad alone is never easy, and there are just some things that are undeniably hard to deal with, but inevitable. Your ego is going to get hurt, people will come and go from your life, and you’ll question what you’re doing with your life more than once.

10 years ago I decided to pack up my things, leave everything I had in Kenya, and move to Europe to start a new phase of my life. I had never visited Europe before and had little to no  idea of what life as an expat would be there.

Depending on which country you move to, this may even be made harder by cultural differences. What I’ll always take home with me though is having my perspective reshaped.

I’m from Africa, and I grew up with pretty much what my Family/Parents could provide. I was raised by ‘the village’ Every person in my community had a say in what was going on in my life.  So I was careful to not rub people off the wrong way.  Lest I got a summon. Explains my Introvert nature.

I was  comfortable.

I had a good education, great food and  had a fair job after high school,  I guess the basics? So when I made my way to Europe and experienced the quirks of life in a 1st world country, it was easy to complain about my ‘3rd-world problems’.

All this unfamiliarity can trigger a sense of feeling lost. You have a new home, a new job, and new friends if you’re lucky.  Oh and a new language that’s not Swahili or English. Homesickness hit me hard and there was no escaping it. If you’re doing this alone,  you really are starting your life from zero, and it’s very hard work.

There’s the inevitable loss of friendships. You’re going to feel lonelier than you’ve ever felt. Which is not a bad thing when I think about it now. Being alone gives you the chance to really get to know yourself. Making friends and maintaining them as an adult is hard anyway.

I’d say the 10 years have been rewarding. It is a lonely and exhausting experience but very worth it.  I am proud of myself. There have been wobblers along the way but this has to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life.

Now to the next phase of life?

Keep on, P.

The ‘B’ Word

 

“It is not enough to be busy; so are the ants. The question is: what are we busy about?”
– Henry David Thoreau

 

For weeks now I’ve been meaning to sit down and gather my thoughts here but  sis  here has been all over the place. Feeling like I’m grasping at anything and everything that I forget to breathe. My days are a full swing.

My sister’s favourite line is “I thought you wanted to rest”  I’m curious though this up and down, busy as a bee thingy is slowly turning into an addiction. They say busy is good but is it healthy for my mental health? Am I taking a second to breath. To be in the moment? To be present? That’s the thing, I’m always present!

Am I contradicting myself? Idk. Though everyone needs something to be going on for them. Those daily hustles, that house, that job, those savings, those kids, the vacations! those friendships and relationships! At least one has to be going on for you.

I’m actually on the train right now, on my way to do an exam that I crammed for. Smh. Just to show how I pile up my days. Looking forward to my time out soon. I think I’m going to sleep for 24hours straight. Lol who am I kidding, I’ll be up by 6am. There’s always more to be done, more emails to reply, more people to meet, more boxes to tick, more items on a never-ending to-do list.

What makes it worse is we are surrounded by over achievers. We see them and “follow” them albeit secretly. They tell us that’s how it should be. They didn’t sleep a wink. We feel like we should be busy and that we should be sharing that with everyone and anyone rather than actually tackling the task ahead. It’s almost as if we feel ashamed if we’ve had a quiet day.

I’m desperate to hold onto the youth I feel slipping through my fingers, yet I want nothing more than the fabled stability adulthood brings. It’s a gut-wrenching feeling of fear, uncertainty, and an overwhelming desire for everything to just “be okay,” even though I don’t know what that means yet.

Time check: 11pm sigh I need to rest. The cycle resumes tomorrow.

Growing – out of IT.

Year in, year out we get to sit back and reflect on ourselves about this journey that we are on.

People speak of “growth” as if it’s something we can get from the stores.

“You need to grow up”

” You need to speak your mind”

“Grow up already..”

“You need to show them how you feel”

Apparently that’s growth, being in people’s faces and throwing tantrums.

I’m a selfish, workaholic that has a maddening love affair with achievement and a good glass of wine.

I don’t think have the time or rather,  I need to tell you how I feel, that’s not growth, smh.

I’m a realist with control issues and an unhealthy obsession with true crime documentaries.  I have an unhealthy diet program, I’m terrible at yoga, and sometimes, I sleep at 6pm  — but I continue to evolve into what I can only hope will be a tolerable member of society.

At the end of each day, I rest assured knowing that I am fulfilled but still eager for continued growth. My kind of growth.

I believe if we are close enough as friends or rather if you consider me family, you’d have that under your cap.  You’d know what I feel and if I have to explain in details about what’s going on then we are barking up the wrong tree.

The only time I can  mention growth, is through the hurt and healing process I’ve got to experience all through from the 80’s. Be it personal, friends, teachers, workers . I can mention growth because im ready to hurt and everything heals with time.  I let the  bitterness dissolve, I forgive the past, and learn to trust again.

Don’t  try to force your growth on me. Everyone has their own journey. Protect your own but also respect mine, don’t stuff your enlightenment down my throat.  Agree to live with differences.

Growing up, we find that reality often contends with those very dreams. We find that the reality of growing up is perhaps less lovely than we’d envisioned. We find that the only thing we really want back is our youth and our innocence, and the cruel irony is that these are the very things that will never return.

Don’t let guilt limit your future.

Let your stories end and begin the same way a new wave laps a new shore with the same waters.

Your time is ticking, don’t panic though, growing up is a process. It doesn’t have a deadline.

Cheers,

Love P.

Something To Fall For?

It’s Fall season on this side of the planet. Obviously my best time of the year cause it’s October. The leaves are shedding. The weather is manageable. I can get away with leggings and a long pullover at work.  My coffee tastes even better. Daylight plays hide and seek but it’s fine, I’ve had enough sunburns the last couple of months .

I love fall cause it’s deeply personal to me. I was born in October. It reminds me to be reflective and aware of what’s going on around me. It forces me to retreat indoors and reflect on myself.

I have the need to seek warmth and cormfort in the midst of dropping temperatures. I’m mentally and physically preparing for winter. (I hate winter 😣)

As temperatures drop to the tune of leaves falling, I think Fall symbolises letting go. Letting go of my inner ego, disruptive pattern, bad thoughts and negativity. Everything is temporary. Everything can be let go. Consider what no longer serves you, gets in your way, and needs to wither.

I am mindful  of the feel of the air, of the scents and textures and sights all around me.  As I do so, I  ask myself “What do I need to release? What are my burdens?” What I have I prayed for? What are my hopes?

I’m paying  attention to what nature is doing around me and trusting my instincts —after all, everything has a purpose, including the changing of the seasons. They remind me to keep changing, to not allow myself become stagnant.

“Anyone who thinks fallen leaves are dead, has never seen them dancing on a windy day ”

Two more months and it’s new Years, what are you falling for?

Penny for your thoughts.

Happy October.

Love P.

Inhale, Your Heart is Still Here.

So today my phone fell down and scratched the screen. Thank God for screen protectors. It’s still breathing! Just figured I’d throw that in after my very long, purposeful break from writing. I keep insisting, I’m not a writer. Mainly because, I don’t need that pressure of anyone asking me to write them anything. Though I’d write your vows!

I’ve been skimming through the blogs though seeing what others are writing. So impressed, people are very inspired out there. (No sarcasm)

It’s actually what we humans do yes? Lurking on strange profiles, following their stories, wanting to know what they are upto. It feeds our ego, it makes us feel better or sometimes worse about ourselves.   We are so engrossed in other people, we forget about us and looking after our own. Millennials, we can’t be saved.

Though to give myself some credit, I have been taking care of myself. Developed a new love of moving around the globe. I knocked on my sisters door the other day and she was not amused. She went like “Aren’t you the one who was crying fatigue just the other day?” So I forced a hug on her and she was back to being my bestie.  For reasons beyond me, I feel the need to be out there and see a different side of the world. One would say but P, you’re already abroad what more do you need? That’s the thing, the more we get, the more we expect, the world is there to be seen.

The year has been a roller coaster of events. I had some very awesome highs and super lows.  I had a terrible  waiting phase. Where everything just went dry and didn’t move and well you know, the tears, anxiety and fear of the unknown crept in.  I guess that’s why I pulled back from writing. I’m not really a fan of people knowing what’s in my head. (I know, I know, then why do I blog 🙄) Simple, cause even the well needs to be drained atleast once in a while.

I’ve been gratefull though to have constant humans in my life. The ones who call me by my full names (smh) and ask how I’m doing. Those are my humans. My people. To my friends who call me and I don’t pick, then your stubborn selves call the next day again asking why I’m not picking up, bless your hearts. Everyone needs that kind of love.

Life clearly doesn’t go the way we plan, but atleast it gives us the strength and resilience to push through. Somewhere along my journey, I find myself connecting with strangers who make me forget about my issues for a while. I find hilarious jokes that I overshare to my  not so humorous circle. Hehe, come to think of it, get this, how do baseball players stay cool? Easy they sit next to their fans! (🤣🤣)

I have continued being that person you want to talk to when you’re having a shitty day (comes with the job) It also makes my day better I promise.

Everybody has a story. Unless you get to live and walk in their shoes, you will never understand .

So urrmm, I’ll check in soon? Need to follow up on Issa Rae on Insecure, that woman gives me life.

Love,

P.

 

Just Another Feminist Post.

To my avid word press followers, I hope you are all asleep. Please don’t find me here writing. He he.

As you may have noticed, I was Awol again. Things have NOT being busy! Lol  Just that  restructuring  regrouping and refocusing have been my main themes this year.

I have been involving myself in all sorts of activities of late, still  trying to get the balance of it all.

Generally, I’m fine!

Below is a report (Sort of a “I had to write it” report ) of an event from earlier this year.

It’s mostly feminist stuff. Misogynistic characters, here’s your cue to leave  😊

 

 

 
Post Event Summary Report Commission on The Status of Women . (CSW)

Author: Pamela Ngulu

 

Theme:
Leave No-one Behind.

Being one of the few young women who unfortunately missed out on this very informative and important global event, I took time aside and joined the conversation online.
I focused mainly on the Youth Dialogue because the topic itself is close to home and I wanted to be a part of it.

Time differences aside, this is what I could gather.

The event mainly focused on amplifying Youth Voices on an International Platform. Event was attended by close to 400 participants.
Through out the day,
Dialogues were held about and discussed a range of issues that impact rural youth including:

• Health
• Climate change
• Land rights and environment
• Education
• Gender based violence
• Early child marriage
• Economic justice
• Media and Technology

 

Recommdentions presented just to name a few included:

• Adopting and enforcing legislation that gives girls and young women equal inheritance rights as well as rights to property resources .
• Providing training opportunities that lead to decent and meaningful work.
• Ensuring access to free quality education
• Ensuring services are well funded, survivor centred, free and accessible to young women and girls.
• Increased opportunities that enable young women working in rural communities to meaningfully participate in the Labor market

Generally, being a participant at CSW creates an opportunity for us young women who want to be future leaders to share our experiences with development issues from our African countries.

We gather to discuss the status of women, take stock and share experiences in advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment.
As a Kenyan youth, I’m hoping my government is ready to work with civil societies in order to push for equity.
I hope that as we progress, more conversations on young women and their rights will continue to dominate the space.

Us girls and youth are crying out for inclusion in decision making. No policies about young women can be made without young women.

The only downside to this event is that contrary to the theme, many young women were left behind as they could not acquire documentation to travel to the event. The young girls couldve effectively participated and benefited from the discussions.

To quote the Director of the Civil Society Division UN Women, Lopa Banarjee

“Women and girls who live in rural areas are not at the danger of being left behind, they ARE being left behind”

Periodically True

Today is May 28th. The world is celebrating Menstrual Hygiene Day. I guess I’d call this a bloody post. No pun intended!

Guys, there’s nothing celebratory about getting your period. (Ladies I’m speaking for myself) I would say the world is reminding us again, just how hard we women have to work, for things that should be easily accessible and affordable.

Many adolescent girls in low-income and middle-income countries lack appropriate facilities and support in school to manage menstruation

According to a Zambian article, girls suffer from poor menstrual hygiene, originating from lack of knowledge, culture and tradition, and socio-economic and environmental constraints, leading to inconveniences, humiliation and stress. This leads to reduced school attendance and poor academic performance, or even drop outs, and ultimately infringes upon the girls’ human rights.

I remember getting my first period at 15 years of age and how I was scared to share this very personal and strange information with my family. I was scared and embarrassed of what my body was subjecting me to. I wasn’t prepared, I hadn’t being taught anything about sanitary towels and how often I was to change them. It took me two days to finally tell someone that I had my first period. I was kindly reminded that this is where I stop “Playing with boys” I think that was the closest of sex education I could get to.

I was lucky enough to have informed myself through my peers. It was sort of a contest in primary school. The one who had their period first got a seat at the kings table. Smh, girls.

Back to the issue at hand, we are being reminded that today is menstrual hygiene day. That girls bleed for 3-7 days in a month. Most of these young women are forced to stay home for those 7 days because its a messy affair. Especially for  those who have no idea where to get their next set of sanitary towels.

Informing the world about Menstrual Hygiene is okay  but we should also start taking into account the health implications and prevailing socio-cultural and economic factors, there is need for a continuous, school education programme.The girls should be educated about the process and significance of menstruation, use of proper pads and its proper disposal.

Lack of modern sanitary products often leads to lower school attendance rates, failure and/or dropping out. When girls miss school they lose educational pace with boys, making them more vulnerable inside and outside of the classroom. There is a need for improving access to sanitary pads and advanced provision of it.

I dream of the day where tampons and  sanitary products will be free for every woman.

For my girls in the rural area, You’re not unclean.  Desensitizing men and boys about menstruation leads to more open conversations and empathy. Since fathers are often the breadwinners, it is important to inform them about menstruation because they determine if funds are available to buy menstrual products.

Note to self: Maybe if period pains burned calories, we would be half way through the war.

 

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