The Uuuhs and Aaarghs of my life

Posts tagged ‘Kenya’

Lets Talk About SEX(uality) Education

I remember being taught sex education (how to have sex) at age 14 in class by three male teachers – Mr. Ngugi, Mr. Njoroge and Mr. Waweru.

Not even one female teacher.

As an A-student and a super geek with a dream career in the world of science, every detail mattered. And so I asked all sorts of questions just as the boys did, but even the teachers made me feel awkward for asking too many questions as a girl.

At some point, I wondered why I was the only girl in class asking questions. Even fellow A-student girls didn’t raise their hands.
Yet the boys kept asking all sorts of questions: “How many ‘holes’ do girls have?” “What happens during sex?” “How do you wear a condom?”

And while in the name of science I needed to know facts, I still had questions to ask that I didn’t think the male teachers could answer:
“Does it hurt?” “When do I know I’m ready?” “What if I’m not, ready? Can I say No?” “Do they know that my body hurts sometimes?”

Looking back, I realise that while the teachers did their best to educate us about sex, it still wasn’t enough. It wasn’t holistic.
And as a girl, I didn’t have a safe space to honestly ask questions about sex.

Soon after, a rape culture began in school, where boys would chase after girls and force themselves. They would pinch, press onto, and grab girls’ body parts. They would penetrate the girls using their fingers. And they would do it in groups.

One boy appointed himself as a referee. As soon as a teacher left class, he called out so the boys could start grabbing onto girls.
The only thing that saved me was that I was not popular and my body had only been developing vertically – height vs curves.

With time, the girls started enjoying it. It made them feel like the boys liked them.
The school caught up too late when they organised a separate platform for girls to talk about sex.

The women teachers who run the platform were strangers to us all girls. The same women who thought we were spoilt, ratchet, and over privileged. How could a girl ask them about sex or even report being harassed?

And so the hypermasculine boys and hyperfeminine girls went on with a new sex culture that was built upon sex education in class.

Today, I saw a news update that 50% of new HIV infections in Kenya are among youth between 15-24 years old.
I’m not surprised by this data, to be honest.

+ Not when school kids are exclusively being taught how to have sex (sex education), and then reactively being taught about sexuality when crisis occurs.

+ Not when girls are still shamed for talking about or even showing interest in sex.

+ Not when women are still being blamed for being raped or sexually harassed.

+ Not when parents expect teachers to introduce their own kids to the world of sex.

+ Not when boys in Mosques are being molested by Imams, girls in Churches are being raped by Pastors, alter boys in Cathedrals are being sodomised by Priests, teenage girls are labelled sluts by older church ladies.

I believe a powerful answer lies in learning from our traditional African sexuality approach (way before the rot and rape of colonization).

We taught sexuality, not just sex.
We taught respecting the human body, emotion, mind, soul, and voice.

Our women could walk half naked, and the men would have self control.
They respected the mother in the woman.
Our men could fight great battles in war, and the women would allow them to cry, to grieve, and show emotion.
Our youth had age sets and age groups where they would journey through life with accountability partners.

But most importantly, there existed active safe spaces for youth to talk about sex without feeling ashamed, isolated, judged or misinformed.

Sex was not taboo, it was a lifestyle.
Sex wasn’t shamed, it was celebrated.
Sex wasn’t a dirty ungodly word, it was a beautiful gift created by God for humankind to enjoy.

Friends, it’s about time we changed the story and conversation about sex.
Let’s talk about sex in a holistic fashion.

Only then can we rediscover the beauty of sex by it’s original design.

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Open Journal: Singlehood is a Platform for Growth

Let me begin by saying that if you’re a people-person like myself, please don’t travel to the Kenyan coast alone. 

If you’re a solitary being like my big sister Susan, you just might enjoy it alone as long as you find a great and private place way out of town like African House Resort where we stayed in Malindi (http://www.booking.com/Share-2KvXT8

Because…

First of all, people approached my friend saying how, “It’s wrong for women to travel like this alone.” And by “like-this” the bloke meant financially independent. He enthused that we should ALLOW men to take us to such nice places. I shan’t even comment. Abeg!

Secondly, it’s like these hotels only cater for couples. You can easily get overwhelmed. Those swan towel things on the bed with love-heart flowers. Mood music by Lionel Richie, Celine Dion, Whitney Houston… those deep emotional ones that drain your soul.

And not to forget how the other guests are mostly couples. 

And then on the only novel you’ve carried to read, the next chapter is about romance… Yes, even those Christian ones about the story of Queen Esther, and the classical Ruth and Boaz. 

Please, don’t do that to yourself.
You might end up doing something STUPID like contacting that Ex who’s just waiting for an excuse to crawl back into your life.

Don’t do it woman!

But that was me last time I travelled alone to the coast on a work assignment as a travel magazine writer.

Now I’m wiser.

Planned this year to travel with a friend and we totally had so much fun as single, financially able, and God-fearing women. 

And we influenced our experience so much that the hotel manager (whom we now call Uncle John) literally called us yesterday to say that the hotel staff miss us so much because we were like their flowers. 

My heart was full!!! 🙂 
But here’s the juice.

So my friend and I kept talking about the frolics we experienced in our businesses this year as we swam in the Africa-shaped pool.

We kept planning our laps saying, “Let’s swim from Egypt to South Africa” 

Ha! So much fun.

And little did we know that nearby was a room for a well-respected Kenyan lawyer who’d been attending a conference by the Law Society of Kenya. 

When we finally met each other, she commented on our conversations saying they were so refreshing and that she can relate since we’re right where she was back in her 30s. #CareerGoals
Meanwhile, this whole time they’d been a 30-something year old European guy also swimming in the pool, but in the North Africa side. He’d smile every time we talked, but he literally said not a word.

His parents had been drinking tea or “something strong” nearby at their room patio.

Maybe he was afraid of engaging in a black-woman-circle conversation in front of his parents? 

Hmmm… Interracial connections can be tough though.

And so he kept doing this every day, swimming only when we decided to swim. But neither of us were going to make it easy for him by saying hello first.
But an opportunity presented itself.

As the lawyer and my friend talked, I completely forgot the guy was in the pool and started doing a backstroke to Egypt. But as soon as the ladies saw me, they warned me to stop because I was going to crash into him. 

My friend later on laughed saying that he’d been standing there with a smile on his face just waiting for me to crash into him. 

Maybe it was his chance to finally talk to us in front of his parents with a reason?

Hmmm… we’ll never know.
And still, he kept swimming, smiling, and timing us, but just never gathered the courage to start a genuine conversation with beautiful bold black women just a swim away.
Then came the moment I later went on Instagram to share a photo journal of my trip. 

And the strange private messages from guys came along, “Hae” “But why are you still single?” “Hi” 

And I looked up into the heavens with my hands stretched high and said, “Fix it Jesus!” 

Because I literally can’t entertain empty, demeaning, and shallow conversations like these. 
And I just wondered, Where Are The Gentlemen? 

Those who can gather the courage to respectfully approach women despite what family, social, racial, cultural and religious norms say.

Those who can engage women in deep, meaningful, challenging conversations with growth and not sex being the objective.

Those who can say, “Hello” followed by words that speak life into a woman, not waste her time.
I know Jesus is snapping His fingers to this and will sort me out accordingly.

Jesus is fixing it y’all!
To fellow single women out there, remember to use your singlehood as a platform for growth. Mostly, the kind of growth that helps you learn about yourself and invest in yourself; What do you REALLY want and need out of this life?

Challenge yourself to go out there and get it unapologetically, without settling for less.
#Remember: Talk is always cheap. Watch out for consistent actions, those don’t lie. And I say this after learning from my own share of expensive mistakes that robbed me of my time, investment, confidence, love, and grace as a woman.
The joy of singlehood is the Time to learn, grow, and commit to your standards.

And what better standards than God’s best for you?

You are worth it woman!
Love & Sunshine,

Ayuma.

Kenya, we need to talk!

#KenyanLivesMatter

Dear Kenyans,

Did you sleep last night?

I didn’t. 

I couldn’t.

Not when in a distance, a neighborhood was forced awake all night with riots.

Not when police helicopters flew over my roof.

Not when gunshots poked through my sweet dreams, awakening me into a live nightmare.
Somehow, I fell asleep in the morning.

And I woke up to a stomach full of acid.

Loss of appetite (haven’t eaten since I woke up).

And a broken heart.
How on earth did we get here again?

How did we allow politics make us look at our neighbours differently? 

How could we bring chaos to our neighborhoods while the politicians we support go back to safe and secure homes?
I’m so tired.

I’m tired of being tired and scared every election season.

This needs to stop.
I’ve prayed and kept my peace.

I’ve voted wisely for leaders who promise great change.

I’ve been a good Kenyan.

It still seems not to be enough.
So what now?

We really need to figure ourselves out and make a decision about what we really want.

ALL the leaders we choose mirror our current values and priorities.

So why are we shocked when a police gun no longer protects us but is aimed at us?

When a 10-year-old girl standing at a balcony loses her life from a stray bullet?

When a journalist tries to capture and report to us a real story on the ground and gets arrested?
Kenyans, we need to talk.

We seriously need to sort ourselves out.

But as we painfully become aware of our mess…

We can at least try to be peaceful and see that we really do matter.

Our Kenyan Lives Matter.
Love, 

Ayuma.

🇰🇪❤

Finding Your Own Tribe

Finding your own tribe

Finding a Tribe Through Shared Values

During a wonderful conversation with my taxi driver recently, we talked business and discussed the tariff rivalry between Uber and that of Safaricom’s new Little Cab taxi service.

I was really concerned about the climate of his business but he confidently reassured me, “Don’t worry, it’s business as usual for me.” “Uber and Little Cab customers are actually not my customers,” he added.

He explained that his customers are people who’ve known him over the years and now trust him. Also, that it’s ok if Uber & Little cab users don’t opt for his services, he’s got his own pack hooked onto the value of friendship, loyalty and trust.

Now I know why I’ve been his customer for all these years despite Uber & Little Cab cheap tariffs.

I’ve been investing in a relationship, not money.

Truly, a great business lesson from my dear taxi driver, Victor (aka Baba Daniel).

#BeInspired

WHY I WEPT ON MY 2015 BIRTHDAY

Courage.jpg

Courage is an Attitude

I had just come from Nairobi Garage where I had hosted an early-morning speed networking event for young Nairobi entrepreneurs. It was the very last event. I could not afford to produce another one. So I had a little cupcake and coffee party to thank my guests, and to encourage them to keep on with their good work. I went home.
 
With my handbag still on my shoulder, I sat on the couch, silent.
With a box of stationery still on my lap, I stared at the feedback forms inside.
Warm tears slowly slithered down my cheeks into the box.
Suddenly, a loud cry burst out of my mouth and echoed into the box.
 
I felt like such a big failure!
A failure to my company. A failure to myself. A failure to my parents who’d invested in my business. A failure to my supporters. A failure to my country.
 
After weeping, I sat on the couch for a while, trying to figure out my next steps. Normally, I would write an evaluation of the event and plan for the next one. Then send a message of thanks to guests, along with a networking tip.
 
But this time round, I had no idea what would be my next step.
I could not afford to pay back the loans from my parents because the banks I had visited didn’t offer loans to young unmarried ladies with small enterprises. I got to understand why there are so many microfinance banks for women in Kenya. Despite modernisation, most banks still see women as high-risk customers.
 
I could not reach out to my mentor because our relationship had been tarnished by his sexual advances. He had been in the process of supporting my application for a grant at an embassy, the accounting firm already set to receive the funds. But when he realised that I stand firm on my principles, he blocked the process and sent me this message: “I can’t be a mentor to a person like you. The people I mentor understand how we work. No wonder your startup is not working!”
 
So I put down the box of stationery, slipped off the couch onto the floor and removed my shoes.
I prayed. I wept. I prayed some more.
 
Exposed and vulnerable is what I felt as a human being. But I did not care at that point. If I were to be broken and all vulnerable, I would rather be so before my God who is also my friend. I asked Jesus to show me that all my effort had not been in vain. I asked for His guidance.
 
A wave of calmness came over me and I found the strength to smile. Suddenly, I noticed the chocolate cupcake that had remained from the party I had with my guests. I grabbed it, took a bite, and told myself: “Happy Birthday Michelle! All will be well.”
 
One birthday later, I am so grateful to have my prayers answered.
My parents chose to look over the loans I owed them, and invested in furthering my education in Social Innovation Management at the Amani Institute. So happy that I’ll be graduating this month. Yay!
 
I found the courage to take a few steps back on the idea I had had to focus on the core, which is positive conversations that inspire positive change. Now, I serve change leaders as a coach through a project that celebrates storytelling for leadership.
 
Despite not having surplus funds at the moment, I have never lacked. Opportunities are showing up along my journey. Not to mention the amazing people I’ve had the pleasure to meet and learn from.
 
I’ve got a strong roof over my head, food to put on my table and clothes to keep me warm. Every day, I wake up to new opportunities to serve people by doing what I love.
 
The greatest lesson I have learnt is that…
Failure is a great teacher with an ugly face.
It takes courage to look past the ugly face and see a resource to learn from.
 
Courage is a key word this new year of my life.
 
My hope is that this little story of mine encourages you never to give up on you. And remember…
 
Courage, Prayer & Chocolate cake!
 
Happy Birthday to me

Totally Femme and Able!

A woman is enough.

She can protect herself and her loved ones. 

She can be confident to step out of her doorstep and be safe.

She can be in the company of a man and know that she too can defend.

She can discipline her mind to think heroine and not victim when in danger.

Femme is enough.

 

Action Time!

I believe that women and girls in Nairobi need to be proactive with their personal security. I’ve had close-shave incidents at work, school, in the streets of Nairobi, and in the company of friends, where to be honest I wasn’t equipped enough to defend.

So this is how we can always be prepared heroines …

 

Krav Maga Women's Self-Defence Class Poster

 

Shadow Krav-Maga Female Self-defence Classes

Yuly G, an International Krav-Maga and Karate instructor invited me to join him in signing-up groups of 20 women and girls in Nairobi for self-defence classes. We both believe in proactive over reactive personal security measures. The classes will begin from Sunday, 27th March 2016 and sign-ups are ongoing via the email provided on the poster above.

Ladies will be trained using the Shadow Krav-Maga technique which was initially developed as an unarmed combat system for the Israeli Defense Forces. Its goal is to stop violence without violence. The Karen, Parklands and Jaffery Centre (Lavington) Sports clubs will be the locations for the classes which will be happening on Sunday and Saturday afternoons and Wednesday evenings at 6pm. Ladies can sign-up for the One-day or the 2-month classes as shown below:

+ One-day class for 3 to 4 hours at Ksh. 2,500 or USD $25. Acquired Skills include basic self-defence skills against grabbing, choking, pushing and theft.

+ Two-month class for 16 hours at Ksh. 8,500 or USD $85. One hour per class twice a week, or more hours per class if the group is happy with that. Acquired Skills include basic and advanced self-defence skills from attacks with sharp objects, punching, kicking and ground attacks (like sexual attacks). Psychology self-defence and manipulation of mind and body of attacker. Self-defence by using surrounding objects. In addition, there will be Fitness, Cardio, weight management training.

 

Yuly Profiler

 

How to Prepare for Class

First, ensure that you’re signed-up in a group of 20 ladies for either one of the classes on offer. This is done through sending a request via email on poster above and making an advance payment of 50% (non-refundable) of the total class fee to the Mpesa number that’ll be provided via email. The other 50% can be paid right before class.

Second, once your group of 20 ladies is all set, a date will be confirmed for your class. Yay! All you need for class is proper training gear (long trouser and strong T-shirt), a bottle of water and a towel. Training equipment and shower rooms will be available at the locations. NB: Girls between ages 13-18 should come with a guardian or parent.

Third or even immediately, do share this information with other women and girls so that just like you, they can proactively equip themselves for self-defence. Imagine the news stories changing to: “Nairobi woman defends herself against armed attacker.”

Woman_power_symbol

I choose to be a heroine.

I choose to be prepared.

I choose to be totally femme & able.

 

Let’s do this ladies!

🙂

 

Share your ideas: Don’t get too attached!

Sharing ideas attracts opportunities.

Sharing ideas attracts opportunities.

Truth be told, I was almost giving up on my innovation idea due to a number of failures I experienced on the way. It seemed as if not many believed in the vision I had and the gift it could be for young people in modern Kenya but still, I shared my idea.

Last week, I received a call from a journalist at Reuters Africa who wanted to know more about my innovation. With every question he asked and answer I gave, the doubts I had got cleared.

What really amazed me was how he received my contact details from the very first venue & coffee sponsor who believed in my idea. His name is Pete Owiti, founder and owner of Pete’s Cafe & Burrito Haven. He had humble beginnings and represented Kenya well in the world coffee barrister championships where he is acknowledged as a champion. Despite his great achievements, he believed in my small beginnings.
The young journalist is also a Kenyan coffee lover and it’s just so beautiful how these amazing people believed in my little idea. All I had/have is my story and it was incredibly enough.

So don’t get too attached to how your idea is supposed to happen. Instead, share your idea and stay committed to the change you want to see in the long run. You just never know who might be listening and slowly believing in it. Lots of people out there believe in your idea, you just have to help them realise it by telling them about it. Take a tiny step if you must but never give up!

Love & Sunshine

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