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The African Iris

The Birth of the African

child-play-wallpaperIts been long, and a lot of things have happened such that if I disseminate all of it at once, the flow will cease.

In the past several months that I have been an international African student in America, I have seen a lot, and learnt a lot about myself, about my friends, about this new home. Being African to me has become more and more meaningful. This is to mean that it has become more relevant. I guess it becomes relevant when you leave Africa. And this being the case, I have come to notice those small tiny feelings of connection to a place I call home that I couldn’t see when I was back at home. As is the case. Like the babushkas of Chernobyl [babushka is the Russian translation for grandmother; but we all know that Russian is such a beautiful language and the actual written term is “бабушка”]. They returned to their homes, to live there even after the Chernobyl Incident [Okay, maybe incident is not the right term, maybe disaster is more appropriate] because they wanted to be home. 

So, straight to the point, it’s quite clear to me that I am African when I am out of Africa. Not when I am back home in Nairobi [Actually, somewhere close to Nairobi], but when I am out of Africa. Therefore, African has been born, only out of Africa- Boom! 💣

Gums and Popsicles

apology-accepted-01I’m sorry America, for being here.

I’m sorry for being the only black Kenyan in this place.

I’m sorry that I breathe your air, and giving out funny gasses when I’m full of beans and eggs

I’m sorry I often do not know what o choose to eat because there are very many choices, so I eat the same thing every single time. – Burger and Pepsi

Because that’s what I see you eating

I’m sorry that I do not speak as well as you because we are programmed to say words as they are and I have to make myself sound funny each time I speak so that I don’t have to Come again

I’m sorry that every time I have to use money, I have to convert to Kenyan shillings in my head so that I can turn on that Kenyan instinct that tells me if something is just outrageously expensive

I’m sorry that everyone is so white, and everyone seems to know how to become more white

And I’m sorry that this place is too hot like my mama’s oven

 

I do apologize for any inconveniences caused and do hope that you do not burn my country down

With Guns and Grenades

Or rather Gums and Popsicles

Stateless Empire of a Kind

Well, today, I learnt how small Nairobi really is. It is no longer the city that I used to read of in the story books. The grandiose place, where anything is possible. It is no longer the place where civilization exists and where the epitome of humanity can be found. In fact, this picture was crushed today in a matter of minutes.

tiny-earth

So, I apparently, had to get some sport shoes, and as always, referred to my ever-reliable mother: Google Maps, to look for online stores. And when I found one, it was 40 streets up from my dorm. I didn’t feel like taking a cab, or an Uber, because my mother had recently lectured me on how I need to draw up a budget for my money recently. And so, to justify to myself that I could manage my money, I told myself that I will walk up to that store. So, I gobbled up my egoistic decision and crossed the many streets. Believe me, this is the same exact reason why cabs and Ubers exist in NYC- So that you can take them and stop being so fit and all-Fitness is not for you. Cmon, you are now in the fattest nation on the planet.

Fast forward, the streets begin to grow, the buildings are taller, and now I see why people say New York is a crowded city. Yet, you must understand that this is not from the eye of a typical Kenyan. This is the American definition of crowded-where if you touch me while I am walking, I feel like I am suffocating because you are breathing my air.img_20160909_180933

I see now… I see all of them. All the stores, all the designers that we see in the magazines that somehow find their way to the shores of Kenya.

ALDO, Anne Fontaine, Armani, Burberry, Bvlgari, Dior, Clarks, Converse, Diesel, Guess, Gucci, Levi’s, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Versace, Nike

Now, bear in mind, that I might just have simply copy pasted all these names from google, which is true because I couldn’t spell some of the names right. And yeah, there is a certain rush that comes to your blood when you are around all this glamour, all this taste, all this qualitricks. Your mind begins to play tricks on you, and do either of two things: You either get over your head and all you do is keep on taking photos of all the buildings so that you could show your friends what they are missing (which in fact you are also missing), wanting to go in but will be stopped at the door because they apparently can tell that you will most likely walk in and out with nothing or you just ignore all the noise because you know you are not of that class. I think its better to just ignore all of this noise all around you, they are screaming noises. Just ignore. But as always, I had to show you, yes you, proof that I was here.

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By nature, and I believe that it’s a good thing to want, I wanted. I wanted to go in, I wanted to go and feel what makes something a designer signature, I wanted to walk out and someone says that I got taste. I wanted them all. And when you want, you imagine. I imagined myself. By God’s grace, I will one day be what I imagine. One day, God will lift me into the stores, and shower me with what is necessary to buy them all. Because God is gracious and faithful. I believe in him and therefore I will receive. He will bring me here next time, not to look but to take. He will bring me here next time, not to salivate but to eat. He will bring me here not to crave, but to have. Now, this might be a prayer, and I might say Amen, but I put in my earphones, put on Drake, and go to school at this point.

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PS: I completely have no idea what my title has to do with this post

Welcome to America

americaSo, I am here, in this foreign land. And not surprising that this is my first time to leave the beautiful land that I call home. Not that I am homesick or anything yet. But it has been beautiful. Beautiful in the sense that when you get to see new places for yourself, your visual spectrum is magnified into a larger picture, and your mind just opens up to more. Like you know the way you felt when your parents didn’t come for you that one time, and you had to follow your friends all the way to the bus stop, and after they left, you suddenly realised that when you looked up and all around you everything looked so huge, and so confusing and so daunting. This feeling, is one that I will always remember. Unfortunately, I did not have this feeling this time around coz obviously, in my hand I had my mother(Google Maps) But I call her my mother because what would I freaking do without her. How would I survive without her. She is just awesome. She takes me everywhere. Whenever I wanna do some shopping or eat some ice cream or watch a movie, she is always willing to help. What a lovely mother. Unlike the one who I left in Kenya, who told me,”You’ll be fine,” as I walked into the airport, by myself, for the first time, alone. Well I do love her, because she worried too much that I would get lost. And it was her worry that challenged me to not get lost.

cab driver

Well, for starters, I had a taxi cab driver wait for me at the airport and for the first time, (I believe this only happens in the US) he opened the door for me. Oh my God. I almost felt sorry for him. Why did I feel sorry for him? I don’t know. Maybe its coz in Kenya, I would have just stood there outside the door for hours and the driver would have given me the eyes. I know that you know those eyes: They look at you like “Do you want to get in or what??”

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I cant bear to stress how dirty I felt once I came to New York. In Nairobi, you don’t ever feel dirty, in fact, you take a shower every day to freshen up on the dust that stuck on your legs as you ran errands in Nairobi the previous day. But here, I looked at these streets, and bent down at them, dragged my fingers on the pavement like a silly boy, and looked at them fingers. Clean as fuck. I looked at the strip of dust that lay on my shoes from Nairobi and felt sick, sick at how this could happen in a city. Well, its New York.

bathroom (2)

As I grabbed the towel at the hostel and headed to the shower, I switched on the water and was struck. Struck not by lightning or by light from above, but struck at the number of shower gels and soap that the hotel staff had provided. As a Kenyan, I am used to that tiny little travel soap that I would see wrapped and useful only for one use. So, I took them, one by one and they were all full. Maybe this is ushamba, but I tried them all, applying a little of one brand followed by a different brand, as the water wiped off one I applied that area with another. Maybe this is what they mean by the American dream. Or not. But well, I am here.

Welcome to America

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