“He told me not be so naive”. Those are Lupita Nyong’o’s words captured in an op-ed for the New York Times in October. Lupita was retelling a sexual harassment episode at the hands of Hollywood movie mogul Harvey Weinstein. Lupita broke her silence after 7 years, joining a long list of Hollywood actresses who exposed the movie producer’s predatory sexual behaviour. That was just the beginning. The Harvey Weinstein case exposed crocodiles lurking underneath calm waters.
The editor sends a message in the middle of the week. About a picture on whatapp. Have you seen this? The woman in the picture is wearing a gaudy wedding dress with her face covered by a bridal veil. She holds the hand of a little girl dressed for a chilly morning. The little girl has a shortwave radio strapped over her shoulder. In other hand she holds a placard, that reads, “Need for a husband?” Included are, Her name, the full disclosure of child from a previous relationship, her child’s age and her phone number. They are standing in the heart of Nairobi, off Tom Mboya street in one of the busiest parts of the CBD.
What do I think?
A Daughter’s lament to the father she never knew on Father’s Day.
Words: Mary Jane.
After a busy day at work, I called my mum to check up on her. She running an errand on my behalf. We spoke for a bit about stuff before she abruptly asked if I had received ‘THE NEWS’.
I thought of her goats, hundreds of them. She had probably made a killing selling them off at profit. Yet, my heart instantly felt heavy because she repeated the same question and I sensed some hesitation in her voice.
No goats had been exchanged for cash.
“He died”, she pronounced.
All I said was okay, and hang up.
You see, ‘he’ was my dad.
My older brother who was a decade my senior, had a collection of unusual stories. In his stories, the humour was found in the irony of life. Once he told a story of a motor mouth character he knew of at the Kisumu bus park. A gifted hustler who could talk the hind legs off a donkey. His stage name was Olago Queen Cake aka Olago Q.C. He could be entertaining but most of his notoriety came from his regular display of crass behaviour. His insults were straight out of the book of an underpaid and overworked cane cutter in Awendo. People avoided a verbal spat with him for the fear of a public humiliation. He was an aggressive man who never passed up an opportunity to get into an argument. Over time, he had built up a reputation as a guy who liked to stir trouble and some came to admire his audacity.
There is a story of a storeyed building that housed a restaurant and lodging facilities that caught fire. The building was engulfed in smoke and good Samaritans in the area rushed in to help put out the fire before the fire brigade arrived. To their utter surprise, they ran into stark naked couples running away from the burning building with bundles of clothes wrapped in their arms.
It was a simple choice between survival and dignity and survival won. All this occurred on a sunny Friday afternoon in Nairobi.