If I were to describe myself, right now, at this point in life, this is what it would be.
That I am a scholar. By birth. I didn’t choose academics, it chose me. That I can make a study out of anything on earth. Not forgetting that I can study anything, as long as I put my mind to it. That of all women or people I admire, educational excellence is a factor they all share. And though I live in a society that disses professors while praising anyone with money, that doesn’t bother me. Nothing beats that excitement that grips my brain when it learns something new, that is of interest to us. God knows how many times I have retold stories that captivated me. Academic stories. I can turn a PHD thesis into a story, and a story into a research study. That’s who I am. That’s a part of me I hold highly in esteem.
Speaking of stories, I am an avid reader. Sometimes I think I was born to read. Reading books is to me what carbon dioxide is to plants. I read to live and I live to read. With time my reading has become specialized. There was a time I read anything. But even then I was a little more inclined to law stories or ones that included a bit of believability. Then I upgraded to African books only. And there I was exposed to a whole new world of relatable books. I read so many African books till I could no longer hold conversations with many apparent avid readers. At first I felt bad about that. I mean, do you how exciting it is to discuss a book when its still hot in your head? But then being an avid reader means I might read a thousand books more than the people who love to read books. And that’s okay too.
This year on books, I descended on African political books as if I was sent on a mission there by my ancestors. From Somalia to Uganda, to former French colonies, to Kenya especially, I have read and reread genocides, dictators, chaos, capitalism, war and all things in between. I have read quite a few books on that, but I still feel as if I am just beginning to understand our continent. And sometimes reading these books is a heavy journey in itself. It turns my insides, weighs in on me, but I choose my poison. Or who knows, maybe the poison choose me.
The other thing that I am, that many people figure out in seconds of staying with me, is that I am passionate about Africa. It calls unto me. And I answer with every single cell in me. Though born a Kenyan, I wouldn’t die for my country. But for my continent? Now that’s another whole story. Sometimes this comes to bite me in the ass when people are holding conversations about China’s old kingdoms or which whites fought which war in 0030BC. But that doesn’t bother. Do they know that pyramids were the tallest buildings on earth for over 3000 years? Africa is that lover who laid a claim on me even before I could walk, and growing up, I have come to love her right back.
I am also a writer. I realise that this is the year that I have written the least since when I was around 13 years. Writing, especially telling stories while at it, gives me this rush of adrenaline, and I only calm down when the words are forming. Especially telling environmental stories. I havent really concentrated on it, but I have never done a more gratifying thing. I can try and run away as much as I can, but by the end of the day, I am a writer. By birth.
And while travelling to many is a luxury, I call it a necessity to me. The first loan I ever took in my life, I took to travel. To a place I had never been to in my country. Traveling is to me what iron is to man’s red blood cells. When i’m low on its supply, I start withering. Like right now. I haven’t gone anywhere in months. And my mind tired of reminding me that. I plan on going to all African countries. And if I die without achieving that, i’m not so sure the ancestors in my clan will be pleased to see me on the other side. When life gets hard, the thought that I will die without seeing Mogadishu, the Pearl of Africa, or Capetown, the first City in Africa to run out of water in modern times, or Lagos, the unlivable fastest city in Africa, or Kinshasa and Brazzaville, the closest capital cities in the world..that thought that I will cross over to the other side, leaving all these beauties unseen, makes me persevere for just one more day. And even when suicidal thoughts or euthanasia, whichever comes first, takes hold on me, I promised myself that I would rather then trek to a different country and die there. At least I’ll have seen one more African country before dying. This continent means that much to me. It is in my essence as a person.
I am one brave soul too. I have chosen to walk on paths that neither did I know existed nor did I know what awaits me ahead. I have made decisions based on wanting a different life for myself. While not knowing what that different life entails exactly, but choosing the unknown either way.
My bravest thing, has been to choose to live my most authentic life. Everyday, all my life. But I didn’t choose it really. More like it reached a point, at the end of 2017, when I wanted to throw away my whole life . None of it was worth living for. All of it belonged to the dustbin. And right there and then, it was either I died or lived. The choice was mine to make. All along in my life prior to that, I wasn’t living, I just wasn’t dead either. And I was dead tired of that kind of life.
So I chose life. A life that would be alive. That would be worth fighting for. A life that I enjoyed and savoured. And the only way that life would be possible, was to choose my most authentic self, and live her out.
That authenticity kind of life saw me leave Christianity, a religion I had been in since 2003. It saw me visit a therapist, or rather therapists, something I had always associated with the rich and bourgeois folks. It saw me loose friends I had trudged along, and saw me gain a close tribe of people who my soul has found a home in. It saw me travel more, read more, enjoy life more, and even pursue education more. In simple terms, living my most authentic life, or already trying to, opened me up to myself. And to a life worth living.
And still speaking of being a brave person, I count my love life or the existence of it, an act of utmost bravery. My past taught me and showed me a lot of things, but none of them was love. At least not the sane kind of love. I grew up on a love that leaves, a love that sees you a few days in a year, a love that seems conditional, a love that demeans in order to exist, a love that was pegged on so many things except my just being. A love that never saw me, I was invisible.
So for me to dare to seek love or be love, for me to want to experience myself as a lover and as a loved one, that is a feat in itself. Though I walk in with feet trembling and my heart palpitating, I still walk into love. Though my heart has been crushed till I thought it wouldn’t recover, we still stand up and walk.
I have allowed myself to experience love in all its forms. Its been an interesting experience so far. But one thing it’s teaching me, is that I totally love experiencing myself as a lover. Its a role I thoroughly enjoy. And as long as my heart still exists, we shall go into the field, the risk of it being broken notwithstanding.
I am so many more things. A teacher. A creator. A lover of plays and all things entailing stories. A friend. A daughter. A short haired short person. An intelligent woman. A gracious sometimes shy Lady. A beautiful human. A big sister to two lovely siblings. An employee of the government I have dissed the most. A photographer whose work I plan on turning into art pieces.
May it be recorded that, as of this moment in life, I love being Me. I Am Who I Am. And its the most alive feeling ever.