#MondayMusings: Of Water Shortages, Politricks and Hospitals

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There is no water in Nairobi.

If you are fortunate enough to have water in your house and you live in Nairobi then please don’t brag! We have not had water at our apartment for the last month and a half! In fact, it was only yesterday that water began to trickle into our tank so it can be pumped.

I envy those apartments that have underground tanks plus tanks on the roof. Hao wamejipanga vizuri.

The rains failed. Long rains are supposed to come during the months of March to May (I think) followed by cold season from June to August, then follow by a short autumn and then short rains from October to mid December.

That didn’t happen. And it has adversely affect Nairobians.

I miss shags life! In shags, you don’t have to worry so much about availability of water. Kama umejipanga poa you can have borehole water, rain water and council water. Three sources! If you plan your housing carefully you can live really well and still be able to mind the health of Mother Nature.

Why should I care about politics?

A friend of mine on Facebook wrote something about Uhuru being a good guy but hanging out with bad company (read WSR). And because of that bad company, his legacy will be tarnished.

If you’ve been reading my posts, I rarely ever write about politics. I just don’t like politics. I don’t even watch TV to begin with!

But his comments made me wonder whether I should begin to care a little more about who is leading us.

The other day I tweeted my support for Boniface Mwangi’s bid to be elected as MP for Starehe. This morning on my way to my Dr I saw his small posters plastered all over the foot bridge at Ngara. I asked myself whether he really thought about Nairobi when he was busy littering it with his campaign posters. Same case with the other contenders. There should be a ban on littering especially during the campaign period.

Why ulcers? WHY?

This past few weeks I’ve been ill. Ulcers. Flared up like a motherfather! It is excruciating and intolerable. Being less privileged to go to a private hospital means that the community hospital has to do and we’ve got to contend with long queues and less than amicable service.

To be honest, St. Francis Community Hospital is one of the best hospitals in the Roysambu-Kasarani-Mwiki area. It is big, it’s got all the bells and whistles of a large hospital, it’s got both dental and optical clinics and their wards are not so cramped. It is truly a community hospital. And to add to that, it is very affordable! I mean, consultation is 500 bob! And if you’ve gone the first time but need to go for subsequent visits you don’t need to pay consultation again. I was seen by a friendly doctor who was concerned about my bouts of ulcer incidents and kept wondering why I hadn’t gone for an endoscopy. They do minor surgery too. They’re the deal people. 

I think that, as millennials and “middle class” people, we tend to assume that community hospital are overcrowded and poorly managed. Not all of them are. We assume that the only care we can tolerate is private care. We end up using a lot of money for a service that is not that different from the one I got. I used to feel that way. Then I had to restructure my standards of living. And I realised that I don’t have to get private care to feel like I’ve gotten good care. I am receiving good care at a community hospital and I am not ashamed to say it.

Ultimately the important thing is that I have received care and treatment. Whether it was at Aga Khan or at St. Francis, I still got care, still had lab tests done, still got my meds and still can do the endoscopy. The difference is that I will have spent less than half the amount I would have spent at Aga Khan.


Let me leave you with one quote:

Do unto others as you would like to see being done to you. Love unconditionally and expect nothing in return. Smile as often as you can because sometimes all one needs is to see someone smiling at them and their soul is uplifted.

~ Barbzy

#FeminismWednesday: Ciswoman, Transwoman, All women. Different Together.

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Just read this article by @oliviabroustra and I am here wondering, what the hell?

Here are my thoughts…

“Saying that because you are a woman, your penis is a female penis and should be seen as a vagina in change rooms and woman spaces, while women constantly still deal with being sent dick pics, and being flashed, and forced to see penises when we never consented to. As a rape survivor this can be especially difficult for me.”

Yoh!! Why why why?? So preop transwomen who go to womens bathrooms flash their dicks around to the rest of the (cis) women???

“A celebrity rich famous woman who had been a man for so so many years and a woman for very few winning a women’s award over women who had far far more right.”

Even I was shocked…but then…America!

“Telling lesbian woman they are transphobic if they do not overlook a pre op trans woman’s penis.”

Gosh! As my fiance says, these genitals are being given so much power than they already have!

“And I am not saying you don’t have a right to transition, you do. But I have a right to natal born woman spaces, I have a right to the language that I am barely allowed to use currently. I have a right to not be forced to see a penis in a changing room, just because you see it as a vagina. And I am generally the one ok with nudity, but as a rape survivor, sometimes I don’t want to be exposed to a penis which is why I sometimes need women changing rooms. And no you identifying as female doesn’t decrease the shock value when I suddenly see a penis and wasn’t expecting too.”

HAHAHAHAHAHA!!! So, again I ask, in the US, transwomen go to changing rooms and wag their penises at ciswomen’s faces every damn time??? Chei!!

“Germaine Greer faced a similar crucifixion when she attempted to discuss the need to acknowledge the difference between a woman who spent 50 years as a man and is now a woman and is winning women’s awards and being hailed as a role model and that women were left to feel like they were being told that now men are better at being women than women.”

This is where people don’t get it. And I don’t think cispeople will ever get it. Caitlyn Jenner was a woman from the beginning. Just because she started living as a woman in her sixties doesn’t negate the fact that she was a woman “pretending to be a man” for all her 50 years of existence. Yes, she probably did receive male privilege and benefited from it, but it still doesn’t remove from the fact that she was a woman who was treated and referred to as a man for 50 years. That life, that takes a whole lot of courage. And for her to finally get out of the hole she was in and become who she truly is, that took courage. And it was because of this that she got the award.

“I am watching my birth control rights, my abortion rights, my rights to toplessness, fall away. I am watching sexual predators strut around the white house. I am watching women feeding their children be yelled at harassed and shamed for the most natural act. I am being forced to see my own body as only sexual every fucking day when I get catcalled or try to go online dating. I am forced to either conform to men’s standards on my body or risk being ostracized by them. Even choosing not to wear makeup, even choosing not to want motherhood, brands me as not woman enough.”

This paragraph speaks of “women” struggles as if it only applies to cisgender women. What about women who ‘transitioned’ early in life and are now struggling with getting pregnant, being cat called, right to toplessness (because they too have boobs!), breastfeeding in public (yea! transwomen also breastfeed, and so do transmen), downright misogyny, sexism and patriarchy! What’s the issue here???

“…women who were born women…”

Yoh! So transwomen were born men? Transmen were born women???? Isn’t this transphobic already? As you go around saying “It isn’t transphobic when…” haven’t you already done the same thing you don’t want to be done to you?

Finally, what about the transgender men? Don’t they have vaginas? How come you haven’t mentioned them anywhere in your article? You speak of lesbians yes, but what about the, as you probably would say, “men who were born women”? What about their vaginas? Haven’t they, in their pretransition years, also have similar experiences to yours? Do they ever feature in your arguments? Or do their experiences don’t matter anymore because they’ve “embraced” masculinity??

Pray tell, how??


We will never end this conversation people. There will always be someone who thinks differently from the other one.

Pamoja twaweza!

#WCW: Adelle Onyango @ADELLEO

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My #WCW for today is none other than @ADELLEO!!

I’m sure anyone who listens to KISS 100 knows who I am talking about. Adelle Onyango has become one of Kenyan Radio’s biggest personalities of this year. Not too long ago she was doing the mid-morning show until mid this year when she took over from Kalekye Mumo. Despite the rumours about how Kalekye left and she took over, Adelle has been doing a banging job holding fort and besting Shaffie at his game! #TeamADELLE has grown strong and it even gave rise to #TeamShaffie.

One of her widely known projects is Project SHE. At the beginning of 2015, Adelle Onyango begun collecting stories of conquest from women across the world. They would share a challenge they faced in their life that they eventually overcame. ProjectSHE partnered with the Technical Engineering College of Pretoria, South Africa and the students of the college, sent in their stories. The male participants would share a female icon that they draw inspiration from. On the 1st of April 2015, Adelle Onyango begun sharing a story per day. (Source)

To see more of her inspiring work, see www.adelleonyango.com.

Oh and she ain’t one to take bullying lying down!


Therapy Tuesday

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Today is Therapy Tuesday.

I use this day to talk about things that I am going through, things that most people don’t like to admit.

I use this day to see my therapist too. In that one hour, I get to analyze my life in the recent weeks, or sometimes to work on something I have been struggling with.

Today I want to talk about Bipolar Mood Disorder. I am bipolar. I don’t know how else to say it and even the moment I say it I am reminded of my mother’s words castigating me stating “I shouldn’t say that!”.

It is not something I take lightly. I am on medication. For the first time in almost 4 years I feel in control of my mind and thoughts. I feel like I can finally conquer this demon called DEPRESSION.

From 2012 to 2016 my life has been a literal up and down. Around November to around April, depression takes over. Then May to October, I go on a manic episode. In those years, it was like clockwork.

I remember recently being told, “Knowing you Barbra, you will be excited for two months and then disappear for six months!”

Those words stung. They stung like hell. And to be honest, I wanted to insult that person back. Someone who apparently was going through depression told me that. How unfortunate.

But I stayed calm. I told myself, “You know what, Barbra, this too shall pass. You will be stable for a long time. You will conquer Bipolar. It does not define you. January will come and you will still be functional. Just as long as you stay on track and take your meds religiously, all will be well. It shall be well!”

There is power in the words we tell ourselves. There is a lot of power in the thoughts we have. We are our thoughts. Our thoughts shape who we are. The moment we realise this and keep reminding ourselves about this is the moment we learn how to take control of our lives.

It took me a long, long time to understand this. I learnt. I am still learning.

All is well!

Pearls And Heels: Barbra Muruga

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Today on Pearls And Heels we feature Barbra Muruga. Barbra Muruga is  a Queer African Feminist Writer/Blogger. She is also a social justice activist with a focus on feminism and gender justice. Barbra is currently the Executive Director ofEATHAN.org (coming soon!); an organisation focused on eliminating transphobia in East Africa through awareness raising. She is also a Gender & Sexual Diversity Research Consultant and she  conducts research and conduct workshops/sessions on gender, sex, sexuality, identity and expression.

Barbra says, “other than that, I am a simple girl with big dreams. I love to cook, watch movies/documentaries and read books. I’m pretty fun to be around but I often prefer to be at home with my family. In my spare time, I blog atmuruga.me.”

barbra muruga 2

  1. Describe your typical day?

My work is diverse. I don’t have your average “day job” and as such, my typical day is just not so typical! On average, I wake up at 7.00 AM and prepare for my tasks for the day. Often this involves going through my emails and either filling out proposals or developing a research report. Sometimes I have meetings on end and once a while I am attending a conference or conducting a training/workshop. But my best days are when I have nothing on my plate for the day! Chill time! My family still doesn’t understand what I do lol.

  1. What did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be a Banker. I remember admiring my aunt who is a banker and her life and I thought to myself, “I could do that too!”. I shifted my schoolwork to get into banking. I did accounting in high school when everyone else was doing commerce (remember the days when we did 14 subjects in high school?). I went on to study ACCA but I never finished. I did eventually become an accountant, but I had a calling into social justice activism and here I am now. I still call myself an accountant though!

  1. If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?

I often wonder “What if I finished my ACCA training? Where would I be?”. Then I realise that in this world, the Universe knows where you are at the moment you are in and why you are in that moment. I also realised that everything happens for a reason. The good, the bad, the nasty. All of it. So I am sure I wouldn’t change a thing. I still wonder what kind of life I would be leading had I not made the decision to transition into social justice work.

  1. What would you say are the top three skills needed to succeed at your job?

I believe there are many skills required in my job. The top three that come to mind are:

Integrity. There is something about someone who has integrity. Integrity is the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness. It is generally a personal choice to uphold oneself to consistent moral and ethical standards. It is a quality/skill that really puts you in a position to be trusted with large amounts of money in this line of work and/or large delicate projects with tight deadlines.

Patience. Sometimes I do not get the necessary support I need for some of my projects and I experience serious delays. It requires some special kind of patience to be able to wait for funding for six months or so, for example. Other times I work on a project for three months or so and the pay comes three more months later. It can be quite a challenge if I haven’t put measures to ensure I am okay and that work still goes on.

Strategy. Some people throw this word around since it sounds ‘professional’. I believe that strategy is a skill everyone needs to develop. I am still developing it myself! Being able to achieve high level goals/plans in times of uncertainty and often with limited resources is a fete not everyone can achieve.

  1. As a professional how is it working in the Nairobi? Is Nairobi open to what you do or what could be better?

Nairobi, where it is right now, is perfect for my work. It is such a diverse city with many diverse people.  I wouldn’t want to work from anywhere else in East Africa. I know that sounds awful, but, well… strategy!

Many of us believe that everyone is the same. Yet everyone is different. We try to copy one another in our careers or our social lives yet we forget just how unique each of us was created. I believe that if we all put just a little more effort into finding that unique thing about us, we can better ourselves.

  1. What motivates you?

My personality is INFP, “The Mediator”. I am a people pleaser. I seek to find the good in everyone. I am motivated by my work because I get to please people. I get to do things that go on to improve the lives of others. That makes me happy and drives me to keep on doing what I do.

  1. How do you define success?

Success for me is when I have achieved happiness. If I am happy, I am successful. I do not believe that you need a big job, big car, big house etc to be deemed successful. All material wealth deteriorates and nothing is really definite except death. So find out what makes you happy, and go get it.

  1. Who has been your greatest inspiration?

My mom. Sounds kinda corny but she is my motivation. My mom is the kind of person who takes adversity with stride. I’ve struggled with a couple of ‘illnesses’ in the last few years (including depression) and she has been my rock all through! I want to be like her.

  1. What is your favorite aspect of your job?

Traveling to new countries, new cities! I absolutely love that. For example, I have never been to Brazil. This year, I get to go there for a week and I am simply elated. I wish it was for football though.

I also love meeting new people in the different spaces I occupy. I get to interact with people from so many diverse backgrounds and when we share our stories we connect and I learn from them, they learn from me. It inspires my work and gives me a better understanding of how to do my job.

  1. What would you say are the key elements to being successful?

Many of us believe that everyone is the same. Yet everyone is different. We try to copy one another in our careers or our social lives yet we forget just how unique each of us was created. I believe that if we all put just a little more effort into finding that unique thing about us, we can better ourselves and be successful. The rest will come to you, if you listen.

  1. What advice would you give somebody just starting out in your line of work?

I would tell them what I tell my younger friends/colleagues/cousins etc. who just completed University or college. Find an internship and grow from there. There are a lot of NGOs that have internship opportunities. I started this line of work when I took the risk to leave a paying accountancy job and go do a six-month internship. I was not sure whether I would be absorbed into the organisation but that was my goal and I worked hard to achieve it. Eventually they did absorb me in and as they say, the rest is history.

As I said, work hard. Do not under-estimate the power of networking. Be careful of people who want to use you (especially us ladies!). Practice patience. Do not jump from one place to another, employers do not like a busy CV. A busy CV says you are not someone they can trust to work with them for a long time. Most of all, find what you like most, what makes you happy, and work towards it. You many need to work in places that are not in what you want but always remember your goal and work towards it. It will happen. Instant gratification and success is utopic.

  1. What has been your most satisfying moment in terms of career?

The most satisfying moment of my career was when I decided to leave a high paying job and start my consultancy. It was also the most stressful! I still wonder what if? …But I know that had I stayed, I would have been miserable. I am happy where I am now.

  1. What makes you happy?

That’s simple. Spending time with my family and close friends. And seeing the people I serve improve their lives.

  1. What are your hobbies? What do you do in your non-work time?

I like to cover myself in a duvet on the couch and catch up on the latest series or movies. Often I will prefer to watch Nat Geo or Discovery Science because I discovered I learn better through watching documentaries. I love to cook so every weekend I challenge myself to make something new. But because of work and travel, this goal is yet to be realised fully :-(. I also take time to write on my blog, do some social media and just chill. On occasion, I love to go on long walks and ride bikes at Karura.

  1. Where you see yourself in around 10 years?

My life plan says that in 10 years I will be married, hopefully retired, owning a home and taking care of my children. I do not want much. I want to be happy with my family and work in a space that doesn’t infringe on my happiness.

If you would like to interact with Barbra you can find her on twitter at @brbzy.

This article was first featured on Potentash.com and written by @Potentash