An African Woman

It would take me days, maybe even weeks,months or years to write even half of what an African woman is all about.I like to believe that an African woman is a beautiful woman. I’m not saying other women are not beautiful, but I don’t have first hand information on the other Women, I am an African woman, it’s what I am, it’s what I will always be, and that makes me my own primary source. So I will say it again, and proudly this time, an African woman is a beautiful woman.

It is hard as it is being a woman, any woman for that matter. What with all the double standards, what with all the harshness and pressure society has put on women? Is it harder being an African woman? I really don’t know, I haven’t been anything else, I can’t put myself in another persons shoes because clearly, I can’t be another person, I am who I am, and for that, I have no right to compare.

Having been discriminated against for being a woman, I know how that feels. I also know how it feels to be discriminated against for being African. I have heard a four year old call me a negro, while his mother just sat there and cared not to do anything about it. I have wondered at the ignorance of humans. Yes, I have been discriminated against, for being a woman, for being African, put the two together, and then tell me if African women have it harder than the rest. I still don’t know. Really I don’t.

What I do know for sure is, an African woman is a beautiful woman. Try to tell me otherwise and I will refer you to youtube, listen to the song “An African Woman” by Jomenes boys na band, They talk about an African woman being a quality woman, not a quantity woman, Whats is that all about anyway? I wont try to defend their lyrics coz anyway, half the song is in Luo but the most important line is “An African Woman is a beautiful woman.” And on that we agree. Thanks for the appreciation Jomenes boys na band.

While I think the African woman has been put  on the international map for all the wrong reasons, Yes, there are still cases of forced early marriages on girls less than 12 yrs, Yes,there are still cases of Female genital mutilation, An yes, there are still cases of breast ironing (I didn’t even know about that one!!! I only  just found out what it is!!!) While I abhor all these practices, is that all there is to an African woman?

Can’t you take a moment and appreciate how far she has come? Can’t you understand that she is trying to just hold on to her culture, her tradition, the only thing that gives her any say in a male dominated world? While what she is doing may not be right for her or for her girl child, can’t you take a minute and understand that deep in her heart she feels it is the right thing to do? It was done to her by her mother and she turned out ok, so then why don’t you take a minute and try to explain to her why it is wrong? How it is hurting her daughter as opposed to helping her, can’t you stop judging her and calling her inhumane for just a minute and hear her out?Then can’t you explain to her in depth,with patience and understanding, or is she so hard headed that she won’t hear you out?

Why don’t you understand that she was born to be curvy? why then don’t you appreciate her curves and not call her fat ever so often?Look at her hips, while most women are out there paying millions for implants,she is what she is, her bosom is worth thousands just as it is. While her hair does not grow that long, can you please refrain from calling it kinky and appreciate that it was meant to be curly? Can’t you see her creativity in the million ways she can style that hair? Won’t you take a minute and appreciate her efforts? And her skin, her skin, where do I even begin? whatever happened to black is beautiful? why must you pressure her so that she feels she can’t be beautiful unless her skin was lighter?Her skin, whether the color of ebony, chocolate, or even “yellow” as some of you like to call it, is exactly how it is supposed to be.

Come on African woman wherever you are, don’t fall for all that nonsense. You are beautiful just the way you are. Walk with your head held high, you are who you are. You are an African woman. You are a beautiful woman.


So,what’s the occasion?

Its 7:49 pm and I just got home. I know what you are thinking but yeah, i’m obove 18 and no, I don’t have a curfew  but yeah, 7:49 pm is really late for me, on a week day, when I had duty all day and especially now that I still have duty tomorrow and will have to wake up at 4:00 am. As if that is not enough, it’s raining,and i’m drenched. But see, this is the thing, I don’t really mind. I don’t mind at all, and this is why.

I think I better start from the beginning no? OK, to be honest, I don’t remember the very first time I saw or talked to her, I remember noticing her and thinking she was loud, plus her uniform was always never ironed. I remember being curious and wondering what she was all about. I don’t remember how we started talking but that doesn’t even matter because, somehow we did start talking and once we started, we never stopped.

We have had our moments, like that time she hogged a presentation we had together and made me so pissed!!!We hugged it out in the end, and ended up breaking an incentive spyrometer in the process.(I Totally let her pay for it by the way.) And how about the time we had a class project, and we lost a point coz my “first” sounded like “fast” to her!!! Well that’s all on me,but I guess by now she’s mastered my African accent, you gotta give it to her.I don’t like to sit next to her in class coz when we sit together, all we do is talk about everything and nothing.

Sometimes we don’t see each other for weeks, but when we meet, it’s like we were together the whole time, we come from totally different places, different cultures, different accents (lol tell me about that), even our ages are so so far apart, we are in such different places in our lives right now,sometimes I wonder how two people can be so different yet have so much in common.

She is the reason im I got home at 7:49 pm, all drenched on a weekday, she is the reason that i’m still here, an hour later writing this. She is an amazing friend who I hadn’t seen in over a month, “so whats the occasion?” (You gotta love Corn. Lol.)

Everybody has a story to tell, behind every face,behind every smile, behind whatever emotion,everybody has a story to tell. All we have to do is listen, watch, and learn. So whats her story, i’m still listening,i’m still watching, i’m still learning, but her story, it’s a great story. HAPPY BIRTHDAY Hannahbanjo.

Like rain

Was that pounding I heard at my door? I looked at the time on my alarm clock, 4:30am. No I must be dreaming, I convinced myself. Yet the pounding continued. Someone was definitely knocking at my door. It wasn’t even knocking, it was pounding, continuously, it wouldn’t stop, it sounded like raindrops on an iron sheet roof, only louder, consistent, it went on and on, It just wouldn’t stop!!! It was messing with my head, and it was starting to irritate me, most importantly, it was depriving me of my much needed sleep.

I wanted it to stop. I needed it to go away, It didn’t. So I opened the door. Yes I opened my door at 4:30am. Who even opens their door at 4:30 am?I wondered. Still, I walked over and opened mine. He stood there smiling. His forehead was bleeding. Yet he was smiling. I rubbed my eyes, trying to get the sleep out of them. Definitely I was dreaming, I had to be, this didn’t make any sense!!! Yet there he was, real as could be, smiling at me, with blood dripping from his forehead, at 4:30 in the morning.

I stretched my hand and touched his forehead, he didn’t flinch, he just stood there, smiling, I looked at my fingers, the blood was real alright. He started to shiver, just a little bit, a small shiver that would have gone unnoticed had I not been looking at him so keenly. And he stood there, just smiling.The blood was starting to drip on my door mat, and he looked cold, so I let let him in, cleaned his wound, inquired if he was ok, and made him some hot chocolate. He assured me he was ok, drank his hot chocolate, and told me to go back to sleep.

I woke up in the morning, I woke up at 6am. He wasn’t there. where had he gone in such a Short time? I went to my dustbin, I had to make sure I hadn’t been dreaming, yes, there was my proof, the bloody bandages staring back at me as if daring me to doubt, I went to my door, and sure enough, it was open. So where was he? where could he possibly be? I started to panic. A deep sense of fear gripped me. What was going on? where was he? I called out his name, “Jim?”, but I could only master only a whisper, I called out again,  trying to be louder, He didn’t answer. I wanted to scream, but I couldn’t really. I wanted to find him, wanted to make sure he was ok. If only I could find him, if only could talk to him. Text him, that’s what i’ll do. Better still i’ll call him.

It took me a minute to locate my phone. It rang  before I could dial his number. The caller ID said “dad”. A feeling of dread overcome me. Why would my dad be calling me, at six o’clock on a Saturday morning? He was calm when he told me they had found him, that he was hurt and had been acting bizarre, they didn’t know if he was going to be ok. He was at the mental hospital, and could I go there as soon as possible? Everybody was there and he was asking for me.

I started to cry, I wondered why I was crying at what should have been good news. They had found him, hadn’t they? I should be relieved, and yet the feeling of dread wouldn’t leave me, I knew something bad had happened, if not, something bad was about to happen! Try as I did, I couldn’t shake off the feeling. My crying got louder, it turned into wailing, I could feel myself trembling, sweat was dripping from my forehead. That’s when I heard it, the constant, persistent pounding at my door. Like raindrops on an iron sheet, only louder. Had I been dreaming this whole time?

I woke up. For real this time. A sense of hope filled me, it must have been just a dream, but then I looked at my alarm clock. 4:30am, and yes, it was still there. The constant, persistent pounding on my door that just wouldn’t stop! Like rain drops on an iron sheet, just louder.

Room 118

Menthol and eucalyptus, that’s the smell that hit me the minute I opened the door to room 118. The blinds were drawn,It was dark, took my eyes a moment to adjust. I heard the moans long before I saw her. Then, I saw her. She was standing, holding the side rails so tight her knuckles were white. Her head shaven clean.Her mother was rubbing her back with some balm, hence the menthol/eucalyptus smell. She was writhing in pain. Mourning like a little baby, oblivious of her surrounding, she was somewhere far, somewhere only she knew about,a world where her little body was constantly consumed by pain.

They didn’t even notice my presence. I stood there for a while not knowing what to do, I wished I had looked at her chart before I’d come. why hadn’t I looked at her chart? That way, maybe the situation would have made a little more sense to me. I knew her diagnosis alright, and even if I hadn’t known, it was almost obvious looking at her. I knew her name from the endorsement, but she was nothing like i had expected. And no, I didn’t know her age, and I wished I did. Damn it why  hadn’t  I just looked at the chart? that way, maybe I would have been a little more prepared!

I stood at the door way wondering if I should say anything, If I should go in or just leave,It felt like I was intruding a private moment. A moment of pain shared between a mother and a daughter.Each going through a different pain.

I second guessed myself for a moment there,but  I had to do what I had come to do, because clearly, she was in pain, and in my hands, I held the medication that would at least offer some much needed relief.If only for a while. She didn’t even look at me, her mother nodded, acknowledging my presence. I gave the medication and left, that was their moment, and I was no longer needed there.

I went back to the nurses station and looked at her chart. She was twenty four years old yet she looked like she was seventeen. Her ovarian cancer had been in remission for seven years, but now it was back. Back with a vengeance, like it was out to finish her. It had spread to her lungs, and brain. She’d had her ovaries removed at the age of seventeen, her uterus too. At 17, when most girls are busy worrying about their looks, worrying about boys, at a time in her life when she should have really started to live, She had been going through chemotherapy and radiation, losing her hair and having her organs removed. That loss of her organs had bought her another seven years, but here she was again.

Just twenty four and she would never hold her baby in her arms, She’d forgotten what it meant  to be free,what it meant to be young, she was living everyday as it came, not knowing what to expect. Not even knowing if she would live to see 25. In her eyes was resignation. In her mothers eyes I saw anger and pain, a kind of pain that only a mother could feel.

The monster that is cancer does not discriminate,not against age, gender, economic status, race, religion or even political views.It just attacks and, it holds on with it’s claws so tight. Some have manged to fight it and have won the fight. Some have not been so lucky.They say no pain is like cancer pain, I did not want to see what it was doing to her, I wished there was something more I could do for her, Something I could tell her mother. But what could I do? what could I possibly say?

I will never forget her. I will never forget how she smiled at me later in  day when I went to check on her. A smile so bright it was as if she was saying, “it may have taken over my body but I will never let it have my soul.” And then she thanked me, for what? I don’t know. She was calm when I left,comfortable, at peace. She kept her smile. I closed the door to room 188. My shift was over, but her image remains forever imprinted on my mind.