We stood huddled on the men’s side, waiting patiently for the ferry to cross the ocean. The sun screamed its lungs out vehemently, hard to tell rain had angrily fallen an hour before in that 11am searing heat.
Chris Mukasa, Nuru Bahati Shukrani, Ryan, our photographer and I had just completed breakfast at the Young Women’s Christian Association – YWCA Kenya, Likoni Branch, and were gearing up for an easy afternoon at the Mombasa Beach, a day after the first session of Fatuma’s Voice Mombasa. Here, a blind woman shook the coins in her borrowing plate, guiding herself with a rod, and in that silence, a man blowed our national anthem tune from something that sounded like a tube. As he went line by line, it felt as if the tune questioned us,
”Are you here?
Are you listening to the cries of your country?”
My mind traveled back to the previous day’s heated conversations on where men are. How we ran out of space. How people kept streaming in as late as 7pm when the event was almost done but still willed to pay for the few minutes they were there. How both men and women engaged in thoughtful exchanges. The music. The poetry. The clapping and applauding. The faces of mothers who had come with their children. It was unbelievable.
Gates opened. People moved into the huge vessel. I’m told it carries upto 2000 and about 60 cars when full, but thank God it was a Sunday. We didn’t have to go through the menace that’s there on weekdays. The ocean was still, like the face of Nairobi town on a Sunday morning. And the voice of Aretha Franklin visited me quietly. Her song ”A Summer Place”. Bliss knows how to play.
On the other side, matatus and tuktuks stood in wait.
”Kilifi! Malindi! Kilifi! Malindi!
The mention of Malindi always gives me jitters. Sophia. Domitila. Vasco Da Gama. Malindi Beach. December 2004.
Kasichana Riziki Mumba‘s uncle Jimmy had hosted us for breakfast on the day of our arrival. Such warm people. A godly home. We were heading there to lay our luggages before leaving for a photoshoot by the shores.
It was overwhelming the support we got from the Mombasa people. They had waited a long time for Fatuma’s Voice. And indeed, the turn up proved it. These things touch me. People coming together for meaningful purpose. It’s the fellowship God requires of us – to gather to enrich ourselves by speaking to each other, ironing out issues that trouble community. It was amazing to see them, both young and old, voicing their minds out. Two years of running this forum has taught me that people are usually willing to say what they think if only they are given a chance. But many of us are never given that opportunity, to even contribute to the well being of situations in our family or society settings out of cultural misconceptions and sometimes religious differences.
I thought about many things when we got to the beach. Nuru, Kasichana, Chris and I kept conversing sometimes together, sometimes in pairs. I wondered how interdependent human beings were created. Like we can never really be okay without people around us.
I’m recovering from mild anaemia and amoeba. Doctor said I need to slow down my life because I push my body too hard yet not eating enough and not resting at all. It took me to the deception that work can sometimes be. How indeed there is a satisfaction that comes with things getting done well but if work is your everything, there is a part of you that will not be at peace. Some of us use work as escapism from loneliness or pain. I think I did that at some point this year but never anticipated that it would affect me this much. A good life is balanced.
The pressure to perform affects our belief systems, our relationships and philosophies. We need people to talk to about nothing, more regularly, about our spirituality; to lay off our stresses and pains, to wash away our sorrows. So I have resorted to slowing things down, to speak more to my friends, to rest and to create more time for prayer and meditating, regardless of the many responsibilities I am in charge of, because really, when my body’s down, there is only so much I can do. This has helped me think more clearly over certain important things.
But there is a lot we misinterpret in our attempt to create a life for ourselves, albeit selfishly. The way I think it is also selfish to expect love without opening up.
I came to understand that all the knowledge you gather and information you feed do not mean a thing if they don’t help you to live with others. Your mind just becomes an inflated balloon. I pray that even as I give my heart in serving at Fatuma’s Voice, the way we help teach people on various things around their lives, so shall they teach me about mine.
More photos: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.456108721259554.1073741889.212487138955048&type=3