What Feminism Means To Me

Every day I get better at knowing that it is not a choice to be an activist; rather, it is the only way to hold on to the better parts of my human self. It is the only way I can live and laugh without guilt.
― Staceyann Chin

I was recently introduced to the amazing work of Feminist Spoken word artist Staceyann Chin  and all I can say is that I hope to have the opportunity to meet this sistah souljah one day.  I feel the fire that burns in her belly as I strive to make sense of the spaces I occupy every day. When asked by another African feminist sister #WhatFeminismMeansToMe, I said it is “Listening to the song of my soul and dancing to her tune.”  

Feminism means lots of things to me – it is the lens through which I make sense of the world, and it’s exciting to connect with other young feminists around the world thinking about these issues.  Here’s what Jessica Horn, an African feminist poet & co-creator of Our Space is Love had to say on the FRIDA – Young Feminist Fund  facebook page:

I LOVE feminism. Yes I do. I LOVE the feeling of being part of a mass-movement of everyday people constantly messing with the patriarchal order of things, celebrating women, girls, people who transgress gender norms, asking why things are so unequal for all kinds of people, and offering new ways to frame our lives as human beings. Yes. I love feminism. And I love knowing that my feminism grew out of my mother’s revolutionary love and political consciousness. Yes a Ugandan woman born before independence- and feminism is hers and she helped me make it mine.

I couldn’t agree with you more sis! My feminism was definitely inspired by my mother, even though she might not realize it. By the time she was my age, she had dealt with more than I can even imagine dealing with in my entire life time, and yet she is one of the most loving, non-judgemental, spiritually grounded, wise, and powHerful women I know. Thank you for making me me. I love you mama!

So friends, what does feminism mean to you? Please share your comments here or join the conversation on twitter by using the hash tag #WhatFeminismMeansToMe.

Feminist Love & Light!

Zawadi

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When I Dare To Be Powerful

When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid. – Audre Lorde

 

I was reminded of Audre Lorde this morning when I read an Autostraddle blog, shared by my Afropolitan #Afrofunky feminist siSTAR @sheroxlox, that celebrates black powHerful queer women, during this year’s Black History Month.

At a time in Kenya when social media tools such as twitter and facebook are being used in many different ways, I find that I am learning a lot about my role in the whole picture.  It was great to see the impact of our social media advocacy efforts when we raised the story of my other sisSTAR Joyce Muthoni’s son who was nearly castrated by a city council officer last week.   But because we chose to raise the plight of several communities that face brutality in the hands of Kenya’s city council officers, the attention has now been shifted to focus on the more sensational issues such as male prostitution and homosexuality.  Unfortunately, recent attempts by the media to cover these issues, have also created a space for some of the most violent and homophobic voices in Kenya to spew hate speech.  It still baffles me why people are so quick to speak, act, hate, when it comes to issues of sexuality, especially when they involve two adults who have the right to make their own sexual choices. I hope we can continue to act or speak about broader social injustices such as violence, corruption, patriachy, rape, female genital mutilation, the fact that hundreds of thousands of cancer patients are dying in pain because pharmaceutical companies can’t make significant profits off of the production of morphine, and the list goes on.

But today, I want to focus on stories of power, and so I invite you to read these five short stories shared by Kenyan and Ugandan women engaged in sex work.  The stories shared in “When I Dare to be Powerful” still inspire me to this day, and it’s amazing to see what these womyn have achieved with their communities in just 2 years since the publication of this book.  I pray for their continued health and safety even as they do frontline activism, which we all know exposes us to all kinds of attacks.  May I also continue to grow every day, and learn how to use my words, my actions, and my inner wisdom and power, to create the world I wish to see.  When I fail, my I learn, go back to Zero, and create afresh.

Peace and Blessings to all who have started reading my blog. I’m new to this and I have to say it is an incredible journey.

With that, I leave you with a picture I took at the amazing Kuona Trust Arts Organization in Nairobi, Kenya.

 

Second Chances

This has been a really intense week! And although I have soooo much to be grateful for in my life, there are moments like last night when I just want to curl up in a corner, cry my heart out, and give up. But I can’t. And I won’t. There is too much work to be done, and I know I want to leave this world a better place than I found it. Yesterday’s protest against #KanjoBrutality in Nairobi, is just one example of the kind of toxicity that we need to get rid of in this world.

I woke up this morning and really needed encouragement. So I turned to my Journey Cards by Brandon Bays and Kevin Billet.  I picked Second Chance, Flexibility & Physical Health.  Here’s what Second Chance reads:

Have you given up on something or someone recently?  Have you let go of a dream or settled for second best in some way? Have you limited or contained yourself somehow?

 

It’s time to give yourself a second chance.  Know that life is like a flow, a stream of consciousness that is constantly, wondrously changing.  No two moments are the same.

 

Life loves us so much that each moment it offers us a blank page to write our life anew. It’s time to pick up that dream, reach for that star, start afresh. Allow your natural wisdom and Grace to guide you. Know that each life experience teaches us profoundly, if we but listen deeply. And know that each day is a fresh start, each hour is a pristine new beginning. Know that every new second is your second chance. 

 

I hope this message touches, moves or inspires you in some way today. Let’s spread the love in this world people.

Peace & Blessings!

Zawadi

 

End Police Brutality in Kenya!

“Today it is someone’s child, tomorrow it could be yours.”

I write this blog with a heavy heart. I heard this story late yesterday, but didn’t even have the energy to blog about it. I still don’t, so I’ll simply share the email I got from Blessol Gathoni, a fellow Kenyan sistah souljah activist, and then head to the #KanjoBrutalityprotest at the Freedom Corner, in Nairobi’s Uhuru Park, starting at 9am, today (February 2nd).

Joyce left home Sunday afternoon to come clean our house. She gave both Andrew and Mwangi 20KES, to go watch a movie in the area, or play a game.
Having done that, Andrew took his money, paid for a matatu ride to town to go visit his frineds in the street (he does that, something we have tried to make him stop but he insists they are his friends and keeps going)
During their walk around lifestyle, the street kids spotted the City Council and split. Him, thinking that he looking clean and safe. Dint run, and was taken by one of the men.
They went around town with him, threatening to cut his balls, he pleaded with them thinking it was a hoax. But when they arrived on the University Way, the guy put on gloves and pulled down his pant. He removed a scissor and held his balls with it. Squeezing them. Andrew started screaming but people drove by until a white man stopped his car and charged at the City Council people.
They removed the scissor, having peeled the skin off one of his balls… and was bleeding profusely.
The white man, took him to lifestyle, and asked people to help him. There is a chips place where they cleaned him… and he opted to go home. But yesterday, things got worse and he was rushed to Nairobi Hospital (where Joyce got help from the same people who assisted Mwangi- as a street child)
He is in terrible pain. And am going to see him- I spent the better part of last night crying and organizing with people for way forwards.
We met with Sidi, from Bunge La Mwananchi– who are already having a protest on the City Council brutality and asked them if we can incoorporate street children too.
He said yes. We just need to mobilize.
So if you are reading this, this is my call to you to do something, anything to end police brutality in Kenya, Africa, anywhere in the world.
Afrika Rise!
P.S. If you are on twitter, you can follow live updates & share your thoughts via #KanjoBrutality – Kanjo is slang/sheng for City Council).