Safari Njema Baby Lexie

By now most of you have probably heard or read baby Lexie’s story, and if you haven’t just take a minute to read the letter Robi, her 7 year old brother wrote to her when she passed away last Tuesday, July 17th, 2012.  It has been incredible how many messages of support we have received for Angela, mama Lexie & her brother Robi. Many have also gone the extra mile to send financial contributions to help off-set the 4 million Ksh (approx. $50,000) hospital debt that Angela is now faced with, but we still have a VERY long way to go.  So far we’ve raised about 1.5 million Ksh (approx. $18,750), which is a MASSIVE accomplishment in just 3 days since we shared Robi’s letter.  If you have already made a contribution, I just want to take this opportunity to appreciate you, and if you haven’t, maybe this little story might inspire you to.

So I woke up at about 3:15 am this morning with mama Baby Lexie on my mind, and I just couldn’t go back to sleep.  I was racking my brain about ways to raise more awareness about Angela’s situation so that we could help her just grieve the loss of her precious angel, who has really touched the lives of thousands of Kenyans, and indeed people in other parts of the world.  Then I thought to myself, “Why don’t we try and record the beautiful song that Josea composed & shared with us at the fundraising event we held for Baby Lexie last Friday?” Eureka, I thought!  See, I actually met Josea, a budding young musician, last Wednesday at the Open Qorner, a monthly event by my adopted mother Tazim Elkington.  Tazim and Josea had met in March this year at “100 Girls in 100 Days” another fundraising event hosted by my soul sister Sitawa Wafula. The reason I share all this is because I truly believe that the right people, meet in the right spaces and at the right time.  And when we are open to receiving the gifts that the universe has to offer us, magic happens.  This is what I think is happening with this journey & I hope you will share it with us.

Back to my story. Tazim and Josea connected and I now understand exactly why – he is such a humble, gifted, passionate, wise, and incredibly generous young man.  And while he is a struggling musician, that comes from a very humble background, lives in Huruma estate, works by day as a screen printer to support his younger siblings, and send money to his mother in Gem village (which is close to where Mama Sarah Obama lives :-)) whenever he can, he was still able to make the time to come and join us on Friday evening to share his music as a contribution to the fundraising process.  Had I not been at Tazim’s Open Qorner, I would never have heard Josea sing the farewell song she had asked him to compose for outgoing Tribe Hotel manager Mark Somen and his wife.  And as soon as he started to sing, I pulled out my camera & recorded what I thought was a song that needed to be shared with the world – “Safari Njema” which means Safe Journey.  Even though I had promised myself to take the time that evening to just be present to the discussion, which incidentally was based on the question: “How much of life is planned & how much is chance?”, I couldn’t help but think of Baby Lexie as he sang farewell.  So at the end of it, I just introduced myself to him, shared Lexie’s story, and asked him if he would join us on Friday evening.  To my surprise, he said yes. Later that night, I sent him the link to Robi’s letter, and within 24 hours Josea had not only confirmed that he would be there, but he was also so moved by the letter that he decided to incorporate it into the lyrics of his song.

Let’s just say that by the time Josea was done singing “Safari Njema” at the fundraiser, several people were in tears.  What was already a really beautiful farewell song to me, became a song that I felt was now a part of our angel Lexie’s legacy, and I believe it was because all these beautiful souls were connecting in really powerful ways.

By 5am this morning, I knew it just had to be done – we had to record the song and share it. So I sent Josea a message and asked him if he was willing to do a collaboration with other Kenyan artists and use the song to raise awareness and hopefully financial support. Once again, this 20 year old struggling musician, that I just met 4 days ago, agreed to come meet me at Mavuno Church with his guitar, so we could run the idea by my sister warrior Angie and anyone else willing to listen.  Angie suggested I speak to Kanjii Mbugua, who was immediately willing to work with us on recording the song.  As fate would have it, Eko Dydda, Kenya’s Male Performer of the Year, was the guest artist that performed at Mavuno this morning. So after the service, Angie and I asked both him and A-Star, another leading gospel musician, if they’d listen to Josea play “Safari Njema,” and if they’d be willing to do a collabo with him and Kanjii.  So there we were, sitting in a circle in a tent, with Josea playing his guitar.  By the time he was done, they were sold! But to my surprise, they suggested we just record the raw version of Josea playing his song, and share it with the world, just as it is.

So here we are. Thanks to my cousin Kwame, we were able to use his home camcorder, do a quick edit, and even include a short interview with Josea Sanaa, so you can get a sense of the gem that this young man is.  There’s so much more that I could say about him, since I’ve had the pleasure of spending almost the whole day with him, but I’ll just leave you with the last thing he said, when I asked him what message he had for the world:

“Follow your dream. Believe in yourself. Whatever you do patiently, comes back to pay.”

We hope you enjoy Josea’s gift “Safari Njema” (the VERY rough ‘jua kali’ cut), and we hope you are moved to pay it forward and help us raise the remaining funds needed to cover Baby Lexie’s hospital bills so that she can be laid to rest this week.

If you would like to make a donation, please send it to:

Alexis Ajowi Medical Fund
Barclays Bank Hurlingham,
Account No.: 2022720522

Mpesa:

Angela Awino McLigeyo (Lexy’s Mother) +254 725 134 767/ 720 708 840
Margaret Oluka (Lexy’s Grandmother)- +254 722 604 216

For further info:

Follow @SaveBabyLexie or #BabyLexie on twitter, or like “Save Baby Lexie” on facebook

Or contact info@africacancerfoundation.org

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A Letter From Robi To Baby Lexie

Robi (red shirt) with his sister Baby Lexie when we visited them at home on World Cancer Day – February 4th, 2012. Angela, their mother is in the background.

Robi’s Letter to His Sister Baby Lexie (Alexandria Ajowi) dated July 17th, 2012

Tuesday 17th July 2012

Dear Lexi, rember that I am your brother I will mitt witt you in Heven. I love you very very much Id like to go to heven but I havent died. When you stayed for long guide me till I mitt again love Robi.

I don’t think I have ever heard a child cry like Robi cried last night. Ever! He’s only 7 years old and yet the sounds he was letting out were surely coming from the depth of his soul.  All Angela could do was hold her baby in her arms and rock him gently as he grieved for the loss of his best friend – his little sister and angel Baby Lexie.  Angela said that he had shed a few tears when she broke the news to him earlier in the day, and that he reacted the way any normal child would, but when he watched Citizen TV news at 7pm and saw the image of him pushing Baby Lexie in her wheelchair at the airport the day she arrived in Nairobi, after spending over a year in India getting treatment, he just broke down. I wasn’t even there when he started crying, but by the time I arrived probably a half hour later, he was still wailing, and everyone in the room just sat in a daze and red-eyed.  What Angela feels, I cannot even begin to imagine and I won’t pretend that I do.  This post is dedicated to Robi and all the other children in the world who have lost their loved ones to cancer.  He may only be 7 years old but he’s wiser than we might think.

As one of his aunties tried to console him by saying that he could go to the hospital today to say goodbye, Robi said, “I can say goodbye to her body, but not to her soul.”

What can one even say after that? I struggle to write this even hours after I heard these words.  So I will keep it simple.  Baby Lexie’s family needs our support.  They have spent millions over the last 2 years as Baby Lexie fought for her life. The day she got back from India, we all celebrated, but alas, it wasn’t the end of her fight. There’s a gastronomical hospital bill to pay now, so if you can reach deep into your pockets and send any contribution, however big or small, it would go a long way.  The family will be meeting this evening to discuss the way forward, so please check the Africa Cancer Foundation or Save Baby Lexie pages on facebook for updates.  You can also follow @AfriCF and or @SaveBabyLexie on twitter.

At the very least, please do any of the following today:

  1. Send a message of support or condolence to the family by writing on any of the facebook pages or commenting here & we’ll share all the messages with Angel, Robi & the rest of the family.
  2. If you are on twitter, you can send your messages to them by using the hashtag #BabyLexie.
  3. Say a prayer for the family.
  4. Go and visit any children’s cancer ward in your nearest hospital.
  5. Send a financial contribution to mama #BabyLexie to help cover the pending hospital bills (see details below and on “Save Baby Lexie” facebook page).

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

May you and yours be well.

“We Can Because We Care” – Africa Cancer Foundation Tag Line

R.I.P. Baby Lexie

Robi holdiing a photograph of his sister Baby Lexie last night when the Africa Cancer Foundation team went to visit them at their home.

Updates From The Family:

July 18th:

  • There will be a fundraising meeting this Friday, July 20th, from 5pm at All Saints Cathedral, in Nairobi.  They need to clear a hospital bill of approximately 4 million Ksh.
  • If you are in Kenya, you can send your donation via M-PESA to 0725134767 (Angela McLigeyo)- mama Lexy.

July 31st:

  • There will be a 2nd, and hopefully final, fundraising meeting this Tuesday, July 31st, from 5pm at All Saints Cathedral, in Nairobi.  Fundraising target for today is 1.5 million Ksh.

 

Here’s ANOTHER LETTER FROM ROBI TO BABY LEXIE:

Robi is still writing letters to his little sister Lexie. This is one dated July 23rd, 2012. He really appreciates the support everyone has given his family so far.

Mbona Juma Tatu Milestone?

Mbona #JumaTatuMilestone?

I have been meaning to start writing again, but I just wasn’t sure how, why, what or when I would write.  God knows the past few months have been quite a challenge for me, and those who are nearest and dearest to me, know exactly why.  I actually thought my first blog, after this period, if I was ever to blog again, would be a sort of “Coming out” story, but that’s a story for another day.  The inspiration behind this post today is a conversation I started on twitter last Monday, called #JumaTatuMilestone.  (For non-Kiswahili-speaking folks, Mbona means “Why?” and Juma Tatu means “Monday”.)

So why #JumaTatuMilestone?

Isn’t it obvious – most of us have suffered from the Monday-blues many a time in our lives.  So I figured if we could just take a minute every Monday to share a milestone in our lives, however small or big, it would make a significant difference, not just to us, but to others who might be inspired by our sharing.  When I say however BIG or SMALL, I really do mean it.  There have been days in the past few months when even just getting out of bed was a BIG MILESTONE for me, and on days when I was able to accomplish more than that, I still wasn’t able to appreciate all the blessings in my life.  Somewhere along the way, I started writing a gratitude list. So each day, no matter what, before I go to sleep, I write a list of everything that I am thankful and grateful for.  This is just one of the things that has helped me shift my thinking, embrace life, and start sharing my light again.

So when you ask, “Mbona #JumaTatuMilestone?” my answer is this:

 I hope that each Monday, wherever you are, no matter what is going on, that you have at least ONE THING to celebrate, and that as a community we can celebrate it with you.

You never know, it might just be the one thing that gets you or another person through the week.

And wouldn’t it be great if we could get #JumaTatuMilestone trending every Monday, so that we all have thousands of reasons to smile each week? Goddess knows there’s enough crap on the internet and nothing but bad news in our daily newspapers.

With that, I leave you with Daddy Owen’s song “Mbona”, which is a true inspiration! I first heard it when he and Denno performed it live at Mavuno Church, here in Nairobi, Kenya, but it wasn’t until today that I watched the video.

Love and Light!

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

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.