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

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.

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.

 

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).

Hello World!

Welcome to “Zero By Zawadi”!

“Zero By Zawadi” is an expression of all of who I am. She came to me one morning during meditation at the end of November 2011. After an incredible life transforming month of Ayurveda in Kerala, I was at Zero. Zero is an amazing place to be because anything is possible. Zawadi, my name, means “gift” in Kiswahili, the language of my nation, Kenya. Through “Zero By Zawadi” I hope to be a blessing to other people, as many have been a blessing to me. I trust that this is the beginning of a beautiful journey and I look forward to walking with all the people I will meet along the way.

My first @ZeroByZawadi design is a khanga yoga mat bag. I hope this will be a vessel that carries the mats that thousands of people like you will sit or stand on as you set intentions for your life and the people that matter most to you.

Salamba Sirsasana, the King of all asanas, is now a part of my daily yoga practice.

“Every gift has a story”

May you be Fierce In 2012!

Bless!

Zawadi

@zawadin on twitter