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.

 

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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).

AfricansAct is going to Make it, or Make it!

Africans Driving Solutions to Africa’s Problems  

African artists & activists believe Africa is going to Make it, or Make it! Do you? Please join the conversation on twitter at #AfricansAct

AfricansAct – Social Media & Social Change in Africa

Sitting in a hotel in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on the eve of the African Union Summit, a group of Kenyan artivists (@zawadin, @saramitaru, @NiNanjira) have started a conversation about the links between social media and social change in Africa.  This is an era where we have access to so many tools to support the work that we do, but there are also many challenges.  We would like to hear what other Africans have to say across the continent and in the diaspora.  If you are currently using social media, are committed to creating positive and progressive change in Africa, want to ensure that 2011 was the #lastfamine, and are available to lend your voice to this conversation, please use the hashtag #AfricansAct and share your thoughts, blogs, case studies of social media campaigns, and let’s figure this out together.

The impetus for this discussion actually came from being frustrated about the severe lack of statistics on internet usage in Africa, as well as specific statistics about active twitter users in Africa, especially given that we have witnessed several global trending topics that have emerged from the continent.

10 guiding questions you might consider answering for the #AfricansAct twitter chat include:

  1. How is social media being used for social change in Africa?
  2. What are some of the effective social media for social change campaigns you have witnessed or participated in, in Africa?
  3. What does it take to drive an effective social media for social change campaign?
  4. What defines a successful social media for social change campaign?
  5. Is it enough just to trend, have thousands of followers/fans? How do you know that your social media campaign is leading to social change?
  6. What African social media for social change campaigns have trended in Africa/globally? (Please share hashtags)
  7. Did you know about the #LastFamine campaign? If yes, what did you think about it?
  8. What are some of the challenges we face in Africa with using social media for social change?
  9.  Is there a need for an African “spring”?
  10. What will Africans online be remembered for?

We look forward to hearing from you all.

Please feel free to post comments here or via twitter using the hashtag #AfricansAct.

The conversation begins now!

Afrika Rise!