Chauvinism is not dead

men_are_better_than_women__by_impervioustoall-d49mvxc

chau·vin·ism

noun \ˈshō-və-ˌni-zəm\

: an attitude that the members of your own sex are always better than those of the opposite sex

 

I was born into a very traditional tribe in Kenya. All I remember is growing up in an atmosphere of rules and “do’s and don’ts”. There was food that we could not eat although as a female we prepared. In my tribe, a man considered his wife as his first-born child. Hence, little respect was given to her. Her role is supposed to be seen and she is not supposed to be heard. A woman in my tribe can hardly voice her concerns.

With that said, it is to no surprise that my father was a polygamist. To date, I have no idea how many wives or concubines he has or has had. I also have no idea how many children he has fathered. All in all, I love him, but in all honesty, he could have and should have done better! My father was born into a monogamic home. My grandfather was a staunch catholic who did not embrace a lot of what our culture believed.  That being said, my father had a good example (from his father) he was taught good morals. He worked so hard and managed to study abroad. He had the opportunity to see the world in a different light.  My father however chose to come back to Kenya and embrace the backward tribal mentalities. He chose it because it was a path for him to be a “god”…to do whatever, and still be revered.

I grew up in an affluent home. We had access to good schools and anything we could possibly want… but there was a dichotomy. Indoors, we had preserved the traditional chauvinistic ideas that had been passed down from generation to generation. I remember that at 7 years old I was being groomed to become a wife. I would bring a basin with a jug of perfectly tempered water. I would wash my dad’s hands as I served him. I would be in the kitchen and not partake of what the men in the home spoke about. My brothers were forbidden to step into the kitchen as it was a “woman’s place”. My mother’s ideas were publicly ridiculed by my father. I shall not bore you with more examples; I assume you get the picture.

As I grew older and found a voice, my dad saw I was different. He knew of how ambitious I was and he jokingly called me a “bull dozer”. I did not bite my tongue when I noticed oppression or chauvinism. At times I would question my mother for losing her voice in her marriage and in our tradition.

Fast-forward and now I am 27 years old and traditionally married. My husband is from my tribe too. He was born and raised in America, so he is open-minded (Thank you Jesus!). However, I still get a lot of flak from members of our tribe. The other day I was accused of “sitting on my husband’s head.” In Swahili it means, “Kukalia kichwa cha mume wangu” I did not know how to accept that accusation. How could I be miles away from my tribal home and still experience judgment for being a strong African woman?  I work full-time and still come back home to be a mommy. I wear so many hats that I cannot begin to count. The members of my tribe through feel as if I am possibly too outspoken and too driven for a woman.

My husband’s aunt is close to sixty and I have seen the way she behaves around her husband. She is a warm, loving and funny lady. She cracks me up! However, when she is around her husband she is always 5 feet away and as quiet as a church mouse.

Personally, I know that these accusations may just be but the beginning. Once I begin my activism (Jesus! Take the wheel!) I know I will be quite the rabble-rouser. For those tribal “haters” (cliché isn’t it). I am here to stay. You can bury your head in your imaginary rule book. I live my life and I try to live a life that pleases God…not man. Sorry!

 

Friendships -Growing apart

letting-go-handsProverbs 18:24 New International Version (NIV)

24 One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin,

Proverbs 12:26 New International Version (NIV)

26 The righteous choose their friends carefully,

 

 

As I am writing this blog I have the 2002 song by busted in my head…”slipping through my fingers now she’s gone…” I tell you, the 90’s and early 2000’s had the sweetest songs ever!

I feel the need to blog today about falling out of friendships, growing apart with friends and basically- friends slipping through your fingers! Can you really prevent that from happening or has friendship passed the expiration date?

I have so many friendship stories but the most painful was one concerning my then best friend of many years. We were best friends since the first grade and we were book worms. So we stuck together- with our socially awkward and nerdy selves. We did absolutely everything together and we spoke about getting married, walking down the aisle at each other’s wedding etc. Perhaps that was wishful thinking, because it never happened.

Once we went to college, we got into many heated arguments regarding sex, relationships etc. I think this was the time we were growing apart but I must have been blindsided, I did think we could repair our friendship. Later in that first year of college she sent me a break up email. YES! Lol. She said that she felt like I was not a good friend etc. It was heart wrenching to read the email. I know that when we were together we acted like we were kids again, but she probably viewed it as childishness. We had a deep connection and it was so sad to see the demise of what was a beautiful relationship.

That same year, I moved to America and we never got the opportunity to speak about what happened. We remain distant friends, but not best friends.

I have seen a pattern in my life, especially when I rekindled my relationship with Jesus. I feel like the old unfruitful relationships were uprooted and replaced with spiritually healthy ones. It is so hard when I see the old ones go, but I know that spiritually there is a change and physically there must be a change too. How can it be that you are friends with someone for so long, then one day you wake up and it is as If your friend learned a foreign language? It is as if your network service provider switched you to a different line. You simply cannot understand the other person.

I have been on both ends of the spectrum. The one of being the stagnant one in a friendship and the friendship gets severed and vice versa. Whatever end you are on trust me, it is not pretty.

Lastly, please remember to value your friends. Do not treat them like dirt. I had a friend back in 1998-2000. She had epilepsy and she connected with me spiritually. She was saved and we would speak about Jesus and the word of God. I however was afraid of being seen together with her as people had labeled her a misfit. I wish my parents counseled me about friendships, because this one has left me with some guilt. My friend left to go to a different school that better equipped to work around her condition.  1 year later I could not stop thinking about her. That was when the music teacher walked in and informed us that my friend passed away earlier that day, she was 13 years old. She drowned in her bathtub. I cried when the teacher shared that her bible was found in tatters. She read the word of God back to back and she was at peace. I would like to visit her family in Kenya and tell them how I loved their daughter. It has been 14 years! But I still remember my beautiful friend.

Lord Jesus,

With this new light that I have, I pray that it shines on long lasting friends. Spiritually sound individuals who will not leave after a season but stay forever. Help me value my friends and show them how much I appreciate them. Amen!