Wild About Africa

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Britains big freeze – waiting for Josh

It’s minus 8 degrees and 3 days of waiting has finally ended. A flight from San Diego, landed in Philly, then diverted to Orlando (not London), and arrived with passengers but not their luggage. Nice! Thanks US Airways!

Joshua arrived with only the underwear on his butt and they have been there for 3 days already. His luggage has gone awol. Despite the sub zero temperatures outside, he would not be seen dead in any of the warm clothes I brought to the airport for him. We left thousands of others waiting for friends and family at Gatwick, listening to the robotic voice making a global apology about the extraordinary delays. There wasn’t even a seat for people to sit on and the ridiculous Christmas tree took up so much space that we were all crammed together like sardines. The arrivals hall wasn’t even heated. Christmas cheer my ass. I’m surprised there wasn’t a riot.  I had a good 2 hours wait and used it to practice mind over body (standing position in the blistering cold), and to study people.

Arriving passengers came through the arrivals avenue in bulges, as if they were being dumped out in lorry loads. You could tell where everyone was from by their behaviour, and clothes. I watched a black woman and her daughter lurching in the middle  of one bulge, with everyone jostling and overtaking them. They had to be Nigerians. When they finally emerged I could see that they were struggling with a totally oversized and overstuffed suitcase. I don’t think it could even fit on a trolley, or perhaps the mother was too stingy to pay for one.

The black suitcase had the profile of two Kenyan policeman standing back to back, a low pregnant bulge on either side. The mother was pulling on a ridiculous strap, while the daughter pushed from behind. The undersized and rather bent suitcase wheels were not exactly making it easy and the bag swung back and forth as the pair strained. It looked like  they were trying to get an unwilling cow to the market.

I wondered what was in that case and imagined plastic bags filled with heads of monkeys, duikers, porcupines, and other bushmeat … I even looked behind to see if there was a trail of blood, by now their Christmas feast must have defrosted given the 2 day flight delay. How boring, there wasn’t.

They glared at the welcoming crowd in arrivals. I’m sure we were all wondering the same thing. Who in the world makes such gigantic suitcases? Certainly not China – I mean the case was as tall as a chinese person. Unless they are designed for people trafficking – they could stack their clients in standing position. The Chinese are so resourceful.

I could tell that this pair was African. the mother in her colourful puffy shouldered print dress. And the daughter in the most gaudy pink jacket. Their welcoming party gave it away, instead of calling their names, they got their attention by making kissing sounds and loud hissing through their teeth.

The woman was rather obese. I could immediately see the advantage that her size gave her. Everyone moved out of her way when she moved. She probably got two seats for the price of one on her flight. And clearly, her welcoming party were in great praise of her gargantuan features. They left talking loudly, as if they were on Nigerian TV.

After they had gone the airport returned to a boring wait, then I saw a sign that made me laugh. A severely armed police man was pulling a little black and rather important looking case on wheels.  On the case was big yellow writing.

“Forced entry will destroy contents”.

Yes it will! I thought as I planned putting this on my T-shirt.

Josh, arrived in T-shirt and jeans, canvas shoes. He has grown taller (will it ever stop). We rode the train from Gatwick lost in our conversation about submarines. Now 18 his big desire to go to be initiated into adulthood by going to a British pub legally. But that was thwarted when we threw his 3 day old clothes in the washer and offered him the only clothes that would fit his giraffe features, a pair of bright red bell bottoms.

We ended up having beers at home and pizza take out before the jetlag and exhaustion sucked him into dreamland.

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December 21, 2010 Posted by | Relationships | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Soul searching in Kenya

I’ve been off line for a while. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t been thinking about my blog … I’ve been going to amazing places in my heart and on the ground…..

 

Seriously what are you complaining about - giraffes never get hugged!

 

Who says Flamingoes don't do ballet? Photo: Satyabrata Dam

On Safari to Bogoria with Satya Dam was inspirational. He taught us all lots, made me laugh but almost killed me.

Lake Bogoria looks desolate until ...

The flamingos arrive…

 

Photo:Satyabrata Dam

Sometimes it takes someone else to remind you that the simplest decision to make is when you only have one choice.

We were hiking through dense thorn bush, getting bruised and torn, on a blazing hot day, exhausted, dehydrated and sunburned. We climbed hills and descended valleys, and got lost along the way many times. After 5 terrible hours, we finally  found the cave we were looking for…… and there was nothing in it. The rock art we were searching for had gone.

That’s what happens in life, sometimes it’s the journey not the summit that matters.

 

 

December 15, 2010 Posted by | Relationships | 1 Comment

Kenyan constitution says NO WAY to gay marriage

Isn’t it amazing that we can’t get organized to deal with the remaining IDP’s, we’re still fighting over the Mau, and 2 years after the post election crisis, nobody has yet gone to the Hague, or been charged with causing the crisis….. things work so slowly in Kenya – except when gay rights come into play. On gay issues we’re spot on ready to defend our God Given Christian virtues and hammer back those deviants.

Yesterday Parliamentarians  deleted a controversial clause in the draft Constitution that could have legalized same sex marriages.

No matter that same sex marriage actually exists in some Kenyan indigenous cultures.

While some people are still outraged, blinkered and mind blocked at the concept of homosexuality, the same people see no problem with an even more bizarre marriage, that between Raila and Kibaki in the so called coalition government. What about the hybrid constitution that is being proposed. Isn’t that a deadly dangerous deviant arrangement?

As angry as I am that our leaders are so STUPID and irrational, I am  impressed that Caroline Mutoko has the balls to raise the issue on  radio without falling into the gay bashing trap of yesteryear, she says that Kenyans already tolerate gays enough, and better than other African countries, but expecting to have gay marriages allowed  “there is only so far we can go”

That’s sad but true. If it were allowed I’m sure that a number of our parliamentarians would be heaving a sigh of relief that they can finally come out of that lonely closet.

PLEASE NOTE: I’m kinda sick of the gay bashing comments people try to leave on this blog so if you want to vent the hatred in your heart to your fellow human beings through my blog, I won’t let you. Please leave only comments that contribute constructively to the discussion.

January 21, 2010 Posted by | Constitution, gay, Gay Bill, Homosexuality, Kenya, politics, Relationships | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

An emotional puzzle

Here’s a puzzle that’s been bothering me. Read, chew on it, leave me a comment, forward widely.

After a shipwreck Carol and her mother end up washed up on an island.

Across the shark infested waters are her boyfriend James, and his friend Jack.

Henry, another victim of the shipwreck, remains at sea on a life boat.

Carol asks Henry to take her to the other island that her boyfriend is on.

He says he’ll do it, but only on condition that she sleeps with him.

She asks her mother what she should do. Her mum says, do what you like.

She sleeps with Henry and afterwards he takes her across the island with James.

James is delighted to see her and after a bit of nooky, asks how she got to cross, Henry is known to be an A-hole.

She  tells him what she had to do and he explodes and starts beating up on her.

Jack hears Carol screaming from the other side of the island and comes running over to rescue her from the brutal James. Carol falls in love with him and they end up  together.

Nice story?

So who is the best person in the story and who is the worst and why? Leave me a comment

January 19, 2010 Posted by | gender violence, Relationships, spouse abuse, Women | , | 3 Comments

How to report crime in Kenya or navigating Police procedures

FIRST I HAVE TO GRIPE- WHY ISN’T THERE AN ONLINE SUPPORT SERVICE FOR VICTIMS  OF DOMESTIC ABUSE?

I don’t know how Kenya can say it is serious about dealing with the vice when its the no. 1 crime affecting over 80% of women, yet it’s virtually impossible to find out where to get help, or how to report an incident of domestic abuse.

Here’s what I know about what to do- let me know what you think as I’d love to  produce a poster and plaster a checklist on every single police station in Kenya

1. CALL THE POLICE 999 (landline) 112 (Cell)

You can try to call the police Kenya Police emergency no is 999 (landline) or 112 (mobile phone).

PUT THESE NUMBERS IN YOUR CELL NOW

You can also try your local station – Kenya Police Stations Hotlines are listed here

2. REPORT AT NEAREST POLICE STATION OR SUB STATION/COMMUNITY STATION

When you get there tell them you want to report a crime.

I’ve no idea if the Gender Desk or Childrens Desks actually work but generally you go to the one guy who has the OB or Observation Book. He gives your case a number, asks you a few questions and you should keep a receipt of that report.

The officer taking your report will not volunteer information – you have to ask. These guys are qualified but if you are confused ask to see the OCS (Officer in Charge of Station – who generally is quite professional)

Well if you’ve been injured you need a P3 form from the Police station – you can download P3 Forms and Abstract Forms from the Police website here in advance

LOSS OF PROPERTY

Note The Abstract form is issued by the Police whenever a person reports loss of property.

It is filled giving details of the lost property. The Officer Commanding Police Station(OCS), must sign and rubber-stamp the filled form and an official receipt issued.

NB. Once this form is filled,it must be taken to the nearest Police Station for necessary assistance.

IN THE CASE OF PERSONAL INJURY

You must get the P3 Form the Medical Examination Report

The Kenya Police Medical Examination form, popularly known as P3, is provided free of charge at our police stations. It is used to request for medical examination by a Medical Officer of Health, in order to determine the nature and extent of bodily injury sustained by a complainant(s) in assault cases.

Part I of the form must be filled by the Police Officer requesting medical examination.

Part II must befilled by a Medical Officer or Practitioner carrying out the examination giving medical details.

Section B of this form should be completed in all cases of assault, including sexual while section C is completed in cases alleged sexual offeces ony.

This form is a government document and must be returned to the police for use in adducing evidence in court.

Once the P3 form is filled in at the police station, the complainant is escorted by a police officer to a medical officer or practitioner for examination.

The form becomes an exhibit once produced in court.

MAKE A STATEMENT

Accompanying your initial Abstract should be a full statement from you of what happened. This can be done later the same day or next day AT THE POLICE STATION

Any abuse, injury or damage to property is a criminal case. It is different from a civil case (but you can also pursue a civil case in parallel – I’m not  a lawyer but would appreciate guidance on this).

If you need someone to be arrested you must tell the police immediately. Kenyan law classifies any assault, injury or damage to property as violation of the penal code.

The police will arrest the offender and charge them, hold them til processed (finger prints etc), set a bail if it’s a bailable offense, is and give them a date in court usually within 2 weeks. From what I’ve been told, the Government prosecutor will take charge in criminal cases. Ie. the Victim is represented by Govt Prosecutor. The person charged gets to plead, after which there’s a mention then a hearing.

Having someone charged for domestic abuse is a process and no wonder most women drop or don’t bother to even report domestic abuse cases.

(BTW I think we have a domestic abuse law in Kenya – it’s either assault or some other crime.)

And intoxication shall not constitute a defence to any criminal charge. Women or men who charge their spouses with domestic violence are actually charging them with Assault and there’s a 5 year jail sentence for that.

Most men know that women will not go so far as reporting the case – but the truth is that once it’s reported you can drop it if you decide. If you don’t you have nothing but the possibility of further assault.

Wouldn’t it be easier to just walk away?

NO!!!

Forgetting about what it does to us, me, you or any victim, to our bodies,  just think for a moment about what it does to our minds, our spirit and how it messes up our children, sisters, parents, friends for life to see us take the beatings.

Why you should report spouse abuse

  • Having the incident on record in case it happens again in future
  • You can use the case to leverage a mediated approach in exchange for dropping criminal charges which carry hefty penalties.
  • Reduced probability of further abuses – Men don’t like having a record
  • Doing what’s right for you and your kids/dependents family friends etc.

Disadvantages of reporting a spouse abuse case

  • Dealing with the Police can be time consuming – these guys are experts in the runaround (most women drop cases which might explain why the police don’t take them seriously in the first place)
  • Responsibility if the abuser goes to jail (most women are too kind to mean men)
  • Ending a relationship most people end relationships once it’s gotten so bad that police are involved. Some think it’s better to deal with problems before they become violent. You can get help and counseling (see below)
  • Your case can become publicsome people and especially relatives find this embarrassing and shameful

The Center for Gender Violence at Nairobi Womens Hospital in Hurlingham

Kenyatta Hospital

Nairobi Place – for counseling and treatment of alcoholism and other substance abuse addictions

For men who are abused or who can’t get access to traditional help the SAFE website may provide options

For women, children and men – we need a site like Narika in Asia which is a volunteer run a help line that one can can call to find out what to do, get counseling, access information like where’s the closest shelter, share stories and generally get help.

You can download most Kenyan laws here

If you have any relevant resources to share leave a comment or tweet me @paulakahumbu


November 26, 2009 Posted by | Crime, gender violence, Injustice, Kenya, rape, Relationships, spouse abuse, Women | , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Silent victims of spouse abuse – a poem by Eastlandah

Its Day 3 of my commetments to 16 days of action on Violence Against Women

Today I want to recognize and thank Eastlandah (Eastlanadah is blogging poet who writes amazing stuff here http://rawpoet.wordpress.com)

 

STRUTS AND TRUSTS

I watched the women in my village battered,
watched them toil under the loins of insecurity,
and saw them humiliated,
But,
still they rise to give us a smile for today,
still they arise to standing in fields barren,
And duel a nature’s own barbaric ending.
As the men, humbled by the illicit sourness,
given to a spartan’s take on ‘thy mighty me’
I stand, we stand, in solidarity,
and salute the women whose telling stories tales abound,
And shame the wicked nature of gender violence,
An effigy’s burnt at stake- to be man enough,
and stop the violence.

 

Thank you Eastlandah, you are fully deserving of being on my list of amazing men.

Follow Eastlandah on Twitter @eastlandah

November 26, 2009 Posted by | gender violence, Relationships | , | Leave a comment

White Ribbon Day Today – End Violence Against Women

Yesterday I made commitments to 7  actions that I think will help raise awareness about Violence Against Women.

My first commitment  was to reach 100 people through my networks. Well at least 70 people read my blog yesterday alone and several people commented on my tweets and Facebook and took my Gender Violence poll so I’m happy with progress on that target.

I also committed to getting 5 friends to write about Gender Violence.

Yesterday alone two people responded and I’d like to share the highlights of these blogs

*****

Linda Raftree of Plan International, writes a blog called Wait …Wait which is all about “people I meet through that work and things I wonder about related to both”. She aimst o incorporate social media and new technology into youth development programs in Africa  so that youth have more of a voice and so that new media/new technology.  Her goal  is to improve the conditions in the communities.

Gender Violence Africa

“In the community over the past 3 weeks, I saw and heard about the challenges girls face to achieve an education, avoid unwanted advances, including from teachers, and avoid early pregnancies.  Most of the time there is no space for these issues to be discussed openly among both boys and girls, and with adults.  Plan’s two campaigns, Learn without Fear and Because I am a Girl, seem extremely relevant to the context”.

Gender violence in Mozambique

I love this image of girl power in Mozambique. Makes me smile. Follow Linda’s amazing stories on twitter @meowtree

******

17 year old boy takes action on Violence Against Women

The second blog on gender violence was written than none other than my 17 year old son who really surprises me from time to time.

Writing as rovingrastaman Joshuas posts can be totally unpredictable. He has recently been debating what gifts to buy his little sister for her birthday and seems to spends an unusually long amount of time thinking about it (for a boy) and seems to be willing to spend an extortionate amount of money on her.

Solve the problem Violence against Women by raising boys to be good men

I am proud that at 17 Josh is thinking about the issues, and writing about them – in his blog he says

“It is unacceptable that people are being treated like this and we need to protest and work towards change. Violence against anyone is a crime”. Follow Josh on Twitter @keggaz

I conclude that key to stopping violence against women is to raise good men – it’s a task us women should take upon ourselves.


*****

Recognizing Good Men

Finally I also made a commitment to recognize good men so today I’ll be sending shout outs on Twitter  to the following amazing men to recognize for their views and influence. You are all men who others should look up to.

@keggaz

@coldtusker

@kahenya (I know you pretend to be a macho heartless womanizer – but deep down ur a total softie)

@eastlandah

@inteligensia

@toneendungu

@bonifacemwangi

@bankelele

@mkaigwa

@alykhansatchu

@damiancook

@kenyaimagine

@ialen

@tininai

@ngeny

@swmaina

@estoni

@jimmassusa

@andai

@iamkenei

My list is incomplete without my own best friend @petergreste who at times seems too perfect that he may in fact be an alien.  He detests the thought that I might think him sickly sweet but I can assure you that he’s not, I don’t have a sweet tooth. His work in war torn Eastern Congo filming victims of sexual violence for BBC revealed  a rare courage – to witness, to feel and empathize, and to still be professional about bringing this important story to the world. If  men understood the impact of lasting damage of violence against women – on themselves, on brain wastage, on the economy and on their own happiness, we would be closer to ending violence against women.

To get a white ribbon on your Twitter avatar just go here

Do you have a White Ribbon story about Gender Violence to tell? Send it to me and I’ll post it right here.

November 25, 2009 Posted by | gender violence, Relationships, spouse abuse, Women | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Take the poll on gender violence?

I don’t normally write about Gender violence but since it’s White Ribbon Day tomorrow I wanted to take some form of action on Violence Against Women. With over 70% of Kenyan women affected seems we may not know how these statistics are compiled…Do you what gender violence is?

Here’s a really easy way to take action today, just take the poll

Thanks

Oh, and tell your friends to do so too

November 24, 2009 Posted by | gender violence, rape, Relationships, spouse abuse | , , , , , | 1 Comment

My committments to ending violence agains women

When I was in an abusive relationship I felt oddly alone and unable to tell anyone about it. I was saved by a friend who snapped me to my senses and ugly, humiliating, shameful, and embarasing as it was, I  have never looked back. And so, it was the most natural thing in the world to share that strength with Anne when I found out she was also a victim of domestic violence, I could see she needed it. She is grateful now, but she wont  be able to appreciate it for years to come if at all. She keeps thanking me – as if I did something generous. I did not, I did what had to be done, it is right for women to help each other. There is no generosity in it, we need each other and should be ready to accept help from each other. But it can be hard sometimes.

After I discovered that tomorrow is White Ribbon Day for action on Violence Against Women, and after discovering just how prevalent violence against women is I decided to make some public personal commitments.

  1. Tell 100 friends (or more) about White Ribbon day –  on 25th November. Share through email, facebook, twitter
  2. Research facts and write at least 5 blog posts about it the issue – give gender violence a face
  3. Share resources on my blog and get at least 5 friends to write blogs about their personal stories
  4. Promote my friends stories on gender violence on my blog, facebook and twitter
  5. Help at least one friend/victim of gender violence – see blog post about Anne and Charlie
  6. Recognize amazing men and ask them to be role models to other men
  7. Support a local women’s rescue center

Just think if I can just save one person it will have been worth it

Help me magnify this impact, join me, tell your story on your blog, share mine on twitter or your blog,  advise me which womens rescue center to support. …………….

Before I sign off I want to recognize and thank Linda @meowtree who narrates her amazing work through blog and photos on educating youth in Mozambique. In her latest post on gender issues Linda chillingly narrates  ” I even heard one teenage girl in one of the nearby communities say “if it’s just one man, it’s not really a rape…. it has to be 3 or 4.”

Guys, we can stop this cycle of violence.

November 24, 2009 Posted by | gender violence, Kenya, Relationships, spouse abuse, Women | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Breaking the cycle of Violence against Women

After writing about Charlie and Anne and responding to a number of comments on Twitter, Facebook and  here I discovered that this story is not that uncommon.

This video states that 90% of Kenyan women are abused from childhood – and 60 % are in abusive marriages/relationships.

Seeing the burned victim of domestic abuse will stay tattooed in my brain forever.

United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) launched the global advocacy initiative Say NO – UNiTE to End Violence against Women, which will stimulate, count and showcase actions on ending violence against women. The innovative platform will spotlight global efforts and demonstrate the groundswell of support and actions on the issue.

I’ve taken on action to end violence againsg women – by simply being there for my friend Anne to deal with her abusive partner and of course writing this blog.  I’ve recorded my action on UNiFem’s website here .

Speak out on violence against women – call into your favourite radio show, write a blog, send your friends, emails

Share resources

Spend an hour with your son, nephew, brother, father, grandfather, friend and talk about domestic violence

Support a victim of domestic violence (your grandmother, mother, sister, lover, friend, aunt, niece)

Talk to the abuser – help him realise it’s just not acceptable

If you have ever been an abuser – call your victim and apologise from the depths of your heart and promise to never ever ever do it again. Get help if you haven’t already.

Share the commitment you have made on UNiFEM website – it’ll only take a few moments.

I can’t find a single web based resource that women in Kenya can turn to to tell them what their rights are, and what actions to take in the event of abuse. Any help would be much appreciated. Once we have it we need to share it through mobile phone. Maybe we can save some of these women.

The Coalition on Violence Against Women apparently provide free legal service for victims

Love your woman tomorrow it’s White Ribbon day!

– All you men out there, show your commitment to end violence against women – wear a white ribbon today and spoil your woman rotten, with a massage, breakfast in bed, a bubble bath and cook her a loving meal.

November 24, 2009 Posted by | Crime, gender violence, Injustice, Kenya, rape, Relationships, spouse abuse, Women | Leave a comment