TET A TET WITH DAD

Dad & Son When a friend narrated to me how once in a while he teams up with his dad to cultivate some men talk in a bar, it took me back. It baffled and fascinated me at the same time. If my dad was alive today, would he call me at one of those lazy Saturday afternoons and be like –  “Hey, are you free, can we meet in town?” And I’d respond from the other end; “Oh sure, why not?” Why I’d be baffled is because my dad wouldn’t dare drink, smoke or act drank right in front of his children. If he was alive today and his sons having grown beards and clocking three decades, he’d perhaps be tempted to surprise us with one of those pep talks.

I’d meet him in a bar that has dignity and manners where old folks mostly retirees drink diligently listening to permeating country road music that would soothe even their bone marrow. Certainly, it would not be the same us listening to Man Not Hot lyrics as all they do is prick the ears – Pap, pap, ka-ka-ka! Skindiki screw pap-pap And a pu-pi-drrr-boom! Skya Du-du-ku-ku-pun-pun Poom-poom.  And it would be a man’s exclusive club kind of thing, not a dodgy, stuffy bar with half-naked lasses dancing exotically. By the way, such a rendezvous encounter would be next to rare to ever happen since normally the two of us would only have such talks when I visit home or during family meetings.  Anyway, back to the bar stuff. Here, the waiters would be decently dressed buttoning up their shirts to the last button and crowing it with a bow-tie and their skirts length being at the knee. This would be in sharp contrast to the usual ones we are used to, who parade their cleavages and upper thighs for whoever is interested in devouring them and wear high heals taller than their reputes. They’d also have different varieties of brandy and torts hedged along their handkerchief-long skirts to seductively convince you to sample them.

We’d sit in one of those isolated corners and delve in man to man talk as we pour down our throats some cold stuff after savouring on a fish fillet fingers meal served with tartar sauce and frozen wedged Nyandarua potatoes for late lunch. The only thing that would eavesdrop our conversation would be the cold breeze permeating through the elegant one – way glass window, doing a lot of justice to the soaring temperatures of the so-called month of love and romance.

We would dig into self-employment and how it has been like close to a year after I made the decision to quit my employment where I’d worked for 5 solid years with an assured salary and job security.  I’d make dad understand how tough the decision was but a turnaround to how I viewed life going forward. The fact that my conscious, soul, spirituality, family and body language were all for it, I was more than ready to explore the world I hadn’t, having been confined for five years doing the same thing day in day out in the same environment so to speak. He’d nod as his hands tore apart the finger-licking meal. I’ll be like; “Dad, self-employment is very very tough, challenging, risky, unpredictable but very fulfilling. This is because I found it very unfair working all my prime years for someone under his terms. I have always desired to do what I love most. Trading my skills at the highest reasonable price and having time to nurture my writing career and enough for my family. Enough to visit you and mum upcountry and initiate projects that I will have the free-will to monitor without requesting permission from my damn boss. Being flexible and relying on my hard work instead of the mercy of someone, was what was burning inside me before I quit my job.”

Dad would interject and be like; “Andrew, that was exceedingly profound of you. Since success is all about transformation. In other words, it’s an enemy of stagnation and comfort zone. It’s the continuous disruption of your comforts. You know when you are employed an 8-5 job, somebody tends to program your destiny. However, self-employment is not for the faint-hearted, it must be done at the right time when one is well prepared.”

We’d talk about the boy child and how he has been the laughing stock; receiving all the ridicule and sideshows the world has got. I’d indulge dad of how and when we lost it as poor sons of the soil. Dad would gulp his wine glass and take his time fetching for a perfect answer. “You know Andrew, we no longer have credible role models for the boys out there and gentlemen to identify with. Many dads, no longer care about legacies they are passing on to their sons. There is no mentorship at all. Look at the many forums available for women to empower themselves. We forgot about traditions and our culture. How many of your peers for instance have joined the association of Kiama kia Ma where young Gikuyu men are nurtured and comprehensively introduced to the cultures of a typical Gikuyu man and endowed with a responsibility to not only be a custodian of our heritage but to protect and abide by it and help it flourish to the rest who are not in the know. Again, conventional men have become too emotional and fluid. They are too insecure, sensitive and seeking lots of validation from social media and a world that, in fact, is exerting its energy in demasculinising them.

We’d explore on how marriage institution is being fought left, right and centre and how weak-man-syndrome has grossly contributed in tainting it. “You know your generation has an immense problem with commitment. You have no patience over anything. And again, you want it all. You can’t have your cake and eat it. You must learn to live with your wife no matter what…not unless a life is threatened. Your generation must have the balls to confront life even when the situation doesn’t favour you. You must demonstrate the character of not giving up easily,…holding on and believing it will eventually work out.  It’s important for the married to learn how to fuse their characters with those of their spouses and compromising on areas that would otherwise trigger issues.” He would quip.

“Dad, have we over glorified success and got it all wrong?” I’d ask him. “Seemingly so! Young people aren’t shy from quick stuff, instant gratification, eeeh and quick success that has no foundation nor grace.”

We’d talk about his passion for livestock keeping and how he’s carrying on with it. “Zero grazing is awesome. I’m enjoying it but it’s a bit dry now though I’ve stocked enough hay for the next 8 months and lots of nappier grass in the shamba. Interestingly, the bull rearing business is really picking up. I’m buying young ones soon after the weaning stage and reselling them at a substantial profit 2 – 3 years down the line. I have clients from as far as Isiolo and Makueni.”

Occasionally our thoughts would be lost in the moment a while longer. We’d gaze at the silhouettes of birds flying home across the sky as dusky darkness would intensify giving way to thousands of stars littered all over the place. At such a moment, it would beckon to both of us that it’s time to leave.

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WHY MARRIAGE IS STRUGGLING

Ladies and gentlemen, sad to let you know we are in deep sh*t. As we speak, marriage institution in Kenya is under assassination and serious siege. In other words, it’s half frozen, its nostrils dangling in deep waters, legs upside down, wobbling for help. It has been forcibly captured and capsized by the evil, bloody spirits full of venom and where Samanthas, Slay queens, Side dishes, Strippers, Socialites, Seducers, Sponsorees, Serial Killers, Slanderers and did they say Sh*tholes…call the shots and rule with impunity in this game of musical chairs.  It’s not even a question of broken vows or dishonoured promises but who is behind strangling marriage and oiling the evil spirits that are getting into people’s heads only to unleash terror, horror, violence, bloodshed and premature deaths to the very core of society – Family. Here, we are gazed by a shocking reality pondering on what may have warranted such horrible, painful, cold, bloody and untimely deaths of precious loved ones.

Deaths that have left behind traces of gaping voids that depict a nation badly wounded and bleeding from within. Desperation, ill mental health, lack of stress management mechanisms and moral rot can only be assumed as the obvious causes of such dire calamities that have befallen today’s society. What is left behind is a community picking up the pieces and trying to make sense of these wild patterns that have rendered many orphans, single parents, divorcees, or empty shells of debris after an entire family lineage has been wiped off.

Marriage has been ransacked and tore apart by hungry carnivores in the name of Alcoholism, Cheating and Infidelity, Finances, Low libido, Mistrust and a society struggling with debauchery addiction. Speaking of finances – They say money and marriage is an age-old problem. Many married couples face tests that threaten to crumble down their marriages whenever they fail to come clean on their financial status and worth. In fact, a myriad of conflicts in marriage has been attributed to couples mistrusting one another on money issues and undisclosing how much they own. Some go to an extent of operating secret bank accounts or registering their assets with the names of their children and not their spouses. Couples that tend to show an unusual appetite for materialism desires at the expense of cultivating authentic happiness are much vulnerable to money-related conflicts regardless of how rich or poor they are.

Further, many married women are living lonely and unhappy lives due to men forsaking to honour their cardinal responsibility of providing for their families. On the other hand, legions of women too, are triggering lots of pressure to their husbands to live up to the expectations of the social class they perceive to be in. Consequently, if such men don’t honour such expectations, they are denied respect and dignity in their homes and gradually become way unpopular even to their children. Much propaganda is fed to the kids thereby poisoning their souls to abhor cold feelings towards their dads.

Marriages that have no common goals or priorities tend to weaken their financial growth and capacity. While everybody should be allowed to pursue their individual goals in life, in marriage, major decisions that affect a huge chunk of the family budget should be smoothly harmonised to avoid future conflicts. It’s a fact that, spendthrift is the number one financial cause for divorce be it in gambling, alcohol or impulse buying. While it may be smooth sailing for ordinary relationships, clearly, marriage has never been a bed of roses and as it demands disclosure and transparency for fewer conflicts to occur. Those who defy this rule find the going quite unbearable and tough.

Infidelity in marriages has contributed to many bloody separations if not leading to death. No one time hasn’t the media reported of cases of love-triangles oscillating around married people and side women. Many marriages have come to a grand halt due to cheating or realising their marriages have been rocked by secret concubines. Majority of men are very much vulnerable to keeping side women for selfish desires. Concubines use soft power strategy which usually involves massaging man’s ego and tending to depict submissive demeanour to win over them. What many men don’t realise or only do it in hindsight when it’s too late, is that concubines’ end game is to eliminate man’s wife from her territory and ending up inheriting what the wife or children would have stood to gain. Broadly, we have two types of cheaters. People who cheat because it’s in their DNA and character to cheat. These are fellows who can’t control themselves whenever an alluring skirt wearer is in their vicinity. They are controlled by lust and tend to cover up their insecurities by breeding as many cheats in their lives. Indeed, it’s a question of seeking validation and feeding their life inadequacies. The other lot of marriage cheats happen due to prolonged dissatisfaction or unresolved issues in marriage. While this is not an excuse, it’s important for couples to address issues timely instead of shelving them under the carpet where they build up only to choke them later on.

Does it bother you how many young ladies in their twenties and early thirties that find it attractive to date married men? While this is done perhaps to boost their narcissistic ego and feed their hypersexuality, many more practice it out of peer pressure for financial breakthroughs. And with all due respect to single mums, there are a number of them who chest thump on social media how they are able to provide for their kids if not playing the role of father and mum which by the way is a credit to them, BUT end up being laid by married men not once, not twice, not thrice but regularly. Woman, that’s double standards!

Clearly, we are a generation that due to its insatiable desire to live-large, exude instant gratification or clueless on coping with life’s demands and dynamism are unable to manage our stress levels. Unfortunately, we’ve left poorly lit and ill-funded mental facilities and very few number of counsellors and unaffordable psychiatrists to address the issue of depression. Surely, Mathare Mental Hospital is a drop in the ocean if we will ever successfully address stress-related deaths in the society. Mental health needs to be well funded and devolved. As a matter of fact, we need well equipped mental hospitals in every County in Kenya.

Be it as it may, we need to indulge further as a nation on the need to preserve family heritage by reclaiming it from the jaws of domestic violence and unfounded deaths. Worse still, the fact that innocent children are being killed in the melee of unresolved issues is an invitation for God’s wrath on us. Moreover, bloodshed is a direct curse. No one has the mandate to terminate another person’s life regardless of the situation.

More fundamentally, couples should take their time in dating to learn more about each other. And while it’s naive to imagine you can exhaust getting to know somebody, usually, there are red signs and no go zones traits you can observe while still dating someone. Besides, getting to know one’s family, their values and reputation is equally as important. By the way, successful marriages are not about marrying the most curvaceous woman or the tallest and richest man, it’s about investing in discipline, authentic friendship, teamwork and sacrificing for one another for the greater good of family accomplishment.

 

MATERNAL MOMENTS: PART 3

Young Family Playing With Happy Baby Son At Home

Hello Hello! first-time parents and all my readers out there passionate about kids and family stuff. Maternal Moments series is back! This time taking it further from where we paused last time. I’ll help you juggle your memory on what we covered last. If you recall, we brushed deeply on deconstructing myths and mending information gaps relating to pregnancy; The importance of choosing your delivery-hospital way in advance; And challenges that follow post -pregnancy for both parents be it – breastfeeding tips, what the mother should feed on to boost the milk levels and help the body recover quickly and efficiently, changing diapers, lulling the baby amongst many other topics.

Now, today we will cover challenges that come around in the first couple of months in parenting (2 – 5 months). At this stage, the crucial-most priority is to ensure immunisation dates and advice are followed to the letter. Parents should never afford to miss an immunisation date since the monitoring of an infant’s health progress is conducted through the scheduled dates. Above that, nothing should be of more importance than honouring these dates. Speaking of immunisation, injections are the scariest. This is because the infants are mostly very tender and delicate. At weeks 6, 10 and 14, injections are administered coupled with other oral dosages of vaccination just to uplift the infant’s immune. The next injection happens at the ninth month usually for measles otherwise in between week 15 to the 9th month, babies normally go for weight checkups while Vitamin A oral dosage is dispensed at the 6th month.

To a greater extent injections come with lots of challenges commonest of all being fever. And how do you tell an infant has fever? The recommended method is to use a thermometer. Speaking of which, all parents should endeavour to purchase a thermometer since they are never at a loss in estimating the body temperature of the baby. Usually, 37.2 degrees C. and above is an indication of a fever development and a reason for the parents to start worrying. Other ‘crude ways’ of diagnosing if a baby has fever is by placing one’s palm on the forehead or around the armpit. An experienced parent will realise if the temperature is unusually high.

There are home remedies that parents are encouraged to administer to lower the fever before they embark to the nearest hospital.  One remedy I can guarantee with my kidney is Calpol syrup. It offers reliefs from pain and fever associated with vaccination, teething, cold & flu and other childhood infections. Any unmanaged fever beyond that should be rushed to the nearest hospital. Speaking of hospitals; Parents should be extremely cautious about where they present their kids for medical attention. With all due respect to Clinical Officers, Physicians and all other Medical practitioners, if possible please identify a credible and reputable paediatrician to be handling your infant’s medical journey. Their medical history requires a specialist and consistent one for that matter. And since kids medical attention is highly sensitive and complex, you can only bet it with a paediatrician and not any other medical practitioner, not unless its an emergency that can’t wait.

During the scheduled immunisation dates you may realise the following; That your baby weight is not consistent or the injection was either administered wrongly or reacted with your baby’s skin. On matters weight – An infant’s weight is one of the major indicators of his/her health progress. I can promise you that you’ll have trouble with your MCH (Mother/Maternal Child Health) personnel if your baby is underweight or overweight. You see, once you commence the antenatal clinics you are issued with a booklet that is a record-keeping tool for the mother and child health journey up to the first 5 years of the child. In it is a graph that gives a guideline of an infant’s weight progress from the time of birth all the way to five years. The graph can easily indicate if the baby is under or overweight on a monthly basis.

It’s important to appreciate a baby is considered underweight at birth if he/she weighs less than 2.5 kilograms and overweight(obesity) if he/she has 5 or more kilograms. Underweight conditions for babies between the periods of birth to 6 months are mostly associated with the following; Poor quality of sucking either via breastfeeding or bottle-feeding, Inadequate number of feeding, Incorrect formula preparation, Poor feeding interactions (vomiting after feeding or care-giver assuming the baby is full), Poor quality mother’s milk mostly associated with low nutrition intake, Underfeeding, Underlying medical problems amongst many others. On the contrast, babies that struggle with obesity are mostly associated with feeding on formula-fed products as opposed to exclusive breastfeeding. This is because the former have a tendency of being overfed. Normally, breastfeeding is protective against obesity.  Pregnancies that had gestation diabetes are also very much likely to lead to an obese child. Another interesting fact is that parents that start weaning relatively earlier than the recommended stage of six months can lead to causing obesity to their kids or distorting their expected normal growth curve. Babies that are less active have a higher likelihood of being obese too.

On injections – An infant may develop a hard lump and redness at the injection site which means the body cannot process some or all types of the vaccine ingredients. The body may also be trying to fight the ‘toxins’ administered to it from being absorbed into the body and blood. The hard lump may disappear in a couple of days and one can massage the area with a warm hand towel to make it less severe. Most vaccine reactions fade away within 3 – 7 days otherwise one should seek medical attention beyond that.

As fast time parents, you’ll encounter so many myths about baby rashes and be made to believe they have everything to do with high temperatures and excessive body sweat. While there is rash known as sweat rash, as a parent it’s critical to demystify half-truths and realise there are over 20 types of rashes. For instance, we have rashes associated with food allergies that are resisted by the baby. This may include excessive consumption of wheat or egg products by the mother. There are rashes associated with the teething stage, Eczema which is a more long-term skin disorder requiring specialist treatment, Nappy rash, Impetigo rash, Milia rash, Newborn rash, Ringworm, Baby acne, rashes associated with woolen clothes and many more. Some skin rashes are also caused by parents who experiment with their babies on the many varieties of baby-products be it diapers, wet wipes, petroleum jelly and baby soaps. The more you try the latest or ‘cheapest’ product with your baby, the more reactive the baby skin behaves. Please note your baby is not a litmus paper to be tested on everything that is on offer. Be consistent and you’ll have less trouble. Bottom line on rashes: Visit your paediatrician after a week or so if the rashes don’t seem to disappear.

To mothers who are obsessed with appearing fit, shapely and in the ‘right size’ or what is termed as bouncing-back after pregnancy, it can have a heavy toll on the baby’s health progress. This is because they will try dieting and shelving off most of the highly nutritious foods just to meet unrealistic and unhealthy goals. While this may seem attractive to women who battle with increased weight, it comes with a tremendous negative impact on the infant’s health. You realise the baby feeds exclusively on milk at least for the first six months, hence while the mother concentrates on foods that are less likely to have high calories, quality of her breast milk is highly compromised hence leading to underweight issues to her baby. It has also been established that burning off weight too quickly may cause a woman’s fat cells to release contaminants into her breast milk.

To a great extent, dads are a no-show when it comes to the welfare of their babies. Many men are least interested and emotionally attached to their kids, which by the way weakens if not undeveloping the bond between them and their offsprings. Men have a tendency of hiding under cultural and social ethos that dictate it’s unmanly and weak to lull a baby to sleep or to assist in feeding them.  For your information, the bond between a dad and his child doesn’t happen in a fortnight nor is it magical, it is invested upon diligently day after day by taking time to being with their kids and showing interest in them.

Dear lost men, here are some of the major facts about kids brought up by dads who are close to them. Studies show that if a child’s father is affectionate, supportive, and involved, he can contribute greatly to a child’s cognitive, language, and social development, as well as academic achievement, a strong inner core resource, sense of well-being, good self-esteem, and authenticity. This is according to Dr.Gail Gross, a renown family, child development, human behaviour expert, author and educator from US. She further attests that a child’s primary relationship with his/her father can affect all of the child’s relationships from birth to death, including those with friends, lovers, and spouses. Those early patterns of interaction with a father are the very patterns that will be projected forward into all relationships…forever more: not only your child’s intrinsic idea of who he/she is as he/she relates to others, but also, the range of what your child considers acceptable and loving.

On matters maternal, we can’t really exhaust on the topics. Watch out for more in the future series. Best of luck for now!

THE DEGREE SYNDROME

The anger over kids not getting into university speaks to how Kenya education has become a search for papers, rather than true learning which opens many doors at many different levels. Shouldn’t we perhaps interrogate our all-roads-lead-to-university model of schooling? – Gathara – Media personality

We are such a ridiculous nation that seemingly panics and vomits its lungs out all because one Dr. Matiang’i seems to be catching up with the cunning cartels at the Ministry of Education, TSC and Mtihani House. To the extent that a whole bunch of us have been reduced to do hues and cries and daring to tame bwana CS for what they term “mass failure”, is a joke of the year. That besides opportunistic politicians in the name of MCA’s who can barely express themselves in English left to whip emotions and emancipate cheap political mileages by storming schools to eject new Principals taking office in the new stations, is only a very sad affair. Did I also overhear and watch some parents jeer new school principals in front of their children reporting to school and accusing the head-teachers of poor track records in their former schools?

The lack of tolerance experienced with the new head-teachers’ transfers is unprecedented and perhaps underlying our inherent fears of being obsessed and trapped by the Degree syndrome. We don’t really care what our children will study in those campuses neither do we bother to care if it’ll be part of their passion. All we want them to do is score As whether faked or otherwise and go study courses they genuinely never would have qualified for, only to later miserably fail in their exams if not end up peeling off to incompetent Engineers or be it clueless Doctors if not unpassionate Computer Scientists who compromised their lecturers to award them with “favourable” grades.

Eventually, our economy gets trapped by disillusioned millennials performing jobs that they don’t even grasp the basics. What a tragedy are we succumbing to? Meanwhile, we pressure our politicians to score cheap goals by skinning a poor cabinet minister only executing and implementing his job description diligently. And since we are a country that celebrates mediocrity rather amazingly, here we are bombarded by shockwaves of a reality that has been turned around and mixed around all in tandem.

I can confirm to have interacted with a legion of fresh graduates who hardly seem to grasp the basics when they knock at our offices for attachment or employment opportunities. More surprisingly, their papers sharply contradict their personas in many instances. This alone is a hell-bent ordeal waiting to break loose to much of a shame for a country celebrating over 54 years of self-rule. As a matter of fact, students who pass through diploma level before joining campus seem to exude more seriousness and determination as opposed to the rest that just join campus to take on courses that were compelled by their cluster scores and not their own volition.

Long live the days when having a degree was the epitome of high intellectualism as opposed to our contemporary times where a degree is a mere conformity to a world driven by papers faked or forged and not substance in the form of passion-driven or talent nurtured. Iron sharpens iron and so does a country like Kenya seem to antagonise the posterity of education benchmarking. Basically, we are a nation that values more, wearing of gowns from some of the so-called campuses that have zero facilities leave alone reputable lecturers and where classes rarely have quorum apart from when exams draw near.

A bit of statistics; In 2014 Kenya had 3,073 ‘clean’ As, in 2015 had 2,636 in 2016 had 141 As while in 2017 had 142 As. While you ponder on the numbers appreciate that Dr.Matiang’i let out a confession that as early as 1990’s to 2015, exam marking was complete before Christmas holidays but wouldn’t be released just yet! Not before massaging of marks in the name of trading marks and selling of grades to the highest bidder for another two months. He further alluded that exams setting was being done over a year to the exam-commencing date to give room for leaking to interested stakeholders hence why some ‘National’ schools had the guts of attaining over 80% ‘clean’ As and A-minuses and failing to register a single A or partly less than 5 A-minuses post Matiang’i era.

While some of us complained that out of 615,772 students who wrote the 2017 KCSE exam only 176, 858 scored C- and above, the script wasn’t that different in the past; Students who scored C plus and above were 165,766 and 149,719 in 2015 and 2014 respectively. That is simply the fact.

There is hope though; Part of the benefits of the new system of education Kenya launched this year of 2-6-3-3 scraps off the obsession of ‘National Exams’ which to a very high extent built the pressure of cheating in exams. Students can now specialise in their areas of interest especially in senior secondary levels which includes Art subjects which were unceremoniously removed midway in the 8-4-4 system. The new system will also be skills-oriented rather than exam oriented where students will be moulded to all rounded personas. Talents will feature dominantly alongside their academic work unlike in the 8-4-4 system which neglected talent and focused solely on exams.

Speaking of Art which conspicuously missed in the 8-4-4 system as earlier pointed out, it’s now one of the best paying employment avenues Kenya is bragging off at the moment. In fact, the next generation will owe a lot of talent breakthroughs to the growth of Art in this country. The global media seem to have realised this and is highlighting a surge of intense interest in Pan-African Art. Some of the youngest and budding employers our country has, are doing big in matters Art investment. From Online Content Creators, Musicians, Photographers, Filmmakers, Atheists, Graphic Designs, Poets, Writers, Novel publishers and Painters just to name a few. And this has nothing to do with degree papers but purely passion that is self-dependent and not necessarily dictated by degree papers.

I’m not against university education no! I’m only opposed to the ideology that its the only road to success and that having a degree in Kenya is a matter of life and death. That shouldn’t be the case. To the parents, with all due respect don’t remain fixated on the 18th century where you condition your children to take specific careers that are a soft-spot to you and not them. If you pressure your kids to take certain courses that you so like, you are only living your dreams through them which clearly is setting them up for failure.

Let me leave it here; Show me a successful person who is living a fairly happy life working in a career he or she either has no passion or talent for?

 

 

 

 

WOMEN: SHORT HAIR PHENOMENAL

Short Hair Styles For South African Ladies Quenchsa Talk What39s On Your Head In 2015 Natural Hair Or Weave“A woman who cuts her hair is about to change her life” said Coco Chanel, the French, prolific fashion creator. Celebrated hairstylists Owen Gould took it further; “Hair holds so much more energy than most of us are aware of. Some women use it as a security blanket whose purpose is to shield and protect, while others use it as a secret weapon to tease and entice.

True as it sounds, for every 5 women you spot, 1 must have cut her hair. Yes, in the day of our Lord 2017, women have brought their A game right into the man’s doorstep by taking the leap of faith in matters hair politics and thereby basking in the amazement that comes with a clean, neat and fresh hygienic hair. No pun intended to my feminist readers already wounded by blogger C Nyakundi whom I sharply disagree with, on his sentiments regarding the ‘suitable age of marriage’. That aside, from the millennial girl next door to the typical lead soloist in a non-conventional church in her early 40’s, both seem to be harbouring the same taste of a trending short hair look. That the contemporary sophisticated woman, bullishly encroaching the tomboy look so aggressively is no longer a shy attempt but a reality that is creating goosebumps to the gentlemen kingdom. A good number who are in the school of thought that deduce everything from a value-for-money point of view, are laughing all the way to the bank citing savings and the peace of not being bombarded with money-for-salon cliche. On the other hand, where the majority sit, they are offensively disturbed by the deforestation of the iconic black hair. While it’s hard to reconcile the two divides, the fact is, there has been an influx of women donning short hair which by the way is not a coincidence but a deliberate effort. That said, virtually every woman goes through a cycle of cutting down her hair at some point in her life all for various reasons.

Whether it’s to signal the end of a relationship or a new promotion at work; there is usually a direct correlation between what’s happening on women’s hair and what’s happening in their lives. And this correlation can be attested by Kageshi; she cut her hair in her second trimester of pregnancy when juggling between work, pampering her uneasy body and dealing with styling her hair every morning which clearly became too much. Moreover, I was made to understand that the baby didn’t like her mother’s hair while in the womb and so she had to cut it. And when she persistently placed the question of facing the cut, I was left with no choice but to join the bandwagon. I chose to be open-minded and took the high road of diplomacy. Boy, what did I do? I accompanied her to an estate barbershop and perched there in disbelief watching her glossy hair get trimmed and fall off her shoulders helplessly.

That aside, women who cut their hair belong to a faction of the society that believes in risk-taking, boldness and self-assurance. And with short hair, it becomes healthier, easy to maintain and very convenient. By the way, Kenya exported short hair to the heart of Miss World 2017 beauty pageant securing the top 5 position beside reigning and easily securing the Miss World Africa -2017. How beautiful can that be? Standing out at such a coveted podium where the woman’s beauty is put at the global focus and to the sharpest of scrutiny. This happened to one of our very own Magline Jeruto, with her hair off.

A lot has been documented about the woman’s beauty and the icing on the cake has been her hair. The glamour that has been sold to us of course, has been about the free-flowing, wagging, woman’s hair dropping all the way to her back. However, the contemporary woman is risking it and shaking off our conventional attitudes towards natural black hair. Is it a hit or miss? Is it enough of a stride? A majority call it modern day transformation all in the attempt of crossing the path of black hair politics.

Speaking of black hair politics, hair pundits will confirm that black hair is thicker, curlier, and often frizzier. That notwithstanding, esteem issues manufactured and instilled by the Western ideologies has unfortunately weakened it through the excessive use of ‘chemicals’. Clearly, the journey of black hair has been rather uncelebrated and rocky. As a matter of fact, the entry of weaves and wigs was a slamming game changer since their only major purpose was to camouflage the black hair as to be long and pro-west with less maintenance cost. The media has penetrated a narrative that black natural hair is no longer ‘ideal’ and in fact, that the way to go is by embracing very long, silky, wavy-flowing and mostly blonde hair. What the promoters of weaves and its cousins fail to inform their audience is that there is grave scalp damage, lack of hair growth, breakage, hair loss and weakening of the hair follicle as a result of embracing artificial hair in the long run. This, therefore, begs the question; when was the last time short, curly, kinky black hair was celebrated or promoted as equally beautiful? This question was asked by Cherly Thompson when she penned an article dubbed – Black Women and Identity: What’s Hair Got to Do With It?

Perhaps, with the influx of Kenyan women moving away from the norm, that is weaves and wigs that has taken away the beauty of black hair, and consequently ‘going natural’, be it by initially cutting it to size, is part of a long process to heal the wounds of hair colonization for the native African woman. We are at a point where black hair is relearning the process of embracing its God-given beauty and unashamedly wearing a face of optimism and showcasing to the world that it is just a matter of time black hair triumphed politics that have rocked it.

That black hair politely brags about rich authenticity which unfortunately isn’t glamorous enough to match the artificially sewed human hair fished from horses’ tails is rather a sad affair. Come to think of it, white hair is thinner, dull and weaker. It’s time the African woman, walked shoulder high rocking the Afro kinky or whatever they call it and before we fully relearn and overcome our century-old black hair politics, let’s start with embracing bob-cuts and natural short hair.

MATERNAL MOMENTS: PART 2

Happy Mashujaa Day Andreaders! Can we dig in into part 2 of Maternal Moments?

From the onset, once a pregnancy test turns positive, the next phase of life is to schedule the maiden antenatal clinic which for a matter of urgency, should be to bring along the other partner. Most tests will be done on the woman, but the most critical one if you ask me is the HIV test which is carried out to both partners. It’s important because it’s meant to safeguard the fetus while forming in the mother’s womb and for posterity purposes. Further, this session is meant to orient the couple on the pregnancy journey and of course establishing the first probable Expected Delivery Date (EDD) be it from the compass-like tool the clinician uses to the scan. Most scans are close to perfectly accurate at weeks 9 to week 22 since, beyond that, the fetus keeps growing pretty fast making it complex for the scan to capture all the organs in tandem and perfectly. My point is, don’t be surprised when at week 38 the scan suggests you are two weeks behind schedule hence throwing a spanner to all your plans. Recall, it’s perfectly normal to have more than one EDD since it’s a game of probability.

Something else, halfway through the pregnancy, the hospital where one is to deliver should be earnestly identified. And that said, there are parameters to observe when choosing a maternal hospital namely; cost, service oriented and distance. With the hard economic torrents remaining bullish to our present times, many of us find ourselves between a rock and a hard place. While you may wish to give your unborn baby a decent delivery-hospital in matters professional service, in most cases it’s pegged at a huge cost. Now, Kenyan hospitals are broadly classified into three classes; Private, mission and public hospitals. In most cases, Private hospitals score big on matters service delivery. What I mean is, that one’s patient has a very high likelihood of getting personalized and well-catered attention. However, the same Private hospitals are notorious for being sneaky and mischievous in their billing. You’ll find that there are so many charges which will cost you an arm and a leg since their darkest underbelly is manipulating bills anyway.  Hence it’s appropriate for one to be well prepared be it through a reliable insurance cover or moneywise.

Mission hospitals have shown lots of tremendous improvement on matters service delivery and besides, are not as expensive as most private hospitals. However, without a reliable cover too, be it, NHIF or employer cover or one that an individual has subscribed to, the billing can still be quite expensive. The good news with Public hospitals is that maternity is officially free at least with the Jubilee government regime. However, service delivery is highly compromised and too wanting, of course made worse by the prolonged Nurses’ strike which is over 4 months now. But do many of us have the luxury of an option? Of importance though, is to appreciate that NHIF cover is at its best currently. As long as one has a clean statement meaning they have zero defaults or penalties in their monthly premiums, one is expected to reap big especially if one’s patient is in a mission hospital. As a matter of fact, mission hospitals offering NHIF payment terms literally pay close to 98% of the maternity bills whether the patient had complications or not!

Thank God if the pregnancy is all smooth sailing, a few hiccups here and there notwithstanding. If complications come, that shouldn’t ever write off the joy of carrying a pregnancy. Count your blessings as you may know, a good number strive to conceive for years in vain. For some, they develop diabetic pregnancy caused by an increase in glucose in the body. To others, they succumb to blood pressure which if not managed well can put the life of the unborn in high risk (Preeclampsia). Some may have a history of miscarriages, bleeding from the onset, Ectopic pregnancy, Placenta Previa, Premature labor and birth and rhesus-factor incompatibilities. It’s highly advisable to seek services of a gynaecologist if experiencing some of these or more complications as early as possible in the gestation period. On a lighter note, positive energy is key as pregnancy moods are unpredictable. One day you wake up okay, the other you wake up with zero energies or moods that make you believe you should be bedridden.

As a first-time parent, there are things one tends to appreciate in the entire process of delivering a baby. That Labor is extremely tough but very much surmountable! The thing is, there are a lot of grey areas for our generation in matters labor experiences due to the disconnect in information sharing amongst ourselves and especially from our older peers brought about by cultural degradation, for lack of a better term. You’ll realize, many of us are clueless on the very basic signs of labor or if we have an idea, it’s very much fluid and unclear. From what I gathered, women go through labor very dynamically. There is never a clean script or uniformity; every woman has her own experience, in fact, different from one pregnancy to the other. Interestingly, in as much as labor is associated with crude pain, some don’t feel any pain at all, but a majority do experience havoc, confusion and anything in between.

Actually, I’m reliably told some carry their bibles and read from cover to cover all in an attempt to interrogate God what they could have done to warrant such pain. Others give their life to Jesus in the process, through confessing and taking an oath of being Christ’s followers while some take it a notch higher – They never at any juncture wish to spot their husbands walking around the labor ward or attempting to comfort them. They tend to blame them for all the ‘anguish’. The good thing is, once labor pains are concluded, everything settles down normally including the wild spirits of dissenting one’s husband’s in the open or hurling insults at them. In my community they say, a child travels from far to be delivered. By the way, men should keep off labor ward if they harbor any desires of having more babies. I tell you why; chances are, she can easily disown you upon meeting your sight in this room. Plus, it’s not fair watching your woman helplessly bite a metallic bed and kick everything in her vicinity including uprooting her weave, throwing off her phone and handbag and soliciting the baby to kindly pop out!

The following are the tell-tale signs to check out for or what can be referred to us the red signs in matters true labor stage; 1.) Be very careful when strong and regular contractions start building up. This shouldn’t be confused with false labor otherwise called Braxton Hicks contractions which normally have irregular contractions and are typically weak in strength if a woman changes position or takes a walk or rests. 2.) If her water breaks and consequently start leaking, one should rush to hospital immediately. 3.) Bloody vaginal discharge is another red sign that should alarm the person involved. 4.)  Lower back pains and nausea too should be taken seriously. More fundamentally, one should present herself to hospital if the EDD passes on with no signs as highlighted above have been experienced.

The next battleground after labor ordeal is the art of breastfeeding. Many first time mothers will attest, it’s never simple as it appears. From how to hold the baby to how to position the breast, can be challenging at first. In fact, to some, the challenge either lies in lack of milk at all, lack of sufficient milk, plenty of milk but the baby won’t breastfeed which could easily cause mastitis and nipple alignment challenges. Some of the tips in best practice when it comes to breastfeeding include; mother-infant tummies to be close together, the infant mouth to cover most of the areola (dark layout after the nipple), baby’s chin must touch the breast, the infant to have his/her mouth wide open before inserting the nipple, mother supporting the infant’s entire body, infant’s nose should be opposite the nipple and many others. Effective suckling can be determined through establishing if; Slow deep sucks and sometimes pausing while suckling (Infant’s suckling is irregular), infant’s chicks are round shape when suckling, baby releases breast when milk is fully finished, mother’s breasts feel relaxed. By the way, engorged breastfeeding can be undone through homemade ways that include massaging the breast with a warm hand towel or manually or electronically expressing the milk through a pump-milk equipment.

As an excited first time dad, you’ll be amazed by some small achievements like changing diapers, babysitting a 5 days infant which will include fathoming where to put your left and right arm (Most men will be fearful of handling an infant), composing lullaby songs and lulling the baby to sleep, helping in cleaning the infant and many other small wins like helping in massaging your woman’s breasts not boobs (mothers have breasts not boobs, and it comes with a price) when it clogs with excess milk, or taking charge in supporting her with or without a house girl. Some social media busybodies will cheapen these wins. They will joke on how superficial, contemporary husbands appear to be and how they can’t keep up with a successful career woman. Some cheap internet personas will write and lecture us in their newspaper columns on how marriage is not an achievement, but who cares; Life is all about the everyday small wins.

While at it, it will hit you that you wake up around 10am and only retire to bed not earlier than 1am after showering at 12am due to juggling from one task to the other be it cleaning the dishes, rushing to the market to get some green fodder, taking a bike to one Mr. Abdul who is a camel butcher to fetch the oxtail bone which you’ll use to make soup for your woman, to sifting the black beans (Njahe) and lentils grains(Kamande) to fermenting porridge from Mama Ngotho who is a self-made specialist in matters porridge flour for her clientele who’ll include breastfeeding mothers, pregnant women, clients battling overweight issues, underweight people, slay queens trying to tame their tummy sizes, babies with appetite issues, terminal illness patients and many others.

Finally, watching your baby fall to sleep will be the most beautiful adventure your eyes will have fallen onto in recent times. You’ll desire to stick in there and stare her breathe life occasionally making smiles in her small dreams to much of your amusement. You’ll watch this soul with a clean life sheet and zero sins apart from what Jesus died for, follow your voice with her feeble neck and almost touch the palpable delight on your face.

Enough of maternal stuff

 

MATERNAL MOMENTS: PART 1

It’s all fun and games until labor contractions begin. By hook or crook of it, it gets evident that the chickens have come home to roost. That the day of havoc is alive and well. At this situation the baby is usually stretching off, armed with eagerness to breathe life outside the placenta. Speaking of which, the placenta is that place where everything is controlled from the atmosphere to the lack of harshness from realities like demos, teargas, cash crunch, frenemies, global warming, traffic, inflation, idle politicking, sanctions and blackmail. Besides, if hues and cries and piercing pains are anything to go by, a lot is left to be desired in the labor ward.

So, a day to the EDD your wife will confess to having craved for chips and since she cooks them so effortlessly, you’ll encourage her to let the unborn baby have what she is desiring, be it chips. And in a few, the table room will be filled with sweet aroma emanating from the kitchen where your wife and her bulging belly will be cooking for the baby and yourself, her last meal before she crosses the bridge to parenthood. Halfway the cooking, she will drop the long cooking spoon and run to you, holding her back with one arm complaining of a sharp pain. The impact of the pain will be enough to smoke out a bit of tear drops in her eyes and have her form a paranoid face. All this will happen at the backdrop of dawning labor pains that will have no clear recognition to first-timers. So anything close to pain will be enough to call a press conference and make a quick call to Eston, your cab guy. It will also be prudent to let the chips burn out in the kitchen as compared to handling the pain from your wife. Later, you’ll walk to the kitchen to serve what will have been saved from the savage of burning out. However, you’ll only manage to have some few bites courtesy of the tension building on.

Two hours later, the pains will have become more frequent at intervals of 30 – 40 minutes. By then, you’ll have consulted Doctor Google who will have it that the pains are called contractions. And that they’ll be signs of true labor if they come at a time when the EDD is expected. Upon reading that, your heart will skip with fear and excitement. The two feelings will interlock and do a Jaguar – Babu Owino fist out at your dismay. Further, Doctor Google will have it that, it will be highly important if one times the intervals of the contractions and probably, record them somewhere. The following will be the reason; For first-time mothers, true labor is placed when the spacing of the contractions is at the intervals of eight minutes while for the rest of the mothers, true labor kicks in when the contractions space in between ten minutes interval.

While you’ll gladly communicate this to your wife, she will have none of it and so will you. You’ll rather seek an interpretation from the nearest hospital in your list of options. What will follow will be you picking the small suitcase that will have ‘mother & baby items’ and place it at the doorstep as you make a call to Eston. He will not disappoint. At 11:44pm, he will have showed up at your gate. Both of you will make a brief prayer committing everything to the Lord and requesting for His protection and guidance in this uncharted path. You’ll walk out quietly, careful not to trigger any curiosity to your neighbors. In less than 10 minutes, you’ll have arrived at the hospital waiting to be attended. While at it, you’ll hear screams from the labor ward, of mothers pushing hard and cursing in equal measure. You’ll turn to your wife and pretend not to have heard the noise, just not to scare her further.

After an examination, your wife will be reordered to revert home as her cervix will have had zero opening and that the so-called pains she will be experiencing will be premature. In fact, the doc there will be like; “we need 10cm opening.” You’ll drive back home dejected, scared by what type of pains and magnitude to expect; wondering how your wife will handle them; bothered if that cervix spacing will ever be possible to attain and further agonizing if Eston will pick your call at 3:30am if the pains become intense and unbearable. No sooner you arrive home than the pains will drift closer together in intervals of 20 minutes. You’ll practically not sleep that night apart from massaging her back and persistently timing the pains and hoping hours ahead will speed up. You’ll miss daylight and all its safety.

At 5: 25am, you’ll have fully prepared and made way to the hospital again, this time not ready to revert back to the house without a kid in the arms. Luckily, she’ll be earnestly admitted and pronounced as to be experiencing true labor. She will be issued with those fluffy and oversize maternity gowns that will make her look like a Langa’ta Women’s prisoner. No pun intended. You’ll notice buds of fear placed at the corners of her eyes. You’ll try to ignore them as you whisper words of encouragement that in fact, will do little to suppress the fear in you too.  As that unfolds, her phone, as well as yours, will keep on buzzing from curious family members and friends eager to know if the baby will have popped out yet. While the calls will create more anxiety, you’ll advise your wife to switch her phone off and leave it to you, to convey the information as to when it’ll be appropriate. A friend of hers, actually twice her age will call you requesting to know if you picked a woman friend to help your wife as you embarked to the hospital. You’ll lie to her that you did so. As soon as you hang up, you’ll wonder how in the 21st-century husbands can’t drive their women to maternity wards in peace and in the company of nobody else apart from maybe their pet dog, one Poppy!

Not even your mother in law or your own mother will have the closest of information on what will be transpiring at this moment but instincts will be screaming something to their heads. While at it, you’ll stop the nurses along the way, humbly requesting to know the fate of your wife. Some will be receptive while others will be as cold as a club bouncer. The latter will have no feelings to let nor sympathize with your poor self. But there will be some who understand keeping up with a pregnant woman for nine months and overseeing all the hullabaloo and drama that comes with it, is no mean achievement. One such nurse will be Nurse – Angeline. She will have lots of things happening on her taste of hairstyle which will make her stand out anyway. Upon posing the question of the fate of your wife, you’ll notice her honest smile and reassurance even before she speaks. You’ll also notice the narrow gap between her front teeth that will make her smile more customized and memorable.

That evening, you’ll walk home to meet your house literally walking to you demanding to know how everything turned out. “Did the baby come?” the matrimonial bed will ask. “What is the gender?” the utensils will pose to you. “What is the weight of the baby?” The electronics will beg to know. The half-eaten chipos of yesternight will still be on the table mapping out what will seem to have been the most hectic 24 hours of your lifetime. Meanwhile, you’ll sit down and draft short messages conveying great news of the birth of your baby, a few hours ago, to people around you who seem to matter most. Before then, you’ll have called your mum as the first recipient of this privileged information and she will recite a gratitude prayer right on the other side of the phone conversation. She will be glad of her son, finally walking into parenthood while she is alive to witness it as it unfolds. To God be the glory.

By Day 2, your wife will have made lifetime friends from her hospital bed from the likes of Milly who despite losing a new baby born, will be a walking piece of inspiration. She will be extremely prayerful, overly kind and unbowed by the circumstances of losing a child. She will have coastal origins from her Swahili command to her plus-size demeanor. Then there will be sad stories of women who have braved marriage violence for their entire pregnancies. There will be more cold ones like of kids born with deformities and had their mothers take off leaving them at the mercy of the hospital. There will be some to extremely sympathize with; like of women who’ve endured bleeding from their fourth month of pregnancy compelling them to be hospitalized to the end of their gestation period; while others won’t deliver until their blood pressure stabilizes. Then there will be this slender, light-skinned Form two girl, admitted in the same ward with your wife. She will not have a child lying next to her. You’ll learn that she survived a rape ordeal, got impregnated in the melee and had the dignity of carrying the pregnancy to the ninth month. She delivered one and half years ago, an innocent baby boy. But why the girl will be back in the hospital is because she will have pains around her belly which in a few days ahead, will be booked in the theatre after it’s established if she has developed some tumor in her stomach, through an X-Ray process. Your wife will also have made friends with one woman who gave birth to 1.5kg underweight infant baby and got trapped in the hospital since the bill was too high for her and her family to settle. The last you had about it, it was way past sh.100,000.

Looking forward to Part 2 of Maternal Moments!!