They tell me I have a nice sense of style
I smile remembering your words,” Stop wrapping yourself like a sausage,Chebet!”
The words out of many that you uttered as you tried to change my drab style
The one I had acquired from years of studying and wanting to conform to the narrow views of society
Such as long skirts=prude
You seemed to say, “Screw them! I gave you those legs, baby and you will flaunt them!”
At that moment I learnt that I dress to express myself and not to express any more of society’s wants. My body is mine!
But you said that in some places I must learn to bow
Be a bit considerate to occasion and audience
Perhaps bring out the shapeless forms of clothes
Show some respect😋
They say I am colourful!
They are right…
I mean, I struggle to get the blacks,blues,greys and navies in my wardrobe
Maybe because you said,”Those tones have a depressing effect on dark skin.
Look at Emmy Kosgei, Alek Wek and Lupita!
Wear those warm tones. The browns, reds and oranges.”
I remember stubbornly saying,”Mama, but this colours do not match!”
To which you replied,”Baby, Have you not heard of colour blocking?!
Three colours darling, you may mix any three colours you want!”
Mama, that is how I learnt boldness!
They say I wear my blackness like diamonds.
How could I not when before you bought that Kitenge
You would ask me to wrap myself with the material ‘cuz
If it looked good on me,it would look good on you too?
You ensured I felt beautiful even in a ‘Fair & Lovely’ world
I remember how you would scold anyone who would only compliment your lighter daughter
The concept that our different shades should be ranked
Did not make sense to you, so it refused to make sense to me too
So when they tell me,” I love your skin colour! Please do not bleach yourself!”
I say,”Bleaching has never crossed my mind, my mother is Sarah!”
Sometimes they call me ‘Mama’
I think it is because I watched you host everyone in the home that was supposed to be for the ‘nuclear’ family
I think it is because you showed me how to bring everyone together with just a meal
You taught me love and kindness
You taught me generosity…perhaps to a fault?
I don’t know…
But everytime they call me ‘mama’ I remember how this came to be.
They say I need to speak up more
Reduce my passive aggression!
I cannot say I learnt that from you anymore
Because I can see you
Snatching back your voice
Occupying more space
Knowing your worth and demanding respect
Mama, you make me proud!
Sometimes they say, I am a bit too much
I guess that makes sense
Seems like the world’s synonym for this word ‘Feminist’
This word that I am growing into as it grows on me
I think I remember where it started…
That afternoon in Tsavo, when after our usual rummaging of your suitcases
We found o.b tampons, I still remember how the cotton expanded in the glass of water
as you illustrated…
You made periods so natural, I wasn’t really worried…
What worried me was when that session turned into one about protecting ourselves against men
How we must be careful of the monster-rape!
I remember wondering why it was such a dangerous world for us,mama!
A question heightened by all the other lessons you had to teach us
Such as how to not get drugged in a party
Or how to guard your heart…
And hence my feminism.
But you are feminist too, mama!
You dropped nursing when you discovered it was not for you!
You sought out your spirituality when religion wasn’t adding up
You married at 30 and gave biological clock mathings the middle finger
You worked tirelessly and built your career to get your own financial independence
You supported so many of your relatives…
You are spending your time giving back to your community and showing women the power they have
You and your girlfriends are squad goals🍋
The list goes on and on!
I know we clash often on weaves and fatherhood
Among other things
But Umebinyuo in Her book ‘Questions for Ada’ opened my eyes
Wears a wrapper
Cooks for her husband,
Changed her surname.
Your feminism has made me realise my own!
They will say I am loving, powerful, spiritual, generous, elegant,
Curious, ambitious, assertive, bold, chocolate,tenacious, joyful…
All these because I have you!
You who is modelling womanhood for me!
Mama I am going to be more fearless and boundless
Mama I am going to be more and more like you
Mama, you are a woman
And women like you cannot be contained
Your influences flow into your daughters,your societies…
I may look nothing like you😊
But I look everything like you!
Thank you Mama!