You Are Almost Safe Now

I love my government. They care about me. They want me to be safe.

This is why the things I am hearing from my fellow Kenyans disturb me so.

I have heard some complain that the government is trying to silence them, to stop them from protesting, but this simply isn’t true. They don’t want you to stop demonstrating. They, if anything, encourage Kenyans to spread their message if they are discontent. All they are asking is that you hand them control of when and where you can do it.

Why?

Because YOU told them “tumechoka” and they listened. They thought about it, had a few serious discussions and now, they are going to craft protest routes and designations guaranteed to be significantly less strenuous for you. You will not be so tired after these new improved government approved demonstrations. It will almost be like you did not protest at all. You see? Your government listens. Your government cares.

I know you want to say that positioning affects the impact of a protest and that’s usually the idea but listen; this is even less stress for you. The government is taking this out of your hands and doing that work for you. Who is closer to the problem than the people being protested? No one. They are the problem and so they know it best. They are, by definition, experts. They can tell you where to stand if you want to effectively criticize them. They know these things.

And besides, it is for your own good. It is for security.

Some Kenyans are, believe it or not, complaining that if these amendments go through, glorifying or advocating for terrorists might get you 20 years in prison. I don’t know why this bothers you. Are you planning to praise terrorist acts? Of course not. Or maybe you’re just concerned about what might or might not be considered supporting a terrorist act. If that is the case, I’ve got you covered.

Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria says

“We want to make it clear that when the Bill comes to the House, there will be no coalitions, religious affiliations or partnerships. We ask Kenyans to watch out for those who will be on the side of freedom and democracy and those who will be on the side of terrorists and killers”

You see? It’s really easy to figure out. Support for terrorists is what politicians say it is at any given moment. What else would it be? If you are not supporting this bill and you don’t feel like you are on the side of terrorist and killers then, well…you’re wrong. Politicians are infinitely wise. They know. If you want to be on the safe side, listen to them. Do what they say. They know what is best for you. They are doing all of this for you. For security.

If you go to the official government channels on twitter they will tell you what you should already know. America did something like this and so should we. Now some of you have been quick to point out that this didn’t exactly pan out for the good old US of A. That those laws were abused and expanded and used on American citizens. Terrorism took on new meanings and even the man who introduced the patriot act came out against how it was being used. All valid points. But…this is Kenya.

Unlike the US, we have a perfect record of government ethics. Our politicians have always proved themselves to be fine individuals with impeccable moral fibre. To claim that they will abuse the potential ambiguity in the bill and twist it to serve their own ends is ludicrous. Poppycock. Balderdash! Our government is good. As we are sure that the next government will be and the one after that, ad infinitum. It is simply the way of things.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I understand some of it may seem scary. Like if the Director General has “reasonable grounds to believe a covert operation is necessary” he can give written authorization to an officer of the Service to “obtain any information, material, record, document or thing.” Furthermore, to achieve that goal the Service member can “enter any place or obtain access to anything,” “monitor communications” and “do anything necessary to preserve national security.” Wow.

This is in fact quite frightening and at first glance appears to have loopholes that could fit a fleet of buses. The ambiguity of where the limits are would suggest that there aren’t any. But, fear not. The Director General will be “subject to guidelines approved by the Council.” That would be the National Security Council. I don’t know why the first two words were dropped in an amendment, but it was drafted by far wiser minds than I and so they must have their reasons.

Point is, these mystery guidelines are made by people who know what they’re doing. Politicians, the police and the military. The people who have done the most to make Kenyans feel safe for decades. The ones you should trust.

Does this not set your mind at ease? Do you not feel safe now? Do you not love your government?

But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother. – George Orwell


 

UPDATE: 

If you have thoughts on how the security bill can be improved or anything like that, email them to clerk@parliament.go.ke before 5:00 PM on Monday the 15th

Or make your way to the Mini Chamber, County Hall, Parliament buildings between 10:00 am and 5:00 pm on Monday the 15th

Fantasy And Africans

Will this be a problem has been silent for about a month now but, and here’s the good news, it was an interesting kind of silence. You see, it wasn’t the silence you’d get if we were neglecting you, our dear readers. It was not even the silence you’d get if we were tired of you or awkwardly avoiding you with nothing to say. It was the busy, wary silence of someone who’s planning you a surprise birthday party.

Ok, maybe it’s not a birthday but there is a surprise.

I’m happy to say that we finally (and very sneakily) started working on one of this site’s pillars a few months ago. It was always the plan that WTBAP would be concerned with art and literature and now, we actually have something to show for that besides intentions. I present our first short story and poetry anthology.

jpec edition

You probably have questions. Such as…

1. What the hell is THAT thing?

That is the mascot. Her name is Jane.

Thing is, it’s a strange anthology and, in some ways, very dark. I wanted the cover to reflect a bit of that. I guess we could have eased you into it but why the hell would we do that? Right from the start, we’re pushing you into deep end.

2. Why are the eyes following me? Those eyes! Ahhhh!

Because it wants your soul. Duh!

3. How can I get this anthology?

The anthology will be available exclusively in electronic form. It will also be free.

At the bottom of this post there will be links to get it in the main ebook formats and, if you wish, you can also read it here on the site.

4. Kenyan Fantasy?

Yes.

We’re big fans of fantasy here at WTBAP. Over the years I’ve talked about the rather inexplicable lack of African fantasy books. The content is really just begging to be written and I know African fantasy readers aren’t rare by any measure. But, somehow, there just isn’t much of it and when there is people tie themselves in knots to not call it fantasy. Magical realism pops up a lot and I’ve even seen Ben Okri’s work called (I’m not even kidding) African Traditional Religion Realism. It’s kind of the overlooked child of African literature.

So, the minute we got a chance to make some fantasy we hopped right onto that train (though one could argue that we may have accidentally boarded onto the horror express. Oops). We made the theme for our first issue Fantasy and we got down to work. I think we’ve come up with something special.

5. Will you be doing this again?

Most definitely. We’ve learnt a lot from making this first one and I think it’s going to make the second one even better. So many lessons, so many ideas and this is just the start. But that is a struggle for another day.

6. Another day? So this won’t have a regular schedule.

No. I can’t promise that it will. We’ll do it when we have time but I can’t say that there will be regular intervals between the releases. Well, I can, but it wouldn’t be true.

And now….the book.

READ ONLINE AND DOWNLOAD HERE

 

Oyunga Pala and The False Victim Complex

Oyunga Pala recently published an article entitled “Why I Am Afraid of Female Bigots”. In it he talks about how he was a panelist at the Future of Men discussion panel and how the men there were vilified by the women and pushed into a corner when they voiced their opinion about the issues that were being discussed. He also discussed how certain men’s issues were being pushed out of discussions and that we should address them more often instead of always focusing on the bad things men do.
I was at the Future of Men, in the second row. I sat there and I listened to all the comments that were made, at least for the first hour then I walked out in protest. I’ve written about it before, and I am going to write about it again. When I read this article it pissed me off to high heaven and I felt that just tweeting about it angrily was not going to help very many people so I decided to dissect the entire article and explain just WHY I was so mad. Because Oyunga Pala did not say anything new, he simply jumbled up several YouTube comments and stringed them into a deceivingly eloquent mess. I’m going to pick up key sentences from his article and break them down into what they really mean.

It soon got confrontational and any man who so much as dared to speak his mind (be politically incorrect) was shouted down.

Oh yes, the talk at Future of Men did get confrontational. The men who did become politically incorrect were shouted down. What Oyunga Pala fails to mention is WHAT EXACTLY made women so confrontational. Maybe it was Tony Mochama (a man), famous author who is currently under investigation for allegedly assaulting a woman, saying that women should be beaten if they decide to get too vocal. Maybe it was the fellow (a word for man) in the back who questioned why there were so many women present when this was a talk for men. Or the (same) guy who denied there even being a problem in the society. Maybe it was the dude who said that women shouldn’t dress a certain way and expect not to be treated how they dress. I mean if  you sit in a room where ludicrous comments like these are being thrown at you, are you going to sit there quietly?

Do you want a free pass to be politically incorrect? Do you really know what entails political correctness? Why would you want to be on the wrong side? Are male thoughts synonymous with political incorrectness? Is that the normal way in which a male mind functions? Please explain because as a woman I may not understand this.

Now in case you didn’t know, political correctness is the attitude or policy of being careful not to offend or upset any group of people in society believed to have a disadvantage. As human knowledge progresses our language changes in order to reflect our understanding of what is appropriate to say. Now you may not owe the world an explanation for everything you do say, nor do you have to change everything about yourself so that you can accommodate everyone; that’s impossible. You’re not here to please everybody. HOWEVER making the decision not to promote language that harms a large group of people (and clearly as he said, we were more than the men present, so I’m not lying) is not that hard. The way we talk to and about people is a reflection of who we are. So if you want to be rude and insulting to women, you better expect someone to get confrontational and shout you down.

For as long as women feel unsafe and aggrieved, ALL MEN are to blame and any man who doesn’t express open solidarity with women is a sexist. Therefore in order to avoid an argument, most men withheld their opinion and left the forum feeling vilified, attacked and guilt ridden.

*sigh*
Sexism is prejudice or discrimination based on a person’s sex or gender. It is a system that puts a gender at a disadvantage while raising another. This is a system in which ALL men benefit from. It is because of this that women hold men accountable when they are speaking up against sexism. Not all men are responsible for all the horrible things that happen to women however some are. Women are not harming themselves; they are not being harassed by imaginary creatures or being raped by wood nymphs. It is men who are responsible for these acts.
I can see through your self-flagellatory tactics though, where someone has to jump up and pat you on the back and tell you “not all men are sexist! I can’t believe they would say something like that about everyone in the room! Poor baby, have a cookie.” It’s a childish tactic, comparable to a kid who throws himself on the ground in order to appear injured. You’re not fooling anyone, what you’re doing is refusing to take responsibility for your male privilege.
It’s not your fault you were born a man. There is nothing you can do to eliminate your privilege, not unless you have a magic wand that will crush the patriarchy in one wave (and if so why haven’t you?) What you can do is accept that you benefit from a sexist society because the odds are most likely always in your favour. Instead of wailing like a prepubescent toddler about how mean women were to you, you could take stock of your privilege and try to offset the imbalance of power. If you were actually aware of your male privilege, you would be helping stop the perpetuation of misogynistic beliefs, but instead you want to try to pose as the victim.

Men feel the need to be apologetic and adopt a change of behaviour in order to maintain decorum to suit women’s expectations.

Oh really? What exactly is the problem in maintaining decorum?
Men SHOULD be apologetic. They should at least note that they are in a more advantageous position and just by simply existing they get to experience certain privileges that women don’t get to. When you are in a privileged position, you shouldn’t be an ass to the people in positions lower than you. That’s not a very nice thing to do. I figure the idea of losing your privilege must be so terrifying and I empathize. However if you don’t believe men, yes, each and every one of them, HAVE to adopt a change of behaviour (and not for women, but for societal and cultural progress) you’re drunk off your privilege. Must be nice, eh?

The first step to avoiding confrontation in this contemporary reality is policing one’s speech lest you get accused of being sexist and disrespectful to women.

Yes. Very good. You should have put your pen down at this point.

In many professions, this is about as a big a blot on one’s reputation as being called a racist in a US presidential contest.

But instead you choose to continue. Hmm. Okay.
A man being called a sexist has almost no effect on his life. Hell, even assault and rape accusations do nothing. In this patriarchal system anything you do to a woman, can be swept under the rug. Look at Tony Mochama’s sexual harassment case. Whether or not the allegations are true, he has not lost his job, his books are still being sold, he is doing just fine. In fact, Tony Mochama was defended by hundreds of men even before he responded to the accusation while Shailja Patel was subjected to online abuse, trolling and insults. Her character and the character of the woman who initially reported the story, Dr Wambui Mwangi were dissected and their lives put up for public scrutiny, instead of the life of the person who was accused of the crime. In the case of rape accusations, Senator Wamatangi was accused of raping his househelp, he’s still a senator, still going about his daily business. If these examples aren’t sufficient enough, let’s look to Hollywood. Woody Allen, Roman Polanski, Bill Cosby, Kobe Bryant, all these men have been accused of rape, I don’t see anything wrong with their careers. They are not crying in a ditch somewhere, victims of their actions, they’re still making money comfortably.

I’m so glad you decided to bring up the parallels between sexism and racism. So so glad. Sexism and racism are equal in the fact that they limit one group while simultaneously raising another’s status. Men benefit from sexism the way white people benefit from racism. Both deny the privileges of one while oppressing others. When it’s a discourse on racism, we’re ALL oppressed because as Africans, male or female, we are at the bottom of the structural pyramid, united by descent and race. When it comes to sexism though, it’s no longer a problem. Now, you may not see sexism as being as bad as racism because sexism benefits men, so it’s okay for them to perpetuate it. If you look at it objectively you’ll see that the same silencing tactics white people use (not all white people!) are the same ones men use when silencing discourses on sexism.

Men are often labelled beneficiaries of a patriarchal system that accords them privilege over women and children on the sole basis of their genitalia. Yet what is often not mentioned in the same breath is that patriarchy is a system perpetuated by both sexes. They are several women who milk the privilege of a male based support system.

Men ARE beneficiaries of a patriarchal system. It’s not a label, it’s the truth. And it is true that women also perpetuate it. However in the case of men, they perpetuate patriarchy because it benefits them because what is patriarchy, other than the systematic order in which MEN hold primary power and everyone else is excluded. Therefore the women who perpetuate patriarchy do not do it because they are ‘privileged’ but because they are being complicit and it may have some (debatable) advantages. For you to suggest this is to suggest that the beggar eating the breadcrumbs you dropped on the table is eating a balanced diet. The male based support system is a product of patriarchy, because women statistically make less than men, are instantly questioned when they get higher positions at work (did she sleep with him?) and are shunned from careers that are male dominated. The safest option is to rely on men, because patriarchy makes it hard to rely on yourself.

And what exactly is this definition of “female privilege”?

The role of father for example is being rendered obsolete because it is something that can be stripped away by a woman at any time. A woman can have a child without male consent, deny a man access to his child and make him disposal. Father’s day for instance is now a tramping ground for women who feel they deserve accolades for single parentage.

WITHOUT MALE CONSENT? Because everything that must be done in this world must undergo the watchful observation of a man? If a man says yes to something in a forest and there is no one there to hear it, does the thing still happen? Women can function without male consent, it is possible.
It reached a critical point in our society that women had to log onto Facebook, join a group and publicly expose men for failing to support their children in order for it to be addressed. Now before you go off the obviously derailing tangent off NOT ALL DEAD BEAT DADS (ooooh wait there’s already an article like that on your website) let’s focus on the matter at hand. Women who FEEL THEY DESERVE accolades for single parentage? Are you aware of the negative attitudes that follow single mothers?
No? Alright, lets Google.

Single mothers are....
Single mothers are….

 

Now single dads....
Now single dads….

When the internet alone has such horrible suggestions for your existence, you DESERVE an accolade simply for waking up in the morning and facing a world that has been conditioned to hate you.

We have created a unique problem that constitutes a generation of men who do want to be labelled sexist like their fathers were, thriving on female subordination.

How is this a problem?

Anyway, if you don’t want to be labelled sexist, DON’T DO SEXIST THINGS. DON’T PERPETUATE SEXISM. DON’T THRIVE UNDER FEMALE SUBORDINATION. BE THE CHANGE YOU WANT TO SEE. It’s that fucking simple.

In essence most men are feminist. They advocate for the rights of women for the simple reason that they owe their growth and development to female intervention and have daughters to raise.

NO. Most men are not feminist. First of all how could they be, when feminists seek to push men out of their comfort zones? There are so many negative attitudes that surround that term. Its normally associated with angry women who apparently hate men. They call us man haters, militant lesbians, misandrists, reverse sexists, FEMALE BIGOTS.

How are you a feminist when your entire article is based on calling us bigoted? It is a tactic of the oppressor to force harmful definitions onto subversive movements. It derails all forms of discourse because in this case, you have forced me, a feminist, to go into the defensive. Instead of moving forward and having useful conversations about what we can do to stop the perpetuation of patriarchy, I have to explain that we are not bigoted and how harmful that description is.

You can’t be a feminist if you define it using the patriarchal standards it rejects.The simple reason you think men support feminism is based on contextual empathy. That the only reason they care about women is because they were raised by them? So what about those not raised around women, do they get a free pass? Why do women’s rights only take center stage in someone’s life because their relatives just happen to be female? That’s… a problem. Its selective and isn’t true. Either you’re fighting for all women or you’re not. There’s no middle ground.

While we acknowledge that the fight for the rights of women is absolutely essential, it is not a license to lash out at men in this recycled narrative of collective blame.

It is a recycled narrative because nothing seems to be changing, or if it is, its not changing fast enough. Besides who are we going to blame? The wood nymphs from before?
Your first reaction to the demand for change is defensiveness. That’s the biggest impediment to progress. Nobody wants to believe they’re the problem. But you being told to do better is not bigotry! You HAVE to do better because you are in the position of privilege. Calling women bigoted is as mature as a student cussing out his lecturer because they were told to redo their bad assignment.

If you REALLY believe that the fight for our rights is essential, then a few harsh words shouldn’t make it less worthy your attention. Our tone of voice shouldn’t deter you from it. The idea that feminists should speak in a nice tone is nonsensical. You only want us to speak in softer tones because we’re easier to ignore that way. Spare me the idea that we should be palatable to suit your feelings. Are you saying that you were about to care about vast inconsistencies in the treatment of women but because someone was mean you won’t? Empowerment is not candy that you hand out to the best behaved women in the classroom. Get that very clear.

Unless we tell the other side of the story, of men rewriting the masculinity script, who take care of business, secure their homes, remain present in their children’s lives and are supportive partners, we shall continue to normalize bigotry against men for no other reason than their biologically assigned genitalia.

Oyunga Pala, you have consistently run a column entitled MAN TALK for several years, in which you have had an opportunity to do this. Again, I reiterate, for SEVERAL YEARS. You have had the platform to do this for ages and if you squandered it to write other things then that’s YOUR fault. And anyway let’s say you were a simple man with no platform or social influence, you would simply have to put on the television or pick up a paper to see your side of the story. The patriarchal world is a male centered one, never forget that. Everything, from politics to business to even professional cooking, is male dominated.

Do you REALLY want to talk about normalized bigotry for NO REASON other than biologically assigned genitalia? Have you ever heard women complaining about sexual assault? Street harassment? Rape? Have you heard of women being denied positions simply because of their gender? Have you not seen the sexualisation of breast cancer simply because it’s a cancer that starts in the breasts? SAVE THE BOOBIES? Are you not familiar with rape culture?! SHUT UP AND THINK AGAIN, before you talk about “normalized bigotry because of assigned genitalia.” This is what WE face every day as women.

Below all this there was a weirdly placed section on the plight of short men that I didn’t fully understand because it kind of just came from nowhere. BUT I have a few points.

Joshua Sang isn’t overlooked because he’s short, he’s overlooked because not many people have heard of him and not very many people are that interested in looking him up. His diminutive stature is just his most defining feature. Is that problematic, yeah sure, but it’s not a male crisis. Yes, your dating options may be limited when you’re short but so what? Everyone has arbitrary physical standards; if women don’t want to date short men you’re not going to force them to. Don’t pretend that men don’t have harmful standards that hurt women. That’s the entire basis of the cosmetics industry!

Causing Damage For Popularity

Now, before I start, I feel I should say that I’m not necessarily opposed to celebrity news/gossip sites. It’s not my cup of tea but a lot of people are clearly interested in what they do. There is a market for it and they have moved in to take advantage of that. Good on them. That’s not something I have a problem with. What I want to talk about is how some of them do it.

This is not going to be one of those articles where I tip toe around who I’m talking about. While they are certainly not the only guilty ones, I’m going to be focusing on Ghafla. They’re one of the most popular and if it has to start with somebody it should probably be them.

Over the past few days, there’s been talk about the whole Tony Mochama incident. In case you’ve somehow missed it, here’s a quick summary. Tony Mochama (aka Smitta) is being accused of sexual assault. The general accepted version of the accusation is that he was at a fellow poet’s house, he committed the assault on her friend and that there are a few witnesses. He has since denied any wrong doing.

Now, whether you believe this or not, I think you should see the problem with Ghafla’s headline.

RAPE!! Standard Group’s TONY MOCHAMA Accused! Here Is The Story!”

There’s no other way to put it, this is misinformation, plain and simple. They are unashamedly being sensationalist for the sole purpose of getting views. You can see this from how the actual article is phrased. It is, more or less, accurate…if you’re already aware of what’s going on. But if you’re not then you will come away with a twisted version of what is actually being said. I’ve already seen people on twitter peddling this ‘Ghafla’ version. By selling the story like this they’re making it easier for Mochama to deny the charges and harder for people to believe it.

I have already seen someone say “you’re telling me she was raped as everyone watched? Yeah right.”

Ghafla is a popular platform where a lot of people get their information. I don’t think that should be the case but it is. And as such they have a responsibility not to pull stunts like this. They do not get to stir things up so they can get hits. This situation is not theirs to manipulate for click bait!

Look at this headline.

“I DID NOT RAPE A WOMAN IN WAMBUI’s HOUSE”!! Standard Group’s TONY MOCHAMA (Smitta Smitten) Responds!”

This is one thing we can say for certain that Tony Mochama has not done. He did not say those words. The only ones actually pushing a rape narrative are Ghafla. No one accused it. No one denied it (because it was never leveled.) We are talking about a sexual assault. Yet, here is Ghafla shaping their own version of a story that will cause more people to visit their site. How fundamentally sick is that?

Listen up Ghafla team. Maybe you believe he is (or could be) guilty in which case you are derailing the conversation and making life harder for everyone else who does. Or you think he is (or could be) innocent, but then you are just fanning the flames by raising the charge. Most likely, I think you don’t care either way. You are literally just causing damage because it helps you meet your quota. STOP IT!

Here’s a few things you need to start working on.

One. You need to reevaluate how you view women.

Two. You need to stop trafficking in human misery.

Three. If you are already doing one and two then you need to get to a place where no one has to tell you why a tweet like this is wrong.

“Sexy Photos Of Natalie Tewa Who Was In The Accident With Wangechi the Rapper!! Must See!!”

Is that really so much to ask?

Here Cometh The Feminists

The movies were wrong. The alien invasion did not come in spaceships. It did not come with beams in the sky or crop circles in the fields. We did not even even see it coming. The invasion came and went, we were occupied and we did not even know it.

You’re skeptical. I understand, but look around. There’s a chance that the invaders are with you or near you right now. The species that wants to destroy everything you know and bring all of us down. You’ve no doubt heard of them. They go by the name…. feminists.

We have all heard many things about these feminists. Disturbing things. Unsettling things. Things that spring from the same well that inspired Dante’s Inferno. But I wanted the truth. I wanted to know what it is that they truly want. So I decided I was going to meet one. Against the advice of those wiser than me, I braved the danger and agreed to interview a feminist.

One of the things I have heard about these feminists is that once they fully posses a woman they do not shave their legs. Hair grows wildly covering them from knee to ankle in a wild mane. It is a strange phenomenon. It reminds me of the Arabic story where King Solomon meets the Queen of Sheba. His advisers warn him that he should not trust her for her legs are covered in hair like a goat. Solomon, in his general all-knowing fashion, tricks her into revealing her legs and confirms these rumors. This tells us that the feminists have been around for a long time. And, more disturbing still, that even the wisest man in the world feared them. This will not be an easy interview.

The feminist arrives and there are oddities. For one, she is smiling. This is odd because feminists do not smile. Their faces are permanently scowling. The bitterness of their hate for men, sex and children, and by extension their hate for happiness, is never far. It occurs to me that a smiling feminist is a dangerous thing. What would make a feminist smile? Will I leave this place alive? Will this be my tomb, a burning bra flying high above it to celebrate (another?) feminist kill?

“Hello,” she says cheerfully.

There is no sign of her man hate or innate bitterness. It is almost as if these things do not exist. I can now see how so many feminists have made it in the media. They are excellent actors.

“So,” I say carefully, “what is a feminist?”

“THAT,” she says a little too loudly (as is to be expected), “is a complicated question.”

“How so?”

“A feminist is a lot of things. We don’t all believe the same ideas and we don’t all agree on how to express them. But at it’s simplest, a feminist is someone who believes in political, social and economic equality between the sexes. A feminist is someone who sees the gender divide and the attitudes towards women and wants that to change. Basically, a feminist is someone who is tired of seeing women treated like shit.”

I flinch. A woman using language like that. A feminist indeed.

“I’ve heard this before but…aren’t women equal already?”

“Is that a joke?” she says, her eyes narrowing. There is a hint of menace in her voice. The mask is dropping. “How can you look at this world and possibly even say something like that?”

“Well. Personally I think it’s mostly fixed…”

“Abuse! Rape! Violence! And if you don’t think these are common then how casually they are treated certainly is. People act as if this is the way things ought to be. As if women should not complain about these things. Do you not see how men treat women everywhere?!”

“Look. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen. Some men are bad. Completely sick in the head, but we must be equal in this. Some women are also bad. So if you think about it, not all…”

“Don’t you dare.”

“What?”

“Don’t you dare try to say not all men.”

“But it’s true right? Not all men are bad.”

“So fucking what? People just use that as a way to not deal with the conversation. When we’re talking about ways to reduce traffic accidents you don’t hear not all drivers. When we’re talking corruption you’re not going to accept a goddamn ‘not all politicians!’ That is not a conversation that even needs to be had. Enough men act, enough men condone and enough men do nothing for it to be a giant, global problem. The phrase not all men means nothing here. And if you still think it does then never talk about any problem in the world because guess what? Not all fucking human beings!”

I say nothing. It will do no good. Clearly, feminists cannot use logic. We stare at each other for a while no one saying anything. Finally, I ask:

“Why are you feminists always so angry?”

“Because there’s a lot to be angry about.”

“Yes, but what if you filtered your message. Were nicer. If you weren’t always shouting. Don’t you think people would listen more?”

“You think that hasn’t been tried? How do you think feminists get so angry? We tell you over and over but you don’t get it. You really don’t. We shout, we whisper, we’re kind, we’re mean but nothing sticks! Everything you say after shows that you haven’t even thought about it. Not really. And how can that be? Truly, I don’t get it. How can that be?”

“That’s not fair. You’re just doing what you always do. You’re making assumptions. I have thought about it. I know I respect women. I don’t mistreat them but you want me to be the enemy. I’m not. I came from a woman, we all did. Women I respect, it’s feminists I have a problem with.”

“You see? You respect women because you came from one. Or you were raised by a single mother. Or because you have sisters. If you thought about it you’d know that that’s a terrible reason to respect someone. You’re related to some women and that’s where you stopped thinking about it? That’s it. How about because women are human beings?”

“That’s a lot of talk but it’s just over complicating a simple matter. What’s wrong with respecting women because of my mother?”

“When was the last time your major reason for respecting a man was your father?”

“Feminists! Always always overacting. Listen to yourself. Nowadays a man can’t say anything without starting a fight. We cant even compliment a woman without it being a big deal.”

“Is that what you call what happens? Complimenting?”

“Yes. I do.”

“Just compliments. Ha. Tell you what. Next time a gay man cat calls you or gropes you I want to see you take it as a compliment.”

“That….that’s not the same thing!”

“Isn’t it? So it’s not unwanted attention or contact?”

I stare at her appalled. A gay….WHAT!? JESUS! These feminists are mad. Mad mad women.

“Look at you,” she says showing that infamous feminist sneer, “so shocked by just the idea of it. The idea alone! How often does this even happen to anyone? Do you even know anyone it’s happened to? Why does it scare you so much? Are you not just afraid that gay people will treat you how you treat women. Doesn’t that tell you something?”

“If you’re not willing to take this conversation seriously, I have nothing more to say.”

“Running away then?”

“This is why no one likes feminists.”

I walk away on that note unwilling to listen to anything else. I can see that these feminists will be a danger. A grave danger. They are a plague that we cannot countenance. They will destroy our way of life if we let them. They are enemies of men. Even enemies of women. You heard what she said about my mother. And so my brothers and sisters, we must fight them in any way we can. We must not let them take over our women.

If the feminists want something then we must not let them have it. If they fight for something, we must fight against it. Do not bother justifying yourself comrades. You saw how little they value logic. Tell them they are wrong because they are feminist. That is enough. But if you are brave and you think you can convert them, tell them the truth. Tell it to them over and over. Do not let their slick talk fool you. They have tricks to tempt you away from truth. Hold on to it and repeat it. Do not let them win.

Brace yourselves my brothers. Here cometh the feminists.

***

ADDENDUM

I chose to tackle this topic this way because, quite honestly, I’m already angry. To write in a completely serious tone would have probably not ended well. The past few days have been one sexist act after another around me. The fact that it’s annoyed me so much and I wasn’t the victim and I’m a man should probably answer all your “why are feminists so angry” inquiries. If I had to actually personally deal with this nonsense i’m not quite sure what I’d do.

With this approach, there is exaggeration (obviously). The entire alien angle is the way people misrepresent feminism and completely refuse to understand it. The stereotypes they hold and the entire “otherness” they ascribe to it all of which I turned up to level 10.

The arguments that follow however are more or less accurate. These are the most common answers given to these issues. Ask any feminist and they will probably tell you how much of this kind of thing they’ve had to deal with and more. Everything in the man’s quotes has been uttered almost word for word on several occasions. It is not the minority view. If anything it seems to be the main narrative.

On that note, I’d like to shout out every woman who has to continually listen to the kind of thing I’ve covered here. Specifically, my co-blogger, Olivia Kidula. Liv is like a feminist super hero. Less superwoman more of The Punisher. She will not put up with your sexist bullshit for even a second. On twitter and in person, God help her victims. There are times she’s been criticized for things I’ve written on feminism. These critics suddenly changed their tune when they found out I wrote it as if the arguments had also changed. It’s alright though, she dealt with them.

Another person that deserves recognition is Samira Ali who inspired the central idea for this post (which puts her post inspiration count on this blog to two. I might have to start paying her). She’s had her share of scraps with people who think working women are scary and other stupid ideas® ( Now available in all Sexist social networking accounts everywhere). She’s a well of brilliant ideas. Seriously, this girl knows her shit.

Follow these people. You’ll be entertained and your TL will be smarter and funnier than it would have been otherwise.

All you women in the movement, keep fighting the good fight.

As for you men, someone please make a Kenyan version of this t-shirt.

The Haunting Legacy

Kenya’s relationship with politics and the past is something I do not truly understand. In fact, I’m not even sure  it’s something that can be understood. For some reason, any political act older than a year or two morphs into something completely unrecognizable.

This has never been more clear than when reading the #Moiat90 tweets. I never thought I’d see the day when people would praise Moi. I’m sad I saw it. Right now I’m not even sure which was more shocking. The people who honestly said he was a good (even great) leader or those who had some weak justification for why he was ok after all.

‘”He had flaws but he was authoritative.”

“He was a dictator, but he’s lived for 90 years, what have you done?”

“He had shortcomings like everyone else.”

Some of it is just ridiculous.

“There was no tribalism in Moi’s reign” Uh….what!?

“Insecurity was not a problem under Moi. We were safe.” Excuse me?

You have no idea how much restraint it took not to start yelling at random people on the internet. Instead, I decided to compile a small list of highlights of the Moi “legacy.” It’s not conclusive, there’s definitely much more but it’s enough to get a snapshot. Enough to get an idea of the extent of the Moi era excesses. Here we go.

 

***

1977

Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o is arrested after his play Ngaahika Ndeenda (I Will Marry When I want) angers Vice President Moi. He writes his next novel in prison on tissue paper.

1982 – 1986

All political parties, save for KANU, are outlawed.

Following the 1982 failed coup d’etat several people are rounded up in Kamiti Maximum Prison which has been converted into a concentration camp. Hundreds of them are university students, a group that had challenged  the one party system before the coup.

The Special Branch  begins to act act as a tool of oppression. Arrests take place in the name of cracking down on “Mwakenya Activist rebels.” Several people are taken to the now infamous Nyayo House torture chambers

Some literature, the likes involving Karl Marx, Che Guevara, Malcolm X etc,  is banned and confisicated.

Sporting a beard becomes borderline illegal as they are associated with Marxism. Having a beard while being a lecturer is almost certain to get you arrested as a Communist Mwakenya dissident.

1987

Mary Anne Fitzgerald, A British journalist, is briefly arrested on trumped up charges after reporting on Illegal exports by businesses men connected to Moi.

1988

The Mlolongo voting system is introduced. Voters are supposed to line up behind pictures of their candidates. Intimidation is rife. And, if there is doubt about the result, the recount is not possible for obvious reasons.

The Police now have the right to detain anyone who criticizes the administration for up to 14 days.

Mary Anne Fitzgerald publishes an article alleging that the judiciary is under the government’s thumb. She is deported.

1989

There are plans to build a 62 story skyscraper in Uhuru Park topped with a statue of Moi. Wangari Maathai opposes the project as a waste of both resources the country doesn’t have and one of the few green spaces in Nairobi. While she manages to erode investor confidence she is forced to seek refuge in Tanzania.

1990

The Government breaks up the Saba Saba demonstration killing at least 20 and arresting hundreds.

Kenneth Matiba, Raila Odinga and Charles Rubia are imprisoned without trial for calling for multiparty elections. Matiba is denied medication and suffers a stroke.

1991

A play is banned for it’s political content. It is a rendition of George Orwell’s Animal Farm.

It is believed that the government is intentionally instigating and fanning ethnic clashes in order to demonstrate the folly of multiparty elections. From 1991 – 1996 KHRC estimate 15,000 people die in the clashes and 300,000 are internally displaced.

1994

David Makali, a journalist for The People, writes an article indicating that a court ruling saw interference from Moi and the government. He is jailed after refusing to sign an apology drafted by the court. He is one of at least 18 Journalists that year penalized through the legal system for criticizing the government.

1995

Clarion, a research group that has published a study exposing widespread corruption, is banned.

Mwangaza Trust which has campaigned for constitutional reform is banned.

The Safina Party is unable to officially register. Their application is not approved until 1997. One of it’s leaders, Richard Leakey is accosted in his home by a gang calling him a colonialist (sentiments echoed by Moi) and demanding that he leave.

1999

The High Court dismisses a petition filed by Mwai Kibaki against Moi for rigging the election. The reason given for the dismissal is that a copy has not been delivered to Moi personally.
It is ignored that this is because bodyguards prevented access to Moi’s office.

Moi declares that courts should not interfere in matters involving land and political parties.

Capture 2

***

There are things I didn’t fit into the timeline. Like amendments aimed at increasing presidential power to take away rights while reducing accountability. The intentional breaking down of the checks and balances that keep the Judiciary neutral. Significant portions of the countries wealth siphoned away. Possible assasinations. The list goes on and it only gets darker.

I truly wonder how many of our problems today can be attributed to the effects of that era still haunting us. Wounds we’re still patching up and healing from before we can even grow. The effects of that man’s legacy.

From The Vault: Dangerous Women & Unexpected Nazis

I have a collection of pictures I happen to find around the internet. Anything that interests me usually goes into this collection. There’s no real criteria. Some of the them are strange. Some are heart breaking. Some force you to think. There’s all kinds of things in there. 

I think it’s pretty cool. But lately i’ve been thinking, what’s the point of having it if other people don’t get to see at least part of it. 

On that note, I present a little something from my vault.

Photo by Stephanie Sinclair, 2012
Photo by Stephanie Sinclair, 2012

I love this Picture. How could I not? Look at this badass in that pink army barracks. She’s a lieutenant in Yemen’s female counter-terrorism unit. That’s right, she fights Al Qaeda for a living.

Take a good look. Remember that this is reality. That every time an action movie or a game beats the same old idea into the ground, we could have had this instead.

Photo By Eve Arnold, 1962
Photo By Eve Arnold, 1962

This is one of those photos that shocks me every time I see it.

The very idea of people in America openly wearing swastikas and being part of the Nazi Party just over a decade after WW 2 is difficult for me to understand.

Stranger still, Those Nazis are in a conference listening to Malcolm X.

Photo from Francis J. Petrie Collection
Photo from Francis J. Petrie Collection

This is the first person to survive going over Niagra Falls in barrel. 

Personally,  I find it difficult to imagine this particular person climbing into a barrel let alone going over a water fall in it. Which just makes it even more intriguing. She looks like a strict teacher and, as it turns out, she was a school teacher at some point. 

And, since she had a crowd gathered and the entire stunt was designed to gain her fame and fortune, you may be looking at the mother of reality TV.

The Mess in Your Home

Children are like budget psychiatrists. You can talk to them and they’ll pretend to listen to you. Better yet, if you remember to give them food then you’re not restricted to one hour sessions. They’ll hardly say anything back which is another mark in their favour.

I speak as a former victim of this practice as I’m sure most of you are. You probably have some vague memory of long car rides with one sided conversations you were not expected to understand and, all in all, you didn’t really try to anyway. They were only interesting in that they guaranteed some kind of reward at the end. Usually ice cream.

Sometimes though, you remember what was said in fragments. They can be amusing, they can be scarring or, if you’re really lucky, you can end up with some really good black mail. Rarely, you can actually learn something from them. This article is about those rare times.

“… these fools who run away from the mess in their own homes to try and fix other people’s problems.”

My mother said that. I don’t know why she said it largely because I wasn’t really listening but that particular phrase stuck with me for years. I’m not sure if I actually thought this at the time or if it’s an embellishment I’ve woven in over the years but I remember agreeing with her. They were fools. What kind of person would actually do something like that?

Time, in it’s general humorless way, has revealed a rather distasteful answer to that question. As it turns out, I’m the kind of person who would do something like that.

To me, home has a variety of meanings. I have many homes. Where I actually live with my family is just the most obvious one. Nairobi is my home too. So is Kenya. As is Africa. And it’s become clear that I’ve been running away from their problems and their complications for a long time now. Not entirely. But enough that I need to reevaluate what I’m doing.

There’s something unsettling about the fact that over the years, I’ve talked about racism more than I have about tribalism.

That my most readily available images of classism do not easily lend themselves to the Kenyan or even the African context.

That when you weigh how much I’ve talked about Gaza, Syria and Iraq against something like Kasarani, the latter pales in comparison.

I’ve been running.

Home is not just a place though. It is a community. It is your connections. What keeps you rooted even if it’s not in one place. Friends and family are part of that. And if there is an area where I have truly failed, this would have to be it.

How many exam is rape jokes do I let my friends get away with?

Could I even count the number of homophobic remarks from relatives that I let pass without comment?

How many “that’s retarded” statements do I just ignore from people I know?

Yet, I can easily write about these issues when I’m talking to strangers and I think there is something fundamentally wrong with that.

The truth is, I can do more about Kasarani than I can about Gaza.

I’m more likely to change how a relative or friend sees an issue than I am to do so for a stranger.

There are no problems that I understand quite like the problems at home. And that’s the issue. I’m invested. There can be consequences here. This isn’t my neighbor’s place. This is mine. If there is fallout, I will have to bear it. If I fail, I will feel it. There is something that can be broken if I confront the problems here too much. It is in every way easier to look away and just run. Looking only to deal with problems that do not directly affect me. Safer problems.

But…that’s foolish.

I can’t keep doing that.

I could be wrong but I think a lot of you are like me. It’s all too easy for us to get angry at the start but let that fade and ignore the issue even if it isn’t solved. Even easier to never bring it up at all. It’s how we keep the peace in our little home.

Only, it isn’t really peace is it?

There is only one logical conclusion that I can see. What to do is really rather obvious but I find that even now I still want to run from it. The image of talking to my parents about homophobia will not leave my mind. It is one of the most frightening thoughts I have ever had. I can’t imagine how such a conversation would start let alone how it would end. I don’t think I want to.

“Oppression can only survive through silence.”

– Carmen De Monteflores

A choice has to made. For each of us.

We cannot let the government wait us out on things we care about knowing all the while that we’ll fold first. We have to keep at it. Even when the numbers start to dwindle and it’s no longer easy to do it anymore. We have to keep at it.

We cannot continue to watch people around us doing things we know are wrong and stay quiet. Our silence isn’t just inaction, it makes us part of it. Accessories to a crime.

We cannot claim to be for change if we see the clearest path before us and never take it. Even if it’s not an easy one. We have to take that step.

We cannot keep running.

The Unbiased Pocket Encyclopedia: Understanding Zionist Terminology

Civilians: 
Israeli citizens whose protection justifies any and all extreme measures.

Palestinian civilian
See Human Shield

Defense:
Attack

Humane:
Should Israel plan to attack a location they will  (sometimes) warn the civilian population to evacuate the area. This is what we call conducting war in a humane fashion.

Humane refers only to the act of not killing. Things humane does not refer to may include:

Where the civilians will go after evacuation. That is a personal matter and none of Israel’s business.

Complaints that Israel has left thousands homeless and destitute. These are signs of the ungratefulness that typifies Palestinians. Alive and still complaining.

Human Shield:
Innocent people Hamas militants are hiding among.  Killing or causing damage to their lives with as little restraint as possible is permitted.

Examples of acceptable ratios.

Over 600 deaths and more than 100,000 Palestinians displaced to kill 160 Militants

25 deaths (including 19 children) in order to kill one person is also within the justifiable range.

Restraint:
A UN sheltering school for housing the internally displaced in Gaza being bombed twice might seem like a lack of restraint. Especially if you consider that it’s nature was formally communicated to Israel three times.

But this is not the case. [end of explanation].

Rights of Israel:
As America has stated on several occasions. To do what is necessary to defend itself.

What is necessary’ is never truly defined. It can safely be assumed that it is somewhere in the ballpark of anything they like.

Rights of Palestinians:
Unclear.

Terrorism:
Many believe that terrorism involves the use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in pursuit of political or ideological aims. This is incorrect. That is actually called self defense.

Terrorism can easily be defined as an act attributed to what Palestinians are doing at any given moment. If a Palestinian 12 year old child throws stones then they are a terrorist and Israel can, in good conscience,  imprison them.

UN Resolutions:
What Israel understands, that the rest of the world does not, is that to be condemned in a UN resolution is a great honor. It is a competition and Israel will always aim to win.

2013 saw 21 resolutions against Israel and 4 against the rest of the world.

The US position:
Everyone has the right to respond to violence against civilians with violence that mostly harms civilians….except Palestine. Palestine can’t do that.

We Need Kenyans on Wikipedia

Let’s all join Wikipedia.

Why?

If you want to know about Kenyan history, you have a surprising lack of options. The only good one I can think of (correct me if I’m wrong) is paying for membership in Kenya Archives. The annual fee is pretty cheap and they have an amazing collection of books and old newspapers. It’s always surreal reading a paper from 1969.

Beyond that, you don’t really have much recourse.

Now, I’m not sure we can do much about what’s already passed but what we do have is the opportunity to improve the ease of access from here on out. Future generations should be able to at least get an overview of what happened during our time. We should be able to look up fairly recent events with some degree of accuracy. That’s where Wikipedia comes in.

Wikipedia, while being a powerful tool for pooling information, has a terrible weak spot. It needs participation from a lot people. It needs discussion, fact checking, updating, curating etc. If it doesn’t get that then what you end up with is a biased incomprehensible mess. It’s why your lecturer doesn’t/didn’t trust it as a valid source.

I’m going to quote a few Kenyan Wikipedia pages and you’ll see what I mean.

ALFRED MUTUA:

“Najivunia Kuwa Mkenya was a patriotism enhancing campaign that was aimed at making Kenyans appreciate their country and be more patriotic. This was and still remains the most successful public campaign ever run in the country. Today, Kenyans can give thanks to Dr. Mutua for the patriotic spirit around the country.”

“Dr. Mutua is a man of action, one on the move and one working hard to improve the lives of his constituents.”

CHARLES NJONJO:

“In December of 2013, Njonjo ensured the laying to rest of his sister, Margaret Waithera Njonjo, a Queen of quiet/inconspicuous dignity ( mother of Elizabeth, Alice, and Eunice Kariuki, grandmother of Cira, Josef, James, Jason, and Lule Kariuki) occurred in a manner that her beautiful soul deserved.”

CHARITY NGILU:

“… in 1992, Charity Ngilu pulled off a big surprise by capturing the Kitui central constituency seat on the Democratic Party ticket.”

“Ngilu was seen as a new school member in the government, as opposed to old school members like John Michuki and President Kibaki.”

KALONZO MUSYOKA:

Controversies: This section is empty

These quotes are accurate as of 7/7/2014

From an inconsistent tone to clear bias and the utter lack of citation, it’s safe to say a lot of Kenyan pages need work. Some of them serve as advertisements and others are sorely lacking important information. There’s rarely any discussion in the talk page even for disputed content. Surely, we can do better.

Join Wikipedia. Learn how it works. Get a good grasp of the rules and contribute.

We need Kenyans on Wikipedia. KOWs If you will (yes, pronounced cow).

Join Wikipedia because it helps and because it’s funny to say that your country needs you to become a KOW.

Milk that joke for all it’s worth while you’re at it. Ain’t no beef. What, are you dairying me?

Join Wikipedia if for no better reason than to make sure the guy who made that quick succession of lame jokes is not one of the main contributors.