Use Things, Love People

What’s the difference between the things you love and the things you use? When are they the same thing and when are they not? How much does your life change when you no longer have them? How much do you notice when you no longer use them?

The most money I have ever spent on a pair of shoes was Ksh 9000. They were Nikes. The first time I held them in my hands I felt great power. I was transported back to a time when the only shoes I owned, were hand-me-downs given to me by friends whose feet were markedly smaller than mine. To this day, my feet still bare some of the scars I got from wearing shoes that were too tight. So for the first time in my life, I belonged in a store where the minimum amount you can spend on a pair of shoes is Ksh 9000. I spent the minimum. When the cashier gave me my receipt, I fought the urge to frame it up on a wall as evidence that these were indeed original Nikes. It took me a while before I could bring myself to get rid of the box they came in; that too could be evidence. When I walked over to my shoe rack I bulked at the realisation that there was no space left for the holy grail of my footwear. When did I buy so many shoes?

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It’s A Me & You Thing.

My wife was raised in a home where sometimes the breast milk meant for her little sister was the closest thing she ever got to packed lunch. When she finally made it to adulthood, her mother was almost crushed under the weight of all the loans it took to afford something like a decent life. I was an orphan who had just spent the last 8 years of his life failing time and again to afford the best healthcare my late father could have. The day we decided to get married, we knew there was one inescapable truth we were going to have to face; Mommy and Daddy were not going to pay for our wedding. If we were going to get married, we would have to find a way to afford it on our own.

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A Mother’s Son

My mother lost her job as a bank manager and started selling fish by the roadside. The roadside where her friends drove past on their way home from work. Where my friends passed on their way home from school. Most of her customers were believers at the Church where my father was an elder. There is an image that has stayed with me throughout the years. In it, she is sitting in her kibanda surrounded by customers who are dying laughing. She fit right in. Of all the memories she left me with, this is the one that casts the biggest shadow. I am now a man grown and nearly a year out of a stable job. I have achieved things that would no doubt make her proud, but I have never felt more distant from her than I do now. If I am her son then it doesn’t show, because she would be so much better at this than I am. 

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What Does This Button Do?

If there is a cause I choose to fight for, it is curiosity.

Indifference is a prison in which only ignorance can live. You can’t forge the truth in the same way that you can’t slap chains on it. The truth is forever free, those who stopped looking are the ones who stopped finding it. The only way we are going to find answers, is through a genuine friendship with the unfamiliar.

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We Can Do Better

You have fathered a child, now go and be a father.

This is not a men vs women thing. This is a healing thing. This is about your child and not your ego. No amount of finger-pointing will change the unmistakable fact that a child has been brought into this world. To make this about blame is to shift the focus away from the child. There is no answer that lies away from the child. The answer is the child and the child is the answer, for us to accomplish anything we cannot allow the two to be separated. This is about showing up.

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Bent, Unbroken.

I don’t know anyone who has never failed.

Life thrives on the unpredictable. We know who we love, but we don’t know when we will lose them. We know what we want, but that there are still no assurances. Nothing is impossible in the same way that anything is improbable. Earthquakes and accidents exist in the same world as weddings and baby showers. Both can happen to you. Control, you see, is an illusion. Neither you nor I have any.

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An Inside Job.

I’m writing this for your sister. She has grown up in a society that compels her to be a woman worth marrying. For your best friend, who has watched all her friends find love; outside, she remains happy for you but loneliness is crushing her from the inside. For the single mother who will never apologise for her child, but is still treated like she should. For your daughter, whose value you will never allow to be determined by a man.

Most of all, I am writing this for you who knows exactly how it feels to be all these women… Precisely because you are one of them.

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