I dared Mt. Muhavura and she dared me right back.

When I was leaving for Mountain Muhavura last Friday, I wrote a braggy facebook update daring the mountain to become steeper because I felt I needed a proper challenge to help me forget the week I had had. I got a challenge alright. As I write this, I have one cracked fibula and a body that is still bruised from the various ways I had to contort it as I climbed.

Well I wasn't climbing ALL of the time. I lay down on the trail and took pictures of my throbbing legs many, many times.

Well I wasn’t climbing ALL of the time. I lay down on the trail and took pictures of my throbbing legs many, many times.

Have you ever exerted yourself so much that even your elbows sweat? Has your body ever given out so deeply that your mind stops recording your life? This is what happened. Halfway up the mountain, I stopped noticing things. I placed one foot after the other like every zombie in every zombie flick you have seen.

If the journey up takes away all of your energy, the journey down steals your patience. I began to fast-walk, and then slow-jog down the mountain. I had become bored with my pace and also competitive. It gets old, watching person after person overtake you. I also wanted to feel fit.

When my knee cracked back and I heard that pop, I fell down and wailed like a heartbroken actor in a Telenovella.

OK like this, only less dignified.

OK like this, only less dignified.

My poor limb. First, it had been ravaged by the spider mites on my herb patch, making it scar so much that I look like I’m wearing polka dotted stockings, and now I had broken it. Central to my weeping was that I would not be able to dance that night. A trip to a new place is not complete for me if I haven’t jiggled my limbs to its music! I was full of despair. Somehow, I got off the mountain. Somehow, I danced. Somehow, my moves did not make my leg break clean in half.

Yea

Yea

When I got to Kampala, my first stop was a hospital in Ntinda that I have been asked to please not name. The medical insurance I have is tied to that place. With the help of my nkoni, I hobbled up the stairs right into a nightmare. I have never encountered such confusion or rudeness. I should have run right out when I saw that the doctor was wearing a tiny pink dress top leggings and strappy sandals. You guys, I work in Advertising. That is my uniform. When clients see me, they go, Oh! This one must be full of crazy ideas. That is NOT what you want to be thinking about your doctor.

Me on a good day, You would not allow me to treat you.

Me on a good day. Don’t allow any doctor who looks like this to treat you.

Fortunately for me, she didn’t seem to have any ideas at all, good or bad and after 30 minutes of spastic, disinterested and distracted service, I was sent away with diclofenac and instructions to return for a session with the ‘sonographer’. The next day, the receptionist informed me that I would need authorization from my office to see this sonoperson. After two hours, she snappily informed me that my office hadn’t called back with the authorization. Now I know the fault wasn’t hers and reserve a big helping of side-eye for my office admin, but surely she could have let me know an hour earlier. I shook my crutch at them all and limped out of their establishment.

I eventually had my leg scanned at Span in Kisaasi, and although I am sure I left with some damaged cells thanks to being X-rayed on a naked table with no protective clothing over the rest of my body, I was happy with their service. The doctor made me feel like I was going to be OK. To distract me from the painful massage (there was a whole lot of swelling but I have been informed that it was very stupid of him to massage my fractured limb), he called me an athlete and told me stories of how basket ballers sometimes have to have their fibulas sawed entirely off.

I finally hauled my ass to a bone specialist and he’s put me in a leg brace and scared me into using my crutch more diligently, because nti I will never run again if I fool around with the healing of my limb.

I feel like an autobot.

I feel like an autobot.

One bright side is that thanks to the fracture, my body requires for me to take almost three times as many calories per day in order to heal properly. You guys August is going to be gorgeous. Fooooood!

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Broken Bones, Restructured Hearts and Other News. (Hello August)

Hello August. I salute you. I salute your air with my lips. Here, mwa! Mwa! Mwa! On your 20th day, I shall be four digits older than my birth date. I shall be closer to the glory that my mid-20s are sure to bring.

I of course arrive with drama. My fibula is broken, so you will be my unfittest month of the year, August.

2013-08-01 12.38.30

As I rest, I shall enjoy getting rounder, and I won’t even mourn my stamina too much. I shall throw back glass upon glass of water and tot upon tot of gin. I shall eat all of the livestock and some of the fruit. Perhaps I shall join a gym and tone my upper body up. We’ll see.

My 23rd year has been incredible. It saw me make a year in the most serious relationship I have ever had. I am not a commitment-phobe, now I know. And I am not incapable of loving or being loved! This year also saw me fall out of that relationship. It saw me in the lap of devastation and afterwards, in the face of excitement (and contentment) so bright and thick that I thought I had achieved Nirvana. I am now back to being normal just, so yea that wasn’t nirvana.

This year has delivered me into the arms of herbs and essential oils.

Yay essential oils

My hair smells like peppermint. My pillowcase has wild lavender tucked into it, plucked right off the slopes of Mountain Muhavura.

Wild lavender all wrapped up in Acacia. I think they are dating!

Wild lavender all wrapped up in Acacia. I think they are dating!

Eucalyptus oil blesses my water every time I feel pain. Moya (that some call shea butter) is stripping scars off my legs, scars that appeared because of the mubofu spider mites that tried to invade my herb patch.

I regularly bless my bath water with rose petals and mint leaves, plucked from my own plants. I have even gotten into the habit of thanking the plants when I take from them. In other words, my kwemola has reached insane levels, and I am happiest this way.

whosaqueen?

This year, I have stopped being so annoyed by some of the things my father does. I have come to love them instead. His tendency to befriend and invite complete strangers into our home for impromptu dinner parties. His loud way of speaking, my god, he shouts all the time, everywhere. He is so aggressive, even when he doesn’t intend to intimidate or annoy. I have come from flushing with annoyance to beaming with joy and acceptance. This is partly because I am so very similar to him.  I intend to honor him in a Stiletto Point article soon, so let me not over spoil.

During this my 23rd, I have conquered the demons that made me so attached to deodorants (I would have 5, one for each workbag). I no longer spray those synthetic, paraben-filled armpitcides onto my delicate skin. I have made peace with the memories of bullying that went down in Green Hill Academy’s corridors and no longer pay that time of my life homage.

I am in love with my brown. Forget pretending that I am blind to all those times that weirdos have tried to make me feel bad, or lesser because of my dark skin. I have been at war with many demons-ooo!

Ayaya who is that? Apenyo.

Ayaya who is that? Apenyo.

I am an aloe vera gal. On three separate occasions, people have hugged me at the end of a day and said, “Oh wow, you smell so nice.” Do you know what they are smelling? Aloe vera + Apenyo. The gel mixes with my natural smell to produce musk like no other.

I have never had so many trips lined up in the same time frame as I do now. Last weekend, I was in Kisoro and Kabale drinking, dancing, climbing and breaking legs with the Kampala Hashers. This weekend (or possibly next), I am going to be exploring Lake Bunyonyi with a very lovely person, the best travel buddy in the world really. On the 24th and 25th of August, I am going to be in Queen Elizabeth National Park.

Plans are all over my life like back acne.

I am also part of a competition that explores how stories directly affect readers after production. 46 of us submitted stories on the theme of identity and equality to Writivism, 14 of us got mentors, attended workshops and read to young literature lovers in many of Kampala’s schools. It has been an experience with many ups and downs for me, but ultimately, a great one. I would do it again. The shortlist is going to be released on the 3rd of August, and here’s hoping True to Nothing will be on it.

I am writing (haltingly, with a lot of procrastination and inertia in the mix), I am growing things out of the soil, I am growing myself, my mind, I am living as consciously as I can. You guys, life is good.

Forgive me for not posting last Sunday’s Stiletto Point. I was full of pain and self pity. My leg nanti.

See how I have cutiefied my crutch.

On crutches, but still pretty.

Pretty crutches.

x

Bathing plants and office DIY

When my dad discovered me singing to my plants a few days ago, he must have backed away very slowly because one minute I could hear him being generally alive in the space behind me and the next, he was gone. Not to another part of what is a large backyard, mind, but totally gone. Perhaps he was like it’s too early in the day to face the kind of offspring I have bred. 

In the absence of a watering can, and the presence of my two very capable hands, I give my plants a bath every morning. I am very proud of the small plot that I was allowed to de-grass for this project and I’m determined for everything to go amazingly well.  

The process:

Using my palms, I scoop water out of a bucket, quickly come up with a song for whichever plant I’m watering and then pour. For example:

Lemon balm, lemon balm, will you let me be your calm.

and

Sage plant, Sage plant, protect me from these ensanafu

and

Thyme, Thyme, will you love lime…

Look it doesn’t have to make sense. Singing charms plants and that’s what must have brought my strawberry baby back to life.

Have you read this article by Fungai Machirori, founder of herzimbabwe and all round fantastic woman? You should because it is about Anne Kansiime, arguably the funniest comedian in Uganda. I was lucky to meet, attend a comedy show, drink and do loud karaoke on Jinja Road with Fungai when she was in Uganda a few months ago. She’s a real gem and I hope I will one day do something extraordinary enough for her to feel like blessing me with an interview like this.

For now, I will enjoy the fact that she has called me an advertising executive and included a beautiful picture of Kansiime and I in her article.

In other news, I have decided to document my journey to fitness on tumblr. Check my tumblog out and send me all of your best energies, even after reading that  I yesterday jogged from office up to Alfredos and back. Control your feelings. Don’t let your jerasssey cloud the vibes, hehe.

In fun and final news, I stole an empty banana boat paper bag from the receptionist’s desk. I say stole because it’s really good paper and she may have wanted it for something.

2013-07-11 12.34.25

Anyway, I needed its sisal handles for an impromptu recycling and DIY session.

2013-07-11 12.25.40

Also read as, I felt like changing my hairstyle and didn’t have any rubber bands. I took the handles out and after a minute in the bathroom, looked like this. 

2013-07-11 12.33.49

and this

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and this

2013-07-11 12.33.37

and this

2013-07-11 12.33.02

It’s fun, free and takes my bob away from my neck, which is great for the hot hours. When it gets cold, I can just let it back down. This has got to be the most versatile hairstyle I’ve ever rocked.

I need to go and write a wildly overdue article about songs, sex and gender issues for Muwado.com, so see you on Monday.

Herbs and indiscreet (happy?) vibrations

I met Godiva yesterday and it was wonderful. She’s a fantastic womyn whose tweets I find infinitely retweetable.  Our plan was to buy some herbs, actually, a lot of herbs and I’m pleased to report that we were successful.

The stretch after Mukwano Industries is lined with an impressive collection of plants and that’s where we finally convinced our bodamen to drop us. Ko these guys. Ever to throw us the most dubious of looks. Their tiny eyes were just swimming with lechery. I understand that we looked good, but that was some other level, punch deserving behavior.

Aaanyway

I got sage, peppermint, thyme, three lemon balms (my favorite), parsley, some lavender and a plant that you can burn to get rid of mosquitoes. Unfortunately, I can’t remember its name. When you bruise its leaf, you release a smell similar to BOB insecticide, only less toxic.

Kaka a.k.a tata herbs (0752927404) was nice enough to give us enyongezas plus boxes in which to haul our loot. He even organized bodas for us.

When I got back to office, I first of all:

Rapped to my herbs

They appreciated it.

Uh, uh, yo, yo, herbs, herbs, uh, uh.

Then I used them as an epic modeling prop

Wuluku! Who is that? It is Apenyo.

Wuluku! Who is that? It is Apenyo.

And finally, I achieved the ultimate: looking exactly like my mother

Anyayo's very own

Anyayo’s very own

My aim is to have a large, thriving herb garden and to convert all my siblings into sage burning, aloe eating, ginger/honey bath loving, plant adoring people. I’m on the right track!

In other news, earth shakes! Quake quakes! Who is mother earth’s new boyfriend/girlfriend? And can’t she have quiet orgasms, considering how many creatures live on her? I’m happy that she’s getting laid, but she needs to be a bit discreet about the way she expresses her enjoyment.

For serious, I was terrified last night. The first tremor was not so bad. I didn’t panic. My dad though. He went all: EVACUATE THE PREMISES! WHERE IS THE BABY?! WHERE IS THE BABY?!

Now I’d left Daniella on my bed, happily tinkering with the contents of my handbag. One of our helpers must have  grabbed her because I found the bed empty when I went to fetch her. You guys my terror was for world! For I moment I even thought the rapture was upon us.

Meanwhile, the tremor had ended but had dad’s panic decreased? No. It had just spread to everybody else.  I found them all outside the house, recovering from their craziness.

The second tremor happened at around 1am and it was strong enough to wake and abandon me in the land of the sleepless.

It’s OK for earthquakes/shakes/tremors to happen during the day. In fact, it’s awesome (when they’re not destructive).

But during the night? Nothing is allowed to steal the calm predictability of the night. That’s a sin right there! I’m waiting for somebody from the Ministry of Disaster Preparedness to say something. Abaaye, tell us if we need to migrate to the moon.

In unhappy news, I have missed the Stiletto Point bus. My last two weeks have been full of existential crises and soulless essays, making it impossible for me to write good stories. Naye worry not. My time and enthusiasm are back! I’m going to be sending my editor a nice bunch of articles soon.

Meanwhile, check his website out. He’s a cool dude.

Matooke peels in mah pits.

I’m a sucker for experiments. Let’s eat catfish for a week! Let’s listen to Tyler the Creator’s entire album! Let’s make our own kwete!

Generally, I’m going to say yes.

A few months ago, Aloikin tweeted about the wonders lemon had worked in her armpits.  She said that if you put her armpit next to a Hollywood one, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.  

My ambitions are a bit closer to home. Nollywood’s Genevieve is the truth. 

Walahi I was inspired

Walahi I was inspired

Inspired, I abandoned deos and turned to my pantry, the internet and some very strange substances for solutions to vubs.  I then wrote about my experience herehere and here.

On Monday night/ Tuesday morning, a rare and wonderful thing happened: my sister Jerolyn and I were insomniating at the same time! People call us twins on account of how alike we look and how in sync we are  naye adulthood has so much drama that even when you live in the same house, you can find yourself drifting apart from your untwin. Finding her in the living room felt like a trip back to childhood! It also felt like a heart attack because who sits so silently in the dark?

During my deoless weeks, a lovely lady called Yvonne suggested that I burn matooke peels, add water to the ash and rub the paste onto my armpits before going to bed.

All ready to burn

All ready to burn

There’s not much to do at 3.30 am, so Jero and I decided to try this out. It seemed like a simple enough plan. We had eaten matooke for supper, so there was no shortage of peels. A few coals on the sigiri were still hot, so I attempted to bring them to life, for the peel roasting. 10 minutes and a face full of ash later, I suggested that we try the microwave.

The next 30 minutes can be summed up thus: At least we didn’t burn the house down.

After 25 minutes of micro-grilling, we crushed the now brittle peels and ended up with what you see below:

2013-06-25 04.42.54

You guys, matooke peel ash has such a gorgeous, intimate, velvety, coffee like smell. It is so rich, so dark, so wholesome.

I realize I may have just described my ideal mate.  If you are rich (talent counts), dark (um, yea) and wholesome (like butter), this is for you.

We also made some  ginger/aloe water to use in spicing our bath water. We added some of it to the ash and made a nice paste.

I could eat this stuff. The smell!

I could eat this stuff. Smells like many heavens

Unfortunately, ginger is such a bully. Its flavor was all fronting, trying to outshine the matooke peel. On application of the paste, we both experienced a strange tingling sensation (thanks to the ginger I bet). I’m going to use plain aloe water next time.

On Tuesday morning,  I “forgot” to use deodorant, and am happy to report that I only started smelling shady at around 5pm. Win!

Here’s to experiments, new discoveries and deep smelling substances.

:D

😀

P.s: Late last year, I submitted a story to the Writivism competition. It made the long list and has been published on Short Story Day Africa and Reader’s Cafe Africa. It’s such a wonderful high, getting published.

Check my story out you fab person, you.

Dare to Smell: Aloe Vera gel Saves the Day

Aloe Vera is incredible. It is self healing, can survive with little or no attention, is anti-aging, anti-inflammatory, great for skin, hair, genitals, you name it. For a while, I have been writing about the weeks during which I abandoned mainstream deodorant and went on a quest to find a natural substance that would do away with body odor.

 Find Part one here and Part two here.

When I first decided to put freshly harvest aloe gel under my armpits, I was just playing around. I didn’t expect it to work, but it did. It eliminated the stench-causing bacteria in my armpits for three days. But on the fourth day it failed.

My theory is this: Aloe vera stopped working because I had become distressed. I know this sounds a bit of, but I am just recounting what happened to me (with zero embellishments). A person to whom I’d been quite attached passed out of my life quite abruptly and immediately, I began to smell appalling. Stress makes you sweat more so that must have been a factor, but this wasn’t regular stress. I took to applying fresh aloe vera gel thrice a day but still, I smelt like a dead snake.  The smell of distress is like a moan from the very soul of your armpits.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, I didn’t care. I mean, who worries about vubs when their hearts is bleeding?  After all, God didn’t create the nose with special instructions to smell only perfume.

I only snapped out of my funk after what I call the Kisaasi bus incident.  It was the end of a long day and as I walked to the place at Kamwokya stage where Kisaasi taxis congregate,  I made a short prayer that I would find a window seat. It had been a rough day, worse than usual and I smelt both sweaty and distressed.

Alas, there weren’t any empty window seats and so I had to settle for a middle one in the back row. To my right was a lovely looking girl and to my left was a nice enough guy. He made space for me, even smiled. Nobody smiles at a stinky person right? Wrong.

My neighbor on the right was having a fit. She began by pushing the window as wide open as it could go. She then held her tiny nose between her delicate fingers and winced. I looked at the guy on the left and he was having no reaction! I almost asked her if I smelt weird, but I knew the answer to that, so I kept mum.

Eventually, I became irritated with what I saw as a gross overreaction on her part. She was practically holding her breath. Do you know how long it takes to get to Kisaasi from Kamwokya? To have somebody risk death, just so that they don’t have to breath your stink in, that hurts. I felt she was being overtly mean.

Eventually, she moved out of the bus. There’s nothing like a beautiful girl reacting with horror to your presence to help you pick yourself up.

I didn’t start using anything different. Rather, I began to apply aloe vera even in the night before sleeping. Since the smell had been brought on my my distress, I decided to proactively deal with my feelings of loss, denial, anger and fear that all break ups come with. Sadness is no excuse to smell like a he-goat.

My armpits have healed over completely. They no longer look fried by chemicals and are absolutely flawless. An added bonus is that even when I forget to apply aloe, I smell like nothing. 

Recently, I went to Forever living and bought an aloe deodorant. I am OK with most of its ingredients although tricoslan has many weird reviews on the internet. Many days, I’m happy to go without. Occasionally, I go back to applying fresh gel, but  I’d really rather eat the aloe that surrender it to my pits.

So what do you think of my journey? Would you abandon mainstream deos for more natural alternatives?

Daring To Smell #I

For a long time, I had a paralyzing fear of smelling bad. This is not the worst fear to have. In fact, if more people had it, using public transport in Uganda would be much more pleasant.  I can trace this  fear to a time in my primary school career, perhaps p6, when I earned myself a nickname for smelling sweaty.

This was something my parents just couldn’t work their heads around. To them, 11 year olds who incessantly begged for deodorants were just being bad.

This experience messed with my psyche. At one point as an adult, I had a deodorant in every bag that I owned, two different types on my vanity board and another two in my drawer at work. I couldn’t bear to go a day without lathering my underarms in gooey roll-ons and stinging sprays. On the occasions when sweat somehow broke through the layers of deo, I would become anxious beyond belief.

This attachment to deos wrecked my underarms. I have sensitive skin that reacts to everything, even certain fabrics. For years I silently suffered the discolouration, rashes, bumps and boils. When my underarms weren’t exploding with pus, they were as rough as a crocodile’s back! I had made peace with never having smooth and/or happy armpits.

 On the 25th of March this year, I came upon a tweet by a fascinating lady called Alokin Ikon. She had written that thanks to lemon, her armpits were as flawless as a movie star’s. I read that tweet at least five times.

I was excited, disbelieving and irrationally angry all at the same time. Had I been going about life with armpits that were as ragged as old lorry tyres when lemon could have easily given me the smoothness I so coveted?

After a short conversation with Aloikin, my mind was made. I was going to abandon regular deodorant and replace it with lemon juice. The likelihood of having armpits that would allow me to wave my hands in the air like I just don’t care was fascinating.

This all happened around the time when I’d decided to stop wearing bras (in order to force myself to love the dip and curve of my breasts and appreciate my body image, even without the lift of a bra). I was brimming with boldness and motivation. I threw my deodorants, all ten thousand of them out and embarked on stage one: research.

 I was determined to experiment with only natural deodorizing substances that were cheap and readily available. It was during this search that I learnt about parabens and aluminum, substances that most  mainstream deodorants contain. Parabens are preservatives found in food and cosmetic products. They have estrogen-like qualities and are easily absorbed by the skin. Estrogen is a female hormone known to cause breast cells (both normal and cancerous) to grow and divide. The link between cancer and parabens, if any, is still being worked out by people of science, but this information gave me even more gas to go natural.

My journey had begun with tweets about lemon, so I went to the market and got myself a large kaveera of them. To kill pesky odor causing bacteria, all I had to do was cut a thin slice of fresh lemon and rub it under my arms. I was ecstatic. I smelled like nothing. My sweat was lightly lemon scented. Unfortunately, this bliss was not to last.

Good in food, tea, alcohol and armpits.

Good in food, tea, alcohol and armpits.

I’ll be back next Tuesday with more about my quest to find the perfect natural deodorant.

In Pursuit of Sharp Hair II

Last week, I wrote about my irritation with the saying and mentality that ‘a woman’s hair is her crowning glory’. I wrote about the schemes that many people in my life employed to trick me into growing my hair during the 14 or so months that I chose to shave it bald. I also wrote about the craziness I encountered when finally I decided to grow and style it.

I had reached the part of the story where a hairdresser in Wandegeya tried to assault my scalp with Ariel detergent.

After my escape, I made peace with the fact that I would never again be welcome in Yusuf’s salon and turned to YouTube for inspiration. For the last two years, a natural hair revolution has swept over the internet and there has been faithful documentation by black women from all over the globe, on all kinds of platforms from YouTube to tumblr to Facebook to pinterest.

I was therefore confused when it proved hard to find a short and simple instructional video. I shifted my research to Google and keyed in all the variations of the words ‘spiky natural hair’ that I could think up. My luck was meagre.

It became clear that the information I wanted was deliberately hiding from me and so I decided to learn by trial and error.

I called my best friend, secured her commitment to my cause and then bought three kinds of locking gel. I also bought a bathing sponge woven out of string and went over to her house. On arrival, I washed my hair and proceeded to rub my scalp first with the sponge and then with my palm. I rubbed and rubbed and rubbed and rubbed. By the time I thought about giving up, the hair over my ears had spiked up but the rest of it remained bunched up like defiant steelwool. I also had a raging headache and the skin of my scalp felt and looked like bruised tomato skin.

I took my sorrows to back to facebook and finally caught my first break. Apiyo, that dear girl offered to help. Herself a lover of stress free hairstyles, Apiyo is a veteran as far as sharp hair is concerned. Reader, I knew this from the very beginning. Why hadn’t I contacted her earlier? I have no idea.

It took 30 minutes of rubbing to turn my head into a mass of spikes and I walked out of her house preening like a pampered pony. I made sure to stare every cute person in the face, mentally ordering them to propose marriage. I felt fabulous and felt the need to show people outside my social circles how great I looked. This search for attention led me to National Theater the next Thursday evening, for a show by Fun factory.

Was I distraught when I saw Anne Kansiime rocking my very hairstyle? Yes. Did I irrationally decide that she’d somehow stolen it from me? Yes. Did I magically forgive her when I got the opportunity to take a picture with her? Of course. The lady is hilarious.

During the course of the show, I managed to win myself a free hairdo of my choice at Jephi’s salon on parliamentary avenue. Even though I love Kansiime and had totally forgiven her for making me feel less special about my hair, I decided the time for a change had come.

Jephi’s is upmarket and its workers are very skilled but the director was irritable and snappy during the first five minutes of my arrival. When, however, he heard that I would be writing about my experience, his attitude totally changed, of course.

The golden spikes on my head have been a source of much chagrin in the hearts of some of the very people who were complaining about my baldness. Dad took my sister Jero aside and asked her, “Have you told Mildred how bad her hair looks? It’s terrible! It looks like nothing. Go and tell her to remove it!” Smh. In matters of hair, you’ve just got to do you.

Here are some pictures:

Golden spikes

Golden spikes that I got tired of in like a week

What I was rocking at blankets and wine last Sunday

What I was rocking at blankets and wine last yesterday but one

 

In Pursuit of Sharp Hair I

Humans pay too much attention to each other’s bodies. What is he wearing? How long is her skirt? What does her hair make me feel? We are forever poking our noses into things that are none of our business.

I chose to go bald for a little over a year and during this time, my family, (certain) friends and ex didn’t stop devising schemes to get me to wear some hair. My father told me that I’d get meningitis as a result of all the mosquito bites that my large, smooth scalp would attract. He also said I would get headaches and all the exposure to cold wind would freeze my thoughts.

The shoulders of my aunts would droop with sadness whenever I’d walk into the house with yet another haircut. The ex’s tactics were so many and amusing that I cannot do justice to them in one article.

I ignored them all. First of all, I strongly disagree with the notion that a woman’s hair is her “crowning glory”.  A woman’s brain (and the things she can do with it) is what we should be focusing on, people. Not the dead waves and coils of keratin that emerge from her scalp. I refused to yield to the insinuation that the entire experience of womanhood can be reduced to the ability to push dead cells out of a scalp. It was only after I became bored with baldness that I allowed my hair to grow out.

 By the time it was about half an inch long, I was sick of it. I missed the feeling of a cold electric shaver buzzing on my scalp. I missed the newborn alien look that a fresh haircut gives me. I felt like a teenager among all of the S.6 vacists roaming Kampala’s streets. The hair felt invasive and in a last bid to make myself like it, I decided to style it.

 There’s a rather popular hairstyle around town that many people with short natural hair are rocking. They somehow maneuver their kaweke into little spikes that stick out from their scalps, giving a lovely definition to their faces. I knew from research (loads of facebook updates) that this style could be arrived at by briskly rubbing a sponge or a palm over the scalp. Thanks to the lovely people on my friend list,  I also knew that a cheap locking gel could be used to achieve this style.

I uploaded this to facebook. it helped a lot.

I uploaded this masterpiece to facebook  and captioned it with the words below:

 

(slightly edited) You guys, I need your help. So I have seen this style around town where people with teenie weenie fros like mine curl their hair into spiky little points. I know from a bit of research that this style is arrived at by briskly rubbing a sponge over the scalp. What treatment do they put in the hair to make it form the spikes when rubbed? I love this style but I’m not willing to pay the insane dimes that a salon  is sure to charge me.  A sponge is 500 and whatever product they’ll use can’t be more than 30 bob. Any(really really) useful information will be rewarded with long hugs and a good meal. 

Because I’m rich (ha), I visited a salon in town for a cost assessment. The shameless lady told me she’d require sixty thousand of my Uganda shillings. I visited another one, this time in Wandegeya because I figured it would be cheaper, what with the bulk of their clientele being broke campus chicks. I was right. Yusuf told me he’d only need 30,000. When I asked what the styling would entail, he became cagey and it was only after great insistence that he told me he’d be putting Ariel detergent in my hair.

Understand that I really wanted this style. As Yusuf washed my hair, I consoled myself that a little Ariel wouldn’t hurt. It was only when I smelled the actual detergent that I chickened out. The thought of sitting in a taxi going from  Wandegeya to Ntinda while smelling like soaking clothes just killed my morale dead. When I told Yusuf to stop, he was very angry. He rejected payment and snarled something about “losers who visit salons to steal knowledge” at my back.

I then took my research to youtube and thankfully, none of the ladies online were using detergent on their heads.

to be continued.

Either teach well or go home (and kill yourself).

Church was once a staple in my life and slowly, I am starting to find true enjoyment in the word of God again. This article isn’t about my spiritual awakening (which I hope will last this time). It’s about the way people in positions of influence deliver their teachings.

One Sunday last November, one of the pastors at Watoto Church was talking about his wonderful wife and the lovely things that she’d done for him on his anniversary. It was very sweet. He even insisted she come up and sing the song she’d sung on the day to much cooing and clapter*  from the congregation. He remarked on how beautiful she is and how more women need to obey their husbands, especially when it comes to how they look.

He then said, “But some women just cut off all their hair” while making a comical sweeping motion over his head.

I bristled with indignation, and not only because I have chosen to rock a nearly bald head.

Like this

I miss the days it was like this

The pastor’s joke made the entire congregation look around and eyes lingered on those like me with little or no hair. In that moment, I wondered what it would be like to be married to somebody like him and let me tell you, what I envisioned wasn’t a fun experience. I saw a guy who would whine endlessly and be very aggressive about letting you know how he wanted you to look. Just imagine if a Christian couple in attendance was fighting about style choices. On hearing Pastor’s words, whatever headway they’d made would be lost.

A lot goes into a way a person looks. Mood, emotional well being,  fashions, personality, etc. Style is an intensely personal thing. Even in a long term relationship where you’re committed to loving the same person forever, both individuals retain the right of choice.

If you want to change your partner’s style to suit your tastes, don’t do it by shaming them or comparing them to others. Spitting Bible verses won’t work. Belittling them won’t work. Writing blogposts about them won’t work either . Give them a reason to want to acquiesce to your whims. Make them feel comfortable enough to adjust their style in a way that will make you happy. The way a person looks should be their decision, an act of service (to you, their partner) and not one that leads them to doubt themselves.

People in the Education sector are another group that need to be careful about the way they deliver their wisdom. Their job is to instill confidence, manners and a sense of decency in the children that pass through their system year in year out. Instead of doing that, our teachers and school administrations are filling young people up with their own warped sexual politics.
How can a school profess to be against trousers on girls or tight uniforms and then turn around and allow their girls to wear barely-there dresses during prom? If they really thought that trousers caused uncontrollable lust to surge in the hearts and minds of the males in the system, they wouldn’t allow girls to wear them during dances.

A school like Seeta High bars female visitors from entering school grounds if they are wearing trousers, causing much embarrassment and irritation, but allow their students to swim semi-naked in a pool which is not far from the staff room. Where is the logic? Selective morality is dumb and needs to end.

Our young need to be equipped with feelings of equality, self esteem and affirmations, not insecurities and hypocrisy.

James 3: 1 says Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.

If you can’t teach well, go home.

*clapping and laughter