Remember my baptism by fire in reference to many women’s lives? Well , I have tasted it too and been led me to ask the big question... Who am I and why am I here?
Born the third child after two boys in my family was received with much joy and celebration. This meant different things to different people. To my father, pride in that his own mother who am named after has been honored and his clan name ‘Ambui’ after which my name ‘Wambui’ is derived has been perpetuated. To our community and friends, another feasting opportunity in child blessing ceremony. To my mother, a couple of days getting spoilt as women friends helped with the cooking and cleaning as was customary. To me, life started and ended at the nipple. As we grew up on the farm, roles were fairy distributed. Both girls and boys helped in the farm, boys milked the cows and distributed milk while girls helped in the kitchen.
In our adult life however my older brothers got sold out to alcoholism, my parents passed on in traumatic circumstance within a period of eight years. My father was attacked by violent robbers followed by my mother from cancer. Then began my rollercoaster tango with responsibility that I had previously taken for granted .
Without parents and living with persistently irresponsible older siblings, I moved back to the farm and took charge, trying my best to keep the family together and honor my parents. However, my brother’s addiction coupled with their presumptuous idea that being the men gave them the right to make decisions, insecurity in the property , psychological abuse from insults and hollering plus the pain of seeing them waste away sent me into a depression and my health and job suffered. I could not fathom how my mother had managed to leave with that. Then I realized that she had played the good and faithful mother and keeper of family honor but at what price?
I asked myself soul searching questions. Who was I in the equation of the family and where was I going without my sanity and good health. What was my effort worth in a relationship that was not reciprocal and financially depleting? Of what use would I be to myself and others if I became malfunctional. How long could the situation prevail. What if I wasn’t there, would their lives stop. I eventually let go and moved out to a more peaceful place. I was able to coordinate activities better, away from the aggravated assault on the senses I had dangerously started to get used to. Luckily, unlike my mother, I had the courage to make drastic decision to move, knew where to go and was aware of available remedial strategies should the need arise. I am convinced that as mothers and sisters, we have limits and must opt out when it is necessary to save ourselves. That way, we can live to tell the story and change someone else’s life. That is the vision I personally live by. By extension, I wish to live in a community and world where everyone has access to information, knowledge and the means by which to positively transform their lives.
On return to the farm, I was under the illusion that life could go on as before. I would write out Christmas, condolence, christening cards and sign underneath ‘from the Kairis’. Eventually I learnt to sign ‘from Wambui Kairi’ after realizing that I was the only contributor. The family had changed. I had to accept, let go the past and embrace the future. I no longer had to worry that my contribution to the community fundraiser was too small for a family because this time, it was mine. That was liberating! I had began a process that would change the way I perceived and behaved thereafter. My experiences and those from women that have no opportunity to speak, the chance to correct misrepresentations that have been used to form negative opinions and perceptions of those that are different from us, forging a gender transformation movement are what I wish to share as a Voices of our Future correspond