(Disclaimer: This particular article is very long and has a lot of medical jargon. Happy reading nevertheless, I have tried to simplify the terms as much as possible to make it easy for you to understand)
I shook my head sagely, feeling very confused. Leaning back on the adjustable armchair I started to slide off it backwards and as soon as I got cosy the door swung and I abruptly twisted my upper body around. The doctor was back in the office after what seemed like a decade. His eyes crawled up to take a good look at me as he sat down, my lab results in his hands. He was not smiling, my mouth on the other hand was hanging open as I gazed on the file on his desk. He took a long aching breath and muttered “Your results are not good”.
Nothing could have prepared me for the words that followed…I was also hoping against hope that this was just a bad dream. At this point, I was selectively listening. All I know is I heard ovaries, your FSH levels and your LH levels are dangerously low. The remaining part of the results were interpreted to a fazed mind.
My diagnosis stared at me mercilessly. My ovaries had stopped working. I was not getting my periods regularly, they were very irregular. Neither was I ovulating. My FSH levels were low and LH levels low. The pituitary gland, located in the brain, makes these hormones. I had a pituitary dysfunction. I exhibited all signs of a woman who was menopausal. I could not get pregnant. Nothing in life could have prepared me for this reality. I was at the prime of my life, building my career and wanting a long term relationship where I could raise my babies in a perfect family. My faith in religion was questioned occasionally after this. Why me?
A few months later, a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) was done which confirmed I had partial empty sella syndrome. The pituitary gland sits in the sella turcica, a bony box at the base of the brain, which protects it. On scans of a normal brain, the pituitary gland would normally almost fill the sella turcica. Empty sella syndrome is a condition where the pituitary gland appears flattened or shrunken within the sella turcica on a MRI scan.
Hypopituitarism is failure of the pituitary gland to produce one, some, or all of the hormones it normally produces. The pituitary gland has two parts, the anterior pituitary and the posterior pituitary, and hormone production can be affected in either or both parts. This was the cause of my infertility. Pituitary hormone deficiency (hypopituitarism), however, is only present in a small minority of individuals. Hypopituitarism is rare. At any given time, between 300 and 455 people in a million may have hypopituitarism. Hypopituitarism is more common after special situations e.g. brain injuries and postpartum haemorrhage. Most cases of hypopituitarism are not inherited. However, there are some very rare genetic abnormalities that can cause hypopituitarism.
What was next for me? I was now a patient deficient in one or more hormones consequently hormone replacement treatment was urgently required. It was very key for me to get started on HRT because as my Doctor explained, low estrogen levels can lead to bone loss and an increased risk of heart disease.
I was now in my early 30’s. My regular symptoms were; headaches, constant fatigue, low sex drive, for the most part no menstrual periods and if lucky irregular ones and finally infertility. This was my unending nightmare. It took me years before I met my current doctor who was not only empathetic but often took time to explain and listen during every consult.
The first doctor I consulted was an Obstetrician who was not too keen to take any more blood tests. He simply relied on the lab results I had taken previously, asked for a repeat and quickly passed on a prescription for Premarin as my HRT drug. I took this drug for one year. The side effects of premarin outweighed my symptoms. I went in a futile search for another doctor, this time a fertility specialist. It was here that is was revealed to me that taking premarin alone could have in the long run given me uterine cancer. Despite that doctor knowing very well that I still had options of having my baby using assisted reproductive technologies. Some doctors sigh #*!??.
Without the aid of HRT drugs these were the symptoms I embraced; hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, dry eyes, irritability, difficulty concentrating , decreased libido and of course no periods. HRT drugs help to reduce most of these symptoms. I can swear for a very long time on the dry eyes – I couldn’t cry! I hated going for funerals and situations where everyone was sad and crying because I looked like this stiff emotionless woman who never ever shed a tear! Blame it on my pituitary! Mark you, my body was functioning like that of a 70+ year old woman and trapped in that of a 30 year old. It was hard, no local pituitary support groups and I was exhausted explaining why I was constantly fatigued.
The first person I confided in was a friend who was as close as a sister. I was in my early 30’s. We had been to hell and back with this lass, but the only solace she could give was that she would hook me up with a friend who was also struggling to get pregnant I share with her my predicaments . And that was it. I recalled that a few years back she had gone into hibernation after aborting her first baby. A situation that broke my heart literally to pieces. I hated her for not being empathetic, I realised I had tolerated her for too long. As my infertility journey began she became a constant reminder of the struggles I had to bear and what she had so easily discarded after being given freely. I loathed her to date for the simple fact she justified her abortion and had no bone of sympathy for what I was going through. That friendship died a few months after my diagnosis. We clearly were rotating in different hemispheres. I learnt that, no matter what you go through medically-physically, in the end, it is always your prerogative to bear, so learn to toughen up. Nobody is entitled to make you feel good, better or happier. If you feel like cutting off situations that burden your condition please feel liberated to do so. You owe nobody but YOURSELF.
Then the road to desperation begun. Year after year I envied my peers who were settling down and bearing kids, others decided to go solo and still bring forth a mini twin of their own alone into this world. What an enriching and rewarding experience. To be called Mommy is a gift! Holidays are the worst for childless individuals or couples! Yet, here I was bored with people who kept poking in my business and sending emissaries as to why I did not desire to have a child. Well, this is Africa where infertility in women is still a taboo subject. It is shunned, people point fingers at you as cursed, an outcast and an embarrassment to family and kin. Even boardrooms, no matter how eloquent you are you will have a few individuals who will remind you, you have no success without a child; nothing without a family. Some conclude that your anger and bitterness is attributed to your inability of your uterus to procreate. Any disagreement in the office , at home with neighbours, with kin will always be projected to your infertility . To be safe, you retreat to your shell, mind your own business and stay clear from individuals likely to send you to the brink of depression.
With these constant reminders, an acquaintance once told me that it was high time I consulted a pastor to pray for me and get rid of all the hovering spirits of delay on my fertility. She cited my condition as ‘spiritual’. I even had a neighbour who did not have all the details of my condition but told me with a stern face that I should ‘decree and declare’ that not all diagnosis given by man come from God. She added once I declare all my conditions will be reverted. I prayed and fasted, still do. But, fellow women, from experience are the worst empathizers for other women struggling with infertility. Not long ago another lady, mother of three in the middle of group lunch asked me, “ so how much have you managed to save for IvF ” . Remember, I have dry eyes so crying was not an option here. Another told fellow colleagues that I had had an accident and my hips had been fitted with metal plates that is why I could not bear children. Did I ever want to loose a nerve from such careless utterances that would likely take me to my neurologist or endocrinologist? Worse is to be placed in a sanatorium. No, I am stronger than that.
I realised during my struggles, turning a deaf ear was always a plus to managing your symptoms. I did not bring this condition to myself and any woman struggling with infertility out here should know that it is not your fault. One very funny incidence I recall was a man I was dating who had declared that he was 100% single but was also still sleeping with his baby mama. When I discovered this, I confronted this man who completely stonewalled. Well, my hormones drove me to dig for the truth, for closure. Eventually I did end up having a conversation with the baby mama. We were chatting like old girlfriends when she suddenly tried to sneak in between our conversations about the same man we were sleeping with the sale of herbal pills to aid in my fertility. Totally weird! I was no saint either . This same man I dated – I went ahead and did an IuI without his knowledge and used donor sperms from the clinic’s bank. (Never mind I suspected he had done a vasectomy). And I sat pretty marinating for two weeks awaiting a positive pregnancy test that would be my ultimate check mate to him to finally break this dysfunctional relationship. Needless to say, there was no pregnancy. That cycle, the second had failed . I was distraught. I had been checked!
The desperation journey did not halt there . I begun to search endlessly for institutions that were conducting clinical trials abroad on hypopituitarism . Only God knows the money I have spent on series of blood tests, consults and medications. If I would quantify by now they would all amount to 1 million Kshs about USD. 10000. Most local health insurances do not cover fertility treatments nor endocrine disorders. Everything has always been out of pocket. The desperation becomes an addiction. I have sold land, taken huge sums of loans some I am servicing to date. I am surprised my weight did not plummet downwards with all these desperate acts. Anyway, back to my search for clinical trials of new drugs. So here I was writing to three institutions in UK and USA respectively, undergoing all the tests they required to see if I qualified to travel for the clinical trials. One dismissed me out of age limit, another simply told me my condition was too grave to remedial. Another institution asked me to locally seek a reproductive gynaecologist who specialises in fertility problems in women. They advised I could be treated with pituitary hormones that control the ovaries (hormones LH and FSH) . These hormones are given by injection usually three times a week. Confusing right? I was tired. I soldiered on. Fortunately, I decided to stick to my fertility specialist and heed to his advice at least occasionally.
Then here comes along a referred herbalist with a renown track record of even making a positive HIV status undetectable. Desperation is dangerous. As I said, it can also be an addiction. This herbalist convinced me to buy a five litre Jerri can of concoction whose ingredients I did not know either. It cost me USD 50. Then, I had thought taking a break from my HRT drugs for a year was super cool. This was because my periods were in addition crippling painful since I started my menses at 14 years. I had been told that this was referred as spasmodic menstrual pain. This is pain due to the very small and tight cervix that the uterus has to push the menstrual blood through. Relief as most doctors will tell you is brought about by the birth of a child. Well…good luck to me here. Chances of delivering normally was nil as I was older hence my pelvis very rigid, let us not even get into how flexible my bones were not due to age to be able to push a baby’s head out my cervix with ease. And oh…I had a laparoscopy myomectomy a few years back to deal with humongous fibroids. Anyway back to my period, Pain normally starts a day or two before the menstrual flow starts and eases off after flow is properly established. I was exhausted every month having to deal with this pain and all the painkillers I had to pop. I sometimes suspected all the opiates I took for my disabling menstrual cramps also somehow damaged me too. I will never know though.
I battled the side effects of skipping my HRT drugs secretly. Deep down I thought my miracle was in this herbal mixture of bitter fluid that tasted like black tea that would amazingly cure me. For two months, I drunk this liquid religiously; a cup every morning and evening. And I waited and waited for my periods to reappear in vain. Wait, what did I just subject my body to? I struggled too with the raging hot flashes (the worst), mood swings and insomnia. I consulted an endocrinologist who gave me sleeping pills for the insomnia. The pills obviously did not work after a week I was back to him. The problem lay with sudden withdrawal of the HRT drug and my pituitary was in a disarray. The endocrinologist suggested an increase in dose of the sleeping pills and advised if after another week they did not work I needed to be referred to a sleep specialist. I will not even discuss what I thought about this very learned doctor. I do not know if he fatigued or fed up with dealing with endocrine patients all day, he did not even look up whenever I went in for consult. Needless, I went back to my HRT drugs, checked my diet made improvements to my lifestyle and I was back to normality sleeping like a cat!
If you come from this part of my continent you will quickly realise how a single woman with no normal child bearing ability is shamed. I have at least two doctors, one an interning resident and another well renown and established doctor ask me to simply adopt and ask why I wanted a child respectively. Go figure. Silence is not my portion I responded and admonished the first to never ever again in her career suggest that to another patient. Her work was purely clinical and not therapy. Adoption is not for everyone. Secondly, the choice to sire is always deeply personal and not for all and sundry to understand.
To all women struggling with primary or secondary infertility issues, stay strong! The battle ends with being called Mommy! Lots of love…! The struggle continues! (Next sequel will be my on my IuI and IvF journeys. )
LH and FSH: Luteinising hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) are types of gonadotrophins The pituitary gland is a part of your endocrine system. Its main function is to secrete hormones into your bloodstream. These hormones can affect other organs and glands. Sella turcica, a bony box at the base of the brain, which protects it. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is used to help balance estrogen and progesterone in women around the time of menopause. Also known as hormone therapy (HT) or menopausal hormone therapy (MHT), hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can help relieve sweating, hot flashes, and other symptoms of menopause. IuI: intrauterine insemination, a type of fertility treatment that involves placing sperm inside a woman’s uterus close to the fallopian tubes in order to increase the chances of conceiving. IvF: In vitro fertilisation is a process of fertilisation where an egg is combined with sperm outside the body, in vitro. The process involves monitoring and stimulating a woman’s ovulatory process, removing an ovum or ova from the woman’s ovaries and letting sperm fertilise them in a liquid in a laboratory. Gynecologist: A physician who specializes in treating diseases of the female reproductive organs and providing well-woman health care that focuses primarily on the reproductive organs. Ob-gyn; Obstetricians care for women during their pregnancy and just after the baby is born. They also deliver babies. … Your ob-gyn will deal with some of the most important health issues in your life, including birth control, childbirth, and menopause . Fertility specialists focus on diagnosing and treating male and female infertility. These doctors have completed four years of medical school and at least four years of residency training in obstetrics/gynecology (OB/GYN) or urology (andrology).
The first time I dated a Divorced man who by the way had been a long time friend was the most inherent relationship I ever had but also the most traumatic affair to date. Our first serious date with my tall, chocolate and handsome man was at his home in Nyali. This was five years ago but I remember vividly like it was yesterday.
His home was nestled in a mature garden at the end of a cabro-paved driveway with a towering gate. I was given a tour of his home that effortlessly blended into nature with large openings partially hidden amidst tropical palms. I could see his gardener frantically pruning the fence from a distance, his uniformed house-maid kept peering through the sheers curtains of the living room windows now and again. I felt like a very important visitor.
We entered the living room, the doors, floor to ceiling were wooden. The living room had a large sliding glass door that overlooked the terrace complete with an infinity-edge pool that peered towards the Indian Ocean. The house was cool and inviting. It was here that I readily obliged to take the girlfriend title. The mood, ambience, scenery was right. How could I say No?
Nobody ever told me dating a Divorced man with children is not the same as dating a Single man. It is hard, let not anyone fool you. My vice – I try to make imperfect situations perfect. I pick stray puppies and give them a home, and they can manipulate me with baby button eyes to fix anything. That is who I was in relationships then. Not anymore.
Rule No.1: Do not try to fill a void Divorce can be messy and you can end up depressed and lonely too. Do not be in haste to replace your ex-wife just to fill that void. Think it through, take your time and go through the man whore phase or celibate phase. Learn to be alone and enjoy your own company. Your ex may have moved on immediately but do not drag another person’s feelings into a relationship meant to spite your ex or to prove you can bag a better trophy to all and sundry. Move on when ready and if it feels right. Otherwise you may end up with several exes and a couple of baby mama’s.
Rule No.2: Do not spread propaganda about your ex to sanitise yourself to your current partner My ex was the ‘victim’ in his nasty divorce. Of course like many divorcees, the narrator is always the aggrieved. He did no wrong. But I know better, we always have his side, her side and the truth. He maligned his ex but was never ready to discuss the role he played towards divorce.
As a divorcee, avoid discussing your ex with your current girlfriend no matter the status of your relationship. Observe respect and avoid the kiss and tell tales. It speaks volumes about how you leave your relationships and jump onto the next and what you say about your partners.
Your current girlfriend has no business knowing your ex as your ex was in a relationship with you and not the three of you. Her persona is none of your girlfriend’s worry. This back and forth is what creates animosity between ex-wife and current wife or girlfriend because of the discussions and situations you place them into to spite each other. I call it gossip. “She did this/that”! Own your mistakes and avoid discussing your ex character or short comings once you move on.
Rule No.3: Do not compare your current girlfriend with your ex-wife Overhead a divorced man tell his current girlfriend how his ex-wife was very intelligent in school and how she was such an entrepreneur. Whenever they had a tiff he told her she complained a lot in comparison to his ex. I cringed at the thought. Yet, he was no longer with the ex but comfortably living with his current partner. Obviously he was missing his ex and preferred to be with her. I would Exit -Left. How rude!
Rule No.4: Respect your children, your home is your Fort. The first time I slept over at my ex home in the presence of his children I was extremely uncomfortable even though I slept in the guest room. It is not difficult for children to discern what is going on between you and their father. Without any explanations, they can spite the father or feel as if their mother is being replaced. I do not know about other cultures but in the African setting unless the union is formalised, it is uncouth to take all your girlfriend’s to spend over at your home in the presence of your children. Respect your fort, respect your kids space.
Rule No.5: Be 100% sure you know what you want before you introduce her to family, friends and most importantly your children As a divorced man, you may be rusty in the dating game once you get back on your feet. Learn to adopt sobriety and be clear and blatant about your interest. Is it casual sex, a short-term relationship, a long term relationship or a monogamous companionship. Sometimes you get confused, overwhelmed, fail to balance co-parenting and your new relationship and you have no idea how to define your relationship and manage it. This is where you need to pause , rethink and take a break.
My ex started our relationship as a committed long term one, introduced me to his children only after over a year to realise he still wanted to play several fields. He discovered he got game and still wanted to try the bigger dating pool out there before settling down again. Problem is – he was not honest enough to say it upfront to let me go. Wasted my time and his time. It is unhealthy as the children grow up citing several failed relationships that come in and out of your life. Introduce only the woman you are 100% sure will be with you in the long haul to your children. Until then, if you are unsure do not use your kids as bait to bed any Lillian, Lucy or Jackie.
Dealing with this baggage after a break up for a Single woman is hard. Where do you take the feelings and affections you once had for his children you will no longer interact with? The connection you had with his children simply does not fade overnight. When you bump into his children at the shopping malls you want to hide behind the aisles to avoid uncomfortable banter. You not only break up with him but his children, kin and friends. Ipso facto!
Rule No.6: Stop your insecurities, over controlling and overbearing attitude It is frightening to admit your marriage did not work but it is more scary to fathom that the current relationship you are in may end up broken. Again. This can create a wide range of insecurities that rear its ugly head in your current relationship. My ex seemed to have scored all the rules 10/10. He inserted a spy software on my phone something I discovered when our relationship hit a rough patch. My privacy had been invaded. Calls, text messages had all been intercepted. Communication between my friends and I, my kin and I very private conversations for a long time was part of his daily reading routine. He was always on the edge thinking the same reasons that caused his break up could be the same reasons that could likely break us up too.
Rule no.7: Do not make future plans/commitments if you are uncertain of the current relationship When you are in love or lust in your new relationship after a period of post divorce do not be in haste to make key emotional and financial commitments with your new girlfriend. That would be the opium in your head talking. Share with rational friends to slap you back into reality before you make grave mistakes.
These kind of decisions leave a trail of heartbreaks, long term disorientation and sadness if the relationship does not work. We had set up a business together , we were trying for a baby and discussing our settlement retirement plans. Unfortunately, all these plans he was sharing and planning with two or more other women when we were dating. Life is not a joke, and so is other people’s lives and plans. Making light of your partners future plans and in addition proposing new mutual ideas to keep them ‘around’ in the relationship until your certain is deeply psychotic and dysfunctional.
Rule no.8: Respect your communication and time with your current partner Dating a divorced man as a single woman you automatically understand you will be sharing your time with his children who will always come first in his life. That said, a divorced man who has decided he is ready to move on and begin dating should find it within himself to find a balance in order to also make the relationship with his girlfriend also work . This is always a difficult decision to make especially if the children are younger. You can decide not to date seriously until the children are a bit older, understanding and do not demand a lot of your time.
Create boundaries. If you have moved on from your divorce, do not encourage your ex manipulation tactics that more often than not create tension in your new relationship. For example, incessantly calling by your ex during your dinner or lunch dates or making you their rescue person 24-7 disrupts you from moving on smoothly in your current relationship. Sadly, if no boundaries are created if you have indeed moved on means you still want to make amends with your ex and work on your old relationship. Of course who would not understand, you do have children together and despite the differences would like to raise them together. This is where the buck stops and I request you to communicate and set your girlfriend free to be loved by someone else instead of wasting her time. Avoid couples who rotate back and forth on break ups or divorce .They feed on that roulette. You will only feed that insanity temporarily if you date either only for them to reunite. Refer again to rule no.7.
I am not a relationship expert, opinions are my own based on real life experiences.
The sound of raindrops drew Nerima closer to the sparks of bonfire lit under a temporary shelter by the roadside. The fire shone bright in the dark scary night as the group of 10 Maasai guards continued to add more wood to the fuel. It had been four hours of communicating to her beau since he gave her a date at a local popular joint nestled at heart of Nairobi’s city centre. Nerima had patiently waited for him from 7pm as she communicated with him then he finally decided to change the venue of their meeting to his local neighborhood pub. The few drinks she had ordered with her friend, he requested her to pay as he would later double the refund once they met. Nerima had exhausted all the money she had. She now only had bus fare to get her to the pub she was directed by the boyfriend for the meet up.
The inevitable happened as she took a matatu to join her boyfriend as requested, her phone’s battery went dead. It was 9pm. Arrival at the designated stage was 10pm. It was on alighting the matatu that she saw these friendly Maasai security guards and approached them for directions to the pub where she would join her date. The night runs young up to 11pm in most middle class estates as people walk from work and local kiosks remain open to serve the neighbourhood.
This is how Nerima found herself basking in this billow of smoke and fire as the Maasai guards told her the pub in question was about 0.5 km from where they are but warned her it is very dangerous to walk alone they would escort her up to there in a little while to ensure of her safety. Nerima felt very safe to be surrounded by these agile strong looking morans who laughed and spoke in kimaasai. She stared at them as they adjusted their branded Maasai Shukas from the wind and rain and in her mind she knew they must have at one time wrestled with lions before coming to the city to take up security guard (s) jobs in this neighborhood. Once in a while they assured her in kiswahili that in just a few minutes once the rain settles she would be with her boyfriend at the pub he was waiting for her. Of course by now they knew her phone battery was dead as she had willingly explained why she could not call her date to pick her from the bus stop.
Time -11pm and human traffic in the vicinity had started to disappear . The rain had stopped. The nearby kiosks had started to close. The road was clear. Nerima requested the Maasai Morans to now walk her to the pub, they laughed her off, muttered something in their vernacular, added more fuel to the fire as some whistled and chanted Moran songs. Two or three turned to her and told her,it was not time yet. Nerima contemplated walking but fear engulfed her as the road was deserted. Time -11.45pm. The last matatu of the day stopped at the very bus stop she had alighted and one gentleman stepped out of the mini bus. Nerima was standing close by the road a distance from her ‘good samaritans aka guards’.
The gentleman dressed in a suede jacket, blue khaki pants and industrial boots walked close to her and asked her to follow him in hushed tones. He told her not to dare look behind at the guards she was with as they would not immediately notice her exit as they were busy chanting war songs now and enjoying the flames of the bonfire. Nerima hesitantly followed this gentleman unsure as he walked two feet ahead of her. He asked her what she was doing there. Nerima explained. He bluntly told her the Maasai guards were waiting for midnight and they would all have raped her in turns in the dead of the night and her body would have been found disposed elsewhere in the morning if she survived. He told her it was her choice to follow him home or go back and remain with the 10 Maasai warriors. Nerima was caught between a rock and a hard place. It was a choice between 10 men and one man.
Nerima was right ,the Maasai guards did not notice her leave and if they did they must have assumed the gentleman who alighted from the matatu was known to her. After about seven minutes walk, the gentleman stopped at a block of three storey building. He opened the gate and went to the first house on the ground floor, opened the door and welcomed Nerima in. Nerima obliged without a choice. It was a neat one room living space with a bed neatly set at the corner and a desk and chair at the other end. The bathroom was at the far end separated of course by a door. Nerima glanced quickly and requested to use the bathroom. When she came out of the bathroom, the man had sprawled himself on the bed and she could clearly see a short gun sling at the back of the main door. Its mouth glistened and shone like new. Nerima begun to shake uncontrollably out of fear. He asked her to jump into bed, Nerima stood still confused and lost.
The man sat up from the bed looking agitated. He explained to her that he was a policeman hence the gun staring at them from the door and he told her to pick her poison. He reminded her he had saved her from the 10 rogue guards and it was now her duty to thank him. He commanded her to remove her clothes and join him to bed without any struggle or else she would see another ugly side of him. Nerima started to cry amidst begging him. He heard none of it. A struggle ensued then he stopped midway and warned her he had no intention of being violent. Nerima became apathetic, she couldn’t scream, she couldn’t fight him, the worst was she would die there that night from a single bullet if she did not give in to his beastly desires.
He pulled down her jeans forcefully as Nerima sobbed uncontrollably . He did not care, neither did he stop. Next was her panty which he slowly pulled down. Nerima’s face was wet and her lips salty from the tears. Part of her neck and t-shirt was also drenched in her tears. He looked at her eyes then the clean shaven dark part between her legs, picked her jeans from the floor slapped her on the face with it and told her to dress up. He jumped back to bed, faced the wall and immediately begun to snore. It was 3.30am. Nerima crouched at the chair next to the table frozen in fear waiting for what would happen at day break.
5am and the loud sirens of matatus in the estate could be heard as they prepared to ferry commuters working in town. Nerima heard footsteps walk past the ‘gentleman’s’ house; opening and closing of the gate back and forth and she knew these were his neighbour’s going to work. At exactly 5.30am she gathered courage to stand next to the door and barely mammer to the sleeping man that she wanted to leave. Nerima touched the door handle hoping he would wake up. He indeed did wake up. He lifted himself up grudgingly from the bed half asleep. He fumbled for the key to the door that had been hidden overnight under a pile of files and turned the key open. Nerima wanted to run out as soon as she saw the rays of the early morning sun. He stopped her midway as he patted the pockets from the jacket he had worn last night and flashed a one hundred shilling note which he gave her. Nerima thanked him, one foot outside the door before he changed his mind. It was daybreak, Nerima just wanted to get home.
According to Farlex Dictionary of idioms a boss lady is the most powerful woman in a particular setting. We define further from the McGraw-Hill’s dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial and colloquial expressions that says A boss lady is “the woman in charge”.
Think with me here. Who is defined as a boss? Why is the term Boss Man or Boss Gentleman not commonly used as the adjective- Boss lady? A boss is defined as a person who is in charge of a worker or organization. On the other hand a boss gentleman/boss man is a real man—which seems to basically mean an upstanding dude who does what he says and says what he means.
A brief walk down memory lane; Marilyn Monroe (born Norma Jeane Mortenson; June 1,1926 -August 4 1962) was an American actress, model, and singer. Famous for playing comedic “blonde bombshell” characters, she became one of the most popular sex symbols of the 1950s and early 1960s and was emblematic of the era’s changing attitudes towards sexuality. Although she was a top-billed actress for only a decade, her films grossed $200 million (equivalent to $2 billion in 2019) by the time of her unexpected death in 1962. More than half a century later, she continues to be a major popular culture icon.
Hundreds of books have been written about Monroe. She has been the subject of films, plays, operas, and songs, and has influenced artists and entertainers. She also remains a valuable brand, her image and name have been licensed for hundreds of products, and she has been featured in advertising for brands such as Max Factor, Chanel, Mercedes-Benz, and Absolut Vodka. Monroe’s enduring popularity is linked to her conflicted public image. On the one hand, she remains a sex symbol, beauty icon and one of the most famous stars of classical Hollywood cinema. Despite how her life ended she did leave a legacy. Do you think she was a boss lady?
Ever tried being a boss for more than a day? Have subordinates report to you and you supervise them to meet all your deadlines ? Ever been in charge at home? In charge of the family household, finances et al? Lead fellow group of women for a cause or purpose? It is not easy. On paper, it sounds pretty cool but it is quite difficult. Being a boss means doing the hard work, getting your hands dirty and working in silence too. Being a boss lady means pursuing all your goals and objectives relentlessly until you succeed. This could mean being the best participatory partner to your husband, being the best mum to your children or being the best example to your staff. A boss lady is dependable, committed to valuable ideals and decisive. She does not waver in her decisions. She has the ideal emotional intelligence!
Present day; We now have social media to expose us to various meaningless, flaunting wannabe boss ladies aka worshippers of the misused hashtags millionaire, billionaire dreamers of the title boss lady. Is the crown given to you to wear or you claim the crown? Or do you flaunt it until it becomes your ‘followers’ mantra? Eventually you adopt the boss lady title and wear it as if you own it. But do you really own it? The boss lady title?
Majority of our social media flaunting ‘boss ladies’ have many followers but few are leaders. Let us be honest, whose role model are they? Does her clothing, her body or grandiose motivational quotes make her a ‘boss lady’? Fact is a boss lady also only settles with a boss man. Period.
Here comes my confusion from the definition (s) of boss lady. Does inheriting wealth from your late tycoon husband automatically entitle you the boss lady title? The empire you never built or the businesses you never handled, participated or contributed to make you a boss lady? No,do not answer that. What about being married or dating a boss man? By virtue of this association, does it make you a grandee boss lady? Do you own anything you have worked hard for backed up with a paper and your name on it? Let us be serious ladies, some of you cannot even take a short trip without your spouse or sponsor cheque . Own your title, that is what boss ladies do. The mirage and facades you flaunt only fool a few. #bosslady NOT. A boss lady tames her tongue and most important supports her fellow woman.
A boss lady never ever feels the need to flaunt her success or struggle to prove it. A boss lady is too busy working on her craft to keep reminding us how relevant she is of a boss lady. Boss ladies do not talk non stop about their acquisitions but share the new trade or skills they are learning. It is said you are who you spend time with. Enough said. Boss ladies are not snobs but at the same time, they grow by spending time with like minded individuals. A boss lady does not clamour for attention like a child craving candy. They do not need bodyguards or paparazzi to announce their presence anywhere. Neither do they adore dressing flashy! Boss ladies do not speak about their wealth or possessions.
So next time you feel the need to remind us you are the boss lady remember this; A boss lady is the woman in control. She is cool and collected, gets the job done. Confident, never looks down on other women or men. Demands respect and gets it. A woman who can accomplish all tasks while remaining beautiful; a good looking woman in an authoritative position in a business (non-sexual); a woman who is successful without the aid of others (although others may help to make things more convenient) – urban dictionary.
During my young, dating and vibrant lifestyle I was very gullible. Very gullible. Whenever I fell in love or fell with the feeling of being in love I often left my senses in a locker only to recollect them after a whirlwind of useless romance. After realising the relationship or affair was fizzling, I had already been dumped or worse simply abandoned without warning. These dating streets can be cruel but they did teach me a few things here and there.
Like poker, dating is a game of skill and not luck. It is all about gambling. You need to approach dating like a poker player and learn to possess analytical abilities and people skills. In any poker game a good player is one who is disciplined, cunning, aware and open minded. Think about it, when you are dating, we never approach dating like a game, like a poker game…
We date blindly and more often than not, go with the flow guided by our date(s). We stop thinking when in fact this is where we are required to think of your date as your ‘opponent’ hypothetically. You must always stay one level thinking ahead of your ‘opponent’. This is where the criteria of levels come to play.
In any dating scenario and relationships think of the following levels as you exchange niceties, affection and let the love grow between the two of you. Level 1; What do I have to give in this potential relationship if we continue to date? Level 2; What does my date have as per level 1 . Like a poker game, the question is what does my opponent have? Level 3; What does my date think I have? What does my partner in this relationship (boyfriend/girlfriend) think I have? Level 4; What does my date think I think he/she has? Level 5; What does my girlfriend/boyfriend/date think I think he/she thinks I have?
I will share a perfect example of a friend, let me call her Annie. Annie has been dating Tom for the past two months. Annie is a simple courteous girl from a very humble background. Annie like any 20sth year old in Nairobi woman loves the good lifestyle, and she also hopes to bag a financially stable and well educated man. Looks come last in her list, as long as her checklist checkout the first two variables. Here comes along Tom whom they met while on internship at a multinational organisation. Tom works for this multinational organisation that Annie did her in internship. Tom is in his early 30’s, cunning, witty, drives a sports car, lives uptown and is already pursuing his Ph.D.
Tom has been trying to lay Annie since day one but Annie is a good girl, she believes the longer Tom waits, the better her chances of Tom seeing her value and the greater her stakes of being the steady girlfriend and eventually get married to him. Annie has seen lots of potential in Tom, he is her ideal dream husband . And that is Annie’s end game. Tom takes her for dates everyday, spends money on her and every night on dropping her home, he requests her to spend the night at his place and she says No. The furthest he has been physically close to her is a hug and a three second kisses almost touching her cheeks.
Third month and Tom with his poker mind set invites Annie to his place for dinner. He made honey glazed roasted chicken and baked wedge potatoes. He lit his living room with candles, switched of the lights to give it a superb glow. He threw in extra cozy cushions on his seats and floor in anticipation of the night with Annie. Tom placed the dinner on the dining table and besides where he set Annie’s plate he strategically placed his current ATM withdrawal statement. Tom’s employer paid all the contract workers in USD. Tom’s withdrawal statement balance was in Dollars. He waited for Annie’s arrival with a gorgeous bouquet of flowers and a bottle of champagne at hand. He had another card up his sleeves if this did not seem to work too. He was an intelligent poker game player.
Annie arrived at Tom’s place a few minutes after 7pm. She was dressed to wow in a short sexy sleek black dress and graphic heels. Her hair held up and with very subtle makeup. Once Annie was inside Tom’s candlelit living room, she revealed all her ‘poker cards’ to Tom. This was too surreal. No one had done something extravagant as this for her in a very long time. Annie had been swept off her feet. Tom pulled up her chair placed next to his. He conveniently excused himself for a few minutes to go to his room, but this was to ‘allow’ Annie to see his ‘accidentally placed’ ATM statement next to her cutlery. Indeed, this was the second thing Annie saw after the bouquet, candles, a balance of USD 6935!
Annie was ready to have Tom’s baby that night. Tom came back, like a true gentleman, served Annie who was now smiling ear to ear, giggling and being playful. She had let all her guards down, all her cards were strewn for Tom to see. Tom saw without any struggle, he knew she had spotted the ATM balance receipt. After dinner, they snuggled amidst the cozy pillows as Tom proposed that he would soon be getting redeployment out of the country and he would like to leave with her as his wife. Tom took a step further and went down on his one knee minus a ring and proposed. Annie had taken the bait, hook, line and sinker. For the first time, Annie slept at Tom’s house.
Like poker, Tom was a smart problem solver. He had found a solution for his date’s denial of his advances to consummate this affair. And in the poker game, often the simplest solution is the best. The ATM withdrawal balance statement had done the trick. All Annie talked about as she drunk her champagne that night was their baby, how she would now move in with Tom and him handing over the extra key to his apartment. No discussions about her level 1 or 2. Tom had played his good hands fast and the bad hands slow. That night, when Tom lay Annie down in his bed, no words were spoken, she had subdued. Passion met passion and dissolved in fire. Annie had become Tom’s object of possession. When morning came, Annie woke up to Tom’s body pressed close to hers, she was in love.
Tom being older and more experienced than Annie in dating, he was also street smart and blessed with the gift of common sense and practical knowledge, especially concerning human behaviour. Tom had three more dates with Annie before he realised she had nothing more to offer. The calls waned, the candlelit dinners and walks disappeared as fast as they had come into her life. Annie was devastated. Tom was constantly busy with his studies or work. No key to his house, no redeployment for Tom, no relationship between them. All had crumbled for Annie within five months. Annie had no other cards in store to play with. She had prioritised her relationship with Tom over everything else she had going on in her life.
Truth be told, most young women need to learn about rotational dating and while at it employ the poker mind set. Once you understand dating is a game, you will stop whining how you were together for 15 years and bore him a child or we were together for two years then boom he started to pull away. Three weeks after you break up, he was spotted on holiday with another lass. That means, your man, your long-time ‘date’ was dating her while he was dating you. Until a man has actually paid your dowry and married you keep your options open. I don’t trust the engagement rings or set dates. Until the deed is done and certificate is at hand, keep your options open.
When you were calling all your friends sobbing and narrating how he just dumped you and how could he after all the time you had together ‘your’ man has already moved on and your sadly loosing more of your time ‘healing’. Poker mind-set! You made him your only priority while he was hanging out, having drinks, checking out other potentials, doing his rotations, he was playing his cards well. You on the other hand were holding out your only one card. Unfortunately, if he does come back , believe me when I say he came back because you were the only remaining, easy and available option. He does not come back because he realised how senseless it was to waste all the years you have had together or you are the only woman he truly loves or karma took hold of the other woman via spiritual warfare, he came back because what he went to make work, failed. And a man or woman in your life will do it over and over again shamelessly, if you allow them to. Poker Mindset!
One starry evening after a splendid workday, I joined my colleagues in a huff at the nearby pizza hut to celebrate one of our own birthday. After two hours of merry making and dancing I decided to call it a night.
The night was young, I picked a matatu and after 40 minutes I alighted at my neighbourhood bus stop. It was exactly 8pm that I begun to stroll to my house. Along the way, I exchanged pleasantries with the familiar Mama Mbogas and One or two duka keepers. As I veered from the main road where the various shops were and to a two minute foot path leading to my house, I sensed someone walking right behind me. When I stopped, the looming shadow behind me stopped. The moon was full that night. I begun to walk very slowly in the hope that the person who was now hovering over my shoulders would take a hint and walk past me.
The next thing I heard and felt were very subtle footsteps right behind me. My instincts were on flight mode but my curiosity urged me to turn around to see who was walking uncomfortably too close to me. Just as I was about to turn around, the back of my knees were kicked so hard at the same time. It happened so fast, next thing I had lost control and I was on my knees.
His arm clapsed my neck from the back and I fell onto the ground like a sack of charcoal. My handbag was flung off my left arm and the carefully draped scarf around my neck was forcefully yanked off and my attacker wrapped it round his hand. My voice was stifled, lost. I tried to make a sound and nothing came out of my mouth. My attacker jumped in front of me and pulled both my legs dragging them on the gravel on the footpath. One side of my face was already bruised and bleeding from the impact of the gravel . I struggled to kick my attacker in a bid for him to let go off my legs. A struggle ensued. He was a short man with an athletic build, his face was completely covered with a woollen mask. He was dressed in black, head to toe. There was no outline of his eyes nor mouth. I thought he would grab my handbag that now lay on the ground and speed off with it but he didn’t. We struggled for a couple of minutes and by the grace of God, my voice miraculously let out a scream. I continued to scream for help, hoping families having dinner at that hour would hear me and come to my rescue. My attacker dragged me further down the footpath but I did not stop kicking him. Every kick I threw at him, he swung from the left to right to avoid it. He did not open his mouth to scare or threaten me.
He was getting frustrated, the more he tried to drag me further down the footpath the more loudly I screamt. Suddenly I heard a neighbour’s metal gate open after my last scream. The attacker sprung and knelt a stride on top of me and within a fraction of a second, his left hand was at his back trouser fidgeting for something. He pulled out à sharp curved Somali sword that sparkled in the glistening night. He raised the sword with both hands in what looked like all his strength aimed at stabbing my torso. Miraculously, my vocal chords let out a very very loud scream! I was not going to die without a fight! The metal gate I had heard earlier opened was now finally swung open. I heard a stampede. My attacker was confused, he glanced quickly sideways. He quickly tucked his sword at the back of his shirt and under his trouser, jumped off me and scampered off into the moonlit night.
He did not touch my handbag. If I recall, my bag that night had about USD300. I stood as the neighbours mostly men who heard my screams ran after him. They emerged after 10 minutes with only my scarf. My attacker was too fast for them as he scampered into the railway line nearby and the thickets far off.
I slowly walked to my house bruised, shaken and devastated. Women who were now busy with dinner preparations stood outside straring in pity as the children who had gone to bed were now were awake, some crying as if in salient solidarity of my escape from the jaws of my attacker. The neighbours wanted to hug me but I was too shaken and apathetic.
I moved out of that neighbourhood the following day. I shudder to think that the hit was from someone I know and probably watches me from afar even today and wonders how I did not end up six feet under that night…
Profile of an average hitman: They kill cheaply; choice of weapon- firearm or knife; The majority of the victims are selected by the contractor for murder on the basis of a sour business deal or rivalry. Domestic disagreements between divorcing husbands and wives; cases of mistaken identity; or, more broadly, the hits related to ‘honour killings’.”
“Attackers typically try to target people who are alone so there won’t be any witnesses. For that reason, they recommend you always have someone with you when you walk at night”.
More often, the crime can be traced to an intimate but fractured relationship. Virtually Criminologists have a name for a person who hires a hit man: instigator. All of the contract killers display moderate to severe psychopathy. If you think you are in danger of an attack or have suspicions your attacker was a hitman report to the police or relocate.
When I turned 30 years of age I started to clamour for more challenges in my professional life. I had a check list of things I wanted to do and one of them was to go back to school. At 32, I picked the little savings I had and enrolled in an evening post graduate program. I was focussed, determined and undeterred. I wanted the best for myself and an additional feather to my cap would do.
During my evening classes I always arrived home past 9pm. We had a school bus but most of my classmates and I often hitched rides from classmates with personal cars as we passed by to local cafes near the campus to take dinner. We begun to share some of our personal lives details in a bid to know each other more during these rides and dinners. It was here that I developed a close friendship with a classmate – Habibah, a mother of two boys.
As we came to the finale of our studies Habibah kept pestering me to meet a good old friend and former neighbour of hers who now lived in Cape town, South Africa. His name was Nathan. Nathan as I came to learn was a Kenyan and had migrated to South Africa after his University studies in Johannesburg. He was involved in the construction industry in Cape town where his employer bought old dilapidated homes and Nathan refurbished them then sold them at a profit. Nathan had hinted to Habibah that he was looking for a nice Single woman whom he would connect with then maybe settle down with. Habibah had introduced Nathan to me as her perfect match for me.
When Nathan came to Nairobi for the holidays, Habibah gave him my number and he ended meeting me up at my place of work the first time. The introductory meeting was brief. Nathan was 6’3″, masculine, strong. He had bright black eyes with a Nubian dark smooth complexion, he had black tightly curled hair and an award winning smile. Everything about him looked exquisite. A few days later, and we were chatting on phone like old friends. Nathan’s first weekend in Nairobi we planned for our dinner date for more tete-a-tete over good food and wine. I had not dated in eons, I looked forward to breaking my monotonous routine of home-work-school.
Our evening dinner with Nathan was at a casual dining restaurant that specialized in American cuisine serving favourites like barbecued ribs, Chicken wings, French fries, pastas and shakes. I had dressed casually in denim trousers, a chiffon top and some new red bottoms that were in fashion then. Nathan was smart casual in a white cotton shirt and blue khaki pants. The restaurant was incredibly jammed packed with patrons. Men and women shouted amid waiters serving food and drinks. We ate, tossed cheers with our wine glasses to good life.
Our discussions were general, nothing too personal. I was comfortable with Nathan. Nathan kept ordering more drinks, my bladder was full, it was past 10pm. I excused myself to use the ladies room, came back and continued to sip the drink already in my wine glass . Nathan was smiling, by the time I emptied my glass I started to feel woozy. I told Nathan I needed to call For my uber to take me home. I think I was incoherent, Nathan helped me up my stool, I staggered but did not fall. He insisted we would spend at his holiday rental apartment in Kileleshwa which was 10minutes drive from where we were in Westlands. I remember being adamant and telling him nothing will happen between us. Nathan had a hired car, he drove us to his apartment. On arrival he sat me on the couch and microwaved some food from thw refrigerator. I was full but he insisted we eat again together. I did not feel well, I was nauseous and my head spinned in tri- circles.
Nathan placed my hand on his shoulder and grudgingly took me to his bedroom. For a little time I struggled, but the wine I took over me. I did not understand what was happening to me. I had drunk wine before why had this particular one intoxicated me to a point my knees were too weak to stand and my brain was all foggy. I had had only two glasses of wine. The wine had intoxicated me, or so I thought. There was also unbelievable strength from Nathan as he forced me down the bed. I lay trembling, weak and passive while Nathan took whatever liberties he wished with me. I was semi paralyzed, I couldn’t stop, move nor push Nathan off me. The lights went out or I must have had a blackout. That is all I remember.
I woke up in the morning confused next to Nathan who lay spent besides me. Immediately, I dashed to the bathroom still weak and confused. I took a bath, I was angry with myself tears streaming from my eyes but I did not know why. I dialled for an uber and left Nathan dead asleep.
When I arrived in my apartment, my memory was impaired. I took another shower and then drew my bedroom curtains and fell into a deep slumber. Four hours later and my head was too heavy to lift. Everytime I struggled to open my eyes I couldn’t, my head was a burden to raise from the pillow. I drifted on and off. I woke up the next day still very physically weak and my memory impaired. I tried to trace my footsteps with Nathan, during the date and after the date. Nathan had spiked my wine. He definitely had drugged me and raped me. That is why I kept having blackouts a day later and my memory was impaired of the nights activities in his apartment. I picked up my phone to call a friend, I had about 10 missed calls from Nathan and several messages. I blocked and deleted his number. I opened up to the friend I called and indeed she validated I had been raped. She wanted to come and drive me to the hospital but I did not want to admit to anyone this had happened.
I went to hospital and reported I had been drugged and raped. I did not think anyone would have taken me seriously if I went to the police. I had already also taken a shower the morning after. The hospital gave me the necessary treatment for exposure and found traces of the drug GHB in my blood. I blamed myself for having left my drink half drunk and came back and continued to drink it. I had provided Nathan the perfect ground to spill the drug in my drink. This went against all the rules I knew on the streets, I had left my guard down with a complete stranger just because we shared a common friend. I went for counselling without telling any of my friends or kin. I numbed this pain blocked this experience, I didn’t allow my mind to go there and think about what happened for a very very long time.
What Nathan did was what is referred to as drug-facilitated sexual assault (DFSA). Combining alcohol with drugs exacerbates powerful hypnotic and memory diminishing properties. The drug GHB/ketamine is commonly used during date rapes or in clubs. The effects can be fatal. I often hugged myself rocking back and forth in the privacy of my house, crying in humiliation but tears would never undo what Nathan had done.
Nathan contacted me after a year when he yet again came to Nairobi for the holidays using different lines. I picked none. He kept calling, messaging and sending emails. I went mute. I lost contact with Habibah because I did not want to tell her the truth neither did I want her to be a constant reminder of this ordeal. No words would wash away this feeling of uncleanness.
It was only recently that Nathan emailed and sent a sort of one sentence apology to me. That he could no longer look at himself in the mirrors when he remembered the events leading to that night. That apology was 11 years late. I later learnt that he had now taken a slower paced lifestyle trading for his perpetual partying and frequent experimentation of drugs and sleeping with both men and women.
” The plight faced by many women and girls after rape is one; having to prove to the police and general public that they were raped. We also have rape of boys and men who also experience sexual assault, but women and girls are so often disbelieved”.
” It’s in our hands to inspire the future feminists of the world. Challenge the gender stereotypes and violent ideals that children encounter in the media, on the streets, and at school. Let your children know that your family is a safe space for them to express themselves as they are. Affirm their choices and teach them the importance of consent at a young age –
A tall, frail, blonde man of 67 years of age peered through the four star hotel lobby situated right at the heart of Nairobi Central Business District. He had a slight stoop as he paced around the hotel reception. His walking manner insinuated that his well polished suede brogues were pinching his feet. His face was hard to read. He did not look bossy neither did he look friendly. This was the venue for the interviewees to be evaluated by this old blonde man. I walked in with my portfolio at hand unsure of what awaited me. I could only see my fellow young women roughly about 22-24 years of age. We were twenty of us in total, I counted. We had all responded to the job advert placed in a local popular daily newspaper. Only women aged between 22-24 years had been encouraged to apply. Eventually my turn to be interviewed came. The interviewer was from a Scandinavian Country. I will call him Stefan. His cologne was spicy and strong smelling even as I sat across him on the table. Stefan smiled wryly after perusing through my curriculum vitae, passport photo and posed a few questions on my Education background. Stefan dismissed the other 17 young women and was left with three of us, me included.
I had just finished my Undergraduate degree a few weeks ago before I applied for this job. I was excited at the prospect of working for an NGO situated in Europe as an office Administrator . I built castles in the air and imagined the six figure salary in my account, after a few months I saw in a flash what that money would do to my life ; A good classy car and a luxury apartment. I thanked God in advance. I had nailed this interview, even the other two ladies had nothing on me or so I thought. As I was in wonderland, busy day dreaming I did not realise that the other two remaining lady interviewees had left. Stefan came over my table again, he wore a leering smirk or maybe it was the nature of his face and he continued to prod me some more, he asked me how I would feel if I went to work in Europe. I knew this question was coming, I was excited and confused at the same time. The thought of a fresh graduate first formal job across the Indian Ocean? Why not? I was qualified for an International posting with no job experience. Lady luck had come calling. This was it. I had every intention of proving that I had what it takes. Stefan and I talked about my past volunteer experience, my hobbies and family. When Stefan was done with his quizzing we exchanged numbers on his request and he said we should meet the next day for further discussions.
I went home that day happy like a small girl who had just been gifted rare candy. I did not sleep a wink. I felt sorry for my former classmates who were moving from office to office still looking for job postings only to be rejected at the end of the day with no available vacancies for employment. I had no doubt this was my breakthrough. I drew up a checklist of things to do, first and foremost applying for a passport was imperative. We met with Stefan at the same hotel the next day but the sitting area had now moved to the bar. I found him comfortable sipping a keg of our local Kenyan beer. I did not let my guard down, after all this was still my potential employer. On this day, he focussed more on my hobbies. During my past time, I took keen interest in fine art using water colours. I did a few pieces here and there. Some seasons I sold a piece in the Nairobi city art galleries but most of the time I was quite a lazy artist. I enjoyed drawing and painting but at the same time I admired formal employment more. Formal employment gave one reassurance of quick money. Like the previous day, Stefan asked to discuss again the next day but now at 6pm. Venue, same hotel. On parting he seemed visibly pleased.
This was now going to be my third meeting or interview with Stefan. This time I found him seated at the restaurant’s open courtyard facing the busy town streets. Stefan was crouched next to a live band playing soft background Swahili music. This evening, all interview questions were tossed aside. Stefan spoke most of the evening about the weather, the lovely mountains in Europe and how he would love to take me there to paint the sunset and sundown. Not only was I straight from the University with no real job experience but I was also naive, gullible and still a virgin at 23 years. Throughout the evening, Stefan complimented my cheekbones and even flattered them by equating my face to that of the Mona Lisa painting by Da Vinci. I was smitten, I blushed. At around 9pm, the draught from the veranda was getting strong and I begged to depart for home. Stefan gave me Kshs.1000 for taxi. Like any typical unemployed lass in the city, I saved the taxi money then used public means home. Next meeting was lunch the next day, the following day it was dinner, the next weekend it was at a food court in one of the malls on the outskirts of the city. I was beginning to wonder when we shall get to the job application I had submitted. I was desperate for a job. Stefan kept dangling the carrot in exchange for constant company and idle banter. We kept meeting at open places, and he was never inappropriate. All his conversations were skewed towards how once he gets me to Europe I will do this and that. What I did not know was that Stefan was grooming me.
Stefan was an old man, an old wise man. Their was something about trusting an old man with grey hair, they all looked very believable an pitiable. After about ten meetings he took me for bowling out of the noisy helter skelter of the central business district. As we stood at the parking lot he suddenly started to explain how he wanted to build a palatial home with a waterfall overlooking the hills. There and then, his proposal came. He asked me to consider living in this home he was to build, provide me with a car in exchange to be his secret lover. He proposed that whenever he came for business in the city he would not need to stay in hotels but would come to this home he would build. He explained to me that he had gone through divorce and had adult children and was not looking for another wife nor kids as he approached 70 years of age. Stefan opened up some more that he managed an orphanage in Kenya and a farm. He promised that if I agreed to his terms he would also take me to Europe at least three times a year where I would paint lovely skyscrapers, the mountains and lakes.
All this time I did not feel compelled to leave Stefan alone. Something about this old man drew me to him, I was curious, I wanted to hear more, he always left me longing for his anecdotes. I enjoyed dreaming of what my life would be like 8000 miles away from home. Amidst our conversations at the food court after bowling, he said how he preferred tall, slim ladies. Then, I was skinny, a malnourished adult who lacked a balanced healthy diet because I could not afford it. Being jobless and constantly broke had one surviving these Nairobi streets on noodles,eggs,tea and bread on a constant basis. I did not react to his slim ladies comments. As we sat down to eat, a lady with a sizeful dearie tucked in a t-shirt attractively in skinny Jeans walked past us. He exclaimed that she was too big, he added with a smirk on his face that if that one went to Europe, men would just stare in shock. Stefan neatly continued to drink his bowl of mushroom soup as I dived greedily in my French fries and fish stacked in a basket. This was going to be my only meal that day. I stared at him when I finished my food. My belly was smiling, my toes wriggling in satisfaction from the tasty meal.
I stared at Stefan’s skin and how it folded from the neck, his face was heavily and visibly wrinkled although his dressing exuded that of a millionaire, a corporate king pin. Lost in his conversations, I managed to pick bits and pieces of how he was a born again Christian. Once again, he found a way to bring up the issue of my potential job posting in Europe. He shamelessly told me I would be perfect to stand in a corner in a street in a town in Europe with a tin begging for donation from pedestrians for his Orphanage. Stefan even tried to explain that the tin was similar to the ones used by the Salvation Army just in case I did not quite understand . This was part of his objective for his foundation to raise money for his orphanage in Kenya he proudly explained. On second thoughts he reiterated and said ” No, you will be picked by some man, your too attractive then I will loose you if you stand with a tin in a town corner in Europe”. I may have been unexposed and eager to make quick money to survive but there and then I knew Stefan was probably in very illegal dirty dealings.
Stefan was bold, he was smooth, calculating and he slowly planned for his prey. I was his prime prey. Their must have been something about me that he did not actually go for the kill or maybe this was his regular mondus operandi. What Stefan was doing is that he was taking advantage of the broken environment of victims and luring us with false promises of a better life. I suspected he was a trafficker using deception. He made women believe his false promises of a good job in Europe and for us lacking better options at home would immediately agree to migrate. He also used constantly the vacation invitations to entice you. I never found out what happened to the two remaining lady interviewees I was with.
In a week’s time, Stefan was leaving Nairobi for Europe and over the next three months we exchanged non important emails and he now expressed his desire to lay me.What he did not know is that I had no desire to be deflowered by an old man and worse for material perks. I was naive but not stupid, I had concluded after all the meal outings that there was no job in the offing all he wanted was a black woman who would satisfy all his sexual fetishes as he escaped the full winter annually for three months in Kenya. Stefan wanted to be desired in exchange for my youthfulness, future desires and dreams. He wanted to first sample me, get me comfortable then take me to Europe for what I suspected was a powerful prostitution ring syndicate. In between his several emails he sent me contacts of his foreman who managed his farm and orphanage in Kenya. Stefan requested me to meet his foreman and pick up a gift he had sent me.
Paul was a short and stout man with a balding head. He seemed well groomed. This was Stefan’s foreman,errandman,caretaker,driver and driver. Paul had called me earlier in the day proposing we meet in town as he had an important message for me. We met at a parking lot, exchanged pleasantries and he handed over the gift to me. Paul did not mince his words on parting, he told me this Mzungu (White Man) had lots of money and that I should borrow him a substantial amount to enable me start my own business. Paul promised that Stefan would definitely give me anything as he had developed a liking for me. He politely asked me to keep our conversations discreet and to also be very vigilant with Stefan. The next few days I planned and schemed, it was my turn to dangle the carrot to Stefan before his liking towards me fizzled. The gift Stefan sent Paul to deliver was a heavenly smelling cream. I was to later hold on to the empty container months after its contents had emptied completely.
I later continued to write several emails to Stefan telling him how I missed his company, how I was still job searching and the thought of joining him during winter to paint the lovely hills and valleys kept me up all night. Slowly he begun warming up to the thought that I had embraced his idea to be his fancy woman, ready to be used and misused. I did not waste any time, fast and in an orderly fashion I went for the kill.
I presented a business proposal with a budget and repayment period if he agreed to sponsor my idea or to partner in the business. The repayments were spread for the next six months. I even drew up an agreement that I was to repay a certain amount and forward to Paul his caretaker each month till the sixth month. Stefan was in love with the idea, hook line and sinker. Within one week, he wired the money to my bank account. Needless to say I had no real business proposal and I had no plans of repaying even one shilling.The next correspondence was filled with praises of his kind gesture of help and photos of imaginary business. By the time I was to deposit my first repayment I had ensured we had a huge squabble. Stefan’s constant nagging of assurance to sleep with me was getting on my nerves. I told him outright that he was older than my father and I could not fathom even kissing him leave alone undressing in front of him. Stefan was angry and his true colours begun to unravel. He became harsh with his words and he started to demand his money back in full. Stefan was the first man I ever ghosted. I responded to none of his emails after the ‘business’ transaction. I blocked him on all emails and social media platforms and I moved on like nothing ever happened. I never tried to follow up with Paul who too never called me. I lost Paul’s number too. I do not know if Stefan continued to hoodwink other girls to apply for ‘jobs’ in the guise of going to Europe.
I never found out about the orphanage and if it was real or a money making scheme for him to get funding from his home country. I felt guilty that I now had become part of creating broken people because of my silence. I suspected the frequent visits of Stefan to Kenya seeking to employ only girls was part of his human trafficking trade. I had no exact knowledge on what he did with the orphanage. I feared to report, I had no evidence. I also knew with the rampant corruption in my country, the upholders of justice were already compromised.
I treated the few months of knowing Stefan as a learning experience. Often, I thought of Stefan who by now must be 89 years of age. I wondered how the winter was treating him in Europe and if he was still alive and if he eventually built his palatial home in Nairobi. I thought of writing an apology for duping him about the business deal and the money I never repaid. Years later, I still did not get around to ever writing Stefan an email. A few months after Stefan’s episode I received formal employment in Nairobi, and I started a new phase in life.
The Government of Kenya does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of human trafficking. In 2008 it was reported that Kenya’s anti-trafficking efforts improved markedly over the reporting period, particularly through greater investigations of suspected trafficking cases. U.S. State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons placed the country in “Tier 2” in 2017. Their efforts remain uncoordinated and lack strong oversight, creating an environment conducive to trafficking – source Wikipedia