I have run out of ways to tell Nairobi men I do not love them.

(Tw: sexual harassment )

I have run out of ways to tell Nairobi men I do not love them.

I feel (and I know it sounds defeatist) that the world I inhabit belongs to them and that I just borrow space as I move within it.

I think their bodies come in all sizes and their insults do too. And so when I walk around I think this is free space but actually it is space filled with their insults and when I pass by they release even more into that space and of course those insults hit me and bruise me because we cannot all fit in here and it reminds me of being squeezed on the queue to the tuck shop on days Mama taki had stocked hot buns and thinking my insides will come out like toothpaste.

Can I say Sema Nyonyo enough times that I wring it of its blow and it does not make me want to burst into tears. I want to pour these words into the river in my grandmother’s farm but I fear they will find a woman downstream and trap her legs and drown her.

I want to write a book called How To Grunt From Your Loins When A Luo Woman Walks By But Want Her People Dead.

This weekend I will clink glasses with men who tell other men to do better on Twitter and then insist on touching me on dance floors after I say no thank you in all the languages I have learnt. Kind but firm. Frown. Awkward smile. Finger pointing. Finger flipping. They will offer me jobs and wonder why I do not follow up. I will wish I could run and leave them all behind but I fear I am allowing them to continue monopolising the places that matter.

Last week, at 5-ish, I was waiting to cross the road at Yaya and I saw a group of men coming from work or whatever. I cross the road every time I see groups of men in my way. But the road was busy and a silver car was coming and I considered running in front of it but I thought I would definitely die and it would definitely be my fault and so I waited and one of the men grabbed my right breast and I cannot promise that I have not wished that I had jumped in front of that car.

The day a woman will take a scalpel and open her stomach the earth will grow dizzy from the odour of what she has been keeping inside. Then the earth will not be able to take it and it will self-destruct and once again a woman will have caused the Big Bang and birthed the world.

I want to tell people one day about how a woman a god made from mud uses Sunlight bar soap to lather her hands and then to love my body. The soap smells like something a little too sharp to apply to the softness of my nakedness and she apologises but we hope it stings the insults and washes me of them the way it stings my eyes. I tear. I want to tell people one day how a woman a god made from mud applies shea butter to every inch of my body and at first she says sorry 23 times. Out loud. And then she starts to say a word I do not recognize over and over again. Every time it is the same word but I never remember it. But it seems to remember me and it finds me in all the corners I go to squeeze myself, and it embraces me and it tricks me into coming out.

I have run out of ways to tell the woman a god made from me that I am scared.

Something warms my stomach and fills it and makes my heart beat fast and I feel like a character in a children’s storybook. The first thing I will do when I find the money I collected somewhere that smelled like a butchery that has not been cleaned for a while is ask someone for their professional opinion on whether I have lost “it”.


I feel like I belong on a page of Goodreads quotes when I breathe too fast and think that I do not deserve the absolute kinds of loves that women offer me.


MONTHS by Purity Sowayi.


No, 8.
What are you counting?
Wow, its really been that long.
Wait, make it 12.
What are you counting?
(That killer smile)
I failed that paper.

I loved you like blue. In a primal way. But actions need reactions. You we’re Karma’s gift to me. And you we’re one hell of a gift.

I dont know how to turn this into poetry.

Your hair, your smile,your skin, your hands,your chest, your hugs,your touch…. The way you walk.

I gave myself 9 months to forget you,
I’ve been counting the

You took me home,
I walked under the moon.
You said I was beautiful, I mistook your eyes for hands and mirrors.
I took alot for granted. I was not used to falling all the way to the ground.

The painting was amazing.. I mistook it for a real horizon. It took months to realize I had walked off the edge of the earth. Right into that place they say angels fear to tread. Not into a sunset. So yes, I’ve been counting….months.

I took up painting after that. I have hundreds now, of how the sunset should’ve been. They’re all different, but I wanted you to smile exactly how you smiled the first day we kissed. In each of them I wear blue. Because blue is for dreams, even dreams coming true. Been clutching at straws for months.

The rest of my life, I sculpt. Try to smoothen the cracks. When you’re new to a skill you tend to want to create your own world, and breathe life to your own human beings.

So I wanted a wall to the sky, made of whatever mirrors are made of. And ten thousand to guard it. And I’d sleep inside 1000 years before I was awakened by a kiss.

1000 years have passed 3 times now. In months. I was counting months.

You awakened the demons at 8. So I re-started the countup.
Make it 2.
Still counting months.

I wish I could turn this into poetry.

A month for every kiss I missed looking over my shoulders for demons that did not exist. A month for every some-people-wait-a-lifetime-for-a-moment-like-this moments I took for granted because I was too busy groping behind the horizon.
A month for those walls I build around you…brick by brick. And another for how they closed in on you suffocating you, with me pulling the strings.
A month for pushing you to the edge…letting you fall, letting you down.
A month for letting you go. Boy! did I have my priorities wrong. Choices… Choices… I fought alright, just the wrong battle…

There’s a bullet with my name.

A month for those seeds I planted… oblivious of the fact that its in the nature of a seed to grow…and how they grew into strangling vines that almost choked you. A month for the 7months I cursed at your guardian angel or not¿, or maybe two?
Anyway, one… for the ‘thermos’ I almost threw. And another, for all the ‘thermoses’ I did throw. Some with my eyes, some with my mind. Some, almost with my hand. There was no being a lady about this.
One, for the bile I brewed inside of me. Blaming you for falling after I pushed you, Blaming you for suffocating after I cut off your air.Happiness, I can fit into poetry. But Pain is sharp, and blunt. Even if I turned it into a painting, I can’t be poetic about it. Pain is hard to caption.
So, maybe I did get what was coming to me…but you shouldn’t have been so insensitive to my plight. My biggest crime was loving you.

Image- Art inspired by Warsan Shire’s poetry.

More of Sowayi’s pieces can be found at:



MY DAUGHTER: (There will be days like these). By Purity Sowayi.


My daughter,

“There will be days like these. On days like these, Take only what you can carry.

You will need to realise that you owe no one nothing, So apologise just enough. No more.

Sometimes Karma will be the answer to the questions you have been asking. Still, not all questions need to be answered. Some have been asked for generations and will continue to be asked for eternity. Some are better off unanswered. Some, you are better off answer-less. And some, are just not worth asking. Spend your thoughts wisely.
Karma never announces its arrival, brace yourself for the return of whatever you sent round. Accept it with grace, its the cycle of life.

You will have many opportunities to keep your mouth shut, take advantage of everyone of them. Words are something else… And life has a way of snaring you into your own traps. Life is not all black and white, sometimes the grays are the answer. Its okay to be on the black, or the white just as much, the gray. Its okay not to have an opinion on everything. Okay to sometimes sit on the fence. Wisdom is proud that it knows so little, knowledge, that it knows so much. Not all knowledge is worth acquiring. Knowledge maybe power, But power that cannot be harnessed is useless.

Do not plant a seed that you do not want to grow, because its in the nature of a seed to grow. This is a lesson you can only learn the hard way. There’ll be days you won’t be able to identify the lessons you should learn… Life is not an organized teacher. It will serve you well to realize that not all lessons are relevant, not all lessons are for you to learn, some are for others to learn. Either way, an experience will not go away until it teaches you the lesson it was intended to teach you____ be a fast learner. Or if you have long enough, sit back and wait. Afterall, all distance is walking distance if you have the time. And, good things come to those who wait?…

You cannot always win, sometimes you’ll have to let them win, or think they won. No, you do not need all victories. Not all victories are relevant. Not all battles are meant to be won, some are meant to be lost. Some are better off lost. Sometimes letting go is all the fighting you need to do. Do not gain the world at the expense of your soul.

You  cannot wake up the next day and stop loving someone, but someday you will wake up and you’ve stopped loving them. You will realize that love is not always all peaches and cream. Sometimes love is jealousy, and possession… Gut wrenching misery.

Letting-go issues are mostly uncool. Pray to your lucky stars that they skip the generation or better still that they’re not hereditary… You’ll have to learn to find closure from within.

Whoever finds closure finds a good thing.

On days like these, live each day at a time, just a single day, everyday. No more. Just a day. Do not sit and wait for those who hurt you to get hurt. Fate has a nasty sense of humour, Also, a watched pot simply never boils. But more especially, they may be blessings in disguise or bullets missed. Sometimes you have to trust the current, flow with it… Maybe the current knows something you dont.
But the surface must always remain calm, Even when its a raging storm inside. You must keep your sorrow where no one can see it.
At the end of the day, life goes on, time and tide wait for no man.

You can’t ‘fix’ everything. Some don’t want to get ‘fixed’. Do not carry with you a guilty conscience, learn to forgive you. Learn to let go of situations that have already let go of you.
You cannot break a friendship that never was. Cannot lose love that was never yours. Cannot betray trust that was never in existence. Do not fight battles that don’t intend to ever be won. Do not fight tears that won’t come. When people want to walk out, let them go…You can’t make homes out of human beings. Be gentle with yourself.

Let live. But most importantly, Live. We only get one life. Do not lose yourself. Do not let too much of the world inside you that you lose who you are. Be yourself, whatever you are. Be free, so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion. Afterall, Those who dance are thought to be insane by those who cannot hear the music.
There is beauty that purely lies in the eyes of the beholder, and beauty that can be subjected to opinion. Your beauty is with you, it most certainly has nothing to do with a beholder, neither an opinion. Beauty is vast, Beauty is infinite. No beauty is like another. Do not let anyone build walls around you. And more importantly, do not base your existence upon that which is only skin deep. In any case, it is not your responsibility to be beautiful, your existence is not about how desirable someone finds you.
Do not be afraid of new beginnings. You are a woman, you we’re made to build. It does not matter how unfamiliar the circumstance is. It is in your nature to build. Your hands will find their way, as many times as they will need to.
Only one of all your relationships will last, You will leave a part of you behind with every step you take. It will hurt. But a woman grows. You will grow. The pieces will grow back. Its upto you to make your scars beautiful. Your strength will fail you sometimes, but it will constistently suprise you. You’ll be surprised when you look back, at all the mountains that moved.
Not everyone will appreciate you. Some will see the queen in you, some will see space. You are not responsible for anybody’s sense of sight. You are only responsible for your own sight. Invest deeply in how you see. Belong deeply to yourself.
At the end of the day we all collect a jar of hearts. Be sure to make yours a King’s collection. When you look back you’ll be proud even of your failures.

Take kindly the counsel of the years. Gracefully surrendering the things of childhood, teenage….youth… You cannot compete with time. Cannot fight age. Celebrate your years. Let no one despise your youth. Embrace each level of beauty. Let yourself grow… Maturity is beauty in itself.”

Quotes by;
Warsan Shire
Clementine Von Radics
Image: Internet.

More of Sowayi’s pieces can be found at: