Remember Sarafina? It was a South African movie that introduced me to apartheid in SA and the ‘toyi-toyi’ dance. There, mini-skirts and mini dresses were donned with such charisma and simplicity. They did not attempt to pull them down or hide their yellow thighs when they bucked their knees up as they danced and demonstrated in the streets. Their defiance to intimidation gave such an air of confidence that Kenyan ladies should borrow. This is neither about miniskirts nor Sarafina, it’s about tenacity. But I can’t just jump in without warming you up. We’ll have to start with this one lady, my friend, Sue. To understand some gradations of tenacity you have to know where it started.
Sue was that girl 10 years ago, in high school, swinging her lawn tennis racket, her long yellow legs flowing out of the barely there, blue, tennis skirt. She was gorgeous and she did not need telling. My earliest memories of Sue are with the wee blue skirt she wore to her games at 4 pm to 6pm, never the boring long maroon things we wore. She was that cool.
Now it is easy to hate on someone as cool as Sue.
Here’s the thing, she did not give anyone room to hate or envy her for all that coolness. She laughed, hard and sincerely with everyone. Sure I was one class behind her but we’d laugh like hyenas every time she recounted a rococo tale after school holidays. And when we saw one cook we nicknamed ‘model’ for how he cat-walked around the dining halls donned in a light blue coat and those Akala shoes, collecting jugs like he worked as an air host in some airline. She made it to the national lawn tennis competitions for two consecutive years and she was going to join the National Lawn Tennis Junior team.
How could I not love her?
In Sue, I find abundance of tenacity, a sea of hope and beauty that does not gloat in grandiosity. She is authentication that whatever place God takes you, He pulls you through. Her story is one that vindicates that in life, you either feel the rain or just get wet. She is.. ok ok, you get the point.
A few years back when I was struggling with a job that paid me KSh 300 a day and an internship that offered me nothing but stress, I met Sue at Uchumi Langata road. She had a skirt. Longer this time but still showing her yellow legs, heels and the most amazing satin shirt, I’d seen that year. Now me, ahem. Well, I looked up to heaven and right then asked God to not let me embarrass Him like that again. Sue was still the amazing lady, joking, laughing then later dropping us home joking that she had to run be the ‘proverbial’ woman for her family. Yes, she even had a beautiful baby girl. (Now 2).
Let me explain something to you, Sue is just one year older than I am. So when I was 20 and totally broke, what was she doing high rolling like Bey? Clearly, she’d perfected the art of being phenomenal. Here I was, in campus, broke, no job, in bad relations with my kindred due to a dirty divorce and barely making it to the internship place. And you know when you go through stuff like that, you attract rubbish people. So I was dating this guy who was a total douche. He only told me he loved me in texts to initiate conversation to come to my place. I had to get a life, I mean, look at Sue.
Then bad omen came knocking. Fast forward to last year Nov 21, when her update came through, “The number of DJs who have been making noise in my hospital room this week..They make my days better.” 10 days later, I learn Sue has Gullian-Barrey Syndrome (GBS) and was in Physiotherapy learning how to use her hands and legs, all over again. The next day, she updated that from total paralysis neck-down about 4 weeks earlier she could now hold her hand up for a high 5 and touch her nose and that she was thanking God for the daily steps she was seeing daily.’
See that grace? See that faith, See that charisma? When I read that, I was bundled up in a chair at Chicago O Hare airport looking like a homeless girl cursing that I had forgotten my trench coat in the car back in Nairobi. I was in freaking Chicago, complaining, Sue was in physiotherapy learning to touch her nose with two babies at home and still thanking God.
So then a month ago some friends and I went to visit her and she sat there radiant as ever. Then she started teaching two of our friends how to tweet. Then, in her irrepressible humorous ways, she said now that her hands were good, she was ready for foreplay (Sorry I had to write this. Hehe.) I will tell you now, Guinness is not greatness. Greatness is Sue. Greatness is a lot of little things done at will, day after day, physiotherapy session after physiotherapy session, class after class, work out after work out. It takes a phenomenal person, to have that phenomenal will-power, to live in a phenomenal way and they attract phenomenal.
Here is the thing friends, the messenger of misery will surely come at least once in this life. What will you have to keep you in the game? When things happen that you could not anticipate, what will you reach in for? When Kaberere passed on a few days back, his wife sent an update a few hours later, thanking God for his life and trusting Him for courage in the coming days. I do not know the latter lady but I know they are good friends with Sue. There in is a lesson, that phenomenal people attract each other.
I am not preaching to you. I merely say, find something that will give your life a purpose. Find it in yourself and not in somebody else. People like blood and water are curious and drift away. There’s an old adage, if there’s no enemy within, the enemy outside can do us no harm. After all, it is easier to scratch the ass than the heart. Find the one thing that will give you strength to wake up, pursue and reach out for some goal that takes you out of your comfort zone. There you’ll find out some talents and abilities you did not even know you had. If you are not where you want to be, it has nothing to do with the system, the condition, the situation or the government but it has everything to do with the fact that you are not making the sacrifice.
I read Josiah Wasonga and BikoZulu every day in 2011 and 2012 hoping that one day I would write like them, heck even write one post that will be read by two people. Then one day Biko told me, “no one cares where you come from, just where you are and where you are going.” So now, I am looking at Sue’s recent picture and her hash-tags are #ExperienceKenya #Happy Easter #MiniVacay #TurnUp #BeingSue. That is where she’s at. Walking with support and learning the ropes all over again while going for mini vacations.
Surely there must be take home lessons from Sue.