Kenyana was a tough, vibrant young girl…or what people like to call “tomboy.” She wore shorts and Polo t-shirts in place of dresses, at least most of the time. She hated Sunday church preparations because her mother always woke her up earliest and handed her a well pressed matching dress, it was a routine. A ridiculous one to her, why must we wake up so early? She clearly would turn out to be far from the morning person. Also, can’t I just wear my comfortable shorts to church? She always wondered. Mum had always said that at church, this is what she had to wear- dresses…
Kenyana in her teenage years while young girls obsessed about high heels, “kakondo,” found really drawn to Avril A
Lavigne outfits instead. For every Mariah Carey song, she went for a punk rock substitute. The first time she put up a huge Avril newspaper cut out poster in her room, her father had looked at it questioningly asked: Is that what you really want? She had nodded so fast. Dad had mumbled an okay followed by a little shrug and walked on. This, amongst other many conversations with dad was to go a long way in shaping Kenyana’s perception of the world and her insistence in who she was despite the ideas society had for her.
In primary school when the senior woman had insisted that girls must “pull,” or they’ll regret it, Kenyana had immediately called her mother to make it clear that her daughter would be doing no such thing. When Mr. Sekajja, teacher of English had angrily barked; if you can’t kneel, go back and sit! after she’d asked to go and empty her full bladder, Kenyana had dared to walk back to her seat. Pressed to near spilling, she’d sat through another 30 minutes that Mr. Sekajja had obviously purposely extended this lesson into to punish her; all this time wondering why it was important that she knelt while asking a teacher to go to the bathroom. Why am I always antagonizing authority? I wonder whether it’s my fault…but I try to be good, I’m disciplined. Does that mean I should go along with everything without asking questions? Why are others okay with it all, were they given memos that I didn’t get? She’d had a constant mind battle with these thoughts. Many had called it pride,which dad always said was okay. The senior woman had said that Kenyana thought she was special, yet she wasn’t and that she would remember in future that the senior woman was just trying to help her.
Then came girls’ high school…whereas she’d had the chance to be part of several cliques, she’d not exactly fit in. Sometimes she’d opted out after some normal teenage friendship fights, other times, she’d just stayed a friend to just one or two girls because the clique was a bit much. From expectations that seemed like rules, to a desire for different individuals to act so uniformly as part of the friendship, she found all of it exhausting. As a result, Kenyana found herself longing for holidays so that she could hang out with the friends from a boys’ school’ other boys at the public library where she went during holidays and some boys from the housing estates near home.
It was easier, she couldn’t deny it. The boys didn’t talk so much about girls, like the girls did about them…it was probably only because she was there; still she enjoyed fresh conversations about movies and games. On many occasions, they’d offered to walk her home so she’d ditched the taxi. She had really enjoyed it. One, because she was saving the transport money mum had given her. Two, because her growing explorer spirit naturally preferred an hour of chatting with friends while discovering the many routes that could lead you home, to a 10 minutes journey in a 14-seater commuter.
So when Kenyana had first accessed Facebook and found many picture quotes with words: I’d rather hang with boys, girls have a lot of drama! she’d quickly related and thought: wow, so this is why I don’t have many girlfriends. It’s their drama that I can’t take. Boys really do make better friends after all.
Kenyana is such a big girl now. Same strong spirited, adventurous spirit with a mind of her own. Same, although a bit faded, “tomboy” traits and guess what; she has girl friends. Yes, a group of them. One might even call it a clique. A functional clique. A clique with whom they don’t spend time talking about boys but books instead. A clique that is the exact opposite of the word “drama” and all its negative connotations. A clique of mature, young women genuinely supporting each other and rooting for the growth of each one of them. Kenyana has, with a happy heart and a sigh of major relief, come to know that the comments she often heard before about the supposed “nature” of women not wishing well for one another, we’re just empty and baseless. She has now embarked on a socially difficult choice to free many women of the mental bondage that pits them against each other in some constant petty competition.
For example; she knows now that whereas they always said that a woman is a temptress who might tempt and “steal” other people’s men, that this is not true. That one adult human being makes an adult choice to break a commitment; and that it is nobody’s fault but their own. Kenyana knows now that girls don’t “naturally have a lot of drama.” That if they focused on supporting and uplifting each other, if they advanced their intellectual abilities before they did their bodies or prized appearances, oh the things they could do, the mountains they could move! Kenyana has learnt and experienced first hand the incomparable value of a sisterhood. The power women possess when they stand together, how unstoppable they can be – together with and not against each other.