The face behind Things I hear

The face of things I hear

In the month of October, I had the opportunity to talk to some incredible people – David, Liane, Daniel, Amina and Wambui.  We talked about fun things and some deeply personal ones.  I got to know them a little better.  They were all very inspirational and the feedback I got from my esteemed readers was immense.  Although the five people got to know a little bit more about me, some of things I hear readers expressed a desire to know a little bit more about me too.  I asked some of these people what kinds of things they wanted to know – in this post I will answer, in no particular order or preference, some of the questions posed.

  • About family

I am the third born in a family of seven.  I have 3 brothers, 1 deceased [RIP Mbugua] and 3 sisters.  I have numerous nieces, nephews, cousins and a few grandnephews and nieces – essentially making me a cúcú [grandma] in my culture.  I have the most incredible and beautiful daughter….. and a collection of powerful firearms.

  • Best childhood memory

Once upon a time, my older brother and I couldn’t be bothered to pick Sukuma wiki [kale] from our little shamba by the river because that meant washing, thinly slicing them and cooking them as an accompaniment for ugali i.e. lunch.  Instead, we chopped a basin-full of pineapples [his friend who lived in Thika had visited and brought a sackful].  We then sprinkled the pineapples with salt and fed our younger siblings to eat with the ugali.  Our last born though, ate her ugali with milk because ní mwana and feeding her a crazy diet like that would mean certain death.  I have a lot of good childhood memories and most involved pranks on my family – most were not funny.  I also fondly remember some occasions when mum took us to the big city to eat chips and sausages.

  • Worst childhood memory

This is a serious question and for many people, worst memories can be really bad – like losing a parent, getting involved in a serious accident, getting beat up for a minor offence etc so I will leave it to a non-scarring worst memory.  It was just before Christmas.  I was 6.  My mother came home laden with new things, but despite knowing I would get new clothes on Christmas day, mum’s next actions had me mad at her for several moons – she gave my younger sister a pregnant-black-woman doll and I got a school bag… because I was due school in January.  I was so angry.

  • Hobbies, passions and interests. And worst habit

I enjoy cooking, swimming, and taking long walks – I find these crucial for when important board meetings have to take place in my head.  I love reading – currently reading 3 books: the sun does shine by Anthony Ray Hinton, Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and the Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, again.  I love writing.  My new addiction is audio theatre – inspired by Liane Moonraven.  I love watching crime shows.  I love movies too – old but not too old.  My worst habit….. second guessing.

  • Best job

Since I love reading and research I have to say my best job so far has been research facilitating for the NHS.  I am also a self-certified grammar ninja who enjoys reading people’s research proposals and trolling for nonsensical stuff.  Sometimes for no reason at all, I read journal articles.

  • Are you a social butterfly?

Nope, I am in no way a social butterfly but when out with friends and in good company I can be the life and soul of a party.  I am more inclined to be introverted but sometimes takes YOLO too literally.  I enjoy my own company may be too much.

  • Which celebs would you invite to a dinner party?

When that time comes I will definitely invite Angela Bassett, Ryan Reynolds, Will Smith, Julia Roberts, Sanaa Lathan and of course Oprah and Obama.  I would make them eat ugali, nyama choma, fish, kachumbari and drink múratina while I feast on the finest Michelin-star-styled steaks and Pommes Frites.  We would dance around a fire to múgithi wa Rúa and Salim’s greatest hits.

  • What are your pet peeves?

Inanimate things that, supposedly, talk.  Water aid adverts where the camera crew watch a child drink dirty water and does nothing to stop her – just so they can emotionally blackmail people to donate.

  • Interesting things about me

I can listen to two things at the same time – freaky.  I absolutely hate snakes and not because of the reason everybody assumes.  I hate snakes because they are the only known species in the universe that can either give live births or lay eggs, I find that disturbing and creepy.

  • Were you popular in high school?

I did ok academically so was popular with the students and some teachers.  I was a little rebellious though – I co-orchestrated a rebellion about a teacher we felt was not qualified enough to teach teenage girls.  For this, 3 of us were made to dig huge holes in the school shamba and plant pawpaw trees: one of the teachers wouldn’t teach without us though, so essentially everyone in our class was punished.

  • Scariest moment in your life

My best friend and I lived in Mathare North.  One night we got home very late and realised she had lost an envelope containing her wages.  Without a second thought, we walked back to the main road where we hoped it dropped – we found it, and only then did we realise we had to walk back home.  For those not familiar with Mathare North – this area neighbours Mathare Valley and dangerous cannot even begin to describe it.  We clung together and trembled all way back to our one-room penthouse.

  • Who are your role models?

Not surprising but my greatest role models are my mum – a formidable force of nature who has raised over 10 exceptional children some of whom are not her own.  My grandmother – whose house never lacked food and tea.  My older sister – whose home is open to all and is generous to a fault. And Nelson Mandela whose forgiving spirit is like no other.

  • What values do you live by?

I think this is a very important question because I believe being aware of personal values gives life a sharper focus and defined clarity.  Values serve as a filter through which you make choices that make you…. ‘uniquely you’, so make good choices and live by virtuous values.

I used to be one of those people that are constantly questioning why things happen the way they do.  I then realised these kinds of questions are backwards and very disempowering.  So, I changed and like to think of how I can learn from past experiences. Therefore, the values I live by are diverse and varied, here are just a few: – appreciation and gratitude for everything I have and for everything I am.  Belief in self and others.  Commitment and dedication to whatever I set my mind to.  Care and compassion for my loved ones. Courtesy to all because you just never know who you meet and why.  Honesty, however, this can vary depending on what is in my best interest [no judgement please].  Integrity, patience [sometimes], sacrifice [within reason] and tolerance.

  • Most important things in your life?

My family and friends.

  • Does anything bother you?

We all know why humans have belly buttons, right?  So, if Adam and Eve were created as adults, why are they illustrated in bible stories as adults with belly buttons?

Finally – what would you do if you won a million quid?

Travel the world and buy a date with Ryan Reynolds.

I tried to answer as many questions as possible because if I answered all, it would be a book – watch this space.

Food for thought:  all humans are some shades of brown with different undertones.  Think of a brown spectrum from white to black.




  1. This memoir has intrigue is fun and exceptional, am happy to know am not the only one who likes watching crime shows ie FBI files, fatal attraction, Esther i forgot to ask you for your mathare penthouse POSTCODE

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