Of Broken Glass Ceilings ( by Nafula Wafula)

One day, I will tell these tales to my daughter. Tales of glass ceilings, shattered by brave women. Women who wield pens and bright minds, courage and the strongest will. Women who would have ridden in on horse backs with shouts of defiance proudly drawing their swords against centuries of entrenched patriarchy if this were the Amazonian age. These women that have done Kenya proud, these women that continue to lead the way. As I write this, the results of the 2017 Kenya general elections continue to trickle in. Women are doing us proud. Our fore-mothers are ululating in the world beyond. The journey to equality continues.This poem is a tribute to them and those that came before them. The pre-colonial chiefs and tribal queens that defied expectations and thrived. Those who broke rock hard ceilings so our ceilings would be glass, and to those who break the glass ceilings today so our daughters will have no ceilings to break.
I walk.
I walk through this journey alone
I tiptoe through the darkness, through the murk through the…dark
I stepity stepity step…I sway, I bounce…I walk…
I walk. As they lurk…they linger…they stare…they plot…
I march…. I match the footsteps of my ancestors,
those that came before me
those that cleared the path, my fore-mothers whom they never speak of,
the torch bearers
those who fought the battle so I can be here…
so, I can walk…march…journey on…
I search.
I search for the truth, their guidance, their footprints in the sand
I search for my femininity, individuality, spirituality, authenticity, black nativity, sensitivity, …I search…
I look…I search…
I explore…I explore my sexuality, embrace unfamiliarity,
I measure the probability of irrelevance. And I rebel
I rebel because they fought
they fought for my relevance, my right to be me,
they fought the best way they could, by just being
They fought for their right to speak, to be counted, to be recognized
seen as more than just their breasts, their maternal instincts, their womb,
Fought to be seen as leaders, as warriors, as equals…
so…I will not back down
I will not be silenced
I refuse to accept this…secondary status, this second class citizenship that you impose on me..
with your sexist undertones and patronizing actions
I rebel against this system..this entrenched patriarchy
that seeks to dictate my womb, my words, my ability or disability, my sexuality, my body, my beliefs, my choices..
that seeks to limit my leadership, silence my voice, tie my hands and cover my eyes, limit me to a life of servitude, seeking to pleasure my adversaries, and smiling through it like I don’t mind…
No. I refuse. I rise. I gather my sisters. We rebel, we fight. I gather my brothers
those who choose to see me as a human being and not give me some secondary status,
who believe in equality and a better life for their daughters,
who recognize that equality does not undermine their masculinity,
who understand that misogyny is not equal to relevance or improved status,
that machismo is not some form of grand masculinity,
That are secure in their masculinity and are not shaken by my abilities.
Feminist alert…you say..you tweet it, you share it, sarcasm dripping, insecurity coated in disgust, and you cry emasculation..
Like my feminism is such a bad thing, like I should be ashamed,
like I should cower and be afraid and be shamed, sit in a corner, hide, escape
But hell, I embrace it, I state it, i live it,
I believe in the equality of the sexes,
equal access to social, political and economic rights.
I believe in a just a fair world, where I am not subservient to another because we differ in color, gender, sexual orientation, religion, age. Whatever differentiation,
I believe in equality, peace, togetherness…
and if you believe in the same,
raise your hand and be counted
Join the match as we state it
make a statement, embrace it, acknowledge it, not just when it favors you but every minute
Act like it, live it, epitomize it, shout it,
Raise your fist in the air, defiant, and own it
own your life and your role in actualizing it
every day…shout it.
Then I will not journey alone…you will be there…
you will not walk alone, I will be there…
Before you know it, we are a movement
undeterred, undefeated
If you own it, you give others the permission to own it,
to be it, to embrace it…
come…let us walk together. Let us journey…let us cross the finish line. Together
let us win.
we can

Nafula Wafula

Nafula Wafula is a fierce advocate for gender equality and human rights, passionate about Pan-Africanism and social justice. She is currently the Vice Chair for Policy and Advocacy at the Commonwealth Youth Council.

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