Q & A with Jane Mwangi On what Motivates her


Jane Mwangi flashed a big old smile as I walked towards her; this was the first time we were meeting. Her high spirits and easy personality had us chatting up like old friends. I was eager to learn what keeps Jane Motivated and so hopeful given all that she had been through. Jane Mwangi’s life took a drastic turn on Saturday May 28, 2015 when she was robed and shot.

E. At what point did you make a conscious decision that I will walk again?

J. As I lay on the hospital bad day and day out looking up at the hospital celling for hours on end, that’s when I said to myself Jane you will walk again, you have to walk again do not be doomed to a life on the wheelchair. Don’t get me wrong, I mean knew I can live a fulfilling life on a wheelchair I just feel like it will stifle my dreams. And I know I am being made for big things and I cannot do them while on this wheelchair.

E. Do you have a game plan?

J. “Honestly, I didn’t have a game plan but my faith carried me through, my faith in God even before the accident is what kept me focus. The bible tells me that God is the same today tomorrow and forever more. If God was able to bless me all my life with so many favors, this was definitely not the time to let go of God, because I know he would never let go of me. This is just a hurdle on my life’s journey I know that God has a plan for me. As I lay in that bed, something kept whispering, “ be still and know that I am God,” those words kept me going I knew that even though I am laying in that bed, in pain there there was something bigger coming.

E. What role have you friends played so far?

J. My friends showed up in a big way, they used to visit two at a time throughout the day it would get to a point the nurses would even tell them, “she needs a break she’s tired”. Even when I was in the ICU they were still allowed to visit there was no moment where I felt like I was alone. My family, friends, and boyfriend they kept me going and they still do.

E. What you’re going through is hard, how do you deal with the hard days?

J. To be honest, I do have a lot of hard days, we call them “low days” I would be lying if I said that it’s sunshine all the time, and it’s not at all. In the beginning the biggest challenge was the bowel and bladder incontinence, try imagine, as a grown woman having to wear a diaper or having someone change it while they clean you, now that can take you to a new low.

E. I can only imagine, what about now?

J. Nowadays, the challenge is my daily activity, when I wake up in the morning I have to strategize on how to get from the bed to the wheelchair and then stay the wheelchair until I go to therapy, getting into the car is a chore all on it’s own and by the time I am calling it a night, I am so exhausted. You see, with the spinal cord injury your body is simply not functioning the way it should, for instance my body temperature fluctuates randomly. I am learning to adjust to the new reality that I am living in, even if it’s for just a short time.

E. Do you have a support system for the low days?

J. I have a few friends who are living with spinal cord injuries that I met after mine happened; they are they ones I reach out to during those low moments. I realize that no matter how much I pray, and stay positive, those low days are going to happen. For instance, I’ll get a call from one of my friends and when he says “today is one of my low days, “ I tell him it’s gonna pass,” and he knows that I totally understand him.

E. Yeah, if you told me that your having a low day I would probably empathize with you and promptly try to do something to cheer you up – I really wouldn’t be able to fully understand what you are going through or what you need.

J. Yes, some of my other friends would default to cheering me up buy suggesting we watch a movie or something like that to keep me busy.

E. It’s great that you have a support system to deal with the low days.

J. Yes, and I don’t know if it’s just me but I’ve become so much more emotional. Nowadays, if I see something on TV about flooding or a tragedy, I feel so much more emotionally than I would have before. But I think it’s because now I can really relate to other people’s pain now better than I could before.

E. Absolutely! Now, let’s change gears for a minute, It was approximately 16 hours before you received any medical attention, are you distraught by the state of the medical system in Kenya?

J. It is a very sad, but not an impossible situation. Although I do look back and wonder what, “if they had seen me immediately would I still have gotten the spinal cord injury? Wouldn’t be as bad as it is now? Would I have been at that wheelchair?” Probably not and I realize that this is the case for so many people in Kenya who are living in all manner of conditions so to answer your question, yes! I do get angry and I think I’m entitled to my anger.

E. Indeed you are!

J. Yes, we need some policies to change; healthcare reforms, bad doctors and nurses need to be fired! A lot needs to happen. I pray to God to give us leaders who are going to truly effect some changes in Kenya and that’s my prayer every day.

E. I couldn’t agree more! Sounds like this awakened an activist in you?

J. Yes I believe so! I’m still trying to understand why God kept me alive; I do believe I am here for a purpose. And right now, it’s to be a champion for the change that Kenya your needs.

E. Very well said Jane. Yes, you can defiantly use this hurdle in your life to champion a great change in Kenya.

J.I keep saying I’m going to make some noise I’m not gonna shut up! Because while lying on that hospital bed for 16 long hours, I was a victim, but because I am alive today that makes me a survivor and I cannot keep quiet. People need to know the state of the medical system in Kenya and someday things will change for the better.

E. Tell me about Nelly the neighbor who came to your rescue that night; what was the first thing you told him when you saw him after the incident?

J. Yes, he is a big reason as to why I am alive today; my parents told me that he was the one who found me, when I saw him after the incident, the first thing I said to him was, “oh my God how am I ever going to repay you!” From that moment forward we have definitely grown closer as friends.

E. On your blog, you wrote a piece, “America be kind to me” has it?

J. Yes, it has in more ways that I could count! I feel like I have been adopted into a community. I couldn’t be more grateful!

E. How are you handling the newfound fame and popularity?

J. At times I would question God for making me popular through such a horrific incident. A friend of mine however told me, “No Jane, God is using you to show himself. God uses that which is not pretty by human standards to show himself, “and hear I am on ABC news, blogs, newspapers, radio stations and so on – it is pretty amazing how God works!

E. Yes it is! You are now an inspiration to others, how does that make you feel?

J. It looks like God had something bigger in mind for me, back in Kenya I used to sing in the church choir and I thought this must be my purpose, but now I see that God had something bigger in mind.

E. How do you manage your expectations?

J. I ask God to lead the way, I read books by others who have gone through similar ordeals and I am often reminded neither to be afraid nor to get ahead of myself, just to take it a day at a time.

E. Final thoughts?

J. We all need to remember that no one can live in isolation there will come a time when one needs their brother, sister, neighbor or countryman. The community here in the US and back home have shown me how united we are. It is great to see that the Harambee spirit still lives on.

Jane continues to go to Baylor for rehab and outpatient therapy.

 Support Jane Mwangi:

https://www.gofundme.com/b4xmc9z8

  • Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Jane.Mwangi.M/?fref=ts

Upcoming run: Houston TX  8/13/2016 

Photo credits:

MoSey’s Photography

Truthsayer Show www.dallasweeklyradio.com

Dj XP – Charles Opore Photography

More Than Just the “drama” 2016 Dallas Kenyan Memorial Weekend in Pictures


For the past 16 years, Kenyan event organizers in Dallas host a variety of festivities over the Memorial holiday weekend dubbed, “ The Dallas Kenyan Memorial ” which is attended by over 4000 Kenyans from other states and overseas.

This year, I found it amazingly sad how one hiccup in the Kenyan Dallas memorial weekend activities hijacked our Facebook and twitter and IG timelines. It created immigration experts and a story plots thicker than Game of Thrones. Heck! it made the Kenyan headlines news. All this regarding a matter that boils down to having the wrong visa scenario, which I am most certain has happened to and will continue to happen a few other chaps in our lifetime.

What hardly happens however, is the Kenyan Dallas Memorial making it to the Kenyan headline news, no mention of the fantastic sports tournaments, great parties and concerts and church gatherings among other events that were hosted this past weekend. No one tells the stories of families and friends reuniting over some nyama choma or how we gathered to raise funds for one of ours. And as for those who only remember the night parties 🙂 well, allow me the honor of telling a different story using a few pictures

5th Annual Basketball and Soccer Tournament hosted by Kenya Diaspora Sports Organization ( KDSO)

The 6th Annual Memorial Golf Tournament hosted by Safari Dallas Golf Club

 

Choma Sundays Fundraising for Jane Mwangi hosted by Prime Time Bar and Grill 

To learn more about featured organizations visit:

Kenya Diaspora Sports Organization ( KDSO) 

https://www.facebook.com/kenyadso.org/

Memorial Golf Tournament

http://safaridallasgc.com/golf-club/about-us/

Choma Sundays Dallas – Prime Time Bar & Grill 

https://www.facebook.com/ChomaSundays/

Choma Sunday pics by Mo Sey Photography

https://www.facebook.com/moseysphotography/?fref=ts

Upcoming Event to Support Jane Mwangi – Another 5K run/walk/cycle event on June 11th 2016

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/jane-mwangi-grand-finale-saturday-june-11-2016-tickets-25559957521

https://www.gofundme.com/b4xmc9z8

S/O to Event organizers/DJ’s and promoters of The Main Event and Ultimate Kenyan Experience  the organizers for the concerts, parties, lake and park events. Pictures to their events can be found on Facebook.

 

Esther Kanyua talks to Dj Pierra Makena


Project manager by day Dj by night and so much more!

Something has to be said about someone who is willing to pursue their goals in life. Pierra Makena has found a way to juggle her career plus her passion something which many of us hope to do.

Let’s see what she has to say about it.

 

 

A huge thank you to the SZ Team and  Joshua Nyakundi  and  Oguta Mayaka

for making this interview possible. 

 

PeaceTones Kenya “Songs For Justice” Project


 

“Music doesn’t lie. If there is something to be changed in this world, then it can only happen through music.”  Jimi Hendrix

PeaceTones Kenya “Songs For Justice” Project

PeaceTones Kenya “Songs For Justice” Project

 

From February 24-March 21, 2014, “fair trade music” nonprofit, PeaceTones (www.peacetones.org), travelled to Nairobi, Kenya, completing phase one of their current project: Songs For Justice. In this first phase, PeaceTones successfully conducted two musicians’ rights workshops for over 200 musicians drawn from three Nairobi slums. Working with accomplished local and international partners, PeaceTones completed specialized legal, marketing, technology, and social justice education for musicians in the low-income communities of Kibera, Babandogo, and Mathare. The team also auditioned 180 of their workshop attendees to participate in phase two- an online contest for original artists to start in July.

To conclude phase one, PeaceTones, together with local partners, also hosted two capstone peace concerts given in Kibera and Babandogo by participating artists, musical activists and partners. This was a turnkey project by PeaceTones- they plan to continue working with community partners, remotely, to support more future workshops and concerts and eventually have the project run completely by the partners. The partners involved ranged from lawyers to community organizers to musicians and more see http://www.peacetones.org/team/

ONLINE COMPETITION

The second and final phase for the project will be an online artist discovery competition. This will showcase 24 contestants, determined by our esteemed panel of Kenyan and American judges. The contest will be decided in three rounds by public, international vote and on PeaceTones’ online voting platform. The audiences are built not only for the winning artist, but also for all participating artists. This will give bring many unknown artists and their amazing works of music to the limelight, and also help publicize their messages of struggle, resilience and hope.

The winner will become a PeaceTones Ambassador and record an album with PeaceTones and acclaimed Kenyan musician, Eric Wainaina. They will also receive 90% of the profits from album sales, of which a portion will go to a local community development project of their choosing that is vetted and meets certain criteria. The expected outcomes of this project are an arts community with a greater sense of legal and social justice empowerment, with an understanding of their responsibilities and power as musicians, who also possess a greater knowledge of practical skills in law, marketing and technology.

Check out some of the audition videos – TOP 24  

MORE INFORMATION

To learn more about the Songs For Justice campaign, visit www.peacetones.org/songs-for-justice or email the team at info@peacetones.org

About PeaceTones 

Songs For Justice

PeaceTones Kenya “Songs For Justice” Project

PeaceTones’ mission is to foster rule of law from the ground up and create sustainable incomes for musicians living in communities torn apart by war, protracted conflict and natural disaster. We believe that by giving musicians with positive social messages the tools to protect their music and earn an income from it, we’re empowering communities to create and sustain their own economies, based on arts that are powerful, inspiring and valuable.

We see ourselves as a “fair trade music” movement, empowering unknown musicians in developing nations and at-risk communities with marketing and legal knowledge and access to online platforms to share their music globally. Using innovative learning and incentive models, we have conducted expert-led workshops to educate artists on their rights and tools to grow their careers in Sierra Leone, Haiti, Brazil, and Kenya over the last 5 years.

 

US Contact: Molly Dow

Program Director

650. 704.1311

molly@peacetones.org  

 

Kenyan Contact: Esther Kanyua

Media Intern

214.223.7407

esther@peacetones.org

www.peacetones.org

 

 

 

PeaceTones pic 2

PeaceTones Kenya “Songs For Justice” Project

PeaceTones Kenya “Songs For Justice” Project

PeaceTones Kenya “Songs For Justice” Project

 

 

My Kenyan ID Saga


By Anonymous

Date: 24 May, 2014                               Time: 1100 hours

Arriving at the Double Tree Hotel, where the Kenyan ID tour started.

Walking into the hotel, I noticed signs everywhere for an Eagle Reunion, maybe a school or some type of organization. What I did not see were any signs for “Kenyan ID”.

I tried to look in the lobby for any familiar faces carrying a large USPS envelope as a sign, but to no avail.

I was pointed in the general direction and took some stairs an elevator bank, adjacent to a computer and printer on a study desk, oddly placed I thought to myself.

I walked down the stairs and there were some familiar African faces outside the door, two men, both looking at me coming down the stairs in an uninviting way.

Looking for confirmation that I was in the right place, one of them reached for a stack of business cards and handed one to me, I thought they were numbers to be called when I walked in, but it turned out to be shitty made business cards pandering some banking/shipping service that I didn’t care for especially if they were half-ass handed like that, hand written phone number and all. “this isn’t good”, I thought to myself, and I haven’t even crossed the threshold yet.

The room looked like a Kenyan wedding reception had been set up with a high table and five or so rows of tables on the bride and grooms side.

The high table had five government officials; three sitting sifting through half-filled paperwork, and after watching the exchanges it turned out almost everyone had not filled out the paperwork correctly, or even brought the correct support paperwork, gods forbid you didn’t bring a return envelope which cost you another thirty dollars on top of the application fee, ID fee, photos, gas and headache this was turning out be an expensive and discouraging venture. All before my turn came up.

I walked in and sat down, seconds later I was told there is a sign-in sheet at the high table.

I walked up and queued as we Kenyans are used to. One of the two officials came to me asking me to sign the blank printer paper handed to me.

I did and she proceeded to ask me if I had my paperwork, I affirmed that I had my passport, copy of birth certificate and pictures that ended up being cropped more than it should have to what may end up being just a black blob on the ID card with a smile as the only identifying feature.

She then proceeded ask, “Do you have a copy of your parents ID card or passport? “No” I said, “we need that”, and in a diplomatic tone, she continued “unaweza pigia mama na baba simu, ama email them to send you a copy. You know we are here kesho and you can come and do it then” she finished.

I thought to myself, “shit, you are kidding me?”, and followed with “so can we start the process and I can come with the supporting paperwork later”, the resounding answer was “No” and I soon figured out why.

Turns out I also needed a copy of my passport not just a passport, the embassy was lacking in their information. No wonder everyone seemed to fall short, and need more than one trip to correct these issues.

I needed my parents ID and also a miracle apparently. I had vowed that come what may, I was going to get this ID one way or another.

A thought occurred to me “what if my parents were not alive?” I’d be screwed, but they are still alive, now I just have to find them hoping by some miracle they have their Kenyan paperwork handy to send.

After multiple phone calls I did get my mother who by chance had a scanned copy of her Kenyan ID, mama emailed to me. I headed up the stairs to that computer and printed the paperwork.

On a mission I walked back into the room re-signed up again, and when I was nodded to come up I was asked “si ulikuwa unarudi kesho?” to which I replied “ndio, lakini nilipata kila kitu”.

I presented my pre-filled paperwork and a receipt for my money order. Then after 15 minutes or more my paperwork started being transcribed again on an official manilla looking government paper from gods know where.

I then refilled the same form I was asked to fill initially, why it has to be filled twice I still have no clue.

And it did not stop there, I was grilled about where I came from. It’s two thousand fourteen and I had to fill each and every line whether it applied to me, these included: Tribe, clan, family, home district, division, constituency, location, sub-location, village/estate.

I am 32 years old and I know where I lived was not in an estate, and per the officials I had to write “something and fill it out, ‘n/a’ will not be accepted”.

Before myself I saw many argue the point of all these things applying to you even if you lived in an area that did not have all that.

Those same people were rejected and had to find a way around it. Apparently I now will have some redundancies since in my eyes, my district etcetera wasn’t that broken down as the days before independence, when my kinfolk lived in villages.

What happens if you were born and lived in Nairobi before coming to the US, or just by virtue of being born in Kenya you are a citizen but have not spent time in Kenya?

Later the finger printing started with everything being done traditionally, ink was poured on a pad, a roller introduced to said pad, then all my fingers were inked and rolled onto the papers. Two sets of prints with more than five thumbprints for good measure.

Why is this process still on paper and prints manual?

I am very sure if you have the capability to issue new ID cards using a magical tool such as a computer, the government can invest and collect said information electronically, even better yet use a biometric scanner all hooked up to a computer database.

The men at the front door with hand written card surely have more computing power than the Kenyan government if they are to bank or ship anything, then again it was a poorly made business card. Only in Kenya….in America…in Kenyamerica.

Date: 24 May, 2014                               Time: 1100 hours

By Guest blogger

Goodbye Rum and Coke!


Written by Joe Kambo

Today I am making a decision that millions before me have made and millions others probably will.

I have decided to stop drinking alcohol!!

It is an easy thing to say and write, but I am scared as to how I will go about doing it. Alcohol has been a part of my life since the tender age of 15. I grew up in Nairobi where getting “wasted” was always viewed as one of the coolest things to do.

In high school, tales of weekend exploits fueled by booze were always the favorite conversation topic on Monday mornings. The drunker you were over the weekend the cooler you became. Fast forward 15 years and I’ve reached my limit. The question is how do I implement this?

I’ve always envied people who are able to stop drinking after a beer or two. Unfortunately, I am the kind of guy who doesn’t know how to do that. Like some of my peers, I can go all week without imbibing, but come the weekend and I must release my stress with a rum and coke and any other alcoholic beverage that finds its way to my mouth. And as usual, Mondays have a rude way of showing up and interrupting the party.

I know you  must be telling yourself there is no way he is going to be able to pull this off and still hang out with the same crowd of enablers. And you are right, so are there any teetotalers looking for a cool dude to hang with?  Seriously though, there lies the challenge.

All my friends drink. It is like alcohol defines us and is the focal point of all our social gatherings. It goes without saying that meeting up with friends will definitely involve a lot of drinking. It would be fine by normal peoples standards but allow me to elaborate on our “normal”.

Three bottles of Captain Morgan, two of crown, six cases of Heineken, and numerous shots (all in one night) you get the picture. Binge drinking I suppose is what I should call it.

Before I made up my mind about parting ways with alcohol, I racked my brain in an attempt to find any positives that alcohol has brought me. Other than some fun times with some great people…I draw a big fat blank! Now, anyone that knows me will tell you that I am a very social guy. I thrive being around people, so this is going to be especially hard. However, there will be immediate rewards from this decision;

Money 

On any given weekend, I spend anywhere from two to three hundred dollars on entertainment which often included buying alcohol and going to night clubs and bars. I agree that is ridiculous! But again, I just don’t know how to say no or when to stop . The amount of money that I will save is immense. In fact, that alone is really getting me motivated.

 Health

I mean, should I really be getting used to terrible hangovers and dehydration? We all agree it sucks. Not to mention memory loss and the stupid choices one makes when intoxicated.

I have seen firsthand how alcohol ruins lives and is almost messing mine up. I have had a failed relationships as a result of it. I realize that I have a problem. This is one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make, but it is the right one. I know that I will lose some “friends” over this, but the real ones will stay. No, I’m not going to be a party pooper and judge people. It is just something that I must do for myself.

One day at a time from here on out…………