Politics of Fandoms

“I didn’t know you were a fan of Gabrielle Union!” exclaimed a friend of mine after seeing my Instagram post on her book.

“Yes I am, I really liked her book.”

“Since when have you been a fan of her?”

Here goes the Fandom Olympics, I thought to myself. See, your girl didn’t even know of her existence before picking up the book. I just pulled a Pudge (a character in John Green’s ‘Looking for Alaska’ who enjoyed reading biographies of writers without feeling the need to read the writers’ work). My friend, on the other hand, had known her for a really long time. Compared to her, I didn’t even qualify to be a fan.

Members of the Harry Potter fandom are usually referred to as Potterheads. I don’t even know whether I am part of them because I only read the books and watched the movies last year. There are usually in-fightings among the Potterheads because those who grew up reading Harry Potter usually think of themselves as greater fans and refer to themselves as the Harry Potter generation. Those who watched the movies but did not read the books are seen to be lesser fans. It’s like everyone is clamouring for the ‘biggest fan’ badge and you, my dear, can’t even qualify to be part of the race. I must admit though that I have oftentimes thought of myself as the bigger fan when it comes to bands and musicians that I grew up listening to.

I never knew how seriously people took fandoms until I started watching Scorpion. By then, I had joined Tumblr and so I made sure I partook in most of the Scorpion ‘sub-cultures.’ Every Monday, people would talk about the show, analyze the characters, ship some of them (Waige for Walter and Paige, Toppy for Toby and Happy… haha) and hundreds of GIFs and memes would be posted. It amazed me how different people from all over the world could be brought together because they share a common interest.

However, I know how dangerous fandoms can be. There’s this Christian Hip Hop artist by the name KJ-52 who was always compared to Eminem, just like NF these days. He decided to write a song to Eminem asking him to come to Jesus and I don’t think he was prepared for the reaction. The song blew up and was generally well received by the Christian community. Well, Eminem’s fans would have none of it. They went as far as sending KJ-52 hate mail and death threats.

What do you think of fandoms? Which ones are you part of? I would love to know!


Of Paradoxes and Perceptions

An amoeba reproduces by a process known as binary fission, whereby it replicates its genetic material and then divides into two daughter cells which are identical to each other. In short, it clones itself. Is it still okay to refer to the parent cell as the parent cell, when a very big change has occurred within it? Or are the two daughter cells collectively the parent cell? It still doesn’t feel right. Together, they have double of what the original parent used to have. So… did the parent cell essentially disappear? How? Nothing vanished into thin air. Is this just an issue of semantics? No?

Oh how exhausting mental press-ups are! You may now rest a bit. Why am I even talking about amoebas in the first place? Well, my current read is: A Brief History of The Paradox: Philosophy and the Labyrinths of the Mind by Roy Sorensen and boy does it give you tough mental exercises! I must admit, however, that I enjoy tossing myself into the abyss that is existential crisis every so often and philosophy in general gives me life! I love being exposed to different perceptions and schools of thought. It really helps me interrogate the flaws in my thought processes. It has also helped me understand that not everyone perceives things the way I do, therefore, I cut them more slack.

I got the amoeba paradox from the book by the way. They also talk about roses. That bouquet of roses you will receive on Valentine’s, are they really roses? What is a rose anyway? The flower or the whole plant plus the roots? If you say that the flower is a rose, what about the stem, the thorns and the roots? Light bulb moment alert! One day I will give a loved one stems and thorns of a rose plant and be like, “Hey, I brought you roses!” MWAHAHAHAHAHA…

My attempts at singing when I’m at home are always met with ‘sauti ya chura production’ from my siblings. They say it so often that I have considered it as a name of my production company when I launch my rap career. (A girl can dream!) It will host people with voices hoarser than Future’s without autotune and our tagline will be: listen to the words ignore the voice. What was I saying? Oh yes, my voice is not that good. I used to wish it was angelic, but not anymore. See, if you have an amazing voice, you don’t use it to entertain yourself. We are the ones who benefit from your voice. My friend (who has an equally bad voice) and I usually tell ourselves that we are queens and that singers slave away to make sure we are thoroughly entertained. We are King Saul, while the singers are David. The same friend tells me that writers are her slaves, that we only exert ourselves so that she and other readers may benefit. People really love comforting themselves.

Now that we have already touched on perceptions, let me tell you about the other day when someone asked where I’d be spending New Year’s Eve. I told him I’d be at home and he laughed. Excuse me? Who said I need an occasion to go out? Matter of fact I celebrated my birthday, which is on 8th October, on NYE. I told another friend that I don’t get the hype of New Year celebrations because methinks that time is an illusion and that the calendar is just for the sake of order. He agreed, but added that New Year is an excuse to party and that we all need an excuse. Right there and then it hit me how birthdays too are an excuse to party. A birthday is no achievement, and as someone on Quora pointed out, we are literally celebrating being a year closer to the grave. Chills.

Don’t get me wrong, birthdays are very important to me especially because of the lengths we take to show love to our friends and family and to show them how special they are to us. I love the feelings of hope and desire to make our lives better that come with each new year. I just don’t want them to be limited to a day. You can have make goals whenever you want, you can buy your friends gifts any day and most importantly, you don’t need to wait for your birthday to have cake. 😉

The beauty of the paradoxes of life can only be seen when you agree to see life through other lenses. Ditch your rose-coloured glasses and invest in other ones.

Have a paradoxical week, won’t you?

Something Close to My Heart

I am an INFP, meaning one of my main traits is having a very active imagination. Most of the times I get lost in my own little world. For all those whose smiles, winks, waves or worse still, stretched out hands (or arms) went unnoticed, I take this opportunity to apologize. I am very sorry, it was never intentional. You may think I am walking on the University of Nairobi sidewalks when in actual sense I am shoving past a crowd in Paris, well, at least in my head. I may be looking at you straight in the eye but in my head, I am giving a speech at one of the UN conferences.

“Today I want to talk about something that’s close to my heart, both literally and figuratively. Literally, because it covers the heart and other important organs in the body acting as a shock absorber. Figuratively, because… do I really need to explain that?”

I watch as the audience’s faces light up with anticipation and I smile sheepishly to myself. Then a ‘Lilian, have you heard what I’ve said?’ bursts my bubble and punctures the utopia I’ve created in my head. I get embarrassed and annoyed simultaneously because I am forced to go back to the real world. I love my active imagination, but sometimes it consumes me and gets me in trouble. Some people tend to think that I am a snob which I do understand. Also, I am very oblivious of my surroundings. There could be a petrol station somewhere whose name I don’t even know yet I pass by it everyday.

Okay, enough on my imagination. Today I wanted to expound more on the speech that has been in my head for a long time now. I had tried recording a video on it but I got frustrated midway and had to delete it. I wanted to write on the subject for a long time but I simply could not bring myself to. Setting deadlines and making sure everybody knew when to expect the article didn’t work. I kept thinking that if I were a columnist in one of the dailies I would have been fired by now because of my inability to meet deadlines. Sigh.

Anyway, I bet by now some of you have figured that I want to talk about fat. Being fat.  I have always been the biggest person in the classes I’ve been to. The first time I noticed I was different, I was in nursery school. Some kids started calling me ‘jack nono’. To this day, I wonder where the jack came from. I even did some googling and I came across a nursery rhyme called: Jack Sprat. It goes like:

Jack will eat not fat, and Jull doth love no leane.

Yet betwixt them both they lick the dishes cleane.

I know it has no relation to Jack being fat but can we all just take a moment and appreciate the absurdity of this nursery rhyme? Can you imagine 17th century kids speaking Elizabethan English? Me neither.

Many people get called mean names when they are in nursery school and lower primary school because at that age children are very honest and regurgitate all they have been taught at home; the good, the bad and the ugly. As we grow, we learn a few things and we change. Or maybe we learn to hide our prejudices better. Some people don’t change and I get it, sometimes we don’t know better.

I remember one day in high school I was walking really fast because I was running late to class. An acquaintance caught up with me and told me she was very happy to see me trying to lose weight and went on to tell me how research showed that walking fast burns more calories than jogging. People tend to assume that I am trying to lose weight whenever I do something different. I don’t feel like eating breakfast? I’m advised on how that is not the best way to lose weight. It is very irritating, to be honest, especially if the comments come from total strangers.

Oh how I love our society and its double standards. A society that tells you to love yourself the way you are and then the next minute tells you that you are not allowed to love yourself if you are not a certain size. I’ve seen big people embracing themselves and preaching body positivity on social media only to be told to shut up and take care of their health first. People love to use health as an excuse to body shame people.

Don’t get me wrong, I do understand the health risks that come with obesity and I do try to lead an active lifestyle. However, I know that losing weight is not the key to happiness and self love. And I know that if I don’t love myself with what I have right now, I won’t love myself when I get what I want. So please, allow people to love themselves? Also, don’t go preaching about weight loss to total strangers and acquaintances. It’s annoying. We do talk about that with people who are close to us, who actually matter.

I won’t pretend that I don’t have insecurities. Don’t we all? Sometimes the comments get me. I laugh them off just to conceal the hurt. But most of the times, they don’t. Years of getting hurt and brushing off mean comments made sure I grew a thick skin. Like my friend Allan said, ‘I got used to brushing them off and with time, like a rock at the bed of a river, the current just flowed above it.’

That’s it. I feel like I should have said more. So many stories left unsaid but I hope what I’ve written is enough to bring the message home. Let’s be kind to one another. 🙂


I do love the good-humoured teases though! 😉

Logical Fallacies

The other day I mentioned in a WhatsApp group I’m in that I didn’t like a certain person’s music. I told them that I found it depressing because it left me in a worse mood. It was just not my cup of tea. Now, this is a very popular musician among the group members and I knew very well that I would be attacked for saying that. I was right, someone retaliated by saying that my cup of tea consists of ‘5 lines mumbled a thousand times.’

While I don’t deny that I enjoy trap music, I did not quite get the comeback. I understand that he was offended, but he committed a fallacy which most of us are guilty of: argumentum ad hominem: the error of attacking the character and motives of a person who has stated the idea, rather than the idea itself. Instead of adressing the matter of the artist’s music and give me his dissenting opinion, he chose to attack my character: loving trap music. This is no way to win an argument.

The whole purpose of a debate or a discussion is to help us see both sides of the coin, and therefore reduce bigotry. However, logical fallacies defeat this purpose. I see this a lot with politicians. That’s why I sometimes cannot bring myself to watch the discussions on television regarding the current political climate. A lot of logical fallacies are committed either knowingly or unknowingly. I will bring some of these to your attention in a few.

Maybe I should first say what prompted me to research on this. A certain lady had commented on politics and as always, some people were offended. They called her a whore, a bimbo and many other deregatory names instead of saying why exactly they disagreed with her. I had settled on chauvinism as the main culprit but then I realized the problem was much bigger than that. What is the source of  chauvinism? A flaw in reasoning. Our thought processes account for who we are. To deal with a problem, we must first change our mindset. It is important we know of these fallacies so that we avoid commiting them, point out those who commit them so that at the end of the day we engage in a meaningful and fruitful discussion.

That being said, the next fallacy I want to bring into focus is Post Hoc (ergo propter hoc), claiming that because something happens after something else, the first caused the second. In other words, saying that because two things correlate, one caused the other. This takes me back to my primary school days, when a certain teacher happened to be in a mood for caning us whenever she donned clothes of a certain colour. We would conclude that the particular colour was the cause of her bad moods. In retrospect, I believe that her moods dictated her choice of clothes. Not the other way round. Another good example: your company has been doing very well since a new manager was appointed. You attribute the success to the manager yet he hasn’t done anything new. In fact, it’s the one in charge of marketing who should take the credit since he or she has been working overtime.

Another common fallacy is Argumentum ad numerum,(appeal to numbers), where if many people are of the same opinion, then it must be true. Well, those many people could be wrong! Our argument must not be wholly dependent on the numbers, we must take other factors into consideration.

The last one I want to mention is Argumentum ad verecundiam (argument or appeal to authority), assuming that because a public figure has said something, it must be true, even though the said person has no experience whatsoever in the area. For example, concluding that slimming tea helps one lose weight just because a certain celebrity said so. Most of the time, they have been paid to promote the product.

There are so many others I have not mentioned. You can read about them here and also here.

Have a fallacy-free time, won’t you?

Bringing Out The Experienced Child

I got teary as I recounted tales of my childhood the other day because I noticed something about younger me that I had not noticed before. I was one determined girl. I barely took no for an answer.

Take this instance for example: A few weeks into class one, a certain teacher came to our class and asked who had participated in singing games (nursery rhymes associated with a set of actions) in nursery school (sorry, kindergarten ;)). A number of pupils raised their hands. I was among them. The teacher wrote the names of those who had raised their hands and asked them to go back to school in the afternoon so that they could practice for the oncoming music festival. Problem is, she never saw me. She never wrote my name.

I was really annoyed. Good thing is that younger me could not accept things without putting up a fight. So during lunch at home I told my mum that I was going to go back to school anyway even if the teacher didn’t jot down my name. Luckily, she didn’t hold me back.

So I went back to school in the afternoon and explained everything to the teacher. She gave me that look that suggested she would have loved to get rid of me but she couldn’t, heaved a sigh of helplessness and told me that there was no problem, I could join them.

This tale and many others brought tears to my eyes because I wondered where that determination went to. I realized that growing up does something terrible to us. Voices from the outside become louder than the voice inside us hence most of the things we do is dictated by other people’s definition of sanity. Our sense of determination melts away. We become trapped in our picket fences, afraid to take risks.

I want to bring out the child that’s trapped inside of me. She child is not a novice anymore, however, her many years of experience has not dampened her spirit of risk-taking. She has not allowed other voices to drown her own, and she has not lost her sense of wonder.

Change is the Only Constant 

In the 19th century, a group of people who called themselves Luddites after their leader Ned Ludd (who was perhaps mythical) objected to the Industrial Revolution. They expressed their frustration by breaking into factories and smashing textile machines. You see, these were British weavers and textile workers who had taken so long to learn their craft. You can understand their anger when they found out that people with no experience or skill at all could now weave thanks to the spinning jenny’s and other textile machines that were invented. 

Luddite is now a general term referring to a person who is opposed to increased industrialization or new technology 

Technology has improved our lives in so many ways. However, it has left a bitter taste in our mouths. Can we acknowledge the fact that adapting to change is never easy? Also, each time something new is invented, someone somewhere loses a job. 

Most people are now using the Standard Guage Railway to travel from Nairobi to Mombasa because it is cheaper and faster. This is a sigh of relief to many people who had had to endure several hours on the road. But. There’s always a but. There are people who are losing business. Bus companies, hotels in Mtito Andei because not many people are stopping by for refreshments, the list could go on and on. 

The first time computers were introduced to schools and businesses as a means of storing data, so many people were opposed to them. How can one simply trust machines with important information? Computer literacy programs were rolled out so that employees could learn how to operate them but some refused to take advantage of them thinking that they (the computers) would never be an integral part of a company’s day to day activities. What happened to them? They were sacked. 

Change is the only constant, they say. Nothing we do can stop change from occurring. Therefore, instead of spending a lot of time and energy fighting it, we should channel our resources into adapting. That’s the only way we will survive. 

Right now the change most of the people are grappling with is social media. But guess what? It is here to stay. All we have to do is exploit the opportunities it offers us and we will go far. Do you think companies who don’t have a social media presence will stay for long? What of public personalities who  do not take time to connect with their fans? Will they be relevant? 

“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” – George Bernard Shaw

Hair Chronicles

“Oh my gosh, your hair! What’s the secret?”

“Hehe, honestly, there’s no secret.”

“You just got it in your DNA, eey?”

“We could say that. I never even apply oil.”

“You have made it worse. Never say that to someone like me. We do struggle.”


I guess that’s my little secret. The only time I get to apply oil is when I go to the salon to blow-dry my hair. I don’t have fancy hair products. Yet the crown of my beauty is adorned with splendour and glory. Haha.

The conversation above reminded me of a time at the height of my adolescence when I had mild acne breakouts. I was quite worried so I decided to seek advice from a friend of mine who had amazing flawless skin. I asked her which skin products she used and to my utter astonishment, she let me know that she only used Vaseline. Abeg! Vaseline! Vaseline was my skin’s best friend but…

I have just remembered this one: A teacher asked her students which skin products they used. Heck, that was an opportunity to mention the expensive cosmetic brands and they had to exploit it. The likes of L’Oreal and St. Ives were thrown casually into the air. However, one girl, the one with the most incredible skin among them, humbled them. She said she used, wait for it, Arimis. Yes, you heard me right. The famous milking jelly was more than enough for her.

You also have something that is aggressively beautiful. You don’t even struggle to make it great yet it is effortlessly amazing. You don’t know what it is? Keep looking, don’t settle. (Uncanny resemblance to Steve Job’s speech? I know right ;)) Pay attention to compliments. Instead of turning them down, say thank you. 🙂

Back to my hair. There’s this time I opted to wash my hair at home so as to save money. I went to the salon to have it blow-dried and boy was it an embarrassing thirty minutes! My hair, akin to the chimney of a big factory, emitted terrible dark billows of smoke that were suffocating other people. They all gave me looks that chilled me to the very core. Twice did the hairdresser ask me if I was really sure I had washed my hair.

And that is why, my friends, I had to resign to washing my hair at the salon whenever I want to blow-dry it. I had to get used to the hands that wreck havoc on my scalp in the name of massage not forgetting the extremely uncomfortable sinks that make me feel like I am about to slip into a comma.