Somebody threatened to rape my friend today. He did it in a private forum, one he thought no-one would ever see; he said it to his boy.

He’s a nice guy – well, everyone thinks he’s a nice guy. And that’s the problem. Because as much as women are in danger from GSU officers and angry thugs and rowdy makangas, we are often in greater danger from the ones we think are safe. Our fathers, or brothers, our neighbours. Our nice guys.

I have a friend. He’s smart and witty and brilliant. He’s talented and inspiring. He’s married with beautiful children. And he likes my chest. We make jokes about it all the time. Even his wife knows he’s a boob man. But he’s my friend, and so he’s safe.

But … what if he’s not? What if his words on my Double Ds are more than harmless jokes? What if when he’s alone with his boys, his jokes evolve into detailed discussions of what he’d like to do to me – whether I want him to or not?


That’s what women are really afraid of. The safe men we love and trust who turn on us. And that’s why the man who threatened my friend is such a scary violation, because he is someone she sees and interacts with every day.

How many men around us are really safe? How many of the men we say ‘good morning’ to are really thinking how they’d like to put us in a dark room and rape us? How can any woman live in a world like that? How can she stay safe and sane?

Statistics often say that 1 in 4 women are raped. That’s terrifying. So terrifying that I never want to be in a room with 4 men. Or even one man. Because, as it turns out, even my father, brother, my husband can be one of those men. Because … if 1 in 4 women have been raped, then 1 in 4 men is a rapist, right? And what are the odds that 1 man is with me in this room right now?

I have been raped. More than once. The first time, I was six or seven years old. It was the neighbourhood bully. He had a dog and everyone was terrified of him. I was too, actually. But I never showed it. I’d stand there and yell back every time he picked on me. Then he’d bring out his dog and I’d run for my life.


When he finally got his hands on me, my friends said I asked for it. I was wearing this frilly girly dress. You know the ones. And I was playing that game where I spin around until I get dizzy and my dress twirls into a pretty umbrella. So he grabbed me, locked me in his room and raped me. And my friends said it was my fault, because when I was playing my little twirly game, I showed my underwear. I was six.

I still hate dresses. 

The times after that it was men I trusted. Men I was in relationships with. Men who did things to my body that I had asked them not to do, and they didn’t stop even when my body froze and I started to cry. How many of the men I interact with every day would like to do the exact same thing?

Many years ago, when I still lived with my abusive-baby-daddy, I interned at a publishing house. The man who supervised my work was sweet, kind, and socially awkward. He was also very big. He trained me, and bought me lunch every day. He gave me tasks to do that kept me in the office late at night. But he was a nice guy. He knew I was ‘married’ and I wasn’t afraid of him.

One day at 8 p.m., he backed me into a corner and kissed me. All I could think was where’s the fucking door? How long has he wanted to do this? If he does more than kiss me, he’s too big for me to fight off. Where’s the fucking door?


When he pulled away, I smiled awkwardly, inched towards the door, reminded him I was married, and prayed he wouldn’t take things any further. He didn’t. He apologised and offered to drop me home. I agreed, because I had no other way to leave the office. But the whole ride to town, I kept my hand on  the unlocked door so I could jump out into traffic if I needed to. Thank God I didn’t.

So … how do I stay sane in a world where the nice guy at the next desk can turn on me at any time? In a world where I leave my beautiful teenage baby in the morning, exposed to a world full of men, and can only pray that she’s safe when I get home?

I focus on the other three.

If 1 in 4 men is a rapist, then 3 in 4 men are not. 3 in 4 men will protect me from the evil of the 4th. 3 in 4 men will make sure my baby gets home safe at night. 3 in 4 men will not share that rapey joke.

Here’s the thing though. That 1 man, that 1 monster that wants to rape me and would do it if he can. He’s loud. Really loud. He likes attention and he likes power. That’s what makes him a rapist. That’s what makes him come after a woman who has the presence to make him feel small simply by being herself. And in a room with 10 men, 2.5 of them are rapists, statistically. Those 2.5 are really, really loud.


Last night, I was working late again. I was alone in the office with 7 male colleagues. Statistically, 2 of those 7 men are rapists. And in a world where rapists destroy a woman’s body, mind, and soul, there’s no way I could have stayed here, alone in an office with 7 men. But I did.

How? I focused on the other 5. I told myself, over and over and over again, that even though 2 of these men might want to ambush me and break my spirit, the other 5 want to keep me safe and get me home to my baby. That’s how I live. That’s how I get out of bed every morning, leave my house and go to work. That’s how I let my baby exist in a world where I can’t always protect her. That’s how I stay sane.

Rape is a powerful weapon, and the fear of rape is stronger still. There’s a reason rape is used unnecessarily in war, in relationships, even in fiction. Because the fear of it keeps women in line. If you can’t make her wear what you want, work where you want, marry who you want, or shut up when you want, then you can make her so fucking scared that she will do what she’s told.

Womans place

You can make her so terrified (of being raped) that she will stay inside with the doors locked, which exactly where you want her to be. That’s why women who are vocal in the public sphere get so many rape threats. Whether it’s in gamergate or at the office or in traffic or on twitter, the world wants to make us so scared that we lock ourselves inside our homes and shut up. And even there, we’re not always safe.

Well guess what. I’m bigger than my house. I want to be out in the world, and I want my daughter to be out in the world. I want to do the things I want and live the life I believe. And the only way I can do that is to believe that #NotAllMen.

So to the 3 guys out of 4 that are NOT rapists, put your hand up and say ‘I’m right here.’ Not in words, because women don’t believe those anymore. Say it with your actions. Call out your boy. Tell him rape jokes are not funny, because rape is not a joke. Tell him witty remarks about kupeana bakora to a hot female GSU officer are not a pithy phrase. Make the women feel safe, not by shouting #NotAllMen but by showing #NotAllMen.


And to the girls. There are good guys out there. We can’t always spot them. We can’t always recognise them. But we have to believe they’re there. It’s the only way to keep us from locking ourselves at home and keeping our mouths shut.

Women should never be raped. Men should never rape women. It’s not ever going to be okay that even 1 woman is raped. 1 in 4 is not okay. But if we’re going to stay sane and dare to live in this world, we need to help that one survivor, punish that one rapist, and remember the other 3.

So, girls, be vigilant, be safe, protect yourself in any way you can. Teach the men not to rape, and the women to look out for each other, and for themselves. And stay sane. Remember the other three. And remember that sometimes, Twitter is that serious.

♫Why don’t you and I ♫ Santana ft Alex Band ♫

Hangover chronicles



Your worst drinking binge was inspired by a boy. Makes sense that your first hangover would be too. You’ve never been much good at holding down your alcohol. That’s why you swallow so much water when you drink. But this time, it didn’t help.

You check the time. 4.00 a.m. Your mouth feels dry. You want to go downstairs and get some water but your feet won’t move and the room won’t stop. You text your best friend. Pink elephants are drumming in your head.

Your fish lights are off. You don’t remember putting them off. You remember thinking about putting them off, because if you leave the lights on all night, then your fish forget to sleep. You remember feeding the fish, and planning to come down later and put them off. But you don’t remember actually putting them off.

You go back to bed. You know you need painkillers. You have a stash of fifteen. In your desk. At the office. Crap. You check the time again. 4.15. You lie down veeeeery slowly, because sudden moves are costly. Your hangover has a persona and if it figures out that you’re trying to fight it, it’s going to whoop your ass. You send a text to your boss, and his response is touching, if not a little strange.

Boss text 1

Boss text 2

You check the time. 6.05. You throw on a red hoodie. You go back down the stairs. Slowly. So slowly. Because if you wait five seconds between each step, your hangover won’t notice that you’re moving. You quietly open the noisy metal gate. It’s cold outside. You amble to the closest open kiosk 200 metres away.

The lady at the kiosk watches you. She has a scarf over her nose and mouth. Is she cold or just reacting to your breath? Are your words making any sense? Could the ground stop moving please? She gives you Mara Moja and Eno worth a sock.


You consider making eggs. You hear they’re great for getting boozy toxins down the drain. But no. Scrambling eggs requires too much movement and your motor skills are shot. You text your best friend. She recommends bananas and Nakumatt juice. You figure you should start by imbibing the Eno. It doesn’t end well.

You sit on the kitchen floor, hugging a bucket. You tell yourself you’re not a stereotype, because you’re in the kitchen, not the bathroom. You don’t want to move because the cold tile is oddly comforting. You finish retching and clean up after yourself. Because you don’t want your baby to see a bucket full of puke.


You go back to bed but you can’t find your phone. You panic, search everywhere, but veeeeery sloooooowly. No sudden moves. You give up. You lie down and pretend to sleep but your body isn’t buying it. You look for your phone again. It’s in your back pocket. How did it get there?

You open your phone. You see the all numbers you drunk dialled. Oh God. You can vaguely remember having conversations … but what did you say? Why can’t you remember what you said? Fuck!

You check social media. Twitter. Facebook. You updated your status, apparently. Good grammar, no typos. You can’t have been that drunk. But why can’t you remember typing it? And more importantly, how the hell did you type it? You don’t have Facebook on your phone. You never have Facebook on your phone.


You check your laptop. It’s safely in the hidden compartment above the shelf. Did you take it down, log in, update your social media, and then stash it back on the shelf? Did you install Facebook on your phone, post a status update, and then uninstall? Why can’t you remember?

You pause. You decide to check your inbox. 43 messages. FORTY. THREE. MESSAGES! And some of them have pictures. What the hell … when did you do all this? And what were you trying to say? Clearly, autocorrect and alcohol don’t gel.

You call your best friend. She says she saw the messages and panicked, that’s why she called you. She didn’t know what you were trying to say. You ask her what you said, because you don’t remember chatting … or photographing baskets and sheets. Oh God, what else don’t you remember?

No hangover

You look at the messages again. You laugh. You have to laugh. Because, really, what were you trying to say? And who forgets typing 43 inbox messages on Facebook? You see a text. It’s from him. He says he’s sorry he put you through this, and hopes you can find it in your heart to forgive him. Uh-oh. You vaguely remember calling him. You’ve been fighting. No. You’ve been fighting. He’s been isolating. He needed space to think. And now he’s apologising. What. the. hell. did. you. tell. him. last. night?!?

You look above the apology. Oh God. Oh. Dear. Sweet. God. There are 57 messages on your phone. And you don’t remember typing a single one of them. You cave in. You call him. He seems excited to hear your voice. It’s the first time he’s heard it in weeks. Because he stopped calling you, and he told you not to call him. No, that’s not true. He heard your voice last night. And you can’t remember what you said…


You talk, or try to. You ask what you’re forgiving him for. For putting you through this, he says. You ask him what you said last night. He laughs, but it’s a sad laugh. He says he’s glad you can’t remember. You ask if he has changed his mind. He asks why you won’t change yours. You both realise there’s nothing left to say.

When you met this boy, you knew he wanted kids and you didn’t. You talked about it over and over, and he said he was okay with not having kids. But now you’ve been fighting a cold war for weeks, because he changed his mind and the wedding is off.

You check the time. 4.15 a.m. You’ve been staring at the ceiling for 24 hours, pretending to be asleep. Your phone alarm rings. It’s time to take a shower and go to work. Because the baby needs to eat … and the bills need to be paid … and no matter how badly your heart is crushed … life. must. go. on.

♫ Electrical storm ♫ U2 ♫

Tomorrow’s rapists

I don’t know what drives a man to rape. No, that’s not true. I know exactly what drives a man to rape. Power. Or more accurately, lack of power. Exerting force over something or someone else makes us feel stronger. So if we feel weak, the best way to restore our confidence is to find someone weaker and prove ourselves.

A rapist may feel a sexual urge due to an unrelated trigger. He may like the way the target looks, or how they carry themselves. Their target’s manner might evoke an internal sexual response. They might be on a high from a victory in battle, or from drugs, or culture, or social interaction, or even basic pressure to fit in.

But the act itself – the actual rape – that’s always about power. The power that comes from knowing they can get away with it, and that they are now bigger, stronger, better than the person they have raped. They have defeated their target’s resistance. They have put their target in their place.

Or worse, they have punished someone close to the target, like a husband, boyfriend, brother, father, tribesman … mother. Because sometimes, rape has nothing to do with the selected target and everything to do with the target’s loved ones.


This morning on my way to work, I saw three street boys. It was cold and rainy, and the boys were asleep on the pavement near the Komarock stage. Their clothes were grimy and their skin was exposed. I wondered how they could sleep when I was huddled and shivering even in my endless layers of clothing.

The boys were my daughter’s age, barely teens. I looked and them and shuddered. Because those boys will grow up to be men. They will be angry and bitter and hardened. They will detest anyone that has a better life than them, and this rage will turn on anyone that happens to be alone in their path – including my daughter.

We’ve said over and over again that rapists come in all shapes and sizes. Your demoralised husband after a hard day’s work when you’re too tired to soothe him with your body. Your horny boyfriend after a night out with the boys. Your date who thinks spending cash entitles him to sex. Your teacher who sees you as a woman, not a child. Your dad, because you look exactly like you mum when he first met her.


The emasculated brother-in-law who resents your husband. Your neglected grand-dad who feels spited by oncoming impotence. Your desk-mate from prima who was furious you tore his love-notes while you beat him in exams. The neighbourhood boys who despise the pretty church girl for keeping her knees closed.

The friend who hates you seeing him as a brother. The ‘cool guy’ you ignored on front of his boys. The random dude that catcalled you and felt disrespected when you didn’t respond. Your brother’s pal who’s seen you in shorts and t-shirts since you were two. The man at the kiosk who thinks kuma ni kuma hata kama ni mtoto.

We can’t really protect ourselves from those rapists, because we hardly ever see them coming. But there’s another kind of rapist. The shifty guy that lurks in alleys waiting to drag you away. The violent robber that breaks into your house despite your best attempts at security. The carjacker that targets your matatu.

And chances are this kind of rapist was once a lost kid sleeping in the rain.

I’m doing all I can to give my baby girl a better future, but there are things I can’t protect her from. I can’t keep her safe from an angry bitter world, or from the rage and entitlement of kids society gave up on. Kids that are now men with the fists, the time, the opportunity, and the remorseless fury of the damned.

As I watched those sleeping boys this morning, I thought someone – anyone – should do something to stop them before they grow up. To grant them a sense of purpose and direction, some food, a warm dry place to sleep. To give them dignity and value so they don’t grow up hating the world and targeting my daughter.

I don’t have a solution – at least not yet. But I know that I have one more thing to keep me up at night; finding a way to sort out street kids before they become street men. If not for their own sakes, then to keep my daughter safe. Because the best way to stop women from being raped is to prevent men from feeling the need to.

♫ Leech ♫ Eve 6 ♫