“If you buy Wabita drink from me, you get to save 50 shillings compared to buying it from the supermarket,” I cheerfully sold my one last target drink for the day to a group of men chewing their miraa like a bunch of goats in a neighbors farm. They were quite interested and wanted to buy. They were sitting close to a rowdy bar with unusually loud ugly music, probably it wasn’t and might be my fatigue was playing tricks on my mind. I could not wait to lie down and relax my poor muscles. All the running after our promotion truck from town to town as we toured selling this brand was exhausting but a girl had to do what a girl had to do to pay bills.
“You know I can take you away from this life?” One man from the group of seven men asked. I mean it was tiring but it was not so bad that I needed a prince charming to save me. I was no damsel in distress, I was learning the ropes of independence, even if it was unconventional. “Why would ask her that, what if she is married?” His mate asked and they all kept at it in our mother tongue. I rarely look my tribe and I imagined they thought I didn’t understand and this was good. Some men use their brains, others try.
“ Nimutumiawau we jaathaici?” This was his defense. Holy crap Lucy, it’s past 10.
All over sudden I felt small and fear creeped pretty first up my throat and the next thing I knew I was running as fast as I could to our truck. It triggered the same fear I had when I was promoting CDs for a particular upcoming music group. They were a hit and I would make a good sell. One time we were selling by Ngong Road and people would park their cars to buy. One lorry driver stopped and I ran towards the lorry. It was a scramble because we were many and first come was first served. He asked that I climb up and show him since he wanted like two. Imagine after I was seated he started driving away. I opened the door and threatened to jump out and still he didn’t stop. To say I knew Nairobi would be a lie and I knew I was in trouble. As I was about to roll out he stopped and I jumped leaving his passengers door open towards my team. It was in broad daylight compared to this scenario that happened at night.
I left promotion marketing from that day. I had to have been made for more than these endless threats on me just because I was a woman.
Fast forward to five years later as we were coming from a business meeting at Lutheran Plaza with a friend of mine all the way near Nairobi University, we never thought how deserted it is on a Saturday night around 9 pm. As we walked past Goethe Institute, a group of around 10 young men were behind us, we did not know where they came from but I could not imagine what would happen if they caught up with us. Would the world want to hear of our story? Would they care that we were surely from a meeting if they decided to be assholes? Do we even know how to defend ourselves? Would the world defend us?
I was sooo scared. I wished again that I was not a woman that I could walk around without fear of rape or sexual harassment of any manner. I wished that men and boys growing to be men would make this world a safer place for us girls and women. I wish they could hold each other accountable and treat a woman like the gem she is. They would start campaigns and community outreaches that would empower the boy child on how to treat a woman.
Now between improving myself with knowledge and going back home safely, night time meetings are a no-no, not unless I buy a car or can afford an Uber back home. In the meantime, where can I get free karate classes, this mama needs new skills to survive Nairobi life.