Why Legally Blonde is arguably the most important feminist movie of this century

Historically, women have been expected to dress, behave, think and talk in a certain way, and any deviation of this restrictive norm has been met with criticism, derision and social rejection. I mean, women wearing pants is a relatively new phenomenon. Joan of Arc wore a man’s armor back in the 15th Century in order to prevent rape, and in most of the 20th Century, pants were designated as casual wear for women, with dresses and skirts being the accepted standard. This Huffington Post article gives a brief history of how pants came to symbolize economic power and gender equality.

It has been a long painful struggle but we as women have finally begun to assert our place as equals to men in the corporate, grey pants-wearing world. Unfortunately, a by-product of this quest for equality has been the derision of what is considered the ‘traditional feminine’ look.

Think pink and frills.



With more women represented in capitalist systems across the world, we have come to associate success with traditionally masculine traits. What do you think of when you conjure a mental image of a woman succeeding in traditionally male-dominated fields?

When you think of a successful business woman, do you think of someone like this:



Or this:



When you think of a competent female engineer – say, software developer – do you think of this:


Or this:


I had to upload a cartoon because I couldn’t find a stock image on Google of a woman in a dress or frilly top coding. Maybe that says something, maybe it’s just a coincidence.

Think carefully – why does one image strike you as out-of-place and not the other? Sure, there is the stereotype of software engineers being basement dwellers who are perennially cladded in grey hoddies (though the advent of brogrammer culture is calling to question this stereotype, and not exactly in a way that seeks positive change).

But there is also the insidious bias against undeniably feminine success in male-dominated fields. Women are allowed to succeed in business, engineering, law, comedy etc – just as long as they are not too womanly.

I’ve experienced it myself — there is always a subset of people who will stare at me funnily, almost quizzically, when I walk into a CS lecture hall, the TA office hours building, or Gates (home to Stanford’s computer science department) in make-up, a floral dress and/or heels.

Now I understand the heavy connotations of the statement I’m making – oh, so now women and girls who don’t wear pink dresses are not feminine enough? That couldn’t be further from my point, although I can understand how centuries of being told how to be a ‘proper’ woman can make us hyper-aware of implicit biases.

But feminism doesn’t mean that every woman must deviate from the traditional norm of femininity in order to succeed economically. It doesn’t mean that we are to shy away from pink dresses and kitten heels in order to make it in our capitalistic society. Women are multi-faceted beings, and a dash of blush does not take away from our complex identities.


Which brings me to Legally Blonde.


Elle Woods is thin, blonde, pretty, pretty rich, and is a sorority sister. She is the embodiment of the ‘All-American’ girl, and is admired by many for her looks, yet her intelligence is grossly underestimated by everyone around her, including her douchebag, legacy admission boyfriend, Warner. When she is unceremoniously dumped at the beginning of the movie by Warner, who has been admitted to Harvard Law School, she is determined to get him back and decides that applying to Harvard Law School is the easiest way to go about it.



She doubles down on her studying and gets a perfect score on the LSAT. This, among other things (the leadership roles she holds in her sorority, for example) garner her admission into what is arguably the most prestigious law school in the country, much to the shock and disgust of aforementioned douchebag Warner.

Screen Shot 2018-09-11 at 3.00.40 PM

I won’t narrate all the details of the movie, but Elle ends up impressing one of her professors, earning a spot in his Law office’s coveted internship program. Elle ends up winning a prominent murder case for the office, and earning the sweetest revenge on Sleazebag Warner:


So, why is Elle Woods a feminist icon?

She proved to us that you can be a walking stereotype of femininity and excel at what you endeavor to achieve, as long as you put in the time and effort. She proved that being boy crazy does not make you stupid, and is not an incurable disease. And while the movie is far from perfect, I will always appreciate Elle for her unashamed displays of cheer and bright pink.


Screen Shot 2018-09-11 at 3.18.23 PM.png

Feminine women are not just cheerleaders — they are more than capable of carrying the game.


Biwott, Robin, Zipporah

Biwott wasn’t sure about the direction his life was taking anymore.

So much had changed in the two years since he had stepped onto American soil, fresh-faced and ready to take on the world. A blessing as big as that acceptance letter had yet befallen the Talais. 2013 had been a tumultuous year for the family-from his father’s scandalous dismissal from the chief’s office for drinking on the job, to his younger sister’s sudden disappearance in March. She had subsequently emerged three months later in Kitale, with a husband and a baby in tow. The lucky man was the Luo farm boy who used to work on Honorable Bii’s expansive farm next door. Biwott’s mother had barely been able to make it to  November, when his admission decision came out. Naturally, the neighbors, led by the fat and sunburnt Mama Kipkoech, came up with a colorful explanation for the cause of the  family’s misfortunes. It involved a lot of allegations of witchcraft, stories of cold treatment during house visits, refusals to attend burials and weddings of members of the extended family and, most significantly, the Sabaot lineage of Biwott’s mother.

See, when a man defies his ancestors wishes and goes frolicking in another land, disaster is bound to happen.

The Sabaot culture could not be further from the Kipsigis’. Sure, we speak a similar language, but we do not hold the same values. It is sad that Baba Biwott had to find out the hard way…


Mama Kipkoech was the first to stop by at their compound once word got around that Biwott was going to America. And boy, was she happy. Ecstatic, even. She shoved a calabash into his hand, full of Mursik, and slapped a one hundred shilling note into his hands as she shook them. Of course, the boy was going to succeed. She had always seen it in him. While the other hooligans in their Boma chased after girls and more often than not impregnated them, good Biwott chased after his books. She had never heard anyone say a bad thing about him(except herself, as she incessantly complained that he never stopped to greet her by the roadside, even to acknowledge her presence in the market or during family gatherings, must be something he picked up from his mother). Biwott was happy she was wasting her hard earned money on him in a futile attempt to earn his endearment. The next week,Honorable Bii showed up, right on schedule. He blessed Biwott’s torn pockets with a staggering amount of cash. So this is why the constituency funds disappeared so quickly. By the end of the month, Biwott was in possession of about 6000 shillings- he was surprised that so many people knew him, and so many bothered to pretend to care. That Saturday, he coerced his mother to accompany him to Eldoret. They boarded the matatu to Eldoret, and they opened a bank account under her name at the Equity branch. He made her promise she would only use the money for emergencies, and promised he would send more to it regularly once he got work in Barvett.

That was a long time ago. Biwott had kept true to his word. Every two weeks, when his wages came in from his library job, he would send half of it to his mother’s account. Sometimes, he would send three quarters of it. The pocket money he got from his scholarship was good enough to cover all his basic expenses- and he had never been a man of many luxuries. An occasional pint of ice-cream from Ben and Jerry’s was enough to sustain him through the weeks of grueling coursework. Besides, there was more than enough food in the dining halls-why did he need to spend ridiculous amounts on restaurant food? He would never understand why his fellow students were so eager to exchange two thousand shillings for a simple meal of rice and beans. Maybe it itched them to spend what they earned. Certainly, the wages in Barvett were much higher than those of any casual job he had heard of in Kenya.


Biwott missed his mother so much, it pained him. It was a sharp, recurring jab in his heart that caught him just before he nodded off at the library, as he was writing out his study timetable for the day early in the morning, as he cycled to Math class at 11:45 am, when he clocked off work, as he did his daily runs at 6:30 am.(Back in high school, he was the reigning champion of the cross country marathon. Life at home after KCSE had been too demanding, and he hardly had time to go on leisurely jogs. It felt nice to take up his old love again, and he was happy to see that his running time was improving exponentially as months passed. He made a mental note to look out for the the intramural athletics team try out notice.) In these moments of longing for his mother, Biwott felt engulfed by the loneliness that had creeped up on him when he got to Boston. The students all seemed so self aware, so confident in their abilities and voices. And oh, how they loved alcohol and weed. It was all they ever talked about, all they ever consumed. Biwott could not understand why they would talk about their love of the bottle so openly, so proudly. Why would anyone be proud of an addiction to alcohol? His father, certainly, was not. The whole extended family had made sure of that. The students talked crassly, attended loud, alcohol-infused parties at fraternity houses, and were so consumed with showing the world that they were so happy and content with their lives. This was certainly not what he had expected when he eagerly drank up the images and articles in the Barvett brochures that had been mailed to him in early February of 2014, and that had made him feel so special and wanted. Biwott thought that two years would be enough to get him used to the culture at Barvett, but two years were seemingly not enough.


Still, he was unbelievably lucky to have gotten a spot at the Barvett. It was one of the most sought after colleges in America, from what the internet told him. Everyone, and everyone’s aunt, wanted to see their child enroll at the school. He did not really have a right to complain, seeing as they were basically giving him the whole experience for free(in fact, they were paying him to be there, if you took into account his pocket money). Still, the irony of having all the internet access in the world and not being able to connect with your own mother, who lived in a place that did not have a stable electricity supply, let alone wifi, was incredibly depressing.


Today, his library shift was cancelled because it was a public holiday, so he spent the evening polishing up the final essay for his writing class(by far the most tasking class he had taken at Barvett), and doing his Statistics 56 p-set. His Python assignment was due on Wednesday morning, so he would have start planning out his code soon. Professor Gregory had warned them that it would take up a lot of their time, so Biwott felt uneasy about it-still, his assignments had gone well so far, so hopefully this one would too. By 10 pm, he realized he would have to go to office hours to finish the last five questions in the Statistics homework. Thankfully, the TAs were extremely helpful(maybe a little too helpful) and would practically do the work for him, if need be.


It was 10:30 pm by the time he got into bed. He had gotten quite efficient his night routine, now that he had struck facebook browsing from it. Tomorrow, he had five classes, back to back. Tuesdays were always tough, but at least he was done with his midterms. He turned to one side, pulled the blanket closer to his chin, and shut his eyes. At 10:35 pm, he was struggling to stifle his sobs. He did not want to wake his roommate up.


Jack was so typical. Playful teasing, intentional deepening of voice, a hearty attempt to recite all his best jokes in one take, casual but pointed glances- the works. He was head over heels, the boy was. Robin didn’t blame him. Mwende was beautiful after all-a slim, full haired girl of the yellow-yellow variety, and with that deep, raspy voice that reminded you of a sultry actress in a soap opera, or of the eerily prescient leading lady in one of those Young Adult movies that were getting so popular these days. Plus, she knew all the cool people, went to all the cool parties and had so many friends. Who wouldn’t fall for her? Certainly no typical teenage boy in Nairobi. And Jack was oh so typical.


Robin didn’t mind his behavior, as he relentlessly ploughed on with his flirting throughout the two hours they spent at Java, six people squeezed into a booth that was meant for four. At least, she didn’t mind as much as she once did-and once was about two weeks ago, when she found out that Jack had asked Mwende out for a movie date. They never say it was a date, but it obviously was. Of the two years Robin had known Jack, he had never watched a movie alone with her; the one time she had made plans for it, he bailed out with a sad little excuse-something about needing to go buy clothes with his mother. As if any teenager above 12 still did that. Anyways, that was in the past, and Robin wasn’t about to wallow in it. If anything she was relieved that Jack wasn’t a potential romantic interest anymore, because the more she thought about it, the more she realized, relievedly, that he was very immature and eager to please. Not the kind of guy she would want to be with. He also believed he was better than most people-unique in his music taste, talented, a ‘thinker’(whatever the hell that meant), and wittier than most of the dull teens in his life.


Yes, Jack and Mwende were quite made for each other-two egotistical Nairobian teenagers, who both believed they were special. Of course, Robin did not hate Mwende- she did seem like a nice enough girl- she simply did not care for the quirky  personality she put on, almost like a show, when she talked. God, it was annoying. Jack seemed to find it endearing, but Robin could not stand her random interruptions during conversations to talk about her family’s collection of pigeons and Black Molly fish. Or to go completely off topic and wander off on some weird tangent-something about the oh-so-random run in she had earlier that week, or the poignant thought she had that morning about ‘death and love’. Robin did not, at all, detest Mwende- she just wished she would not try so hard to be edgy and different. She knew that she was being deeply hypocritical, as she also strived to be more interesting and unique-sounding in conversations, but something about seeing her traits in someone else was extremely vexing.


The waitress ignored Robin’s waving hand for the third time as she rushed to serve the couple in the next booth-coincidentally or not-so-coincidentally, a white one. Perhaps it was the casual racism of the situation, or Jack’s incessant glances at Mwende that pushed her off the edge- whichever it was, Robin was quite surprised to hear herself click at the waitress with impatient condescendence, and when she had finished sauntering over to their table, sneer dismissively, “Hata wazungu hawatakupea tip;don’t flatter yourself. Eh, tebu get us our bills chap chap, we’re in a hurry.”



Brian had knocked at her door unexpectedly, giving her almost no time to get out of the sweaty Mater Heart Run t-shirt and baggy shorts she had worn as she did her weekly kitchen scrubbing. Still, years of experience getting dressed for school in record time so as to dress her siblings had paid of, and in less than five minutes, Zipporah was at the door, in black leggings and a dress top, and smelling strongly of the Zoey girl velvet-scent roll-on her older sister had gotten her two months prior. She had considered putting on some lipstick or lipgloss to add some glamour to the look, but decided against it(perhaps it would be overkill? Or, hopefully, Brian would lick it off anyways). He looked like he was in a sombre mood as he greeted her with a firm, but oddly impersonal hug, and plopped himself onto the couch, apparently lost in thought. This was strange. Usually, he would hoist her up right at the door, and Zipporah would wrap her legs around him, giggling uncontrollably, as he lead the way straight to her room. He knew the house so well. It was a miracle that Zipporah’s mother had not once come home from Toi Market early enough to catch them in their hedonism. Perhaps he was in a hurry, and wanted to do it in the living room? A risky move, but Zipporah could work with that. Or maybe he didn’t want sex at all- maybe he was sad because something had happened in his family. Zipporah hoped for the former. Five awkward minutes had passed with not a single word having been spoken. Zipporah ventured.


“Brian, you look sad. Niaje kwani?”

He tilted his head to look at her, but he wasn’t looking at her at all. He seemed to be focusing on something else, something far, far away from the living room. A sigh. Locking, then unlocking of fingers. Finally;

“Zipporah, cheki, this thing, I-I don’t think it’s working. Plus naenda Uni next month. I don’t think… Sioni kama tunapelekana pahali. Pole.”


Zipporah was rooted to the spot. Why did he call her Zipporah- no one ever called her Zipporah except her mother. Zippy was the name she went by. What, did he think just because he was sleeping with her, he could call her by the name reserved only for her mother’s mouth? Something was rising in her throat. Apparently, she was exhibiting signs of an emotional breakdown, because Brian promptly stood up, took three giant steps to where she was and gave her a half-hearted one-shouldered hug before rushing out of the house.


“Naenda Uni next month-I’ll meet lots of girls there, who’ll be replacing of you”

“Labda ukipata pesa ya kuregister kwa Polytechnic, utafika ligi yangu”

“Your mum told you not to trust boys..like me…”

“Huko ligi yangu. Your life is wasting away, I’m building mine…”


Zipporah found herself in her bed, in her underwear, blankets violently sprawled on the floor. She was staring at the ceiling. Her hair and neck felt uncomfortably damp, and when she touched the pillowcase, she felt that it was soaking with tears.

Seven Months into College

I set my Google chrome window to its maximum size when I engage in YouTube escapism, because that way the clock widget is hidden and I successfully avoid the guilt of watching my study time melt away. Until it’s too late, that is. Does that make sense? I hope it does.


My friends and I laugh derisively at our August, 2015 selves as we remember how regularly we updated each other on all stuff we would do once we shipped out of Kenya and got to College(each of us trying to outdo the other, of course). Manze, we thought we were superheroes who could handle triple majors and double-digit minors. Not to say we are not intelligent, it’s just that higher education has its (very effective) way of humbling you.


In seven months I have learnt more about myself than I have in the last five years. For example, that I can get really bad at coping with high stress environments, and often opt to sleep my troubles away(it never works by the way, since I always wake up bleary-eyed, with the same amount of work to do and half the time). I learnt that I get easily discouraged by failure, especially academic failure, and that thinking about one bad thing that is happening in my life leads to a chain reaction of self blame and then, stress sleeping.

If I don’t make a timetable for myself, I will waste my time spectacularly. My ability to travel forward in time by channeling the  power of denial is awe-inspiring.

When I arrange the clothes in my wardrobe, make my bed do my laundry and get my unread email inbox count down to 1000, I feel the most peaceful joy. I can get through a moderately long conversation about Game of Thrones and Scandal and insert-popular-series by relying on the many random YouTube short episode clips and trailers I find during my online adventures. My mind can get so thoroughly content with its own creative renditions of situations that will never happen, that I forget to live outside my thoughts. Daydreaming is a big comfort zone.


These past few months I realized that I care more about people’s opinions than I thought I did. I crave being alone, but I am afraid of loneliness. I fear it may make me come off as ‘weak’. I’m afraid of coming off to anyone as weak, and afraid of coming off as too sure of myself. I make bad decisions with full knowledge of their potential to screw me over, and proceed to shift blame and feel sorry for myself when they do. I am a walking contradiction.


Thinking about your future is a scary process. These past few months, those thoughts have been my most exciting and dreaded pastime.  Thinking about the world, and those who lead it also can be depressing. Realizing how small I am in the grand scheme of things is scary. The responsibility towards my community and towards the society is a sobering weight.


I find humor in the blandest and most unlikely of situations, and often stare(subtly I hope) at people, trying to guess their life stories. I vividly remember things I see on Facebook, and if you are reading this, I probably remember specific details of that road trip you posted about four months ago, or that semi-philosophical post you made about how your  first week of school fundamentally changed you. I Facebook-stalk shamelessly. Shamelessly. I have stalked you.


I really want to change the world. Stanford’s vibrant academic and entrepreneurial atmosphere inspires me. Its students and faculty motivate me to become a better person. Learning new things, especially how to code and the art of problem solving, has brought out the final-form nerd in me.  I am excited by the potential that technology has to better lives, and wonder if I’ll live to see the age of AI. Thoughts of my mortality keep me grounded, and thoughts of other’s mortality, especially me being thirteen thousand kilometers away from home, remind me to reply to Whatsapp messages and skype calls.


Coming to College has made me realize I’ll have to work harder than I ever have to get the kind of opportunities I want, and that discipline is an inescapable part of life. I have also had to face the fact that I really am a morning person, despite being in denial of the fact my whole life.


I have been going to the gym for the past two weeks(so naturally I feel the need to give this wise analogy). Each time I get on that elliptical, I spend the first ten minutes with my chest on fire, willing myself not to reduce the gradient, and not to pedal slower. I tell myself I’ll rest when I’m halfway through, but once I get to that stage, the disgusting amount of sweat I have shed is enough to motivate me to finish the whole round. And when I get off, boy oh boy do I feel good. But I know I have to do it all over again the next day. And the day after that. And that my soft little(big) tummy won’t morph into rock solid abs on my walk back to the dorm(still hoping though). I will probably have 2 servings of ice cream at the dining hall that will set me back a few days. However, that doesn’t stop me from taking pleasure in the exercise and its aftermath. And such is life. It’s all in the journey.


Letter to 24 year old me

Dear 24 year old Norah,

Well, this is a first. I’ve only ever addressed past Norah, as I read my old diary posts and cringed at the vapidity of their content, or softly cursed as I remembered that time in Form 1 when I would steal my mother’s phone daily to send a stream of Facebook messages to some soft-haired boy in our estate who clearly could not be less interested in what I had to say/write.

I wonder where he is these days.

But it’s not always unrequited love that fills my lungs with the sharp stench of embarrassment mingled with guilt. When I look back at my life-as I constantly do- and reflect on the paths I have taken, the decisions I have made, the opportunities I’ve let slip by, the friends I have mistreated, the friends who have mistreated me, the respect I have gained and lost, I deeply regret the time I have wasted making so many mistakes.

I often wonder why I decided to keep silent as the pretty girls in our estate viciously teased the ‘fat girl’. Why I suppressed my true self for so long for fear that I would not fit in, even though fake me never did anyways. Why I dodged responsibilities, ignored my friends when their presence was inconvenient to me, and  became exceedingly jealous of peers more successful than me.

But what has passed is past, right? So today, inspired by Stanford’s Frosh Council, I am writing to you, 24 year old Norah. Senior, Computer Science major, adulty Norah.

I know no-one’s perfect, but it sure doesn’t hurt to be close, right? You didn’t go to America to be a failure, did you?

No. Don’t worry, I’m not going to talk about GPA. I think you have enough people back at home asking you about that. And enough personal anxiety about your grades, as you always have.I’ll focus on other issues(none necessarily easier to approach).

I hope you are a good friend. I mean it. Not just someone with mildly interesting Facebook photos and status updates. Not just someone who likes other people’s photos, types multiple laughing emojis as comments, and puts 10 exclamation marks at the end of her happy birthday message to Greg, to compensate for the fact that she forgot to buy Greg anything. (You didn’t even know it was today, until that notification saved you).I hope you have had meaningful conversations with your friends, not just beaming selfies, which you then hurriedly uploaded with a gushing but empty caption and waited for the shallow reassurance of the internet to fill the holes in your relationships. I hope you are someone who a friend would rush to at 3 am, sobbing. Sobbing, and wanting nothing more than to hear you listen to them, and reassure them, and be there for them, as you have for so long. That’s the kind of person I hope you have become.

I hope you have the courage to always believe that you are worth something. To attack life without any reservations. I pray you see the world as a place you can change, a place you can improve, a place you can make better  for someone who hasn’t had the same opportunities you have had. I hope that you have never lost sight of why you got here, in this huge, intimidating school, why you cried in frustration and despair so many times, why, as you were biking from Hewlett, you would often stop in front of the main quad and stare at your surroundings, overwhelmed by the beauty of it all. I hope you stay restless and unwilling to accept that you can’t do something extra-ordinary.

I hope you are not afraid of love, but also not fixated on it. Remember, it may make everything better, but it won’t make everything good if everything is not. No boy or man is ever worth your peace of mind. 

 But don’t be frustrated if you haven’t changed the world yet, or if you have made some questionable decisions about boys, or if you have felt worthless. Shit happens. You’re 24, after all.  And what’s passed is past. However, own up to your mistakes, and don’t be so proud as to think they can’t happen again. Learn, and take caution.

You’re 24-make it count.


20 year old Norah




I’m feeling delightfully mischievous.I’ll play a game.

Every time you ask me to ‘come again’, I shall speak slower and louder, and make my best effort to exaggerate my accent. All those ‘t’s will be pronounced as t. And ‘r’? It will be rolled like  chapati. Sometimes, I won’t pronounce it at all. What is an r in ‘water’? That’s right- nothing! It’s invisible! The o in God? It will be rounded. All those previous efforts back in Nairobi to fancy up my accent? They will be quickly forgotten. I will speak so heavily that you will know I am a Kalenjin, partly from Marakwet, and partly from Baringo. You will know that at age 9 I won some obscure public school competition because I pronounced the a in ‘ran’ like that in ‘ate’, and I’m content with living in denial. I will speak so articulately, that you will know we were instructed in English in Primary and High School.

By the end of the conversation, I’ll ensure that you know exactly that I am a foreigner. Born and raised in not-California, in not-America.  A strange accent, but a brilliant mind.

Why won’t I change my accent? Because I met a friend last night, who I hadn’t seen since the end of International Student Orientation, and I was surprised I was speaking to the same person. Said person’s wonderful accent was gone. Because many people back at home associate accents with intelligence or level of education- the more ‘British-American’ your accent sounded, the better off you were. Teenagers who speak with a Kikuyu, or Luo, or Luhya accent are often ridiculed. Because for the longest time, I was part of the ‘many people’.

There have been several instances where I have felt a need to ‘improve’ on my Kenyan accent. But every time I pronounce water as ‘worar’, I feel like a sellout. The word is strange and bitter in my mouth, and when I spit it out, I am relieved that I don’t have to swallow it back. I’m thankful that I have not had a conversation where I have needed to say ‘warthog’, because I’m not sure if I can bring myself to not pronouncing it with a ‘th’, as in ‘thing'( the public school educated Kenyan in me will weep and gnash her teeth).

Of course, I know I am fighting a losing battle. At some point, my accent will change; if only so I don’t have to repeat myself every time I ask a question in class or order from a restaurant. Such is the reality of life in an American University.

But I’ll be damned if I go down without a fight.

Of Chai Boba Tea, Accents, Kiswahili, and Frat Parties

Finally. Here I am. In the US of A, and in Stanford (Die Luft der Freiheit weht!), with a few dollars in my pocket (emphasis on ‘few’). Keeping right while biking, and soaking in the California sun. To be specific, here I am, in the Axe n’ Palm, regretting my double scoop vanilla ice cream (with caramel) order, but then not really because life is short. Life is short especially when you have 2 midterms coming at you in quick succession early next week.

But we shall not speak of the ridiculous pace of the Quarter system. Here I am, on a Friday night, in the Axe n’ Palm, responding to every email I’ve been guiltily glancing at for the past week, reflecting on the past month, and listening to way too much John Mayer. If you haven’t caught up by now, this is the obligatory ‘new-country-travel-diary-series-first-post’. It was inevitable. It’s super interesting, I promise.

  • It’s been a month, and I can still hardly believe it. And by it, I mean how expensive everything here is. Water for 130 shillings- 500 ml plain water. Kenyans, you thought Galleria or Junction was bad. You have no idea how lucky we are.
  • But that’s just the price to be paid(ha! pun!) for good service. One thing I can’t fault America on, is its organization. The streets are perenially clean, hearing someone walking behind you, at odd hours of the night, doesn’t induce a panic attack; systems work more-or-less perfectly.
  • And people stop at stop signs. I know right? Pedestrians can actually cross the street without fear of death. Every time I use the zebra crossing and see a car speeding towards me, I relax and take my time ambling across, because they will stop for me. I can imagine attempting such stunts in Bus Station. Or in Kenyatta. Shindwe, banish the thought.

There are many other things I could speak of, which pertain specifically to Stanford (Like the fact that my roommate is the most beautiful soul here). But you already know all of that, don’t you? It’s all I’ve been harping on about on Facebook. Let’s get down to the more, erm, challenging aspects of life in The Greatest Country in the World.

First of all-  Kiswahili! Or as the folks around here call it, ‘Swahili’. I didn’t know how hard it was to think and communicate purely in English until I came here. No more ‘sawa’s over here. Sindio, ati,alafu. The list is endless. And of course, the weird things we used to throw into our sentences (who can forget ‘Meeeeeeennn’, ‘brathe’ ,’kidogo tricky’,?). That was what I used to flavor my jokes y’know? And it just does not sound the same when you translate it mid sentence.

“Eiisshh, brathe umenimaliza niokotwe Kawangware!”

Oh man, that was so funny, er… collect me in a small town in …Nairobi?No?”

See what I mean? And then I’ll have no friends and will resort to buying cats, then be kicked out for violating school policy on pets, and be very sad. The only Kiswahili word they know here is chai, and that’s referring to some drink with roasted cassava in it. Yes you read right.

Two words: frat parties.

One word: Nope.

The one time I went to a frat party (went is a stretch; more like stepped in and out in a 2 minute interval), I was hit by a blast of EDM music, sweat, flashing lights, alcohol, and flashbacks of the generic party scene from every American teenage comedy I’ve ever watched.  Then I remembered the good ol’ days jamming to dancehall hits, Naija hits, and Sauti Sol, and dancing, and it was a sad time to be a Kenyan in a US frat party. Because the probability of the good ol’ days’ music being playing… was not very close to 0.2 (haha, you see I know Math…That midterm is stressing me, can you tell?)

Perhaps the most striking thing about my experience in America was the sudden shift from majority to minority. I’m a black female here, and you can pick us out in a crowd. Understanding that this is how African Americans have grown up, makes me empathize much more with the #blacklivesmatter movement. I just….I get it now. Also, apart from that one guy who asked whether we have universities in Kenya (bruh), stereotypes have been insignificant.

In the same vein, the abrupt realization that I am, by no means, the smartest kid on the block is both profound and humbling.

I’m a Kenyan navigating her way through Stanford, and I won’t pretend to know the answers. I’ve 4 years here, and I plan on devoting my time to finding them.

Whole Halves

I’m in love with this.



My name is George. I am Iwa the writer and rapper.

This is a blog dedicated to the genre of music that I love and live. I have a rough image of what I hope it will become (along with my grander dreams of becoming a rapper, but more on this later) but for now let us indulge each other in my lyrics and, hopefully, in some of yours too.

So here is to deeper hip hop.

This first piece was inspired by Chris Brown’s and Kendrick Lamar’s “Autumn Leaves”. It’s goes with the beat in the place of Chris Brown’s part and cuts of before Kendrick starts.


Have you hurt enough to ask me what I know about pain?
Are you out of your mind enough to call me insane.
Are you immune to the fire enough to douse my flames.
Have you escaped your ghosts…

View original post 288 more words