Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Identity Crisis of a Kenyan Muslim girl.

Assalam Aleykum Warahmatullahy Wabarakatuh
Hey you.


I went through some of my old posts recently.I don't really have a solid answer as to why, but lately that little mental voice in my head has been nagging me as to why this blog even exists in the first place.I guess i felt i would find some answers back there.I feel like the ghost of the girl that i want to be and simultaneously,the shell of a girl that i used to know.Its like I'm in this weird limbo zone.I also seem to be all over the place with my posts, just like my life.I can't seem to find my voice. Or my place.Everything i do feels right in the moment, however i keep discovering new sides to the prism.And every time i make a new discovery,i start to doubt my previous ones.

I have this theory that one day i'm going to do this one particular thing, or this one event is going to happen to me and it's going to be spectacular because it's going to be my eureka moment.My epiphany.And i'll have found my voice and in turn myself.But now i'm starting to conjure a new theory,what if i'm not meant to have a magical eureka moment.What if i've been having my eureka moments everyday in little installments. Multiple epiphanies that seem ordinary only because i've been too busy looking for this grand eureka moment, instead of noticing what was right in front of me.Maybe i'm a formidable force of a number of voices that add up to one magnificent song.But i don't even know where to start deciphering these voices from.

My lecturer keeps telling me that i need to tell my stories.I need to tell the stories of this Kenyan Muslim girl living in a secular modern society.But he doesn't understand how confusing all these identities are to me. Kenyan,African,Nubian,Muslim,modern...which voice do i listen to?Which voice do i tell my story in?He doesn't know that i strangled that Muslim girl in me.I almost killed her because i wanted to fit in to this modern,secular jungle.But then her heart still beats.And i can feel her resurrecting.But where does she fit in in this big bad world where a scarf on my head makes hearts tremble?Maybe that is the story he wants me to tell.At the same time,i've kind of forgotten what being African is all about.I'm not sure i even knew what it was about to begin with.We did this production in class,and my lecturer said it was not any different from what an American student would have done.That we needed to make our work indigenous to Africa.To who we are.

I thought about that excessively.I thought about my evolution till date,as a Muslim girl and maybe for the first time as an African.Or rather a Kenyan Muslimah, i don't even know.I also thought about my blog name and if it would be indigenous enough for my lecturer.Probably not.I thought about changing it.Maybe i will.Then again i'm quite the indecisive one,so it might take a while.

I don't think people even think about being African.I think that we just know we are.Whether modernized or not.Whether born and raised in Africa or not.The question comes into play when you have to step out of Africa and suddenly you wear your identity like the clothes on your back.Whether stepping out virtually,like me when sharing my work with the world,or physically when you visit or move to a place outside of Africa. To be quite honest, I don't know how to be Muslim and African.Because, i've always known i was African,i didn't have to even think about it, until now, now when i have to mould my 'Africanness' into an external manifestation.
Where do i even start?What does it even mean to be African? Is it the songs i listen to? The cultural dances and rituals? The words i say? The food i eat? My attire? How can i say i love being African when i don't even know what that means anymore?

Because although i have an African name,speak Swahili, was born and bred in the soils of Africa and the colour of my skin emphasizes the amount of Africa in me,my name is also Mariam.According to Wikipedia, the Aramaic name for Mary mother of Jesus Christ (peace be upon both of them). I pray five times a day and only eat halal foods.My way of life stems from the teachings of the Qur'an and i feel extremely exposed without a scarf covering my head and neck.I am almost always in my black abaya when i leave my house and my Creator's name is Allah (sw). I guess you could say i feel more Muslim than African. At the same time, i am almost always falling short of my duties as a Muslim which then makes me feel less Muslim and more hypocritical.

 Then again i feel the comparison is somewhat disproportionate ,i mean Islam is a religion and being African is a decent.Right?You can change your faith but you cannot change your decent.Then again my heritage is both Islamic and African.Are the two even separable in the first place?I've always deemed them to be intertwined.But now,now i have to think about it.And i feel that only serves to complicate things.Do i have to?I've always lived my life as a Muslim and without even thinking about it, i've always been African.But now that i suddenly have to keenly listen to both voices and understand how to work with both of them,i feel like i have no idea how to start telling my stories.I feel more of one and less of the other.I've always told the story of the Muslim girl,in the Islamic setting because i felt that telling it in any other setting would be disrespectful or shunned upon.But he wants me to tell the story of the Muslim girl in an African setting,in a secular modern society.Which is weird because now that i think about it, that is my story.I should be able to tell it easily, but somehow i have no idea what i'm doing.

My lecturer keeps telling me that i need to tell my stories.I need to tell the stories of this Kenyan Muslim girl living in a secular modern society.He doesn't know how confusing i find that to be.I love my faith and way of life, and I also love my culture.I love being African,even though now my concept of what being African is, is completely distorted.I love having Nubian and Giriama blood run through my veins, and i love knowing that my home is here,in these soils.I'm so grateful to Allah (sw) for all this, i guess I just never really sat down and thought about it.It's like sitting down and now thinking about your breathing.Who even does that?

So maybe i'm just new at this.Maybe i'm learning how to tell my story.Maybe i need to explore more of what is, rather than what is suppose to be.And maybe this is why my lecturer will keep telling me that i need to tell my stories.Or maybe i'm just not good at telling my stories.But then if i'm not telling my stories, whose stories have i been telling all this while? I wonder.



  1. Wow. I am in love with your blog. I just am. I love all that you write seriously!! You put your thoughts down so beautifully into words, I wish I was as talented as you are! I feel lost like that a lot of the times too, and lately I've been thinking the same as you. What's the point of my blog? When is my great "moment" going to happen? Am I telling my story properly? Is that even a thing? Am I even telling a story at all? But, regardless all of that, I think you are so right. I absolutely love this: "Multiple epiphanies that seem ordinary only because i've been too busy looking for this grand eureka moment, instead of noticing what was right in front of me." Love it love it love it. It's also wonderful to learn about your culture. Honestly to me there is never enough we should learn about cultures and Africa in general and Muslim culture I believe is very "hidden" compared to other cultures. At least in the countries I've lived before, it wasn't taught very well at school or we see about it now and then. I wish we all got more knowledge around cultures in schools and news, but not just bad things, the interesting and good things too... Anyway I am off topic here. Love your stuff :) x

    1. You have no idea how much your comment means to me.It brought tears to my eyes!!!You are so sweet and i am so deeply touched that you love my writing so much.I feel honored that i am able to speak to even one person and they are able to hear me.You know your post actually helped me so much.That progress is what matters.As long as you see progress in your writing,you are a good writer!Even when you don't feel like it which happens quite alot!THANK YOU SO MUCH YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW MUCH I APPRECIATE YOU!!!!!!LOADS OF LOVE!!!! <3

  2. This is an amazing post, please don't stop writing you are capable of great things insha'Allah.

    1. Thank you so much!!!!In shaa Allah :) love you!xoxo