I thought being tough made me strong,
Drove thrill out of not letting emotions take control,
I ducked cupid blows and relied on logic…
If I didn’t let them in, then they wouldn’t play.
But we all slip at some point, don’t we?
The question is, what next?

Blossom, just blossom!!! The one word that comes to my mind every time I am asked, “What next after I wither?”

“Rioba, you don’t understand,” they will all say, “it’s not that easy.” I do not refute, it is never that easy, but it doesn’t mean it is impossible. Blossoming, in my case, is a point where we rise despite the challenges we face, finding a reason to live again telling your story with a smile on your face and helping out someone who has been through the same situation. Blossoming is a resurrection of a dead soul, killed by the shift in a trend; because to live is more powerful a story to tell, than to give up.


My recent posts have been emotional, they discussed betrayal, pain, depression, suicide and to an extent bitterness. Some were driven from personal experiences while others were as a result of people sharing their own experiences with me. I found nothing wrong with the texts, because it felt good to let it out, but for how long is it good, and after how long does it become unhealthy. I noticed I was going astray when an acquaintance asked me why my notes had taken a sombre turn, and slowly, I began to snap out of it and take control of my life.

Being thrown in a state of disequilibrium, that messes with a pattern of things can be devastating. Either at work, at school or in your personal space; the effect of a loss of ground is the same. It feels like a vacuum, it is chocking, you wish for an end from the pain but it never comes. It feels like a deep black hole that you tumble into and wait for that final drop but it never comes. It is worse for others, especially when you have no one to rely on. When there is no one to talk you through it, you constantly refer back to the past to analyze what you could have done better and all it does is cause mental and emotional breakdown in you.

Scenarios that may affect us within the society we live in, such as; the loss of a job, a defamed character, a break up in a relationship or loss of societal status financially or morally, can be damaging both physically, mentally and emotionally. Most people crumble under the pressure of dealing with new zones that they are unfamiliar with. It is a state of confusion that ends up at a point break. But at a person’s breaking point, the question is, are they going to crumble or will they rise?

Life as it is, comes with its own challenges. It is never a smooth journey, but one must have the desire to drop their baggage and move on if things are meant to change. I do not hold the key to redemption, but I hope to carry the candle and light your path as you seek your way out of that hell hole. If you purpose to blossom, it becomes easy to find your new path and work with it, probably the challenge lies with where to begin, I hope this helps;

1-Confront your fears or the source of your pain
For long I lied to myself that I was okay, that It would all end with time. however, it was not until I admitted that things were not okay that I began to find relief. Do not pretend that everything is okay, just to be okay. Because the pain or fear will pile and at one point it will break you.

2-Give yourself a meaningful pep talk everyday
Hey Rioba, you are amazing, you are a champion, a conqueror, you can overcome it all. Every morning, I take a look in the mirror and encourage the girl who stares at me. At times it’s good to have your own back, because people leave at some point.

3-Focus on the positives
Stop cussing at the red flags that you may have intentionally missed. Instead, focus on the fact that you gained memories that went a long way into shaping something good in your life. Focusing on the negative only increases negative energy, taking you back to square one.

4-Find a pillar of strength. 
I remember crying to my mum and telling her how bad things were on my end. Now, my mum is the best pillar of strength for me because in as much as she soothes my ache, she doesn’t sugar coat her words. She helped me snap out of it. If you are religious, then one thing I would tell you, that has also helped me, is finding a moment with God every day.

5-Crawl, walk, Run
Blossoming will not occur in a second. It may take ages, but you need to be patient enough to crawl before you can walk or run. If you rush the system then you are likely to end up going back to your depression

6-Do not defend your actions to masses.
The society will always talk. Whether you do good or bad, someone will always have something to say. So stop defending yourself to masses that do not really care. If they cared they would talk to you instead of talking behind your back. Find peace with yourself and what you do without them affecting you.

I do not know what you are going through or what you are trying to recover from. But always know that you are not alone. Someone somewhere has been through it and they rose. So do not give up, do not look for an easy way out. Water the dead roots and leaves in your life and blossom. most importantly, do not be scared to share and ask for help.

New meaning to a midlife crisis

They blame it on my short skirt,
I blame it on their short sight,
They stared at me looking for perfection,
In my politeness, scratch that,
Without a speck of shame,
I asked they look the other direction,
I mean, my flaws make me perfect,
They describe my journey,
Stepping on thorns, crushing roses in my hands,
The beauty of life’s taints.

Her scars spoke of the journeys covered by her soul.

Blinking, as the rays of light hit her eyes through the window, she grasped her pounding head in her hands as she tried to remember why she was in this position. Her clothes, where were they? Naked at 11am, cliché. Thank God she was in her cubicle, but the door, it was wide open. Suddenly, it all came back to her, flooding her mind with silhouette shadows of moments of consciousness, the drinks, dancing to her favorite jams, designated driver or is it escort, the long walk home, moments of blackness… Then there was that, at some point he was on top of her, at least that’s what she pictured in her mind. Her bed, wet, stained. She did not want to utter the taboo word;

My secrets were ours until you decided to spread word

God forbid anyone found out her dirty secret. They would all say the same thing, you brought it upon you, who told you to stay up past your curfew? While hitting the shower attempting to remove all traces of filth that clouded her mind, she made a resolve. No more recklessness, but the damage was already done, her heart slowly shattered into a million pieces, fragile invisible glass cut through her lungs, she felt she could not breathe… Things would never be the same, she was slowly going down a steep road, on a fast lane, with no brakes. She wasn’t even in her mid-20’s, yet what seemed like her midlife crisis journey had begun.

Behind every smile, are unshed tears that threaten to break free from captivity.

You think it starts at 30, when everyone is pressuring you to get married, every aunt suddenly has a blondie boy from the hood who she thinks will make a good husband for you. They say it’s a shame they need to cover.

You think it happens when you find out he who promised you a happy ever after is chasing every skirt in town and now you have to find a way to explain to the kids why daddy needs to sleep in the holiday home till you figure out what to do with the tainted picture that once seemed perfect.

Let’s not mention that moment when everyone depends on you to be a bread winner yet you cannot secure a job for more than five seconds into the interview. Damn, adulthood can really be messed up.

That feeling of freedom.

Cut the chase around the term or the age limit and focus on the real meaning of a midlife crisis- that point when life picks you up by your feet, picks you upside down, shakes you so hard you get dizzy, and lets you tumble back to the ground headfast when you think it’s all just about to be over.

In my desire to quench my thirst, I flooded my soul.

When does it really happen? When you realize one amongst the streams of men you let access the honey pot was a carrier and now you are a victim, or was it at 18 when you realized your hotshot rich boyfriend whom you are carrying for, was actually the gardener’s son who used the memsahib’s car to run errands on occasion. How sweet it felt to be driven around in a BMW series. You pictured your life travelling across the world, spending his non-existent money on meaningless purchases just to prove you had made it. Dreams, dreams suck at times. Or is it at that point when your mentor or friend or family member becomes your molester and you can’t do nothing about it.

What we do.

Don’t shame me, I made a mistake, correct me

The morality of the society is characterized by rumours, bullying, back stabbing, hate and death. We often contribute to the crises revolving around people’s lives; being the carriers of a rumour, adding just a sprinkle of salt and passing it on, rejoicing at their downfall, taking advantage of others in their weaknesses, the list is endless. It is unfortunate how we find joy in bringing others down- “serves him right”, we often say. We fail to see that the best we could do is support a falling life and be the hero that saved the day someday. A crisis can disorient a once planned journey, it can make your life lose meaning and if not strong enough, suicide often seems to be the best solution to walk away from the pain. And it is very often that we drive the victim to the last straw that makes them breathe their last.

Hold my hand before I drown.

Let us learn instead to hold his hand, or wipe her tears, building one another is more beneficial than striving to make others miserable.

What to do.

Find the one thing that calms your tides

Am not saying I have the answers to walking away from a situation that feels like a midlife crisis, but taking back control of your life is important. It is not easy, but it begins with getting out of self-pity, or wallowing in misery over spilt milk and giving yourself that pep talk that you always thought was silly. Whenever I am in a hitch, I look into the mirror and tell myself ‘hey girl, you are strong, you’ve gone through worse, what makes you think you cant get through this?”

Is it ink that saves you from their sneers

Find a hobby, something to keep you busy, is it church? the gym? Swimming? whatever it is that give your life meaning, pump all the adrenaline and aggression into it and let the anger out. Cry if you must, because the moment you open the water falls, they often work magic in realizing the toxicity you hold within you.

Find the sweet spot in the dark coffee

Also, have a confidant at such moments, I know real people are not easy to find, but you always have that one person that holds your hand through thick and thin, (Salut Nduts haha) share with them, ask for a way out, its not always about knowing it all, sometimes the solution to a crisis begins with sharing it.

Happiness too, is a decision we often fail to choose.

Last but not least, just like the waves in the sea, there are moments when the tides are calm, but at times they rage so much destroying everything in their path. Such is life, there are moments of calm, there are moments of rough tides, no matter what happens though, the calm always comes back at some point. The question is, how long are you going to wait to walk out of the binds that hold you to the cage of sorrow, and take charge of the possible that seems impossible.

Giving a new meaning to your midlife crisis

I celebrate you everyday dad.

Dad, you may never fully comprehend the joy you have given me in my life. I have had a father, a dad, a best friend and a confidant. You have always noticed when I had tears in my eyes and sorrow in my voice, and with that realization, you did everything in your power to make me smile. They always called me your favorite, but they were wrong, you never played favorites, you love us all equally! You are my hero, my best friend and my inspiration.

Life is all about love

I may not have the most accurate perception of a father for some, due to differences in societal upbringing, but I do have the best. I took a moment to look back to at the defining moments in my life transition with my dad. These moments have defined for me what fatherhood entails. Cheers to the man who made all this possible.

A fathers love once felt can’t be extinguished

Being there for your children when they need you the most, providing for them even when it puts a strain and smiling when they are happy seems like an easy job but its more complicated. He has always strained to ensure he puts a smile on his family’s face in all circumstances. I can’t recall a day dad put us second when we needed him.

Last year, around December, I fell terribly ill. When I went home, I had lost weight, my clothes no longer fit, it was too emotional. He asked my brothers to make a bed in the spare room next to his bedroom so that he could watch over me. At night, he would call my name just to make sure I was still breathing. In the morning before he left for work, he made me drink warm water, as he stirred porridge in the kitchen, which he would encourage me to drink until I finished a cup before sending me back to bed. He would constantly call to ensure I had taken my meds eaten. Long story short, despite having a busy schedule, he made room for me to ensure I felt loved and cared for. At times being put first enough to put us back on our feet.

Disciplining a child is not all about beating it into them. I do not recall a day my father laid a hand on us. We learnt to respect him rather than fear him. He chose a different way to discipline us and it worked all right. I listened more every time he spoke because I noticed he taught more with his words than the rod.
I was a very notorious child growing up, mischief was my companion. My favorite adventure in lower primary was truancy. This day, my dad drives by our neighborhood and am sitted, with my younger brother, who had joined me in my adventure during class hours to go chew sugarcane. He drove by, but I knew he had seen us. Later that evening, he came home with this serious cane, but he never hit me. He instead gave me a serious lecture on the value of education and threatened to use it next time.

Dad, how you care never ceases to amaze me

It’s easy for children to pick up habits from parents as they grow up, these habits can either be positive or negative. Dad is very compassionate, he sees the best in the worst of us and channels his energy into bringing out the best version of a person. He does not hold back when giving, and if there is one trait that has rubbed off on us, it is joyful giving., and contentment.

One night as we roamed in town with my younger brothers, we came across a distraught mum with her children in the cold. She said she was lost and hadn’t eaten. I remember my dad watching us as my siblings handed the crying children the reminder of the snacks we were eating and our jackets. We didn’t need to know each other to help, it was the right thing to do. Later that night, when we went home, dad asked us why we did it. The answer was obvious; we did what he would have done if he were in position. We did what we wanted someone else to do for us if we ever were in need.

One thing my father taught me, is that life is to short not to live and laugh. Life is too short to think twice before taking a risk. Life is too short to hold grudges. Life is too short to define love by tribe, color and status. While you can still breathe, live, love and laugh.

Family time is always a feast with dad

When my dad met my brother’s fiancée and my sister’s fiancé, different occasions of course. He did not need to know their tribe or financial background. All he asked was for them to ensure that their children loved and smiled. Happiness was all that mattered in the midst of this earthly confusion and complicated definition of what love was. Am still waiting for my official turn but am sure things will be the same.

Throwback to 2015… With his sons

A father shapes the behaviours of his son and gives his daughter guidance on just how a lady should be treated by her man. A father determines if his son will be abusive in his relationships or if his daughter will be too broken to walk away from a broken relationship.
Growing up, I have never witnessed my father lose his temper, degrade or fail to appreciate our efforts or ridicule our ideas. He has been supportive of decisions we have made correcting us when he felt we were going astray.

Encounters with my father in my transition from childhood to teenage hood and finally to adulthood have shown me that life isn’t really complete without a father’s love. We have so many memories together that wouldn’t be expressed easily on paper. Happy father’s day dad, I do not need a day to celebrate you, I celebrate you every day.
Without forgetting, for some of us, the father figures we had in life are our strong mothers, who either by choice or circumstance were forced to raise us alone and they did an amazing job. Bravo to all mothers out there who raised strong sons and daught ers on their own!!!

My Mama, My Inspiration

I stare at her and my pen slips from my fingers,

My mind walks me into my future ambitions,

I envision wrapping her in the best Ankara,

Treating her to vacations in the bahamas,

Watching the sunset as she sips cascade cabanas,

If i tell her my dreams, i know scolding me with a smile, she will,

For her life, she says, has been a lifelong honeymoon…

Her only gift she asks, is a new copy of the John Maxwell bible,

And a house full of laughter from her chubby grandchildren.

© Rioba

Think back to 13th May, what did you do for you mother for Mother’s day? Personally, I didn’t do much, I think its unique to do it after the buzz (hahaaha, the excuses we give, lol) … I know it is late, but its better late, than never, to tell a loved one you love them, Right? It took me a while to come up with this, because, I think am emotionally impaired… but on a serious note- I don’t really know how to tell all the mothers out their Happy Mothers’ Day, but I hope the few points I touch on may be relatable with everyone. Growing up with my mother was, what can I say, interesting? The transition from a humble respectful child to a rebellious teenager then to the responsible young adult has taught me too many lessons… so pop corns ready? Enjoy the top 5!!!


Spanking us made us better, it also made us cheeky, we learnt her moves, we knew when she was ready to strike

The number of times this lovely woman has spanked me! topping it with Proverbs 13:24! Once during prayers, my sister and I giggled our way through the session, we were still young, I think I was five, I have no idea. After prayers, we ran to our room and stripped preparing to jump into bed. We were lucky, or so we thought, mama hadn’t cautioned us about our giggles, but then, the door burst open, there she stood with a stalk of Sukuma Wiki she had uprooted from our vegetable garden… let us just say, it was only on rare occasions, after that eventful night that we took sacred moments for granted again. But it helped us, it was the only way we learnt wrong and right.

Keep you heart devoid of ill-feelings, let go of those who heart you, cleanse your heart and you will have peace

One value she instilled in me is the art of forgiveness. One day, in my teenage years I was in the house with my dad and two younger brothers in the evening, i cant remember what happened, but I shouted and her, she was in the kitchen, and she came to the hallway, and her face showed me she was hurt. At then it didn’t mean much to me, but when I realized how wrong I was, I apologized sincerely. She said to me “Baby, I forgive you. When you become a mother, you learn to endure, you learn to understand, you learn to love despite the flaws… so I forgave you long before today. Do not let it eat you up” despite her kind words and her pats on my back, it hurts me till today, I still see her face, I hope one day I will forget…

Not so clear, but a very memorable day for us. My mum talking to the children from the neighborhood during the 2016 Christmas as they had supper with us.

We live in a very diverse neighborhood in terms of social classes. Our neighbors, despite having less fortunate situations, are family, and us being next to them is a blessing. Every festive season, my parents invite the less fortunate around us to have Christmas with us, or celebrate a birthday or New Years. Without help from the society, for them, Christmas would just be another day. It is normally an emotional moment for all of us, I remember my eldest brother crying during one of these sessions and thanking God for having our mama, Salome, as a mother. He was pained to watch the dreamy looks in the children’s eyes as they waited to be served. He wanted those smiles to be permanent. Through her small but significant deeds you realize she has a soft spot for children. In her school she would admit children without fees because them getting education was more important, she would give uniforms to those who couldn’t afford it.. the list is endless. She doesn’t do it for show, she does it because she cares.

My mum has always asked of us to respect our color and our culture. She believes inner beauty is far more important than the outward beauty, for if you nourish the inside, the outside will also be pleasing to the eye. I grew up knowing make up was not really a necessity, it was a luxury that you can either do with or without. When I turned 16, one of my aunts bought me an eye-shadow kit. I could see it in my mum’s face, I could smell the disapproval from a mile away. she did not have a problem with me being given gift, she just did not like it that it was make up. Actions speak louder than words right?- so when i went back to school, the holidays would bring me to a shocking discovery of how my mum disposed of the eye-shadow kit.

Am black, am Beautiful. A dash of lipstick brightens my day.

Then again it reaches a point where you have to make decisions, mine was to find a balance between antiques and the modern society, so i limit my make-up to a bit of lipstick and eye pencil. Voila! These two items brighten my day. Those she understands, okay, no she doesn’t,
but she accepts.
Honestly speaking, I think my mother has one best friend, His name is Jesus. She will always consult with Him before she makes any decisions. In case of any family feud, she talks to God. When there are financial strains, she talks to God. She always talks to God and through God she finds solutions.
Her love for family is limitless; the sacrifices she made for us can’t be listed to an end. I remember when my father was in South Sudan for Peace keeping, she had a school to run and five children living in different cities and countries to care for. She didn’t sleep, one minute she was trading in maize in Kitale, the next she in school checking if children are learning and being fed, the jumping to visiting her daughter in Lanet for a parents day… It never ended, but she never tired.

With her last-borns, these ones didn’t get a lot of spanking like me though, thank God for a new millennium.

People wonder why others fuse about mothers’ day, they fail to understand the impact mothers have, the connection we have with our mothers. I celebrate you today and everyday, even thought it is late, because you inspire me, you have shaped my becoming a Woman of Substance, you encouraged me, you prayed for me and you carried me in your womb for nine months, that, plus the labor, is no joke.
I respect you mum, I love you. Happy mothers’ day everyday.


In looking for inspiration, I look up to individuals who radiate positive energy that targets revolutionary changes- I do not discriminate based on gender. Rather, I look at your journey and how much it mirrors the journey I wish to take. My exposure to different societal classes, and how we segregated our own, within our own country always made me wish to be the voice for the unheard masses. Exposure to post election violence in 2007, having been affected by the 2017 terror attack on Kenyan soldiers in El-Adde, indirectly experienced police brutality, societal class segregation, tribalism and disregard for the law were some of the lowest moments in my life that opened up my eyes to the need for us to stand up against injustices. Thus my search for personal influencers who can inspire me to empower my society and build a better Africa.

I chose to address a close friend and my mentor,  an anti-FGM activist and the Regional Youth and Activism coordinator for Africa at Amnesty International- Diakhoumba Gassama, as my inspiration today. This is because from her, I learnt that, despite so many stumbling blocks in your fight for justice, as long as you have the zeal and desire to see a better Africa, you CAN DO IT!

The calm aura the lady displayed as she walked into the room during the global launch of the Amnesty International report made me want to make acquaintance with her. She sat composed, in her African attire, head held high; not in a proud manner, rather in an empowered manner. She listened, and finally when she spoke, I knew my role model was right in front of me, the years of searching for a perfect mirror image of whom I want to be when I grow up had come to an end. After the launch, I watched her from afar, she interacted with everyone, a smile always plastered on her face, you could easily feel her free but authoritative spirit in the air. I was not sure on how to approach her, how to say “Hi, my name is Rioba”- for once in my life I felt unsure of how I was to approach my life changing moment. After a couple of backs and forths, I walked away, she was within the country on official business for at least a week, I was confident we would cross paths at Amnesty International offices at some point.
Then on this lovely day, Didi asks me, “By the way, Mirriam, have you heard lunch, no? then let us go for lunch, do you know a good place with African food where we can have a meal?” Trust me you, my ears were buzzing, my cheek muscles were itching because I couldn’t stop smiling! In a way, or me, this was a miracle that gave me a chance to interact with Miss Diakhoumba.
I learnt a lot from her during that date and till today, bits of wish I wish to share with you…

Diakhoumba is a bubble of high energy she is an extrovert and that works best in her activism role as she can easily learn about people, and channel a conversation in a way that makes a person comfortable around her. In my opinion, Diakhoumba is a strong woman; a feminist, open-minded, humble but outspoken, respectful, considerate and the best friend you could ask for. Her personality is a mixture of a protector, a performer and the caregiver. She is a visionary woman who can easily blend into different conversations and make people view things in new light.

Diakhoumba influences you to think fast easily. She influences you to be kind even to those that the society deems to be beneath us. She never discriminates people based on societal stereotyping, she is a patriotic African who promotes African cultures and economy in any way possible- I think you will notice she is always clad in an African attire in every occasion. In promoting goods from Africa, Diakhoumba believes she is preserving the African culture, nurturing our economy and supporting the sweat of our brothers and sisters. When we support Africa, we empower Africa.


Diakhoumba has never been one to mince her words. She calls out injustices there and then. I will revisit one experience she narrated to me during a lunch session with her at The Manor, in Westlands. She happened to witness an incident at an airport where an Indian Memsahib slapped her maid in public. Didi did not waste a second to stand up for that woman, and call out the Indian woman on how she handled the situation. What was disheartening, was how the security officers were quick to stand by the memsahib, against Diakhoumba and the house help, without listening to both sides of the story, until an airhostess who had witnessed the whole exchange came and straightened things out, in defense of the house help. From this encounter, I felt like our skin color was enough proof that whenever there was a conflict, we were the problem. We need stand up against any human rights violations in the society in an aim to promote equality and dignity for all citizens.

We once visited the chairperson for the Youth Enterprise Fund, Mr. Ronald Osumba and after the meeting she was handed a business card by Mr. Osumba and her response marveled me. She said, “I shall take you card, but normally I give people my phone and they note their numbers down for me. Having business cards means cutting down trees to make paper, and thus destroying our environments that is why I do not have business cards. It is a luxury we can do without” Diakhoumba was quite inspired by the late Wangari Mathai, she believes the only way to keep our hero’s legacy alive is by actually respecting her dream to keep nature and the environment alive. And her fight does not end at not having business cards; her mobile phone is also environment friendly, but that is a story for another day.

Often, due to the diversities in the society, or hat our parents want us to be, we are confused about where our passions lie. It is important, however, to take time and understand where your passions lie, what you love doing both in career and personal life, if we wish to lead happy lives. Pursue these goals without ceasing and at the end of the you will meet success and development.
The old proverb, work with no play makes Jack a dull boy is a reality, and therefore, despite her busy schedule, Diakoumba will always make time for herself and others. She believes that it is always necessary for us to try and rest in an attempt to give our minds time to relax, or to have a bit of time to handle personal issues that are not work related. In her free time, Diakhoumba swims or attends Yoga classes. She also makes time to hang out with her fellow feminists whenever she visits different countries. In our daily activities, we need to allocate time to rest, have fun, exercise or just sleep. The only way to be productive is if you give your body sufficient time to rest and rejuvenate.

There is so much more to share about Diakhoumba but unfortunately time and space doesn’t allow. I wish to cut it shot with this parting shot as an advice. These were questions I took home with me after my first encounter with Diakhoumba Gassama. “Where does your passion lie, are you putting your best foot forward in ensuring your dreams for Africa become a reality?”