Ann Wangui Autobiography
I was born in Dandora in the city of Nairobi, on 22nd December 1997. When I was born both my parents were working hard to make sure that any I got everything that every child could have. That day there was much celebration.
Several family and friends came with presents to welcome the baby angel. I was given a tiny bangle and a whistle was blown three times to show that a baby girl had been born. If I had been a boy it would be blown five times. That is a Kikuyu culture in Kenya. My family congratulated my mother for bringing the little angel. Everyone received my birth with pleasure.
I grew up like any other Kikuyu girl, closely watched by my parents. My father worked as a watch repairer. He repaired watches for people. He bought old and spoilt watches, and sold them to people. Later he learnt masonry. He started working on construction and buildings in Nairobi. My mother sold fruits and vegetables by the roadside. When she was away selling, I was left with my mother’s younger sister, my aunt who lived with us. That’s how my parents earned a living. Sometimes my father ran out of work. That’s when my mother’s fruits and vegetables took over the care of us all. When I was four years old I joined nursery school. My elder sister was then seven years and in class two. My aunty stopped taking care of me at that time. She left our house and got married.
After school at 2:00 pm I had to join my mother at her stall at the roadside. We sold her fruits until 8:00 at night. My sister came back from school at 5.00 pm. I made all sorts of friends at the roadside. I also learned how to cross the road and how to avoid vehicles. I even knew how to sell things by time. I was seven years old and in class two. Things became tough for my father and he sent us to his rural home (our home). My mother’s business was not enough anymore. There were many competitors and all kinds of kiosks there. Now it was time to experience life in Kiambu which is 40 km from Nairobi. Life in rural home was easier than in Nairobi.
The trouble was a complete change of culture from that of Nairobi. People were very careful to obey our Kikuyu culture, unlike in Nairobi where people do not care about traditions. Also I made a lot of friends who I didn’t like very much. All my class two age-mates had never gone to school. They did not know the alphabets and numbers. They were behind in everything. I had to teach them every day. I taught them new games, songs and manners. I was more civilized because of living in Nairobi. I became the princess in my small group of friends. “I was miss know it all”. I had had some silly toys which my friends in rural thought they were great. The kids had to beg one to play with. That was a great time of my life. I wish it was back. Those were the good old days. I didn’t have time to miss my life in Nairobi. It was not a big life but the people in rural made me feel big.
However, no dream lasts forever. Time passed and I found the family moving back upcountry. I was nine years, and even my clothes looked like those of poor rural children. Most of my rural age-mates had not caught up with my reading skills yet. On the other hand I was now behind compared to the kids in town.
Back in Nairobi, I was the poorest kid again. My clothes were finished up at upcountry. I started square one all over again. I had forgotten how to cross roads, avoid vehicles and sell. My mother quickly started her fruits and vegetables business. My father said he couldn’t travel from Nairobi frequently to visit us. That was the reason we were back to Nairobi. I was happy because I would have new friends, new school, new books, new everything.
Looking at me, my new friends did not like my rural looks, rural manners and rural ignorance, but I struggled to fit in their group. By class six I had caught up with my academics, and good manners. All I want now is to pass my final exams of class eight and qualify for secondary school. This is the year that will make a change in my life. Susie Marks, Mr. Raphael and Mr. Musumba will be happy if I pass highly.