From the @whatisKirbydoing Instagram: February 25, 2018 at 10:19AM

Apparently, my good looks are newsworthy. And I’m a hit with (married) women. .
.
.
.
.
.
This article was featured in today’s Times of #Swaziland Sunday edition, regarding my participation in yesterday’s #MarulaFestival. #BayetheWenaWapakathi
#PCV #PeaceCorps #WelcomeHome
Advertisements

Monday in a Picture – The News

Swaziland is home to at least 3 different regular newspapers. The Times of Swaziland and the Swazi Observer are daily publications. I rarely see the Swazi News, but it’s here. All of these regular newspapers are written in English. I’ve been told that there was previously a siSwati language newspaper as well. All of the newspapers cost five emalangeni each. While the Swazi Observer markets itself as “Revived, Reliable and Read”, Swazi News says that it’s “A Complete Read”. The Times of Swaziland states that it’s been “The National Newspaper of Swaziland since 1897”. The Times of Swaziland is the oldest newspaper in Swaziland. The above picture shows print editions of the three periodicals from previous months. 

Be kind to yourself. 
Onward. 

Me. As a feminist. 

A few years ago, I was hanging out with a friend after happy hour. Somehow, we got on the topic of feminism. She identified as a feminist. I did not. I viewed feminists as anti-male, and I couldn’t see why I would advocate for the antithesis of my identity. My friend tried to explain to me that my view of feminism greatly differed from what it is. She explained that feminism was about equality. That made sense. I support equality. The problem was that I didn’t see inequalities. I still resisted the term, “feminist”. My friend was patient with me. 

The following year, I moved to Swaziland to begin my service in the Peace Corps. I was reminded throughout my first year in Swaziland that part of privilege is being able to not notice (or not pay attention to) something because it doesn’t adversely affect you. I have no doubt that parts of my experience are correlated to me being a man. During my time here, there have been several instances of gender inequality. Some have been shared or pointed out to me. Others have been blatant. There’s a point when not noticing becomes negligence. It’s possible that the point for me was explaining to various men that I cannot give you any of my women colleagues or friends. Sometimes, discussions ensue regarding me wanting to “keep all the women for myself”. I try to explain that women are not property or rewards, and that women aren’t owned. At some point during my service, something from the past finally made sense. Years ago, a different friend described feminism as “the radical idea that women are human beings.” 

During my service, I’ve had the opportunity to read some of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s books. Most recently, I finished “We Should All Be Feminists”, which was an expanded version of a TED talk by the same name. I saw myself in some of the stories she told. I heard pieces of my story in her descriptive tales of folks with singular viewpoints on feminism, or the ‘single story’, as Adichie calls it. I was reminded of those micro-aggressions toward women that I’ve seen at home and abroad. I was reminded of many earlier conversations explaining that Black people in America are savages, and that not all Americans have great financial wealth. I still refer to myself as a Black American despite the negative images conjured in the minds of some people. For years, I’ve understood that Blackness eschews monoculturalism and the single story. There’s no definitive way to be Black. Letting go of some old thoughts has pushed me to the idea that feminism isn’t a single story. It is many things to many people. For me, it’s “the radical idea that women are human beings”. 

Be kind to yourself. 
Onward. 

Monday in a Picture – MTN on the Street

Some months back, I wrote about MTN in Swaziland. While MTN offers post-paid, or contract, cell phone plans, many people around the kingdom use MTN’s pay-as-you-go service. This system works by purchasing airtime. 

While airtime can be purchased from MTN stores and authorized retailer shops, it’s also available at most grocery stores and various other shops. One of the most readily available places to get airtime is from a street vendor. Some street vendors have a big yellow umbrella (like the one in the picture above). All vendors have a yellow MTN vest that identifies them as MTN vendors. With an MTN street vendor, you can buy a SIM card, airtime, or data bundles among other things. MTN street vendors also work with MTN’s Mobile Money service. Mobile Money is another world. It’s a wallet connected to your cell phone number. It can be used to send and receive money, pay bills, and buy airtime. It’s similar in many ways to PayPal or Venmo. The MTN street vendor is often a one stop shop for handling many matters. 

Be kind to yourself. 
Onward. 

Monday in a Picture – Super Bowl Slumber Party

This morning (my time), I experienced a first in Swaziland. Watching the Super Bowl. A fellow PCV (with amazing WiFi) hosted a Super Bowl pizza party. Swaziland is seven hours ahead of Washington, DC. This meant that we tuned in for a 1:30 am kickoff. The day and night were filled with food, friends, and football. 

I had the thought several moments during the game, “I’m watching the Super Bowl in Swaziland!” This thought made the sporadic buffering very bearable. And now, I’m well fed, extremely tired, and filled with adrenaline from watching an exciting game. I’m thankful to have had the opportunity to watch my first NFL game in more than two seasons. The above photo is of some friends who also joined in the festivities. 

Be kind to yourself. 
Onward. 

Monday in a Picture – 33

Later this week, I’ll get to celebrate 33 years on this planet. In November, I started perusing the internet for possible vacations to gift to myself. I noticed Victoria Falls was reasonably priced. I had heard wonderful things about falls, so I decided to book it. 

Last week, I journeyed to Livingstone in Zambia. (As a side note, Livingstone is named for David Livingstone, who noticed the falls almost 200 years ago. My alma mater, Livingstone College, is named after the same man.) The falls are quite magnificent. The sheer power and size of falls leaves me in awe of nature and its power. The picture above was taken after a day of cycling around the town of Livingstone as I look forward to a wonderful 33. 

Be kind to yourself. 
Onward. 

Monday in a Picture – Bringing in 2018

Around August 2017, I was trying to decide how I was going to bring in the new year. At first, I was pretty set on going to the Vic Falls Fest at Victoria Falls. In case you don’t know, it’s a multi-day music festival. When I started looking at logistics and pricing, I decided that it wasn’t for me. Back to the drawing board. 

I decided that I wanted three things. Amazing, delicious food; beautiful beaches; and a country that I hadn’t been to before. Some folks suggested that I check out Zanzibar in Tanzania. I did, and decided that I wanted to ring in 2018 there. 

My initial plans were foiled by an Airbnb snafu, but I resolved that and ended up staying on a different part of the island (Pajé) than I initially intended (Nungwi). It was pretty great. Many days were spent reading and resting on the beach. I was able to finish Kevin Hart’s book. I was able to eat several delectable delights. I met some friendly PCVs currently serving in Zambia. The new year was celebrated at a party on the beach complete with fireworks. 

If you ever have the chance, I’d highly recommend getting to Zanzibar. The above pictures are (top) the walkway to the beach, (bottom right) red curry prawns with a mango smoothie-and a view, and (bottom left) me eating a traditional Zanzibari soup. 

Be kind to yourself. 
Onward. 

Trees

When a tree falls
in the forest, 
it always makes a sound. 
Unless it’s primadonna
as fuck. 

Showing off
for the hearing. 
Putting on
an auditory show. 
That tree doesn’t
need you to know
how loud it can be. 

Falling trees
go boom
like boa constrictors
wrap tight. 
That tree ain’t sounding off
for likes. 
for follows. 
for friends
for applause. 
The tree just falls, 
and makes whatever sound
falling trees make. 
Whatever sound
trunks make
when reunited with roots. 

Boom! 

When a tree falls
in the forest, 
it always makes a sound. 

Monday in a Picture – Embrace

Prior to Peace Corps, I wasn’t well acquainted with organized affinity groups. I was member to various groups focusing on shared interests, but they weren’t organized as affinity groups. Enter Peace Corps. There are affinity groups focusing on different identities and interests. One such affinity group here in Peace Corps Swaziland is known as Embrace. It’s an affinity group organized around the Black American PCV identity. 

This weekend, Embrace members gathered for a retreat. There were wonderful opportunities for team building, enhancing self-care practices, and fellowship. The above photo was taken during one of the sessions on self care. 

Be kind to yourself. 
Onward.