neema

Love in the Time of Corona

This post is an Ode to the Love that Makes Life Possible. 

  • I love my family.
  • I love my mother, and her mother.
  • I love the Love that makes Life Possible. 
  • I love Presentism.
  • I love Brasil, a holy land.
  • I love the Open Canvas.
  • I love Radical Love.
  • I love the Love that Makes Life Possible. 

I am in Kenya, presently - my last blog post on here was about a $338 roundtrip ticket that I got to the Seychelles. First comes the flight deal, then comes Corona, then comes Neema leaving the airport during her layover in Nairobi and not going on board for the last leg to Mahé, because I would rather be with my family during the bio-apocalypse, than be on an emerald beach by myself. 

I traveled to Brazil in the end of February - a sort of self-imposed wellness retreat which bore more spiritual fruits than I can fit into this post.  #Presentism2020 is the divine intervention that brought Taj Alexander and I together in Rio de Janeiro for the recording of this podcast. Never in my life have I met someone with such mastery of the art of conversation. The gentleness and wisdom that Taj leads with made this one of the most internally transformative interview experiences I’ve ever had - I am eternally grateful for the space to be this vulnerable about my art, health & purpose. 

I also spent some time in Salvador, Bahia—the Bay of All Saints. Bahia is heaven on earth. It is the place you decide to go when it feels like there is nothing left on Earth for you to see. It is a place to visit, to fall in love, but not a place to stay if you are hyper-empathetic to the past. The slaves will haunt you. You will smoke too much tobacco, eat too much sugar, drink extra cafe in the mornings, and be haunted by the images that come to you as a result. A walking, talking audiovisual immersion. I pray, and long for the day I return. 

Until then, I will be here in Kenya. Thinking about Love. Writing about Love. And curating resources to help others do the same. Below is a guide I put together for all of us fighting to stay sane in the time of Corona. It is a compilation of resources from the Radical Love Patreon, Instagram, and a range of resources about Octavia Butler. I’ve excerpted it below for convenience, but here is the link to the full Google document <3

DATA HEALING GUIDE TO STAYING IN, STAYING SANE & SURFING THE WEB DURING CORONA by neema-xx

EARTHSEED: GOD IS CHANGE - OCTAVIA BUTLER RESOURCES

Octavia Butler was a prophetic author and visionary - her scripture has put words to some of my deepest aches, and healed the hearts of many. In Parable of the Sower, she foreshadows the 2020s as a time of “collapse”. Below is the summary of the novel, as well as the first piece of prose written in it. 

“The odyssey of one woman who is twice as feeling in a world that has become doubly dehumanized. The time is 2025; the place is California, where small walled communities must protect themselves from desperate hordes of scavengers and roaming bands of drug addicts. When one such community is overrun, Lauren Olamina, an 18-year-old black woman, sets off on foot, moving north along the dangerous coastal highways. Lauren is a “sharer,” one who suffers from hyperempathy – the ability to feel others’ pain as well as her own.”

Journaling Activity:

    • Shaping Change: What is one thing that has Changed you? And how do you hope to Change it in return?




Flight Deals and Fare Hacks for the Presentist Traveler

A few months ago, a close friend of mine looked at me and asked “why aren’t planes public transportation?” and that question has been in the back of my mind ever since. 

Financial inaccessibility is a core factor that stops people from traveling — sky-high ticket prices being just one of the many structural (and intentional) barriers to our free mobility.  Having a deep desire to travel, but bound by financial constraints, much of my own travel has been accomplished through being creative and resourceful in my trip research, including familiarizing myself with the loopholes of the flights market. One of my greatest travel ‘hacks’ is flight deal platforms: specifically,  secretflying.com

This page regularly features surreal fares to and from every continent - below are some highlights. 

Back in November, I stumbled upon what just might be the best flight deal I have ever come across: a roundtrip ticket from New York to the Seychelles, for $335. Yes - you read that right!! For those who don’t know, the Seychelles is a small island nation in the Indian Ocean, to the Northaest coast of Madagascar. Fares to the Seychelles are usually well above $1300. 

However, finding the deal is half the hustle. The other half - and the half that is usually more challenging - is acting on the deal. Now, of course, you have to have disposable income. And sometimes it’s not necessarily the most responsible idea to book without having other plans lined up. 

But you have to be willing to decide, within a few hours of seeing a deal, whether you are going to act on it. That is where Presentism comes into play. 

Presentism is leading with your intuition. Presentism is courage to venture towards the unknown. Presentism is saying yes to the blessings that present themselves to you. 

Today, I came across what I hope can help bring someone reading this one step closer towards home: a roundtrip fare from New York to Puerto Rico for $107 (!) with dozens of flexible/eligible dates between January and March.

The goal of Presentism Travel is to facilitate travel that 1. connects people to their lineage and 2. familiarizes travelers with the history + current struggles of Black and Indigenous people. With that in mind, I encourage anyone who’s reading to share this post with their Boricuan friends who haven’t been home in a long time,  need to check in with their families, or want to connect with their other communities on the ground. 

Do you have spare income but not the time to travel? Consider gifting this ticket to someone you love! 

Travel should not be a luxury - we all deserve the right to return to our homelands, on our terms. 


Book a consultation session today to get more detailed guidance with navigating flight deals. And don’t hesitate to share & pay it forward if any of these tips help you plan your next trip :) 


Where Are You From?

Every conversation with foreigners abroad begins with the
same question—“so, where are you from?” Asked more out of routine than sincere
curiosity, having to answer this question hundreds of times in the past three
months has led me to realize more about myself than I think I was prepared to. It
is not until I began to spend more of my time outside of America that I came to
realize the true complexity of my relationship with it.

My identity as a Kenyan-American girl who identifies more as
Kenyan than she does American—partially out of a deep pride and love for her
motherland, but also partially from a sense of shunning from her adoptive
one—complicates the way I answer this. I was born in Kenya, most of my family
lives in Kenya, and Swahili is my mother tongue. I am Kenyan; but in many ways,
I am not. My English does not ring with a Kenyan melody; I say “wah-tur”
instead of “wah-tah” and I introduce myself as “Nee-ma” instead of “Neh-eh-ma”.
I don’t cross my 7s because I went to public school in Colorado, not a British
school in Nairobi. I am diasporic, and I am conflicted.

I introduce myself as Meiguoren (American) to the older
Chinese who ask where I am from as they eagerly pose to take a photo with my
hair-braided, nose-pierced, brown-skinned self—an aesthetic they see so rarely here
in Beijing. Telling them that I am American only confuses them, and they often
reject this answer, as they are convinced that only White people live in Meiguo
(which, I might add, translates to “beautiful country” in English). I feel
defensive about this rejection. I often want to distance myself from America,
and yet I also want to claim it. I do not consider myself very proud of
America, certainly not now, and yet I still enjoy seeing how excited locals get
when I tell them I am from America. To them, America is still a land full of
promise, freedom and opportunity. I enjoy being associated with this dream and
being received as an ambassador of it, even though I feel that the dream itself
is a façade.

I worry that my desire to claim being American comes not
from a sense of national pride, but rather out of a sense of superiority—a
twisted, internalized, American sense of superiority. The kind of superiority
that comes from a country telling the world that it is the best, and its people
slowly starting to truly believe that. I feel a tremendous amount of shame
admitting that I revel, however briefly, in this sense of superiority, and an
added level of shame knowing that I, an immigrant who managed to make it to
Yale, am an embodiment of this “dream”—a dream which for many is inaccessible
in practice. I am yet to truly explore the true depth of these contradictions,
but rest assured that I will write about it when I feel more ready to.

I suppose what this all has made me question most is how to
reconcile with this part of myself, my American-ness, that I am so grateful for
and yet so frustrated by. Before I start to share about what it has been like
travelling alone as a woman of color, I first want to admit to you that I do
not have these questions of belonging/citizenship answered quite yet. I am
admitting this because my stories, my experiences and my reflections are all
deeply influenced by this conflict. I am not a Black American woman traveling,
nor a Black African woman traveling, but somewhere in between; the way the
world perceives me, and the way I perceive the world around me is inevitably
shaped by this.

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