I’ve always liked the name Bahati, maybe coz it means luck, maybe because most people I know called Bahati are beautiful. She’s called Bahati and she’s beautiful in that truly African way, smooth, dark skin, long neck, high cheekbones, full lips..
Bahati looks young, and is young, but not as young as she says she is, she says she was born in 1998, which would make her 18, but she said she got married in 2006, when she was 16 years old and would mean she’s really 26 years old, but who am I to tell anybody how old they are, heck I’ve found myself slashing a few years off mine on one occasion too many.
Bahati dropped out of school in her second year, they had no money to support her and her seven siblings, so they prioritised the boys’ education and her mum taught the girls household activities that would make them good, submissive wives to their future husbands. She joined Madrasa, which are free, and attended them for five years until she met her husband.
She was 16, (or 8 years old, if we go by her birth year), in 2006, when she found herself the apple of a young lad’s eye. He was about her age and a class 8 dropout when they met, they were both young, and had no idea the responsibility it took to have a home and family. They had just had their first born son, when the full magnitude of what it cost to have children hit them. They do not want their children to be dropouts like they were so they have had to get up and make a sustainable living for them.
They have two children now, and are farming mangoes, peas, maize, bananas, kale, lemons, sweet potatoes, and cassava on their 1 acre piece of land. They use the water from the nearby Tana River to irrigate their farm through pumps to their land that they purposefully ensure is near the river.
Their sales from the produce have helped them start building a family home which she took us to, not too far away from her existing home. A rather significant improvement from the house they are living in, currently, which contains one room, separated by a piece of cloth to make the kitchen and a room that they all share. Their new home will have two separate bedrooms, a living room and a kitchen.
It makes you think of how different our struggles are, ours are traffic jams, where we’re catching our next drink or shisha, how soon we can leave work on Friday afternoon, who’s getting married, or kids…theirs are school fees, where their next meal will come from, will their children have school fees, will they have children at the right age or embarrass their parents and husbands? Puts a lot into perspective.