The blade was blunt.
So, it took longer. So much longer.
Despite the shock, the pain, the trauma, the first thing Peninah did was to go and find a sharper razor blade. At least for her sisters, for all of the girls going after her, at least for them, it would be quick. She couldn’t prevent it, but perhaps she could make it more bearable for them, so that’s exactly what she did.
That was the day she took up the fight. Not only for the women and girls of her village, but for all of the women and girls in the world.
No matter the blade, you cannot cut this woman down. You cannot cut away her spirit, her never-ending patience and love.
The challenges Peninah faced didn’t end there, from seeking an education, which meant leaving her village for boarding school — where she was ostracised as she spoke neither Swahili nor English, and was much older than the other children there — to making her way to University, and even escaping an arranged marriage. Seven years ago, Peninah moved to Europe.
Today, she is a powerful woman running two businesses, the first of which provides education and employment for the women in her village, while simultaneously sustaining the local environment with an agro-forestry project.
She brims with pride for her heritage and love for her tribe, and frequently speaks at events to advocate for her people — Samburu.
As a result of her influence, the girls in her village are receiving an education. What was once a very patriarchal community has understood how vital it is to value the contribution of women. Her father pointed out that the boys who go to school often leave and never return, while the girls come back — they bring all that they’ve learnt, they support the community and the environment, and everything improves as a result.
The last time Peninah was home, her sister mentioned to her that she had gone to buy a razor blade. Peninah asked if the coming-of-age ceremony was coming up, but she answered, “No. I decided to have a blade in case anyone comes near my daughter. We won’t let it happen to her.”
Despite all of this and raising three beautiful sons, Peninah always finds time for others. She lights up the room with a glowing smile, and embraces everyone with warmth.
I hope you’re lucky enough to meet this beam of light one day.
(She also gives the best hugs, ever.)
"Tamzin, thank you so much, your writing itself is a healing and inspiration. You are incredible, I feel so blessed to know you and have you in my circle of life. I still have no idea how to put in words the correct thing to say here. Every time I read this, tears roll down my cheeks and all the comments from these incredible people, I feel so blessed beyond measures. Tamzin, your writing always speaks volumes and I am so honoured to have this space with you. Thank you so much," Peninah.
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New here? Ciao 🥰 I'm Tamzin, and I'm so glad you found me. I'm an artist, a writer and a mentor. You can learn more about me by heading to this section of my website, or if you'd like to receive my weekly newsletter you can sign up here.