A few weeks ago, when Kenneth M Kinyanjui mentioned he was working on an African Women In Tech conference, I thought that was really cool. I wasn’t very interested, though. Weird, I realize now seeing that I live, breathe and live more in organizing events. Little did I know what in store both for the Women In Tech In Kenya and for me on a personal level.
Interestingly the announcement happened while I was reading the book Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes and something in it spoke to my fears.
“I love working. It is creative and mechanical and exhausting and exhilarating and hilarious and disturbing and clinical and maternal and cruel and judicious, and what makes it all so good is the hum. There is some kind of shift inside me when the work gets good. A hum begins in my brain, and it grows, and it grows, and that hum sounds like the open road, and I could drive it forever.
And a lot of people, when I try to explain the hum, they assume that I’m talking about the writing, that my writing brings me joy. And don’t get me wrong, it does. But the hum — it wasn’t until I started making television that I started working, working and making and building and creating and collaborating, that I discovered this thing, this buzz, this rush, this hum. The hum is more than writing. The hum is action and activity.
The hum is a drug. The hum is music. The hum is light and air. The hum is God’s whisper right in my ear. And when you have a hum like that, you can’t help but strive for greatness. That feeling, you can’t help but strive for greatness at any cost. That’s called the hum. Or, maybe it’s called being a workaholic.” Shonda Rhymes.
Events are my hum, events and writing and working and seeing results! In my brain, I am a titan, but it doesn’t feel that way every day. It hasn’t felt that way in a long time especially not after days and days of failure.
So when I met the lady organizing the event, Anie Akpe I thought to myself, let’s do this and be over and done with it. This won’t be the first event I am doing without feeling the hum, without having my heart all in. I have done a lot of those lately.
“So what do you do when the thing you do, the work you love, starts to taste like dust?”
“If the song of my heart ceases to play, can I survive in the silence?”
“I am not taking no for an answer” Anie Akpe.
It felt great to have someone miles away validate and reassure me and go beyond that, to promise it will not be easy but quitting was no option. Slowly by slowly, I felt the hum come back to me, there was life again in my brain. First, it was ideas buzzing in my brain; then it became the incessant talk about the conference to everyone I met. I was alive again! I am alive again.
These past weeks, I have realized it is ok to fear. Being imperfect is ok. It is ok not to have it all figured out…It is ok to want validation and reassurance every once in awhile, and that silence is beautiful. That when the hum dies, it is an opportunity to look deeper inside and to remember who I truly am.
Looking back now I realize that there is enough room for us all at the top, that I can be another girl’s girl, without feeling threatened. That I can offer comfort and a shoulder to lean on, an encouraging word or just a listening ear to the women around me and that would mean the world to them.
This past week being with Kandia Johnson, Anie Akpe, @Karen Okaka, @DivineMuragijimana, Mercy Orangi I now know that sometimes, I have to be the one who rekindles some one’s hum, because I know what it means to have my hum dead.
“ The hum is not power, and the hum is not work-specific. The hum is joy-specific. The real hum is love-specific. The hum is the electricity that comes from being excited by life. The real hum is confidence and peace. The real hum ignores the stare of history, and the balls in the air, and the expectation, and the pressure. The real hum is singular and original. The real hum is God’s whisper in my ear ” Shonda Rhimes
The African Women In Tech was nothing short of amazing: 20 plus sessions happening in two days, above 30 speakers, trending on Twitter in both Nairobi and New York City, 200 plus participants each day, hundreds of questions and personalized mentorship ,#KandidConversations networking, friendships, coding, pitching, laughter and lots of selfies later, I am confident that the Women In Tech space had a great stirring this week and that the future is nothing but bright.
Photo credits: Ian Yatich
Karen Okaka and Felix Omondi
One last pic for the day?
This article was first published at Muthoni’s Medium page.