I was going through some old images. Of my mother and her sisters. There is a particular picture that is I always look at. It’s mum and her sisters, in a studio with a huge fabric as a back drop. My mum is on the left, her sister Auntie Wairimu is sitting in the middle, aunt Wambui is on the right side and my mum’s little sister, Auntie Njoki is sitted primly on the checkered floor. Eyes directed to the camera sans smile.
The picture was taken in black and white. It has a present day Valencia feel to it. That’s a filter to my non Instagram aficionados. It’s the sixties, where skirts aimed for thigh high heights and despite the modern way of dressing that my mum and sisters had taken on, they still rocked their outfits there own way. The only filters they knew were the ones that drained water.
My mum has an afro that would make Assata Shakur proud. My mum is known to make subtle comments on hemlines and their heights. Being cheeky I always bring up that photo and she smugly says it were the times. The fruit does not fall far from the tree, my reply, - Yes mama, and this are the times. She usually chuckles and shakes her head. Touché
I have an album of images from my mum hey days. When she was a young girl, some with her sisters, others with her friends and cousins. I love seeing how their styles transitioned over the years. From the sixties, to the seventies. There is a picture of my dad in the widest flared pants known to man. Fabric galore. In a pink shirt, with a half jacket vest. He looks at the camera with a sly smile. As if he knows something we don’t.
My family took pictures galore. My mum has albums on albums which I love to look at. I always learn something new. My best part is asking, so what was going on here? The thing about photography is that it captures a moment in time. Someone once said photos are a return ticket to a moment otherwise gone.
As I was going through the photos, I came across one image that I hold close to my heart. It’s a picture of my mother, her sisters and friends. They had gone to visit my grandmother to show gratitude and thanks for raising their daughter.
The picture is taken at a wide angle, the ladies dressed in their vibrant Kitenge outfits. Head-wraps adorned like crowns. Some have been caught mid clap, others smiling, others mid-stride, my mum was leading some sort of song. Kiondos on their backs.
Boy do they sing! My aunties and mum can be chilling and the next thing is a full blown choir with ululations. A semi turn up of their own. Even in present day. There is no gathering without a song. Or five!
I was there at that event. I remember it vividly because shortly after, my grandma felt ill and passed away. The woman I was named after I wrote about her here
The memory of my aunts and mother at these events. Their style, how they carried themselves, poise, the regality of it all feels me with much nostalgia.
It’s a huge inspiration to me and this is how today’s look came about. The skirt is the the one from Mother and I and the City. The head wrap is what remained of the fabric. I am drawn to loose fitting anything, hence the pink boyfriend shirt.
I am also currently reading Unbowed by the late,indomitable, unmatched, Nobel Laurete Prof Wangari Maathai. It’s such a fascinating read and has been on my booklist forever.
I have a habit of looking up authors when I read their books and images of Queen Maathai are just phenomenal. She was fierce! Just google her. I can’t wait to review it on reads.
Here’s to the unmatched women that inspire us everyday. May know them, may we emulate them.
Skirt and Headwrap: RoshieAnne
Boyfriend Shirt, bag and shoes: Zara