By Juliet Mwangi
My first time was almost like a dream…
The feeling was surreal. Heartbeat racing, palms sweating, excitement oozing from every single pore, in my body no doubt. However, I don’t believe there are words sufficient enough to do justice to the whole experience of meeting Janet Mbugua. The Public Lecture at Writers Guild Kenya on 21st February 2020 introduced me to a whole new world. A world I had not seen coming until I met Janet, my mentor who I have always wished to meet.
Janet Mbugua is a Kenyan media personality who has previously worked with some of the mainstream Kenyan media houses, the last one being Citizen TV where she resigned recently. She is also a great mum to two handsome boys, an actress and the author of My First Time, a unique book on menstrual hygiene. The book is about women’s first time experience with their menstruation flow, otherwise known as ‘mashiro’ ‘red sea’ and any other almost deadly terms used out here.
If you thought kunyesha only affects women, then Janet proves you wrong because she also includes men who share their opinions on the matter.
Just because we can access sanitary towels and have hygienic ‘times of the month’ doesn’t necessarily mean everyone else is able to. Janet is concerned with girls who cannot access the right hygienic tools for this crucial and especially naturally biological phenomenon. You must have heard cases of girls from different parts of the country who use all sorts of things from old blankets to bedsheets to even tissue paper. Disclaimer: this is so unhealthy and I hope you were touched enough to donate or advocate for them in one way or another to access sanitary towels.
Menstruation is about to become an all-gender concern in society and this will mean we all get involved in ensuring women are comfortable especially at this time. My First Time also aims to reach out to corporate organizations for them to accommodate women at this time when they ask for a few leave days to manage the pain that comes with it. This is a debate that we all need to take part in. It only takes one to be human to consider this.
Generally, Janet makes it clear that My First Time is for all of us to understand what’s going on with our girls. More like a letter from a big sister to guide us through experiences we should expect when we get to a certain age.
I could go on and on but you know what to do (wink). Being a writers’ and readers’ public lecture, we challenged each other to ‘Open a new tab’ and research on something if you really want that information.
Just a snippet though, plenty of books are cooking from this lecture and you better keep in touch with us so you’ll be the first to know what we’re up to!
Meeting Janet Mbugua greatly inspired me. Even though I experience what she addresses, I have never thought of making a contribution towards making people understand this natural process. I feel a bit guilty about this. I was rejuvenated by this meeting. The figures she mentioned in her speech got me thinking. Just how where did we start being ashamed of a natural process?
Writers Guild Kenya has always challenged me. Through this public Lecture, I met Janet, who introduced me to a whole new world. May we have many more of Public Lectures and uplifting conversations.
Juliet Mwangi is an Affiliate Writer at Writers Guild Kenya. Email- firstname.lastname@example.org