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BOOK: Changing the World While Changing Diapers
Author: Isabell Kempf & Peter Ngila Njeri
ISBN: 978-9966-139-00-9
Publisher: Independently Published (under the auspices of AMKA)
Date Published: 31 March, 2020
Reviewer: Vincent de Paul  

When I began reading Changing the World While Changing Diapers by Isabell Kempf and Peter Ngila Njeri, I thought that I would be taken through the drudgery of rearing kids, shopping for diapers and kids’ stuff, and what-have-you. I was wrong. It is nothing of the sort.

The two authors take us through different aspects of their lives, and how they have managed to face the challenges they face in impacting the world they live in. I was taken more by Isabell, she being a foreigner in Kenya, how she perceived life. One of the greatest messages and take-home for me are education and religion.

About education, Isabell says that she wanted a hybrid system to cater for her daughter Maisha’s triple identity; a way of combining local culture with German traditions. She is torn between giving more of local culture (which is not offered at the international schools in Nairobi) to Maisha at the risk of losing her German heritage. At the local schools Maisha will stand out, like a sore thumb, she being the only (at the very least) white pupil while Isabell believes that international schools impart children with political correctness to the point that they become copies of each other but lack their own identity, become so international that they forget or sometimes don’t know where they are from. This way, Maisha would have an identity based on her origin and her current life; it is a tough balancing act … 

About religion, she is atheistic with a long experience in Catholicism, and she is not comfortable with the hypocrisy of religion, preaching one thing on Sunday and doing something else during the week. Yet, we had Maisha baptised when she was three in my old school by a priest whom I would dance with when we were school mates. The two main reasons were my mum fearing she would otherwise be captured by a sect that would abuse her sexually; has she not read the papers on the sexual abuse by Catholic priests? And the second is her Mexican Godmother who insisted that we had to renew protection. This was the second time she sent a beautiful white outfit for the ceremony; difficult to resist. My husband, who is from an agnostic Soviet Muslim background, was remarkably tolerant and came along.

From this, we see that the question of identity is engineered by the society, and regardless of our views on such, we have to expose children to all cultures and available learning channels for them to learn and ultimately make their own decisions. As parents, we shouldn’t be too quick to impart what we think is the best for the children, but we should empower them to make themselves who they want to be. 

Isabell is atheistic yet she has her daughter baptized, even goes to shake hands with the Pope; I am not religious, yet I teach my kids the ways of the good Lord, how to pray, to respect other people and be good, and when they ask why I don’t go to church I just smile … One day we shall have a chat and address my irreligiosity with them; and allow them to make their choice to forge the identity they want, not one forced down their throats by the societal systems.

This is a good book with invaluable wisdom and anecdotes from the two authors which which will impart on you in one way or another.

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