The Final Week

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Amakove Wala goes everywhere. She packs her bags and her children, and she goes. She follows the sun. Sometimes she follows the wind. Mostly it’s her heart. But first, she finds time because she has a son and triplet daughters. She also breeds rabbits. She runs a nanny bureau. She cycles. She writes. She gives talks. She runs an association that gives support to families with multiples, (twins, triplets etc.) with a membership of over 700 families. She’s a doctor, the Global Advisor for Health and Nutrition at Aga Khan Foundation, so her day is manic. She also runs a massive Facebook page called Wanderlust Diaries Ltd where she has documented hundreds of her travels with her children, from Kerio Valley to South Africa, to valleys and mountains, over rivers and streams. She’s a single mother – a full time job on its own. She’s 42 years old and she crams all these activities into her 24-hour day. She stuffs them like a traveller packs all her clothes in a suitcase, folding and squeezing and then finally sitting on the suitcase as someone strenuously zips it closed.

She packs up and she goes.

She’s one of the persons picked by Facebook doing dope stuff on the platform (her page, Wanderlust Diaries Ltd, has over 300,000 subscribers), part of their RealPeopleRealStories campaign. I called her up and asked her what she would do if she had one week to live. Where would she go? What would she like to see? She was quiet for a beat, processing this question. Then she asked, “Anywhere at all?”

I said, yeah.

“Water,” she said, “I’d like to go die anywhere with water…even though I can’t swim.”

She would go to a log cabin, near a water body, it could also be a pond or a stream, perhaps, with tall trees, like pine or whatever, just trees that climb to the sky. Somewhere quiet. The reason for her choice is because her life has been so busy, she would want to spend her last nights on earth in a tranquil place. She would pack light for the final journey. The first thing in her bag would be her tablet, to document her last days. “I love to journal.” She’d also pack some food to cook in the cabin; rice, chicken, some fruits, and water. Then in would go her camera for pictures she’d post online. “I wouldn’t carry mementos or anything like that,” she says, “I think all the memories I have are captured in pictures of friends and families I have shared moments with.” She’d also pack lipstick and eye-pencil. “I love my African print outfits, so I’d carry those with me as well.”

All packed, she’d call her friends and say goodbye to them, then to her children. “I think I have raised independent children. I have always travelled with them and taught them how to adapt to situations because life is always changing and if you choose to remain in one position you will struggle. I will tell them to cherish the moments we had together – and we have had numerous. I will also tell them not to wallow in misery because it’s pointless. We didn’t squander our time together so why be miserable? They have learnt how to play football and swimming, skating and hiking. Sports has taught them discipline and how to lose because losing is a part of life and we all have to learn how to deal with loss.”

Then she would pick her bags and drive off. At the wooden cabin, she would not do anything else for the next six days. “I would stay still.” She says. “I haven’t stayed still for so long; my life has been one continuous activity. I contracted Coronavirus earlier this year and that meant that for the first time in so long I had to stay in the house, quarantined. It was challenging, no interaction with the kids or outside world – it built my mental stamina.”

She would wake up daily and write her memoir. Her memory is so poor, she says, that if she doesn’t write it down, it will be forgotten. If she was to write only one chapter of her life, what chapter would that be?

“It would be my parenting journey, raising four kids as a single parent. Not just raising them but raising them in an areligious space. I would also write about controversial things, like sex and teaching my children about sex, especially about LBGTQ. We don’t trust children with information they seek, and we should. I would also write, in that same chapter, about my divorce and how it affected my children.” She has been divorced for four years now.

“I’d write about what I’d do differently, the life choices I made. I’d not compromise on the things that define me to please society, I would not toe the line because that broke my dreams. I also don’t think I’d choose medicine as a career, maybe something like social anthropology or humanity. I would write about how after my divorce I have intentionally lived my life on my own terms.”

In between writing, she would take time to wander about in the woods. “You learn a lot from nature. You learn, from watching some trees fall, to let some things go through their natural process. Ride the wave. Nature has a way of always redefining itself. Look at the sky and see how birds live, with freedom. Nature also shows us how we coexist differently, there are trees that serve monkeys and birds, there are crawlers that feed the grazers. We all have our roles.”

On the last day, she would wake up and look at her will again as she sips tea. She would be at peace. “I think I have lived my life the way I wanted to. I made good use of my time here. I think there will be someone who will be encouraged by my time on earth.” She says.

She has travelled when she wanted to travel. Seen things she wanted to see. Met people she wanted to meet. She tells of a story she shared on Facebook.

“I recently moved into this new house and I wanted to renovate the garage, converting it into the bedroom of my triplets. When I wrote about it almost everyone said, ‘but why would you want to renovate someone else’s house, what if they wake up tomorrow and kick you out?’”

I said, “I’m not living for tomorrow, I’m living for today. Why worry about IF he will kick me out tomorrow when I have an opportunity to live for today? And this is the mentality we have as Africans, this constant worrying about tomorrow. We buy stocks hoping to reap rewards 10 years from now. We invest heavily for when we are old. We sometimes deny ourselves now so that we can enjoy a tomorrow that is never promised. There is space for investment and the comfort of it but I’ve always been okay to choose investing in a trip to a destination I have always wanted to see rather than in life insurance. I’m not one to wait 20 years for shares I bought today at 10 bob to grow to 70 bob. Investment for me is not about amassing wealth. It’s living the life I want now.”

On day seven, the last day, when the hour comes, and the angel of death is ready to take her she will wear her African prints and sit by the lake or pond.

“He can find me there, if he wants to. I want him to find me looking at water.”

And when it’s all done, she says she wants her ashes scattered over any water body. It doesn’t matter where. “I don’t want my remains to be carried many kilometers to my village. Funerals just put so much pressure on the living, on families. Whenever I die, they should find the nearest water body and scatter my ashes there. I think I will be calmest there.”

 

 

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84 Comments
  1. “We invest heavily for when we are old. We sometimes deny ourselves now so that we can enjoy a tomorrow that is never promised …. I’m not one to wait 20 years for shares I bought today at 10 bob to grow to 70 bob. Investment for me is not about amassing wealth. It’s living the life I want now.”
    This is it right here! I’ve seen people invest so much in the name of securing the future of their generations. If they knew how wrong they were…they would just party away!

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  2. I am with her especially on living in spaces that you are comfortable in.
    If they allow you to adjust it to suit you, go ahead.

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  3. Dr. Amakove is one lady that I look up too. She lives life to the fullest. Through her I have learnt to do me the world shall adjust.

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  4. When she said she’d be waiting for the grim reaper by the lake or pond, I thought of the video doing rounds of the guy who died in a mat on Mombasa road.

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  5. ‘I’m not living for tomorrow. I’m living for today’. I love this. I’ll start living each day at a time and stop worrying about tomorrow.

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  6. Biko when are you having a question answer session again ?? It’s has been a minute,,we the silent gang got some mind boggling questions… please respond chocolate man

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    1. Hi Isaac! It’s almost as if you read our mind. Are you a mind reader by any chance? We are launching the book on 10th December. We are going to have a Q&A then. But it will be online. (Gotta protect the forehead 🙂 ) Stay tune, write down your questions, and I’ll answer them. Unless you are a mind reader, in which case…

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  7. Ms Wala, you and I are kindred spirits. I too want to live, breathe by the water. Have my ashes spread over the ocean. It is a place that frees your soul rather than confines it to a coffin.

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  8. “”And this is the mentality we have as Africans, this constant worrying about tomorrow. We buy stocks hoping to reap rewards 10 years from now. We invest heavily for when we are old. We sometimes deny ourselves now so that we can enjoy a tomorrow that is never promised.””

    Where do we draw the line between living a careless life today ( unplanned, impulsive, or foolish spending ) because tomorrow is not promised, and the wisdom to be a good steward where you have something for a rainy day?

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      1. Exactly. I was left hanging and asking myself if that’s all there was to read or there was a….. To be continued part that I dwsee.

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  9. Doktari, you are the only international traveler who refused to shop to ‘near death’ using your per diem in France and Geneva.
    You insisted you only wear African prints.

    However, you spared nothing as you bought the kids dozens of sets.

    Next, share the juicy stories to cheer readers up

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  10. I said, “I’m not living for tomorrow, I’m living for today. Why worry about IF he will kick me out tomorrow when I have an opportunity to live for today? And this is the mentality we have as Africans, this constant worrying about tomorrow…”

    This concept has been so hard to explain of late. This is my mantra. Preparing for the future is wonderful, but not at the expense of the present.

    Follow me here: http://www.himizascribes.com for more fun and creativity.

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  11. This here is extra powerful!!!
    “I’m not living for tomorrow, I’m living for today. Why worry about IF he will kick me out tomorrow when I have an opportunity to live for today? And this is the mentality we have as Africans, this constant worrying about tomorrow. “

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  12. Amakove Wala goes everywhere. She packs her bags and her children, and she goes. She follows the sun. Sometimes she follows the wind. Mostly it’s her heart. But first, she finds time because she has a son and triplet daughters. She also breeds rabbits. She runs a nanny bureau. She cycles. She writes. She gives talks. She runs an association that gives support to families with multiples, (twins, triplets etc.)………….such a strong woman! Would love to here more from and about her. I am her silent follower

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  13. A cabin by the river surrounded by tropical trees. I would definitely love a place like that..

    . This is a good read…. She is a gem.

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  14. I would say by being intentional with what you want. Some people will travel the world using profits from their investments, others will not invest but spend all their earnings to travel

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  15. You need someone to give you hope.too much frustration detected throughout the story.children and human being can’t leave day at a time.we need to learn both today , tomorrow and future.future generation must inherit something from us at least something more than astory of roaming ,sth like assets

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  16. We are born free. But forever in chains. I love nature. only Flora and Fauna enjoy unlimited freedom. Your copy has shown me the way. I will not toe the line to worry so much about tomorrow. I’ve chosen to live today

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  17. You are one lady that I always look up to, we have many things in common, living for today is one of them. Nice read!

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  18. Wooow. A beautiful peaceful read. From the read…… I want one day to say ” I think I lived my best life” No regrets no hung ups just easy.
    Easy to an extent am thinking My kids will be fine without me around. I want to bring up independent kids.
    Kovs. I will borrow a leave or two from your life today.
    And I will leave my best life from today hence forth.
    Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed… So I can only do what I can for today.
    Intentional living and parenting.
    #goals

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  19. I have interacted with Amakove so many times, not in person but in her travel stories, I didn’t know she wears so many hats! I draw some inspiration from this in that it’s OK to live for today and not worry too much about tomorrow. Tomorrow anyway is not promised, do make the best of today. Wow!

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  20. I have enjoyed reading this.
    Dr. Amakove makes living for today, the here and the now, seem so easy.
    I aspire to get to that mental space.

    For now, I read and I learn… one day!!

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  21. Thats it. You nailed it Wala. I specially like the final part “I don’t want my remains to be carried many kilometers to my village. Funerals just put so much pressure on the living, on families. Whenever I die, they should find the nearest water body and scatter my ashes there. I think I will be calmest there.” Thats Me

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  22. I love that she’s fearless and very clear in her mind about what she wants out of this life. “He can find me there if he wants to…” Profound!
    Short article but very deep.

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  23. Wow! Way to go Liz. I’m always wowed by your go getter and live now spirit. Keep doing you, the world as always will adjust.

  24. It’s the present moment that counts. Tomorrow is not promised. Live as if today were your last day, pray as if you’d live forever.

  25. Amakove is such a brave free spirit! We all want this life but can the African lifestyle and society afford us with such luxuries? My thoughts on this is that life is a journey. You must live in prudent knowing that there are seasons in life. Dry spells of life can come. A life that can put aside for dry seasons is a more organized life!

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  26. Such an inspiring read! I would love to walk in the shadow of this great lady…thanks for the thumbs up for the arts people too. I always thought that being a doctor is the ultimate actualization

    Jumbledthoughtsme.wordpress.com

  27. Woooowlosing is a part of life and we all have to learn how to deal with loss………to some this is bitter truth and hard truth because most people would opt for that smooth life where nothing wrong does happen.There are so many places to quote there I think I’ll rewrite the whole story if I have to say what I have learnt.

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  28. Funerals are events for the living, burials are for the dead..I believe,we can be buried without all that plump of funeral festivities.