Culture

Black Tax is Killing Me

by Whitney Muhadi
January 26, 2021
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As a 90s babe, trying to achieve financial goals and working towards retiring at 40 looks like a far-fetched dream. ‘Did you manage to get something? Your brother is going back to school and he needs to be sorted. With a reluctant ‘yes I got it covered,’ I cancel out the figures I scribbled on my notebook under the ‘dream car’ savings column. For how long will I keep doing this cancel culture? 

 

After hustling for months as a brand ambassador for alcoholic beverages in popular watering holes, I manage to bag a Personal Assistant position thanks to a friend of a friend whom I was lucky to meet in the liquored line of duty. This is it, the road to building wealth begins, I tell myself, I will save as much as I can to give myself the life I believe I deserve and no one will stop me.  

 

That was seven years ago and till date I still haven’t figured out the formula to end the dilemma of putting everyone else’s needs and wants before mine. Along the many years of work, career changes and finally settling into what I love doing most, media production specializing as Video Editor and Script Writer. In this field, I meet colleagues who become friends and are surprisingly facing the same music as I am!

 

‘I have to take care of my dad’s medical needs most of the time, unajua kama first born nafaa kuwa example kwa wale wengine si rahisi’ (as a first born, I have to be an example to my other siblings, it’s not easy). Allan chimes in as I finish my wireless transaction of funds from my account to my mother’s, to cater for my youngest brother’s college needs. It’s been a long morning at the work place, we trade stories as we take a walk along the grassy stretch behind the three-story office building that stands a hundred meters from Karen shopping center.

 

Two weeks later, it is 7:15 pm on a Wednesday evening. I’m on a marathon with time trying to get to an appointment I booked 24hrs prior for 7 pm and I don’t want to reschedule. Almost out of breath I reach my destination on Kimathi street at Kimathi house, one of the many buildings in the Central Business District I had never set foot in until I had reason to like this particular day. The details on the WhatsApp poster read 8th floor so I head in and just to be sure I confirm with the Askari the direction to the lift. 

 

A few days prior to my visit, the elevator wasn’t working, and people had to unwillingly exercise to their floor of choice. Thanks to a tip off from my friend, I chose to make my trip in the middle of the working week, after it was fixed. As I regain my composure through the eight-floor journey, the ding dong alert of the lift summons the doors to open.  I make my way towards the door with the familiar pink and purple logo of my friend’s company name.

 

The reception area is empty, as soon as I reach into my pocket for my phone to make a call, my Jacky pops up from a door on my right I had clearly missed. She embraces me in a long tight hug. It had been a minute since we last saw each other and supporting this new business venture of hers was the perfect opportunity to re-connect. 

 

The real reason I showed up was the irresistible first visit discount I was getting for my gel manicure. I couldn’t pass that offer. In a bid to make me comfortable and ready for the makeover, she stakes my bag and leads me to a white-walled room with various gold framed mirrors for a touch of wow. She then directs me to one of the white tables where the glam happens. I take a seat as the Nail Tech walks in and lines up her tools of trade on my table.

 

We catch up while the Tech works her magic on my neglected but neat fingernails which she soaks in warm soapy water. After several minutes of udaku and high fives the conversation gets serious. She brings up her frustrations of having to take her younger siblings through school and still think about the future of her three-year-old son. This she narrates while she gazes outside the window, staring into the pretty city lights of various buildings in the vicinity. 

 

After emptying her reservoirs of lamentations, in a firm declaration of faith she says ‘may this black tax thing end with us in Jesus name!’ We both say ‘Amen’ with enthusiasm. 

 

At this point the prep is done and I can’t wait to see how the teal polish I chose will look on my avatar fingers. Finishing off with a hand massage she is good with her technique, she relaxes my tense arm muscles which are in places I never knew existed. My fingers feel worthy of doing the queen’s wave. Soft to the touch and glitzy to the eye, I am pleased with the service.  I make my payment applying the 30% off for the first visit. 

 

It is almost 9 pm, Jacky’s closing time. I don’t mind waiting for her to lock up. The Nail Tech clears her work station, leaving everything neat and tidy. I thank her for a job well done as she picks up her bag and bids us farewell. Jacky does her usual safety protocol before locking the glass frosted doors. We take a selfie for old times’ I place my hands near my face to show off my freshly manicured claws. Like they saying goes ‘if you didn’t snap it, it probably never happened.’ This is necessary as the photo would later be shared in the high-school WhatsApp group to encourage more gals to show up and support one of their own.

 

I head home feeling all pretty, enjoying the throwback R&B classics blaring from the speakers of the 111 Ngong nganya. I get a text notification from my brother, ‘please call me thank you’ it reads. Didn’t I send mother enough money to sort him out? Sigh! What is it this time?





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