Featured

You are home now.

Ten years. Ten years and home still smelt the same. Tammy looked up, smiled at the clear blue sky, and then took a deep breathe. She pulled her mask up and thought to herself how so far, the only thing that had changed was the name of the airport. She wondered just how many more things had stayed the same from the time she left.

Stock photo of unrecognized afro woman with suitcase using her phone.

A taxi driver pulled up in front of her, and she motioned for her two suitcases and duffle bag that sat on the trolley she was standing next to as she walked to the car. She’d carried four pieces of luggage because she left in a haste, there was literally no time to pack things up, fold clothes, put shoes in one corner and the gifts she’d gathered over the years in another. She had been hesitant on calling Dana to come pick her up, and she had decided that she would stay in a hotel until she was ready to let her family know she was back home. She wasn’t ready for the crying that would take place once she got home, then the singing and ululating, the calls to her relatives that she was home, the nagging as to why she hadn’t told them she was coming earlier.

A few days of peace and quiet was all she needed before she got to see her family once again. A few days of putting things into perspective, crying her tear ducts dry over the death of her father, though long happened and the freshest wound; what could have been with Ola. Ten years, and it was a heartbreak that got her on the next flight to Zimbabwe. She laughed at herself. How could she not? The only consolation this far, was being far away from Ola. Over the next three weeks, she would change to a local phone number, deactivate her socials, just in case he went that far trying to talk to her. But what were the odds he would regret what he had done and reach out asking for forgiveness, asking to her back together again. She swore not to check her email, just in case he wrote there too, and to avoid work messages too. This was the ultimate vacation she needed. 

The taxi driver hopped into his seat, and peeped at her through the view mirror. He greeted her, and asked where she was going. She mumbled Holiday Inn under her breath, and put her shades on. She did not want any weird eye contact or for him to see her tears whenever her heart would give out. She kept playing around with her phone, scrolling through the thousands of pictures. She had spent the past two days deleting Ola and hers pictures, many times stopping to sob. This heartache wasn’t going anywhere any time soon. Her gallery once filled with thousands of beautiful pictures of her Ola, was almost empty. That didn’t matter now, she was in the last place he’d ever come for her. She needed this, she needed to be home. Clear blue skies , fresh air, godly weather later her older sister and mother. Over the years, she’d forgotten just how everything was better with them. How the first time she’d gone through a break up, her mom and sister laughed at her crying and declarations that they would get back together with Lunga. They never did. 

She hoped home was the same place, the sane place. Hoped that it was as joyful as she remembered, love overflowing as it had always done. Then, and now that her father had passed. She hoped that his absence wouldn’t be so loud, and she would not dread being at home as much as she did. Ten years later, she hadn’t processed his death, and avoided home like the plague, but she was back her anyway. Her mother made it easier by not pressuring her to come home. But she did tell her over and over that she how dearly she missed him. Perhaps that was her way of letting her know what grieving was like for her. She wondered if the events of the past week were written in some star, that she’d have to lose the last thing that gave her a morsel of sanity for her to come running back home. To confront her demons, to confront her loss. 

“Do you go as far as the other end of Samora?” she asked the taxi driver and he nodded. 

“Please head to Mount Pleasant then.” to which he nodded again. 

#WinterABC2022: Obverse reality

Hello gentle reader, welcome back to my blog and if it’s the first time you’re here please do scroll down and catch up on previous issues. I’m wrapping up the #WinterABC2022 Storytelling Festival, and all I have to say is “wow”. It’s been one hell of a journey but I’ve loved every second of it, every single piece I wrote, burnout and imposter syndrome here and there. But at the of the day we move. This week was Stories of Our World and I just thought to dip my fingers a bit into the partnered topic. This is going to be a terribly short issue.

Social media is a minefield. Whatever it is you’re looking for, you’ll probably find it there. I’m in awe of its existence. Especially after observing it’s rise, and how it is not going anywhere. Who would have thought (except) the masterminds that one day, people all over the world would be connected in real time. If you take into account the amount of time you spend on social media, you realize just how much it is a part of you and extends into your daily routine. For most people, they live their whole lives on their phones, not exactly in a posts everything manner, but also in a sit back and enjoy Beyoncé’s internet. For many social media has become part of their being such that in its absence they malfunction.

The place you interact with other human beings but without interacting with other human beings.

I think we are still in denial of how much impact social media has. You’re looking at platforms where millions gather, perhaps organized into communities, and discourse. People go on there and propagate certain agendas. Somehow, social media could be a reflection of how and what we are as a society. In some instances, it is an extension of our daily lives, a peek into others. Then in some, it’s one’s whole life. Where people come together and meet in this little sphere crazy things are bound to happen too. We’re out on the internet sharing things about ourselves, the world around us and our thoughts. At times, it feels like we’re speaking into a vacuum but we’re really not. By existing together in this little corner we somehow make friends, form communities, forge connections, make enemies and so on. It’s like an alternate reality to “real life”, because while you can converse with these people, discourse, laugh till you cry and all sometimes; actually most times it started and ends there. It’s like community, outside of community. We are out here making friends of people we might never ever meet, we’re happy for them, we cry together sometimes, walk through the long hard days all by virtue of them logging into the very same platforms as we do. I simply cannot get over how crazy it is to be this connected but also not really connected. We share parts of ourselves and there is a perceived familiarity and relationship that comes from that, that I currently do not have words for.

The lack of physical connection, does not nullify the relationships we have made on social media. For some, it all ends when they logout, then for some they pursue these relationships make lifelong friends and lovers, and then for some we keep watching from our screens; happy to be a part of the lives that cross our timelines.

African women: Sisterhood and Community

Hear dear reader, welcome back to my blog, if this is your first time here, do scroll down and catch up with the previous issues. I was just about to dive in to this weeks theme on the #WinterABC, but then I thought a delayed post wouldn’t hurt anyone. Especially one on such an important topic, I couldn’t let the week go by without me spreading some feminist agenda. So here’s go my post wrapping up Stories of Awareness, and I branch into the topic given by Teakisi were I explore the prompt African Women more on the side of Sisterhood and Community.

No man is an island, and our ancestors knew this from the start, hence in the old days people lived in small communities and were of service to each other in multiple ways. This was backed by the thinking that non of us are self sufficient, and at some point we would need help and uplifting from those around us. People came together, stood by each other in times of hardship, celebrated together and protected each other from external forces as well. It is in those instances that you get an idea of how important a community is, especially one wherein you share values. Even today, people make tremendous effort to be a part of something, however life keeps getting in the way most of the times. Also to some extent we have grown to think that we are self sufficient (a mostly Western way of thinking.) The history lesson got a bit too long, but here is where I’m trying to get to; over time women have made unparalleled efforts towards freeing mostly themselves from the shackles of patriarchy and so in wanting to deviate from the status quo, you need a strong support system, a people you share the same values and vision with, who are willing to go the mile with you. More than anything, we need sisterhood and tightly knit communities that exist for our joyful existence outside the horrid existence we are often subjected to.

While it is a hard pill to swallow, men hate women. The intertwining of our lives, and how to some extent we might “need” each other for survival is one of the reasons why it is difficult to see things for what they are. But taking a closer look at things, and clearing ones perspective you realize just how little grace most men have for women, even their daughters, sisters and worse their wives. Most of the actions that constitute disregard for women have stretched for over millennia and are dismissed as “how we do things” and sanitized through religion, culture and tradition. The hate men possess for women is even institutional as well, such that it has far reaching arms, and will take a lot of effort to do away with. As women, especially African women who fall at the very bottom of the pyramid of importance, we can not sit on some Eureka moment , or a near impossible day of reckoning and should instead perhaps, explore other avenues that could help lessen the burdens that result from existing under patriarchy, and our daily exposure to misogyny all while moving towards the greater goal which is freedom. Therein comes the importance of Sisterhood, and Communities.

KUKING’A (To Protect)

Contrary to popular belief, feminism has always existed in Africa. Kuking’a a Swahili word which means to protect/protection is a form of feminism that was practiced within African societies since time immemorial. For the longest time, laws and systems have been set to disadvantage women, exhibits include Female genital mutilation, child marriage, rape, gender based and other deplorable actions towards women and to counter these ills and offer safe havens for the girls being subjected to such inhuman treatment, wealthier and privileged African women would come together and offer protection to these girls and women. Generally, the world takes very lightly the suffering of women, especially at the hands of men. It’s like a rite of passage, being subjected to sexual harassment, gender based violence, domestic abuse, very few people see anything wrong with this, and as such multitudes of women and girls are left to suffer within these situations.

More than ever, we need communities safe for women. Places in which they are protected. A classic example is Umoja Village , a haven created for women and girls to exist free of patriarchal and systematic violence. It is clear as day that African women need to work overtime to create safety nets for ourselves and the generations to come. Instead of begging for seats at the table, perhaps create our own spaces free of misogyny and patriarchy. The dehumanization of women is treated without urgency, except by women. Justice systems have always been complicit in matters concerning women. All women communities are a must, for the most part we are bonded by the struggle and hope for freedom and a better future. With such strong communities , grassroots movements for inclusion, equity and equality might just be made easier.

Women for Women

Every girl needs that girlfriend, nfa-nfe, for whom she would prise open the crack of her buttocks to check the pain up there without worrying about the ugliness. Because only a woman knows how to love a woman properly.

The First Woman: Jennifer Makumbi

I think small things stand to redefine our livelihoods and future. Elements like sisterhood, and female friendships go a long way in an attempt to cope with the workings of the world, our hope for future changes and most importantly our present reality. When you look at patriarchy you see how it’s a well oiled machine for destruction. There’s a lot of propaganda too, and my all time favorite being the rhetoric that women do not like each other, as if we woke up one day and chose to be nemesis’s. It’s wild how women are groomed to be each other’s competitors, all for the benefit of men 9/10 of the times. Now I won’t detour into how this works, as well end up with a long ass article. While we are somehow groomed to “hate” each other, at some point we should come together if not for anything but our shared struggle under patriarchy. We really have only each other. This for some may take up to a lifetime to finally realize but as women (read African women) we only have each other. In a setting wherein value is attached to you based on some ridiculous standards and beliefs, you need people who see you for you. People who accept you as you are. People who look at you and see a human being. A lot of the times, it’s other women who have an understanding of what womanhood is like cruel little world. Or even those without, but still look out for you. Community and sisterhood go hand in hand because even with choosing to be different, a sense of belonging is important.

Patriarchy uses other women to propagate its agenda of domination and subjugation. As a result you find people questioning why there is an overwhelming majority of women as foot soldiers for patriarchy. Community and acceptance is so important such that there is a genuine fear of being ostracized and women have no choice but to adapt and adopt harmful practices and propagate these agendas on to everyone else around them. With (feminist) sisterhood, you’re coming from a place in which you literally just love women for existing , and want a different reality for them, all while severing the beauty of a a group of strangers who will love you, for you. Renouncing patriarchy as an individual, and going on to unlearn your internalized misogyny impacts heavily one’s relationships with the women around them. I’ve sworn to try by all means to not be the one to propagate patriarchal agendas to the young girls following behind me.

Sign off

I hope to further explore this topic, right now I’m a baby feminist who’s still in learning and hoping to l

VITILIGO AWARENESS MONTH ~ A STORY OF ROYAL PATCHES

Hello dear reader (In Lady Whistledown Voice), welcome back to my blog, and if this is your first time here do scroll down and catch up on the previous issues. We’re wrapping up the third week of the #WinterABC Storytelling Festival on Stories of Awareness. I asked Christine (@twoshadee) on Twitter and (@tafadzwanashechristine) on IG write an article already Vitiligo and that’s how this “collaboration” came about.

I’m pretty sure a bunch of people do not know what Vitiligo is because it’s been something that has been associated with a lot of myths and stories. It took some time for people to really know what it was. So through the article we shall take steps in giving brief descriptions of what vitiligo is and how people with it have been going through their lives.

Vitiligo is a long term condition were pale white patches develop on the skin. It’s caused by the lack of melanin, which is the skin pigment. This happens when melanocytes (skin cells that make pigment are attacked and destroyed causing the skin to turn milky white color. Vitiligo occurs in about a percentage or slightly more than a percentage of the world population. Vitiligo fortunately or unfortunately affects all races and genders throughout all age groups. Though it can develop in anyone at any age, it mostly starts appearing from ages 10 to 30.

One living with the condition might just giggle from hearing what a lot of people have to say or think about our condition. A lot of myths surrounding the condition. Well most believe that when one develops vitiligo it’s because of their misfortunes coming back to them they associate it with coming from witchcraft . But you could get to wonder how a 6 year old might have sinned to get their misfortunes coming back. I read once that this lady developed it at a later stage in life and people thought she was a witch and her goblins were coming back for her. We also have people thinking that vitiligo is contagious and it can just spread from a simple touch, now imagine how many people could’ve had it by now if it were true but we can’t really judge people for their thinking but just to educate them and letting them know that it’s far from being contagious. For the most alarming of myths on vitiligo we have a belief that is known that if someone with HIV sleeps with someone with vitiligo it will heal and you get to think of how many people who might have fallen for the myth.

Two Shades of Beautiful

Though we are in love with our spots it can be very difficult for us to cope with a lot of things. Thinking of going out especially in summer requires a lot of guts and well sunscreens as one can easily blister all over. This might be a bad thing living with vitiligo and without what’s needed to avoid the sunburns. Bullying for people with vitiligo and name calling is something that one can never run away from. It’s so hard to leave the house without being given some new hurtful name. Eyes and nasty looks are damaging if one is not strong and this ruins one’s confidence. Whilst a lot of people with certain conditions can think for themselves and work on their own also being worthy of achieving a better life for themselves the wider population thinks they are always pitied and they always get things because people feel sorry for them. It really has to be clear to people that they do not lack intellect and they can simply work and achieve greatness without being pitied. 

Vitiligo is not a disease though people treat it as one. With the development of patches life suddenly changes, society starts behaving differently. One’s life can change from being a joyful one and bright one, to being a dark sorrowful life. Remedies and remedies are suggested from a lot of parties, visits to the doctors become frequent in trying to fix everything. All could just go in vain and the condition might not go away. The ones we thought were close could leave us and only a few could remain and in people’s eyes you become something different 

With Vitiligo being a hard thing to live with, we really can’t hide the beauty we see from it. Our patches hold power and greatness. We love being different, we love showing off, we’ve embraced it and we are still living and continue living positively.

*** Christine (Two shades of beautiful) Tafadzwanashe Matyavira is a 22 year old Film Radio and Television production student at University of Zimbabwe. An advocate for all things Vitiligo.

 

When you’re strong

Stories of Awareness
you can only be strong for so long 
endure the cold and soldier on, on your own
that’s what you’re good at…
doing it all on your own
you’ve done it for so long
mastered it
everyone thinks you’ve got it under control
you think so too
when you’re strong you forget you’re human too
you forget to feel
mostly for yourself
you build walls around you
in case you’re being human catches up with you.
when you’re strong it’s like an outer body experience 
you go on and on, on and on
until you’re weak and weary
barely hanging by a thread
find yourself begging life to let go of you
like some unbeknown revelation to self
you realize you’re human at the end of the day
weak and everything
on most days also wanting love and empathy
wanting to feel too
feeling helpless and hopeless
wanting to be treated softly
shielded from this harsh harsh little world.
when you’re strong, you discover just how weak you are
and wish to be weak in peace.

Stories of Awareness ~“I’m loved at home”

I’ve lost count of what day it is, but I know it’s week 3 of the #WinterABC202022 Storytelling Festival so I’ll work with that. I did not know consistency in content creation was this difficult, but then I’ll keep trying despite the burn out. The target for this week is to write all five articles which means that I’ll have to publish on Saturday and Sunday as well. I’m all in for Stories of Awareness, and I love the diversity and range in the theme, so I do not think I’ll run out of topics to spread awareness on.

It’s always funny on Twitter when people tweet about stuff being loved at home. Harmless and funny as they may seem the statement “You are loved at home” and the question “Are you loved at home/ Is everything ok at home?” are way more important than the banter that we think they are. Homes are the first and foremost environment in which we are introduced to human interaction, then later the workings of the world. As a result, they are the primary place in which we learn self love, and how to interact with those around us. Creating loving environments is not only limited to the home, but most definitely that is where the blue print is created (apart from therapy and rigorous work on self).

Homes should be places of love and warmth, but somewhere along the line we get the memo wrong. Growing in a place where love is lacking negatively impacts the manner in which one carries themself, and their outlook towards life in general. Most insecurities and negative behaviors can be traced to the environment in which one was raised (schools, churches and communities involved). Over time I have wondered just how do we extend grace and ensure that the air around us is filled with love. When people grow up in a burning house, they believe the entire world is on fire. On the inside, they’re just scared, neglected, and unloved small kids who grow up to choose destruction.

To a great extent we are responsible for allowing people to love themselves. Our actions and words shape the people around us, especially if they are young and looking up to us. It is in those moments what moving with intention is pertinent. The words we say matter, our actions do too, and the manner in which we communicate. Matters like self image hinge upon what the people around you think and see how they act towards you. How one perceives themselves is influenced by the environment in which they grow in and so in a negative environment one is bound internalize these things, and then go on to spread such negativity. Where it concerns matter such as body image, intelligence, communication humanity and kindness transcends all man made standards. Individuals practicing self love can only go so far in a culture that incessantly rebuts them.

There is cognitive dissonance in homes that claim the existence of love but are strongly informed by patriarchy. From the get go, we have to be clear that love and abuse cannot coexist and that where domination is present, love is lacking (cheers bell hooks). Typically in African homes, love is present by virtue of the sacrifices made by your parents towards your education, daily chores and future goals which is very unfortunate as it stems from the demands of capitalism. However there is need to strike a balance in fulfilling these capitalist needs and the emotional ones. Without a safe space to grow, learn and thrive we are extending the harm and churning broken individuals into the world. Unkind people aren’t born that way, at the bottom of it lie several emotional needs that are unmet, and human induced insecurities about themselves hence they view and interact with the world from that particular perspective.

Whether we learn to love ourselves and others will depend on the presence of a loving environments. Self-love cannot flourish in isolation.

bell hooks (All About Love)

It is unfortunate that for the greater part due to patriarchy, we lack models of healthy love, family, communication etc. We live in a culture of dominance in which the most important thing is power. Now how does love thrive in such environments wherein pride, power and the ego are the most important things? Even within homes exist power struggles, we go out into the world and further propagate these agendas. As Comrade Damburanduwe always says: Charity anotangira paden. (English version: Charity begins at home.) Perhaps a starting point could be viewing children as autonomous bodies and taking it from there (what do I know 💀, I’m just an observer). Work on modeling healthy communication, practice love in word and action. Reimagine interactions with more kindness, less subjugation. When we go out into the world, we replicate the behaviors we have grown seeing, accept what we think is love as a result of what we are exposed to. We need to do better, for ourselves especially, and those who come after us. We build families from individuals, societies from families and nations from societies.

Create your website with WordPress.com
Get started