Category: My Africa My Words

Lessons from the #BlogtemberChallenge

Well, the September blog everyday challenge is over. I am sad to say that I was unable to complete it on time, I was only able to write 21/30 posts. That is 70 % and I guess that is still a pass, LOL. I know my grades.

I do want to acknowledge that it was a tough challenge which came with a lot of lessons. I learned a lot about myself and my writing. Here are some of them:

  • Blogging every day is not easy. Even with a theme which served as a prompt for the posts, creating content that is relatable each and every day is a challenge that bloggers face. I applaud those who do it on a daily basis and those who blog for a living. You guys are the real MVPs. And to my friend Uchechi who became reacquainted with her voice in this challenge and wrote 30 posts in 30 days, girl..

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  • Africa is a beautiful continent, rich with creativity and passion. I saw this from all the writers that contributed to this years’ Blogtember challenge. I learned a lot from Beaton, Tee MadzikaBex and of course Uchechi. I was glued to your posts throughout the month of September. Some were really touching, others funny, some filled with mystery and very insightful. What a pleasure it was to write among you guys. These four bloggers wrote a lot, LOL. I don’t know how you guys did it.
  • I am Africa and Africa is me. I have never felt so homesick and connected to my African roots than I did this past month. Writing stories from home and thinking about what drives me, what I miss, what makes me who I am…all of that made me feel connected to my roots. I am a proud African and no matter how far I travel, I carry a piece of my homeland in my very soul.
  • Stepping out of my head a little bit really helps. This challenge forced me to stretch myself a little bit, step out of my comfort zone and write about some sensitive stuff. I would never have found the courage to do so before this. But the timing just felt right and again, it was thanks to mainly the four bloggers mentioned above. Without knowing it, your comments and encouragement on my posts, coupled with your own very open and thoughtful posts, fueled mine. I really benefitted from a new community of readers. Thanks to everyone who read and commented on my posts. It humbled me in a big way.

Now to maintain the momentum…

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But honestly, thank you, guys!! To the Afrobloggers team, your work is very important. Keep pushing, we really need leaders like you bringing such initiatives to build up bloggers’ communities and motivate writers to find their voice. I am here for this greatness. @Beaton thank you so so much.

Keep writing friends. More To Getty is still here and October will definitely see more of me.

GG

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Non-material Inheritance

A lot of us Africans know that our great-grandparents did not leave us a trust fund to be used when we turn 25 or some other fancy dream like that. Even when our parents die, few of us can claim an inheritance, especially the female children. In Shona custom, the male child is often the heir to whatever inheritance is left behind, such as a house or estate and whatever possessions. The female children are expected to marry and live with their husbands, hence not much is left to them in terms of an inheritance. My point is, even having an inheritance to speak of is not common. Most impoverished families are left with a house or a few rooms they have been renting for years and a pile of bills to pay.

When my father died last year, I realised that there is such a thing as non-material inheritance. He was not a wealthy man so I did not inherit any material possessions after his death. None of my siblings did. My family was one that we were always told that education is our inheritance. My mother used to sing that song every school term before I left for boarding school. So, I knew from a very early age that my parents’ investment in my education (school fees) was sowing into my inheritance, which is knowledge, that I can transfer into getting employment and therefore be able to take care of myself.  Growing up like this taught me the value in things non-material, things that actually outlive us as mortal beings. That is why I value education so much and I will pass on this valuable lesson to my children one day.

One thing of immense value that I inherited from my late father was the love of writing. That man would write such beautiful words especially when he was feeling down. Like me, he used to keep a journal and he would write when inspired. He wrote poetry and words of wisdom (quotes) that looked like something from the book of Proverbs. The first time I ever saw the proverb “silence is golden” was in my father’s journal, that time I was 14 years old and he let me read it. I remember wondering for days what those three words meant, but I knew they were powerful. Years later I read that these words originated from ancient Egypt and in 1831, they were translated to English by the poet Thomas Carlyle.

Such was my father’s love for writing and he passed it on to me. Writing taught me to trust in my own voice, to believe in my dreams and to really love myself. Thanks for that Dad.

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Just thinking about non-material inheritance brings so many powerful emotions. Because usually, an inheritance comes after a loss. But, I am starting to think that when we strive to leave behind non-material things, they are more valuable than material things could ever be. The memory of the departed lives on unlike in an immovable possession like a house or a car.

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What would you wish to pass on to your children and/or family that would last forever? Something eternal that no one would ever take from them? 

Day 19 Blogtember Challenge

#MyAfricaMyWords

21 questions to the girl in the mirror

 

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Alicia Keys make-up free and still beautiful

 

What do you see when you look at yourself in the mirror? Do you see the person everyone wants you to become? Is the person looking back at you someone who breathes validation and affirmation?

Who do you really see? The image of the person you always dreamt you would become? Do you see broken dreams, broken hearts and failed plans?

Who do you see looking back at you? Are you defined by your past mistakes and failures? Are you defined by the abuse and the trauma you endured at some point? Do you see a victim or a victor?

Are you even real or you wear a mask even for yourself? Do you really see yourself as you were created to be? Or you are too scared to dare even a glimpse into your own soul?

Who are you? Do you even know? Do you need someone else to tell you who you are? Society is ever ready to do that. Have you ever taken a selfie on Instagram and wait for likes, then head back to the mirror and look at the real you? Not the one with the pasted smile that you just posted…the real unfiltered version of you?

When are we going to be comfortable in our own skins? I say “we” because I am not immune. We are too scared to be the truest version of ourselves, scared “they” will not accept us for who are, as we are.

They say no one will ever truly love you until you know how to love yourself. How can you love someone you don’t know? Do you know yourself enough to love yourself?

Do you know the answers to any of these questions? I am working on mine.

Ella Mai~Naked

#MyAfricaMyWords

Day 18 Blogtember Challenge

The little things I miss about home

There are days when I really feel nostalgic about home. When I speak of home I am usually referring to two places: my mother’s house, which is our family home in Zimbabwe and South Africa (my second home). I am currently living in Hong Kong and it is a far cry from what I used to call home. Here are some of weird things I really, really miss about being back home:

  • Weekends at home : Nothing beats a weekend in Zimbabwe or in South Africa. When we say woza Friday [literal translation, Come on Friday] we really mean it back home. Fridays and Saturdays in my home town mean a time to get together with friends and have what we call gochi gochi or chisanyama [braaied meat]. All kinds of meat will be barbequed,but a popular fave is pork chops, boerewors, chicken and beef mix. It goes really well with sadza [corn meal], a variety of salads and your favorite cold drink. This is standard!

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My mouth is watering even as I write because it has been such a long time. Yeah, we get to barbecue once in a while here in Hong Kong with my African circle of friends, but most weekends it is more of the same diet (rice and something boiled as is common in Asia…sigh). I really miss weekends at home.

  • Greeting and talking to strangers: In Hong Kong everyone walks around mostly looking at their phones, usually avoiding eye contact. When you get into the metro rail or any public transport, no one is idly chatting about current events, politics and rising prices as it will be in any public transport back home. The commute is not fun at all and usually, because I am black, no one may want to sit next to me in the train or bus. I am used to it now that I don’t even notice. Some people would rather stand than sit next to you. If I walk into a room full of people, it is normal not to even say hello. Everyone is so busy minding their own business that I really miss that sense of community in the motherland.

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  • Loud music blaring from anywhere (cars, in public transport, at the shopping centre) : This is a weird one, but I really miss hearing the sound of the latest local music anywhere I go. That is something you just don’t get in most places outside of Africa. If I want to hear some loud music, it will be a festival, live band or at a club; some form of organised event. But back home, it is common to hear music everywhere and I didn’t know it was something I would miss until it was gone.
Music Doodle
realplayer.com
  • A less rushed lifestyle: Back home, time seems to move slower than it does over here, not in Johannesburg though. Back in Zimbabwe I live in a small town and life is really slow there. By 6 pm, usually all shops and daily activities come to a halt and people gather in their homes for the evening. You may find a number of adult men and women who socialise in the evenings going to their favorite local bar, but this is mostly on the weekend. The African clock seems to work differently. According to this source things in Africa fall into place as they unfold. The pressure to always be working as is evident in the Hong Kong capitalist society is not evident back home. Here, everyone always seems to be racing against the clock and it has been a difficult thing to adjust to. This constant busyness does not leave room for real and lasting interactions.
  • Meeting new people : I always used to take it for granted that I could meet new people easily back home. In Zimbabwe, you can catch a ride with a stranger in the morning and you can easily become friends after that. Even dating is easier back home because there are so many avenues to meet people. Hong Kong is not short of people, but it is just that it is a closed society that is not very easy to integrate in. So, if you belong to a minority population, it is very difficult to meet and make new friends whilst doing random stuff, like walking to the shops.

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Yup,  that never happens where I live and I kinda miss that.

What are some of the weird things you miss about your home town that you never thought you would miss until they were no longer there?

Day 17 Blogtember Challenge

#MyAfricaMyWords

Finding your passion

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I know a lot of you may still be wondering what it is you are really passionate about. And, if we are being honest, most of our African economies do not really leave room for passionate pursuits. I wrote in this post What drives me? about how most of us as Africans do most of what we do for survival, not because we are passionate about it. We have mouths to feed and bills to pay.

But, I don’t think we were born to just pay bills and die. That is why I believe each of us has a greater calling for their life, that something they were created just to do. It is not easy finding out what that something is, and again, most of our African backgrounds and the way we were raised do not really allow for following out-of-the-norm passions.

In my family, the youngest of us and the only male child decided that formal education was not his thing. He quit college before getting the degree and you can imagine the outcry in our very African family. A lot of things were said about him; “he is cursed”, “he has been bewitched”, “he is lazy”. I realized later that the fear in our African society is more what will happen to him if he is not employable. But these days, with the rife unemployment rate, he was probably going to be an unemployed graduate anyway.  My brother decided earlier on that he would rather pursue a life in arts and craft and he did not think doing a degree would benefit him in any way. He is talented at drawing and his drawings come from his rich imagination. He found his passion and dared to follow it, even though he was shunned and called a failure. I look at him now, as a 27-year-old man and he seems happy. He does not live a conventional life and never conformed to society’s standards.

Many of us are scared to walk the road never walked before. We are scared of following our passions and tend to choose the safe route. Yes, it pays the bills and often that takes priority over doing something you love. But, I would like to believe that one day, whilst following your dream, you can make a living from it. Maybe one day, my brother will thrive in his art and be able to sustain a comfortable living off it. It all takes hard work and that stubborn determination, to never give up and to keep trying.

 

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From my brother’s collection

 

I think we worry too much about conforming to society’s standards. Most African families want their sons to be doctors and lawyers, but is that even what they want to do with the rest of their lives? If your motivation is money, then finding your passion is not going to be easy.

Just wanted to share my thoughts this afternoon as I am feeling really inspired.

Day 17 Blogtember Challenge

#MyAfricaMyWords

Cape Town memories

The good…

I remember how this coastal city in South Africa is the place where I had my first real job after finishing college. I started the work that has become my life’s passion in Cape Town. I studied social work in college, but it is only when I actually started doing the work that I found my true calling.  My first job was at Cape Town Child Welfare and that job taught me everything I know now about social work.

This blog also started in Cape Town. I remember writing my very first post in September 2012, you can read Hello world! I was so excited to share my social work journey with the world and this blog was born. It was called Mind of a Social Worker at first and I did a lot of ranting about social work as a profession back then, LOL. Six years later, I am still here.  Although a lot has changed (I have changed location, started a Ph.D. and grew older), the core of my message has remained the same. I am still writing and I am still passionate about the different aspects of my life, most of which are centred around my work. It all started in Cape Town.

Cape Town is home to the famous Table Mountain, Robben Island (where Mandela was imprisoned for 18 years) and lots of other beautiful tourist attractions. I remember always being grateful that most of these sights that people traveled far to see were just a train ride away from my home. I definitely made sure to spend time exploring Cape Town and I miss that a lot.

 

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With fond memories, I remember Cape Town as the place I lived with one of my older sisters, almost twin sister because we are just a year and a half apart. It was our first time living away from home together, just the two of us. She is the love of my life, so you can only imagine how much fun it was living with her. We made so many memories in our first apartment, then the second. I know now that even if I go back to visit, it will never be the same as when we actually did life together. Leaving her to pursue my own dreams is still one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. But its part of growing up. At least I always have an excuse to visit Cape Town, my heart is still there.

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sister love #tbt

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The bad…

The bitter memories of my time in Cape Town are not things I like to dwell on because I like to focus on positivity.  I was not in Cape Town when the most violent and deadly xenophobic attacks took place in 2008 and left 62 people dead and more than 100 000 displaced Source, but I was there in 2009 and 2010. In 2009, approximately 2500 immigrants (mostly Zimbabwean) were displaced due to xenophobia. Living in a state of fear for one’s life is not something I will ever want to go through again. Xenophobia is still alive in South Africa as a whole and because it is Zimbabwe’s neighbouring country, most of my people migrated to South Africa. My family members and friends still live in South Africa, so this affects me on a personal level.

There is also the issue of institutionalised racism. In Cape Town, white privilege is a real thing and having been a black employee in that city, all I can say is that racial inequality is something I also experienced. I never got the chance to confirm it, but salaries and positions seemed to follow a racial hierarchy. I was just happy to have a job as I am sure most people of black descent often feel when they are employed. You consider the bills you have to pay and the mouths you have to feed. At times, you feel rather demotivated to fight an injustice that has been going on for so long that it feels normal when it really shouldn’t be. There are places in Cape Town where black people are still not allowed. I remember, one time, when a group of my friends and I went to a white majority suburb and decided we needed to eat. We entered a restaurant and the place went really quiet as we found our own place to sit, with no assistance from any of the people who worked there. People started moving from their seats leaving us isolated in the corner that we had chosen. In the end, we were politely asked to leave. It saddens me to remember it now.

It is sad that such a beautiful place is also home to a lot of pain, violence, and injustice. As you can see, my memories of Cape Town are bittersweet.

Day 16 Blogtember Challenge

#MyAfricaMyWords

Dealing with anxiety

Stress is an everyday part of adulting. Ever since I became an adult, I am stressed out about one thing or the other. I know anxiety and stress are two different things, but for me they are two sides of the same coin. When I am stressed, I become anxious. I lose my confidence and that makes me even more anxious.

Somehow I do manage to make it through the day, which means I am sort of dealing with my anxiety issues. I am not on any anxiety medication and I am not in therapy (although I have considered both options). So, here are some of the ways that I deal with my own anxiety:

  • Music : I have a few songs that lift my mood instantly and remind me that I am fearless. Some of them get me to dance my anxieties away. Check them out, you may just enjoy them too.
  1. Etana- I rise
  2. It’s a great day- Ja Vinci
  3. Jonathan Nelson – I believe
  4. Sia-Unstoppable

 

  • Sleep
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There are some days when I just cannot deal. If I am not needed anywhere urgently, I just switch off the whole world and take several naps. Some of my anxiety is caused by a lack of sleep, so when I catch up on sleep, I can think clearer.

  • Letting go: As a self-confessed control-freak, I find this one the most difficult to do. But, it works. I find that when I am stressed or anxious about something, letting go of the need to control the situation offers a change of perspective. There is a popular saying that we like but few of us manage to apply it to our lives:

serenity prayer words

Easier said than done, but I have won many battles just by letting go. Some things really do sort themselves out without the need for me to worry myself to death.

  • Social Support : My social circle helps me to deal with anxiety. I know I said I am not in therapy, but I do vent to my friends (A LOT) when I am going through something. I have two best friends: one has a way of helping me analyse situations from an objective, unemotional stand-point and the other helps me with the nurturing, but strict, no-nonsense advice. I don’t have many friends but the few that I have are a blessing.
  • Meditation and prayer: I have said this one before, your girl is a very spiritual person. Once I centre myself and focus on things not of this world, I always find a way out of the anxiety maze. Praying has a mysterious way of bringing calm and peace into my soul. It works for me.

How do you deal with anxiety? Any cool tricks?

Day 15 Blogtember Challenge