BLACK PANTHER AWAKENS MY INNER WAKANDA……

Associated Press
Associated Press
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I watched Black Panther and hours later I was still shaking off the goosebumps. I seem to be failing to shake of the feeling of euphoria, pride and downright nostalgia bubbling within. It truly is worth the hype, the acting, the script, the entire ensemble was perfectly executed, that when the end credits started rolling I was glued to my seat salivating.

It caught me off guard, I heard it was a great movie but yet what I saw, I hadn’t anticipated, the fighting spirit by the lady generals led by Okuye; was sheer brilliance and breath taking to watch. In it’s entirety as a movie, I simply couldn’t find any flaws to it. At that moment as I dragged self out of the cinema, I was in awe and damn proud to be African. Wakanda had me inspired.

It is an Africa I want for my children; it is a depiction and realism of the future Africa. Untainted, in all its crispness and sincerity she stands tall, undeterred with agility and grace. She nurtures with humility and sways with confidence embracing her authenticity with every stride. She oozes pride in her ancestors as she pays homage to those who paved the way for her, she is my Africa, and she is my Wakanda.

WAKANDA is my dream for Africa; that she may one day be that well-oiled machine that is self-sufficient and self-reliant. She has no need for the West nor the East but independent. She’s no sh#thole country but progressive state that takes care of her own, with distinctive diplomacy grounded by African values. The representation of cultural diversity at Wakanda nullified our differences to the simplified context of ‘hood’ that of sister and brother; we were unified under one umbrella. We stood together, we fought together and in battle we were all WAKANDA.

It’s just a movie but within the acts and scenes, it wasn’t just that. To me, from that screen all I kept hearing was Obama’s fearless rhetoric of “YES WE CAN”. True, “now I really do feel the stars are closer that I can taste,” meaning Africa is woke and she can be anything she dreams to be. The concept of the ‘lost world, third world country’ no longer defined her.

The marvel projected by the artistic cinematography of Black Panther not only reenergised the spirit of Africanism but it awoke and reminded us that, every country within the African continent is one and the same. That we are destined for greatness and my prayer was that the suits at the African Union (AU) were reminded of what the people of this continent’s aims and ideals are.

That behind the disparity within our ethnicity, traditions and borders we are but one and the same. The portrayal of one king being the ruler of multiples was a true reflection of what ‘oneness’ truly is in its very essence. Wakanda awoke something in me, she reminded me of my love for Africa, who we truly are and what we truly can be. The vibranium signified the minerals that Africa possessed and the power we have in ruling the international platform as a global contender. That eventually the stars will align and our continent can engineer an African train system that could merge the countries within the continent shrinking it to accessibility, making it possible to access African borders with one passport governed by the AU.

Africa is our Wakanda and it has all the sparks to fire up our hopes and possibilities. The question is are we ready? Can we move past the bloody ethnic cleansing masked by genocides, fraudulent governments, xenophobia and patriarchal systems for an open, transgressive and transparent continent? I say we can, it’s doable however it’s up to us as Africans to get the ball rolling, and it starts with us acknowledging that there is no such thing as an African immigrant in an African country.

Thank you Black Panther for reenergizing my African spirit……..

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WHEN LOVE WALKS, GRAB A LEMONADE………….

LOVE; roller coaster wave of nostalgia wrapped in mushy frill of poetry. Beautiful symphony pruned by teary iris, when death knocks, charred heart nurses her bruises. She’s beautiful, gorgeous, graceful and commands attention however when broken, she slithers connivingly, waltzing in with such authority living one with nothing else but to listen, acknowledge and take heed of her presence. When she walks save yourself the trouble and grab a lemonade…..

The thing is we sit around waiting for the one who got away to come knocking with the glass slipper but in truth that’s just wishful thinking. The one who got away left for a reason and that reason ain’t ‘you’ it’s them. As they try to figure themselves out unfortunately at times there are casualties and it has nothing to do with you and neither should you rattle the tree as in all honesty you might just be grasping at straws.

I was reminded of this when a long lost guy called out of the blue, living me astonished, flabbergasted and wondering which rock he had been hiding under. The last I saw him was years ago, after nights of dirty dancing to the sounds of Mozart, Beethoven and Vivaldi, he just upped and left without a phone call, social media check in or text message. When he called he acted like he had never left, like I was a long lost friend, mentioning how his life is perfect and he’s about to get married.

As I absorbed his words I treated him like a long lost friend cause in all honesty I wasn’t about to let slip how in the wake of his disappearance I cried out my mascara, binging on ice cream in my pj’s; Oh no, I wasn’t about to let him have that satisfaction. So I listened to him, with all confidence and never did I enquire about ‘US’. You see I thought we had something brewing, little did I know at the time that I was just a distraction, hence I say when he walks do yourself a favour and grab that lemonade……

I had always asked myself what I would do if he tried reaching out, would I hate him for leaving, would I be angry with him, would a part of me be waiting it out, clutching on hope. However when he called there was no butterflies dancing at the pit of my stomach, hardly any bolts of nerves, getting agitated and neither did my heart skip a beat, it’s as if he had never been a part of our script. I had moved on and so had he, am I sad? Hardly. Simply happy that I had dried the eyes and grabbed that lemonade when I did.

So darling if you still waiting for him to show up, odds are he has moved on and if he loved, liked and appreciated you, he would have never left. Or the least he could have done is afford you the decency to call it off whatever your thing with him is. On that note how about ditching the guilt, spare yourself the heartache, get rid of the pj’s and dance in the sun.

Love is beautiful and not all guys are like ‘him’, when the one comes knocking, embrace the love and stop holding on to the past; waiting for the one who got away and nurse that lemonade because like the wise say, “God would never allow the one that got away to be the best you ever had. Trust the wait. He has someone better saved for you. One day someone is going to hug you so tight that all of your broken pieces will stick back together.”

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THE AFRO WITHIN

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i.pinimg.com

I once read the bluest eye by Toni Morrison and sadly I could relate, however not really about wishing I had the bluest eyes but rather the idea of having long sleek wavy hair. I was that black girl in the corner, wishing my hair could graze my neck, dance with the wind but in reality it was the opposite, a wrinkled ball of abrasive curls. Ridiculously difficult to comb, with countless trips to the salon, for that much awaited perm. However as I grew older I felt content straightening it with creamers and with maturity I discovered the art of weaving.

Hence growing up I rarely grew an Afro and I’m yet to tread the natural route however yesterday I met a beautiful African girl; Au natural. In the days of scientificial cosmetics she reminded me of what natural beauty truly is in the era of the Kardashians, Khanyi Mbau and mshoza. She exemplified the ideal poster girl child in her natural self; she’s a reminder of our authenticity and untainted beauty that should resonate with each of us universally.

She had her lengthy dark black Afro neatly tied in a bun, with long dark black lush eyebrows and her smooth skin hardly had any traces of cosmetics. In her late twenties she’s a vision of beauty we fail to see more so in media publications. When I saw her I wished my daughter and black girls everywhere could see her, so that they may be reminded of the beauty that lies within them, and more so the depiction of natural black beauty in its authentic self.

Sadly, we have ourselves gullible girls who wish and hope to live up to a facade of aesthetics glorified by social media, that are merely distorted masks of misrepresentations that are detrimentally misleading. Leaving our girls to a world of depression and suicidal tendencies all brought forth by a wave of falsified euphoria.

My butterflies there may be a breed of girls layered in cosmetics, scientifically enhanced and milking it on the social media platform but you yourselves in your Afros, gappy teeth and curves are gorgeous.

What is in the Afro? Our Afro, is who we are in our bubble of blackness, it’s representative of our ancestry. As a result I have failed to see the beauty in that representation and I hide my head in shame, though I’m utterly shameless as it doesn’t make me any less the person I truly am. It’s just that, I never took the opportunity to face my flip side, the side that’s over the years been hidden as I have immersed myself in the pages of our western culture forgetting who I truly am.

Afro, reminded me that there’s another side of me that, I’ve over the years buried and unfortunately it wasn’t intentional. You see, the thing is we chase success trying to excel is all things western that we forget who we truly are. My roots, my Africanism, the girl that transcended the journey to my womanhood that’s the ‘I’ within. I realized this when I battled to converse with Afro in our home language, and when I recalled how I haven’t been to my grans rural village in years. In that moment of reality, I was engulfed in a wave of disappointment and shame at the thought that even my daughter fails to converse in my home language, that she and I when we together our verbal stories are communicated in Shakespearean.

In that Afro I was reminded of who I am and what my story is but most importantly I was left contemplating that journey in my life story. It wasn’t just an Afro but a telescope to that self within, as a result I admired her and salute her for her authenticity, originality and with that, not conforming to societal idealism of what the ideal picture of beauty should be.

To a girl child out there, I say to you embrace your humanity, that aura of authenticity, bask in it because there’s an extreme measure of beauty and serenity in that individuality. That in your natural beauty never to lose sight of the Afro within.

My hair is chemically treated but my Afro is who I truly am within and I intend to start celebrating that girl. I intend to start conversing with my daughter in her maternal language as it’s never too late to start. I intend to take that long awaited journey to my grans village away from the city scrapers, data revolution and technology. That’s it really, reminding self of the blackness within and in truth, it’s about time, I start embracing her with all honesty and verity. In the words of Alicia Keys, “I don’t want to cover up anymore. Not my face, not my mind, not my soul, not my thoughts, not my dreams, not my struggles, not my emotional growth, nothing.”

SUBTLE RACISM

 “Part of us ending racism is us seeing each other’s humanity and learning to love each other, even if we look different or worship differently or live differently.” – John Legend

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Houston Chronicle

The current hoodie debacle by H&M had us shocked, flabbergasted and left us whispering ‘REALLY’ in this day and age? Yes, really racism is there slithering in our midst and in the world of social media, distinctly palpable.  It’s camouflaged in subtle narratives, with the assumption that the victimized, illiterate voices will have difficulty in deciphering it. When you as the perpetrator have the conceived idea that the other side is just an empty shell you believe you can just throw writing on the wall and call it art. That ‘we’ as the previously oppressed, historically inferior ‘other’ will according to ‘them’ fail in reading between the lines, that in this case in point, a hoodie will just be that, simply another green hoodie on a black child.

H&M said what every racist does when they caught with their hand in the cookie jar, ‘sorry’ and that’s the problem their belief that ‘well they will get over it, it will blow over, in a couple of days it will be old news; which has some truth to it, as in a couple of weeks or months it will be swept under the rug. Well in South Africa the wind didn’t just blow over the winds of change trampled on it and the voiceless found their voice, in the anger infused chants reeling in pain they denounced it’s hand, with their fists pouncing the air in heart wrenching condemnation, they fought with every bit of the soul, salvaging they pride in the end.

My belief is in the masters of corporate racism being held financially accountable for their demeaning, insulting marketing campaigns. Having said that there needs to be a degree of remorse and them deeply acknowledging their wrongful actions because with all due respect as H&M was quoted on USA TODAY MONEY “the recent incident was entirely unintentional, demonstrates so clearly how big our responsibility is as a global brand,” will not cut it.

Brand marketing is all about diversity through a single lens and in the new age era of marketing, such mastery is important as one slip up, is merely a thin line between profits and losses; let us not forget that blip in the market share. Hence my distaste with an ad that appears monochrome, representing a single racial class without the poly chromatic inclusivity. I thus question the lack of diversity, in short I fail to relate to the product, meaning the brand doesn’t seem to be speaking to me as a consumer as it fails in associating itself with people of colour. The very crime H&M has been guilty of previously.

Some like Ms Terry Mango, mother of the boy who wore the hoodie may say, “people should get over it,” however Ms Mango some things such as the holocaust, apartheid, slavery maybe swept under the rug of history but it doesn’t mean they are dead and buried, may I add even skeletons do find themselves out of the closet, to the detriment of us facing the elephant in the room.

‘Subtle racism’; the monkeys, the jungle people, these animals and ‘them people’ hurt society and we find ourselves every bit black and white trying to weave this intricate, fragile middle ground that we selflessly dig up.  It builds up borders of segregation tainting the fabrics of unity and democracy where we become ‘us’ and ‘them’. Seeing difference in colour is a jarring and myopic process where we fail to comprehend that beneath the skin we just one and the same, however we fail to see that when we wrapped up in our racist cloak.

 

 

“IT’S A MAN’S WORLD BUT IT WOULDN’T BE NOTHING WITHOUT A WOMAN OR A GIRL”

James Brown sang it and a couple of days ago a guy friend of mine the other day uttered it. In the midst of our conversation in response to comment he uttered “well it’s a man’s world” this was after I chastised him that the telephone conversation seems to be about him and I seem not to matter much. His statement got me irate because with all due respect, in this day and age in the world of inequality and feminism such talk is utterly absurd and disheartening.  It is sad that in this era where one assumed that we easing the misogynist and patriarchal divide we seem to be trailing giant steps backward. 

We are no longer in the era of James Brown as we woman, engineer cars, sail the seas, journey to space, discover vaccines, head companies and above all that, we make time for birthing and parenting. What is heart breaking is that this dear friend of mine is an educated, cultured member of society hence I’m taken aback that such thoughts and views are still weaved in the morez of our construed and morally deprived society. 
My darling friend further seeps salt in the wound by insinuating that “it is indeed a man’s world and woman are simply playing catch up,” which in terms of the second part of that statement it appears to be true, point taken we are playing catch up but however his statement can be dissected as affirming that man are considered the head and we woman are always dangling at the tail end; scrabbling for scraps. 
My friend is a traditionalist after all and his orthodox views maybe excusable but in a world where gender should be unbiased he’s statements are unwarranted and should have no bearing in our societal fabric. However like he said “this is reality” and in honesty he is simply being a realist therefore it can be said that bridging the gap in the equality divide warrants the reconditioning of how men perceive women, because sadly as women we will always be thrust at the bottom end of the status quo and bridging the gap will take more than just equal pay and equal gender representation.  
It is surprising that when we talk about equality our brothers assume us playing our part in bringing home the bacon, and going Dutch on the date bill. My belief is that the study of feminism and the notion of equality should be preached as part of the school curricular as it is my understanding the ideals intertwined through the ethical school of thought are mentally engraved through parenting, society and pragmatism. 
It is high time we teach the fabrics of gender equality from a young age and the art of feminism shouldn’t only be reflected through the arts but debatable in the corridors of education. Because in all due respect the disparity between the male and female should be the ‘fe’ the seamless divide between she and him without the demeaning misogynistic vulgarity and patriarchal insults that are common in traditional structures. 
Woman need to be valued outside the kitchen and nappy changes and we shouldn’t leave it to dressing up black at award ceremonies and walking barefoot on the red carpet to raise the ante.  Our bodies as woman need to be respected, my input needs to be valued as a woman and my role in part needs to be appreciated most importantly as an equal…..
What my friend fails to see is that we as women are constantly ducking bullets be it harassment, rape, pay inequality, women are denied education and only recently Saudi Arabia scrapped the law denying women to drive. When we as women talk about feminism we surely not only doing so for the noise but it’s the fight to let our voices heard and with every scream there’s always a draft drowning out our call to freedom; the winds of change mysteriously go silent. 
What is sad, is that cultural beliefs entrenched in our systems have shaped man’s thoughts and ideals that have in many years subdued woman to a life of servitude, where my duty is that of a voiceless woman obscured to the background. Many years later we fighting tooth and nail to strip the oppressive views bare from the wall of patriarchy and misogyny a decade at a time and yes like James Brown once said, “ This is a man’s world but it wouldn’t be nothing, nothing without a woman or a girl.”  

FIFTY SHADES LIGHTER – A TOAST TO CHASTITY

Chastity came knocking and the closest I have come to canoodling happens to be a late night episode of Being Mary Jane doing the humpty with Mr dark chocolate. Yes, I‘ve forgone the bed hopping, dry humping and threw in a whiff of the virgin Mary and it all began with that itch that pops up as soon as we toast in the new year; ‘RESOLUTIONS’.

I’ve been surrounded by strong woman who have walked the thorny path of marriage and as their partners closed the door to their holy matrimony they backtracked to the hole of celibacy. Such woman like my mother have for years embraced the vow of celibacy, with her, marriage died, resentment nailed the coffin shut and good riddance lay buried on a bed of roses. She turned to the bible and God became her spiritual- partner, so goes the script of a woman scorned. 
Strong woman, who exude grace and strength, spinsters caught in a world of celibacy. No partner to lean on, no growing old with the other; just them in their own Eden; the Adamless institution that women imprison themselves, when hubby does the runner and wrinkles crack in. 
I’ve been told the batteries to my G spot will die an impeccable death; but doubt that will happen, as every time Michael Ealy graces our screens I find myself getting hot and giddy under my melanin. Chastity is a choice, it has nothing to do with any of my ex’s rubbing me the wrong way or religion. It crapped up after realising that kissing frogs had become a tedious process, like playing hop scotch with a walking stick while nursing arthritis; it’s never pretty aged. 
That does frighten me in some freaky way, as I can’t fathom the realisation that my future might be wrapped in a blanket of such dire misery; lonely, dark and depressively aged. Hence I don’t intend nourishing chastity till I meet my maker and It was rarely a tossup between a pair of red soles and the silky, smooth, juicy, thickness of anaconda but rather a decision centred on taking a breather, as I patiently shine my glass slippers.
In essence the art behind intimacy, attraction and pleasure is carving the key to unlocking the door to my happily ever after and like a wise wo/man once said “somewhere between heartaches and waiting comes the chance to be found by someone who can show you that you don’t have to be just an option but the only choice.” 

HIV AND THE LONG WALK TO FREEDOM

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Credit: health-wiki

HIV can be referred to as a ‘closet illness’, as those infected fear coming out due to the air of victimization and stigmatization that is attached to it. On the 1st of December we celebrated AIDS day, with the theme for 2017 being; ‘Know your status, Prevention is my responsibility.’ The awareness was aimed at changing the narrative, by stimulating conversation around the illness, as I believe by educating ourselves and promoting dialogue we get to move towards eradicating the stigma and humanizing “the illness”.

Through ‘humanizing’ it means once infected, those infected and those around us who are infected as a collective we get to introspectively comprehend how we treat those infected; that it’s not really a death sentence, that there’s a support system and you won’t be treated as an outcast.

The truth is when one talks about being infected with HIV you met with, I saw that coming because she’s a round heeled woman: she’s promiscuous, sy is n los lappie! (She sleeps around) Or you meet that hot guy and think he’s the one and when he tells you about the positive + he’s all of a sudden an automatic delete, because of assumptions and typecasting. The HIV bubble is all wrapped with shame and disgrace because at times we assume the illness is caused by promiscuity, which is partially true as there are various ways of contracting the illness.

It is concerning how culture and the obnoxious belief that sleeping with a virgin cures one of HIV or the practice of sexual cleansing (where by a girl is forced to sleep with a man when she resumes her menstruation phase), exacerbates eradicating the pandemic.  What saddens me is that at times the virus infiltrates a marriage system tainting the very fabrics that are meant to stabilize the union. In such circumstances the husbands’ infidelity slithers in the sacred garden of marriage, masked with deceit, knocking the wife to the grave and for justification the husband hides behind culture.

There’s a Sotho saying “monna ke selepe wa adimisanwa” (A man is like an axe and may be borrowed) through such cultural systems there exists a patriarchal society that feels compelled to subjugate. As affirmed in a study by Seshabela[1] that “human beings are creatures of culture hence their personalities, desires, ways of behaving and understanding are constructed by the societies which they are born and the traditions they inherit.” It is then culture at times that plays a fundamental role in driving promiscuity that eventually weaves its way through misogyny.

In such circumstances EVE knows nothing else but to obey as the ‘wo’ in the man. How then are we expecting the woman in such demeaning circumstances to stand up for herself when we tell her ‘Preventing the illness is her responsibility?’ We should bear in mind that Africanism in its primary context is traditional, hierarchal and patriarchal with women being at the very bottom of the status quo. In such circumstances the very thought of bringing up the topic of condoms, marriage counselling and HIV testing in a ‘relationship’ is unquestionably taboo, and peeling the layers warrants breaking the chains of religion and culture. However in the same breath breaking the generational cycle entails reconditioning the conservative mind set of our fathers and sons, to a level where ADAM diminishes his objectification of EVE. That when Adam pays lobola (dowry) for Eve he understands that he has no sense of ownership over Eve.

HIV is cunning, deceitful and damaging but none the less manageable. However to my darling friends, and love ones living with the illness I say to you, beautiful soul; when you think you alone and fighting a losing battle just remember that in the words of Ben Okri, “The most authentic thing about us is our capacity to create, to overcome, to endure, to transform, to love and to be greater than our suffering.”

[1] Dumisa Olive Seshabela; Walter Ntsimane’s portrayal of women in the radio series MOTLHABANE: 2003