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"Culture is the heritage of us all. some may be more interested than others in the treasures of the past, but no one can fail to take a pride in his country's participation in the story of mankind, as represented in carvings, sculpture, music, paintings and the other arts. And there is a personal commitment to this, for no man can really say he is alone: we are all joined through our identity, with the cultures which are part of the mainstream of life"
- Simon Kapwepwe, Zambian Independence Freedom Fighter

"Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm" - Winston Churchill

"Try to be the rainbow in someone else's cloud" - Maya Angelou

"Your time is limited so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinion drown out your inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition" - Steve Jobs

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Woman Talk

Asikana Network Meet-up, October 2012
This year I haven't posted as much but when I have, it has mostly been about women things.  And that is what is inspiring me to start blogging again.  It all started with a Twitter conversation (no I am still not a twit, I just have a handle for my newly launched media company that I will talk about once I have something to say he he he).  I happened to come across a comment contributing to the BBC Africa debate on women  from Chisenga, one of the lovely ladies who founded the Asikana Network, and my reaction to it snowballed into a late night conversation about being a professional woman with sentiments rooted in the Zed environment:

Yes these two little women may look rather young
but are filled with wisdom beyond their years.
OK I am not looking or acting my age but do not be
deceived he he he he....
Chisenga: The fact that a woman's survival in a position depends on her ability to 'act like a man' is in itself an indicator

MbA: It is sad that we still have to deal with these issues today.  I feel like that everyday...

Chisenga: True, if you do something well then being told "you do it like a man" is seen as a compliment but we are DIFFERENT!!

MbA: You have no idea how many times I've been told I operate like a man and it irritates me.  I do it like me man, like a woman hehe

Chisenga: But you do it like a competent woman! Once had a guy tell me I'm an 'evolved' woman just because I wasn't wearing make-up and heels!

MbA: It's sad that women are thought of as incompetent by default and that an indicator of that is make-up and heels.  We are diverse!

Chisenga: To them pretty and dolled-up = incompetent, masculine = competent! How does this play out [with you]?

MbA: Right now trying to strike a balance.  In Zed if I dress too 'manly' I intimidate generally and it makes women weirdly hostile

Chisenga: Ah and therein lies yet another challenge women hating and pulling each other  down instead of inspiring, mentoring and uplifting!

MbA:  These women stop me at the door when trying to see's so sad.  I'm not out for your job! NO TO WOMAN HATE!

Chisenga: LOL!!! My friend once said never leave your CV with a woman if you're job hunting! This needs to stop!!

MbA: [Unfortunately] she would be right.  I have resorted to taking a man with me sometimes to bypass the hateration and he has noticed the hostility!

Chisenga: And when the other women see you talking to a man instead, they accuse you of trying to 'womanipulate'! Change begins with us!

MbA: It really does! Without knowing qualifications we like to judge.  And men don't help by favouring 'pretty' women

Chisenga: LOL sooo true!!!

This convo left me pretty bummed out as it reminded me of my struggle the last few months to present myself proudly as the woman I unapologetically am, while having to navigate the inherent negativities that have been infused into this identity by society, by both men and women, which are unfortunately magnfied in Zed :(.  Luckily a few days later I was able to meet with the Asikana girls and feel a lot better.  

The women who spoke at the meeting were both equally inspiring.  Shupe Mwanza, ICT Project Manager at World Vision Zambia was really encouraging about exploring and fighting for growth and development in your professional and personal life.  She also made me feel less alone when it comes to being perpetually exacerbated with Zed service as I have ranted about before on the blog.  She also said something that needs to continue to be said and that is that Zambians are lazy.  What I liked even more is that she was inspired by fellow Africans as an example to follow.  Her experiences working at EcoBank, a West African bank, showed her that Africans can be dedicated, hardworking and have high standards.  Their pursuit for excellence shamed her people on their own soil and instead of being intimidated, she embraced the challenge of being better and in turn is determined to encourage her fellow countrymen to follow suit.  As she said, how do we expect Zambia to change if we do not change ourselves?  To improve we need to constantly be evolving, to keep ahead through knowledge and reading and to stop with the excuses, the complaining. We need to take the initiative and just do it.

Cassandra Mtine, founder of also spoke about starting and sustaining an online business. The site orginally started by catering to the Zambian diaspora looking to be able to help those at home, while making sure the money that is allocated actually goes to what it is intended for.  It has now expanded to include a myriad of solutions for Zambians at home and abroad.  She started the business in the US and has now returned to Zambia and with her female business partner, they are looking to expand their business including providing a platform for Zed business to be able to showcase their products and services to the world.  It is lovely to see women in a male dominated tech world not being intimidated and just getting on with it.  These young girls are providing an invaluable service and are constantly looking for ways to expand, to further satisfy and protect their customers and to contribute to Zambia's development.  So young, yet so entrepreneurial, focused and driven.  Great role models I love it :).

Asikana's new logo by Ruth Zozi
Just talking with the rest of the group afterwards made me happy too.  It is lovely to see women communing and supporting one another.  Asikana is an awesome possum space for women in tech because of the lovely ladies that have created it who are leading by example  by being open, friendly and eager to encourage and inspire.  The group is filled with smart, driven women who are beautiful on the inside and the outside which is just lovely to be around.  These girls made me feel a lot better and I am glad I took the time to crawl out of the cave I have been hiding in.  Sometimes you do need to look to the outside to regenerate.  Thanks ladies xo!

Asikana Network are currently spearheading a project to map out all the female African tech groups across the continent.  Check it out and contribute to their efforts here

1 comment:

  1. Wow!!!The post is actually the sweetest on this fashion topic. I agree with your conclusions and will eagerly look forward to your incoming updates. Great look everywhere. I just collect my legwear from Stee-Letas.

    Thanks :)