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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

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Dios Mio! - How my Deo Became my Salvation

This tweet reminded me of an profoundly nonsensical incident that sent me into a tail spin a couple of months ago:

So in August I started using the male version of my antiperspirant.  Not by choice, but because my body is very finicky and this particular brand is the only one it doesn't react to. Problem is I'm also extremely sensitive to smell.  When I put it on I had the most visceral and adverse reaction to it.  The smell clobbered my senses and sent me into a man-hating stupor.  Seriously!  My sister found it hilarious, but at the time it was traumatic. I can only laugh at myself in retrospect.  The smell is that typical alpha male scent that deodorants tend to have.  That  puerile odor that is supposed to capture the quintessentially male essence.  The one teenagers spray all over their bodies like in that famous brand, that rhymes with fax and was formally known by the name of a type of cat, ads. I felt physically, emotionally and mentally assaulted.  It was nuts! Yes my deodorant had me in conniptions and discombobulated smh...

Eventually the horrendous ordeal made me think about why I had had such a strong and unpleasant reaction to it.  At this point the Zambian election was imminent.  I was on a social media detox because I just couldn't take all the crazy - mostly discourse informed and led by initiatives, speeches and comments of male origin, conjured up to maintain power and oppress in every way, shape and form.  I realised I am done with entertaining that in the slightest. I do not need that in my life, let alone emanating from my armpit! The scent was a trigger to direct me to something much larger. Paradoxically the oppression led to my salvation and enfranchisement.
I choose me! For more visual empowerment
follow me on Instagram. I have been creating
a serious of mini projects using images to grow,
inspire and work through things.

After realising that it was the deodorant but wasn't really about deodorant, I got to thinking about how I could change how I viewed the situation.  Instead of man-bashing, I should continue to empower myself and find a new way of dealing with such assaults for my health.  My new project A.C.E. is all about that so instead of just working it, I needed to keep living it too.  I cannot be baited into a less productive way of dealing with the current gender situation in my country and the world.  For my project to be honest I need to continually and actively do things in my own life to empower myself, and to not let patriarchy and the asinine acts of men affect me so. I cannot allow myself to be sucked into hate because of my environment.  Love must prevail! I must keep the peace and maintain well-being in my life too.

I had already started with things like this:

And plan to continue, as I did after I recovered from this trippy incident, with things like this:

😤😤😤 #mondaymotivation #zambia people it's hot. Stepped out today in shorts and relatives afraid of me being lynched. I only went to @BongoHive, not like I was prancing about town where I know regardless of what is rational I'd be stoned. One thing I do know is I am not asking for it and in no way carry myself so. I'm just regulating my temperature as our weather climbs the 30Cs. I refuse for small minds to cage me into overheating. Why should I have to be correcting for your backwardness and patriarchal oppression? I have said this would be a mission for years. It definitely is now. Started inadvertently last week and what are considered short and disrespectful wardrobe choices (any dress, skirt or shorts above the knee and/or tight) are going to be a mainstay this hot season.  For more start following @aceprojectzed as we are about to launch our first mini project and start conversations about nuance, freedom of expression and respect. #proudlyzambian #africa #mafashio #fashionista #style #activism #thestruggleisreal #aceproject #purplereign #ngosa34 #melanin #thighsforjeaux
A photo posted by Ngosa Whoopi Chungu (@whoops.c) on

I. JUST. CAN'T. ANYMORE! Life is too short to let other people's issues throw you off so. So I choose me. I choose my sanity.  I choose self care.  I choose to fight. I choose to have my frustration ignite a new passion for change.  And together we will win. There is space enough for us to all to be, and do, with respect to one another.  That tweet reminded me that even though the bloviated rhetoric of lesser men tends to be amplified, there are lots of beautiful men out there, and in my life, who prove that there is a way to equality, equity and equanimity without oppression.

To all the real men out there I salute you, and to all the women out there fighting for our right to be, I'm with you sisters xo! I forgive my deodorant, it's not its fault it smells like an idiot. If you want to talk more about this or anything else, tweet me! 

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