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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, 25 January 2017

Content Single Girl Love Musings: Love. Sex. Marriage. Babies. Part I

Stanford Reunion in Soton with one of my little ones Ahmed
So I start with Love. I believe that God: the energy that rules us all, what ultimately the universe is all about, and what creates (and destroys when at its most twisted), is Love. It is the ultimate ideal in life.  I am a hopeless romantic.  Which is why I am single.  I refuse to settle and all the men out there should be happy because I do not have that most exalted of feminine qualities: a high tolerance for bullshit because you know, he loves me, I know it and that's all that matters of course; no matter how dastardly he is and how abominably he treats me. How people see things is of no import because, in the end, you don't know what really goes on in a relationship unless you are in it.  Yes, I am being facetious. Seriously though, love is not suffering, though you will be tested repeatedly ad infinitum. Love is, at its core, at its most pure, and at its zenith, kind. So why is it set up to make women miserable by duping them into believing that the ultimate goal is to best express this most coveted of human virtues through marriage?! It then is extremely, and in many instances, unavoidably susceptible to metamorphosing into its opposite; the most detrimental of vices. That's how people get their hearts broken, lose their faith in people, in themselves, and in life. People devolve into vindictiveness, disillusionment, meaness and cray cray to misguidedly allay and assuage abysmally.

Recently, I read this article that talked about how married men and single women are the happiest with their situation.  I believe it. Love and marriage are two very different things.  You don't have to be in love to marry, or to make such a contract work. Many who are in love are miserable after they tie the knot and there are those who have spent a lifetime together adoring each other without needing paper to certify their union.  Don't get me wrong, I think the idea of marriage, or without the label: spending a lifetime building, evolving and caring for someone, is beautiful.  It's work though. Everyday. It's an infinite and limitless commitment. Love over a lifetime, whatever form it takes is hard. It's unglamarous. It's unconditional - which means compromise, empathy, humility, faith, tenacity, and evolution are key.  You need grit to keep laying the road to continue the journey, wherever it leads.  When romantic, it's not the wedding, which is a drop in the ocean of moments that you will live through. Neither is it the honeymoon, which is why they talk about the honeymoon period.

Like I eluded to a couple of thoughts ago, Love does not only lead to this contract either.  It is multifaceted and can be expressed in so many ways platonically. It is unlimited in its iterations. There is also beauty in it being finite. Not every Love requires a lifetime to be expressed.  Time is a social construct and a moment can have more meaning than years of perceived bliss. You can do and feel more in a love that has a beginning and an end that one that drags on forever.  See?! Hopelessly romantic.  And it is because of this fact that I am single and I'm sure why many look at me as too idealistic and if I just...but I will not settle. Life is far to short to waste time doing that. Why? Because I have and continue to experience infinitely better love, everyday, in the platonic sphere than I ever have in the romantic, to date.  I will add this is not entirely my or my ex-boyfriends' fault. Those poor men were only acting in a way that was normal and expected.  They followed the script and so did I.  It took me a long time to figure out society sets women up to fail to get what they deserve, because they are led to believe they want certain things.  Patriarchy is Love's anathema. I now have pretty informed ideas of what I want and need.  I have an understanding of how a romantic relationship fits into the tapestry of love already extant in my life,  just haven't gotten round to figuring out how to jumpstart that process because I am a workaholic and I have so many people to care for me. I am not susceptible to grabbing onto anything just so I can feel like I am adored once in a while. I thank the heavens for that.

I have blogged before about how my family and friends are my most treasured possession.  I will above and beyond for them and vice versa.  These are the people I can lean on when times are rough, who do not judge me (or if they do it's from a positive, constructive, loving place).  Even if they disagree with facets of my life or my actions, they agree with me as a package by respecting my choices and allowing for the inherently flawed nature all we humans are burdened with. The male species I tend to attract try to surreptitiously trick me into becoming some sort of trophy.  They try to attack the very core of who I am, the things I am most proud of about myself and what I have achieved, in order to create the idea of me they think I should be. (The more conservative of my family try that tack too. Without tact. Ehk! But I can easily deal with that nonsense.)  There is nothing more painful than the realisation that this person, whom by the very nature of your relationship holds a special place in your social circle, turns out to be your number one enemy.  Whether its not deliberate or insidiously by design, it is heartbreaking. Even though I can see how and why you have acted this way, I am not forgiving because you can choose to rise above it and act authentically lovingly. The long and short of it  is that you actually really don't like me if you are trying so hard to break me and turn me into something else.  Please go and find that person, as that person is clearly not me.  And that is okay.  Why are you trying to force me to be that person and suffer your cruelty even if it is not your intention?! This dynamic is beyond me but anyhoo...

I love me, what I do and how I do it.  The people around the world who care for me already love all of that too.  In knowing this I am pretty confident of this much: romantic Love will never be enough for me to give that all up.  I am not going to be that special someone's everything and leave my friends, my career, my intelligence and my joie de vivre behind. And I don't want to be their everything either. That is an unnecessary and unrealistic set up.  Humans are viscerally social.  Confining them to being social with just one person is just a set up for disaster.  This is when people act up. At the core of it, they are looking to fill the voids that their partner cannot. Whatever the configuration, monogamous or not, heterosexual or otherwise, (I do not judge, do what works for you OPENLY please), it is important to communicate what this Love is and what function it has in your life in relation to all the other Love from family and friends, as well as to the things you like to do and experience.  There is so much in the world: so many people, places, activities, opportunities for growth, stimuli to create, innovate and enjoy in Love. Why we should aspire to reduce the only way to interact with these gifts and experiences through one relationship is ludicrous.  It's creepy too as that is what leads people to do psycho and underhanded things under the banner of romance in the pursuit and name of Love!

I believe that the person you decide to spend a lifetime with should slot in to your network to fulfill a specific, indispensable purpose, not to take over everything and vice versa.  And the reason that married men tend to be happier is they get everything they want, armed with societal norms and pressure, particularly emotionally.  Too many have not  been brought up well and callously disregard the other side in their relationships.  Which is why they even get jealous of their own children taking up their wives' time.  You are going to compete with a helpless baby and get your knickers in bunch, throw tantrums and hissy fits because you aren't always the centre of attention and I'm supposed to respect you?! What kind of Oedipal crazy are women duped into?! You partner ends up being your first child and you are supposed to sleep with him and leave him to head the household as men are more logical, and intelligent and unemotional. WTF?! Society has done a disservice to men by not allowing them to develop into human beings that understand themselves and others emotional needs and has led then to believe they act with logic when they don't. Society has done a disservice to women by saying that bearing the cross is the feminine ideal. That managing male stunted growth makes us martyrs.  That love is suffering and being able to take and shovel poop is our lot in life. I refuse to subscribe to that.

I'd rather enjoy the fact that I am well taken care of by those that I already love.  Most recently that has manifested primarily in: the Beb Gails (baby girls in a Zambian accent) being rocks I can lean on so I can stand tall. Continuing to live with my mother so we can watch over each other and not let our workaholic ways get the better of us. Travelling to the UK to spend Christmas with my younger sister, the love of my life and my number one cheerleader.  Working on self love and treating myself to good food, travel and new clothes. Workationing in Ghana and having an African Stanford reunions with everyone using their skills to build me back up as I do the same for them.  I am about to go to Naija and do the same. I have been housed, fed, loved, pampered, spoilt silly while being challenged, admonished and checked before I wreck myself too.  These people see the best in me and where, and when I can be and do better, they have let me know and are helping me get there.  And they value what I do for them too.  The reason I picked Ahmed to embody this visually is because he travelled for 5 hours from London to Southampton on Christmas Eve to see me for one hour. We hadn't seen each other in seven and a half years.  He then squeezed in another hour by meeting me at Heathrow before my flight.  This is typical of my friends, regardless of gender.  If we are travelling and we can find a way to meet, we do, because we spend many years and even decades between meets and so we make the most of every second.  I have never experienced that kind of dedication from a romantic partner consistently, over a long period of time, to work on and continually cultivate our relationship. Ever. I have been expected to bend over backwards and not get the same in return because I am the problem. They have never understood how my life works or how I operate and express love.  I have been punished for having grown up on 3 continents and lived a great life.  That is not Love. That's some twisted ish I do not want to know about.

So I am happy and content as a single girl, being a problem, around the world, with people who love me unconditionally. I am having a ball unapologetically!  Like I, said I believe God is Love. So I think that it is important to have Love underpin anything and everything that you do in order to honour your faith. I even sleep lovingly and everyone knows how I love my slumber and naperoos.  I don't have to wait for "the One" to do that.  That is just one of the many ways available to humanity to express ourselves and the blessing of life.  The possibility of being able to use that avenue excites me, and because I respect that union, I do not take bonding with someone in that way lightly no matter how fleeting or how long that Love is expressed. Though it troubles many in my life that there isn't a someone special like that in my life, I say to them: it will be when it will be.  In the meantime, I continue to be open to the possibility for that person to join the party so as to manifest Love romantically in a way that I cannot in platonic relationships, while acing it with the amazing people: friends and family I am privileged to have in my life, and sharing love through the work that I do.

I wish you the all the permutations of Love you deserve and I hope that you honour life by sharing the caring everyday, however and whenever you can xo!

To keep up-to-date with this series follow the instructions here. For mini insight-fests, positing and working through stuff, follow me on Instagram.  You can continue this conversation or chat to me about anything and everything on Twitter. To find out how I take action with love professionally, like my new Facebook page!

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Open Diary: NG-ma tales, NGangsta Moves

Last year I explained how my moods and well-being can be described on a spectrum based on the these two extremes: NGangsta and NG-ma. This year, I am determined to be NGansta and move forward with dedication because NG-ma will make sure I take care of myself.  Part of that self care involves writing.  I use my blog as an open diary, a way to vent, hash out things weighing on me, to find meaning in the chaos and beauty in life: from the crazy to the heavenly, the mundane to the extraordinary.  As I expand my ken, change my views and adopt new ways, I hope to elucidate ideas for not only myself, but if I can, for others too.  If my sojourns down the rabbit hole lead others to Wonderland, cool! I really do enjoy helping others while helping myself he he. 

I have been thinking a lot about African, global, societal norms, tradition and culture surrounding love, marriage and babies over the last year.  There has been a surge in weddings and births in my social circles around the world.  Many of them, particularly the women, have posted testimonials about their experiences.  They have also shared interesting articles about these major life milestones too. I have been amazed, entertained, shocked, not surprised, disheartened and encouraged by the conversations that have percolated, over-boiled and simmered perfectly around these issues.  I have found that for the educated, progressive, exposed and or well-travelled of female sex, navigating love, marriage and babies in the current milieu is a minefield.  The current global trend of gender equality would have us believe that all is righted in the world.  The reality is that things are only starting to shift.  Even if your partner at home is understanding, earthlings in general are not.  Many still think these "new" ways, ideas, interpretations and positions are alien.  There are a lot of people on both ends freaking out, and the backlash and fighting is fierce. 

Let me state clearly that gender equality and equity is ultimately about choice.  Allowing for a spectrum.  If you believe in traditional roles, good for you, work with that.  I do not negate your views in choosing to want different, or for feeling that certain ways, beliefs and maxims are derogatory and subjugating.  The point is to agree to disagree and to create space for individual decisions for our collective well-being as humanity. That means going beyond tolerance, but actively allowing expression through manifested understanding, catalysed by validating different ways to do, be and act.  That being said, I have been traumatised by quite an ugly shift in local and global contexts, as patriarchy fights back in reaction to feminist movements gaining new fervour, backing and efficacy.  I have also had very interesting conversations about gender, sexuality, identity, self expression, tradition, modernity and culture that I would like to ponder a little more. This has mostly happened on Twitter, so I would like to delve deeper into these issues in a way that 140 characters disallows.  I need an unlimited canvas to use my paintbrush to paint more detailed portraits.

This is a section of the walls inside
a popular Accra Night club, from the
high ceilings to the floor. So beautiful!
I thought Things on Thursday was a good place to launch, as these be no small tings now. So over the next few weeks and months I'm cutting through the black and white of societal norms and delving into the grey:

Woolgather Wednesday will feature ruminations and illuminations through my Love. Sex. Marriage. Babies. series.

Twit Tuesday will be a hodgepodge of profound nonsense that I have tweeted about that I would like to expound on.

It's going to be awesome possum. I know I'm going to have oodles and poodles of fun doing this. So this Dorothy is taking that tornado out of Kansas and I can't wait to see what lies somewhere over the rainbow... 

For mini insight-fests, positing and working through stuff follow me on Instagram and Twitter. To find out how I take action around these issues publicly, like my new Facebook page!

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Ndhlovukhazi Storyteller Reloaded

Taken last year at our first the A.C.E. Project shoot by Fortress Media.
Styled by Mafashio
No you have not taken the blue pill. I would highly advise sticking to red with this little one - you don't want to really know how deranged and confused I truly am. However, I am expanding my matrix online by shutting down my public profile on Facebook.  It was originally created as an extension of this blog and a way to be able to connect with the Zambian and African media industry in a more accessible and organic way, that a page wouldn't have been able to do at the time, in my opinion.  However, it is clear I have outgrown it, and the best platform is now a page to interact in a way that I am comfortable with, and makes sense with where I am now, and where I want to go.  So I am in the process of shutting Mwana Ba Afrika down and I have launched the Ndhlovukhazi Storyteller page, aiming to take things to the next level. I believe that this is the best way for me to appear publicly on this platform going forward.  It is definitely the best way to better serve those of you interested in knowing about who I am and what I do in an easily accessible way.  Thank you for your continued support, I really appreciate it xo.  So, please like my new page, and I am looking forward to this new path to go on a journey together!

(To understand my decision better, you can read my Top 10 Posts of 2016, as they illustrate and expound on my growth and metamorphosis: thinking about leadership and finding a way to cope with public life better.)

You can find more information about who I am, what I do and the things I am interested in, from a different angle, by liking my new Facebook Page Ndhlovukhazi Storyteller ;}. 

Monday, 9 January 2017

Top 10 Posts of 2016

.....This is why I hate blogging using my phone! So I've had to start this bleeping post again due to the fact that some part of my uncoordinated extremities touched the screen and I lost all that I had written!

I had started off by saying technology and I have a rocky relationship. When things are good, they are awesome. When they are bad, they are catastrophic. We are in the latter phase once again, as my computer has decided to die at the most inopportune moment.
I hate blogging on my phone. I feel extremely detached from the process. Email, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook all feel natural through this device. Writing posts does not. This is incredible irksome. I cannot tell you how bereft I am right now as I am having such a great time on my West African workation (work + vacation). This spanner in the works could have thrown me for a loop for quite some time had I not read the Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. (For more about how this book and its impact on my life, follow me on Instagram.)  However, in order to start 2017 on the best possible writing foot, I am at least going to try bang out my usual round up of posts from the previous year. This annual tradition shall not be disrupted by the crazy in life. Whether I will post again before I rectify my computing situation is another matter though...

This was taken during Barefeet Theatre's 10 year
anniversary celebrations. I was conducting a
Social Media Workshop for the Barefeet
Children's Council. I am way to comfortable
with that stick ;}
So I didn't even write 10 posts on MbA last year! Oh dear. Luckily I can cheat with posts from the 52 Bloggers project run by the Lusaka WordPress Meetup Group and from my new project's blog. This is once again a sign that I haven't quite sorted my life out yet. A blatant sign for the last coupla years it's beyond ridiculous now! Clearly still have some growing to do. Certain fundamentals need to be worked out. The writing poureth from the depths of my soul, in beautiful cascades, when I am truly at peace and content. Right now the best I can do is quite pitiful really. Till things improve, here is a hodgepodge of what I could muster across various blogs in 2016, or as I like to call it, the Devil's year worldwide or the Year of Legless: the snake:

These first 5 posts best encapsulate the rollercoaster of emotions, confusion, growth and clarity that I went through:

Funnily enough at this point a spare computer has appeared before me, but I have decided to struggle through with this post, because I'm already in the groove, and for no sane reason, I gotta prove I can do this. At least I know I can write more organically the rest of my time in Ghana. When I move on to Nigeria will have to come up with another solution...
I digress, as per usual he he. Here are the rest of my picks, which pretty much reflect the themes, ruminations, angst, discoveries and ultimate triumphs that dominated this year past:

6. A Reflection on Identity, Growth, Evolution and Freedom on Independence Day

Veni. Vidi. Vici!  Never again if I can help it though. The struggle was too real. Unnecessary and too real!