Of Star Gazing Into Tomorrow

Sometimes the random tweets I post wind up inspiring someone and magic just like poetry happens……..

We can sit and talk
or we can sit and stare at one another,
it’s up to you.

We can sit and talk
outside under a full moon

The magic of conversations
under the moonlit nights

Star gazing,
pure magic.

Counting heartbeats and stars

Dreaming of a future,
that never will be.

Dreams made on wishes,
of the light of stars long dead

Dimmed light within,
lone stars through the dark nights.
And no hope in our shattered hearts

The night sky revealing more than the day hides,
dim stars still shine
and hope,
hope springs from the kernels of shattered hearts.

When will it be over?
When shall it not hurt?
When can I recover
And to joy revert?
When the night is done,
And tears are dry.
When love’s bright sun
Breaks the dawning sky

Night ends,
Dawn breaks
Time flies,
Wounds heal,
Pain dims,
Storms end,
Skys clear,
Birds cheer,
and you realise its tomorrow.
A place different from today.

The darkness never goes away.
Tomorrow you say?
but tomorrow he still does not love me
and my heart is still in pain.
Tomorrow comes and the darkness remains,
I break and mend and break again
In spite of all my acting tough.

Falling apart,
to be remade again,
each piece,
exactly where it should be.
And when you are ready
it will find you.
Come find me when you wake up.
Thats what tomorrow whispers

falling apart

mended heart
~B
Day 23 of Africa Stories from Home

Miss Becka is certifed bookworm and can be found on Twitter: @melaninsodark

 

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Of Coffee With Ojoma: Head of Arts, West Africa for British Council

Coffee with Ojoma

If you were having coffee with me we would be having an easy chat over coffee with Ojoma Ochai. Ojama is the Director Arts and Creative Economy West Africa British Council

B: A pleasure to have this chat, thank you for your time Ojoma, first question tea or Coffee because there are only two kinds of people in the world.

O: Coffee – No sugar, no cream; so real coffee. Haha.

B: Your title has us impressed but, what exactly do you do? We are intrigued by the Creative bit especially.

O: I lead the British Council Arts and Creative Economy programme in West Africa which essentially means leading design and delivery of skills programmes, artistic showcasing and other activity that connects the arts sectors of the UK and West Africa. We work across film, music, fashion, visual and performing arts etc. so quite a wide range of work. I also lead our policy advocacy, partnerships in this area and work with partners and funders across both locations.

B: Most times the creative arts are viewed more as an aside project than something taken seriously any ideas how we can change this perception?

O: we need to provide evidence to the contrary and make the case every time. Economically for example, the UK creative Economy contributes half the size of Nigeria’s GDP to the UK economy every year. It’s hard when confronted with such figures to see it as a side hustle. We need to have the evidence and say it over and over again till it gets through.

B: How do you see the future of the creative arts in Africa especially in this digital global world

O: There is a lot of evidence that shows the rising trajectory from East, West, Southern Africa – I think with growing internet penetration, the talented youth, it can only grow. My only concern is where the value will be created. If we don’t find ways to capture the value here on the continent, it will be capitalised on for value elsewhere. It is not either or but Africa should benefit economically ad socially form its creative outputs but if we don’t own the means of production and distribution, we won’t.

B: You were in Harare; Zimbabwe for the 2018 Global Report of the 2005 Convention launch how was your experience, country people culture?

O: I loved, loved loved Zimbabwe and I will come back!! You hear a lot of stuff in the media and the experience wasn’t as dire as the media paints it. And yes, the work I do for UNESCO on the global panel of experts for the 2005 convention is very stimulating and so I enjoyed the workshops and talks thoroughly.

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B: I watched you deliver a presentation during a panel discussion at the launch of the 2018 Global Report; could you just briefly outline how stakeholders would best work together to make creative and cultural industries work?

O: yes, the main gist of my presentation was that there are many stakeholders that can work together to make the culture and creative industries work – education, trade, finance etc but we often leave them out of the conversation and so we should do more to bring more people around the table. To do so, we need to have evidence of course of the value so back to the point about making the case to show why the arts are important. That’s always a starting point.

B: You were once nominated young person of the year in Nigeria by the Future Awards once; wow! Do share what had you done?

O: ha ha. Just for being fabulous… seriously – it was for my work creating opportunities for young Nigerians through my work in British Council…

B: Its inspiring when the young can make an impact in the world around them and not only that you were on a list of most influential women in Nigeria tell us about that; Do you consider yourself a big deal?

O: I really don’t consider myself a big deal or take myself too seriously. What I do take seriously is the quality of my work and I guess people notice that. I have been lucky to be in a position where I can visibly do good thing and create opportunities but for everyone visible me there are hundreds, maybe thousands, doing great things in their closets everyday… 

B: Most of our audience are of the writing persuasion; and sometimes it does feel like an art the world forgot about; any words for the Literary Activists

O: I leave them with a quote credited to the English journalist Jim Murray : Learn to write. Never mind the damn statistics. If you like statistics, become a CPA.

B: As a woman; have you felt you had to prove yourself more to be who you are ? What can you say to the fellow sisters?

O: Not really and I suspect I am the exception. I have been lucky I have had the opportunity to be in spaces where my work and contribution speak for themselves.

B: How do people get in touch with you?

O: twitter – @ojomaochai

B: Any people you want to give shout outs? feel free to wave like they can see you…

O: Hello world! Haha.

B: Its been awesome having you thank you for your time; Last Question; What is the weirdest question anyone has asked you?

O: they asked me what’s the weirdest question any one ever asked me. -_-

ojoma ochai

Bio:

Ojoma Ochai is Head of Arts, West Africa for British Council. In this role, Ojoma works with public and private sector partners in the UK and West Africa to develop and deliver programmes that build skills, international and local networks and other capacity that promote the growth and collaboration potential of the arts sector and creative economy between the sub region and the UK.

Ojoma is also a member of the UNESCO global expert facility on the 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expression. From 2014 to 2016, she was Entertainment Specialist for a World Bank Growth and Employment project in Nigeria, advising on cluster based approaches for film and music sector development in Nigeria.

Nominated Young Person of the Year in Nigeria by The Future Awards in 2010 and listed on the YNaija list of 10 Most Powerful People In Nigeria’s Arts and Culture (under 40) in 2014, and YNaija 100 Most Influential Women in Nigeria, in 2015; Ojoma is also a Fellow of the DEVOS Institute of Arts Management at the University of Maryland, USA and an Associate of the Nigerian Leadership Institute (NLI). She is chair of the Lagos Theatre Festival Board until July 2018, Chair of Open House Lagos Board ( 2015 – 2017) and sits on the board of Music Museum Foundation of Nigeria

@ojomaochai

linkedin.com ojomaochai

 

 

Day 4 of my Africa: Stories from home themed blog everyday challenge

~B

Of Coffee With Lydia and Girls With The Sky In Their Eyes

Coffee With Lydia and Girls With The Sky In Their Eyes

If you were having coffee with me, I would be happy to introduce you to writer, poet and blogger Lydia Chiseche and her book of poetry For Girls With The Sky In Their Eyes.

For girls with the sky in the eyes

B: Hello Lydia, a pleasure to have you here, first question Tea or Coffee?

L: Most definitely, Tea

B: What would your ideal coffee date be like?

L: At my favourite teahouse, on a warm and sunny August day

B: Describe for us your perfect writing environment

L: I can write anywhere; but possible the perfect environment for me is in the moment where it would be most inappropriate for me to write. There is just something about doing what you aren’t supposed to be doing which inspires me

B: How long have you had a blog, are you a blogger?

L: I do…or, I did. I started blogging consistently in 2016; it was poetry for the most part, and then branched off to think pieces on different issues. It was only recently when I decided to be real with myself and said I’m not a writer of current events, but a dreamer of things made up in my head. My blog pages are still open, they just have not seen some love in a while.

B: For Girls With The Sky In Their Eyes; what does  the title mean; where did that come from?

L: This must be the most difficult question I’ve received on the book so far.

I always knew that this was a collection directed towards girls….but men and boys are also encouraged to read it! For me, the sky is a representation of so many things; hope, limitlessness, the world, heaven

So…it’s a representation of those who have a steady eye on hope despite whatever is going on around them.

B: Why did you release it as an e-book?

L: Truth be told, I was afraid; I was afraid of the reception, of the questions I would get…I was afraid no one would read it.
I was finished with the final proof by November 2017, and I put the release off to January. January came, and I put it off to March, and so on. By the time April came around, I knew that if I waited any longer, I would never release it.
So, the e-release happened; and I chose the e-platform because there is no really turning back from it, and at least a bunch of unread books won’t be looking back at me *laughs*
A paperback version will be out in October this year.

B: I read it, finished it then read it again, its beautiful, its touching, its haunting. Whose story is it, is it simply made up poetry? Who did you write it for?

L: Wow.. thank you so much. I honestly did not know I was writing a story until nearly halfway through the body when the ending was so clear…and then that’s when i scrapped the first draft and began to write it differently.

It started as a story of one girl; the Girl who saw Sky. But then it ended up being a story of the girls and women around her; so, by the end of it all we had the Bride, the Women, the Other Sister, Mother- once, Mother- a second time, etc.

I’ve always been drawn to stories which had female characters in the leading roles…and not just female characters, but female characters that are flawed, complicated, nuanced, real.

So, it’s every woman’s and girl’s story. I based each scene on something that has happened before; either to me….or to girls and women I know, or heard about. It is our story.

B: I know this an unfair question but ……Which one is your favourite poem and line from the book?

L: This is quite the unfair question indeed
Push to shove…I’d perhaps say my favourite poem is the last one (I did not title that on purpose)- this is because I am a fan of callbacks…and I feel like that poem sort of wrapped the entire collection together.

B: For me the most intriguing was the Dear God series of letters. Its relatable, I have even asked similar questions…… Do you think there’s a plan for all THIS? *gestures hands grandly to encompass everything*

L: Sometimes, I think everything is by design…like some elaborate domino effect. Then other times I think everything is a mistake. At the end of it all, I get back to truly believing the design theory of things. I think there is a plan…whatever God’s plan is, and however mildly sadistic it may be *nervous laughter*, I’m pretty sure it will all have meaning.

B: Allow me to quote  you:

God is strange. He takes on so many faces. To

some, he’s vengeful, returning sacrifice with

blood and fire. To others, he’s loving, patient, and

kind. To some, he’s on the sidelines, watching

until he gets bored. He forgives even those that

won’t forgive themselves, like the Women.

To me, God is the gust of wind in the middle of

an August storm, God is the tiny crack in the

building they said was indestructible. God is

nowhere, and everywhere. To me, She is

beautiful

B: How has your book of poetry been received?

L: Oh my gosh! The reception has been overwhelming…it is more than I could have expected. I have people asking me questions, quoting my work….it is such a wonderful, humbling feeling. The reception has been so far mainly local….and hopefully the work will be able to reach a wider audience with time.

B: Any final words to those who can’t forgive themselves?

L: It’s difficult to get into the head of someone else and see through their eyes the things they feel are unforgivable. So, I honestly don’t know what I can say that would be enough.
I think Time; time may not completely heal someone, but it sure does change their circumstances in one way or another. So, let them give it time.

B: A few words to fellow sisters out there

L: It is so important to remember that you are still capable of love. And this also goes to the brothers. You are allowed to love, and be loved without fear of what happened to you, or what you did in your past.

B: Any shout outs to people out there, do it like you are doing it for TV.

L: This is so exciting! Okay
So, first of all I want to shout out my best friend Miriam; ours is a special friendship
My sisters, my friends Ruth, and Grace who read proof after proof. I want to shout our Itati, the crew at Lusaka Writer’s Room…and the Women; I cannot mention them by name but this book would not be what it is without them.

B: What’s next?

L: I am underway with my second collection…I am yet to title it. Will it be linked to For Girls With SKY In Their Eyes? I’m yet to see

B: last Question, what is the weirdest question anyone has ever asked you about your book?

L: Have I been asked difficult questions? Yes. Many. I am yet to be asked something I could say is a weird question.

B: Thanks Lydia, you have been a star.

L: Thank you so much for having me.

BIO:

img_0497-1.jpg

Lydia Chiseche is poet and writer based in Lusaka, Zambia. She is one of seven children, and is a self-proclaimed daydreamer. When she is not writing, she works as a Banker, and supports a few philanthropic projects.

LINKS:

Twitter: @LydiaNgoma

Instagram: lydiangoma

Blog: EyeWoke

BOOK DOWNLOAD LINK:

Of The Mistress Chronicles

Sometimes people scroll past my Twitter timeline and get *mused* by the barely formed story plot ideas I have just floating around on the twitterverse, most times they hardly tell me about it, a rare few do though and an even rarer number still, not only do but also allow me to feature the resultant product on my blog.

Melody read this tweet and was inspired to start writing a guest feature series:

 The Mistress Chronicles by Melody Chingwaru

Prologue

As the bible says man that is born of  a woman is of few days, beloved let us remember that our days are numbered and we should cherish the memories we had with our loved one” the pastor’s voice echoed in my ears. Was he gone for real?

Tears glisten in my eyes as I watch his casket lay on the lowering rails and I feel my heart sink. I will never see his smile, the warmth of his arms and how his voice creaked whenever he called me. My baby, my love, my…. ! I hope Mazvita will allow me to throw some flowers into his grave when the casket is lowered.

The pastor’s voice interrupts my thoughts_

It is now time to say your final goodbyes, may all family members collect some soil from the shovels and as soon as the casket is lowered into the ground please feel free to come over” he says

I watch as his casket is lowered into the ground and his daughters form a line to bid their dad farewell. I glance around in search of Mazvita; I need to know where she is first before I can attempt to do the unthinkable. I dart my eyes to the chairs and our eyes meet, her eyes convey that  pity look. I hold my gaze as a way to seek her approval to advance towards the grave.  Her eyes convey nothing as response but that does not deter me as I soon find my way to the grave to throw my roses.

I hurriedly move through the crowd to the grave and I throw my roses. I mutter a few words silently, “Till we meet again, rest in peace Mhofu”. I did it, I know it sounds so little of a gesture but you will soon understand why! You see life does not prepare you for days like this and in as much as I have read many self help books, I was not ready for this.

 

 

…………………….

This is a series so do stay tuned.

Melody can be found on twitter melching91

Melody Chingwaru Book review Gold Diggers

 

 

 

 

 

Of The Gold Diggers: A book Review

Guest Post: A Book ReviewThe gold diggers Sue Nyathi

Gold Diggers 

We all know our final destination but we have no idea what will cross our path as we journey” is testament to the latest instalment from the Bulawayo born writer Sue Nyathi. Titled “Gold  Diggers”, one would mistake the title and its cover for a novel about women and men who dig  for the finer things in life. However once you open the book you learn that it is about several Zimbabweans from different walks of life who embark on a journey to the “City of Gold”.

The Gold Diggers a novel by sue nyathi

Set in Johannesburg, the writer journals the various experiences of fellow Zimbabweans who sought for a better life in Johannesburg during the 2008 economic demise.  For most of the characters in the book, hope and the itch to realise their dreams propels them to  pave their way in the  city and they soon discover that there is more to the city than its beautiful skyscrapers.

The writer explores the question that often hangs in the air. “What does one need to endure in order to thrive in an unknown land?” This question opens a Pandora box of themes namely sex work, human trafficking, family disintegration, xenophobia, illegal border jumping and resilience. Through these themes, this book allows you to see the faces behind the headlines, the spirits and souls behind the stories; the reader learns that the victim of xenophobia has a name, the illegal border jumper is that unemployed graduate who wants a better life and yes even your own kin can turn their back on you when desperate.

In this book the writer removes the blinders and allows the reader to see the struggles of being an immigrant in a foreign land; the good, the bad and the nasty and to acknowledge its effects on the family that’s left behind,…..”For those left behind ,bonds withered and the only connection they had with loved ones was the foodstuffs and letters brought by the malaitshas” (sp)

As I reached the ending I realised the “gold” is subjective to each being, it is there but the journey to the pot is a trial in itself and that we need to be a bit kinder to each other its the least we can do with what we face.

A simple fast-paced read which begs the reader to realise that no matter where you are and who you are, fate awaits but before then a journey ought to be taken to meet fate.

 

 

Guest Book Review by Melody Chingwaru

Melody Chingwaru Book review Gold Diggers

Bio:

Melody Chingwaru is a book lover, avid reader, soapie fanatic and the editor of Untitled263 . She tutors French and Portuguese.

You can find her on twitter: @melching91

 

 

 

 

Of Love In The Time Of Chocolate Cake

Guest Post

Love in the time of chocolate

Chocolate Cake

The rich chocolatey smell of the cake overwhelms my nostrils, coating the fine hairs with thoughts of warm crushed cocoa beans. I savour the heft of the slice in my hand, marvelling at the glossy, delicate swirls of chocolate butter cream. My mouth is heavy with saliva. I close my eyes and lean in for that first eager bite.
A bright shaft of light pierces my eyelids and a voice drills into my head: vasikana havasweri vakarara. Confused I open my eyes. Where is my cake? Where is the chocolatey goodness that was meant to transport me to confectionery seventh heaven? As my mother continues to bustle around the room, the clouds lift. It was all a dream. A beautiful tantalising dream cruelly snatched away by another person’s intervention. I was too young at the time to know that it would be a recurring theme, though sadly too often it was my dreams being snatched away in real life, with no warm bed to snuggle back into.
As a black girl growing up in Harare, I learnt early on that I did not have the luxury of sleeping in during the school holidays. By 6am my mother would have woken me up to get about my industrious day. Because my training to be the perfect wife could not be left to chance and circumstance and sleeping in after 6am.

Zimbabwean society places a very high value on a woman being married. As a young girl, your waking moments are devoted to furthering the cause of your future marriage. A family does not just raise a daughter, their combined efforts are preparing a wife. A woman who will not only be an excellent cook and homekeeper, but one whose focus is on keeping her husband happy. And if she can issue forth from her loins strong strapping sons to carry on his family life, she has fulfilled her God-given purpose. She has earned her title of A Real Woman. But A Real Woman training takes time and sacrifice. When you are younger, the unfairness of watching your brothers play outside, with their ball made from the brightly-coloured sacks the potatoes you spent hours peeling came in, becomes something of a permanent friend. You don’t yet possess the sophisticated lexis to describe the unfairness, but you feel it deeply. You feel it when you are the one to pluck that live chicken. Smell it when you need to clean and squeeze out its intestines. Bleed it as you cut deftly through the bones to make sure there is enough chicken to go around at dinner time, in the hope that no unexpected visitors drop by as dinner is to be served. Season that tomato and onion chicken stew with a large dollop of unfairness and as you suckle the marrow of those bones and lick the juices dripping down your arms, unfairness cuts off your contented burps because the mountain of dishes still awaits you. To be a good young black girl is to know service and unfairness intimately.

  • Zimbabwean society raises us to be perfect wives for imperfect men

A girl born into a relatively traditional Zimbabwean family is a potential return on investment in the bride price that can be charged for her. For those lucky enough to be blessed with natural good looks and child-bearing hips, their value increases exponentially. As early as when you are a chubby-cheeked toddler, aunts are already exclaiming what a pretty wife you will make one day. Before you even have full command of your own bowels, plans are already underfoot to offload you for a few beasts and healthy wad of cash. Because your beauty is not your own, your beauty belongs to the family to financially maximise on, at hopefully not too distant a point in the future.

So now it’s 6.01am. You have lifted your head off the pillow. And you groan inwardly at the thought of pillows because today is a laundry day and all the sheets need to be washed. Six pairs of sheets and pillowcases that need to be washed by hand, hung out to dry, ironed and then beds remade. All before 3pm because the evening meal needs to be prepared and ready by 6pm. You don’t want to miss the start of wrestling on tv by not getting your timings right. You trudge to the bathroom and complete a cursory ablution. You will bath once the laundry’s done and the house swept and floors polished and breakfast and lunch dishes put away and the meat simmering on the stove. 12 years old and you already have the house running like clockwork.

As you proceed to scrub the kitchen floor on hands and knees, your older brother trudges in from outside, trailing muddy footprints to the fridge. Sadly, you don’t yet know any expletives to tell him what a fucking cunt he is for dirtying your floor. But the anger is real and hot and burns in your throat. For all he knows about clean floors, there is a Floor Elf that whizzes in every afternoon and abracadabraes all the dirt away. You don’t hate your brother exactly, but you swallow the unfairness each time he walks into the house dragging in smells of sunshine and rolling around in the grass and the happy dampness of hosing each other down in water fights.

You go back to clean up his muddy footprints and look on the floor with a kind of grim satisfaction. You are confident you have done enough to ensure not being made to re-do it as your mother’s opprobrium rains down on you, warning you that uchatinyadzisa wadzoswa. What could be more humiliating than your future husband returning you to your family because you could not scrub a floor properly. How would you ever live down the shame of being a slatternly wife who could not maintain hearth and home? There wouldn’t be enough earth to swallow you whole!

To be an average Zimbabwean woman is to know the fear of never getting married. To be one of those women looked down upon with a certain degree of contempt and pity, with a side of What If She Steals Our Men fear for good measure. So you learn early on to comport yourself in a manner that makes people remark kuti mwana ane tsika iyeye. You sit with your legs tightly closed, and in lax moments where your legs betray you and fall open, one eagle eyed glare from your mother is enough to jam your legs back together, straining your muscles in abject fear of dropping your guard again.

Requests to bring more tea for the guests are a blessing in disguise as you can discreetly wipe away the sweat that has been pouring down your legs in superglued legs exertion. You are young, but the need to be nice in company has been drilled into you. Cautions of not running around like a wild animal chasing each other in your head. The burn marks from the carpet as you greeted each adult on your knees still stinging slightly. You answer questions politely, just enough information so they don’t think you are a bit slow, but not so much that they leave thinking that chimwana chiye chinoganhira. You serve guests with scalding cups of tea and chocolate cake, harnessing both your culinary skills and generosity. You clear cups and saucers quickly and quietly, making sure not to disrupt the adults. You know what it is to be a good girl. How then can you fail to be a good wife?

Through all this, the mud-trailing brother has come in and said a perfunctory hello and gone back to his outdoor games. You are told later on that boys don’t mature as quickly as girls do. You believe it because Mud Trailer can barely wash the skidmarks out of his own underwear, or make himself a decent toasted sandwich. Don’t even think about getting him to get that neat crease in his white long-sleeved school shirt. Somewhere else in Zimbabwe, your co-labourer is perfecting her skills so she can do all those things for him. She knows as well as you do, that a man doesn’t need to be able to not burn a hole in his shirt every time he picks up an iron. All these lessons in cooking and cleaning you have been learning have been for his benefit and for that of his family. Without a husband to validate those skills, really what is the point of having darkened your knees on so many floors and strained your neck hanging up those thick wet winter blankets?

CHOCOLATE CAKE

Ingredients

2/3 cup margarine

2 eggs

1 T vanilla

4 T cocoa

2 ½ cups sifted flour

1 ½ cups sugar

1 ¼ t soda

½ t salt

1 ¾ cup ice water

Method

  1. Cream butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla till fluffy for about 5 minutes (electric beater or by hand).
  2. Blend in chocolate (sifted if lumpy).
  3. Sift flour with soda and salt and add to creamed mixture alternately with iced water..
  4. Bake in a round tin in a moderately hot oven until done (approximately 30 mins)

 

Guest Post by Eleanor Madziva

Bio

Eleanor is an itinerant Zimbabwean with a passion for picking lint out of her navel, while trying to find the best ways of not turning into a charred mess in the desert heat. Less a writer, more a person who writes.

Eleanor Madziva

Twitter @Madziva_Eleanor

Of Coffee With Lerato: Wandering Through Africa

 

Of coffee with Lerato: Wandering Through Africa On Faith

If you were having coffee with me I would tell you that I am honoured to have a well-travelled guest with quite the wanderlust; Lerato Mogoatlhe here with us.

Lerato M

~B: Hi Lerato we can call you Lerato right or you have an alias you best known as?

L: I’m so happy about our coffee. There is nothing I love more than conversations with like-minded people, you know, we who are passionate to the point of being obsessed with Africa. My friend Astou Fall nicknamed me Vagabond…and @MadamAfrika, which is my name on Twitter and Instagram. I love them both but MadamAfrika has our continent in there so call me Madam Afrika, please.

~B: Alrighty then. Hello Madam Afrika; first thing’s first because in my world, there’s only two kinds of people: Tea or Coffee?

L: Coffee, buna, kahawa. Sorry tea – I’m not a morning person and you are not known to up an upper!!!

Lipton tea bag

Walk to the grocery store instead of taking a car

~B: How many countries have you been to and where did you have your most memorable cuppa?

L: 21. This question is a trick. You are trying to pick a favourite child among many. None the less, Sudan, Khartoum. I stayed in Al Amarat while there. A short walk from my hotel was an old woman who with a simple coffee stall on the street. Very basic: a small table, a couple of kettles to boil her water, drinking glasses and jars with coffee, ginger, sugar  and cardamom. I’d sit quietly with her and we would communicate with our smiles. It was such a tender and loving way to start my mornings.

Al Amarat

Al Amarat

Coffee spot

Coffee Spot in Al Amarat

~B: I am in awe though, did you just wake up one day and decide “Right; I want to travel!” and upped and left just like. *finger snap*

L: Have you met me? I do not do snaps. It looks like it but trust me, my obsessive mind would never. let me. The moment is always a snap of the finger but the destiny was signed a long time ago. I was around 8 when we were taught about ancient Egypt at school. I still remember the awe, staring at a poster of the Sphinx. I still catch some of the teacher’s words: the great Pyramid, Seven wonders of the ancient world.

This made me realise that the world is far bigger than anything I can imagine, and that history goes waaaaay back to a time that I will only ever know through words and whatever is leftover from its time. I also told myself that I’m going to see the pyramids. I read Things Fall Apart at 13 going to 14 and my mind went to work again: these markets, the traditional wrestling, cowrie shells, palm wine…I wanted to see and taste them and that means going where they are. Around this age I also read a book that introduced me to Jollof rice – and drumroll, there goes my mind. I was blown away to discover that there are other ways to enjoy rice other than plain and boiled. In between there is more African literature and music and it all made me curious.

The backdrop of it is being raised on a steady diet of Black Pride and at some stage my uncle’s Pan Africanism. We are extremists, my uncle and I, so every idea and aspiration was measured against Africa, down to the littlest details and the conclusion I made by the time I hit my early twenties; that the world is great, but Africa is affirming. Listen, I wanted to learn French for the longest time and when I told my uncle he called me out. ”Only an inferiority complex makes you shed yourself” he said, and there is nothing lost than an African who buys into the propaganda of our inferiority…why learn French when I could not speak IsiXhosa, he argued. 

So my life has always Africa first, middle and last.

Then I worked as a journalist and became increasingly unhappy with Africa being written as doom and gloom. I am a doer, so I left to rewrite the narrative.  Africa is my destiny and fits into every component of my life and interests, if you get want I mean. Every time I question and explore my identity, the answer is always Africa.

Jebel Barkal

Now to get to leaving. I went to Accra on a media trip in 2006 for four days, that introduced me to blackness as I will never experience it in South Africa for as long as apartheid is not fully dismantled: pride, glory, power…man…do you know what it feels like to see yourself as a servant all your life when you do not consider yourself one?  So even being in a supermarket in Accra and seeing that everyone from owner and manager to the packer was black was affirming. I made the decision to quit my life in SA while in Accra. I kept it quiet (silence is golden) until November 2007 when I start telling friends that I’m leaving in 2008. The only thing “snap” was going with the 23rd of June. I may not know the moment when it will happen, but the destiny has been sealed.

~B: What was your plan did you have a travelling companions besides of course FAITH.

L: By myself. I roll solo. It is faster. It has focus. I consider myself quiet the Philosoblah, and have always believed that how we come into this life tells you have everything you need to know – even people who share a womb come out of it and into life alone. Company is great but some things can only be done alone. The biggest dream of my life had to be MY moment, not our moment. Gosh. I even broke up with a fling after the mention joining me in Accra – ALL THAT MIGHTY WEST AFRICAN ASS AND YOU WANT ME TO CARRY FOOD FOR THE ROAD. *Claps once*

~B: Where is the weirdest place you spent the night?

L: On a dune in the Sahara. You know how they say the desert is either very hot or very cold. Understatement. After a wild night of lots of vodka (also known as the devil’s juice) I became convinced that I am going to die from the cold so I stayed up to keep an eye on my soul so I could tell it not leave my body – true damn story. I ended up hanging out on a dune….so that I may catch my soul when the cold tricks it into leaving my body.

~B: Lerato has a book coming out in September. Tell us about your book (was it part of the plan too or it kinda just happened along the way)

vagabond by lerato Mogoathle

Vagabond Wandering through Africa on Faith

L: Vagabond was always going to happen. The difference now, I guess is that I am whiling the economic dynamics of being a full time writer than trying to balance it with a full time job that comes with nice cash and managing people.

~B: Briefly; tell us, which was the high point in your travels; what was the one thing you thought if I live through this I will never do; anything this crazy again?

L: High point: meeting and befriending Habib Koite. His album Afriki is how I pray and worship. This journey brought me to my knees many times.  I kept running out of money that wasn’t coming into my account fast enough even though I was earning. The way SA media treats freelancers is DISGUSTING AND DEHUMANIZING. So I wanted to give up and take a break.

 I went back to my place in Abidjan and started packing. I was listening to Afriki, to a song called Nteri, and in this moment I felt Allah saying to me that this bullshite will never end, but He has my back and indeed, for I never lacked even when I didn’t have money to move between Ghana and Ivory Coast, I still made it and it happened without a fuss. I literally showed up at Werewere Liking’s doorstep at Village Kiyi to say I need a place to stay and don’t have money. You know what her son Ben said,? Pity I arrived a day after a troupe they were hosting had left.  I did what needed to be done, the answer was start over. I decide to start over in Mali because Habib, my greatest artists of all time, was headlining the festival of the desert.

I meet him in the Sahara – how fantastical is Africa though? Only here do you get to say things like “we met in the Sahara”.

Mt Sinai

Mt Sinai

Starting over changed my life: I learnt French, I assimilated, I joined a family of vagabonds who had drifted to house number 227, Para Djikoroni in  Bamako. I lost my morbid obesity, among other things. I don’t have anything that I would not do.

LIONS

Hanging out with Lions; Victoria Falls

If it doesn’t kill you it makes a killer story. Crazy: I put a knife on a taxi driver’s neck and threatened to kill him if he didn’t stop driving like he had a death wish. This was in Eastern Ethiopia.

Harar

Feeding Hyenas Mouth to Mouth in Harar; Eastern Ethiopia

 

L:  I thought I had time all along but the reality of thinking I could have a 9 – 5 and still write sunk in. Now I am an author first, journalist and editorial expert second. This is the only way I can possibly write more books, which I want to. I burn a herb called imphepho. It’s an important part of our spirituality in South Africa . Our being black and ancestral. It calms me. I want to be a diva. Nadine Gordimer used to tell people do not bother her with meaningless social calls. It sounds bitchy but it is true, certainly for me, I work best under a rock, with zero distractions so all my energy and thoughts are focused on the task at hand.

~B: If you could pick any Fictional Characters from TV or literary creations to travel with you whom would you pick and why?

L: Tin Tin has been everywhere. He is a trust fund baby and they are very generous with mom and dad’s money. I want to travel with him and let me assure you, I would consider burning through his bank account the least I can do to get back at King Leopold. I take my justice wherever I can create it 🙂

~B: I don’t know how anyone can travel without music, I can’t live without it; what was the soundtrack of your sojourn.

L:  The sound track is the Best of Lucky Dube. This continent loves that man. He was a hero. He showed up amid wars and chaos. He was one with the people. It was such a revelation for me to hear people tell me about how his music saved them or keeps them together still.

~B: Are you done travelling or………

L: Never. When I have been to every country in Africa; I will start over because nothing stays the same anyway.

~B: Would you do it again?

L:  A million times. The five years of living on the road are the most important years of my life.

~B: Any people you would like to give a special mention to for their support in getting your book done and your nomadic life; wave at them like you are doing for TV

L: ***twerk, twerk, twerk, TWERK BOO!!!*** Let’s enjoy the most magnificent continent on earth, our Africa – the one that gives wings to our dreams.

Lerato Madam Afrika

~B: Thank you Lerato; it was a pleasure having you tell us some profound parting words.

L: Never believe news headline and the narrative of doom and gloom. That’s just a business decision because if it bleeds, it leads, as they say in journalism school. Take time to dig into Africa – books, music, food, culture, tech, art…everything, and you will truly see just how magnificent Africa is.

madam afrika

Bio: South African author  and journalist who considers herself a Pan African first and makes life choices from that precious and powerful space.

Insta and Twitter: @MadamAfrika

Facebook: Lerato Amandla Mogoatlhe

Of Left, Right And Wrong

GUEST POST: Raquel

Left Or Right

As a child, growing up was awesome experience. I was the second child and first daughter of a family of seven children, two boys and five girls. We girls in the middle the first and last born being boys.

Let me write about one unique memory which is still part of me. I am, rather I was a left handed child, I say so because I use my right hand now. To best describe it I am now ambidextrous. No; that doesn’t describe me well neither . Let me describe it further; there are things I do only with my left and there are things l can do with my right only and there are things I use both comfortably. I write with my right hand for I was forced to learn to write with my right and I wash with my left hand, for sweeping I can use both hands .

Being the first female child in the family meant I was my mum’s first student in “home affairs”. She taught me the ways of being a woman, especially when it came to domestic chores.

In the African setting where I come from, the left hand has some taboo functions. You can’t use your left hand to give or take anything from anyone, not even someone you are senior to and worse if it’s an elder. My mum did her best to correct me to the point I got confused. She would say “with that your left hand” using my local dialect and in defence, I tell her “…. it’s my right hand mum“.

Okay this is what I did after failing to identify which was my right hand. If l wanted to do anything, I first watched whoever is around me and I see what hand that person is using. I would then, in my mind’s eye, while still sitting where I was, move myself and turn to the position the person was and try to pick out which is my right hand. That was my means of escape and it really did help me. I failed several times, because if I was seated facing the person and tried to use the hand I saw the person using it would be the opposite hand. Getting directions to go anywhere was a tough one for me but I learnt to use makers.

I was always last to finish any task it was really awkward for me, at a point I became an introvert and then I discovered books. There no one judged me or corrected me, I could flow however I wanted without pressure. It was my place of escape and joy.
I believe my mum somehow gave up, but because the job had to be done, she only made her usual comment and she let me be.”Ka maskar ragai ni“, meaning that left hand. Funny people do at times complain even when it is my right.

Rachel copy

Bio:

*Rachel is a Church girl, a wife and a mother of three. A graduate of Mass-Communication. She calls herself a washer woman as she is into laundry and dry-cleaning business. A Nigerian from the Northeast state of Borno but lives in Abuja. She loves her mum. She loves reading and would love to write more if her muse would keep musing her.

She loves to be addressed with her pen name Raquel.
.

Of Picture It: International Women’s Day

Happy Women’s Day

Every day is woman’s day on this space of mine especially this month of March. I pledge to #PressForProgress and Forge positive visibility of women

#PressForProgress

#PressForProgress

Yesterday I had the honour of being on the set of Picture It with Sibs Jolie hosting a special International  Women’s Day edition.

International women's day Picture it with SIbs

Picture It with Sibs

The panel was made up of remarkable women; who leave unique footprints in the space around them:

Candice Mwakalyelye, radio personality and newscaster

Candice Mwakalyelye

Candice

Pastor Catherine Magadzire Pastor and business woman

pastor catherine

Pastor Catherine Magadzire

Rachel Adams Life Coach, Leadership Developer and also a Breath Practitioner in training

Rachel Adams

Rachel Adams

I promised myself that I would play my part, even if my part is to be a fly on the wall; to observe and write down; to amplify voices in the way a writer can. I sat amidst a handful of other men in a roomful of women and I will confess though I didn’t know what to expect, but I did wonder if this is how women felt all the time, like must you ask for permission to simply be yourself, to be where you are, to belong, to be part of………….

At the rate we are moving; according to various studies; the gender gap will be closed in over 170 years. 170 years that’s how long it will take unless some serious changes happen to the way we have been taught to think and act.

gender equality

Candice mentioned that the world was never ready for the force that is women. (Well the world better start shaping up and taking notice stop being stifling) Candice said that before you hold yourself back from doing something ask yourself “whats the worst that could happen?” You could fail and  if you fail you learn, that’s experience; its also ok to be scared…..

You must constantly open yourself to new experience, learn and teach what you learn!

One of Candice’s goals is to make at least one person smile every day, she says for her it makes her that even if just for a little bit she has made that person feel better…………………….

Pastor Catherine Magadzire spoke on how we are all wonderfully and fearfully made creations. She said that we do not need to ask for permission to shine or to be the best of version of yourself. Pastor Magadzire is a pastor not because he her husband is one; her husband is titled pastor by marriage to her.

If a woman can make a home, can she not also run a business successfully??

Rachel Adams introduced herself as being from a small town and as with most small towns the dreams there are small. She still maintained that you should dare to be anything you want, to light that candle and courageously take your place in the world, and breathe properly while you are at it, you just might be surprised what a breathing exercise each morning could do for the quality of your life…..

Rachel made a thought provoking remark about how its not all about man holding back women but  that women should start fully being themselves; to stop thinking of themselves as just women but as human beings to proudly and unapologetically be who they should be….

We need to start having Courageous Conversations; saying what needs to be said and living with the consequences

Rachel shared a quote by Arundathi Roy:

“Another world is not only possible,

She is not only on her way .

On a quite day,

I can hear her breathing”

 

~B

Ps At the end of the day what I took home is that if we strive to be the best human beings we could be and helped others to be their best selves, as a candle lights another, maybe gender parity could be achieved tomorrow….

Of Coffee With Hayley

Coffee with Hayley

If you were having coffee with me on a Wednesday Midweekend Fiesta, I would be glad to introduce to you a friend of mine Hayley Ann Carstens… we managed (read that as I ran around like a headless chicken to catch up with her) to have a lovely chat:

hayley carstens plus size model

**Confession I am not really having coffee I am having rooibos herbal** And Hayley:

A cappuccino has to be it – its her go-to drink

~B: If you could describe yourself as a beverage which one would you best describe yourself as?

Most probably coffee actually [she laughs] uhm, I have a very strong and overpowering side but at the same I can be weak, venerable and subtle

~B: I am dying to ask you the question, “tell us about yourself” but I always  get stuck when I get asked that same question, so how about this “tell me what would you like me to ask you first and I will ask it next.

uhm I think a good question to ask people and one I love being asked would be what my end goal and passion is and why [she smirks at me].

~B: Okay okay, fair enough those are good questions. So what would you end goal and passion be and why? 

Well I’m currently at iStudy a college in Harare doing full component A-levels in English, psychology and business studies which will be my stepping stone to University. I have been offered over 30 scholarships so far and that is what will lead me to become a journalist and a creative writer. I guess one answer leads to the next [she laughs] my passion is the English language and writing. I fell in love with the English language about 6 years ago and its always been my dream. I love writing and English because you get given a topic and you can create the perception you want you readers to read, be it literal or metaphorical. There are so many boundaries and so many “you cant do this and you cant do that’s”, that it seems tough but you have no boundaries in another sense and you create you boundaries to extend to.

~B: Whenever I hear the word Model in my head I imagine someone tall and and and well you know the stereotypical model who looks like unlike a girl in the street… And here you are looking like you could live to next door to me…. Where do you get the confidence, are you on a mission? 

[Hayley laughs] That’s because I’m humble and because I don’t have that “I’m better than everybody else” attitude. I feel like we are all fair and we all have our strengths and weaknesses. I have a crazy attitude and when the 2016 Zimbabwe Models Awards came up I was nervous but I also had that “I got this, I’m the best choice” attitude and I wanted to win and I did win, I got Best Plus Size Model. [she looks down and smiles]. Now it starts again for 2017 [she grins nervously].

hayley ann carstens

~B: Outside of just being there and looking like a breath of fresh fair, what are your other interests?

Funny enough, modelling isn’t something I ever thought I’d do or even consider but when the agency reached out to me and said that they wanted me – that is how it happened [She looks surprised]. I absolutely love reading, I love writing, I love binge watching my favourite series on a Friday evening while I write notes for my classes or just being with my friends in general, doing anything, as long as I’m with the people I love – I’m happy. I’m really easy to please actually, anything makes me happy and it’s the little things that matter. If there’s an adventure I can go – I will definitely be there [she laughs], I’m an adventure junkie.

~B: please, please, please, please do share what you read, then I can get to caption the next photo not just a pretty face, I have never used that cliché before… I am a storyteller and I have a soft spot for people who read, I might write something you like, right?

I absolutely love reading and I love learning different writing styles how different writers create the perceptions they want you to envision. My favourite author is Paula Hawkins and my last book was ‘I am Pilgrim’ which is authored by Terry Hayes. It’s a fictional thriller which is definitely worth the read.

~B: I adore Paula Hawkins and she is Zim born too!!!

hayley Carstens model

Not Just A Pretty Face

Where do you see yourself in the future? How supportive is your family in your dreams?

I see myself as a writer, I have a story I’m to write as soon as I’m out of University and it’s definitely going to be a bestseller. [she smiles confidently]. My family is remarkable, they support me till the end of time and we all support each other like that. We are always on call for one another and our relationships are better than good, the support is definitely above normal.

~B: What are your thoughts on the modelling industry in Zimbabwe? Any changes you wish to see?

Definitely. The modelling industry is so different from any other country. We are diverse and accepting which often leads to rude remarks about models. I recently saw a post on Facebook that states “Anyone can be a model in Zim, all you have to do is post a picture and claim yourself as a model and boom, you’re a model in Zimbabwe”. As shocked as I was by this and outraged, it made me little happy.[she smiles warily] 

Haylehann carsten plus size model

I mean, our country is known for being accepting and supporting no matter your gender, race, shape or size and that is something to be proud of. One thing I would change is the use of child models below certain ages being showcased because that could stir up a whole lot of problems and I think they should be a part of an agency but not advertised unless they are over sixteen per say.

~B: its almost Christmas this year I promised myself to dress up like Santa and call myself the Rasta Santa and help spread the Christmas cheer do you have a wishlist you would like to share (not that I will get you anything ha! But who knows who is reading this chat……

[she laughs] Definitely. I can’t say there is anything I would particularly ask for, I have traditions of things I buy myself each year and usually if there is something I want – I just go buy it in general. I would say that I crave adventure and to live through new experiences. So, readers,  if you can bring me the guy I like or pay for ten people to go somewhere new – I’ll thank you. [Laughs].

~B: What’s the one thing you never leave home without?

I cannot live without water. I can’t leave my house or even my bedroom for the living room without water. I don’t really drink anything besides water, coffee and the occasional wine [laughing]. I mean, I don’t drink fizzy drinks, things which are too sweet or, well, I’m a fussy person when it comes to drinking and I drink water more than anything but I also drink a lot of coffee.

~B: Thank you for the time, oh yeah just something quick for research purposes; (lets see your hands) we  just want to know before we start drawing googly hearts on your name single, taken or its complicated?

It’s complicated [she laughs]. I have someone but it is isn’t official as of yet. We are waiting for the best time to make it official but so far, it is what I would consider the perfect person for me and the perfect situation. [She’s smiling uncontrollably and blushing].

~B: Ooooh final question, absolutely the last one; if Aliens came and took over the world why should they make you their queen?????????

I am a very strong willed individual and I like to win. I’m motivated, I’m determined and I can be ruthless as well as very caring and supportive. When it comes to my job, my family, or my friends – I am a born leader. [Grins confidently]

~B: Yes we have a runaway imagination, thank you very much; ok last one; if you were an emoji which one would you be.

I’d be that one with its that ‘Yeah you know what’s up’ face

yeah you know what's up emoji

~B: Pretend we are on camera wave at the camera and do a few shout outs.

[Laughs and does Queens wave] Well, my only shout outs would be my family, my friends and my agency for the support and encouragement.

We thought you should us out too!!!!!!

If you were having coffee with Hayley and myself  we would tell you that she is a nominee in the Zimbabwe Models Awards and if you like what you see, what are you waiting for go vote, like her  Facebook page : Hayley Ann Carstens

Zimbabwe Models Awards Hayley Ann Carstens
~B

 

Photo credit Nyamie Photography