Of An International Coffee Date

Guest post

virtual Coffee date

Of The International Coffee Day

If you were having coffee with me, I’d probably have to explain that I basically copied that phrase from my Zimbabwean ‘friend’ Beaton. You’d probably brush it off; not forgetting to point out that I already told you about the phrase. This would pretty much be after a five-minute hugging session with sincere declaration of how much we miss each other.

Ideally, I come to your city driving, book into a hotel and make a point of sending this email right before I set out to that coffee shop you definitely consider your favorite. You probably recognize me at a glance, thanks to my laid back dressing, the same afro hair I wear, and the same position I sit at pretty much every coffee shop or restaurant.

CareyJK

I face away from people and just lose myself in that mental isolation. You will notice that there is still an innocent glow about me; one that comes from my efforts to fight age and this quarter life crisis you don’t seem to have affecting you at all. If all goes well, I have managed to shed a few pounds off my five foot frame and maybe tried to take care of my skin better than I used too.

As you order your drink, we will catch up and excitedly talk about our recent adventures, or lack thereof. I’d tell you that I was planning to come here sooner but got delayed and now I’d have you listen to my almost excuses. So, about five days ago, my sister and I were discussing my love of coffee and how important it was that I celebrate that on the 1st of October; the international coffee day. The following morning, as if on cue, I felt this sudden sharp pain in the left side of my chest that got me so sure it was a cardiac event. So I got checked out and it was actually a gastric issue; thanks to the ginger shots i was taking last week, sometimes on an empty stomach. At least my heart was going to be okay, right?

The downside; no coffee for a while for me. No chili and a million other things I don’t care much about. So, on first, I did go to one of my favorite coffee shops in Nakuru (Kenya) and took Mocha instead of my usual latte. At least it had some coffee, right? But today my friend, I’m letting myself off the hook and allowing me the double café latte that you will soon order. Maybe we won’t do so much to celebrate the impact of coffee in our lives, but we can sure love it and drink it as much as we want.

Happy Belated International Coffee Day

CareyJK

Bio: Careyjk

A twenty-three-year old Kenyan who is just trying to take life a day at a time and blogs at Careyjk.wordpress.com 


 

This is a guest post that was set to appear on the 1st October to celebrate International Coffee Day but the technology fiends that haunt the internet and sometimes possess laptops found it hilarious to mark her email as spam and move it to that folder.

Faced with a decision to either not post this article or wait till the next first of October; we decided that  its always international coffee day somewhere and on my blog we can hang out on coffee date any day….. And so here we are, and here we are.

What are rules but conventions, so carpe diem

~B

PS remember to check spam folder 

 

 

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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 How To build A Business That Lasts: Vision, Mission & Objectives

More than 60% of all business ideas never live long enough to materialise and of those that do more than 80% do not outlast a single year. This is not to say the ideas are bad, well in some instances they are actually worse than bed, but some really good ideas just seem not to work out as they are intended. The current economic vision shift in most countries and in some instances the lack of economic vision, has led to the growth of the entrepreneurship sector.

Zimbabwe is no exception, one cannot surely ascertain the reason behind the sprouting of the informal sector in the form of small start-up, some allege that it’s an economic vision shifts whilst some suggest that its poor governance.

One thing we can all agree on is there is a steady increase in entrepreneurship, sadly most of these start-ups never get to experience the world outside the owner’s briefcase and if they do well they varnish from the face of the earth in less than a year. One then wonders, what could be the reason behind such massive failures, what can be done to increase chances of survival and who is ultimately responsible for business survival.

In my experience I have noticed that there are so many causes of these massive failures, however the most common one and yet rarely mentioned is the lack of vision by the owners of the idea/start-up or the company. Most start-ups do not have a vision, they just operate without determining where they are going, what is to be achieved or what they exist for. There is a common adage which says, it doesn’t matter which way you go if you have no vision because eventually you have no desired destination and it also happens that failure is the most common destination. If you put your business on autopilot and leave it to curve its own course well do not be surprised when you see it landing on the death zone aka business closure.

In my opinion every business, no-matter how small, needs a business strategy also known as strategic management. For improved chances of survival, one has to know which decisions to make, how to make decisions, have guidelines that dictates how everyone in that organisation ought to behave.

All businesses face money problems, reputation problems and yes intense competition, however, have you ever asked yourself how others survive. Some businesses are born from backgrounds of no finance at all, face unimaginable competition and yet have no good reputation to their name.

Despite all that, they standout and outshine or at least secure their future in the measure of the acquired advantage. But which advantage is this, how do they realise this advantage and how do they choose the route to take. I hear most freelancers in the web development circles crying foul about others charging as low as $50 per site. But with a well thought-out business plan with the elements of a strategy one can choose between low cost business strategy and differentiation strategy.

Knowing how you tend to position your business and how to eventually do it are two different things and they require a lot of commitment to master and ensure that the path you choose will ensure that you achieve that. This is a long road and it requires consistency and determination which starts with the following.

A business strategy is used to make sure that each and every decision made by any member of the start-up has value towards survival and growth of the business if every member of the start-up know what is to be achieved by the company then their decisions will be more inclined towards the interest of the organisation.

Unfortunately this is not the case in most start-ups, they leave the doors to their organisation unlocked and unattended and always act surprised when failure opens their doors and assert its dominance.

Lucky you dear reader, in this article I’m going to walk you through some of the things you need to make sure that exist in your company if you dream of having a company to run a year from now.

The first thing you need is a vision

Vision
Great writers such as Andree De Waal and Grant clearly stated that every excellent performing company has a vision. This is the reason why on almost every company’s website they put their vision. It is the ultimate destination that the organisation would want to achieve in a given time period. Without a vision written down, it doesn’t matter which decision you make because ultimately you have no target, which basically means you have no measure to judge your decisions or your employee’s decisions against. Everything you do in such a case will be right and unfortunately it will also be wrong. Take it from this perspective, how are you going to see if you are moving in the right direction if you do not set the direction you want to go. It is like a plane taking off an airport but has no intended destination, eventually it’s going to crash or disappear from the radar, whichever happens first.
After establishing a vision, then you need to take the next step.

Mission
A mission, just like the word suggest, is what you as an organisation intend to do. If you do not know what your company wants to do them it is going to fail because failure might as well be on its to do list. You can only determine your market size after determining the kind of problem you are fixing by what you exist to provide. Some companies take their mission to be..the best provider of office furniture in the country for SMEs. This forces a business to have focus and know how to best achieve their mission. There is a lot that can be said about the mission, however, in this 1st article I’m going to stick on the basics but I will definitely make effort to produce more detailed content that can help you and your business take the world head on.

Strategic Objectives
This is the next step, it joins the mission and the company strategy, objectives by their very nature are targets that each and every organisation, and individual, no matter how small should have. They help when trying to break the mission of the organisation down into manageable units. Unfortunately we often rush into starting all these business because the idea is so fascinating but never take time to set targets for progress sake. The most common outcome of such an approach is heartbreak and burnout. The idea behind the notion of objectives is to have portions of the mission focused on different sections of the organisation. Some objectives are financial, they solely focus on the financial affairs of the start-up and their contribution towards the mission of the start-up. As you might have correctly guessed, other objectives will be productive related, customer relations focused and so forth. The idea is to make sure that all corners that have an effect on the performance of the start-up are covered. If this is done professionally and well your company’s chances of survival will be improved drastically. The sooner we master these fundamental principles the better least our ideas become history and nightmares that haunts us day and night.

The issue of planning strategically the future of an entity is of great importance, it is surely a cure needed by most start-ups that we have today if the entertain hope of having a meaningful future. Depending on the reception of the first article I will make a more detailed article looking at the issue of managing start-up strategically and ensuring survival of start-ups.

Until next time happy money farming!!

Guest Post written by Douglas Mwanza.

Douglas Mwanza

A business consultant specialising in the areas of strategy formulation and implementation.
Phone: +263 779 947 976
Email: douglasmwanza7@gmail.com
LinkedIn: Douglas mwanza7
Facebook: Douglas Dee Mwanza
Instagram: douglas_mwanza7

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.
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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

Of A Book Tour: The Curse Of Time

GuestPost:

The Curse of Time M. J. Mallon

If you were having coffee with me, we would have a quick chat with MJ (whom is neither Michael Jackson nor from Spiderman)  and a sneak insight into the characters from her up coming book Bloodstone Book 1 The Curse of Time……….

Bloodstone Book 1

Book 1 – Bloodstone

Thank you to Beaton for inviting me to guest post on his blog today.

It’s a delight to be here, I have enjoyed following Beaton for a good old while and I think we seem to share a similar sense of wacky humour.

I’m delighted to share with you my novel The Curse of Time – Book 1 – Bloodstone a YA/middle grade fantasy set in Cambridge, UK.

If I was to pick a character or two that Beaton would enjoy I’d guess I’d start with Ryder my male protagonist, a narcissistic fellow who prefers to hang about in the shadows. He’s charismatic, beguiling, a curious young man with a mysterious side.

There are several young ladies in the story who might engage his interest too: Amelina, the main character is artsy, and magical, the mirror girl Esme will pull at his heart strings. Super confident Jade, jokey Ilaria, or serious, thoughtful Joselyn could capture his heart. Don’t forget gossipy Aunt Karissa who will undoubtedly make him laugh, as will her daft dog Toby.

Surely he will love the sleek black cat character: Shadow?

I expect he will be intrigued by The Grasshopper of the Chronopage?

If he’s a family man he will be curious to find out more about the terrible fate that has befallen Amelina’s  mum and dad…

There are a whole bunch of characters in The Curse of Time – I love them all and hope you will too.

Bio:

I am a debut author who has been blogging for three years: mjmallon.com. My interests include writing, photography, poetry, and alternative therapies. I write Fantasy YA, middle grade fiction and micro poetry – haiku and tanka. I love to read and have written over 100 reviews: A-Z of my book reviews

My alter ego is MJ – Mary Jane from Spiderman. I love superheros! I was born on the 17th of November in Lion City: Singapore, (a passionate Scorpio, with the Chinese Zodiac sign a lucky rabbit,) second child and only daughter to my proud parents Paula and Ronald. I grew up in a mountainous court in the Peak District in Hong Kong with my elder brother Donald. My parents dragged me away from my exotic childhood and my much loved dog Topsy to the frozen wastelands of Scotland. In Bonnie Edinburgh I mastered Scottish country dancing, and a whole new Och Aye lingo.

As a teenager I travelled to many far-flung destinations to visit my abacus wielding wayfarer dad. It’s rumoured that I now live in the Venice of Cambridge, with my six foot hunk of a Rock God husband, and my two enchanted daughters. After such an upbringing my author’s mind has taken total leave of its senses! When I’m not writing, I eat exotic delicacies while belly dancing, or surf to the far reaches of the moon. To chill out, I practise Tai Chi. If the mood takes me I snorkel with mermaids, or sign up for idyllic holidays with the Chinese Unicorn, whose magnificent voice sings like a thousand wind chimes.

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You can find MJ on various pages of the interweb

Amazon Author Page

Website mjmallon.com

Facebook Group to help support traditional and indie writers. #ABRSC: Authors/Bloggers Rainbow Support Club on Facebook

Instagram: mjmallonauthor

Twitter: @Marjorie_Mallon and Twitter: @curseof_time

Facebook: M J Mallon author

Tumblr: MJMallonauthor

She has devoted the past few years to writing over 100 reviews on Goodreads Review Account

~B

PS I must confess to being super curious and cant wait to read this…. its like being regular curious but I wear a cape

 

 

Of Serendipity: A Series Of Fortunate Events

Guest Post

guest post.jpg

Being someone who is interested in various sciences, I try to project a rational image to the world. But I encountered a set of coincidences during a recent trip to Belize that seemed too perfect to happen by chance. It almost felt as if some invisible force was organizing the flow of events; putting me exactly where I needed to be at the right times.

I recently spent six weeks in Belize. During the first half of this trip I was participating in an archaeological field school: living in a subtropical rainforest and excavating Mayan ruins. Once that program ended, I spent another three weeks traveling on my own. During this time I was learning about jaguar conservation, whilst also looking for opportunities to perform my master’s research. It was during this phase that the most incredible coincidences occurred.

One of these events unfolded during my second week of solo traveling. At this point, I was living in Bella’s Backpackers hostel in San Ignacio. I had several people I wanted to speak with in the nearby capital of Belmopan, but I had been unable to find affordable lodging there. So I opted to stay in San Ignacio and bus back and forth.

Bella's BackPackers San Ignacio, Belize.

The common area at Bella’s BackPackers in San Ignacio, Belize.

One day, I went to the immigration office in Belmopan to extend my visa. I spent several hours waiting in line, only to be told that I had to come back later. Frustrated and exhausted, I began to wander aimlessly through town. Eventually I found myself standing in front of Everest Indian Restaurant. I love Indian food, and I had accidentally found the only Indian restaurant currently open in Belmopan. And the food was incredible.

While there, a British expat struck up a conversation with me. I told him about my inability to find cheap accommodations in Belmopan, and he immediately referred me to the restaurant’s owner: Raj Karki. Raj had a large house with a spare room, but he was not ready to receive guests. Fortunately, a couple overhead Raj and I talking. They informed me that they were staying at a place called Belmopan Tiny Homes, and that the rates were reasonable. They gave me the owner’s phone number, and two days later I had moved there. By a stroke of luck, I now had a place to stay in Belmopan.

Belmopan Tiny Homes; Belmopan, Belize.​

Belmopan Tiny Homes on the Outskirts of Belmopan, Belize.​

A few days later I awoke with an urge to visit Raj at Everest. When I arrived there, he said that he had readied his spare room for me. I could move in at any time, and for the same low rate I was paying at Belmopan Tiny Homes. I did so, and this ended up being the best decision I made in Belize. More on this later.

During my last week in Belize, I was still focused on trying to meet with key people in Belmopan. I had some downtime one day, so I went to Guanacaste National Park. After a fantastic hike, I stopped to chat with the staff in the visitor center. A man walked in whom they knew, and I began telling him why I was in Belize. When I mentioned my interest in jaguars, he told me that he was the site manager at the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary. This is an important area for jaguars, and earlier I had regretted that I would not have time to go there. Now, by some bizarre coincidence, Cockscomb’s site manager was standing right in front of me. These things are not supposed to happen in real life! Despite the unlikelihood of this event, the most important coincidence was still to come.

Stream Guanacaste National Park

​A beautiful stream at Guanacaste National Park, just outside of Belmopan

It was now July 3, and my last day in Belize. After a morning meeting with the Belize Forest Department, I chose to spend the rest of the day with my friend Raj. That evening I saw Raj going to great lengths to plant fruit trees in an empty lot. I asked Raj what he was doing, and he replied that he had planted many fruit trees throughout Belmopan. Why? So that when the trees matured, everyone could enjoy their delicious fruits. No one would know Raj had planted them, but he did not care.

I suddenly had an epiphany. At that moment, I was witnessing the type of behavior that would create a better future. Raj did not fit the environmentalist stereotype: he was well-groomed and identified as a businessman. Yet here he was, unknowingly engaging in reforestation, simply because he wanted to help others. In that moment, I realized what my next major task was. I needed to find more people like Raj, learn how they became the way they are, and share their stories with the world. Perhaps then other people will be inspired to follow their examples.

Everest Indian Restaurant

While in Belize, I visited many incredible places. But it was here, outside of Everest Indian Restaurant, that I learned my greatest lesson. It came ​not from a scientific expert, but from a humble restaurant owner.

Whether due to fate, chance, or some other factor; my time in Belize was one coincidence after another. These fortunate events helped me overcome challenges, better my circumstances, and forge new friendships. But most important of all, they gave me a better sense of what my next mission is. I need to locate more exceptional people like Raj, and figure out what lessons they have for the world.

Bio

My name is Josh, and I am a master’s student at Humboldt State University in northern California. My deepest love is for the natural world, especially wildlife. But my educational background is in psychology, and I greatly enjoy speaking to and learning from other people. As such, I am trying to find away to contribute to wildlife conservation by specializing in working with people.

My hobbies include reading, writing, and anything dealing with the outdoors. I have also recently found out that I enjoy traveling, and hope to do more of it in the future. The same goes for photography, although I am a true beginner in that field. Lastly, I spend a great deal of time thinking about topics that have absolutely no relevance for my life.

Josh at Mayan site of Tikal in Peten, Guatemala.

Josh standing on top of Temple 4 at the Mayan site of Tikal in Peten, Guatemala.

To find out more about Josh’s “Belize adventures” and his wildlife study on the interweb go to:

Blog: TheJaguarAndAllies.com

Facebook: Facebook.com/joshua.gross2

Twitter: Twitter.com/Myusername432

~B