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thandekamwakipesile

Month

June 2016

AFRICANNESS

I’ve been on many fashion blogs recently and seen an array of African inspired clothing. I’ve gone into the music library on my phone and pressed play and listened to American and British artist’s belt out African inspired ballads and thus one thing has become profoundly clear to me… If you don’t have a solid sense of identity, people will give you one and run with it.

Now don’t get me wrong, a lot of the African print you see online is truly African print that is worn traditionally by some African countries, and some African inspired music is somewhat authentic to the theme. But, that’s the thing, only some. It is impossible to completely encapsulate a continent with 54 countries in one song or in a headscarf. The countries out of Africa seem to think that they have defined what being an African is, that by wearing Nigerian inspired clothing and trying to sound African on a song is reason enough to define Africaness. Which obviously isn’t true.

I read a novel by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie called Half of a Yellow Sun in which she makes a strong point about who should be writing the stories about Africa. That someone’s identity should be defined by them first before people hop on to whatever definition suits them. There is an African proverb that says, “Until the lion learns how to write, every story will glorify the hunter” but first, before we Africans write the story, I have to pose the questions, “Do we know who we are, and can that be defined simply?”

I think that answering that question is the greatest hindrance to our progress as Africans, because after being colonised and then being independent, the remnants of who we are has been tangled in pre- colonised African and Independent African. My point is that Spanish people aren’t just tequila and salsa the same way all Africans aren’t an African rhythm and headscarf. Also, it’s very important that we as human beings think about how we define ourselves and if that is what we project

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Why do I Write/Blog ?

I’m a firm believer in the power of story telling, I myself was only encouraged to take my blogging and writing after reading work other people had done. Writing isn’t only important, its an essential part of the human experience. From centuries ago story telling has long been a tenant of the human experience. And as we are introduced to every new character in a novel or book, we, in turn are introduced to ourselves.

When the pressures of this world get too much we can simply push pen to paper and create our own world. As we venture off with the protagonist/antagonist/persona in every piece of writing we realise that we too determine our story and are in fact our own biggest hero, cheerleader or villain. Reading other people’s thoughts often reminds us that we are not alone and after every comma we can find a new character who reminds us of ourselves or someone else.

I write because all forms of literature expose our humanness. As an advocate for human rights a common problem in the advocacy for Human rights is that some people often forget some people are human when they are presented as a statistic, telling their story makes them individuals not just another number in the billions of people on earth.

I write because I want to be the person to help someone have their ”I wanna write” epiphany. I write because I need too, I write to show you that you need to too.

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When Art is Uniformed

I tried to hide my weird, but

It just so happens that weird is called

Artistic

When its put on camera,

So,  I got up, out of the hallows of wallowing in my indifference

Contoured my cheekbones

And smudged my eye makeup to look the part

I pressed record on the camera

And I realised that my weird began to feel strange

When it was all for show

When I was trying to make it a declaration to the world

That this, too, was acceptable

When I became an advocate for my weird

It wasn’t mine

It became something for all the grief stricken to march for

It became a hashtag for the media obsessed

It became a statement to excuse, not glorify my weird

So I took the regular face towel and rubbed the ordinary from my weird face

And when all the mascara and bronzer was off

I looked into the camera

Smiled

And took me and my weird outside to play

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”Education… Enough?”

So as I sat down to write this little piece of enlightenment I contemplated its relevance and how to make it sound fancy… But this is just a human to human article.

For some people, the statement, “Education is not enough” is a common phrase, for some not so much. I’m a 18 year old girl from Zimbabwe and just like most Zimbabweans the common phrase was always “Shanda nesimba” which means “Work hard” and they meant work hard in school. So I did. By the time I got to high school I was an A student and as I was doing the Cambridge syllabus at school I got a bunch of A’s for my  O’Levels and A’Levels and I had dreams of being a human rights lawyer knowing that my grades made me eligible to be accepted to some of the best universities in Africa and abroad. But, hold on, before you start thinking this is a boasting thing, let me break it down for you.

After the liquidation crisis in Zimbabwe reached its peak in 2013 according to the Zimabwean newspaper the Sunday Mail about 300 companies were liquidated as of Dec 15 2013 and counting. My fathers company being one of them, this has resulted in many Zimbabwean children not being able to afford going to school. I myself studied at home for three quarters of my senior year and registered at a local school to write my exams and came out with flying colours as I don’t shy away from hard work. And as I started to apply to my preferred universities I found that I couldn’t afford the application fee or I found that some scholarship applications had an application fee. It became very apparent to me that education is not enough anymore, neither is hard work and passion. Not when you live where I do. I am in a society where the economy so pathetic that people with masters degrees and doctorates cannot get jobs because people don’t have enough revenue to pay employees even if they need them. Thus no amount of philosophical and practical understanding of Pythagoras Theorem or Shakespeare or the French Revolution and its importance in the modern world’s systems is enough to make sure that after almost 13 years of school I can actually go to university and then get a job. So I don’t know what to do but I do believe that everything happens for a reason. But it’s still kinda shitty don’t you think ?

So I pose the question: If there is unequal distribution of wealth in the world and its not enough to work hard in order to obtain that, what then?

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On Thought

She was all complexity,
All at once
At first glance, the intricacies
The depths of existence
Seemed obvious

The clean cut lines
The black and white was never where she dwelt
She found comfort in shadows
In the grey areas of some people’s uncertainty
Was where she found assurance
Assurance of sanctity
Sanity

It is such a morbid thing, isn’t it?
To believe that our comfort will lay in the rare normalcy
I’d rather be crazy
I’d rather be all of it all at once
I’d rather be me.

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