Runspiration

If someone would’ve told me, three years ago, that one day my life would comprise of early morning grafts on the road in compression tights and running shoes, I would have never believed them. Back then, my days were filled with late mornings spent recovering from the “debauchery” brought on from the night before and, on the odd occasion, struggles through 2km drills around the local soccer pitch in my desperate attempt to lose weight. Three years later, with a few marathons under my belt, running has become a significant part of my life that has shaped it in a way that I could have never imagined. The comraderie I still experience amongst runners has truly been the driving force throughout my journey. It is the type of comraderie that surpasses all cultural backgrounds and barriers to unite people with the shared goal of meeting their dreams on the other side of the finish line. In light of June 16, a day that commemorates the youth of ’76 for breaking all barriers, five inspirational CHICAs who possess unique running journeys share their stories on how they have broken barriers in pursuit of their ultimate selves despite weight problems, confidence issues and life-threatening diseases. They will also be at the starting line of the J16 Run (and Ride) Festival hosted by ThesisLifeStyle (@ThesisLifeStyle) in collaboration with Nike in full armour, ready to kick some serious butt. If you are looking for some runspiration then CHICAs, get ready to be blown away.

Meet Lindiwe Maseko- @linzz_msk

Age- 30

Profession- HR Business Partner

Runspiration 

Growing up, I was overweight and believed that I was ugly. It stuck with me for the longest of time. The struggle of fitting in and dealing with societal fat shaming pushed me into a dark corner. So imagine it all; I felt ugly, fat, insecure, zero levels of confidence and struggled to buy clothes, the list is endless.

Back track to 2012, I decided to join the gym and start this journey of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. I would jog about 3km (at this point I felt I was going to die) and walked about 1km back home (defeated at this point). I lost weight gradually between 2013-2014 and watched myself grow into a woman who was comfortable in her own skin.

Fast track to 2015, I was running my routine 5KM route when I bumped into five guys who were running uphill as I took on the downhill. I particularly looked at one guy, who I knew was Wandile Zondo (he was a good friend to of one my brothers). His top was off, the sun was blazing on his skin and despite seeming like he was in pain, his face reflected the persistence of a man eager to finish the run against all odds. I realized that these guys were from ThesisRunCru (@thesisruncru). I had heard about them from my brother but decided that I would never t run with them because they would certainly leave me behind, which would completely be embarrassing. Surprisingly, one day, I woke and decided to attempt their 5KM run just to see how it would go. Despite almost dying, a new fire in me was born, a fire that still lives in me today and had led me to conquer anything that I attempt no matter how hard I have to push.

I journeyed with the CRU through rainy, cold, hot and unpredictable days.  I have since grown from running at a pace of 09:05 (nine minutes a KM) to a pace of 06:30. I went from running 3km, which left me feeling like I was at death’s door, to conquering my first 42km marathon in 2016. I used to despise hills and avoid them at all costs, I have since faced them head on through the tumultuous route at the Two Oceans Half Marathon in Cape Town. I hated my body but have now come to appreciate my “full figure” with which I have broken barriers and understand that, it is what makes me unique.

Runspiration

I have turned my curse into my blessing. I am now able to coach new members who struggle with all the emotions attached to being “the big girl”. I inspire the unknown through my posts on my workouts. I minister on the changes my body has undergone. I vibe with the BEST RunCru in Soweto who have assisted me in this journey by holding my hand when I got tired, pushed me when I was about to give up and carried me through my Soweto marathon journey. They understood my disappointments after a run, wiped my tears through injuries, and made me run some crazy routes that even cars tend to struggle through. Today, I continue to run the streets with a confidence that I never thought I possessed and that is how I continue to break my own barriers.

Meet Ayanda Zibaya- @yahyahzibi

Age- 32

Profession: Civil Engineer

Runspiration

I have always been a size 28 until I fell pregnant with my son in 2009; I subsequently gained weight and grew into a size 36. In attempt to fight the weight off, I went on diet after diet which seem to work until I retired from them, and then gained the weight all over again. It was in December 2014 when I started getting concerned that simple activities such as walking to the local shops would exhaust me and make me sweat excessively; my chest began to start clogging up too. I decided to get tested for any chronic diseases and found out that I had low blood pressure with sky high cholesterol levels. This was all brought on from my bad eating habits and lack of exercise. Knowing that my condition could possibly lead to heart failure led me to finally make a change. I learnt that the one way to alleviate the situation was to change my lifestyle, so I did.  In Jan ’15, I decided to start running and adopted  healthier habits. I started running with Thesis Run Cru (@ThesisRunCru) and, as a result began to learn so much more about myself and life. The introvert in me began to enjoy the new friends I was making as I began to run with the Cru every Saturday. I went from someone who struggled to communicate to being someone who always offers a hand to new people who just need that extra push as they start their running journey. I have since reached my ideal weight but more importantly, I have become fitter, stronger and have a confidence that I have never possessed before.

Runspiration

Meet  Nonkululeko Ndlovu- @nkuli0811

Age- 32

Profession: Full time mom

Women are often marginalized in many aspects of life, including in running. When I started running, I joined a social running group which I had learnt about from a mutual friend, Zakes. Everyone in our neighbourhood said that the only way that I could run with Zakes, is if I were some kind of superwomen. Through the years, I have come to shun the naysayers and achieve what I had previously deemed impossible. My running journey started when I unintentionally ran the Soweto 21KM race as a result of my partner receiving free entries. From then, I promised myself that I would come back to try the full 42.2KM marathon just to see how it went. That is when everything changed for me. I joined NRC (Nike Run Club) and amidst all the training and runspiration, I found myself in the mix of planning how I would beat my personal best times at certain races. I knew hard work had to follow, so I conceded and later found myself at the starting line of a couple of marathons including Soweto Marathon. I finished comfortably as I conquered the races. I have since finished three Ultra Marathons: Irene Mordene 48km Athlete Ultra, Om die Dam 50km and my biggest accomplishment, the Comrades Marathon. I believe that I have broken a few barriers of my own and there are certainly still more to come.

Running has changed and affected my daily life which is why I choose fitness, a healthy lifestyle and running. It has changed the way that I think, strategize and implement everything that I plan.


Meet Lebogang Bawela- @baweezy_1
Age- 28
Profession- Project Coordinator for an Insurance Company

For many years, no one (including myself) believed that I could really run. Despite having been very active as a student, my love for running fell away when I realized I was always the last to finish. I felt like I had to finish in the top three in order to be recognized as a true runner. The sad reality was that no one cheered for the child who came last. Everything changed when I was diagnosed with a life threatening disease which, my physiotherapist insisted I needed to take up exercise and regular walks in order to heal. I realized that it had to start mentally; I needed to prepare my mind for the challenge ahead before I could truly see the ultimate goal of healing manifest.  I believed that I was given a second chance in life and as a result, decided to give running a second chance. I had no choice. The advice from my physiotherapist saw me getting up, lacing my shoes and attempting my first run. Before I knew it, running distances that I never imagined I could became a norm. From then, I have fallen in love with running and have taken up training so that I can run marathons. Every day, I compete g with is myself, my old self, who never believed this would be possible and I don’t want ever want to look back

Meet Nana Nokelela – @teamsqathi

Age- 32

Profession- Investigator

 

I have started a motivational group called Team Sqathi. It is an exclusive group of ordinary women who were/are plus size and struggle to lose weight. This group is a lifestyle group whose goal is to motivate and support each other as we navigate through fitness programmes that will ultimately lead us to our ideal weights.

Through sharing daily motivational quotes, weekly exercise plans, monthly weigh-ins and discussion forums, we have opened up our forum to discuss drive every women one step closer towards their desired weight in a much healthier way.

Well CHICAs, I hope these stories have left you feeling runspired. If you would like to join the Thesis Lifestyle J16 family festival, as the first step to your running journey or for some serious fun, then you can get your tickets on Quicket.co.za

Statement from Thesis Management:

This event started in 2014 and originally hosted at Thesis Lifestyle Concept Store at Mofolo on Machaba drive. The cultural backgrounds that have united over the past two years has been short nothing of empowering and emotional for some. The whole point of this event has been to honour the youth of ’76 in a style befitting to the youth of today, and acknowledge efforts taken to liberate the education system which we now access. The run and ride goes through Soweto and reflects on the routes taken by the students during the revolutionary uprising. Through this event we channel the old and new energies of the youth to never forget the rich history of South Africa and remember where we are headed as the youth.

By Lerato 

YES

Based on the title alone, am sure many of you can almost guess that the this post is inspired by Shonda Rhimes’ best seller book, Year of Yes.

YesI believe that there’s a time and place to say no, and some situations demand it from us if we are to maintain our peace. However, saying NO can also be debilitating and can stifle progress and become a shield of sorts. Let me explain. When we allow fear to take over, our subconscious mind can convince us to say no to things that challenge us or scare us. No becomes a cushion of sorts, a protective layer. Saying no can make one feel in control not realising that it’s stifling their own growth. If you saying no is driven by fear of a challenge or not wanting to step out of your comfort zone, then it ought to be converted into a resounding YES.

When you say YES to things, that requires stepping out of the comfort zone and putting yourself out there. At times, saying YES is the scariest thing ever but is a necessary ‘evil’. In my own life, I’ve said no to things because I was scared or uncertain. The comfort zone made more sense to me at the time and this came at the expense of progress and new experiences. Saying YES even when my knees are knocking if the most liberating thing ever. There’s no growth that comes from comfort zones. Ever. No really, you can even Google it. I challenge you to think of any successful person that you admire and imagine if they’d be just as successful if they had said no to things that intimidated them.

If Oprah said no to being a TV anchor when she was offered the job, citing all sorts of excuses about how she was not ready… Do you think she’d be where she is today? I don’t think so.

How about Khanyi Dhlomo; if she questioned herself when the opportunity to be an editor of a magazine at age 21 came along, would she be the media mogul that we all admire today? Probably not.

  • Steve Jobs.
  • Ipeleng Mkhari.
  • Nelson Mandela.

We can go through all their stories and ask similar questions, and the answer would still be a resounding NO. None of these great personalities would have achieved their greatness without saying YES to things that challenged them.

So how about saying YES to something that you’d have ordinarily said no to?

Say YES to taking care of your body and eating clean.

Say YES to speaking in public even if your heart is about to jump out of your chest.

Say YES to that trip that you’ve been postponing.

Say YES to writing that book.

Say YES to registering that business.

Say YES to new love.

Challenge yourself to say YES!

 

By Kay Mantyi

Endometriosis

Endometriosis (pronounced en- doh – mee – tree – oh – sis) is the name given to the condition where cells like the ones in the lining of the womb (uterus) are found elsewhere in the body.

Each month these cells react in the same way to those in the womb, building up and then breaking down and bleeding. Unlike the cells in the womb that leave the body as a period, this blood has no way to escape. It is a chronic and debilitating condition that causes painful or heavy periods. It may also lead to infertility, fatigue and bowel and bladder problems.

The Endometriosis Society of SA says “the pain caused by endometriosis is both physically and mentally exhausting. It takes on average 8 – 10 years to be diagnosed.  In South Africa, there are minimal support structures in place for women who suffer from endometriosis – and there are millions of women suffering in silence. Many of these women may not even know they have endometriosis and simply believe that the pain and debilitation that goes hand in hand with endometriosis is just something women “have to put up with”! Nothing could be further from the truth!”

My first encounter with Endometriosis was seeing how Ntombi Mkhonza from Soweto was always in hospital. I would read her captions on social media with much confusion. The situation seemed to consume a lot of her life. What I found interesting is why a condition of this nature is not spoken of often enough? I think it’s one that we need to start giving attention to, showing support to women that are suffering from it and making sure we know what to do should we be diagnosed with it.

Endometriosis

I decided to chat to Ntombi (NM) to find out more about Endo and how it has affected her life. This is what she had to say:

KM: When were you diagnosed with endometriosis and what was your initial reaction?

NM: I was diagnosed in 2012 with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), Endometriosis and Endocrine Disorder and I was ok because I honestly didn’t understand what it all meant. it was overwhelming.

KM: Did you fully understand what this meant for you when you were diagnosed or did it take some time and research?

NM: I had to do research on my own as the Dr did try and explain in details but you know medical terms can throw you off.

KM: How has it affected your daily life?

NM: Typical day consists of remembering when to take meds, mood swings, headaches, nauseas, constant cramping, extreme fatigue, bloating, back pain and the worst is the flare. Sometimes the flare is so big that I look 7 months pregnant and I’m sure you know how people stop and stare and have questions of why I am showing on some days and on others I am not showing as pregnant. In the beginning, it was weird knowing that I could possibly never have kids yet I love them so much but in time, I got used to the idea. I am very cautious of my daily activities, driving sometimes is a mission because of the pain but it must be done. There are certain activities such as theme park rides, extreme sports that I can’t be a part of. With all of that said, life must go on. So, a positive attitude and talking about this disease has helped extremely.

KM: What has your support structure been like?

NM: It has been awesome. I don’t think I would have accepted and coped so well with the disease. Knowing our culture as black people, a woman is defined by whether she can have kids or not but this has been such a graceful period as my in-laws are so supportive and understand the complications.

KM: You seem to be engaged to a very supportive man. Do you think having a partner that truly understands the effects that endo has, makes the journey travelled less painful?

NM: Support structure is vital in this journey. When I was diagnosed, I had just started a relationship with Sandile, it wasn’t easy because major lifestyle changes had to be made. I am truly blessed and lucky to have had a then boyfriend now husband that understood from day 1. I have the GREATEST respect for Sandile. He takes on so much on a daily but still manages to remain calm and by my side. As a man, I think he had every reason to leave me, he deals with my mood swings (caused by the great hormone imbalance I have). Our sex life has also been affected EXTREMELY because of the severity of the pain during intercourse, but never in the 5 years of being together have I felt pressured or uncomfortable. He has never made me feel less of a woman because of this. All my Dr’s appointments, procedures, follow ups, collecting of medication on a monthly, he is so involved so he has reminders in our calendars for such. I thank God daily for a man like him. He looks after me, sleeps by my bedside in hospital, always doing research on how to deal with endo.

KM: Has it affected your career?

NM: Always being off sick starts being questioned in the workplace, with my past 2 jobs I’ve had to produce medical reports to prove that I am ill, so much so that the HR of this company had called the hospital to confirm if I was admitted for a certain period.

KM: Your social life?

NM: Social life had to be adjust because of certain actives that I can’t do as mentioned above and the diet as well had to be changed. Lost a couple of friends along the road because some people couldn’t handle the excuse of ‘I can’t make it, I’m in pain’ so it started being a ‘you can make it to some other people’s things but never to our things’ so such I just chose to let go.

Endometriosis

KM: What scares you the most about living with the condition?

NM: 1. Trying out IVF numerous times and it doesn’t work, dealing with disappointment will be the end of me.

  1. Falling pregnant and having complications that may lead to the loss of a baby. I don’t think I will ever live past that. In essence, not carrying full term.

KM: You are very positive given the circumstance. Always see how happy you are in your posts. What inspires you to get up every morning and live your best life despite what you may go through?

NM: I know what I want out of this life. More so I WANT TO BE A MOM. Everyday is a step towards making my dreams come true so all the curve balls thrown at me by Endometriosis, PCOS and Endocrine Syndrome are just harnessing the big goal. These illness does not define me. I am Ntombifuthi Mkhonza, I have control over it every day. I embrace my emotions, when I feel overwhelmed I do what my heart wants, be it eating, crying, complaining I do that. After all I am living for ME.

KM: Words of encouragement to anyone who may suspect that they have endo or just found out that they have endometriosis.

NM: God gives his toughest battles to his strongest soldiers, so soldier on Endowarrior.

Sources:

www.endometriosis-uk.org

http://www.endpain.co.za

 

afraid

I’M A WOMAN LIVING IN SOUTH AFRICA,

A continuously developing and growing country filled with great opportunities yet facing just as many challenges, my greatest challenge right now, right at this moment is that I’m a woman, a daughter, a mother, a sibling with the greatest aim of wanting to make an impact, to be part of the change agents that seek to better our country for the existing and many generations to come…

My greatest challenge is that post-apartheid, a time where I am supposed to live and be free   – I AM AFRAID

Not only afraid of a stranger;

I am afraid of my brother,

I am afraid of my father,

I am afraid of the pastor from church,

I am afraid of my boyfriend,

I am afraid of my fellow male colleague;

 

I CAN NOT TRUST because society proves that would be very naïve of me

Where am I supposed to hide when all these man are everywhere? How & where am I supposed to raise my son and teach him to be a man?

Home is not safe,

School is not safe,

Church is not safe,

The office is not safe,

The streets are not safe,

 

I wonder if it is even okay to dress and appear like a woman because it seems my greatest sin is being a woman

I am afraid for myself,

I am afraid for my sister,

I am afraid for my daughter,

I am afraid for my nieces,

I am afraid for my fellow women,

Who’s supposed to protect me?

Who’s supposed to protect us?

What did we do that makes our male counterparts feel the need to brutalise, molest, rape & kill us? What trait do we possess that the sight of us turns our fellow brothers into monsters that are thirst for us blood?

How do we move forward without fearing that our next step may be the death of us?

By Acko

Believing

BELIEVING IN AND BEING MY SELF – MY TRUE POWER

By Akhona Acko Zondani

Every other elder, teacher, fellow contestant, fellow colleague, friends and others will always tell you to believe in yourself especially when you’re about to do something great, be it going for an interview, an audition, walk on stage, address a crowd etc. but no one ever breaks down the concept of believing in thyself: and so, with excitement and graciousness – we always respond with a simple thank you.

Perhaps, because that’s what we’ve heard others say when the same exact words were uttered to them and as such we simple say it too even when we don’t really understand what it means “JUST BELIEVE IN YOURSELF -THANK YOU” – I suppose sometimes BELIEVE IN YOURSELF is another form of GOOD LUCK – well, that’s how I translate and receive it.

I wonder what it means for others – perhaps those who don’t have themselves to believe in.

Perhaps I’m wondering this because at some point in my life, I didn’t have myself to believe in. I seeked a whole lot of validation and stamps of approval from others because I didn’t think I was good enough nor worthy of great things – be it love, happiness, peace etc. The only little confidence I had was that I was smart and possessed a bit of potential to succeed and could become anything that I ought to be.

But this was certainly not enough because no matter how hard I believed “in this little confidence and potential that I thought I possessed”– it took one drop of negativity from under the stars to destroy all that, I mean all of it and I’d give up and decide that I’m not good enough and that I’d fail anyway.

Therefore, I missed out on a lot of great opportunities because I refused to even dare to try. And this little person was disguised in baggy jeans and t- shirts with a brush cut because she didn’t even think nor believe she was beautiful.  I had been told, convinced and made to believe that I looked like a boy and my small mind registered this so much that dressing like the boy I looked like, seemed more like an appropriate thing to do.

I guess I didn’t have myself to believe in until I subscribed to Tyler Perry’s mailing list many years ago – Apart from enjoying his movies, I loved reading his emails and this one changed my thinking and my life altogether;-

Believing

Letter by Tyler Perry

I live my life outside of the box because when I die they’re going to put me into one! Many times in this life, people will try to tell you what you can and cannot do. They will also try to tell you who you are and who you are not.DON’T LET ANYBODY DEFINE YOU!When I was a kid, I had a teacher tell me that I would never be a millionaire because I was black and the system was set up to keep me down. This was a TEACHER! Can you believe that? I’m so glad that my little boy mind didn’t accept that. I have often been told that I wouldn’t make it because I was poor or because of the colour of my skin. I had family members tell me I would never make it and my dreams would never come true for one reason or another… boy were they wrong. If I had listened to any of those voices I wouldn’t be here writing this to you. Hear me when I say this to you: no matter what anyone says to you, LIVE YOUR LIFE!! Follow that still small voice inside of you. That is GOD’s Holy Spirit and I think we all have the capacity to hear that voice. We just need to still ourselves to hear it. You must silence all the outside voices in order to hear THE voice. I try to stay as clear as I can so that I can hear it. It’s not always easy, but necessary.This is your life! Make decisions based on your own path. Let no one define it for you! If you live the life everyone else wants you to live and you never live the life you want to live, then are you really living??

LIFE IS SO SHORT… LIVE IT TO THE FULLEST!!

I read it many times and it inspired me to unlearn the things I was made to believe about myself and learn new things about the person I saw in the mirror and how I wanted her to be and turn out. See, I realized that the difference between his younger self and me was that my little girl mind had accepted the negative factors that I’d been told and made to believe about myself.

He said – “don’t let anybody define you” and so I embarked on an ongoing journey of self-discovery and redefined myself.

Believing in myself for me means not being afraid to be myself, understanding that failure is part of the journey and NOT trying it all is failure. It means taking advantage of every opportunity that comes my way as long as I believe I want and can do it. It means that something’s may only make sense to me and nobody else. It means not tiring nor getting weary of continuously loving and re-inventing myself hence BELIEVING IN AND BEING MYSELF AT EVERYTHING- IS MY TRUE POWER

by Acko

insemination

First of all I want to put a disclaimer that I am not judging anyone. I am just a confused soul who needs enlightening so please bear with me and read with an open mind.

I have been so confused with some of the reasons why people adopt children or do insemination. The idea of insemination compelled me to write this. I have so many questions and thoughts about the whole discussion but, again, those are just my opinions.

Some things in life you don’t believe they exist until they happen close to home. Ever since I came to the United States I am exposed to so many things that make the African in me cringe. For example, I live with a lady who has a 3 year old daughter who is mixed race. I never really cared to ask where the father is and I just assumed that I would meet him one day, maybe when he comes to pick her up for the weekend or whatever. That day, however, never came. I lived with them for 5 months. At some point, I would find a pregnancy test in the house, even though I never saw a man visit. Like ever. Neither did the woman and her child ever go away for a weekend, where I would have assumed they are meeting with the father or a boyfriend. She was always home.

Insemination

I began to get curious about the whereabouts of the kid’s father, but I was still not sure how to ask this woman who is in her mid 40s.  I was her housemate but she treated me like her older child. One day, out of the blue, she asked me when my cycle (menstruation) was and if I could give her my eggs 😳 . That whole thing was bizarre for me, “Give you my eggs?”

I’m a very weird person, if I feel like what you say makes no sense,then I don’t even want to put it in thoughts I just look at you and go “Hehe” and basically that’s what I did. I was confused and thought she was crazy. Gosh, how can you ask such a thing?

Well, to cut a long story short, I later discovered that her kid was not born through a normal pregnancy but through artificial insemination. Now my main question was first of all, whether she deliberately chose a white man’s sperm or was that the last sperm they had? And secondly, I feel like getting a child that way is selfish, mainly because you deliberately deprive the child an opportunity to have a father, and have a normal father experience.

I never had a Dad growing up, my grandpa was my father, but the feeling of wishing I had a father came once in a while. I mean it’s different from adopting because there you save the child I believe. Insemination, on the other hand, is something you do for you, yourself to close a gap or for loneliness reasons but at the end of the day you do it for you. That’s selfish to me, I think.

Do you think single ladies who do insemination are selfish? What do you tell the child, “Your father is dead?”

My housemate’s daughter told me that her dad is dead because her Mom told her that.

I would be so mad if I was a product of artificial insemination.

Please help me look at this in a different way.

By Lesego

Women Authors

You know, when this year kicked off I was reading a lot, and thought it was gonna be the year where I beat my GoodReads Challenge heheh then life happened and I stopped. I’m getting back on my feet now though and this is one other thing I have to get right. I will continue through my list.

Before I do that though, I’d like to share with you, 3 female African authors I’ve read so far this year and the books that made me fall in love with them!

1. Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

emale Authors

I fell in love with the cover before even knowing what the book was about! So pretty!

Homegoing is a heartbreaker of a novel that traces 13 generations of one family, starting with sisters Effia and Esi. Effia marries a slave owner – her sister Esi is taken as a slave and then we get to see how their lives and those of generations who come after unfold. It is one of the most beautiful books I have ever read.. The amount of research the author did is astounding and you will love her.
My only frustration with the book was that it felt like I was reading a compilation of short stories. But with each character introduced you get emotionally attached and cry/laugh with them – it’s such a deep book and please, please, please, read it! And then we can all plan our trip to Ghana together because we’ll want to go see the Cape Coast Castle when you’re done.

Yaa Gyasi Female Authors
The book made me fall in love with the Author, 26 year old Yaa Gyasi.  Yaa was born in Ghana but her family left for the US when she was just 2 years old. She holds a BA in English from Stanford University and an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she held a Dean’s Graduate Research Fellowship. She currently lives in New York and if I haven’t sold her to you yet, please watch this interview where she talks about the book. There are no spoilers 🙂

Love her humility!

2. Behold The Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue 

African Authors

Oh my word – how I loved this book. My darling Jende!
This book follows the story of two couples in New York City. The first couple is Jende and his wife Neni who are struggling to make ends meet in New York City. The two are immigrants from Cameroon and they are in the US hoping to provide a bright future for their son and live the American dream. Jende then hits the big time, well kinda, but getting a job as a chauffeur for the wealthy Clark Edwards and his family.  And then the story gets interesting!

I read a review where the author was heavily criticized for how Jende and his wife desperately chased after this dream but you know, there are people like that in the world so we can’t expect authors to only put forward the stories we think should be told.

So having enjoyed the book I got curious about the author Imbolo Mbue (I always mispronounce her last name by calling her Imbolo Blue) and discovered that she was born in Limbe, Cameroon, the same city her book’s subjects are from. Imbolo holds a BA from Rutgers University and an MA from Columbia University. She has lived in New York for over 10 years now, having moved there to go to college after finishing high school.

Must be nice there in New York for authors new! heheh.

Here’s a short clip of Imbolo discussing her journey and what led her to write the book.

Amazing!

3. Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga

Female Authors

Before I get into the book, please do not judge me for only reading this book now *facepalm*, I know I am super late but perhaps if I had read it earlier I would not have had the same appreciation for it I have now?

Nervous Conditions has the most brilliant first line –  “I am not sorry when my brother died.” 

How is that for getting you to put your smartphone down and read through to find out why this girl is so evil? Her name is Tambudzai a young girl growing up in Rhodesia (now called Zimbabwe) and as she is telling her story, you actually want to jump in and kill that stupid brother of hers yourself. But before getting annoyed by her brother, you will be disgusted by Tambu’s father who believes that education is wasted on women. And then we get to meet her uncle Babamukuru who kind of gives us hope in the beginning but turns out to be the ultimate traditionalist. *Insert eye roll emoji* His daughter Nyasha on the other hand, is the highlight of this book for me. Her relationship with Tambu will touch you. 

I cannot do justice to this book if I try to review it but I can tell you (if you are super late like me) it is a must read and is still relevant in its discussion of the class and gender issues we still battle with today.

Nervous Conditions was published in 1988 and was the first English book to be published by a Zimbabwean woman and has a Sequel, The Book Of Not, which was published in 2006. I don’t know if I will be reading the sequel though, what if it’s not as great as this book? Also, I can’t quite imagine what else I would want to know, I’m happy with where the story ended.

58 year old Tsitsi Dangarembga is such an accomplished woman. I was shocked to find out that she is the one who wrote the film Neria, which was the highest grossing film in the history of Zimbabwe. Do you remember that story? And the accompanying song by Oliver Mutukudzi? Yep, that was her!

Tsitsi studied medicine at the University of Cambridge prior to moving back to Zimbabwe to study Psychology at the University of Zimbabwe. She also ventured into film and went to Berlin where she studied at the Deutsche Film und Fernseh Akademie. Read more about her HERE. 

Tsitsi currently lives in Zimbabwe and I was really sad to have missed her Lecture at the 2017 International Women’s Day UNISA hosted in March. Hopefully there’ll be other opportunities.

This was longer than I anticipated, hope you are still reading lol.

Which of these books have you read? What female African Authors are you reading?

By Lelo 

Inspiration

I read this quote earlier this week and I can’t get it out of my head, please allow me to share it with you: 

“Be brave. Even if you’re not, pretend to be. No one can tell the difference. Don’t allow the phone to interrupt important moments. It’s there for your convenience, not the callers.  Don’t be afraid to go out on a limb. That’s where the fruit is.

Don’t burn bridges. You’ll be surprised how many times you have to cross the same river. Don’t forget, a person’s greatest emotional need is to feel appreciated. Don’t major in minor things.

Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresa, Helen Keller, Leonardo Da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.

Don’t spread yourself too thin. Learn to say no politely and quickly. Don’t use time or words carelessly. Neither can be retrieved. Don’t waste time grieving over past mistakes Learn from them and move on.

Every person needs to have their moment in the sun, when they raise their arms in victory, knowing that on this day, at his hour, they were at their very best. Get your priorities straight. No one ever said on his death bed, ‘Gee, if I’d only spent more time at the office’.

Give people a second chance, but not a third. Judge your success by the degree that you’re enjoying peace, health and love. Learn to listen. Opportunity sometimes knocks very softly. Leave everything a little better than you found it. Live your life as an exclamation, not an explanation. Loosen up. Relax. Except for rare life and death matters, nothing is as important as it first seems. Never cut what can be untied.

Never overestimate your power to change others. Never underestimate your power to change yourself. Remember that overnight success usually takes about fifteen years. Remember that winners do what losers don’t want to do. Seek opportunity, not security. A boat in harbor is safe, but in time its bottom will rot out. Spend less time worrying who’s right, more time deciding what’s right.

Stop blaming others. Take responsibility for every area of your life. Success is getting what you want. Happiness is liking what you get. The importance of winning is not what we get from it, but what we become because of it.

When facing a difficult task, act as though it’s impossible to fail.”
― Jackson Brown Jr.

Be Brave

Crowns

Look around and you will notice the negativity around black women in general. You often see it on social media. Negativity which is self- inflicted.

Women are competitive by nature, I would like to think. Remember growing up if you saw your friend having a Barbie doll and you would cry to your mother endlessly begging her to buy you this doll. Eventually when she decides to buy you this doll, you only play with it for just about week, thereafter you are chasing something else that you saw from someone else. It’s in us, I’d like to think.

However, I feel back then it was more genuine and not about being jealous. I cannot say the same thing now that I’m grown. We took this competitive nature to all new heights, as bad as it sound.

Women compete about anything from clothes, careers, men and anything you could think off. It’s absurd. We have lost so much confidence in ourselves that we find joy in pulling others down.

We often size each other up by which car you drive, where you stay, who you hang out with etc. You meet another lady; you size them up and make conclusions about them. You don’t know their suffering, you don’t know their past and you don’t even know what it took for them to get to where they are. We are often envious about the jobs that people have without us knowing the struggle it took for them to get those jobs.

I’ve been a victim of this, so many times with friends. People assume that where you are now, that’s where you’re supposed to end up and they become shocked when you progress in life and reach “their” level. Like really?? Each of us has our own paths created by God. Our paths are different and the journey to getting to the final destination is different. You are unique black women.

I know of black women in corporate, very senior who intentionally pull others down in junior positions. I always thought that we as women have a caring, nurturing and building type of characters, but I’ve seen worst. Is it because they are fearful that you’re going to take their jobs, is it because they do not trust their capability which brought them in those positions, is it because they are inferior? I don’t know, I don’t have all the answers.

Crowns

Nowadays women compete for men, you would hear phrases like “If she could have that type of man, so can I”…. “She’s not even working, how is she driving such a fancy car she must have a blesser”…. “She’s not even pretty, but how did she get a rich man like him” Why, why and why?

Black women, it is okay to fix each other’s crowns. It is okay for your best friend to be dating this rich guy. It is okay for your friend that is not working to be driving this fancy car. It is okay for your friend to be graduating her MBA. It is okay for your friend to be staying in this fancy Country and Golf Estate…it’s OKAY!

It is okay to say to your friends, “Congratulations, Well Done, Good Job, You’re so beautiful today”

It is time to look deep within ourselves and realize that every one of us is special and every one of us has something to offer. We cannot continue dimming each other’s light just because we want to shine our own light. Therefore it’s okay to fix each other’s crowns. Let’s stop being hateful, spiteful, envious and let’s start embracing and loving each other as black women.

By Theo

Boston Media House Bursary

The Winner of the Bursary towards tuition at Boston Media House to the value of R 130, 000 is:

Tsholofelo Mzizi.

The bursary is for a 3 year Diploma in Media Practices at Boston Media House, a qualification aimed at equipping you to explore a career in the exciting world of marketing/ media.

Congratulations Tsholofelo, we will be in touch with you soon!

Thank you to everyone who sent in entries, it is unfortunate that we could only give out 1 bursary, but don’t give up on your dream!

Love,

CHICA Team