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17 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me When I Turned 21

21st Birthday
Photo Cred: Boho Weddings Online

 

Towards the end of last year, my aunt asked me to help her put together some advice/words of encouragement for a young lady who was turning 21 years old. She asked me to think about what I wish I had been told or what I wish I had known at the age of 21. As I did the list, I realized that there was so much that I was forced to learn from experience as I entered adulthood.

 

I think it is an assumption in our more modern black African community that you’ll figure things out as you go, especially because most of us are growing up away from home and from our elders. Granted that the best teacher is experience, but some guidance and counsel never hurt anyone.

 

Most of the words of wisdom we receive as we enter adulthood is to work hard, get a good job and get married – especially as black African women (bAw). As though that is the fullness of life. This got me thinking that there may be some young 21-year old who hasn’t had the opportunity to receive counsel on life and could benefit from reading up on a few key lessons that can help make their next stage in life more fulfilling. Or possibly, just a woman who needs to remember what is important in life.

 

And so here goes – 17 things I wish someone had told me as I turned 21:

 

  1. You are beautiful both inside and out. From this age onward, understand that society and your own doubts and fears will try to disagree with that statement. Begin now to choose to believe that you are beautiful and tell yourself that truth every day when you look in the mirror.

 

  1. You are more than worthy of love. You may find yourself seeking validation and worth in different places as you reach this stage of your life – in men, friendships, career, beautiful clothes or just looking good. In all instances, nothing and no-one will be able to validate you. Understand that your worth and value stems from your Creator God alone. This will serve you well in years to come.

 

  1. Be much kinder to yourself. You’re going to find yourself making some major mistakes in life because now you’re playing in the big leagues. There are enough people out there who will try to make you feel bad about this so don’t add yourself to that equation. Learn to be your number 1 fan by encouraging yourself when you fall.

 

  1. When it comes to people (associations, friends, family, romantic relationships etc) take those associations with an emotional maturity. Understand that not everything done to you deserves for you to take it too seriously. Most times, it’s not even about you.

 

Be Kind to Yourself
Photo Cred: WordPress.com

 

  1. Expect less. This is not about lowering your standards but about what you hope others will do for you. This gives you the opportunity to be taken by surprise in a good way in life. The less you expect from people, the better.

 

  1. Rejection and disappointment is not the end of the world. Now that you’re a little older, rejection and disappointment will hurt a little more than it did when you were younger. Try now to learn that it does not mean the end of everything. The sun will still rise tomorrow.

 

  1. People who were meant to shield, love and protect you the most may end up being the ones who hurt you the worst. Learn to discern the hearts and intentions of people early on so that you can gauge those you can lean on a little more. Remember that only God will never disappoint you.

 

  1. At all costs, avoid debt in your life. You will soon be on your own, making your own money and making your own financial decisions. There is such a pressure and a tendency to want to get all the wonderful things in life that you can’t afford just to keep up with others or to “show what you’re working for”. Try as much as possible to adjust this mind-set and attitude. Instead, pursue the freedom and peace of owning what is yours and living a lifestyle you can afford. This will allow you to sleep better at night.

 

Save Money - Don't Get Into Debt
Photo Cred: Frugal Farm Wife Online

 

  1. Make time for your family. Yes life is exciting and you’ve got so many amazing friends and adventures but remember where you have come from. Your family will always be there for you regardless of what you go through or how life changes. Remember to make time to appreciate and enjoy them.

 

  1. If you haven’t already found it, seek out your life’s purpose. This is usually closely linked to what you are passionate about or what you’re really good at and love doing. It’s the thing you would be willing to do without ever getting paid for doing it. Knowing your purpose makes life that much more of a joy to live. It gets you out of bed on a tough day. It warms your soul even though things are unbearable. It can also become your career. Find out what you’re on Earth for.

 

  1. Take your time and enjoy your season of singleness. Contrary to what social media/family/friends may say, singleness is a blessing. Seek to enjoy and bask in all the goodness that it holds for you – your own time; travelling; meeting new people; excelling in your career and purpose; making mistakes and getting back up amongst other things. You will never get this time back so get over being single and get into how amazing it is before it passes you by.

 

  1. Wait for a man of his word. You’re young and beautiful with so much life ahead of you and men will recognize and desire that. Try to keep a cool head when it comes to choosing the men you date. Be selective – be hard to get but easy to be with. Be a delight but set your boundaries early on. This will serve you well in protecting you from men who do not have your best interests at heart. Wait for a man who does what he said he will do and with whom you will have no questions about his intentions.

 

Be Selective 2
Photo Cred: Skinny Sticks Tumblr

 

 

  1. More likely than not, your heart will probably be broken despite all your efforts to wait on the right guy or to protect yourself. Don’t beat yourself up over that. Instead, learn from your experiences so that you are clear on what you deserve, which will make it easier for you to identify that in future.

 

  1. Understand that you will probably lose friends as you journey on in life. It’s not necessarily because you or they are bad people. As you grow, you evolve and so do those around you. You may not grow in the same direction and sometimes that may mean that you must part ways. It’s alright. People who are meant to be in your life will remain there to walk with you as you become your best self. The rest are for a season or a reason. Learn to differentiate who is who in your life.

 

  1. Find a mentor. Be on the lookout for a woman or women you admire in terms of how you desire to live your life and where you would like to end up. Women who uphold your principles in life. Seek to develop relationships with them. Life is not lived in isolation and as a young woman, you can learn much from your older sisters and mothers who have already walked the path you are embarking on – regardless of how “old school” you may think they are! Life and its principles never go out of fashion.

 

  1. Never make anything or anyone else more important than God – not even yourself. As long as you grasp this simple but powerful truth, you can have the best life ever and become all that you were meant to be.

 

  1. Have fun!!! You are young. You’re at the peak of your youth and the world literally is your oyster. Don’t rush to grow up because that comes with its challenges. Soak up every single year of your life because it will never be the same again. Have no regrets.

 

 

Have Fun
Photo Cred: Allure Online

 

 

And so there it is. Thanks to my colleague Tumelo Bosaka who also helped me out by sharing a few of the truths she wishes she had been told at 21. I hope this serves someone well as they enter into the next season of their life. Maybe you’re past 21 but you haven’t come across some of these. It’s never too late to learn and grow. Or you may have just needed a refresher. Let’s keep going ladies 😉

 

Let me know your thoughts on the list and please share any other lessons from your experiences. Maybe you had a completely different experience. I would like to learn from yours too.

 

With love,

Sonia Dee

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Photo Cred: Noxolo Chalale

Before you go sis, just a few things you may be interested in:

  1. We have a Hiking Event to celebrate you gorgeous bAw on Sunday the 27th of August at Klipriviersberg Nature Reserve in the South of Joburg. If you desire to get out, meet other bAw and hear inspiring stories about how to best reflect on your life and live it in a way that God desires for you, this get-together is for you. We will have a lovely picnic after our short hike and some uplifting words from our older sisters who have learnt the value of taking stock of their lives. Come and let’s Heal, Exhale and Reflect together.
  2. Would you like to be part of a community of women who are daily speaking and seeking healing for different aspects of their lives and returning to their true identity in Christ? Then join us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to receive daily encouragements and connect with like-minded sisters!

 

Chat to you soon!

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End It Now: Abuse Prevention Day

End It Now - 26 August Poster

Hi bAw Family

 

This is a quick check-in to invite all the ladies in the Johannesburg area to join in on a conversation about abuse and where the church fits into all of that. You will get an opportunity to listen to messages of hope and to hear testimonies from survivors of abuse. Yours truly will also do a brief presentation on warning signs to look out for that indicate whether you’re in an abusive/unhealthy relationship.

Invite some sisters and join us at Sedaven School in Heidelberg on the outskirts of Johannesburg. Healing begins with us and with sharing our stories and struggles.

With love,

Sonia Dee

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Women’s Day Post: In Conversation with Tsitsi Dangarembga

Arise
Tsitsi Dangarembga
Filmaker / Playwright / Poet / Activist
Photo Cred: Davina Jogi

 

 

This Women’s Month, my team and I really wanted to celebrate black African women (bAw) each day on our social media pages. To celebrate God’s gift of women who are making waves as activists, artists, and go-getters but also to celebrate our everyday sisters, friends, mothers and daughters. To be able to capture the essence of who the bAw truly is as formed by God.

I remember watching the movie “Neria” as a young girl and being moved by the plight of the widow Neria. That movie was ahead of its time and clearly highlighted the struggle of the black African woman in a patriarchal society. And so, it was a life-changing moment when my sister Rumbi reached out to the author of “Neria”, Tsitsi Dangarembga, and she agreed to engage in a conversation about her experience as a bAw.

Today, I would like to share her genuine and inspiring insights:

 


Rumbi Dube: What is the greatest hurdle you have had to overcome as an African woman?

Tsitsi Dangarembga: The greatest hurdle I have had to overcome as an African woman is lack of access to resources to maximize on my abilities, skills and achievements. Sometimes this hurdle manifests socially because society tells you that a black woman can only do this or this but not that. When society makes that decree, there is little to no support when you as a black woman opt to do the thing society has indicated you should not do.

This can even begin in the home as you grow up, because most of our families are patriarchal, this includes our mothers.  Many of us have had patriarchal mothers. I am glad to see some change in this respect, but there is still a long way to go.  At other times the hurdle is material, for example, when I have no access to resources, such as land and buildings to realise a dream that needs to go further.  At yet other times the hurdle is lack of access to human resources because men or political parties or patriarchal women – of which there are many – may not support your excellence.  The hurdle is also financial since, generally, as a black African woman, you are excluded from capital.

As a black African woman on the continent, you are generally relegated to donor aid and this donor aid is usually tied to political or another form of power.  It is also predicated on a world view that sees Africa as a continent of peasants who need to be saved.  So if you are not grass roots, and do not need to be saved, but need to be empowered to fly, you seldom qualify for donor aid.  I call this financial apartheid This brings me to the last hurdle in that the cumulative outcome of all these other hurdles is that one’s ability to contribute to one’s community and society is seriously compromised.    

 

RD: What do you wish the black African woman would come to realise?

I wish black African women would come to realise that we have to work together, that when we work together we can produce more than the sum of what we produce individually.  I also wish that black African women would realise we have to pull ourselves together and stop accepting a victim identity.  A victim identity is extremely dangerous as it can become an excuse for all sorts of negative tendencies and behaviours.  When captured in a victim mentality, people tell themselves, ‘It’s all right for me to do this because…’  They justify actions that are clearly not acceptable.  This results in serious ills for society.  In short, a victim attitude encourages selfishness, which, in spite of the Kardashians, is not cool.

 

RD: Which African women inspire you?

TD: Women of my generation have few female role models on the continent.  We have to be the role models for ourselves and others.

 

RD: What legacy would you like to leave for other African women?

TD: I would like people to say of me, ‘She never, ever gave up’.   In terms of external results, in the same way that black African women are too often excluded from capital and ownership, we are excluded from representing ourselves in narrative as we see ourselves in our diversity, agency and beauty.  Narrative, like resources is power.

Narrative is particularly important because we learn about the world, come to understand it and communicate with each other through narrative.  The exclusion of black African women from narrative is another reason why we have few role models.  So my desire is to create a strong institution that can focus on telling the stories of African women from the point of view of African women in a way that is accessible to many and has powerful impact.  This means film, rather than writing.  Writing has its uses and I pursue it also, but film is ideal on the continent for reaching wide audiences.

A decade ago, having realized this, I designed a project called Hitting a High Note.  It was to portrait at least half a dozen exemplary African women of achievement in half hour documentaries to record their stories for posterity so as to act as inspiration for future generations.  Well, that project never saw the light of day.  But I persevere.  I have already begun setting up the institution.  It is called the African Women Filmmakers Hub. Our pilot programme is successfully being carried out in Zimbabwe, Kenya and Malawi with support from the Ford Foundation. The next step is to roll out the five year programme across the continent and to create an African women’s film fund that will exist for a minimum of five years in order to enable a critical mass of African women to tell the stories that are important to them.

 

RD: What does the future hold for Tsitsi Dangarembga?

TD: I have a confident expectation that I will realise my career dreams.  They all revolve around boosting the creative industries and growing the creative economy on the continent.  As human beings, our creativity is the path through which our inner being is manifest.  If we do not sustain our own creativity and its products, we will end up consuming and mimicking the products and creativity of others.  The world will be a poorer place if this happens and will not develop in the way that is intended, because black African women are on this planet to participate and contribute as much as everyone else.  Preventing their participation and contribution is preventing the great plan of being from coming to its best fruition.

 


 

Thank you Tsitsi for engaging with us and giving us insight into your journey and life as a bAw. It was humbling and encouraging to see that someone who has already achieved so much in her life faces similar challenges and struggles to us who are getting started. We wish you more love, joy and strength, as well as God’s best in all your future endeavours!

To my bAw family, I hope today is a special day for you as you are celebrated for being a beautiful creature of God! I also hope that the experiences of our fellow bAw, Tsitsi Dangarembga, encourage you to continue to pursue the purposes and goals God has placed on your life in spite of the resistance you may face. That we may truly band together and uplift one another as women in fulfilling the great work God has imparted on our lives.

Happy Women’s Days sisters!

With love,

Sonia Dee

 

 

About Tsitsi Dangaremba

Born in Mutoko, Zimbabwe, filmmaker, playwright, poet and activist Tsitsi Dangarembga completed her education in her home country, where she worked as a copywriter and started writing seriously as a poet and playwright. She obtained her Masters in Filmmaking from the German Film and Television Academy Berlin.  She has produced several documentaries and has credits on most of Zimbabwe’s feature film classics, including EVERYONE’S CHILD, which she co-wrote and directed.

She lives in Harare where she founded the production house Nyerai Films and the International Images Film Festival for Women.  She also founded the Institute of Creative Arts for Progress in Africa where she works as director.  She has received international awards for her prose and film work.  Her award winning short music KARE KARE ZAVKO (MOTHER’S DAY, 2005) was screened at the Sundance Film Festival.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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H.E.R. Hike Event

H.E.R. Hike Poster - August 2017 Final Edit

We’re thrilled to announce our upcoming event in celebration of women! The Healing | Exhaling | Reflecting (H.E.R.) Hike aims to bring women together for a moment of reflection. We would like to encourage our fellow sisters to embrace the journey their on and take a moment to appreciate how far they’ve come. So often we focus on moving forward or on how far we have to go. This time, we want to take a moment to celebrate how far God has brought us.

H.E.R. Hike is for every woman who needs a moment to exhale, and what better way than out in nature at Kliepriviersberg Nature Reserve.

Hosted by the formidable Zandile “Zahr” Mqwathi, a drama therapist trainee, we want to get your endorphins kicking with the hike, followed by a lovely picnic and conversation about life and how far we’ve come.

Book your tickets here before space runs out. A big shoutout to our sponsors, including BOUNCE South Africa.

We hope to see you there!

Should you encounter any issues with purchasing your tickets please do not hesitate to contact us.

With love,

Sonia Dee

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Guest Post: Maybe Things Need To Fall Apart by Larissa Subira

Things Falling Apart - Niquita Deviant Art online
Photo Cred: Niquita Deviant Art

 

I have been wracking my brain on what to write – what else I could say that has not been already said about abuse.  Many discussions have been had: we’ve been told the signs to watch out for (see the article from two weeks ago); and we’ve been told about the maladies in us that create the abuser and abused. What kept striking me is that most cases of abuse happen at the hands of those closest to us, at the hands of our families.

And for some reason, the close proximity of abusers somehow translates to paralysis of action: A wife suffers in silence for years in fear of her family falling apart. Her children see this, the toxicity seeps into their lives and twenty years down the line the same parents wonder why their children can’t seem to get their lives together. Or the wife reaches out to her family for help and she’s sent back with a harsh lesson that many women have been through the same, so she must suck it up and keep it moving.

A daughter or son is molested, they tell an adult in the family. Most of the time one of two scenarios takes place:  The adult family member rubbishes the claim and vilifies the child, branding them a trouble-maker, or; the adult raises it in a family meeting, and the situation is quickly ‘dealt’ with – the perpetrator may get admonished and banished or the child is sent away for their ‘protection’.  Case closed. No counselling, no acknowledgement of the pain and trauma and definitely no discussion about the work that needs to be done to ensure this never happens again.

The need to maintain peace has somehow taken precedence over the healing of the one who has been hurt. Many steps are taken to make sure the story doesn’t get out. Families are ravaged by this secret, split into camps and the abused are left to navigate the minefield of their lives with very little support.

You can see the common thread here right? The goal is to not shake the boat, even if the boat has a couple of holes in its sail; the sailors manning the boat are blind; can only row with one arm; and the captain is missing in action.   The boat will eventually sink. How can it not? But that’s the irony – we fight tooth and nail to keep the boat afloat when it will sink anyway because it’s battered and bruised, rocked by storms. So why not let it sink and build a stronger one?

Let the ship sink. Let it fall apart so once its laid bare, it can be taken apart, the problem diagnosed, to help figure out how it was incorrectly built and begin the work of rebuilding a stronger boat that can weather any storm. Can we not try something new? Can we put those that have been hurt first? Put a hedge around them, love them, protect them and fight for them and their healing? What do we have to lose?  We’ve tried the whole maintaining peace at all costs for generations, how has that worked for us?

Above all, if family is meant to be a reflection of God’s love, can one truly say our need to portray false perfection shows that? I leave this with you to ponder upon: 1 Corinthians 13: 7: “*[Love] always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

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The gorgeous Miss Subira is an integral member of the bAw team. She is a passionate, smart, driven and opinionated young woman seeking to improve the lives of those who are unfairly oppressed. You can find some of her thoughts on FB, Twitter and Instagram.

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Guest Post: Dealing With Disappointment When We Move In Faith by Rumbidzayi Dube

Disspointment Image 2
Photo Cred: zsazsabellagio.com

I am a thinker, a wonderer. When I am overwhelmed with thoughts and emotions, I find writing helps relieve the pressure like an acupuncture of the soul.

I ‘recently’ took a step in faith. Well, it has been a journey of 20 odd months in the making with each stage requiring that I move in faith. In the beginning, I grappled with it being the path that God really wanted me to take. I didn’t deserve to. This was WAY out of my league. But God did His thing and through prayer, the Word, tears, fighting through doubts and fears, I accepted that it was for me. God has led me every step of the way.

It is nearly crunch time for that dream to come into effect. I am in a period of waiting and it has been the most difficult, heart wrenching, spiritual, hopeful time of my life. I have found myself oscillating between confidence and uncertainty, faith and fear. I know I am not meant to be fearful for “God has not given us a spirit of fear but of…” (2 Timothy 1:7). Have I failed as a believer then? I don’t believe so because ultimately, I rest on the laurels of God’s promises and that He loves me. He could never hurt me.

In approaching this critical point in my life, I have had to be brutally honest about what the outcomes may be. As friends and family alike pray and fast for me, I have come face to face with many a reality. God can come through in the most unexpected ways for me as He has done for the Joseph’s, Daniel’s, Esther’s and Ruth’s in times before. He could also decide to take me on a different course. The question becomes, how do I deal with disappointment in the face of faith?

Dealing with Disappointment

I am reminded of David’s story when his son fell ill and he prayed to God for his healing. His son ultimately died. But David’s reaction was so potent. He rose up out of his place of anguish, bathed and went to worship God. The same goes for Job. He had been a faithful servant of God and trial after trial faced him. In all he faced, he continued to worship God and praise Him.

You see, faith is not dependent on an outcome we want being fulfilled. Faith is a belief that “all things are working for the good of they that love the Lord” (Romans 8:28) and He is working for your good. So in that, faith is about praising and worshipping God no matter the circumstances or outcomes. You trust that He is working in your favour.

I struggle with this notion – grapple with it. On one end, you would have heeded God’s voice every step of the way. Surely, He was working towards a particular outcome. So, when the outcome is different to what you had expected, then what? Did you hear wrong?

Maybe. Or maybe you have not reached the final destination. God needs to take you on a detour to work out some kinks in your character before reaching that destination. There are lessons to be learnt so you know Whose you are and ultimately, who deserves the praise. For Joseph, it was 13 years of slavery and ill treatment so he could learn humility; have his faith tested; point others to God; and lead his people out of starvation. All this, I believe, so he would not claim all the praise and glory for himself but give it to God.

It is hard. Difficult to understand, but remember that God’s thoughts towards us are “thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11) Remember, these thoughts are ultimately for your salvation. So, come what may, that is God’s number one priority for you. Learn the lesson and do not let go of His promises. And whatever may be, DO NOT LOSE HOPE. All is never lost.

Rumbi Dee 2

Rumbi is a member of the bAw Team and a contributor to the movement. She is a gifted young woman with the ability to bring to life the dreams of others in the marketing and creative realm. She currently consults as a PR and Marketing manager while daily pushing to fulfill the dreams God has placed on her heart to make a difference in this world. She also pens her thoughts on life on her lovely blogsite, and can be found on Instagram, FB or Twitter.

 

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Warning Signs That You Are In An Abusive/Unhealthy Relationship

 

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Photo Cred: blkwomenart.com

Disclaimer: This article should not be substituted for psychological/medical advice. It is based on personal experiences and lessons garnered from my studies and personal reading plus the experiences of those around me.

 

The issue of violence and abuse in the South African community has garnered much attention in recent months, and rightfully so. More people than we realize are in abusive relationships. Abuse is such a personal and deeply painful experience that can be extremely detrimental to the life of the person who receives it. It can destroy families and generations – just look at Jacob’s family drama (Genesis 34) or David’s for that matter (2 Samuel chapters 10 – 15). It can even cost your salvation.

 

The sad reality is that more and more young people are entering romantic relationships at younger and younger ages, and without any counsel or guidance. This is mainly driven by the fact that we are an independent generation, and we “mind our own business”. We no longer value the community aspect of life that can act as a shield against harmful situations. Nevertheless, we are blessed with different platforms, including blog sites/online reading, that allow us to gain information that can help us in our situations.

 

As I have written before, I have witnessed abuse and I have endured emotional and verbal abuse myself. God’s love, compassion, patience, mercy and goodness has led me to receive (and to continue to receive) healing over this issue. There are signs that I have managed to pick up on from experience and research that indicate whether you are in an abusive/unhealthy relationship. I thought I would share these with you today:

 

You begin to hide your relationship. I remember my very first relationship. I never discussed it with my family and actually felt relief that they knew nothing about it. I didn’t necessarily acknowledge it then, but I was not sure about this guy and how we related. I knew that if my loved ones got to understand what was going on between us (constant fighting; cheating; being put down in front of others) they would be shocked and disappointed, and would ask me to let him go. If you find that you don’t want even those closest to you to know about your relationship, something may be wrong.

 

You constantly defend your partner to yourself and to others. This one has to be one of the most painful ones for me. Your partner may be extremely mean to you and to those around you yet you find yourself fighting to highlight his/her “goodness” at any chance. You convince yourself that he/she is not that bad but the problem is that it has become a daily exercise. Every person has their flaws and in a healthy relationship this is acknowledged and addressed with your partner. However, in an unhealthy/abusive situation, these flaws and bad traits are the norm in how you relate. If you’re having to regularly excuse your partner’s behaviour especially to yourself, it’s a red light.

 

Your partner wants to know your whereabouts 24/7. In the initial stages of a relationship a couple wants to spend as much time as possible together and send cute messages of “So, what you doin’?” or “Where are you? I wish I could be there” etc. There is nothing wrong with being interested in the activities of a partner, but it becomes concerning when a partner needs to know your exact moves all the time. Not only that – he/she needs to know who you will be with and for how long. This is especially disturbing if you are not even married to this person because it will be magnified in marriage. If you are not free with your time and in your relationship, you are not free in your life.

 

You begin to doubt your right to make choices. Following on from the above warning, another red flag in a relationship is when you can no longer make decisions without the input and direction of your partner. God created you in His image which means that He has blessed you with wisdom and with the authority to decide on things for your life (Genesis 1:26; Genesis 3:22). He is Sovereign and Lord over all, yet He chooses to allow you the free will to decide what you want in your life including having Him as your Saviour. Therefore, there is no reason that another creature like you should determine your own free will and choices (this is outside of the argument of parents raising their children or spouses making joint decisions). If you find yourself unable to make your own decisions because of what a partner would say or what they tell you, something is not right.

 

You feel like you can’t trust anyone because they don’t get your relationship. I distinctly remember the time when my friends were trying to alert me to the fact that my boyfriend had been and was still cheating on me, and putting me down in public. My gut knew it was true so I confronted him about it. He manipulated me by reminding me that we are in this together and some people don’t want to see us together so we need to be careful of what others say. From that moment, I began to view friends through suspicious eyes because I felt that they were trying to cause a rift in our relationship. An abusive/unhealthy partner does not want you to interact with people who can help wake you up to the unhealthy situation you find yourself in, and they will isolate you from the counsel of loved ones. You will begin to believe that other people just don’t understand the relationship the way you two do and so you’ll deal with it (and all its unhealthiness) alone. If you find yourself unable to be honest with anyone else but your partner about your relationship, it’s a red flag.

 

You have extreme highs and lows in your relationship. All relationships go through great times and bad times. But a healthy relationship has a general balance, calmness and normalcy to it. I had past relationships where we were either so on top of the world and it felt like no-one else could ever make me that happy or I was extremely hurt, unhappy, sad and confused by that same individual. I did not have a general sense of well-being or security in our relationship and unless I felt those extreme emotions when I was with someone, I believed that the relationship was not a good one. I believed that a great relationship meant feeling either euphoric or highly melancholic – it was a literal drug. A healthy relationship should nurture your emotions rather than constantly drain them through either extremely good or extremely bad feelings.

This list is not exhaustive and there are countless articles online that deal with the realities of abusive relationships. I haven’t even touched on the physical and sexual aspect of abusive relationships and I am mostly speaking from a dating perspective because that is my experience. Nevertheless, warning signs of abuse are generally mostly emotional.

 

Sis, if you have identified with one or more of these warning signs, I plead with you to seek help for your situation. You don’t have to deal with this alone. Or if you know someone who seems to be in this kind of a relationship, please get advice on how to best help them. You can feel free to contact me or you can contact:

  • Lifeline on 011 715 2000;
  • POWA (People Opposing Women Abuse) on 011 642 4345/6;
  • SAMSOSA (South African Male Survivors Of Sexual Abuse) on 071 280 9918 or;
  • T.E.A.R.S. Foundation (Transform Education About Rape And Sexual Abuse) on *134*7355#

 

If you have any other warning signs that you have identified, please do share with us in the comments section so that we are all the wiser. Let us be each other’s keepers.

 

I am praying for you.

 

With love,

Sonia Dee

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Upcoming: Natural Hair Appreciation Tea

My African Crown Poster

Hi bAw family!

It’s that time again when we get together as black African Queens to learn a little more about our natural hair and locs, and to have some fun and yummy treats while we’re at it. Space is limited so make sure you book your spot asap!

With love,

Sonia Dee

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Guest Post: Release Your Hold On The Old And Grab Onto The New by Precious Muza

Old vs new
Photo Cred: Subtilitas Online

 

Ever wanted to move on from past failures and mistakes but you find yourself going back to consume that same vomit?

Ever feel like the past is simply weighing you down and you have no more fight left in you?

Ever feel like you aren’t sure about which road to take because the road you’ve been on has been super taxing?

Well then…this one’s for you!

In the song The Healing Grace, the bridge goes “…release us from our past as we seek Your face. Wash us free at last, we receive Your love. We receive Your healing grace…”. These few statements are packed with the promise for a better day, a promise for a better future!

God’s GRACE heals.

It heals even that which you feel is beyond redemption. I have a good group of young prayerful women who I have the privilege of calling friends and as I have conversed with them over the years… I realise that humans generally carry a lot of baggage. Sadly though, sometimes that baggage is a hindrance from moving on.

In some cases, the baggage from the old relationship is brought into the new one, before the new one develops. The inevitable self-destruction creeps up because the load from the past makes the new relationship a daunting task.

RELEASE YOUR BAGGAGE SIS, YOU KNOW WHAT IT IS!

One of my favourite verses illuminates the importance of letting go of the past. Isaiah 43:18-19 reads “Do not dwell on things of the past for I am making something new, Do you not perceive it? I make a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.”

If your past seems like a wasteland, don’t freeze and become restless. Let it go and move past it. Not as easy as it sounds right? I am still working through my own STUFF but His grace is sufficient for me and it’s certainly sufficient for you too.

I would suggest three ways of letting go of your past and holding fast your new blessing:-

  1. SAY GOODBYE TO THE PAST

People who have been disappointed or have experienced grief/loss need to take the time to grieve in order to open a new page with a fresh perspective. To say there is a time frame here would not be ideal, some people heal after a few days but some may take years. The healing process is necessary. Allowing yourself to feel the pain is essential because it makes you realise that you were never in control. God is the ultimate ruler and pilot of your life so learn to trust Him even with your disappointments.

 

  1. BELIEVE THAT YOU ARE WORTH IT

The iconic L’Oreal phrase, “Because you’re worth it”, is profound and should be applied in our lives. Do I believe I’m worth it? YES! Do I always believe that I am? NO! Should you believe you are worth it? YES! Do you always believe you are worth it? PERHAPS! The point is… I am worth it and so are you. Not momentarily but always. God has proved to me time and again that He reserves what is best for me and He does the same for each and every one of us who are called according to His purpose. Believe that if God can do it for someone you know, He can do it for you. If He doesn’t, maybe the time isn’t right but it’s never because you aren’t worth it. When your blessing comes, it will be so big your joy will not be contained. Believe it. The future belongs to those who believe.

 

  1. EXPECT GOOD THINGS

Pessimism has stolen our dreams and then SOME! A negative mind set does not reflect faith, belief or a spirit of perseverance. A pessimist would much rather give up and expect all doom and gloom. The word tells us in Phillipians 4 vs 8 that we should dwell on whatever is good, noble and excellent. Anything worthy of praise is what we ought to think of and the flood gates of heaven’s blessings will come tumbling down.  Expect that God is doing something BIG and watch Him work. You need not fight, you need not be anxious.

 

When you let go of a painful past, you essentially throw caution to the wind and you say “Hey I will go for the gold and I won’t worry about the outcome”.

Nothing inhibits you because you know the Lord will fight your battles for you! YOU NEED ONLY TO BE STILL – Exodus 14:14.

In Phillipians 3:13-14, Paul writes “Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead. I press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus”.

Previously known as Saul, Paul does not let his past mistakes deter him from pressing towards his goal. Let’s wear those blinkers and look ahead! We have the perfect example in Paul.

Sisters in Christ, many of us profess to love the Lord but we do not fully allow Him to work in us and through us. Reading scripture is all fine and dandy but putting into practice what God says we should do and trusting in what He has promised is where the rubber meets the road. This is when your faith is put to the test. So let go, pursue the ladder of progress, step by step.  Allow yourself to stretch, release the pain and raise yourself up, one step at a time, Jesus promises, you trust, He leads and you follow.

 

PRAY TODAY

I PRAY LORD THAT YOU MAY HELP ME TODAY TO LET GO OF THE PAST AND TO TRUST YOUR PERFECT PLAN FOR MY LIFE.

 

Precious Guest Post 2

Precious Muza is a beautiful young woman with an equally beautiful heart. She is kind, compassionate and driven with a great love for the Lord and doing His will in her life. Precious has an amazing blogsite called Gleam of Dawn which aims at sharing experiences in the Christian walk, in a world that has become driven by the external.

Precious is a wife, daughter, sister and friend. She is an academic and a brilliant writer. I look forward to seeing all that God desires to fulfill through this wonderful young woman 🙂

 

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Dreams For The Black African Father

Father with his daughter
Photo Cred: Instagram

 

Hi bAw family

 

In honour of Father’s Day this Sunday, I thought I would pen dreams and wishes that I believe some black African women (bAw) have for their fathers. The relationship between daughter and father in the African context has been a complex one, and I believe that if a young bAw could write a letter to her father it would read something like this:


 

Dear Dad,

I wish that you would freely express your love for me in words and in deeds. Although I know you love me because society says a father loves his child and because you pay my school fees or make sure I am fed, I need to hear this from you. Hearing and knowing that I am loved by you eases my anxiety to receive love from others.

 

I wish you would spend more on-one-on time with me where we just enjoy each other’s company and get to know one another better. Spending time together doesn’t necessarily mean that others must be there or that we must be running an errand. Being together literally means that. All we need is just the two of us. Being known by you will open me up to seeing myself more clearly because I know you will not lead me astray. And besides, I want to get to know all the different sides to you that others don’t get to see.

 

I wish that you could advise me on every aspect of life and not just school or career or finances. I want your words and counsel to be my directive when it comes to recognizing whether a potential suitor is the best for me. I want to be able to come and tell you what he did or what he’s saying so that you can warn me and protect me from the not-so-great guys that are out there these days. I don’t want to just speak to my friends or to Mum about it. I need a male perspective from the man I know would want my heart cherished.

 

I wish you could be strong enough to say sorry. To your wife. To your friends. To your family. To your colleagues. To yourself. To me. I know that you’ve been raised to believe that saying sorry is a sign of weakness but it is the best thing you could ever do for yourself and others. And making a mistake or hurting others is a part of life – we all do it. But very few people acknowledge it and own up. When you do that, it elevates people’s respect for you.

 

I wish you would seek out your emotional well-being a little more because when you are whole, it penetrates to your loved ones. I know that our African culture shuns any idea of talking your issues over, especially as a man, but even God states that we ought to carry each other’s burdens (Galations 6:2). No man is an island – as the saying goes. And it hurts me to know that there are some atrocious experiences and feelings that you carry alone that could be eased just by sharing.

 

I wish you believed that I harbour no ill-feelings towards you. Yes you may have hurt me and disappointed me before, but I have forgiven you. I recognize you are a sinner as much as anyone else is, and I entrust your life to God to be changed and moulded. So stop trying to deny it or cover it up like nothing happened. Seek to work through your struggles with your Saviour because I believe you are much more than your past or what think you are. Don’t do it for me or anyone else, but for yourself.

 

I wish that you could recognize how amazing a man you are. You are in the minority of men who stick around for their children regardless of how they may feel or what they have gone through. You work tirelessly from day to day to make sure there is always food on the table, three times a day, 7 days a week, all-year round. You carry the weight of that responsibility as though your life depended on it and I can see how you wish you could do so much more. That makes me love you all the more.

 

Finally, I wish you knew how much I respect and love you. Our culture doesn’t necessarily allow for the free expression of emotions with our fathers but I would freely tell you how much you mean to me. You are my King. You are my rock. You are my provider. You are my shield. You are my benchmark. I look up to you and always will so please don’t stop growing and becoming more of the man God created you to be.

Love always,

Your Daughter

 

What else would you add to this letter? What would you leave out?

My Daddy and I
My Daddy and I ❤

Wishing all the fathers out there, and especially my own Papa Dubez, a very Happy Father’s Day!! We see you, we appreciate you, we love you. Our lives are lost without you.

 

With love,

Sonia Dee

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Secrets To Having The Natural Hair You Want

My baby sister and I rocking our natural hair at a wedding (Photo Cred: Rumbidzayi Dube)

So whenever my sister and I are roaming the Joburg streets with our natural hair out to play, we generally always get stopped to answer questions about our hair: How come it’s so soft? How come it’s so long? Why is our hair so healthy-looking? It’s almost as though we know something that other aspiring or new naturalista’s don’t.

This is something I have been reflecting on for a while now, and I would like for other black African women (bAw) to rock their own natural ‘fros with the same confidence and joy that I, and others, have come to enjoy. So here goes. Here are a few of the “secrets” I have come to understand that lead to you finally having the natural hair you’ve always wanted:

Decide To Focus On Your Own Fro: First things first – afro envy is real guys! Do not be fooled. You know that feeling of ‘fro “inadequacy” you get when you look at a sister with an afro that looks like Diana Ross’s while yours looks like the young Kunta Kinte’s teeny afro in Roots? Lol! Well, that’s normal! You’re not the only one who feels that way or has that experience. Just like braids or weaves come in all different lengths, shapes and sizes, so does natural hair.

Choose to let go of any preconceived notions you may have picked up that your ‘fro must turn out a certain way. Instead, begin to focus on and learn your own hair. How does it respond when you use certain products? What about when you’ve just washed it? And when you twist it out? Taking the time to learn your hair gives you insight into what brings the best out of it.

Remember too that your curl pattern will most probably not look like another bAw’s curl pattern. I had to accept this with my own sister. She has a looser curl pattern and her ‘fro stretches more easily whereas I have a tighter curl pattern that creates cute little curly styles that she can’t really get. It’s important to know that just because you have the same skin colour or even come from the same country or heck are even related does not mean your hair will look the same. Focus on understanding what your ‘fro does.

Take It Back To Basics: I am all about using 100% organic and natural products on my hair. The sad thing is that the world has bought into the “fake” life including the food we eat and the things we use on our bodies or hair. Shampoos and conditioners are filled with so many harmful chemicals that dry out the natural oils in your hair causing it to feel super dry and to look lifeless. No wonder why you feel like your ‘fro never looks lustrous and healthy. It may be what you’re putting into it.

Take the time to do your research. Read up on the natural oils and products that are best for natural hair. The first trick is to read the labels on shampoos – if they have a long ingredients list, you pretty much know that there is nothing good in there for your hair. More so if water does not form part of the ingredients. Better yet, go back to using products with no added ingredients such as bi-carb of soda as shampoo or apple cider vinegar as conditioner. Your hair will thank you later.

Trying a different look with my ‘fro

Be Patient: I can’t emphasize this enough!! We generally are a generation that has completely lost the meaning and value of patience because we get everything we need at the click of a button in most cases. So, you wake up and decide that you want to go natural and expect that by next month (you’re giving it a lot of time here!) you’ll have a soft, curly, lustrous afro just like Precious Kofi. I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but that probably won’t be the case. Your hair type may not even be like Precious’ plus you don’t know how long she’s grown it or how she styles it to look the way it does.

The natural hair journey can be compared to a running race. Each naturalista has their own lane (hair type). Has been training for different periods of time (time frame of having her afro). Has different training routines and methods that work best for them (products used on her afro). Has different inherent skills and developed talents when it comes to running (different hereditary curl patterns plus adjustments to her environment). What will lead to that racer coming first in their race is understanding these different elements and maximizing on them fully. This takes time and patience.

Remember that your hair has probably been put under much strain for majority of your life – relaxers, weaves, braids, wigs, heat, combing etc. It has not been out in its natural state and needs to adapt back to it. You can’t expect it to return from decades of manipulation in a few months. Allow it the freedom it needs to grow out all the unhealthy habits and chemicals that have hurt it over the years. Then one day, when you least expect it you will see your hair come out in a curl pattern or with a shine you have never seen on anyone else 🙂

Try Different Products For Long Periods Of Time: Following on from the above point, in your quest to have your best natural ‘fro, you will need to try different products to finally hone in on the ones that work best with your hair. What works for someone else may not work for you and vice versa. There are a number of different oils that do different great things for natural hair. Make sure to read up on them. Some act as moisturizing oils while others are sealants. Some are essential oils and others are carrier oils. Sometimes they must be mixed together for best results. I personally subscribe to Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, Castor Oil and Extra Virgin Olive Oil. I will write about this in future.

What tends to happen is that we hear about all these amazing oils we should use and so we get a bunch and just try them all almost at once. Maybe we use a few for a few days or weeks then switch because it doesn’t seem like they’re doing anything. But this doesn’t allow your hair to adjust to the components of that oil treatment so you can see if it’s working. At our last “My African Crown” Hair Event, hair guru Thandiwe told us that it is better to use the same products on your hair for 3 months to allow your hair to adapt to them and to let you see if they are working. I stuck to the three oils above for months despite it looking like nothing was happening and forgot about it until one day I noticed how rich and soft my ‘fro had become.

Natural Sisters 🙂

Be Gentle With Your ‘Fro: One of the greatest myths about natural hair is that it is tough and hard. Again, Thandiwe mentioned at our last Hair Event that black natural hair is probably the most sensitive hair type. That is why your reflex is to pull back when your hair is being combed or getting blow dried etc. God has blessed us with a ball of cotton wool on our heads but we’re treating it like steel wool instead. We yank at it with combs and try to straighten it with blow dryers or hot combs. Such force and unnatural heat only causes more damage and makes it tougher.

Instead of using a comb, detangle the knots in your hair with your fingers. It takes time but it is so good for your ‘fro. Refrain from putting any heat at all to your ‘fro as heat damages and dries your delicate hair. Instead, twist your hair straight after washing and moisturizing it and sleep with it like that. In the morning, you’ll wake up with soft, moisturized hair that you can style – again I will write about this in future.

Change Your Mindset About Natural Hair: This has got to be the most important secret for me. For all your life you have been fed the incorrect information about your hair and how to care for it. It is people who don’t even have the same hair as you who have sold you products and ideas about the best way to care of it. If you want the hair you were originally given, go back to the manufacturer of that hair – God. Pray for your hair and ask Him to show you how to best take care of it. It sounds silly but trust me – it opens you up to people, articles, and products etc that speak to what your hair really needs.

When you begin to see your hair correctly and why you were given it in the first place, you’ll begin to understand what you need to give it. You’ll begin to love it instead of wish it was another way. And your afro will love you right back.

Thank you for taking the time to read through this post. I hope it has enlightened you to the real secrets available to you so that you can rock that healthy and full head of hair you’ve always wanted. Maybe you already have the natural ‘fro you want. Please share some secrets you have learnt too. Maybe you just have some questions – please don’t hesitate to ask.

Let’s keep working to have the hair we have always had but forgot about!

With love,

Sonia Dee

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While You Wait: Insight from ‘A Time To Remember And Give’ Event by Larissa Subira

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The gorgeous sisters who formed part of the first ‘A Time To Remember And Give’ Event (All Photos Cred: Noxolo Chalale)

I recently had the pleasure of spending an amazing 3 hours with 8 beautiful women as we delved a bit deeper into the struggle of feeling left behind. I personally left that breakfast feeling as though I was exactly where God needed me to be. One of the ladies who attended the breakfast, Larissa Subira, chose to share what she got from the conversations and time we had together.

Enjoy 🙂


I had the pleasure of attending the recent bAw prayer breakfast, ‘A Time to Remember and Give’ , where an intimate group of women gathered to share and reflect on their experiences and pray for one another.  One thing we all had in common is that we definitely had an area or two in our lives that we felt we were lagging behind in.

One of the hardest battles we fight as women are the messages we feed ourselves about our lives, be it our family, friends, our studies or career choices and our body image.  Perception is powerful, but what is even more powerful is what drives these perceptions.

 

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The breakfast was at the beautiful Buitengeluk restaurant in Broadacres

Part of the discussion we had was what are these drivers?  How does one discern between this feeling perhaps just being an insecurity versus there being an area in your life that actually needs work?  It is perfectly normal to want to grow in all spheres of your life be it spiritually, career wise or family wise. Once you’ve separated the lies from the facts of your life, what do you do with the information? You now know that something in you is called to move to the next step but nothing is working. You don’t have the money or every time you come close to attaining that next step it all falls apart.

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Taffy Pfupajena graciously shared her own struggles with feeling left behind

We had the lovely Taffy Pfupajena share her own personal experience with feeling left behind, and what God taught her in that journey. In the end, everyone shared their own story and we were able to pick up on some key lessons with regards to waiting on God’s timing for our lives.

Here a few nuggets I took with me from the breakfast:

  • You’re where you’re meant to be: As hard as it is feeling like you’re left behind and nothing is going your way, there is a reason why you are at this point in your life (Ecclesiastes 3:1). Rushing to where you think you should be before God has readied you tends to have pretty catastrophic results.
  • There’s a lesson you’re meant to be learning at this stage of your life: So you’re at this point in your life, looking at what needs to be changed but you don’t know how. It could be there’s something you’re yet to learn.  Remember, God always keeps his promises. He says it over and over – Isaiah 41:10 “ Fear not;  for I am with you; be not dismayed; for I am your God; I will strengthen you; yea, I will uphold you with the right hand of My righteousness.”
  • God needs to put you in a place spiritually, emotionally or physically where you can receive what is coming: Think about any blessing that has come into your life. Okay, now think about the time before it. Despite your frustration, there were some lessons you learnt that prepped you for what came into your life and you think back and thank God for His timing because had that thing happened when you wanted it to …again catastrophic results.
  • Leave room for God’s sprinkling: God will always work things out for your good. Don’t be so tied to how you want things that you miss out on God showing you another way. As you grow, you’re meant to reach a point where you’re completely at peace with your life, because you have the confidence of the promise that God has for your life. I am not talking new age stuff here but rather knowing that God ultimately wants the best for you.  “For I know the thoughts I have toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and hope” Jeremiah 29:11.

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The lesson here?  While waiting on the change in your life, enjoy the ride, learn what you’re meant to and arm yourself in preparation for what is coming and this can only be done through a constant walk with God. The challenge is what to do in the meant time. I am in the midst of reading ‘The Wait’ and one of the nuggets of wisdom I noted was that the time when nothing appears to be happening becomes your personal self-development laboratory. The trick is not allowing the ‘wish for more’ to turn into a self-hating exercise. The key is using this period of your life productively as you seek and work to reach the next point of your life. Ultimately, God is using this point in your life for you to draw closer to Him, and once that link is solidified ‘all these things will be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33).

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Larissa is an intuitive young woman with a passion for encouraging and uplifting others to have the life that God has purposed for them. She is also such an integral member of the bAw team who loves Jesus and is on the journey to fulfilling her purpose according to His will.

The bAw Team
The beautiful ladies that make up the bAw team

It truly was a time to remember and give 🙂

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10 Things I Appreciate About Black African Mothers

Mama Dubez
The woman I am so blessed to call Mama

In a couple of days, many different countries around the world will be honouring mothers in wonderful ways. The 14th of May is a day that I am so glad sits on the international calendar because to be a mother is no small feat. In fact, it is such a special task that even though Jesus Christ did not have an earthly biological father He certainly had an earthly biological mother in Mary (Luke 1:26-38; Luke 2:1-7). She was instrumental in helping to shape Him into the one-of-a-kind Man that He is.

I myself was raised and cared for by a phenomenal woman who recently celebrated a birthday. In recent years, I’ve been able to see all that she has done for me, my siblings and many other young people around her. And so today, I would like to take a moment to specifically appreciate her and my black African mamas for who they are and all they have done for us. These are the reasons that make the black African mother a gift:

  1. More often than not, she has sacrificed her personal and career dreams for the benefit and growth of her husband’s career and their family. My own Mum was a successful Town Planner but she chose to say goodbye to her career at the age of 31 years so that our family could relocate to a different country because of my Dad’s new job and his career advancement. I have never once heard her complain about this sacrifice she had to make, and in fact she speaks with such joy about how she was happy to be there for us. Mothers make a sacrifice look like a gain.
  1. She always has a way of making it look like she never gets ill, and is always ready to help you out no matter how she is feeling. I don’t ever really remember my Mum complaining about feeling ill. But I remember many times when I wasn’t well and she’d nurse me back to full health like I was her only care in the world. Mothers are the most uncelebrated super heroes in this world.

 

  1. Regardless of the terrible circumstances she has faced in her past or present, she carries herself with such grace and dignity. Most of our mothers grew up in the times of apartheid and similar ideological movements, facing a lot of discrimination, abuse and rejection. They may even face discrimination in their workplaces today. Yet, looking at how they dress and present themselves, or how they address those around them, you could swear they never went through any of that. Black African mothers are the strongest people out there because they do not allow their negative experiences to define them.
  1. She has a way of celebrating every little achievement in your life from your first day at school; to making your first friend or; even getting the part of curtain-raiser at your school play! My sister likes to say this a lot, and I agree with her – my mother is our greatest cheerleader. She makes you feel like you have conquered Mount Kilimanjaro even if it’s just the fact that you went to the first day of work! Mothers have a way of making you feel like the winner you are but haven’t quite yet believed in.
  1. She is the only person who can reprimand you so badly about something you shouldn’t have done, yet make you feel like you’re deeply loved all at the same time. The black African mother has a way of sharing her disappointment in your behaviour while still allowing you to feel as though she still believes you are better than your mistake.

 

  1. She is the most forgiving human being on this planet. Our mothers have been hurt deeply by family, friends, strangers and everyone in-between. They are tested on a daily basis by their employers, their husbands and their children yet they pour out their love and concern for these individuals as though they had never slighted them. Black African mothers have the deepest hearts and the shortest memories I have come across to date.

 

  1. She throws it DOWN in the kitchen! I have not come across a mother from my parents’ generation (1960s/1970s and before) who does not have a minimum of like 5 special dishes that leave her guests licking their fingers. My own Mama has so many self-made recipes that I am still trying to get right. Cooking is second nature to her and her food always exudes the love she has for those she has prepared it for, even if she has just met them for the first time. Mothers are the best, yet most underpaid, chefs in the world.
  1. She is a mother to every young person she comes across regardless of whether she knows them or not. My mother knows (to an extent) what is going on in my friends’ lives and gives her advice/counsel to so many young people around her. She does it without even realizing it, and people always leave her feeling encouraged. Black African mothers recognize that being a mother is a full-time job and her child is anyone who needs guidance and support – whether or not she gave birth to them.

 

  1. She would die for you. I have seen how my mother carries my own burdens as though they were her own. She won’t sleep and she’ll try and see how she can best support or help you through your trial. If possible, she would take my place and go through the pain on my behalf. Thus, it is safe to say that a mother, given the choice, would give her own life that her child should live.
  1. Her hugs still bring such comfort no matter how old you get. I’m 31 years old now and when I’m feeling a little low I will still go put my head on my mother’s lap or ask her to give me a hug. When I’m in her arms my sorrows disappear, and I believe that all is well once again. Mothers have a way of enveloping you in their love by being nurturing.

 

These are just a few of the many reasons why I have deep respect and love for black African mothers. I would love to hear what you appreciate about your black African mother or one that you know. Let’s give back to them in whatever small way we can, the love they have selflessly poured into us over the years.

With love,

Sonia Dee

Mama and I
My beautiful Mama and me 🙂
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How We Hurt Each Other As Christians

Bringing Each Other Down in the Church 2
Photo Cred: imgfave

 

You know, on most days I am hesitant to be known as a Christian. Don’t get me wrong – it’s not because of my Saviour. God Himself is phenomenal. He is the one and only Person on this Earth you desperately need to have in your life. If it wasn’t for the fact that He desires for us to fellowship with others at Church and form part of that body so we grow and learn together and pass through tests together, I would have been fine chilling at home with just me and Him. The main reason I struggle with Christians (myself included), is how we treat others. More specifically, how we treat each other as fellow Christians.

 

It was Mahatma Ghandi who famously quoted,

“I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

 

He hit the nail on the head with that statement. We Christians truly misrepresent our God and His character. We chase people away. And I’m learning that it’s not necessarily in terms of how we treat people outside of the Christian faith, but more so how we treat each other within the body of Christ. At church. I am beginning to understand why Christ emphasised that we ought to love one another because “by this all will know that you are My disciples” (John 13:34-35). I think it’s mostly because you can tell how someone is going to treat you based on how they treat those dearest and nearest to them – their family members. And so, if a non-Christian sees a Christian being downright “unchristian” to a fellow Christian they conclude that how they will be treated will be even worse.

 

The thing is, as Christians we like to talk the talk but barely do we walk the walk. I remember there was a time (not too long ago) when the main reason I loved being at Church was so that I could show off my latest outfit and get compliments. It was also so that I could see my friends and all those people I really wanted to chat with. It wasn’t because I wanted to evangelize and find out how people were really doing most of the time. I mean, I was already serving in the church. What more did they want from me? Oh, and of course I was going out with the youth to homes for the less fortunate and to feed the homeless once a year in winter. And of course, I read my Bible and all the other spiritual books that came with it. So hey, let me enjoy getting mine while I’m at church. And allow me to talk about so-and-so to see how we can “help them out”. It’s so easy to slip into that way of thinking about why you’re at Church. Trust me I know.

 

That’s the thing with us Christians. God has recently been removing the scales from my eyes and showing me how much we are unloving towards each other (again, I’m preaching to myself first here). We stand up in church and deliver earth-shattering, tear-jerking, mind-blowing and eschatologically correct sermons or prayer garden messages or offertory readings. Or we post up deep quotes and messages on FB or Insta. We dress better than the royal family themselves on our church days and take strategically poised pictures to post on Instagram and Facebook later so the world can see what good church-going folks we are (and of course we get our egos stroked in the process).

 

We organize bi-annual trips to homes for the poor where we play with the children for a few hours and feel good about giving our time and resources. We organize program after program after program with powerful speakers for ourselves so we hear messages that have been preached to us millions of times before but still haven’t changed us – we just want to hear how this Pastor/Evangelist will twist the message in a way we haven’t heard before. We don’t go to worldly concerts but best believe we are there at the church concerts where we’re pretty much behaving like we’re at a Rihanna or Kanye gig – screaming our lungs off and dying over the cute guys or girls singing!

 

So, on paper we’re great. But then, we loooove to do sinful things undercover. We have sex with each other in the church outside of marriage (and sometimes in marriage) and we’re not exposed. We fight for guys as girls and even end up taking a guy our “friend” was interested in because well, “he didn’t like you anyway”. We may not drink but some of our get-togethers would shun the presence of the Holy Spirit. We gossip – that’s our favourite one. We dissect people and their lives and intentions for breakfast, lunch and supper. We can also be so fake towards each other. We give insincere hugs and greetings at church – sometimes because the person stopped us as we walked by. We greet those we like or believe are worth our time or are important enough, and ignore people we don’t know or who “aren’t good enough” for our standards. We defame each other’s characters and paint one another in such negative light. The list is endless but I think you get the picture.

 

Now, I’m not writing this because I want to point fingers or to make anyone feel bad. If you feel bad or angry or guilty, it’s a good sign. Take it to God and ask Him where you fit into this equation and how He can help you change. Sometimes we don’t know our behaviour is hurtful until it is said. Truth is, I’m speaking to myself here first. I’m guilty of most of this stuff and over the last few months God has been rebuking me on it. I’m writing this because we are meant to be each other’s keepers. We are meant to share the truths God reveals to us so we grow better together. It’s like keeping the cure for cancer to yourself. It’s not right, we need to share it. I need to share the revelation I have received in my own life.

 

I am writing this because we’re failing God guys. As His children and as His disciples. We’re hurting each other. We’re putting each other down at “home” in front of guests. We’re telling the world that it’s impossible to be different. That it’s impossible to be like Christ – to be genuine; long-suffering (patient); kind; loving; encouraging; and to have each other’s backs. I literally see a scene in the wilderness where a pack of lions is ripping each other to pieces. That is what we are doing in our conduct with one another. And believe me, non-believing visitors may not be there every Sabbath at church to witness what goes on, but on the days they are around the devil is sure to expose our nastiness to them. Just on that one day, we may do or say something that is so opposite to what we would have just preached or shared and it causes a non-believer to never want to seek Christ again.

 

Our lives are not our own (Psalm 100:3). We don’t get away with sounding like Christ’s children but acting like Satan is our real father. Let’s not pretend to be peacemakers while murdering someone with our thoughts or words later on. Christ rebukes us in John 8:37-47. He expressly says that if we were God’s children we would hear His words and do (not speak) His will. We would fulfill the 2nd greatest commandment He ever gave to us – to love one another. Instead, our actions sell us out and show that we truly belong to the devil. These are not words we like to hear. Trust me I didn’t enjoy having that highlighted to me. But though the truth hurts, it does set us free (John 8:32). And I love God so much because He does not show us our wrongdoings so He can leave us in our mess. He reveals to heal.

 

And so, as a young black African woman (bAw) who is also a Christian, my desire is to see us truly love one another and represent our Father correctly in the Church. To also see us take pride in the wonderful family God has established for us and that He died for. Time is running out and Jesus will soon return for us. Let us work hard to allow Him to change our hearts and our sinful behaviour so we can work with Him to bring more souls to His kingdom – his life-changing, life-giving and amazing kingdom! We can’t do it if we’re being fake with ourselves; with Him; and with others.

 

If you’re reading this and feeling angry with what I’ve said or feel I’m unfairly accusing you, please take it to God. If I am wrong He’ll direct you in the right path – that’s why we need a personal relationship with Him. If you’re feeling really terrible and as though you’re a bad person because you’ve done or are doing some of this, don’t allow the enemy to imprison you in condemnation. God still loves you and desires to change you. Give it to Him. Ask for forgiveness and let Him walk you to a repentant life. If you’ve recently woken up to the fact that your behaviour needs to change, I am so happy for you. You’re in good company. Let’s keep praying and allowing God to change us.

 

The truth is that none of us deserve the very lives we live. It is by His grace and love alone that we are even blessed with the lives we have and with the opportunity to know Him. We can never repay Him for this goodness but one of the ways we can show our gratitude is how we treat each other as His children.

 

Heaven will be beautiful because our relationships will be based on love. It won’t happen automatically. We must work on getting there on a daily basis. So why not start now? Why not start in your small church community. As we genuinely learn to love one another with the guidance and influence of the Holy Spirit, we’ll attract more brothers and sisters into our family. I wish you all the best in that endeavour and I ask that you please pray for me too.

 

With love,

Sonia Dee

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Book Your Spot: A Time To Remember And Give

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Poster Design: Mpumi Simango

Hi ladies,

This is a gentle reminder to book your seat at our upcoming breakfast event! Limited spaces are available, so go ahead and secure your booking at http://qkt.io/1LBlw3 asap. Bookings close this Sunday, 30 April.

You can look forward to:

  • Getting to know your fellow sisters better;
  • Some soul-searching around our personal struggles of feeling left behind;
  • A personal testimony from a young woman who went through a humbling experience of struggling with getting her career going until she was 30-something, while her peers had elevated in their respective fields;
  • An opportunity to be encouraged and to encourage another sister in the journey of accepting where we are in our respective lives;
  • A delicious 2-course breakfast with tea/coffee;
  • And a chance to form a bond of sisterhood going forward as we seek to walk through our life’s struggles.

Can’t wait to connect with you all 🙂

 

With love,

Sonia Dee

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Guest Post: The Joys Of Being A Single Woman In The Church Community by Larissa Subira

Singled Out Flower
Photo Cred: Kobaken

Oh the journey of being a single woman in the church community, where does one begin?  Let’s just say I’m an old hand at this game, and the journey of a single woman of ‘marriageable age’ – what that even means is a story for another day – in the church community is a challenging experience. It’s a world that has to be navigated with thick skin and a strong sense of humour.

Firstly, let me say that this is not a church-bashing exercise. It’s more of an opportunity to think of ways we can improve our church environments for all those who come for spiritual fellowship. Having said that, there a few assumptions the church makes about single people that make it hard to treat the church community as a safe space for fellowship.

Here are just a few:

  1. It is assumed that there is something lacking in your life. That you are incomplete without a partner. You may at one point have heard this: “Your standards are too high, you need to put yourself out there”; “You’re too outspoken, maybe you should be more lady-like”; and my favourite one, “You don’t act like you need someone in your life”. Statements like these can really leave you frustrated and hurt, leave you wondering if you aren’t more than your marital status. When an elder in the church is asking you how you are, do they ask about your spiritual life, whether you are content? What your dreams are for ministry? One doesn’t get a sense that there is concern for your spiritual life, rather than the ticking of boxes as one goes through certain stages in their life.  This is of concern as the focus on the external leaves a false sense of security that if this certain aspect of your life is ‘sorted’, you’re okay and yet that is generally not the case. Nothing is ever really as it seems which brings me to the next assumption.
  1. That contentment will be found once you’ve reached this point in your life. There’s such an urgent push for you to change your marital status and noting the growing divorce rate within the church, this perhaps may not be a healthy approach.  I believe the church does not emphasize enough the importance of being whole within yourself outside of a relationship. Who is this young person in Christ? Has God completed the work in this young person before they get married? Have they learnt the lessons they should have?  Does this sanctifying process necessarily have a clock? Does it naturally strike at 25 or 30 for all young women?
  1. So apart from being discontent, it is also paradoxically assumed that you’re this happy go-lucky person whose life is easy with very few responsibilities or challenges. This is probably one of the most hurtful assumptions. So many young people especially in their late 20s and early 30s are either financially or emotionally responsible for their siblings and parents. The majority of their expenses are spent on others. A young person may also be ‘parenting’ their younger siblings and yet when the church is having family life programs, no thought is given to young people that may need some parenting advice too. For example, how one deals with a younger sibling who has turned away from God; is failing at school or; with a parent who may have a chronic illness so they need to find resources for their healthcare and maintain a job to cover all these expenses. Most young people are dealing with the combination of such challenges.  This leads me to my final point.
  1. The assumption that guidance or counselling is not wanted is a fallacy. So many young people are dealing with questions about how to handle life on a day-to-day basis. As an elder, can you show me how to budget for ‘black tax’ and yet maintain my month-to-month expenses? How can I maintain my spiritual life the day I feel so burdened by life’s pressures? How does one deal with life’s frustrations, when you feel stuck, like life is not moving forward? How do I take care of those around me who need help and also continue contributing to ministry?

I could go on and on, the list is endless. My point is, marriage is a beautiful gift that God granted the world with, and in time those who are meant to have that gift will receive it. In the mean time, let’s treat young single people as individuals outside of this status. Can they be seen as adults who also have responsibilities and would probably benefit more from your advice in other aspects of their lives. It’s interesting, the church community exists within society and with that comes common expectations of young people of a certain age.  However, the world doesn’t care about my soul and my salvation, shouldn’t the church? Just a thought…

 

Larissa

Larissa is a beautiful Rwandan girl by way of DRC, Swaziland and now South Africa with an ever curious mind about God and the world around her. A driven, loyal person who knows who she is, a bit stubborn but always up for a robust debate. Larissa is sweet and courageous all at the same time, and a pleasure to be around.

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A Time To Remember And Give Event

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Image Cred: Mpumelelo Simango

Hi bAw Family,

As promised, this year will see a number of events on our calendar as we seek to cater to the needs of the bAw family. We really appreciated those who took the time to fill out the surveys as they helped us to prepare for the functions, programs and initiatives that we will run.

This is our 2nd event of the year! And one that is dearly close to my heart because God first deposited the idea for it in my heart about 8 years ago. It is the first of a series of similar events where we come together and remember the pain we have walked through and relate it to fellow sisters so as to uplift them. To also give each other our listening ear, our words of encouragement, our prayers and hearts. The aim is to walk towards a place of healing for the various struggles we may face as women, and to be each other’s keeper. This is based on Galations 6:2 which says, “Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.”

This specific event on the 7th of May is an intimate breakfast conversation on the struggle of feeling left behind, inspired by a blog post I shared not long ago which a number of you resonated with. Whether you feel or have ever felt as though you’re behind in terms of your career, your relationship status, your financial standing, or any other area of your life, and it feels like you’re the only one – this is the event for you.

Please note that there are only 15 spaces available and the ticket price of R140 includes a two-course breakfast at Buitengeluk, tea/coffee, gratuity, and a chance to form a bond of sisterhood with other women facing similar challenges to you. So rally your girlfriends and go book your spot online until the 30th of April.
I am so looking forward to spending this quality time with you.

With love,
Sonia Dee

 

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Natural Hair Appreciation High Tea Event Pics!

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The gorgeous black African Queens that formed a part of the first “Natural Hair Appreciation High Tea” event!

This past Sunday, a group of twenty-something women decided to commune and have some tea while appreciating the crown of glory God has blessed them with. “What crown of glory?”, you may ask. The natural hair each of these ladies has been blessed with – free from harmful chemicals and manipulation.

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Zanele Luhabe sharing her experience with going natural.

We had our dear sister Zanele share her experience with finally going natural and embracing her natural hair as being a reflection of who she really is close to the age of 40. It really is never too late to choose to do what is best for your hair.

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Sonia Dube sharing the history of black hair

Then yours truly gave a brief outline on the history behind black hair and why we perceive it the way we do today. I also shared my reasons for going natural and how it is a part of our identity and is important in God’s eyes.

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Thandiwe of Afrolocology talking about the myths around natural hair

Thandiwe from Afrolocology (who co-hosted the event with me), then gave great insights into the myths around natural loose and loc’d hair, as well as practical tips on how to care for one’s natural hair.

We also had such yummy treats to indulge in, and the ladies got some cute little take-aways! We enjoyed talking about and sharing our journeys with natural hair, while encouraging each other to patiently care for our crowns. The ladies also had so many questions that opened our eyes up to natural hair and how it impacts one’s whole life and identity. In future, we will be discussing broad topics around natural hair including how to best style one’s hair or how to figure out your hair type, amongst other things.

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The amazing team of ladies who made this event possible! Thank you!

I would like to give a BIG thank you to my sisters who helped to plan and co-host this awesome high tea event! Sis’Nosi, Zanele, Rumbi and Thandiwe, your assistance and support was unmatched and I’m truly grateful to have you! To all the ladies who came to be a part of this very first Natural Hair event, thank you! Your presence made an impact and we so look forward to hosting you again soon.

Look out for more of these and other events at bAw!

With love,

Sonia Dee

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Natural Hair Appreciation High Tea – SOLD OUT!

Natural Hair Appreciation High Tea - Sold Out

Hi again ladies

Just to let you know that our very first “Natural Hair Appreciation High Tea” is SOLD OUT!! If you were planning on making payment to attend the event, please do not. Unfortunately, our places have been filled.

We will, however, be having more of these and other events, and you can keep your eye out for them in future. We’ll be sharing feedback on our first event to give you an idea of what to expect when you choose to join us next time.

To those who have reserved their places, we’re so looking forward to hosting you this Sunday, 2 April! We’ll be discussing:

  • your hair and identity;
  • myths around natural loose and loc’d hair, as well as;
  • tips on how to care for your natural crown.

There will be awesome prizes to be won and yummy treats to enjoy too!

See you on Sunday!

With love,

The African Crown Team

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The Struggle of Feeling Left Behind

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Photo Cred: Bridget Gwanzura

For the longest time now I have struggled with feeling left behind by my peers. It seems like in my life, things happen way after everyone else who has begun a journey with me. Over the more recent years, God has led me to appreciate that everyone’s story is different and there is a purpose behind one’s journey including its length; the course it takes and; the pain that it comes with.

Yet. When you’re going through it, it can be so tough to hold on to such a profound truth.

I realized that God allowed me to remain behind in many aspects that are important to me for several reasons. The thing is, we often can’t understand why we’re going through something until we wade through the muddy terrain before us, and cross over to the other side so that we are looking down at where we once were. Sometimes He allows us to get glimpses of why but rarely does that happen.

To be honest, I have felt like I’m running behind my peers and friends when it comes to these things that are important in my life: my career and purpose; my relationship status and; my financial standing.

It has felt like people figured out what job they wanted to do within about a year or two of leaving varsity and now they’ve surpassed their goals. They have established themselves in their industries and are making inroads in their purposes. Then when it comes to relationships, most of my peers found their spouses in their early-to-mid-twenties and are settled down now – some even with children. It hasn’t been all roses for them but generally they have received their heart’s desires. And finally, with finances I have seen my peers grow their personal wealth and assets from cars to homes to investments on markets.

I think for the longest time I felt cursed. I felt as though there was some secret everyone else was in on that I was excluded from. I played the victim for yeeeeaaaaars. I wallowed in self-pity and quite honestly was not the happiest of people for others. It was horrible.

But. God.

I thank Him for keeping me “behind”, so to speak, for all this time. I shudder to think what kind of a person I would be now if I had gotten all the things I wanted in my immature state of mind. Today, I recognize that my perception of myself, others and life was fundamentally flawed. To begin with, I was too much of a victim and didn’t take responsibility for my life. To succeed in what God has for you, you cannot think as though you are helpless because that is all you will ever be.

I also struggled with believing that I truly was valuable and worthy of the good gifts and blessings God promises us. As I have mentioned in a previous article, I readily saw it for everyone else but couldn’t grasp that vision for my own life. And so I would end up whining and complaining about how everyone else is lucky and God doesn’t really care about me but truth is I was blocking the process for myself. The mind is extremely powerful. And mine was hell-bent on believing the worst for my life regardless of the showers of hope and goodness sent my way! I needed to change my mind-set because God honours what you believe.

It was imperative that if I was to attain fulfilment of all God called me to receive and attain in my life, I had to be in sync with Him. I had to receive His love in its entirety so as to cast out all fears about my inadequacies and victimhood and my feeling left out (1 John 4:18). Although I knew God loved me, I had not fully believed and received it in my spirit and my mind. To be able to operate in and receive what is meant for your life you cannot have fear rule you, and fear had been my master for twenty-something years.

I needed to realize that I could not be sloppy in my preparation and execution of tasks and responsibilities in these three areas of my life. I couldn’t just wait around and hope I would have brilliant ideas about my career and purpose or that God would wave His “magic Hand” and make things happen for me. I needed to spend time researching and educating myself and taking initiative. I had to overcome my fear of people and ask for help. I needed to work with diligence because I am representing an excellent God. He wouldn’t just lay it all on my lap.

I also couldn’t expect that God would just hand me one of His Princes when I was still a “pauper” so to speak. I needed to go through the diligence of being transformed into His Princess. Making tough decisions about my lifestyle and choices was imperative. Changing people, places and things so that my royalty would be cemented in my soul had to happen. I would attract the man that resonated with what I believed about myself and what I had invested in to be the woman I was. So I had to have high standards about myself so that I could receive the best in love too.

Finally, I had to get over this ignorance of finances. I’ve always prided myself in being more people-oriented and not really getting the numbers side of life. But God is excellent in all His ways. That means He doesn’t slack off in an area just cause He’s not inclined to it. Thus, I have to learn to make tough decisions. Fight for what I desire. Make sacrifices and change my mind-set about money because no one else can do that for me. God cannot bless me in this area when I’m making a shoddy mess of it with the little I have. Because were He to give me more, I would make a HUGE mess and tarnish His Name.

In a nutshell, if like me you have felt as though you’re running behind others in life, I hope this encourages you to know you’re not alone in this feeling. It’s normal. Actually, more people than you realize also feel this way. What’s more important though, is learning from the state you find yourself in. Ask God to show you what He’s trying to teach you in your feelings and circumstances of being “behind”.

You will find that it’s not necessarily that He wants you behind or is punishing you, but He actually has a great work for you to accomplish in your life and He needs you properly equipped to fulfil it. He needs you to learn some things and be transformed. He can’t take a chance of you being “half-ready” before He endows you with the wonderful things He has in store for you. I mean, David had to wait a good 15 years between being anointed King and actually becoming King! God needed to work some stuff in him and to test his commitment to, and his belief in the blessing.

God’s got your back so trust Him. You’re not behind. You’re just taking a more “scenic” route 🙂 And hey, you actually don’t know how long it took the person next to you to get to where they are now. Not necessarily in terms of time, but even in terms of the challenges they had to endure to receive and become all they have and are.

Be encouraged and keep hoping.

With love,

Sonia Dee

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Natural Hair Appreciation High Tea

Natural Hair Appreciation High Tea

Good morning Lady,

The Natural Hair Appreciation High Tea Event is nearly booked out! Don’t miss out on this important conversation around hair identity, self-care and loving your coils.

 

Confirm your RSVP by making payment before the 25th of March. You can contact Sonia Dube at sonia.dube3@gmail.com or 083 937 4969 for banking details.

 

Once you’ve made payment, be sure to send proof of payment to sonia.dube3@gmail.com or thandiwe@afrolocology.co.za

 

We look forward to a high tea in conversation.

 

With love,

Sonia Dee

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Happy International Women’s Day

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Source: PlusQuotes Online 

Dear woman,

You are phenomenal and worthy to be celebrated! Wishing you a beautiful day filled with the love, kindness, tenderness and compassion that you so freely pour out into those around you!

With love,

Sonia Dee

 

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Guest Post: “Speak Your Mind… Except To Me” by Rumbidzayi Dube

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Source: Shutterstock Online

I am my father’s daughter.

Opinionated. Headstrong. Vocal. I speak my mind. A reflection of our patriarch. Qualities that my father himself has admired in me yet struggled to embrace since I was a child.

I’ve had numerous conversations with my father where I have voiced my views and opinions. After all, we were sent to school to understand the world and learn to develop cohesive arguments from what we saw. School taught me so much that goes beyond the classroom. It taught me to believe I had a voice and a valuable opinion. Joining debate teams, Toastmasters and public speaking competitions all helped me fine tune my natural disposition.

You will thus understand why it came to me as a great shock when, a few years ago, a young cousin fell pregnant out of wedlock and the advice from our fathers in this instance was “Boys, wear a condom. Girls, don’t have sex.” I have never forgotten that encounter. Nor have I forgotten an argument with my Pops where I was told “You should learn to keep quiet”. Our argument had been about principles that I felt strongly about. We were not seeing eye-to-eye and when I challenged his stance, my father was left with one form of ammunition that he knew I had no armour against as a young, black African daughter. He was my elder and what he says goes. Full stop.

Look, it’s not like I wanted to go on a sex rampage nor did I want to disrespect my elders. I just felt very strongly against the double standards that were staring me in the face. Was I destined to a life of stifling my opinions, my viewpoints, my feelings, myself? As long as I thought differently to my male superiors, was I to lead a life of self-censorship? That scared me.

That is the truth of the black African woman (bAw) in many instances. Of course there are leaders in any family and world. Those are usually the male figures in families and we can’t dispute the need for leaders. The problem, however, comes when you feel less of yourself as a result of censorship. Like you are being stifled and can’t be yourself. Looking to the generations before me, the pattern seems to be perpetuated. Women in the household have a very distinct role and it most certainly is not to challenge the men.

It saddens me because I believe there is a lot of benefit that comes from open dialogue. Yes, it’s not always going to be pretty or easy, but I think greater progress can be achieved in challenging, understanding and respecting one another.

This phenomenon isn’t only prevalent with older generations as far as I’ve experienced. Young men too can be threatened by opinionated women and shy away from that. If you call a man out, it is deemed unattractive. The expectation seems to be for women to tolerate all of men’s wiles and behaviours, even if disrespectful. It’s a catch 22 and has been a landmine to navigate in my short life.

All this has been cause for much deliberation and consternation in me as I seek to understand life. Surely God didn’t allow me to have these thoughts and views for them to be silenced? Granted, I am far from perfect and have been on a journey towards expressing myself in a way that others are more receptive to. All that being said, I know I cannot be an anomaly. I don’t believe I would be.

It is an ongoing struggle. Learning when I need to hush without stifling myself and speaking up when I need to whilst being respectful to others. One day, I hope it will be less taboo and more appreciated for opinionated and vocal women. For now though, a luta continua.

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Rumbidzayi Dube is a phenomenal young woman who is intelligent, brave and well-articulated when it comes to the daily struggles of a young black African woman. She is a beautiful child of God who is passionately seeking to fulfill His purpose on Earth and part of that includes running a thought-provoking blogsite at http://www.rumbidzayiishe.com. You can also follow her on Facebook and Instagram.

 

What are your thoughts and/or experiences around this topic? Do you think bAw are unnecessarily silenced? Have you struggled as an opinionated bAw? Do you believe bAw should know their place and not speak up unless asked to?  I’d love to hear your thoughts so please share below!

With love,

Sonia Dee

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bAw Survey 2017

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Hi bAw family!

This is just a reminder that our survey is still open and we’d love to hear how we can best cater to your needs in 2017!  Thank you to those who have already responded. If you would still like to respond, please go ahead and fill out the below form.

Thank you,

Sonia Dee

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My Natural Hair Care Regime – Washing

Me and my natural hair

So I’ve been on this natural hair journey for a good 4+ years, and it has been an interesting one. I’ve written about why I decided to go natural and how I transitioned into being a naturalista. That is a decision I absolutely do not regret in my life. Nothing beats walking in the fullness of who God placed you on this earth to be, including how you wear your hair.

That being said, it hasn’t always been easy doing this natural thing. Starting off, my sister and I had no clue how to keep natural hair. My experience with natural hair was limited to childhood when my mum would wash it then blow and comb it out. It was PAINFUL! And near to impossible to put a comb through that hair and I honestly hated it. I had to convince myself as an adult that this wouldn’t be the case this time around. So we did our research – reading up online about different natural hair types and how to care for them, as well as watching YouTube videos about how to care for and style your natural hair.

This, and years of experimenting alone has led me to a routine that works so beautifully for my hair and I wanted to share cause some of you have been asking how we manage to keep our hair looking so good. In today’s post I will be sharing the products I use on my hair to wash it. And the routine I follow in doing so. In a later post I will share how I moisturize and style my hair as well.

Hair Type

First things first, you need to know what your hair type is so you know how to care for it. Below are two charts of different hair types to help you out:

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Source: Blogspot.com
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Source: Blogspot.com

 

We black Africans are mostly Type 4 hair types. I personally am a 4b/4c. Hair Type 4 is what I’ll be referring to in sharing my hair care regime.

Wash Products and Process

I personally am one of those people who believes that the simpler a product is, the better. In fact, organic and natural is what I have found to work best for me. You may not believe that these two simple products are what I use for my weekly-to-bi-weekly wash but I promise you they bring out the best and most natural texture to my hair. I make sure to buy the organic and natural versions. The shampoos and conditioners that we buy in-store are filled with harmful chemicals that dry out your natural hair and take away from it coiling beautifully.

  1. Shampoo

My “shampoo” is bi-carbonate of soda or baking powder. Yep! I get it from any Woolworths or Pick N Pay.

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Process: So you take about half a teaspoon of bi-carb and put it in a 250ml cup. Then add water to dissolve it (or you can do 1 part bi-carb to 3 parts water). You can put it into one of those squeeze bottles and mix it up.

Apply this to your wet hair and rub it in comprehensively, leaving it in for about 3 minutes. You then rinse it out with warm water thoroughly to ensure it’s all out of your hair and has not remained on the scalp. You’ll find it weird at first that there is no foam with this method but it’s because there are no harmful chemicals that you find in regular shampoo that are actually added to result in the foaming effect.

Bi-carb is so good for your hair because it naturally strengthens your hair over time. You’ll notice that your hair is richer, stronger and more full of life than when using regular shampoo.

  1. Condition

My conditioner of choice is apple cider vinegar which I buy from Dischem or Pick N Pay from the Nature’s Choice brand. I generally buy the 500ml bottle for R75 which lasts forever or you can buy the 200ml bottle for R20 which lasts a long time as well depending on how often you wash your hair. Either way, it’s such an affordable conditioner – value for money. Again, I choose to use this product because it does not contain harmful chemicals and it brings my natural hair to life.

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I’ve clearly had this bottle for the longest time!

Process: You just need to take a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar and mix it in a 250ml cup. Again you can put this in a separate squeeze bottle to make it easier to apply to your hair. After shampooing with bi-carb, you rub this mixture completely through your hair. Thereafter, take a wide-tooth comb and comb out any knots in your hair – this is the only time that I really put a comb to my hair (and it’s optional). The hair is softer when it is wet and detangles much more easily in this state.

After about 3 – 5 minutes you can rinse out the conditioner thoroughly and your hair is squeaky clean!

I wash my hair every week or every other week and it works well for me, so see what works for your hair and your schedule.

  1. Deep Condition

It’s good to deep condition your hair at least once a month. I’ve been slacking on this but it’s really great for your natural coils. It gives your hair body and a great, healthy shine while repairing any damage from your hair being out or exposed to harmful chemicals. It also nourishes it with the protein needed by your hair and moisturizes it.

What I have used in the past to deep condition my hair is egg yolk combined with something else – usually olive oil. There are several amazing DIY, organic and natural deep condition mixtures that you can try if you just Google them.

Process: Take about 2 egg yolks and beat them. Add 1-2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil to the mixture and mix it some more. You can add water to thin it out a bit, and you can add more eggs and olive oil if your hair is longer – or less if it is shorter.

Once you’ve got your mixture right (not too thick but not runny either), you massage this “conditioner” into your dry hair from the roots to the tips, making sure it’s evenly distributed. You then take a shower cap and cover your hair for at least an hour to as long as overnight. The longer you leave it in, the better it conditions your hair. I find that about an hour and a half works well.

After your appointed time, you then wash out the “deep conditioner” with warm water, and with your normal hair wash regiment thereafter. Make sure you get all that egg out and be prepared for a not-so-great egg smell while you deep condition.

 

This is what I have found to work for me in terms of washing my hair. You can give it a go and tweak it according to your resources, time and texture of your hair. The key to nurturing a great natural crown is to keep trying. You will fail and find that some things don’t work but eventually you’ll come across what does work. Don’t be afraid to try.

I also have an amazing sister-friend of mine called Thandiwe who has come to understand natural hair and locks well, and can give you a consultation and treatment for your hair if you would rather not do all this on your own. You can call her on the number in the image below to check for the consultation fee and she is in the Johannesburg area. She’s running a Feb special so get in touch asap!

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Hope this helps you! And watch out for future hair care posts. Please also share what you’ve tried and what’s worked very well for your hair.

With love,

Sonia Dee

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bAw Survey 2017

 

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Hi there bAw family 🙂

So, I need your help. I’m doing a quick survey to try and determine some of the key issues that young black African women are grappling with and desire healing and encouragement over.

The aim is to start sessions (under this bAw community) where we come together to eat, talk, laugh and pray with one another as we seek to become the women God has created us to be, and not who society, culture or our past experiences have tried to tell us we are.

I need your help so that we can support one another and other women in fulfilling this mandate. You can do this by assisting me with answering the following questions in the comments section below or directly to my email address under the “Contact” tab on the site:

  1. What topics/issues would you like to discuss that you don’t believe get enough airplay? e.g. Mentorship/People-Pleasing/Sisterhood/Abuse/Embracing Singleness etc.
  1. What kind of set-up do you believe would encourage you to feel comfortable to share and grow with other young bAw like yourself? eg size of group/facilitator or no facilitator/in a home or at a venue etc.
  1. How often would you be willing to attend these sessions?
  1. What contribution – financial/time – would you be willing to contribute towards the planning and running of these sessions?
  1. What other fun activities and programs would you like to engage in with your fellow bAw other than the sharing sessions?
  1. Do you have any other comments or questions?

Thank you so much for taking the time to complete this survey! We would like to get these sessions and other activities for the year started soonest so please do respond asap. Looking forward to walking with you on this journey!

With love,

Sonia Dee

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To The Man I Love, But Am Yet To Meet

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Me in beautiful Cape Town in July 2015

You see me. All of me. And not once have you shrunk back from my awkward talkative nature or loud laugh or my desperate need to analyse everything. Instead, you have a way of turning my flaws and failures into possibilities and opportunities for me to be even greater.

You pursue me. Relentlessly. Not once have I wondered whether you care or think about me. It’s obvious that you do. I see it in the way you look at me as though I am the very first woman you have ever laid eyes on. I recognize it in the way you notice the most random things about me. In the way you don’t get tired of looking for me even if we just spoke this morning or had a falling out. I have no doubt in my mind that I am desirable to you.

You celebrate me. In every way possible. You may not share my exact interests but you still want to know all about them. You see all that I can and shall be, and you remind me of that at every opportunity that you can. You remember what’s important to me and find ways to make a big deal out of that even if it never really mattered to you before we met.

You’re curious about me. Like a child is curious about the first drop of rain she feels on her hand or about how her mama seems to know everything about everything in the world. I am a deep and vast body of water that you’re not afraid to completely submerge yourself in and yet that still wouldn’t be enough for you. It feels like you’re reading a fresh page in my story each day that we are together – even if you’ve read my story countless times before.

You remind me. Remind me about Whose I am and who I am in Him. Remind me of the capable, loving, powerful and gorgeous soul I have always been but that life had ripped from my memory bank. Remind me that I am so uniquely beautiful, enchanting and lovely. Remind me that I’m not alone at any juncture of my life’s journey. Remind me that someone believes in me wholeheartedly and has my back. Remind me that there are still amazingly good men in this world. Remind me of the very first Man who ever loved me unconditionally – Jesus Christ.

You pray for and over me. From the moment you wake up and have a conversation about me with God until you lay your head down at night. You present me before the Creator and plead with Him about my salvation, my healing, my joy and whatever I may need at that time. Your prayers for and about me are what keep me pushing forward daily into the woman God knows me to be despite the odds.

Dear husband, these are just reflections of your deep love for me and a few of the things I am grateful for in you. Thank you for how you challenge and push me towards the mark God has set for me. Thank you for reinstating my hope in godly men, when, for majority of my life it has constantly been torn down. Thank you for loving me in a way that reminds me of my Saviour’s love for me. Thank God that every day He blesses me with the opportunity to try and return the beauty you have brought into my life. I pray that I may honour my God by loving and respecting you the way He has called me to.

I haven’t met you yet, but God has already taught me to love you.

Yours truly,

The Woman You Adore, But Are Yet To Know

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5 Reasons Every Young Woman Needs a Female Mentor

The amazing women who have poured into my life. Thank you!

Happy New Year family! I hope you had a lovely break and that your 2017 has got off to a good start so far. I’m pretty sure that some of you are making resolutions and goals for this New Year, or you may just be thinking about what you want to do differently in this new season.

One of the things that shifted my life positively was having older sister- and mother-friends who mentored and poured into me. I believe that every young woman needs her Elizabeths and Ruths to help her navigate the difficult terrains of life and to become all she was called to be. I’m hoping that this post encourages just one lady to resolve to pray for and seek out female mentors in 2017.

Let’s look at 5 reasons why I believe every young woman needs older women in her life:

  1. To Confirm What God has Told You About Your Life’s Purpose: When I look at the story of Elizabeth and Mary, when Mary enters Elizabeth’s house she must have been feeling overwhelmed (read Luke 1:39-45)! She may have even be doubting the purpose God placed on her life because it seemed ridiculous and impossible – I mean falling pregnant as a virgin?! And giving birth to her Saviour!! Yet, the moment she steps into the house, Elizabeth confirms the words that the Angel had just told Mary without Mary divulging anything (Luke 1:42-43). God used Elizabeth as an instrument to confirm His purpose over Mary’s life in case she doubted it at all or couldn’t quite envision it.

Even in my walk, the older women God has blessed me with have confirmed who God has called me to be. Through the revelation and inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they see the gifts and capabilities He has put on my life – just like Elizabeth saw Mary’s. They scare me sometimes with how much they believe in that calling yet it encourages me that I am on the right path as I go along and whenever I feel doubtful. God allows only a few people insight into your life and it is these people that He uses to remind you that you’re becoming who He called you to be. It is so vital to have a few of these in your life.

  1. To Watch Over You: In today’s modern society, we often live far away from home and from the protection and guidance of our parents. Granted we may speak to them regularly but they are not on the ground and cannot fully comprehend the struggles and battles you face. And at times, they may be too invested in you growing in a certain direction that they miss understanding your challenges – from friendships, to career decisions, to romantic attachments and just your spiritual journey. As a young woman you are vulnerable – to hanging around the wrong friends, entering the wrong romantic relationships or even conducting yourself inappropriately at work and you may not see it. In the book of Ruth (Chapter 2), Naomi counsels Ruth about her career decisions and how to glean from Boaz’s field, as well as giving her advice about a potential romantic relationship. She has experience and she imparts her wisdom to Ruth.

Likewise, my mentors have coached me on a whole lot in my own life. They can tell from a mile away whether a guy is just trying to waste my time or not, even if I’m so into him and I try to hide details around him. They teach me about tough but important work ethics. They warn me about the people I let into my space. They pray for and with and over me and my life. They are my watchmen (Isaiah 62:6-7) and they will not tire of bringing me before the throne of God until He establishes me! What comfort, hope and security there is in knowing there are women who have walked through what you are going through and have your back! Especially in the spiritual realm, it is so important to have mature women lifting you up in prayer. The devil is seriously out to wipe you out and you need all the support you can get in 2017!

  1. They Call You Out and Challenge You to Be Better: I remember shying away from interacting with older people because I had issues with figures of authority and I projected it on any older person. I felt like they just wanted to control me and tell me what to do without understanding me. So I missed out on years of growth and development because of my fears and ignorance. I have come to appreciate that God places mentors over us to call us out on our ugly stuff as lovingly as possible. Unfortunately, because we are human and don’t like hearing the negative stuff about ourselves, we don’t always receive this well. But when we take time to think about and reflect on the feedback of mentors, we realize that it’s for our own good. We realize that they are actually genuinely concerned about our well-being. I am thankful to my sister- and mother-friends who do this with me.

Further to this, they push me to be better. They see my potential and are not satisfied with me being mediocre. This means that they will challenge me and ask me some tough questions. The same way God prunes us and it’s no fun. They get me to face things about myself that I don’t like or that I would rather ignore. This is because they believe in me and know that I can do and be better. I appreciate it now in hindsight and I believe that this is necessary for every young woman.

  1. To Teach and Prepare You for Future Stages in Your Life: My mentors have gone through things and are in spaces in their lives that I hope to enter one day. Whether that is running their own business; marriage; being a mom; or engaging in personal ministry. They are making waves in their lives and I pray to grow into such a phenomenal woman one day. And you know that they say one of the ways to get insight into the kind of person you’ll be in 5 years’ time, is to look at the people who influence you the most currently. My dad used to say that I should seek to be around people who are smarter and more successful than me and now I realize why.

My mentors have walked the journey I am on, so they understand the snags I will hit and what qualities I need to develop now to be successful later. They teach me by sharing their personal life experiences and by allowing me into their personal space – babysitting their children; attending events they are running; working on projects with them. They teach me by allowing me to observe their interactions with other people and by devotionals and prayers that they share with me. They teach me by being honest about their own shortcomings and humanity. I now understand why the bible encourages us young people to submit ourselves to our elders (1 Peter 5:5a). They have a lot to impart to us. You’ll be entering brand new experiences and stages in your life in 2017, and what better way to prepare for them than to speak to those who have already been there.

  1. So That You Can Pay It Forward: It is a good principle to share what you have received. Too many young people are messing up bad in life today because they had no-one to guide them in the right direction. If you have been fortunate enough to have someone invest in you, it doesn’t stop there. It is your prerogative to pay it forward. You will bless another young person’s life just by doing and sharing what you saw and received. It will also continue to grow and challenge you as a person. So as you are mentored, take notes that you can hand over to someone else later. Because one day a younger you will need what you have gained. That is one of the ways to be your sister’s keeper.

In a nutshell, it is so important to have female mentors because no man is an island. We all need help and we all need good counsel and guidance. We certainly don’t know it all, and one of the best qualities to have is to recognize this truth and have a teachable spirit.

Do you have older women in your own life who bless you? What is that like? Or do you have a different opinion about mentors? I would love to hear your experiences and thoughts around this topic!

Wishing you only God’s best in 2017 and beyond!

With love,

Sonia Dee

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What I Will Never Forget About 2016

Having some much-needed fun at our company year-end function!

Greetings bAw family 🙂 It’s been a while since I shared anything on the blog site and some of you have been asking me why I haven’t been sharing and when next I will write. To cut a long story short, 2016 was God’s beautiful way of getting me to sit at His feet so that He could break, comfort and heal me. It was a year of discovery and restoration, which sometimes means putting your tools down and focusing on your own well-being before stepping out to be there for others.

It’s been a phenomenal year. And apart from all the news headlines that I will never forget from this year, there are a number of lessons and experiences that I was blessed with in 2016 that I will always remember. Before we get into the craziness of the festive season, I thought to share these with you:

 

  1. Rejection Can Be Your Greatest Blessing

Ever since childhood I have faced my fair share of rejection (as I’m sure you have too). And this hasn’t stopped into my adulthood. However, what has changed is my perspective on rejection. This year alone I have experienced rejection in pretty much all the important areas of my life – relationships; church family; and career/work. Nobody beams with joy when they feel unwanted so it’s been tough to endure.

But, as I walked through this valley with God’s guiding and strong Hand, I came to realize that being rejected by people and circumstances propels you out of your comfort zone and eventually into a better space. What made me cry before has constantly led me to the feet of Jesus in worship and praise for allowing me to lose certain things and people. I have received the blessings of new relationships; new appreciation of myself and others; new experiences; and above all else a new, more intimate relationship with my Saviour. Had I not felt unwanted, I would not have wanted to draw closer to Him.

So. The next time you’re feeling rejected, ask God to reveal the blessing in it.

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Find the blessing in your rejection… (Photo Cred: Bridget Gwanzura)

  1. You’re Probably The Only One Limiting Yourself

For the longest time now, I have boxed myself in terms of my abilities. I remember telling myself as a teen that all I would ever be is average especially at school. And guess what? I did become average. I also convinced myself that I was no good with numbers and needed to stay away from them. That’s what influenced my choice in studies and career path. And literally, when someone would come to me with work involving any form of finances I would freeze and my mind would go blank. I also felt highly incapable of leading or succeeding greatly at anything really.

This year marked my final year of studying towards being a Life Coach. It involved tedious hours of practical coaching while completing two modules and working at my current job all at the same time. As I juggled these three areas in my life and especially towards the end of the year, I got such a shock when I passed my Coaching Fieldwork course with flying colours! Not only that, I was even more shocked when my employers vocalised their belief in my capabilities regarding work involving (eeek!) numbers and praising my skills! I remember crying at one point in disbelief, then it hit me – I was the only one standing in the way of my greatness.

God had always believed in my ability to succeed and to be and do great things regardless of what I was tackling (Philippians 4:13). My friends and family continually celebrated my talents, skills and abilities. But I just couldn’t see it, until I opened my mind to trust that God could do anything in and through me. It took years but it took me hitting rock bottom to finally see all I am and shall be in Christ.

So my dear friend, take a look in the mirror. You are most probably your greatest obstacle to greatness.

 

  1. Preparation Is The Key To Success

As I mentioned above, this year was jam-packed for me. On top of my studies and work, a close friend and I were leading out a group of young women on a personal and spiritual journey. My days were literally planned out months in advance. I found myself continually tired at some point because of all I had to do and I could not afford to drop the ball in any area of my life. I wanted to graduate. I wanted to excel in my career. I desired to lead these young women as best as possible because God had called me to. And of course, I also needed some downtime every so often.

I remember listening to a powerful sermon by Toure Roberts as he spoke about success in our spiritual life and other areas of our lives. What stood out most for me was preparation being the most important part of you succeeding at anything. I found that when I thought ahead and prepared myself, whether mentally or emotionally or physically, I was able to execute any task well regardless of how small or big. Whether it meant preparing my lunch and breakfast the night before work so that I was on time and not in a rush the next day; or spending the hours needed to read up on a subject and internalizing it before coaching a client; I was able to do things well because I was calm and assured.

Most of the time we struggle to live successful lives because we just go with the flow and react to what is thrown at us. What if we actually got ready for life the way athletes do for a competition? You may find that being proactive is that major difference to you becoming and achieving all you’ve dreamed of.

 

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Always remember how precious you are… (Photo Cred: Bridget Gwanzura)

  1. You Are Worth Pursuing

One of the areas that I have struggled with for most of my life is my worth and value. Because of past circumstances and beliefs (some of which I have written about here), I have believed the lie of the enemy and society that I am not a woman worthy of being pursued and wooed and loved. I have always distinctly seen other women as being pursuable. Yet, at the beginning of this year I realized that I had struggled to internalize that for myself.

This was a problem, not only regarding romantic relationships but more importantly regarding my relationship with my First Love – God. I realized that I did not believe He wanted to pursue me and love me and bless me with good things. I really did not see myself as His beloved or as precious in His sight (Isaiah 43:4). This informed how I perceived my position in the lives of others. It is so important for a woman to know without a shadow of a doubt that God loves her desperately and daily pursues her because she is worth it.

I thank my Jesus that He pursued me HARD in 2016! He pursued me in the sunsets and sunrises; in the smile and hug of a child; in the support of friends and family; in His Word and and and. He literally poured out Song of Solomon 4:1-15 in my life this year and reminded me that I am worth pursuing. Today, I am alright not having a half-hearted relationship or one where I have to go the extra mile to feel desired. I am okay dying single because I have tasted the greatest love of all – the relentless, pure love of a Man who will stop at nothing to be with me.

My dear sister, if you ever remember anything in your life be reminded of the fact that you are most certainly worth pursuing.

 

Thank you for taking the time to share in my experiences of 2016. I would love to hear what it’s been like for you too. So please do share below and let’s encourage one another.

Wishing you only God’s as you prepare to enter 2017!

With love,

Sonia Dee

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Guest Post: Busted! Caught Red-Handed by Sithabile Sibanda

Busted

Photo Cred: MTG Focus

 

“She is more precious than rubies: and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her.” – Proverbs 3:15

Do you know your value? Are you aware of what you are worth? How often have you found yourself in the same place over and over again? Doing the same thing and expecting different results…

That was my story for a while until I got caught! Yes, I got caught. The thing is, I wasn’t busted by anyone around me, not my family, friends or anyone. It was God.

Many times we walk around and seem “at peace” as though everything is okay when we know that we are on a battlefield. We don’t know our worth neither do we know Whose we are. It’s a fight between what others say and what God says, between who the world says we belong to and knowing Whose we are. The war is never ending.

Not until a while ago did my eyes open to see what I had turned into. I had lost myself because of the few things that run my life, one of them being forgiveness.  It was a struggle for me, as in a serious struggle. I had mountains of pain erected over a long period of time. I had reached a point where, if I was told something negative (you are not skinny enough, beautiful, intelligent, well dressed, etc.) I would remember every detail of it – how it was said; by whom and; when it was said and I would replay it in my head each day for hours on end.

Yeah I know! It was bad. The problem was I had a number of negative elements that were running my life caused by un-forgiveness that determined what I was worth.  Funny thing is that I would still want to be attached to the cause of the negative – I expected different results all the time but that never happened. I was stuck and no one could help me and I wasn’t going to tell anyone even if I was paid to 😛

Hate is a very strong word, and I hate to use the word “hate” about anything. And I certainly hate the thought that I might actually have hate for another person. But that is exactly what unforgiveness is – the root of hate. Unforgiving thoughts turn to hate inside us. For years I entertained unforgiving thoughts because they had a ripple effect and that was looking down on me. When we don’t forgive, we don’t see clearly and we stumble around in confusion.  We become weak, sick and bitter. We push away everything and anyone that can help us get past whatever it is that is hurting us.

“Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.”- 1 John 3:15

We choose to forgive whether we feel like it or not. It’s a decision and not a feeling. If we wait for good feelings, we could end up waiting a lifetime.

I made a decision to forgive those who had hurt me. But not only that – I chose to forgive myself. I realised that I had allowed people to run my life while they slept peacefully at night just because I held on to the one thing they said or did last summer. I looked at myself based on the judgement of others even just passers-by. It was way too much to live with on a daily basis, but I got busted, and it wasn’t nice. I had to look at my dirty laundry chilling on the line.

Realising that I had created a cycle in my life hurt, but it had to be fixed.  God had brought me to my knees and opened my eyes to all the murders I had committed.

“Either what women having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, seek diligently till she find it. And when she hath found it, calleth her friends and her neighbours together, saying, rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost.” – Luke 15:8-9. For many years I tried to find my value like the woman who lost her coin but I am grateful that I got busted and God showed me where to look.

People who lose things have the responsibility to find them and thank God I got busted. I found the one piece I had been searching for and after I had sought for this coin everywhere, it then became easier to see that we all have a story. The same person who’s causing you pain may just need to numb their own pain. It doesn’t make it right, but the way you treat them may just make them a better person.

In my life there are healed wounds that have ugly scars but each day that goes by comes specially made and there is value added to me.

The journey continues…

With love,

Sithabile

 

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Sithabile is a young Seventh-Day Adventist Christian woman trying to live for God. She currently resides in Johannesburg, South Africa and is vibrant, talented and loving. She is employed by Juta Publishing at the moment and is a business woman in her own right as well. Sithabile is passionate about helping others regardless of who they are. She’s a little crazy (:P) but is not above doing work required for the ministry of Christ. Most of all, she is saved by Grace.

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Guest Post: Becoming Proverbs 31 by Ehui Osei-Mensah

Proverbs 31

It is no secret to many that the Bible is an amazing source of strength, wisdom, and encouragement. As a Christian working mother and wife I constantly need God’s written word to power through my busy life. However, the Bible is also a sharp critic. Sometimes I find it akin to a mirror with bright unflattering lights, exposing the flaky skin and zits that no amount of make-up can cover. In fact, nothing exposes my failings and whips me back into shape faster than the Bible. In His holy word, God clearly presents the standard that Christians should aspire to and if we fail to keep it (His unwavering grace in mind), living up to God’s standard can be quite daunting.

As a Christian woman, Proverbs 31 is one of such passages that inspires me and terrifies me all at once because of the truly high standards it espouses. I would willingly blame Solomon for using the collective skills of all his 300 plus wives to define an impossible standard for all women in this book. But I digress….the Bible is, after all, the inspired word of God so we can assume God’s voice in its every passage. Proverbs 31 is therefore God’s standard for what a superwoman should be.

The passage tells me that the ideal wife and mother barely sleeps but is still able to wake up early to start her busy day (vs. 15). She is a great cook, dress maker, and yet still a successful entrepreneur – buying real estate with her own earnings (vs.16)! She is a philanthropist, opening her house to the poor (vs. 20), and is a kind and effective manager and master planner, rewarding her employees generously and managing her home with poise and grace. She does all this while slaying in all her outfits. Yes! This lady is supposedly physically fit and fashionable! She has strong and toned Michelle Obama arms (vs. 17) and slays in fine linen and purple – in other words – haut couture (vs. 22). She ensures that her household is well-clothed too and brings honor to her husband and family (vs. 23).  She is good natured and a wise teacher (vs. 25, 26). Naturally, her husband and children are full of praises for her, who wouldn’t? Who is this woman? She is certainly not me on most days.

How on earth do I match up? Most days I’m stuck at step one. I, like the Proverbs 31 woman, don’t sleep much but I am certainly not springing out of bed before the sun is up with a smile on my face, ready to cook and clean before work. It takes many a slam of the snooze button and kind coaxing from my dear husband to get me out of bed and coherent on most days. I certainly do not manage real estate businesses. I have only one job – one busy job – but nothing compared to the strides of this Proverbs 31 woman. Though I love to look good, I can’t make my own clothing and the ones I buy sport labels of designers whose names you don’t need French training to pronounce (aka not haut couture) and this woman is out there slaying in bespoke fine linen and purple. Could she seriously be real?

For us working wives and mothers who still want to rely on God’s word as the standard for all our endeavors, is the Bible somehow setting us up to fail with an impossible standard? Is there ever a way to happily balance a high powered professional career with wifehood and motherhood, especially as an African woman in the diaspora with external family support miles away? Well, according to Proverbs 31, there are no excuses for mediocrity and yes, it appears possible to be a real superwoman! The one thing the passage doesn’t quite mention is the fact that this woman must be spending some time on her knees communicating with God for the wisdom to excel in all her affairs. I certainly need that divine guidance to be a high performer both at home and at work.

Many times, I think as black African women (bAw), we spend a lot of time recognizing and articulating the odds that we are up against. We frequently discuss the odds against us in the pursuit of a solid education and a successful professional career, a Godly marriage, heathy high-achieving children, and a good standard of living in general. Many of us spend many years wishing for and praying hard for that school, that job, that man, those kids, that house, those clothes, but we spend very little time praying in advance for the grace and power to manage all those blessings effectively when God grants them. Proverbs 31 describes a woman who has been blessed immensely by God in all facets of her life but we see that she needs to work hard and exhibit many impressive skills to manage that success.

Ephesians 3:20 tells us that God is able to do “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us.” This means that He has the power to grant all our hearts’ desires, including success at home and work, according to His will. It also means He is a ready source for strength and courage to help us manage, to our full potential, those blessings that He grants us. I’m always going to need to tap into His source of strength and to draw from His well that never runs dry because this Proverbs 31 woman that I speak of, she can, by His grace, be me.

 

What are your thoughts on the Proverbs 31 woman? Do you think she’s realistic or should we just take lessons from her? Would love to hear your thoughts!

With love,

Ehui

 

jn (109 of 426) (2)

Ehui Osei-Mensah is a gorgeous childhood friend of mine who hails from the beautiful country called Ghana in West Africa but currently lives in the Washington DC with her small family. Ehui is a wife and mother of a beautiful little girl. She is a Christian and currently works as the Content Director at Hanover Research. She is a smart young woman with a bubbly personality and a love for Jesus.

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Thought-Provoking Tuesdays: Your Life

Sometimes we don’t take enough time to pause and reflect on our life and the meaning it possesses. Taking the time to do this allows us to be grateful and to appreciate what we have, and to encourage us to continue moving forward.

I think my answer would be: Miracle

What’s yours? Post your answer in the Comments section 🙂

387

Photo Cred: Thought Questions Online

 

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5 Warning Signs of a Christian Guy Who is Going to Waste Your Time

Arguing black couple 1

Photo Cred: Madame Noire Online

I’ve been witnessing and reflecting on a rather disturbing way of relating between guys and girls in our society today – and most especially in the church. Particularly how girls allow themselves to become entangled with a guy who is leading them nowhere slowly. I’d like to call this kind of man “The Illusionist”. No, I’m not talking about a magician. I’m not referring to a movie or a book. I’m talking about a young man who has no real plan for his life and wants to drag you along for the ride. The reason I am focusing on the Christian brother is because they have become skilled in leading church girls on. They use the fact that we’re all at church to their advantage because girls let their guard down (believing they can trust a Church guy over one outside the Church) and not to mention some of these brothers throw God into the mix of messing with girls. Don’t get me wrong – this is in no way an article bashing Christian brothers. I just believe that the truth needs to be said as it is and also so that the Christian sisters catch a wake up call cause they can’t just blame the brothers.

 

Anyway, let’s begin by painting a picture of what tends to happen: Guy meets girl. They hit it off. They realize they have so much in common and they enjoy chatting for hours; exchanging ideas and poetry or books; accompanying each other to different outings/gatherings with friends etc. Soon they begin to flirt and “connect” – catching each other’s eyes from across the room and giving a knowing look when something happens that they’ve spoken about before. They become comfortable around each other and sometimes find themselves standing/sitting very close to each other or occasionally brushing hands and/or other body parts.

 

Then one day someone (usually the guy) suggests that they go out to do something together (just the two of them) that they enjoy or have spoken about. It’s all so exciting! They “hang out” a couple of times in this manner. They begin to talk about their dreams and wishes for their life – the kind of person they want to marry; where they would want to live; the kind of holidays they will take with their family and and and. They can no longer go a day without talking and people around them begin to make jokes about how cute they are together and they giggle it off by saying indignantly “we’re just friends!”

 

But the truth is, they are now way past “just friends”.

 

At this point, feelings have been caught. Castles have been built in the air and intimacy has developed (usually at a rapid pace). It is here that one of these two begins to desire more out of this “friendship” and I’ve found that most times it is the girl. It becomes clear that the woman is interested but the guy starts to become hot and cold – calling and flirting and caring sometimes, then becoming aloof and a bit distant at other instances. And this is where the cookie crumbles. The girl starts to question whether or not this guy likes her, and cue confusion, anxiety, fear, insecurities and all their aunties and uncles. It’s a hot mess. It usually doesn’t end well and it usually goes on for much longer than it should.

Eventually, the guy (from experiencing pressure from the girl) decides to tell her that they are just friends and have always been so why the big fuss. It indirectly becomes her fault and they “break up” and things become super awkward.

It’s a terrible place to be in because you are lying to yourself, to each other and to everyone around you. Sooner or later, that lie catches up to you and knocks you way off your feet. You go through excruciating thoughts about your worth and you resent men again and have to get over that. Also, you lose what could have been a really great friend. I decided to write this post because I speak to so many different young women and this topic comes up a lot lately. It seems that this is a pattern amongst young people and I think we need to break it. At all costs ladies, we must try our best to avoid “The Illusionist” and wait for a more genuine and godly man. You need to be able to recognize the characteristics of this kind of guy so as to avoid him – after all, you are responsible for your own life and heart. We can’t only blame the guys. So, here are a few signs of an “Illusionist” as I have come to understand them:

 

  1. He’s Overly Familiar Pretty Quickly: This guy treats you like you’ve known each other forever! He’s really comfortable with placing his hand around your waist or giving you a cute nickname. The thing is, this makes us as women feel seen and wanted. It’s a fact – women want to be loved and part of being loved means to be given special attention. However, I think it is problematic when a guy has not known you long at all and he’s already acting like you’re married. It is an indication of his inability to pace himself. He will soon run out of steam, even if you were to enter into a committed relationship.

 

  1. He Marks You As His Own Without Telling You: Further to the above, “The Illusionist” is quick to make you his “person”. You know – he’ll be sure to sit with you in church or at social gatherings, and sit very close at that. He’ll say things like “Oh yeah Thando likes to do this and to say that” to highlight that he’s more familiar with you than others are. He will embrace you and linger with that eye contact during the people (in public) raising questions in people’s minds about who you are to him. Again, these are things that bring us such joy as women. But a man who treats you as his own when he has not even asked your permission, is a thief. He is not a gentleman. A true gentleman understands that you are a woman who belongs first to God and then to a set of parents or guardians. He will respect that about you, and will treat you that way until he has verbally requested to enter into a more exclusive relationship with you. Think about it, even God knocks at the door of your heart (Revelation 3:20). He doesn’t just make Himself welcome although you are already His. He wants you to agree first.

 

  1. He’s Got the Whole ‘Troubled Soul’ Thing Going On: So, “The Illusionist” has some serious issues. I mean, we all do. But his are intense and woeful and earth-shattering. He’s told you about his terrible circumstances growing up – how he grew up without a parent or grew up eating one meal a week or faced abuse and discrimination etc. He gives you all the details and it seems his life could fall apart at any moment. He’s such a victim. He tells you that you give him so much hope and encouragement. He doesn’t know how he would survive without you. As a woman, this makes you feel wanted. You feel special. I mean, this guy needs you! You soon become his second mama though, and you find yourself in a co-dependent situation. A genuine guy does not offload his issues on you with the expectation that you make it all better. Yes he shares his struggles and past hurts (at a certain level of relating – not from the get go) but he will not make you feel like you’re his only hope. Jesus is his hope. And he’s man enough to deal with his issues.

 

  1. He Gives “If You Were My Wife” Scenarios: As you become more familiar in your “friendship”, brother-man starts to tell you in passing what the deal would be if you were his wife. Maybe he’s making an example of what he wants in his relationship and uses you as the substitute for his wife. He’s basically building attachments in your heart without the actual commitment. He’s growing your affections with no real purpose to fulfil them. He is being a coward and he’s getting temporary pleasure without the pains of commitment. A good man will not mislead you. He will be clear about where you stand in his life. Whether you are his friend or someone he is developing feelings for, and he will not unnecessarily cultivate romantic thoughts in your mind that he is not ready to fulfil. Granted we sometimes get caught up in our feelings but a real man will take responsibility when he’s messed up and work at protecting you.

 

  1. His Life Seems Purposeless: The “Illusionist” may on the surface appear to be deep and have a greater insight into life. He can quote books and poems, and can debate politics and religion. He can even pray. He’s smart and engaging, and usually people look up to him and admire him in the Church. But. When you really pay attention and give it some time to get to know him, you realize that he’s all over the place. He’s not really sure if he wants to be a doctor or just go save kids in a remote country in Africa or hang out with friends at parties or become an Evangelist. He lives in the now while dreaming of a possible future, and he has no real understanding of his purpose or even a desire to discover it. He may be “working towards it”, but he’s been at it for the last 10 years. He may even be serving in the church and all, but there’s no real growth that you can see. Walk away from that brother before you get caught up in his mess. A genuine guy knows what God has called him to do, and if he doesn’t yet, he is seeking out his purpose in Christ. Often, he won’t want to include you in his confusion until he’s sure.

 

There is so much more to “The Illusionist” but I wanted to give you the basic warning signs to look out for as I’ve come to understand them. God has instructed us to guard our hearts above all else (Proverbs 4:23) sisters. Allowing someone access to your heart and personal space is no joke. So ladies, be very conscious of who deserves that airtime. We can’t be angry at these guys who lead us on when we naively and happily give them the room to do so. Leave that brother in the hands of Jesus to make whole. It’s not your job. My prayer is that God activates a discerning spirit within us and that we are vigilant ourselves by meditating on the good qualities of a godly man, so that we can avoid the wrong kind of men. Also for wisdom to know how to conduct ourselves in our relationships with the opposite sex.

 

Have you ever experienced an “Illusionist”? What other signs would you say are there to watch out for? Maybe you don’t believe there is such a person as an “Illusionist”. I want to hear about it all!

 

With love,

Sonia Dee

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How I Transitioned To Natural Hair

Transitioning

Me and my natural locks 🙂

 

I recently did a post on why I decided to go natural a few years ago. It’s been about 3 or 4 years since I embarked on the natural hair journey and less than 3 years since the big chop. A number of you expressed your desire to go natural as well but said that you have either tried and found it difficult to maintain the natural hair or you believe your hair is super coarse and are afraid it won’t be manageable. Some of you just asked for guidance on dealing with natural hair. I understand cause I was just as nervous when I went natural. I’m going to do a number of posts discussing my transition journey; my hair care regime; products I use and where I get them (plus other products that are in South Africa); hairstyles and how I do them etc. So be on the lookout for these.

To get us started, I thought to start from the beginning. I wanted to share about my personal journey of transitioning to the natural hair state. For those who are new to the natural hair game, transitioning is when you decide to let your natural hair grow out with the relaxed hair until you’re ready to chop off the relaxed/chemically treated hair. This was a personal choice for my sister and I, but you could choose to just chop it all off instantly. The main reason I chose to transition and wait for the natural hair to grow a bit longer was the fact that I didn’t think I had the face for a bald or really short haircut. Lol. To each his own!

Anyway, these are some of the steps I engaged in for the duration of my transition to natural hair (which lasted about 1 year):

 

  • Using Heat and a Comb

As my natural hair grew out, I would use a comb to my hair as well as blowing it out with a blow dryer when needed at home or at the salon. I don’t use heat any longer on my natural hair now, but at the time it helped to get my desired results in terms of styling my transitioning hair. It was mostly painful but I made sure to use a wide-tooth comb to reduce the pain and better comb out the hair. I also avoided using heat on the regular and probably blew my hair out once a week when I was wearing it out. Heat is generally not good for your hair as it dries it out and leads to breaking. Try to avoid it as much as possible.

Wide Tooth Comb

Use a wide-tooth comb. Photo Cred: Shopify Online

 

  • Monthly Oil Treatments

During my period of transitioning, I still went to the hair salon for treatments. Since I chopped off my relaxed hair I have not been back to the hair salon to have it treated except for the one time I did a blowout. Instead, I wash and style and care for my natural hair myself at home because I find that at the salon they still don’t understand how to best treat natural hair. Anyway, during transition I would visit my hair salon of choice to get an oil treatment once a month. This was great to strengthen and nourish my hair as it grew and I felt that it helped with styling my hair better. Also, the salon stylists still knew how to deal with transitioning hair in this regard. I would sometimes do my own oil treatment at home using egg yolk – about 2 egg yolks for my hair. I would just beat the two egg yolks and rub them into already wet and shampoo’d hair that had been rinsed out, and sit with it under a shower cap for about 30 – 45 minutes before rinsing out and conditioning. So, make sure you give your hair the oil treatment it needs regularly as you transition.

 

  • Products Used on Hair

In terms of the shampoo and conditioner that we used on our transitioning hair, my sister and I chose the Organic Root Stimulator range which we found at Clicks or Dischem. We made use of their Creamy Aloe Shampoo and the Replenishing Conditioner when washing our hair. I would wash my hair once a week or once every other week depending on how lazy or busy I was. Every so often, I would co-wash which is when you wet your hair and wash it with conditioner only. This has benefits for your hair because the chemicals in conditioner work well with our natural curly hair. You just need to be careful about the conditioner you’re using. In fact, knowing what is in the products you use is so important when going natural and the less chemicals, the better.

Shampoo and Conditioner

Organic Root Stimulator Shampoo and Conditioner. Photo Cred: Amazon Online

In terms of a leave-in conditioner, we chose to use the one from Motions. Again, we would purchase it at Clicks or Dischem but I am not sure if it is still being sold there. Nevertheless, as I said above you just need to look for a leave-in conditioner that is as natural as possible i.e. when you look at the ingredients it has, it should first list water and should not have a long list of other chemicals. You can also always Google what kind of chemicals to avoid in the shampoos and conditioners you use on your natural hair.

Leave in Conditioner

Motions Leave-In Conditioner. Photo Cred: All Women’s Talk Online

  • Regular Protective Styling

When I was transitioning, I did not leave my hair out as much as I do now that it is completely natural. This is because it was harder for me to maintain the transitioning hair because of the two different textures. Also, combing it out and trying to style it wasn’t always easy. This meant that I regularly invested in protective styling which in my case came in the form of braiding hairstyles. I would do singles or cornrows. I would also go to the salon or to a friend to do thin and neat twist outs on my own hair that I would wear out and style. It allowed for my hair to grow, and it minimized breaking. I would advise you to do the same if you choose to transition to natural hair. It certainly makes the process easier and more bearable.

 

  • Hair Moisturizer/Hair Food

As I transitioned, I wasn’t very fussy about what moisturizer to use. I would make use of the Organic Root Stimulator Oil Moisturizing Hair Lotion. I would also make use of any other hair food or lotion that I felt I could trust at Clicks or Dischem. As mentioned above, the key is to look for hair food/moisturizer with less chemicals on its ingredients list. This is always the key when shopping for products for your natural hair.

Moisturizing Hair Lotion

Moisturizing Hair Lotion. Photo Cred: Hair Wig Harlem Online

 

  • Watching YouTube Videos

My sister and I became natural hair YouTube video junkies. Lol. That is where I got most of the information about how to best take care of my hair while transitioning. That and visiting blog sites for natural hair. If you just type in “Transitioning to Natural Hair” in Google you will come across hundreds of blog sites and you can just pick the few that resonate most with you. The point is that many people have gone ahead of you on this natural hair journey so that it can be a much easier process for you. It doesn’t have to be that daunting or overwhelming. The key is to research as much as you can and tailor what you find to your own hair until you’ve found your rhythm. Don’t visit too many different sites as this will confuse you, but find one or two that you’re comfortable with and can keep going back to for advice.

 

This is a general overview of my journey to natural hair. I wasn’t so obsessed with the whole “What’s your hair type” and working with that. It confused me and I could never actually tell what my hair type was – if I was 4C or whatever. Instead, as I tried out different products and methods of taking care of my hair, I began to notice what worked best for it. I paid attention to what brought out the nice curls in my hair in terms of what I was using to wash it or to moisturize it etc and I would repeat. Also what gave it a healthy and long-lasting shine and bounce. As you do this, you begin to recognize what works best for your hair type. What works for me will not be exactly what works for you but the key is to get ideas here and there and tailor them to your specific hair type.

Above all else, have patience and perseverance!! This is not an easy journey. More times than not, you will feel like giving up but don’t. The end results are so worth it. I would say that when you’re getting tired of your hair, just braid it. Hide it for a while until you feel revived to try again. And keep reading up about the benefits of keeping your hair natural and reading about other people’s experiences with natural hair. It will encourage you to feel like you’re not the only one and will keep you going.

 

I will be posting more about my experience with my actual natural hair now in terms of how to best take care of it and style it etc. You will find these posts under the new category “Natural Hair Care”. If you have any other experiences or thoughts around going natural, let me know! Would love to share your experiences with others.

 

With love,

Sonia Dee

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6 Truths That Helped Me to Discover My Purpose

purpose word in letterpress wood type
Photo Cred: The Jesus Flock Ministries online

 

Our generation is one that is quickly getting over working for the sake of working. Working to pay bills or to rise in the ranks of a company or to achieve some form of accolade. I believe that this generation is one that craves meaning behind almost everything it does. Whether it be the reason why we don’t indulge in certain foods any longer or choose to spend time in specific places, we base our decisions on what we believe will add value to our lives. Therefore, even one’s choice of a career must be purposeful. Actually – one’s life must be purposeful. Period.

 

This may not be true for everyone but it certainly is true for me and for a number of people I have had the priviledge of engaging with recently, and was the inspiration behind my first post on Purpose. For quite a chunk of my adult life (from when I first got to University), I was questioning my reason for being. I was pretty sure that God created me to provide a specific gift to this world, and that He deposited within me all the things necessary for me to share it. It took a bit of time but I believe He has finally placed me in my path of purpose, and I know He can do the same for you. As a black African woman (bAw), you may be wondering what it is you were placed on earth to do. You may be questioning how you can actually discover what that purpose is. I thought I’d share some of the thoughts and truths that led me to discover mine:

 

  1. Pray

This must be the most important step in this journey, and one that never gets old even as you discover and live out your purpose. God encourages us in His word to ask and we will receive, to seek and we will find, to knock and the door will be opened for us (Mathew 7:7). Some of us struggle with this because we believe that God is all-knowing and knows that we have this question in the first place – that’s how I felt anyway. But I got so tired of just ruminating on the issue internally so I eventually prayed a specific prayer asking God to reveal my purpose to me. Doing this leads you to acknowledge that only God can guide you into your purpose and reminds you that you will be fully dependent on Him in fulfilling said purpose for the rest of your life. It also acts as a way of opening your mind to receive the answer.

 

  1. Think About What Keeps You Up at Night

I remember an old mentor of mine once saying that you will know what your purpose is because it will be a niggling feeling in the back of your mind that will not rest. It will be something that wakes you up at night. It will be that issue or idea that you just can’t seem to give up on, and that seems to follow you wherever you go. It will be your passion. Passion is defined as a “strong and barely controllable emotion.” Your purpose is something that in essence has a hold over you. It is strong and will not be ignored.

 

For me, that strong sense and need to do something had to do with women and over time, with black African women and black African people in general. I could not help but be drawn to the issues that these people face. I can spend hours thinking about how to best encourage and uplift these groups of people. I can wake up in the middle of the night with a burst of inspiration or questions on how to aid them. It is constantly on my mind and has become a part of my being. So ask yourself, what idea or dream or question keeps you tossing and turning?

 

  1. Make Sure it is Impossible to Achieve

This same former mentor of mine, Andrew Adar, also highlighted the fact that your purpose will be bigger than anything you could imagine achieving on your own. It will feel and appear impossible! This reminds me of one of my favourite quotes which says, “If your dreams don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough.” I’m not sure who said that but it is spot on! Your purpose must be like a mountain with you standing by it as an ant. This is because God must be the Ultimate fulfiller of your purpose. And as Luke 18:27 says, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” So be encouraged when your purpose seems foolish to achieve!

 

  1. Speak to People who Know You Well

Once you have spoken to God about the issue, it helps to take the asking a step further and speak to those who know you well. You may have an idea of what you are passionate about but it is also beneficial to hear from loved ones what they think you are good at or talented in. Sometimes we may miss what our gifting is because we have limited our understanding of ourselves. It may take the words of another person to ignite the fire and open our minds to what we are capable of. Ask God to show you who to ask and He will use them as vessels to confirm or reveal His purpose over your life.

 

I will never forget a young lady I met during my time at university who was insistent that she could see me doing my own thing and not working for someone else for the rest of my life. Then there was my ex-boyfriend who said with conviction that he could see that God had set me aside and was going to use me to do great things for His kingdom. From there it was people telling me or confirming my suspicions that I enjoy listening to others and encouraging them to desire and be better. Or the fact that I had a heart for women and most especially those who are looked down upon or look down on themselves. Looking at the purpose that God placed on my life, I can see now that these people were mouth pieces for God in guiding me into my purpose. What have some of your friends, family and even strangers said about you and what you’re good at?

 

  1. Notice Opportunities That Come Your Way

As you try to discover what your purpose is, you will notice opportunities that have come your way in the past or that are opening up before you. You will not need to have done anything for these to present themselves but without a shadow of a doubt, you will realize that God has and is orchestrating the right breaks that will propel you further into your purpose. For me, I realized that God allowed me to attend a high school where English Language and English Literature were offered and celebrated, which is what I was drawn to and chose to study. This has helped me in sharing stories in the form of writing. He also provided my school fees on more than one occasion so that I could complete my current Diploma which will aid in fulfilling my purpose. There are many other ways He has provided and without any influence from me. Look out for these in your own life.

 

  1. It’s Not About You

One of the best ways to tell what your purpose is, is when it reaches beyond you and your little life. It seems to have a life of its own. One’s purpose does not entail just making a comfortable living for yourself or doing things that benefit only you. Just as Christ’s purpose entailed saving humanity, your purpose plays a part in this great story of restoring sinful beings to their Creator and former glory. Your purpose will touch the hearts and lives of others – maybe even people you will never meet or know about. Your purpose comes with great responsibility because it is meant to change the world one small step at a time.

 

These are some of the things that helped to point me in the right direction as I searched for my reason for being. I hope they have helped you to do the same if you were seeking for yours. Maybe you have other things that have led you into your purpose. Please do share with the rest of us so we can learn and grow together.

 

With love,

Sonia Dee

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Thought-Provoking Tuesdays: Your Story

open book
Photo Cred: YIPA Online

I received this short devotional from my mother-friend, Aunt Gail. It really made me question whether I honestly understand my story as God has purposed it. Do I short-change His vision for me? Do I doubt who He says I am? Do I truly understand how He desires to heal and grow and love me? The answer is that I do not get it most of the time. The below devotional reminds me that my story begins where I end and He starts. I hope it provokes you to think about your own story. Enjoy 🙂

 

Where Your Story Begins by Uknown

Daughter, you hear Me say it true: I begin a new thing in you.

The past is behind you. I was there with you. I can show you where I was.

Looking back is not bad, but staying there is not My plan. Let Me place My hand on the places of pain, where you feel alone, where you cry out for rescue.

I have rescued you, daughter. I created your frame, the contours of your skin, the timing of the way your eyes close, just so. I know your makeup, all the details of you, your entire story.

I author you, daughter.

The drafting of your story, your hand in Mine . . . there is paper not more beautiful–curls of letters that make Me smile.

Daughter, the story of your name is written in My book, your beginning, the moment where you felt you ended and I begin. That is your beginning, child.

You begin where you end and I begin.

And the story keeps writing, child. After beginning there is adventure. After beginning there is trust and falling and catching and believing and choosing and waiting. There is much waiting and beginning again.

Your story running right off the page with Me.

 

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Guest Post: The Ladder of Success for the Black African Woman Seems to be Dismissed by Submission by Bulelwa Mpinda

Submission

Photo Cred: Cierra Cotton

There are dreams that have been parked all in the name of submission. We have heard it several times that as a woman, more so a black African woman (bAw), you are restricted to think or dream in a certain manner because we have to make space for our men to feast on our ideas whilst we align ourselves in the kitchen trying to cook the best meals and scrub the cleanest floors to get the somewhat esteemed opinions of how good of a wife we will make.

I realise how many of us women have been brainwashed by the illusion of tip toeing around society’s views of who we should be. I once spoke about the story of Mary and Martha and eluded to the point that had Mary stuck to society’s trend of being a woman based in the kitchen she would have never had her life transformed. She literally was out of place more so in a Jewish tradition. Had she not felt the moving of the Holy Spirit pleading with her to meet her Master for the divine appointment, she would have still found herself battling over the same sins because tradition said “park”.

Your purpose is your divine appointment with the Master. The more you pursue purpose the more transformation takes place. Submission goes hand in hand with God’s word – no one should give you illusions of what they think. It is written that Ruth was found in the field working and Dorcas ministering. Rahab also had an assignment with her Master – had she thought that she was just a prostitute she would have had society label her and dismiss her purpose of listening to the Holy Spirit.

I figure that a man who is intimidated by a woman who is on about her Father’s business is intimidated by his own insecurities. If submission equated to the fact that a woman had to be at home cooking and cleaning, I guess all house wives would have never seen divorces. We need to train up our children into respecting men from a biblical view and never the enforced fears of losing out on marriage.

We live in a society that does not want women to excel in God’s work yet excel in marriage. I started my NGO years back and I have been met with words of being opinionated; overpowering; independent and looking like I don’t need a man (giggles). I believe that excellence excludes you and elevates you. We have made it seem like submission does not go hand-in-hand with purpose. Your purpose should never disarm the hierarchy of Divinity. What we have done is to place opinions beyond the ode of “Thus says the Lord”.

I love this quote by Joyce Banda,

“It’s heavy, but I am able to carry it. Why? Because I’m an African woman. An African woman carries heavy loads anyway. That’s how we are trained; we are brought up that nothing is unbearable. I use that now, positively. I use that now to have the thick skin that I have, and not fear, and move forward, and push; and push forward.”
— President Joyce Banda of Malawi

 

Submission:

I know most of you are staring at your screen thinking is Bulelwa Mpinda even married yet? Certainly not. But I speak of the revelations of God imparted to me.

Submission is not an act of lack. It does not take away the power of what you can do, but it enhances the visual eyes into allowing a man who is led by God to see the things that you would not. Society has played an advanced role in redefining independence; a woman who is chasing after God knows how to submit.

The term has been diluted into thinking that submission does not go hand in hand with love. If you can respond to his “I love you’s” then you surely must learn to respond to his “no’s” – treat that man like the head. In as much as a woman can be running her business, and be career driven, that does not redefine who God said she is. Women are failing to catch their blessings from God because of the “I can do it all by myself fever”. You advance most when you learn to unite in love and when you learn that submission has nothing to do with power but with love.

Two is better than one; submission is having a mission for your future in the partnership and submitting all the requests to Heaven, allowing God to pour out direction in your man’s life. We learn to submit through all we go through.

A pastor once said (when I was visiting Zimbabwe) that submission is vouching for your man, and never leaving his direction even if he is doing it the wrong way. It is not proving whose right or trying to undermine his decision. He will be redirected back – don’t undermine his role into thinking you can make a better decision. A man’s self-esteem is built on his woman’s will to submit to him and men, a woman’s self-esteem is built in you loving her. Don’t exchange roles women and men – take your place.

As a black woman I have learnt the essence of diving deep in the word of God to know what my purpose is. The sad reality is that men are terrified of women who go and get what they’ve been assigned to get. But I believe what terrifies them the most is experiences of rude, so called independent women they’ve met in life who claim to be pursuing God’s purpose. A woman who is chasing after God’s will is obedient to the authority God has ordained – the so called ‘I don’t need a man’ yet mingling in private spaces gaining references as a woman about God’s purpose and who is fully OBEDIENT to the word of God. If not you are not marching in sync with the word of the Master, you are not independent – you are bitter.

Women need to come out of the syndrome of thinking independence is a place where they can hide. You can’t heal a covered up wound with your opinions. Submission does not place a full stop on the purpose God has called you to do. Honey, be about God’s business whilst maintaining DIVINE STANDARDS.

 

With love,

Bulelwa Mpinda

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Miss Bulelwa Mpinda is a beautiful young soul that is submitted to her God and is the CEO and Founder of YSI (Young and Spiritually Inspired). She began walking down her road of purpose when she founded YSI which aims to be an influential organisation that will be a hub for young lives to come burdened and leave having pursued their dreams and utilising their leadership skills by mentoring them in the direction in which they yearn to grow. YSI aims not to groom followers but leaders that will breed leaders too.

Bulelwa, rejected at birth, lived in various orphanages till the age of three when she was adopted by the Mpinda’s into a family of love. This young lady with big and beautiful wisened eyes did not let the scars of rejection deter her as the Mpinda family groomed her in God’s word and works. Bulelwa can be found reading biographies as the lives of people and their stories inspire her and has a soft spot for orphans as this colourful young woman believes that hers is a story of hope to those trapped in the claws of depression, self-hate and suicide.

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Why I Decided To Go Natural

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Photo Cred: Pinterest

 

I’m someone who delights in beautifully kept and styled hair on women. There is something captivating about a woman who takes good care of her hair and nurtures it. When a hairstyle has grown old it tends to easily appear tacky and can affect the entire image of the woman regardless of how smartly she may be dressed. It’s all in the detail. And no wonder, cause the Bible says that a woman’s hair is her glory and is given to her as a covering (1 Corinthians 11:15).

 

Hair must be something that is important to God if He takes the time out to have it discussed in His word. There are some topics that don’t even feature in the Bible and so when they do appear it’s for a good reason. The Bible speaks of how God has numbered every hair on our head (Matthew 10:30). He knows exactly how many strands of hair sit on your head and is acutely aware of when even one strand falls out or grows. He pays close attention to that. He also gives counsel to women about how best to wear their hair (1 Timothy 2:9; 1 Corinthians 11:6). Hair is also something very personal and precious, not to be touched or handled by just anyone. I mean, most women I know are very fussy about who gets to be their hairdresser. This is also seen in the story of Mary and Jesus when she chose to wipe Jesus’ feet with her hair, her glory, her covering. That was very intimate and a sign of her love for her Master. Thus, we can briefly conclude that hair is truly important to a woman. Just look at the amount of money a woman spends on her hair and that’s enough evidence on its own.

 

Now, hair is a whole series of books in itself in the world of the black African woman (bAw). There are so many different thoughts and preferences when it comes to how a black woman can best keep her hair, especially on the African continent. These days a bAw has so many options for her hair from relaxing her natural hair, to putting in a weave, or braiding her hair in various styles, or my favourite – choosing to keep out and maintain her natural hair. I remember growing up my hair was kept natural until I was about 10 years old or so when my Mum allowed me to enter the world of relaxed hair. I was so fascinated by this because my hair was silkier, easier to comb out and resembled the hair of my white girlfriends. I no longer had to wear skirts on my head to pretend that my hair was soft, silky and could move. This was, is and I believe will always be big for the bAw. That’s one of the reasons why we put in fake hair that moves when we slightly move our head (that’s a whole topic for another day). Our own natural hair does not even try any of that (unless you’re patient with growing it out and nurturing it accordingly).

 

Anyway, back to my story. I continued relaxing my hair well into my adult life. Then I remember watching the movie Good Hair by Chris Rock which opened my mind up to the harmful effects of using relaxer on your hair. I’d never really been a fan of weaves (I can count the number of times I’ve had a weave on one hand) and so that didn’t really phase me. I mean, I learnt for the first time that some of the weaves we purchase in the Western world and here in Africa have been shaved off of the heads of women in other parts of the world like India who are sacrificing to their gods. That makes you think twice about putting that hair on your head – well at least in my world. But more disturbing to me was the strength of relaxers and the damage they actually do to our hair especially when we don’t do it right. I mean no wonder why almost every black woman who’s had her hair relaxed has burnt her scalp at one point or the other. And no wonder why your hair starts thinning out at some point in some instances. You’re subjecting it to something it was never meant to go through.

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Photo Cred: Pop Sugar online

This brought me to start really thinking about my hair and what was best for it. I mean, I was on this journey to just be wholly myself. To discover who Sonia was and live her out in all aspects of her life, and for some reason my hair was an important part of that. I eventually came to the conclusion that organic/original is always the best. Even in terms of diet. The world is finally catching up to what the Adventist community has known for years (thanks to a lady called Ellen G. White) in terms of health – that it’s best to adopt a diet of fruits, vegetables, wholegrains, nuts and so on i.e. a plant-based diet. This was God’s original eating plan for man. In the same way, I don’t believe God foresaw us using harmful chemicals in our hair just to look pretty. There is always purpose behind what God desires for our lives regardless of how small or unimportant it may appear, and I believe that that includes the upkeep of hair. He’s always provided everything we need in the natural realm that not only is good for us but brings out our best beauty. I believe that this also applies to our hair. And besides, I am sure that what we put on or into our bodies ends up affecting our health. And boy was that relaxer strong! Who knows what it was doing to my health.

 

So I decided that I was going to transition to become natural. It was a big shift but it helped that my sister decided that she’d join me on the journey. This led to hours on the internet looking up natural hair blogs and YouTube videos; talking to other natural sisters that we knew; and just experimenting really. It was a bit tough to do because most of the products that are best for your hair are found in America and the few that are on the African continent are super expensive! But, with determination, you learn to make do with what you have and you learn to be so creative. And so, my hair is normally found in its natural, glorious state or in braids. There is something just so captivating about rocking your very own hair. There are no frills, no complications, no pretenses. You present yourself as you are and at your best. And the funny thing is, people are so drawn to you and your choice in hairstyle. You inspire people and bring some wholesomeness into life. You feel really great about yourself too, and you walk with your head held up a little higher.

 

I believe your natural hair, your crown of glory, allows your best self to come through. It allows the original design of God for the black woman to be wonderfully displayed before the entire world. It adds to your mystery and allure as the crown of creation. It allows you to stand apart and be your own individual, to be authentic. There are no questions brooding in your mind about whether it suits you or any such thing because it was created with YOU in mind! It was designed specifically for you by the Creator.  It will look good on you. Thus, I encourage any bAw I get the chance to discuss this topic with to give natural hair a shot. Yes, it’s a hang of a lot of work. Yes, it’s something we’ve grown so unaccustomed to, but are thankfully waking up to. Yes, it’s not as shiny and flowing as your weave or relaxed hair. But it’s your healthiest, authentic, most beautiful option for your hair. There really is no harm in trying it out. At the end of the day, the choice is yours to do what you want with your hair and I respect every woman’s choice in this area. Yet, you’ll never know if you’ve made the best choice if you never try something different with your crown of glory 🙂

 

In conclusion, I decided to go natural because I believe it’s the healthiest option for my hair. I also wanted to allow the beauty God originally intended for me to be what I walk in and embrace. With time, just this one decision has opened me up to so many other aspects about myself as a bAw and embracing me in my entirety and originality. It allows me to affirm that when my Creator created me it was certainly good 😉

 

Are you also a natural sister? If so, why did you decide to go natural? If not, would you ever consider it or is it something completely foreign to you? I wanna hear all about your hair experiences.

 

With love,

Sonia Dee

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Keeping it natural with some of my sisters 🙂

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Guest Post: Kim’s Naked Selfie by Sikhonzile Ndlovu

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Photo Cred: Jeyjoo Online

 

This International Women’s Day (IWD) I am still reeling in shock following Kim Kardashian’s nude selfie. Not that I am totally surprised because it’s become a regular thing with her. But happening around the occasion of IWD, I  can’t help but wonder what ideals Kim is putting forward. For centuries, women have been marginalized, recognised more for their physical attributes than their intellectual capabilities. Yes Kim’s selfie has black tape over the ‘essentials’ but honestly the image leaves nothing to the imagination! She then says ‘When you’re like I have nothing to wear LOL’. I know she is not alone in this and this is not an attack on her person.

 

Mass media often portrays women in ways that emphasise their sexuality.  Advertising, especially, has managed to commodify the female body. Then we have women who willingly display their naked bodies. Is this self-actualisation? Are they trying to prove a point? To who? Who is this for? I worry that such behaviour plays into the very stereotypes that we are trying to dismantle as women. Or I am the only one trying to reverse this negative portrayal?

 

I am also concerned about several young women out there who want to keep up with the Kardashians. As black African women (bAw) we need positive role models, who will drive home the point that as women we have much more to offer this world than our bodies.

 

Personally I am not against well-toned, curvy women, but I have everything against public display of one’s flesh most especially as a Christian. How will the world respect us when we present ourselves as nothing but sex objects? The bible says ‘know yea not that your body is the temple of God?’ Is this how we want to treat the temple of the living God?

 

Being a daughter, sister, mother and aunt, I want the girl-child to have positive role models. I want my daughter, especially, to know that she doesn’t have to be naked to feel beautiful. For those that don’t know, I have the prettiest daughter – made in the image of God. If we believe that we are made in His likeness, we will start appreciating ourselves more.

 

On this occasion of International Women’s Day, let us celebrate our beauty, but never forget the difference we can make in this world by giving of ourselves through serving others and uplifting the name of our Maker. Let us remember that the best we can offer the world is much more than our physical attributes.

 

With love,

Sikhonzile Ndlovu

 

Sis'Skhoe

Sis’Skhoe is a big sister of mine from Sandton Church, and a woman I respect and admire. She is a wife and a mother to a handsome young boy and a beautiful little girl. Skhoe is a Media & Communications Manager who conducts media research and advocacy on gender responsible portrayal. She is also in love with her Saviour Jesus Christ.

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Guest Post: Is Being Yourself The Enemy Of Growth? by Kegomoditswe Magobe

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Photo Cred: Stage 2 Planning

“Always be yourself, unless you suck” said Joss Whedon, an American screenwriter, film and television director, who co-wrote the Pixar film ‘Toy Story’. When I was doing some personal research on relationships in 2015, I realised that I did not know as much as I thought I did about interacting with the opposite sex. The idea was to equip myself with conversational and body language skills, thus in essence with the aim to improve myself, I was changing. What I was doing was against conventional dating advice to just be myself and be confident. Yes, but being myself was not working so well, because I was struggling to develop promising friendships with males and the advice that I was getting wasn’t really helping me. So could Whedon be correct, “Always be yourself, unless you suck.”?

What does it really mean to be yourself and to be authentic? If people really knew everything about you, and I mean everything – every good and nasty thought, habit and character trait – I would imagine that for instance the divorce rate would probably increase. Secondly, we cannot deny that we are influenced by our surroundings to a large extent. Our culture; religion; lifestyle; even our preferences in food, music and clothes are taught to us and acquired. In my personal opinion, I have even noticed that due to the increased popularity of stand-up comedy in the last 10 years, teenagers and young adults tend to have the same type of playful, insult-humour with a dash of sarcasm and innuendos. Therefore, (with strict interpretation) being authentic cannot completely be about being original, because there is usually nothing new under the sun – whatever you do has probably been done before or whoever you become has been.

In my view, being yourself is about freedom – having the freedom to choose who you want to be and living out that choice. For example, if there are ten people you know and you like a trait from all of them, if you copy each trait and incorporate it in your life, then you are being yourself. So remember, it’s not necessarily about being original but it’s about the liberty to choose. To a certain extent that is what my religion encourages: freely select to simulate the good characteristics of the Creator until they eventually become your own natural impulses.

So what is the point of this article? Well, I have a slight problem with the notion or belief that there is complete virtue in being yourself. For example, check out this quote by anonymous, “To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.” Think about it, this suggests that it does not matter what others think of who you are or what the consequences of your actions may be, as long as you are being yourself and think (or ‘feel’) it is right, then its fine. This is also known as Moral Subjectivism.

Now, do we really believe this? I doubt it – well not fully. So I’m going to borrow a view from Utilitarianism, where right and wrong is determined by the overall goodness (utility) of the consequences of the action. Thus for instance, if a person’s true self is being a serial killer and deriving pleasure from seeing the death of other people, then the “being myself” excuse will not cut it in court. Granted, I am using an extreme example, but I have to in order to bring across the following principle: if you think yourself to be perfect you will never improve, and that is kind of what a lot of these “be yourself’ advocates are trying to allude – that you are fine just the way you are.

No, you are probably not; and if you know yourself to not be perfect, and do not want to improve, then that is just sad. Fine, I am not a philosopher who can adequately expound on the different systems of morality to determine what is right or wrong, and even though I am clearly not a fan of moral subjectivism, I do believe that you should overall love yourself because you are human and every human being deserves love. However you are not expected to love or approve every single “bad” or “unproductive” character trait, and thus persisting with such on the basis that you are “being yourself” can definitely be the enemy of growth.

In view of the above, I am not saying that you should be a relentless people-pleaser, or a self-help junkie that reads all the books and goes to every seminar but never becomes better. What I am saying is that you should not be too proud to learn from others and apply it – these are the winners in life (and in dating as I hear… lol). Being yourself and the current version of you is not always worth it, and I am assuming that we all want to be “great”. So continue to be a free and honest person – be yourself, but let it be your better self (Karl G. Maeser). The better self that considers the consequences of their actions and always desires to improve. The better self that treats other people the way that they want to be treated; and if you believe in a Creator, the better self that adheres to its guidance for your good and the greater good of the people around you. Therefore I agree with Whedon and I will conclude with his words, “Always be yourself, unless you suck.”

With love,

Kego

Kego

Kego is a sister-friend of mine from Sandton SDA Church in Johannesburg. She is in her late twenties and grew up in Roodepoort, in the West Rand of Joburg. She has been a Christian all her life and is from a conservative Christian family – she grew up watching her mother preach.

An SDA singing group came to her church and that is how she was introduced to the Sabbath – by becoming friends with the members of this singing group. She joined the SDA Church in high school and got baptised, and has been an Adventist for just over 10 years now.

Kego is also a University of Johannesburg alumni and a semi-colporteur. She is an aspiring writer and preacher, and she is growing her personal ministry little by little. Kego is an introvert who is trying to be a people’s person.

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Thought-Provoking Tuesdays: Knowing Yourself

More often than not, we don’t take the time to dig deeper into who we are as individuals. When asked some questions, we can’t really give an answer because we have not spent enough time knowing our own thoughts and desires. Our own weaknesses and strengths. Our own likes and dislikes. I love this question because it forces you to understand yourself a bit better:

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Photo Cred: Thought Questions

I would answer:

“A young woman who loves Jesus and is determined with each day to become who He says she is, and to influence others to be the same.”

So. How would you answer? I’m interested to know so go ahead and type it below.

With love,

Sonia Dee

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The bAw Turns 30

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Photo Cred: Behance Online

 

For a few months before my birthday this year, I had this dreaded feeling that I was getting older and what did I really have to show for the 29 years I’d walked this earth? I mean, living in this social-media-crazed-world, I’ve found myself comparing my life with others – not to mention having people remind me (consciously or subconsciously) about the “shortcomings” in my life: I’ve been at the same company for 7 years now. I am still unmarried and unattached. I have no kids. I still haven’t bought a home. I don’t have money growing in some fund.

 

You get the picture.

 

However, towards the last few weeks just before my birthday I began to seriously reflect on my coming age – 30. It felt so strange to me to think that I had gone through 3 decades – I certainly don’t feel like it (and apparently don’t look like it either). Usually women go on about how old they are as they approach 30 (and I’ve been one of these women), and begin to ask themselves what they have to show for their age. But it’s like I woke up to the absurdity of this thought the other day. Why must it be about what I haven’t acquired or done? Truth be told, I have done so much; gone through a lot; grown so much in these short years of life and I ought to be proud of that.

 

And so as I celebrate the 30 years God has blessed me with, instead of focusing on what I have not accomplished I want to reflect on that which He has helped me to achieve/execute in that time:

 

  1. Giving My Heart to the Man of My Dreams

I may not be someone’s “bae” (lol) and I may not be married yet but I am very much in a committed relationship with the only Man who will meet all my expectations and then some! To a Man who has changed my life radically since the day I said yes to his proposal. To a Man who sees me and all of my flaws but still calls me beautiful and lovely, and calls me His. To a Man whose sole purpose is to make me better. That man is Jesus Christ. This has got to be the greatest achievement of my life because everything else I have done has flowed from this. More than that, my freedom and joy has come from being saved and from being in relationship with Jesus.

 

  1. Moving to Foreign Cities Alone

I’ve been described as a pretty independent woman – since I was a child actually. Apparently I started walking at 9 months and refused to breastfeed from 6 months of age. I have seen my independence in how I have been able to just pack my bags up and go start afresh in 2 different cities in my 30 years of living (I know, not a lot but hey it was much to me!). The first time was when I moved to Cape Town for university and then in 2009 when I moved to Johannesburg for work. Like some of you, I had to figure life out alone and I had little help doing so. It wasn’t easy but I did it. I found places to stay. I made friends from scratch. I navigated the transport systems. I learnt how to protect myself and survive. I found a church family. I don’t know about you but I think that’s pretty amazing!

 

  1. Becoming Debt-Free

I maintain that slavery has not ended especially for the black man. It just keeps changing faces over time. One of the ways in which we are enslaved today is through debt. There was a time when I was shackled but thank God I saw the light and have made inroads to become free. At 30 years of age, I can confidently say that I am 98% debt-free! Besides a phone contract that I intend on paying off before this year ends, I owe no-one anything. What I eat, what I drive, what I wear and what is in my home is paid for. I am grateful to God for that peace of mind.

 

  1. Overcoming Life

Each of us are born into situations that are not 100% perfect. There is something that we each need to work through and overcome whether it be family issues; inherited traits and behaviours that are not good for us; external circumstances that put us down; and not to mention sin. I’ve written a bit about my own story and journey here, and the things I’ve had to fight through. As has been the case for some of you, life has not always been fair and I’ve had moments where I didn’t think I’d make it. But God’s grace has been sufficient for me (2 Corinthians 12:9). He’s helped me through. I’ve grown stronger, wiser, kinder, more patient, understanding, and confident with each day. It’s been a journey but at 30 I can stand taller and say that with Jesus on my side there is nothing I cannot overcome!

 

  1. Education

As a Zimbabwean, education is something that I’ve taken for granted because education has always been important amongst my people. Getting a degree is normal there. However, when I sit and reflect on it and when I realize how many people have not been blessed with this opportunity I can celebrate the fact that I have gone through this system. I am eternally grateful to my parents who ensured that my siblings and I received only the best education. I cannot thank them enough. But I have not stopped there. I have always pushed myself to learn more. I made sacrifices to further my studies once I started working so that I could fulfil God’s purpose for me. I make sure that I constantly read and educate myself in my free time about topics and issues of interest. This is something I can smile at as I enter a new decade of life.

 

  1. Enjoying Life!

As I’ve said before, life is far from perfect and it can really bring you down. I can testify to that after the year I just went through. For the majority of my life, I have tended to focus on the negative and I’ve missed out on really living. However, through my twenties and especially as I approached 30, I learnt that life is there to be enjoyed. Christ said that He came that we may have life and have it more abundantly (John 10:10). And so, I have chosen to believe Him. I have travelled and explored different places and cultures. I have met and connected with so many people! I have tried out different restaurants and foods. I have engaged in different activities – both indoor and outdoor. I have volunteered my time, money and energies to be there for others in different ways. I have explored life and it has been good J

 

There are other achievements and milestones I’ve reached in my short life but I won’t bore you with the details. Some are small and some are big in my eyes but the point of the matter is that I have continued to grow in that time. And I must emphasize here that I have not done any of this in isolation. It has been through my God that I’ve managed to get to where I am and also through the people He has brought into my life and surrounded me with. From my family and friends, to mentors and even acquaintances and strangers. No man is an island and we all influence one another.

 

And so, I look forward to this year. This is just the beginning of my journey and considering what I’ve experienced thus far, I have no doubt there’s so much more greatness in store! My dear bAw, turning 30 is not a burden or a curse. Instead, it is testament to your resilience and strength!

 

What has been or what was your experience with turning 30? Maybe you haven’t reached 30 yet. What are your hopes for your life then?

 

With love,

Sonia Dee

 

This year, my lovely sister (www.rumbidzayiishe.com) and my amazing friends went above and beyond to celebrate my life! Thank you friends for taking the time to show your love for me 🙂

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Guest Post: Marooned by Rumbi Kanyangarara

Marooned

Photo Cred: 500px.com

We met at the port. Because we barely knew each other, he suggested we take an inexpensive wooden raft, while others boarded fancy boats and massive cruise ships. But hey, why complain? I was finally leaving the port after a very long wait!

We had no destination in mind. We were just going to go wherever the waves took us.

We had some good times together. But given the fact that our vessel wasn’t very secure, when the strong currents came, we were unable to hold on and our raft capsized many a time. It was during these times that I quickly learned that he wasn’t willing to help me out of the water and back onto the safety of the raft. Every man for himself…

The thought of going back to the port crossed my mind frequently, but I had no idea where we were and it seemed safer to stick with him rather than to be alone on the water. So I slowly let my guard down and became comfortable with the way things were and I ended up falling asleep.

Then one morning, I woke up alone on an island with a note written in the sand that said, “I only came here to get coconuts. No space left on raft. Thanks for keeping me company though. Good luck!”

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Rumbi Kanyangarara is my lovely cousin who enjoys writing, playing her cello, reading, sudoku and also enjoys her job (on most days).

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Thought-Provoking Tuesdays: Seeking

Hi Fam!

Today’s thought-provoking question is one we don’t often pause to contemplate. Were we to do so though, the answer would reveal the burning desires in our hearts. Some of us would realize we are still seeking to understand ourselves better. Others would say they are still searching for that person who makes them happy. Others still are still searching for God.

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Photo Cred: Thought Questions

So. What’s your answer? I’d love to hear it below 🙂

Sonia Dee

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The Thing That Will Make Your 2016 Great

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Photo Cred: Healthy Black Woman

Happy New Year to those that I have not had the opportunity to wish as yet! I actually cannot believe that we have gone through the entirety of 2015 and now sit at the start of another year. It seems that it was only the other day that I was going through my hopes, dreams and goals for 2015 and yet it has now passed. It’s time to refocus and re-strategize for another year and another chapter in life.

This time, however, I’ve had a completely different experience of the New Year and my desires for it. I’m usually someone who comes to a theme for my life for the year along with what I believe are God’s goals or wishes for my life. By the 1st or at least the 3rd day of January, all of that would have been set. This time around though, that was not necessarily the case. It may have been because of the disappointments I faced in 2015 or it could have been my fatigue from the previous year, but I was a bit wearier of making declarations around what my 2016 would be. I mean, last year my slogan was “Only The Best” and let’s just say the year didn’t quite work out that way. Lol. Well in my eyes at least.

 

And so, as I sat at the end of 2015 journaling to God, I confessed to Him that I was afraid of even hoping for 2016. I was afraid of making declarations and proclamations over my life for the New Year. I was afraid of setting goals or writing down my desires. These were thoughts that plagued me from the last quarter of 2015 until the second week of January 2016. I felt as though maybe something was wrong with me. But I just let it be and didn’t force the funk by trying to make up goals or desires. Instead, I kept going to God with my questions and confusion. Over time, I do believe He has begun to answer me.

 

God has been showing me that none of us have control over the way a year will work out. Yes we may have hopes and desires that we pray He will fulfil for us in the year but the truth is that we don’t know if: a) He actually wants to fulfil these for us or; b) how He will fulfil them for us. We read all these “prophecies” about what our years will be – “This shall be your greatest year yet”; “This is your breakthrough year”; “Things will shift in your favour this year”. The list is endless. And the truth is that these are things we want to hear. I mean, who doesn’t want to be told and to believe that this year all their desires will be fulfilled?

 

But you see, in as much as most of these proclamations are said with good intentions and well-wishes, they cannot influence the course of our year per say. Yes I do believe that our tongues hold power and we ought to speak out the things we desire to see in our lives (Proverbs 18:21). Yes I believe that we need to live lives filled with hope and the belief that God will do great things for us (Jeremiah 29:11). However, I have come to understand that we must leave the fulfilment of these desires and wishes in God’s very capable Hands.

 

You see, this truly may be the greatest year of your life. It may be great in that God will have made it His aim this year to lead you to let go of that sinful behaviour that’s been holding you back. Or He may be strengthening you to let go of toxic relationships that you see no problem with. Or He may be setting you free from the bondage of your negative thoughts and emotions. This may, however, mean that you lose a loved one or that your partner/spouse decides to leave you. It could possibly mean that you endure a number of car crashes or that you’re laid off from work for no apparent reason. It may mean that your 2016 does not shape up the way you saw it in your mind’s eye but you will receive fulfilment of the prophecies you made over it at the beginning of the year.

 

This morning I read a powerful devotional by Pastor Ray Patrick, and he highlights that the Bible actually reveals that our year and the times to come will only get more difficult and darker. He quotes 2 Timothy 3:1, 13-14 which says:

“In the last days perilous times will come; . . . evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them”.

 

 So the truth is that God predicts some hectic and not-so-fun times for us in 2016. Yet, He also encourages us to remember the lessons He has taught us in the past and to remember Him as we go through it all. This truth is the thing that will make 2016 a great year for you. It’s not the fact that you’ll receive those things you’ve been praying for for 10 years but the fact that you work on cultivating and building your relationship with the One who will see you through the good and bad moments of 2016. The One who will hold your hand through the uncertainty and fuzziness of 2016. The One who will give you clear directions through the fog that life can become.

 

Therefore, my greatest wish for you as you finalize your goals and dreams for 2016 is that you lay them all at Jesus’ feet trusting that He will fulfil them in the way that’s best for you (Romans 8:28). I also pray that as you face the challenges of the year (which we’ve been told will come) you will be strengthened to deal with them joyfully. May this be your greatest year yet in the will of God!

 

With love,

Sonia Dee

 

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Me in 2016 – Happy New Year!

P.S. I’m now on Instagram!! 🙂 (I know – never thought I’d join The Gram). Look for me @thebawlife and get some daily inspiration, personal anecdotes/stories and a few laughs. Let’s connect and get to know each other 😉

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8 Take-Aways From 2015

Thats All Folks

Phot Cred: Tony Lucia’s Movie House

The year is finally winding down and we’re getting ready to be with family and/or friends and; to just relax and shut down from the busyness of the year. They say that this time of the year is usually the best time to reflect on the year gone by – what you went through and achieved. What you didn’t manage to do that you wanted to. What you were hoping for and how that turned out. What you desire for the coming year. And so, as my last post for 2015 I saw it fit to share some of the lessons I have learnt in this year.

 

  1. Life Is Hard – For Everyone

2015 was a tough tough year. I’m sitting here typing this post and wondering how I made it to this point. As the song by Marvin Sapp says, “Here I am, I’m still standing. Here I am, after all I’ve been through.” Truly, here I am. I learnt this year just how painfully difficult life is – not just for me or an isolated few, but for everyone. People are going through things we have no idea about. You’re not alone in the roughness of life. You’re in really good company 🙂 It’s something to remember when we interact with others – it teaches us to be more patient and compassionate with one another.

 

  1. Pamper Yourself Every So Often

No-one is ever going to love you more than you love yourself except for God. A fellow human being (Parent, sibling, friend, spouse/partner, colleague etc) will love you only as much as you seem to love and cherish yourself. So, take the time to spoil yourself. Do things that bring you joy and fulfilment. Things that say, “I love you”. Whether that is reading; going for a spa date; refusing to do what makes you uncomfortable; getting your nails or hair done; having lunch with friends; star-gazing on your balcony or in your backyard; watching that movie etc. Just treat yourself for no other reason than that you are worth it. This I learnt in 2015. I learnt to be generous with myself and the things I enjoy. This has also taught me to extend that same generosity to others.

 

  1. Not Everyone Sees Life The Way You Do

I’ve come to realize that I am a headstrong and sometimes stubborn woman. Lol. Once I have come to understand life a certain way, it is difficult to convince me otherwise or for me to see it from a different perspective. I’ve also come to learn that this is not always a good thing. How I view life, how I experience it will never be the same way that someone else does regardless of how similar we or our circumstances are. We are all uniquely different, all fearfully and wonderfully made by God (Psalm 139:14) and so our perceptions of life are all delightfully different. Lighten up a bit and enjoy looking through someone else’s glasses 🙂

 

  1. Life Is Hell When You Care What People Think

I’ve written a post about how I’m a recovering people-pleaser. That disease, that sin is work! As though we don’t have enough troubles in our lives, caring what people think about you, your decisions, and your life circumstances just adds an extra and unnecessary burden. It’s a work-in-progress but I’m learning to be free of others’ opinions. We’re all struggling with something in life and more than that, we are all sinners in need of God’s saving Grace (Romans 3:23). And so a fellow sinner does not have the final say over my life. I am learning to just let things go and live life the way God says I should.

 

  1. Follow Someone Who Inspires You

Those who know me, know that I’m totally inspired by a few people – Heather Lindsey, Myron Edmonds and Marshawn Evans. Identify people who are similar to you, who have a vision similar to yours, and are excelling in fulfilling their purpose. You will soon find that these are people who have also walked a similar path to the one you’re currently on, and reading up on them every so often and processing the messages they share will encourage you to keep moving forward to becoming who God created you to be. Life has become so challenging and you need to keep motivated and inspired.

 

  1. Pray For Your Enemies Like You’re Praying For Yourself

An enemy is anyone that does not like you or that you do not like. It can also be someone who has hurt you or someone you have hurt. Basically, an enemy is an adversary, an opponent, an antagonist. I’ve had my own enemies in 2015 and I’ve learnt this year to pray for them earnestly. To set aside my pride, my self-righteousness and pray for their well-being and their blessings as though I was praying for myself. That thing changes your heart towards them! It allows God to put you in their shoes and to help you realize that He died for them the same way He died for you. It can turn an enemy into a friend.

 

  1. Do What You’ve Been Scared To Do

I recently read a quote that says, “Fear does not stop death, it stops life.” Many of us do not reach our full potential because we’re scared. We’re scared we will fail. We’re scared there’s someone else who can do what we want to do much better. We’re scared we won’t be able to handle success. We’re scared we will change. We’re just scared. The truth is, what we probably fear will come to pass but it would have come to pass even if we had never tried. So what have you got to lose? Be bold! Be courageous! Start that business. Start that blog. Quit that job and go volunteer in a faraway country. Ask that lady out. Smile at that guy. Many people who have achieved greatness have done so especially when they were afraid.

 

  1. You Are A Miracle

This one I’ve witnessed throughout 2015. I think Kirk Franklin summarized it so beautifully in his song Miracles when he said, “…. But while you’re waiting on the miracle you want, don’t forget the miracle you are”! Too often we equate a miracle to things like money being deposited in your bank account from nowhere or healing from a deadly disease or even surviving a terrible car accident. Those are just the ways of God – nothing miraculous about that. The true miracle is YOU. Your life. The fact that you were conceived and survived labour. The fact that even though you have been rejected, ridiculed, abused, abandoned, and hurt you are still here. You’re still standing. The fact that the devil was out to kill you but Christ died to save you. You ARE a miracle! 🙂

 

There is so much more that I’ve taken from 2015. It’s been a year! I’ve been so blessed sharing a little bit of myself and a the experiences of the ladies who have so willingly shared on this blog site. I’ve enjoyed reading your encouragements and have been honoured to get a glimpse into your life and your journey. I look forward to us growing even more together next year.

Have a wonderful holiday season with your loved ones and I pray 2016 is your best year yet!

 

With love,

Sonia Dee

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Thought-Provoking Tuesdays: Life’s Journey

Today’s thought-provoking question comes at a time when we are winding down the year and reflecting on where we’ve come from, what we’ve achieved and hopefully where we’d like to go.

 

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Photo Cred: CA Club India online

Let me know your answers to this question in the comments section below. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

With love,

Sonia Dee

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The Story Behind black African woman

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The new black African woman logo by Tique Design

 

In March of this year, I finally took a bold step to do something God had been prompting me to do for a while but that I’d been afraid to for over a year. I decided to start my blog and Facebook Ministry under the banner black African woman (bAw). I’d been writing some of these posts from as early as the beginning of 2014 and just storing them up, not really believing that they would impact anyone’s life. But God had a whole different plan for me and those writings. Don’t ever doubt the dreams God places on your heart.

 

Since I began posting on my blog, I’ve been asked a number of questions about my blog and the brand. More often than not, the question is “Why BLACK African woman? Why not just African woman?” With people asking that question, I have further realized why God placed this dream and this vision in my heart. The black woman is mostly irrelevant in society today. She is just seen as an African or an African-American or whatever else. People cannot understand why I emphasise the “black” part of her identity and this is why I do.

 

I have decided to write this post today to review why I am so invested in this brand and what it means to me. At the same time, I’ve chosen this time to reveal my new logo for bAw which will further aid me in sharing about this brand and what I believe to be God’s vision for it.

 

  1. Why black African woman?

So. You may be wondering why I decided to start writing under this name and about this specific woman?

Firstly, and quite simply, because I AM a black African woman and proud to be. For the majority of my life I have walked around without fully realizing and embracing my true identity. I have come to understand that I am a woman, yes. That I am from the continent of Africa. I am Zimbabwean. Yes I am black. But I recently realized that I have never identified myself as all these things – a black African woman. I’ve just identified with parts of me in different settings and at different times. But the truth is, I am always a bAw and will always be. Whether at home with my family, or in church, or on holiday, or at the mall. One thing that is undeniably true (apart from the fact that I am first a daughter of God), is that I am a black African woman. And I am finally proud of that fact.

Secondly, black African women are rarely celebrated, nurtured, groomed or given the priviledge and opportunity to be understood. Yes, there are blogs and movements that fight for the voice of the bAw to be heard but this is not what my brand is about. Because most of these are fighting for rights and the like. My brand encompasses that, but is more than that. My brand is more personal. It’s about identifying with, understanding and exploring the daily struggles, joys, pains, victories, defeats, hurts etc of individual black African women, which then form a collage of a whole lot of black African women. It’s about understanding the entirety of the bAw and sharing her truth with the world.

 

  1. What does bAw mean to me?

A look at the new logo for my brand sums up what this ministry means to me. The brightness of the white and the orange represents a new era for the bAw. The voice of the bAw is finally being projected, and she is discovering new amazing things about herself and sharing them with the world. The black outline is there to remind me that this brand is about the black African woman. I wanted to emphasize that the bAw also embodies hope, newness, love, joy, freedom and so much more greatness! Lastly, the bAw is dignified and full of grace. This is seen in the posture of the woman in the logo. Her head is held high because she believes in her value and worth, and she is preparing to step out into the world to defy the stereotypes that have always existed about her.

For me, bAw is how I fight for women’s rights – especially those of bAw. They are the most marginalized and prejudiced race and sex in the world. It’s a double-edged sword for my sisters. And as I explained in my very first post, other women of other races have their own platforms that deal with their issues and with elevating them. I shall not be ashamed of doing the same for my sisters. I believe that the true victory in attaining women’s rights begins by helping her to win the war in her mind. Once she believes that she is worth fighting for and valuable in the sight of God, there is no stopping her.

 

  1. What is this blog about?

In a nutshell, this blog provides a platform for bAw to share their stories – their experiences. And for other people to share their experiences of and understanding of bAw. My sisters are fighting a tough battle on this earth, and they need to be encouraged. It may be a story that a bAw reads on this blog that may save her life. It may be another bAw’s experience on this blog that gives another sister hope and perseverance. That is what this blog is about. To collect a journal of the stories of bAw and to lift it up unashamedly so as to say to the world that she matters too. She is still alive despite how the world, society and the devil himself have tried to kill her. That she is valuable in the sight of God too.

 

I hope this sheds some light on this blog and ministry. I would like to give a big thanks to Lia Nascimento of Tique Design for creating the logo for me and bringing to life my vision! For details on how to contact Lia, please see the image at the end of the post.

 

Thank you for taking the time to read this post and understand my vision. I hope it makes things much clearer for you and I hope you can join in on this journey with me. Please don’t hesitate to ask any more questions. You can find me on Facebook (The black African woman), Twitter (@TheBAWLife) and soon to be on Instagram! Please do pray for this ministry and do engage – someone needs to hear your story 😉

 

With love,

Sonia Dee

 

Lia Nascimento Contact Details

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Thought-Provoking Tuesdays: Happiness

Hi bAw family 🙂

I’ve been thinking a lot this week about how we tend to go through life with questions or ideas that if we express them allow us to move forward with life so much better. Then I realized (also from my studies) that when we are asked questions, we find it easier to navigate the thoughts in our minds. We’re better able to make sense of our feelings and experiences. After all, Christ (when He lived amongst us) used to ask people questions all the time. It’s not that He just wanted to sound smart or philosophical but I realize now that it was because He was trying to get His people to look deeper within their hearts and recognize the condition of their souls. To better understand the powerful truth He had come to share with them – that He was their salvation, fulfillment and joy.

And so, going forward, I’ll be doing what I call Thought-Provoking Tuesdays starting today. I’ll post a question that really gets you thinking and I’d love it if you could share your answers with us so we can be encouraged knowing that others think and feel the same way we do. This is part of the process of healing and growing.

Today’s question is:

 

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I would have to say that for me, what has been draining my own happiness has been busyness. I’ve been all over the show lately with barely enough time to pause and just breath or do what I enjoy. I’ve been over-exerting myself and I find that it leaves me unable to function at my optimal level and to fully enjoy everything happening around me.

What about you? Can’t wait to read your responses!

With love,

Sonia Dee