Learning the Truth About Our Heritage

African Heritage 2

In light of the recently celebrated Africa Day this past Monday, I thought I’d share some of my thoughts around the African continent. This is a place that I am truly passionate about and that I love. I recently read an article (100 African Cities Destroyed by Europeans) which discusses the truth about Africa – where it has come from and what it lost along the way. I must say it did make me really angry all over again about the injustice that this beautiful continent has had to face, and the effects that racism and greed has had on the continent and its people.

The article discusses the fact that the history that we are fed regarding Africa is incorrect. This amazing continent that I call home once stood glorious and majestic. There are so many things about our continent and the black man that we do not know. All we are made to believe is that Africa has always been so backward and can never catch up to the Western world. We’ve essentially been taught that Africans were dumb and animalistic in their nature, and needed the help of the West to become a better place and land. The message that is continually drilled into our minds is that the African continent has always been (and will most probably) remain poor, dark and striving. Most African history is depicted as having “savages” for its inhabitants that the West came to teach, groom and better. We are made to believe that the African continent was basically done a favour by the West because its people were clueless.

Now, as you read the above article, which presents factual information, you will come to realize that this was actually not the case. Africa was just as (if not more) civilised and advanced as the West was in the 14th century. In fact, the article reveals that the Westerners came and saw Africa and how organized, wealthy and advanced it was in comparison to their disease-riddled land which was still behind in terms of development. They sought to disrupt the progress of Africa and to take back to their own land what had been discovered in Africa and call it their own. Africans had advanced so much and were wealthy in all aspects of life. For example, did you know that the wealthiest man in human history was Emperor Mansa Musa of Mali? Or that the West came and destroyed about 100 African cities leaving no ruins or mark of the once wealthy state of Africa? Or that there were libraries of knowledge within Africa, and the African people were advanced in their understanding of various subjects such as astronomy, maths, law, medicine and poetry? Or that the West came and killed or enslaved the strongest, smartest Africans leaving behind the weaker, less intelligent ones? Or that the cities of Africa back in the 14th century were well-organized and advanced? The list is endless. Do yourself a favour and go read the article in the link above. It’s long but so worth it. You can also check out the article on Understanding Slavery for more.

In a nutshell, the truth is that Africans are amazingly gifted, powerful and intelligent beings. Something that struck me in the article was the fact that the West managed to conquer African cities because they took advantage of the loving and embracing nature of Africans. The people of Africa believed in peace and love. They took care of the weaker people in their land believing that no-one should be without. Thus, they did not ever find the need to have weapons because they did not anticipate violence in humanity in general. It was the nature of their value system – respect and love for fellow human beings. They had developed the mind-set that people must be all-loving and respectful to others (a mentality I think we as Africans are beginning to lose – look at Xenophobia). This was such a beautiful strength to possess, yet it left us vulnerable and led to our greatest downfall.  Our historical buildings and monuments were utterly destroyed so that future African generations would have no recollection of their great past. And the author highlights that this is what has kept Africa back for so long. We have nothing to stand on and to build up from. We have no true understanding of our heritage, our past, and this hinders our progress.

I believe that as Africans it is so important that we look back and learn about where we have come from. It will aid us in avoiding those same mistakes that perpetually leave us in a state of poverty and struggle. We will continue behaving in ways that undermine us and our true value if we do not learn the truth about our heritage. The truth is, my fellow Africans, we are powerful, intelligent, creative, more than capable and innovative! The sooner we learn this, the better and the more empowered we shall become. It is my wish that every African understand this truth. That they realize that God created them with such powerful faculties, gifts and talents to wonderfully impact the world. Not because He has not blessed all other races and nationalities with this same gifting, but to realize that He has put something unique in Africans just as He has in Europeans or Asians etc. The enemy (Satan) and society in general are doing their best to get us to forget this and not believe in our greatness. And as Pastor Myron Edmonds said, “You can tell what the devil is afraid of by what he tries to keep you from doing.” He’s been working overtime for centuries and centuries to keep the African continent in the dark about their true heritage and power!

This is just the tip of the ice berg, but as they say in Alcoholics Anonymous, acknowledging that you are powerless is the beginning of recovery. By acknowledging that we have been missing the mark for so long as Africans (whilst not spending too much time dwelling on the injustices we have endured for centuries), we can begin to re-learn our truth and build up to our former glory and beyond. My dear fellow African, do yourself a favour and invest in yourself and your future, and the future of this world. Learn the truth about your heritage.

Remember that I’m praying for you!

With love,

Sonia Dube

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The bAw and Her Sisters

bAw and Her Sisters 5

There is a strange phenomenon that has become widely accepted amongst women, and seemingly especially amongst my black sisters (those are who I interact with most anyway). It is an almost unspoken but known occurrence. It happens usually when a group of women are gathered and a new woman comes along that they do not know. Sometimes, the group of women in question will look this new sister up and down discreetly while greeting her in the sweetest voice they can muster, all the while giving each other knowing looks about this “intruder”. At other times there is no pretence from the offset. The new lady can sense without a shadow of a doubt that she is not wanted or appreciated by the group of females she has just stepped up to. There is hardly genuine comradery and care amongst sisters especially when they first meet. I have personally experienced (and am ashamed to say have sometimes been a fellow perpetrator of) woman-on-woman “hate”/prejudice. It gives us a quick sense of who we think they’re dealing with.

We as sisters generally tend to have not-so-great-blood between us especially upon initially meeting. If you as a sister are really nice to another sister on first meeting, the other lady can even think that something’s up – you’re probably being fake or you want something from her. And that truly is sad. Especially when I see how easily and quickly our brothers get along with one another. We tend to only truly like the women that form part of our friendship circles, and even then you will find jealousy amongst female friends. We bring each other down with our looks, our words, our thoughts and we certainly do not delight in celebrating or lifting up other black African women (bAw). I believe that this stems from somewhere. My first thought is that of low self-worth which has been known to be most prevalent amongst women. Women by nature are relational creatures, and so they need validation the most. Men generally crave respect and to have their egos stroked but they don’t struggle with their value/worth the way women do. And so, when a sister meets another sister I think the initial thoughts that pop into her mind are along the lines of “What does she have that I don’t?” or “What can she do better than me?” We feel threatened because we doubt our own worth and what we have to offer. So the moment someone else comes into the picture who is similar to us (a woman) and could possibly offer what we can but only better, we feel uneasy.

It is a Psychology school of thought that the moment one feels threatened; they try to make themselves feel better by bringing down/downplaying the one who threatens them. It’s a survival tool so to speak.  It is also a way of hiding just how unhappy one is with oneself. When you are truly comfortable with who you are and you accept all your strengths and flaws, you will not feel the need to defend or validate yourself to anyone. Your behaviour, actions and lifestyle will attest to this. You will embrace others and their beauty/creativity/greatness with open arms. I think therefore that this sort of awkwardness (for lack of a better word) between the black African sisters may be partly as a result of our issues with our own worth/value. We’re afraid that the other sister will outshine or outdo us and we’ll no longer be important or valued. We may feel that we’ll become useless so to speak and no one ever wants to feel that way. And so we think that the best way to avoid that is to squash any potential threat immediately.

I also believe that another reason could be because our society today has downplayed and put down the black woman (and most especially the bAw) considerably. I’ve heard it said quite a bit that there is a hierarchy in terms of which race of women is most desired or deemed most attractive by men. I’m not too sure who is at the top of this list but the black sisters are apparently at the bottom. Statistically, they are the ones most likely to not end up married or to marry much later amongst their female counterparts (Black women least likely group to marry).   They also have to fight harder to be heard or to advance in their careers. The bAw therefore comes with a whole lot working against her from the onset, so no wonder why she’s now defensive and fearful even with her own sisters. She’s been conditioned to strive and fight to be seen, heard and accepted. This leads me to believe that maybe this is why she then struggles to accept another black sister immediately without also seeing her as competition.

Needless to say, there are also black sisters who don’t struggle with this problem and I thank God for that! It truly is a beautiful thing when you have black women who love and accept one another from the onset. One of the most life-giving and inspiring things to see is a group of women who cherish and build each other up. And so I would like to encourage my fellow bAw to first examine their own thoughts/feelings/initial reactions to other black women. Be honest with yourself about how accommodating you are and if there are any personal issues you may have that you could possibly be projecting onto others. When you know yourself better you’ll be better able and more willing to embrace other people that you come in contact with. There is power in unity my sisters, so let’s all pull together and affect the world positively.

What has your experience been with other sisters? Have you felt judged/hated on by other women or have you yourself found yourself being unkind to other women? Maybe you’ve experienced some really positive interactions with your fellow sisters. Either way, we’d love to hear about it so please do share:)

Remember that I’m praying for you!

With love,

Sonia Dube

Guest Post – Suits: A Heart Problem by Bridget Gwanzura

Suits 3 Heart Problem

At the beginning of the year my prayer was “Lord refine my character”. I knew I wanted to change my character and wanted a change in my life and for God to take control. However, what I did not know was that through this prayer the Lord would reveal to me who I really am, not who I thought I was. God has taken me down a road of self-discovery ever since. I was going through so many storms in the space of 4 months I just could not take it anymore and I wanted it to stop. As I was thinking and asking the Lord, “Why would You do these things to me?” it hit me – I had prayed “Lord refine my character”. In addition, I realised that it was from this day that my crazy ordeals had started. It was only through the storms that God could show me what He does not like in me, and that which He wants to change in me. What I am learning through this journey is that all of us struggle with our characters and knowing who we really are. Most of us have different suits that we put on for the world to see:

  1. We have the suit we wear for church – we put on the suit of religion, and we love to be called a spiritual person when we are not, to a point where church does not become an experience with God but is more of a show for people.
  2.  A suit we wear for work – to feel powerful and get some sort of significance and value.
  3. Then there is the real suit as I may call it, which is when you are by yourself and you take off all the other suits (if you even dare) and the real monster of who you really are confronts you.

Underneath all these suits, all we really have is a heart problem. Because we do not deal with our characters, we are torn apart on the inside but outside we have the greatest suits. All I know is that we do not have a heart like Christ. When we have problems we do not solve them the way Christ would solve them; we solve them the way the world would solve them, and that is a heart problem. We do not love and communicate the way Jesus does. How I know this is, because if Jesus had a problem with someone He would confront the person in love, but we find it ok to go behind the person’s back and talk about them – heart problem. In the past few months, what I have learnt and what God is still teaching me, is that if I do not conquer what is in me it spills over to the people around me. If I am torn apart on the inside, I can never have healthy relationships with the people around me because broken people can only break other people. I know each day He is changing me into the person that He wants me to be. I do not want to look incredible on the outside and completely torn on the inside. God looks at a man’s heart and not at his outward appearance. Because I live for Christ and everything is about Him, I am concerned about what He thinks about my character. I still pray Lord refine my character because my character is nowhere close to being like His. With love, Bridget Gwanzura What suits are you putting on?

Bridget Gwanzura

Bridget Gwanzura is a young lady who is in love with her Saviour Jesus Christ and is passionate about meeting the needs of those that are less fortunate than most of us. Her dream is to one day open a number of homes for underpriviledged children.

Purpose

Where is My Life Going

Purpose.

That word tends to evoke an array of reactions from people – never neutral though. Either, they turn quickly away from it because of the amount of effort required to discover it and they really don’t have the time or energy. In others, it raises a multitude of questions because they have no idea how one can discover one’s purpose so they put it down out of sheer confusion. Yet still, in others it is the beginning of a lifetime itch that can only be scratched by daily searching and asking questions to discover who they have always been but never knew.

I love how the Oxford Dictionary defines purpose: “The reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists”. Who am I? Why am I here? These are the questions that ultimately lead one to discovering their purpose (Teach Me The Bible). You exist for a reason and were created on purpose for a reason by God (Genesis 1:26 – 28).

I think I had subconsciously been asking this question since childhood (and I actually think we all do). It really started to bother me after I’d graduated and I was working. I had come to know a loving Creator who told me that He knew the plans He had for me (Jeremiah 29:11) and that I was created to bring Him glory (Proverbs 16:4; 1 Corinthians 10:31). That was so wonderful to know! BUT, it evoked even more questions – how do I bring Him glory? What has He specifically asked me to do considering the family I come from, my education, race, gender, past experiences, talents, gifts, personality, temperament, weaknesses, and strengths amongst other things. I knew that I needed to know. I had reached a stagnant point in my life and I was deeply unhappy.

After much prayer, Bible study, counsel, life coaching sessions and a few workshops, He started to reveal my purpose on this earth to me – because let’s face it, only the Manufacturer of a product can tell you how it operates. As a black African woman (bAw), it hardly dawns on you that you have a purpose apart from either a career; family; duties/roles at Church or in the home or even at work; and maybe a business. Even with these roles, nothing is guaranteed and you’re left in a haze of confusion as to why you’re here. Yet even you, bAw, were created by God. Even you exist for a purpose far greater than you could imagine. Even you can have a powerful impact on the world. Even you can inspire others.

God has equipped me with so much just from my parents; the schools I have attended; the subjects I have studied (one of my favourite being English Literature); the places I have lived and visited; the good and bad experiences I have had; the struggles I have had to overcome etc. All of this, I realize, was pointing me in the direction He purposed for my life so that I could fulfil a specific purpose to me and to my lifetime. He cultivated a deep love and concern for people in my heart, especially people who are deemed weaker/outcasts/worthless in society. This is because for a long time that is how I was seen and how I viewed myself. It is how I have lived the majority of my life. Yet, He has managed to bring me through and past that. So I recognise it in others and desire to walk with them to discover the truth for themselves – that they are actually remarkable and worthy. It is especially the case with my bAw. He has chosen to use me to bring hope and encouragement in the lives of those that are striving in the same way that I have and continue to.

I remember a mentor of mine asking me a few years ago what I would be willing to do for the rest of my life and never get paid for. Or what I am so passionate about that I can do it in my sleep. This is where I started to discover my purpose, and this is where you can do the same. Take time to reflect on what you are good at, and on what brings you immeasurable joy. Consider what people tend to say you are accomplished in. What you were created to be and to do flows effortlessly from within you. It is not something that you have to work years on to cultivate or master. It is almost like another one of your limbs. What may be difficult about purpose is bringing it to effect in your life. It is usually much bigger than you or anyone else can imagine and you often wonder how it will be fulfilled. But those are details for God. If it seems impossible, it’s probably where you’re meant to go. Purpose gets you out of bed every morning despite the terrible situations you face, and it makes life that much more amazing! In finding my purpose, I have become so fulfilled. If God has a purpose for my life, He certainly has one for you.

The Purpose of Life

But “what is my purpose?”, you may ask. That’s a great question. And asking it is the beginning of your journey to discovering your purpose. It has been suggested that many of us are depressed or drift in life because we have no purpose (Kristen Dalton Wolfe; Teach Me the Bible). As a creature, you have a function to fulfil and if you don’t figure out what that function is, you will be frustrated for the rest of your life. Purpose is more than your job/career, or your role in life (spouse, friend, sister, colleague etc.). So keep asking those questions. Keep digging deeper. Keep imploring God to reveal the answers to you. Keep challenging your status quo. And I promise you, something beyond you will start to happen. He will begin to reveal it all to you moment by moment, day by day. Thereafter, your life will never be the same again.

Don’t take my word for it though, ask God Himself. He’s waiting eagerly to hear from you. When I began asking God these questions, He answered me. Today I’m in my final year of studying to become a Life Coach. I believe that Christ was the greatest Life Coach who ever lived and I’m just following in His footsteps. Even before I’ve qualified, God has been using me for a couple of years now to coach many different people from different walks of life. My passion is helping people to discover the truth that they are on this earth for more than meets the eye. To discover their purpose in life as God intended.

So, what do you think your purpose is?

Remember – I am praying for you!

With love,

Sonia Dube