Your Mess Is A Message

Message in your mess image 3
Photo Cred: lukass1094.deviantart

I spoke recently at a week of prayer targeted at young women and shared about purpose. God placed it on my heart to share about how there are many people (not just women) who have disqualified themselves from living a purposeful life for one of two main reasons.

 

They believe that they have made too many mistakes:

  • lied too much;
  • had sex outside of marriage;
  • had a baby/babies out of wedlock;
  • hurt too many people;
  • they’ve messed things up in their relationship with God or don’t know His word well enough;
  • wasted too much of their life drinking, clubbing, smoking etc.

 

Then there are others who feel that life has dealt them an unfair card:

  • they’re not smart enough;
  • they haven’t been raised in a good enough environment;
  • they don’t have anything profound to share;
  • they come from a messed up family;
  • they don’t have the right networks to make a real difference.

 

Your past does not define you
Photo Cred: etsy.com

 

This month, my team and I made it our sole purpose to celebrate black African women on our social media pages – whether they are currently doing “big things” or they are your normal everyday woman. We took this decision specifically because we have a strong belief that every single woman has a story and is fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God (Psalm 139:14).

 

When we sent out requests to feature women and young girls who truly inspire us, there were mixed responses. There were very few women who took up the offer with no hesitation at all. Then others who hesitated strongly. There were responses of “I don’t have anything profound to share” or “What would I say about myself?” to “Really?! Me? I inspire you?”

 

It honestly made me sad to know that the majority of women doubt that they have anything of value to impart to this world. We tend to limit all that God would do in and through us because of external circumstances that are precisely the tools God has employed for us to be vessels of hope for Him.

 

your story is the key
Photo Cred: WordPress.com

 

When I spoke last week, I shared the story of Jochebed (Mother to Moses) who, despite the slavery, oppression, fear, and hopelessness she faced in Egypt, raised her son for God. She was intentional in how she cared for him and even how she released him into God’s hands when she could no longer hide him.

 

Today, the majority of the world knows the name of Moses. We have the first 5 books in the Bible because of this man. We have been blessed with the commandments of God through Moses as a conduit. He was one of the greatest men to ever live and all because of a woman who dared to believe that God could use her unfavourable circumstances for good.

 

your path of pain
Photo Cred: Shining With Sparkle

 

What am I trying to say?

 

Sis, how you allow God to shape your story will be the reason that someone doesn’t give up today. It will be the reason that someone will choose to try again to pursue their dream because of how you have done the same despite failing so many times before. It will be the reason that someone will finally decide to face their struggles honestly and do something about it.

You need to be aware that the devil comes to plant doubts about whether God can use you for His good and the good of others. Yes you may have sinned but remember the promise of Romans 8:1 which states that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

You see, it is precisely the parts of you that you feel are too boring or too messy or too embarrassing that are used by God to bring glory to Him and to bless those around you. Your story, your life, your experiences are not just for you – they are for the enlightenment of others (Hebrews 10:24). There is healing in telling our stories – both for those who hear them and for us who tell them.

 

Healing quote Rick Warren
Photo Cred: Pinterest

 

And so my prayer today is that women would own their stories, their past, their failures, and their mess, and allow God to birth their purpose through their pain. That we would stop benchmarking our effectiveness in this world with people who seem to have it on lock or with what society says is success. That instead we trust that God’s grace is sufficient for us and allow Christ’s righteousness to fulfill what our own filthy righteousness can never do.

 

For as long as your motive is to honour God and to live life according to His will for you, you are an inspiration to the person next to you. Through your smile, your determination, your perseverance, your kindness, your humility, your compassion, your quiet grace. Lift your head up high sis. Don’t count yourself out. The world needs who God created you to be, and that includes your messy life experiences.

 

You can learn a lot from your mistakes
Photo Cred: E-Global Natural Health

 

Do you have another understanding of why we as women generally struggle to believe we are inspiring? Are you someone who already believes they are an inspiration to others? Please share with us so we can learn from each other!

 

With love,

Sonia Dee

 

You inspire people who pretend
Photo Cred: Tovares Grey
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Things I Wish Black African Queens Would Realize – Open Letter From A Black African King

Journalling 2
Photo Cred: Pinterest

 

Dear black African Queen,

Do you get that many civilisations are born through you and because of you?

It may come to others as though I am being biased because I am black and have been raised by you, a black woman. If you look around, however, Nubian Queen, you’ll notice, many other races are raised by you too.

Resilience and Confidence
Photo Cred: Bippity Boppity Boo

 

Dear black African Queen,

Do you understand your value and how much you give back?

It’s said that when a woman has money, her society is always blessed. She will always sow seeds of development in her society because she naturally gives back. I have seen this in my own home. How my mother would take care of cousins and send them to school with our home’s collective incomes. We would move from country to country and she would bring someone from her home village to educate and care for.

You have changed lives Nubian Queen, because of your generosity, consideration and love for your people.

 

Seed
Photo Cred: Jew In Jail

 

Dear black African Queen,

Do you know how tough you are?

How resilient you have to be in the work place? How opportunities that land in your hands can sometimes be leftovers from those before you but somehow with little you make much.

You rise, dominate and sustain.

 

Still I Rise
Photo Cred: I Like Calligraphy

 

Dear black African Queen,

I bow in adoration of your resilience, selflessness and ability to raise nations.

More importantly, however, I hope you appreciate yourself just as much too.

Regards,

A Young Black African King

 

Nubian Queens
Photo Cred: Pinterest

 

What are your thoughts on this letter? Do you see yourself in this light bAw? What else would you add to this letter?

With love,

Sonia Dee

 

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

  1. We have a Hiking Event to celebrate you gorgeous bAw this 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 InstagramFacebook and Twitter to receive daily encouragements and connect with like-minded sisters!

 

Chat soon!

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

image
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!

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

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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.