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.
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!
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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 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.
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:
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:-
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.
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.
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.
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 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 🙂