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

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 🙂

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 🙂

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

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.

A Time To Remember And Give Event

Poster Image 2
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

 

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

lips-talking

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