Are you confident? Headstrong? Did you believe “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me?” So was I till the day I decided to do something different.
I was 17 going on 18 and I had been relaxing my hair for years. If it wasn’t relaxed it was always blow-dried and straightened. I would spend hours the night before frying my hair to bone straight perfection. That was what society deemed ‘acceptable’ so that was what I fed my mind until one day I decided to make a change. Little did I know that that change would come with hurt feelings and hiding a part of who I am once again.
I had learnt how to put my hair in twists at night and let it out in the morning. This was one of my go-to tricks when I’d wear my natural hair (there were times I’d go up to 8 months without relaxing and only blow & straighten). One day I decided I’d wear my hair natural at school and so I did.
When I walked into my first class the white kids started to laugh at my hair asking, “What did you do?” “Where you electrocuted?” The black kids felt my hair and would ask why it’s not coarse or why it felt like cotton; “You’re not really black then”, they’d say to me. After that day I was so overwhelmed with emotions of hurt and I knew then I wouldn’t wear my natural hair for a very very long time.
My big turnaround came towards the end of 2015. Mid-year I had bleached my hair and the ends were fried & dyed to death so I had to chop them off. My friend had been researching natural hair and I asked her to share with me tips on how to take care of my natural hair and I myself began to do my own research and I started buying the correct products and wearing my hair natural with the occasional straightening.
This time around I wasn’t in high school and over the years I had grown a thicker skin. The world around me had grown and was more socially aware and accepting of change so if there were negative comments I knew those words wouldn’t affect me as much as they had years before.
In 2016 after experimenting with different hair colours for months and bleaching more than I should, I went and did ‘the big chop’. I must admit I felt like “What did I do? Now I look like a boy.” But eventually I fell in love with my new look. My hair was growing at a steady pace and more importantly it was healthy and strong. This time around I was accepting of myself rather than accepting of what others expected.
My journey has been more than just switching lanes from chemical treatment to natural haircare. It’s been a journey of learning self-love; not letting the opinions of others affect me enough to change who I am and making sure I have beautiful strong hair to show for it.
Paloma ka-David Ncoco, is a 23 year old creative and designer who currently lives in Sandton, Johannesburg. Her passion in life is creating whilst using many different art forms to do so. She completed two courses in makeup and photography and is currently working as a photographer and makeup artist whilst making plans to complete her fashion degree. Paloma is a strong young woman who is determined to live life not bound by the opinions of others.
I’m so grateful to Paloma for sharing her personally painful but hopeful experience in seeking out her true identity. She has reminded us that your journey with your hair goes far deeper than the external. It is an expression of what is going on within you.
What has transitioning to natural hair meant for you personally? What challenges/obstacles have you faced in this journey? I would love to hear about your experiences too.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A Young Black African King
What are your thoughts on this letter? Do you see yourself in this light bAw? What else would you add to this letter?
Before you go sis, here are a few things you may be interested in:
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.
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!
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Before you go sis, just a few things you may be interested in:
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.
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!
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.
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.
“She is more precious than rubies: and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her.” – Proverbs 3:15
Do you know your value? Are you aware of what you are worth? How often have you found yourself in the same place over and over again? Doing the same thing and expecting different results…
That was my story for a while until I got caught! Yes, I got caught. The thing is, I wasn’t busted by anyone around me, not my family, friends or anyone. It was God.
Many times we walk around and seem “at peace” as though everything is okay when we know that we are on a battlefield. We don’t know our worth neither do we know Whose we are. It’s a fight between what others say and what God says, between who the world says we belong to and knowing Whose we are. The war is never ending.
Not until a while ago did my eyes open to see what I had turned into. I had lost myself because of the few things that run my life, one of them being forgiveness. It was a struggle for me, as in a serious struggle. I had mountains of pain erected over a long period of time. I had reached a point where, if I was told something negative (you are not skinny enough, beautiful, intelligent, well dressed, etc.) I would remember every detail of it – how it was said; by whom and; when it was said and I would replay it in my head each day for hours on end.
Yeah I know! It was bad. The problem was I had a number of negative elements that were running my life caused by un-forgiveness that determined what I was worth. Funny thing is that I would still want to be attached to the cause of the negative – I expected different results all the time but that never happened. I was stuck and no one could help me and I wasn’t going to tell anyone even if I was paid to 😛
Hate is a very strong word, and I hate to use the word “hate” about anything. And I certainly hate the thought that I might actually have hate for another person. But that is exactly what unforgiveness is – the root of hate. Unforgiving thoughts turn to hate inside us. For years I entertained unforgiving thoughts because they had a ripple effect and that was looking down on me. When we don’t forgive, we don’t see clearly and we stumble around in confusion. We become weak, sick and bitter. We push away everything and anyone that can help us get past whatever it is that is hurting us.
“Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.”- 1 John 3:15
We choose to forgive whether we feel like it or not. It’s a decision and not a feeling. If we wait for good feelings, we could end up waiting a lifetime.
I made a decision to forgive those who had hurt me. But not only that – I chose to forgive myself. I realised that I had allowed people to run my life while they slept peacefully at night just because I held on to the one thing they said or did last summer. I looked at myself based on the judgement of others even just passers-by. It was way too much to live with on a daily basis, but I got busted, and it wasn’t nice. I had to look at my dirty laundry chilling on the line.
Realising that I had created a cycle in my life hurt, but it had to be fixed. God had brought me to my knees and opened my eyes to all the murders I had committed.
“Either what women having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, seek diligently till she find it. And when she hath found it, calleth her friends and her neighbours together, saying, rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost.” – Luke 15:8-9. For many years I tried to find my value like the woman who lost her coin but I am grateful that I got busted and God showed me where to look.
People who lose things have the responsibility to find them and thank God I got busted. I found the one piece I had been searching for and after I had sought for this coin everywhere, it then became easier to see that we all have a story. The same person who’s causing you pain may just need to numb their own pain. It doesn’t make it right, but the way you treat them may just make them a better person.
In my life there are healed wounds that have ugly scars but each day that goes by comes specially made and there is value added to me.
The journey continues…
Sithabile is a young Seventh-Day Adventist Christian woman trying to live for God. She currently resides in Johannesburg, South Africa and is vibrant, talented and loving. She is employed by Juta Publishing at the moment and is a business woman in her own right as well. Sithabile is passionate about helping others regardless of who they are. She’s a little crazy (:P) but is not above doing work required for the ministry of Christ. Most of all, she is saved by Grace.
It is no secret to many that the Bible is an amazing source of strength, wisdom, and encouragement. As a Christian working mother and wife I constantly need God’s written word to power through my busy life. However, the Bible is also a sharp critic. Sometimes I find it akin to a mirror with bright unflattering lights, exposing the flaky skin and zits that no amount of make-up can cover. In fact, nothing exposes my failings and whips me back into shape faster than the Bible. In His holy word, God clearly presents the standard that Christians should aspire to and if we fail to keep it (His unwavering grace in mind), living up to God’s standard can be quite daunting.
As a Christian woman, Proverbs 31 is one of such passages that inspires me and terrifies me all at once because of the truly high standards it espouses. I would willingly blame Solomon for using the collective skills of all his 300 plus wives to define an impossible standard for all women in this book. But I digress….the Bible is, after all, the inspired word of God so we can assume God’s voice in its every passage. Proverbs 31 is therefore God’s standard for what a superwoman should be.
The passage tells me that the ideal wife and mother barely sleeps but is still able to wake up early to start her busy day (vs. 15). She is a great cook, dress maker, and yet still a successful entrepreneur – buying real estate with her own earnings (vs.16)! She is a philanthropist, opening her house to the poor (vs. 20), and is a kind and effective manager and master planner, rewarding her employees generously and managing her home with poise and grace. She does all this while slaying in all her outfits. Yes! This lady is supposedly physically fit and fashionable! She has strong and toned Michelle Obama arms (vs. 17) and slays in fine linen and purple – in other words – haut couture (vs. 22). She ensures that her household is well-clothed too and brings honor to her husband and family (vs. 23). She is good natured and a wise teacher (vs. 25, 26). Naturally, her husband and children are full of praises for her, who wouldn’t? Who is this woman? She is certainly not me on most days.
How on earth do I match up? Most days I’m stuck at step one. I, like the Proverbs 31 woman, don’t sleep much but I am certainly not springing out of bed before the sun is up with a smile on my face, ready to cook and clean before work. It takes many a slam of the snooze button and kind coaxing from my dear husband to get me out of bed and coherent on most days. I certainly do not manage real estate businesses. I have only one job – one busy job – but nothing compared to the strides of this Proverbs 31 woman. Though I love to look good, I can’t make my own clothing and the ones I buy sport labels of designers whose names you don’t need French training to pronounce (aka not haut couture) and this woman is out there slaying in bespoke fine linen and purple. Could she seriously be real?
For us working wives and mothers who still want to rely on God’s word as the standard for all our endeavors, is the Bible somehow setting us up to fail with an impossible standard? Is there ever a way to happily balance a high powered professional career with wifehood and motherhood, especially as an African woman in the diaspora with external family support miles away? Well, according to Proverbs 31, there are no excuses for mediocrity and yes, it appears possible to be a real superwoman! The one thing the passage doesn’t quite mention is the fact that this woman must be spending some time on her knees communicating with God for the wisdom to excel in all her affairs. I certainly need that divine guidance to be a high performer both at home and at work.
Many times, I think as black African women (bAw), we spend a lot of time recognizing and articulating the odds that we are up against. We frequently discuss the odds against us in the pursuit of a solid education and a successful professional career, a Godly marriage, heathy high-achieving children, and a good standard of living in general. Many of us spend many years wishing for and praying hard for that school, that job, that man, those kids, that house, those clothes, but we spend very little time praying in advance for the grace and power to manage all those blessings effectively when God grants them. Proverbs 31 describes a woman who has been blessed immensely by God in all facets of her life but we see that she needs to work hard and exhibit many impressive skills to manage that success.
Ephesians 3:20 tells us that God is able to do “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us.” This means that He has the power to grant all our hearts’ desires, including success at home and work, according to His will. It also means He is a ready source for strength and courage to help us manage, to our full potential, those blessings that He grants us. I’m always going to need to tap into His source of strength and to draw from His well that never runs dry because this Proverbs 31 woman that I speak of, she can, by His grace, be me.
What are your thoughts on the Proverbs 31 woman? Do you think she’s realistic or should we just take lessons from her? Would love to hear your thoughts!
Ehui Osei-Mensah is a gorgeous childhood friend of mine who hails from the beautiful country called Ghana in West Africa but currently lives in the Washington DC with her small family. Ehui is a wife and mother of a beautiful little girl. She is a Christian and currently works as the Content Director at Hanover Research. She is a smart young woman with a bubbly personality and a love for Jesus.