Saturday, July 28, 2007

This too shall pass

There is no oil, if olives are not squeezed...
No wine, if grapes are not pressed...
No perfume , if flowers are not crushed...

Have you felt pressure in life today?
Dont worry ... God is just bringing out the best in you!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

New News

The concept of "New News out of Africa" has been playing around in my mind for quite a while now. I'm not sure if it's born out of pure frustration at reading "world news" everyday, or at reading the Times of Swaziland every morning (if we're lucky enough for it to have been updated that day). Or maybe because I read this book by Charlayne Hunter-Gault for a class last semester and had high expectations only to be dismally dissapointed. It was a good attempt, and I commend the author for bringing to light such heavy issues that the world needs to be addressing. Hmm, maybe I just had different expectations.

Ever seen a picture like the one in my previous blog post and have the words "hunger, genocide, famine, war, poverty, Africa" come to mind? Ever wondered why you just didn't presume it was a kid who lost a toy on an ordinary beautiful day in Kigali? What comes to mind when you read, see or think of the word "Africa"? Perhaps images of child soldiers, starving children and helpless parents spring to vision. Or maybe you remember the heartwrenching stories told to you at a Boston Cinema by the incredible Don Cheadle, Djimon Hounsou, Leonardo DiCaprio or Forest Whitaker? Ahh...maybe you think of endless savannas, with fauna so captivating your Nikon D2X just clicks away mercilessly, pure horizons, the rich smell of Amarula. The group of kids you taught English for a summer, or how blazing the heat is!

If I tell you what I think of when I think of my motherland, the sun will rise shine set and rise again...when I tell you about the pap and chakalaka, top that with borewors and marinated chicken. I go on to tell you about the street bashes that occur every night all night, no cops involved, neighbors invited by default! I will tell you about real juice, real fruit, real onions I pick everyday at 4 pm from my garden to prepare the homecooked meal...that I prepare everyday, twice a day. I may even tell you about the jokes we tell, the languages so beautiful and engineered to perfection. I'll sip on a cup of Milo and pause, smile, pause, before I go on to tell you about the best clothes in the world, about my mother who wears nothing but Sishweshwe to business meetings and is still the most successful woman I know! I could even go on toflirt with you, sliding my hands down the crafted kente that rides my hips, the goat skin sticking to my ripe breasts in a fashion u may not understand. I'll run your fingers through the thick curls of my hair, and show you how beautiful it feels to be an African Queen! I wouldn't want to leave out the high prevalence AIDS rate in Swaziland, even when I tell you about the happiest people I've ever met! I'll laugh so hard when I tell you about my high school days, taking 11 subjects at O'Level and still not complaining! Infact, exceling! I might even sneak you into my backyard and show you the mango trees that come to life each summer, the bananas and grapes that are low-calorie without the engineering! And still so sweet....I'll tell you about the beaches of Mozambique, the shopping sprees I have in Johannesburg, I'll tell you about the Zimbabwean party scene, the beautiful women, the way our men are carved by the sweet hand of Mother Africa. Chomi, I'll spend forever telling you about the music, the weather, the heros and heroines. Not the ones you read about on CNN. I'll tell you about the brothers and sisters in our neighborhoods, working hard for their families, the ones who never got their share of fame. The children so fearless and creative. I may even decide to let you know how we made our own toys when we were young! It might be why I'm not afraid to open up my laptop...or tv, when something's wrong. I'll tell you about the funny things we see on TV. Yes, TV! The sun will definitely rise, set, and rise again when I tell you about what Africa means to me.

The truth of the matter is we have been psychologically conditioned to tie Africa to such things as poverty, genocide, war, disease etc. I am not one to point fingers. I simply want to acknowledge a problem and brainstorm towards positive action. We spend plenty of time talking about colonialization, history, the status quo and the Western privilege. I think it's time we got some new news! I want to browse some international news source one day and find positive stories about my continent. Instead of "FIFA may launch Plan B for 2010 World Cup", I want to find " Developments underway in Johannesburg and Cape Town". I am not arguing that Africa doesn;t have problems, oh there are many! I would just like to start seeing some solutions instead of the criticism. Sometimes, phrasing a headline more positively may go a long way. I wish we had more African journalists (who are passionate about the continent) in these news sources. I wish we could report more on young African educationalists doing great things all around the world. I wish we could emphasize the richness of African culture and show it off to the world. I wish some Swazi journalist could be able to report the beauty, festivities and excitement surrounding the Reed Dance every August, and not a Polish journalist reporting on the innumerable naked girls he witnessed as King Mswati smiled on.

I also wish we could develop more positive attitudes towards new achievements and new challenges. Maybe we should all be excited and encouraging when we discuss Ghana's oil, Lesotho's new flag, South Africa's hosting of the World Cup, ARVs finally being made available in public hospitals in Swaziland, Liberia's (and Africa's) first woman president. Obviously, something so psychologically crippling will not take overnight to revamp. We, as young Africans and global citizens need to take it upon ourselves to implement these changes within our respective careers, communities, countries and social spheres. It is not just up to journalists to work harder, the very source of primary information is you! Whether you are a doctor, lawyer, musician, part of an economic research team, student, entrepreneur, sexy celebrity, local farmer, orphan, or diplomat. The change is in you. The change is you!

Some good news:

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Yesterday, I cried

Yesterday, I cried.
I came home, went straight to my room,
sat on the edge of my bed,
kicked off my shoes, unhooked my bra,
and I had myself a good cry.
I cried until my nose was running all over the silk blouse I got on sale.
I cried until my ears were hot.
I cried until my head was hurting so bad
that I could hardly see the pile of soiled tissues lying on the floor at my feet.
I want you to understand,
I had myself a really good cry yesterday.

Yesterday, I cried,
for all the days that I was too busy,
or too tired, or too mad to cry.
I cried for all the days, and all the ways,
and all the times I had dishonored, disrespected,
and disconnected my Self from myself,
only to have it reflected back to me in the ways others
did to me the same things I had already done to myself.
I cried for all the things I had given, only to have them stolen;
for all the things I had asked for that had yet to show up;
for all the things I had accomplished, only to give them away,
to people in circumstances, which left me feeling empty,
and battered and plain old used.
I cried because there really does come a time when
the only thing left for you to do is cry.

Yesterday, I cried.
I cried because little boys get left by their daddies;
and little girls get forgotten by their mommies;
and daddies don't know what to do, so they leave;
and mommies get left, so they get mad.
I cried because I had a little boy,
and because I was a little girl,
and because I was a mommy who didn't know what to do,
and because I wanted my daddy to be there so badly until I ached.

Yesterday, I cried.
I cried because I hurt. I cried because I was hurt.
I cried because hurt has no place to go
except deeper into the pain that caused it in the first place,
and when it gets there, the hurt wakes you up.
I cried because it was too late.
I cried because it was time.
I cried because my soul knew that I didn't know
that my soul knew everything that I needed to know.
I cried a soulful cry yesterday, and it felt so good.
It felt so very, very bad.
In the midst of my crying,
I felt my freedom coming,

Yesterday, I cried
with an agenda.

...Iyanla Vanzant

Sunday, July 22, 2007


...Is it really impossible to miss what you never had?

I miss the times that we almost shared
I miss the love that was almost there
I miss the times that we use to kiss
At least in my dreams
Just let me take my time and reminisce
I miss the times that we never had
What happened to us we were almost there
Whoever said it's impossible to miss when you never had
Never almost had you


Wednesday, July 18, 2007


One of the hardest things I had to do the past couple of days was map out my action plan for 2007/2008. Having just left a love-hate relationship of 4 years with one of New England's prestigious liberal arts schools, it was time to reflect. Sounds exciting, I wish it were. That relationship had its A days, and its not-so great days. This 4 yr husband of mine cheated on me with such things as Organic Chemistry and Neurophysiology, showered me with gifts in the form of scholarships and awards, made me cry in the form of affecting my friendships and snatching me away from my family, seriously zapping me out of any comfort zone of sorts. But yes, we had some good days, albeit the many nights of endless crying ... And our divorce settlement was final on May 27 07. All I got out of it was a piece of paper with my name on it!

4 years was a long time, though short at the same time. This summer has been ... wow, I don't even know how to describe it. It's been great, in its own regard. I guess, alot of things happen on a daily basis that it leaves me wondering whats next. Maybe it's exciting...maybe not, sometimes U like to have that security and that plan. I love it here though...i could see myself here for the next couple of years...In the month I've been here already, I've met some pretty amazing people that have taught me alot, in some of the best, and worst, ways possible. Isn't that the story of my life ...

Sitting down with pen in hand, I had to criticize myself the past couple of days, right down to the T. And I had to put it on paper to read over, and over, and over, and over, again. There's nothing harder than to tell yourself the things u try not to face. Opening up the closet and doing all the laundry I've been dumping in there for a while...Anyway, it feels good. Ish. I know what I need to do to become a better person, I know the things I've done that I should not do again, the things I have yet to do,and do more, the things I'm yet to excel at and the failures I still need to face. I know the tears I'm yet to cry...I'm ready for them. I know there's more laughter to follow, I'm ready..I know my weaknesses, and wow, there are many. I'm my own best friend, and yet my worst critic! Its strange...I detest criticizing myself, Sometimes I like to think I'm the world's greatest. Sometimes I realize that I am. Or not. :-/

So now, thankfully, the document is done and it's hiding somewhere where I can't revisit it. The power of it though, is I remember every word. I know that even though it was hard to tell myself the things I did, now, its half the stress I have to go through when people say it to my face...Sigh. Life is some really is. Sometimes I just want to throw myself infront of a moving train, or scream until my lungs can't handle it. But the truth of the matter is there's always something bigger...something better. That's how Im here, not there. That's why I'm me, not you....

I think I'm ready for the next big thing.

Monday, July 16, 2007

For the women in my life ...

To Be A Woman -- By Me.

To Be A Woman...
is to share and love
above all other...
to fight the fight
and bear the burden...
its to cry the last tear
and to give the last kiss...
it's to smile brighter when
your heart wont allow...
To Be A woman...
is to carry the dying soul
to lift the flag high..
of ownership design and conception
To Be A woman
is to know the meaning of 9 months
the meaning of 10 minutes
and the meaning of a lifetime..
To Be A Woman
is to think and to learn
To educate and discipline
To hurt and smile
To die and carry
To lift higher and sink lower
To Be A woman
is something blessed of God
its to be a treasure unknown
Yet used by many
Its to be the last jewel
To be the last thought
and the first memory
To Be A woman
is to be a mirror image of all things
Because to be a woman...
is to see all things, know all things...
To Be A woman
is to give life
to combine recipes...
that give birth to eyes hands and little minds
To Be a woman
is to be a woman...
To Be a woman
is to be all this and more
That, and so much less
To be a woman...
To be a miracle

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Being Swazi

I've decided to take time out and answer that inevitable question I'm always asked on the street, at school, at parties, over the phone...u name it. I love it. I love the attention the statement "I'm from Swaziland" sparks from people. Many different reactions some, I immediately look more beautiful, they probably imagine me topless at the Reed Dance, dancing for my king. Imagine away, brothers and sisters....our minds are our freedom! To others, it is that one opportunity to satisfy an undying curiosity about Swaziland's culture, way of life, traditional values, customs and....of course, location. Many ask "Where is that?", after which I have to bring to life some pre-constructed map of the world and help them locate Swaziland in their minds. Fear not, soon as I mention South Africa, the real tourist destination, and perhaps Mozambique, where we would all looooove to do community service...and I might even drop the "Z" word, people looove to hear about the Zimbabwe crisis. Lets help Africa! Africa is dying!

Shut the fuck up.
Africa is not dying. Africa is rising to the top....sit back and enjoy the flight.

Yes, I'm angered. But dont worry...My anger is a good thing. I'm not one of those angry women (isn't that some world news.....). My anger stems from a passion, a goal, a dream...anger only fuels me up more. So in fact, when you make me angry, you're just helping me achieve my dreams. This recent dose of anger actually stems from being asked....the same some person who 1) has never stepped on Swazi grounds before, 2)is Angolan, 3)Had the decency to ask me to sleep with him because "As a Swazi woman, you don't mind sleeping with any man who chooses you.". Funny hey...hilarious actually. Before I go on talking about this useless piece of trash....very sad that he should be my African brother....incase y're wondering about this 'question', maybe u've never asked me before, or any of the 3 Swazis you the words of famous somebodies...I'mma break it down.

Why does your King have so many wives? Why does he force girls to marry him? Why do thousands of girls dance naked infront of the King? Would you marry the King? What do you think of polygamy in your country? Do you think what your King is doing is right?

The first few are easy actually. The King marries "so many" wives because he is the King. And because it is part and parcel of the Swazi custom. Next.
Mistake number 1, the media feeds you terms like "force", "take", "dictator" etc....The King has never forced anyone to marry him. The King DATES women, and then proposes to them, like you would too. Difference? He does it ...alot. hehe, well yes, he does. But he has never forced anyone to stay married to him either. Plenty of wives have felt uncomfortable with the situation, and left. Freely, without drama or chaos. So, it's high time you read the Times of Swaziland, and not CNN "World" if you want the real scoop on what goes on. Better yet, talk to a Swazi person.
"Dance naked" infront of the King is not exactly how we view our Reed Dance, and no I would not marry the King. He's not my type :-)

One huge problem with the world nowadays is that countries like, and media fueled by, The
USA try to impose their values on other cultures and the way other people do things. I went to school with about 200 kids from over 100 countries. My first exposure to the "real world". Everything we did was different, from how we ate, the languages we spoke, our accents, our religions, our way of life, our clothing, our speech, our study techniques....and infact, it seemed to work for everyone! Sometimes we dont understand how people do things, and we think how we do it is right...and what they do is wrong. That's fine, until we try to impose our own ideas of "being right" onto someone. Now, Swazi is a culture. A culture that is hundreds of years old. There are some things that you can't just decide in 2007 to change. You can't change the very foundation of what makes Swaziland Swaziland, and not Lesotho, Switzerland or Belgium.

Infact, I don't even like talking about this whole King thing, we are focusing our energies on very trivial issues!! However many wives the King has should be of no concern to you and me, he provides for them, they are happy. Had they not been happy, they would have been free to leave. Very simple. I've lived in
Swaziland for 24 years. 6 of those years have been spent in school in the United States. I studied the Int'l Baccalaureate, Pre-Med, Public Health studies, Neurobiology and the "Liberal Arts". I may not be well-versed in other important areas of the education circle, but I think I know what I'm talking about when I combine that with me being Swazi, observing my culture in various ways, having been exposed to what is Not Swazi.

That said,
Swaziland is far from perfect. Our economy could use a slight boost. We could use some free primary education, perhaps an expansion in the Agricultural sector. We do need to keep sponsoring our own institutions of higher education, and creating jobs for graduates therefore. Maybe we could revive our Air industry again and fly to other countries outside of Southern Africa. Some new effecient roads here and there, engineers with fresh minds and new ideas. Yes, far from perfect. The HIV/AIDS situation is devastatingly claiming the lives of our people. And yes, I do believe that the polygamy situation has been a major integral. But so are many factors that we tend to ignore...poverty, education, poor sanitation, poor health systems and policies, unavailability of medicines and vaccines....etc etc. Lets stop trying to knock our heads on the walls of Jericho trying to banish polygamy, and let us re-route our action plan. How can we work with what we have now? It's a simple phenomenon that we apply to our everyday lives. Accident on I-95 North. How do I get another route to work. Are u going to try and clear out the accident scene in order to pass through that highway, or are you going to take the other route? Scenario 2: You get to college and there's a professor who's been there for 25 years, and y're not really feeling his teaching style. I'd like to see you sit him/her down and try to make them re-learn their teaching techniques. I would personally find ways to study parallel to his teaching style, so that in the end of it all, I've learnt it my way, and I've gotten that A.

Polygamy is a choice. I believe that lack of appropriate education to women in
Swaziland may be the reason it's still very popular. I dont believe in telling women not to marry into a polygamous family (which is what the NGOs love to do! Its their hobby!)...I think that we should educate women, not just from Swaziland, but from all over the world, to be better advocates for the choices that they make. Knowing your husband has 2 other wives, you may try to take better precautions in terms of HIV testing, safer sex etc. if after this knowledge, u find that you are not comfortable marrying into a polygamous situation, that is fine too. But we should not try to make that decision for anyone. Afterall, we cant judge what is wrong or right. We can only try to alleviate the societal damages that we can see, and then try to prevent them from happening, in ways that we deem appropriate. We should not be trying to uproot cultures and try to make a USA-land everywhere.

So ask me, and I will tell you. I'm Swazi and I'm proud. I'm like no other, I'm unique. I'm happy and I'm educated. When I walk into a room, I walk proudly Swazi, with all my customs and my traditions...the things my mother and mother's mothers taught me. Is my country perfect? No. That's why I'm working to better it in ways that I can. At the end of the day...I'm still Swazi, That is where I'm from. That is where I was born. That is where my tongue can speak words that English, or any other language can never identify. That is the place of my permanent provision. I respect it, I love it, I nurture it...That is my HOME.

Friday, July 6, 2007

African Hair Braiders

The other day, I went to the local grocery store to buy some mangoes...don't get me started on the mango-less mangoes in this country. I miss real fruits! Fruits with juice! Mangoes that dont taste like tangerine-flavored bananas!

So, there I am, in the blazing heat, parading my jeans and fro, I meet this beautiful young woman. I will be PC and not suggest her ethnicity feela I know that can arise in some issues. But, she did look Ethiopian :-P. The first thing I noticed about her though, was her braids. Crafted to perfection, they fell on her defined shoulders like....emmm..well, like braids on defined shoulders (this is why I'm not a poet).

I'm a big hair person. Both in the big-hair sense and the big-on-hair sense. Reason number 2 why I look forward to going to
Swaziland each year : African Hair Braiders. Hay suka, I have to give it up to my sisters! Back in high school, I was one of those that didn't catch on with the hair braiding during lunch (Must have been too busy with that Additional Maths book) so I never quite grasped the skill of braiding hair. I can barely get away with doing box braids on my own hair before bed. Let alone dive into ponytail, kinky twists, fish tail, pencil tips, microbraids, Senegalese twists, Z-curl, yaki bulk, 419....the list goes on, believe me. The color tones go from 1 (jet black) to 35 (honey blonde) with any combination of the above.

Eversince I made that fateful decision to come to the States...I knew I was going to miss getting my hair done whenever I wanted, getting the latest braids for a little less than $20 (yes, not the $200 I pay here). I've noticed plenty of Africans (especially West Africans) starting hair braiding salons in the inner cities of the
United States, making money like nobody's business....can't hate. I just love my African Hair Braiders, they keep us beautiful, they keep us fresh, they keep our pockets healthy at the same time...and their hands are a work of art!