This year has been the hardest and most painful time for a South African woman but even harder and more shattering being a black woman. We have been sexually violated, abused, murdered by men and let down by the justice system. But last night, a black woman was celebrated – and is still being celebrated – for being crowned the first black south African Miss Universe. A black dark skinned South African queer woman with natural 4centimetre hair won Miss Universe, phenomenal. What a time to be alive. What a time to be a black South African woman. Zozibini Tunzi’s victory had me reflecting and dwelling on a few things:
Being conscious of the words you speak is very important.
In 2012, Zozibini Tunzi posted a status on Facebook which read, ‘one day is one day’ the captured picture was an image of Miss Universe 2012. Seven years later, the 26-year-old South African Xhosa woman is crowned Miss Universe 2019. DO NOT TAKE LIGHTLY THE WORDS YOU SPEAK TO YOURSELF AND ABOUT YOURSELF.
I am also reminded of a scripture from the bible where it tells us to ‘speak things which are not as if they were.’ Zozibini Tunzi literally spoke her dreams into existence – obviously supported by hard work and faith. Every single black woman’s dream is valid and it will come to being only if one works hard and never wavers. This epiphany was the highlight of her victory for me personally.
God’s Timing Is Always Perfect.
Zozibini was interviewed recently, and she said that after few years of nothing working out, everything fell into place in 2019. She got offered three internships, became Miss South Africa, left S.A for the first time, and walked NYFW. And now, she is Miss Universe.
Whether you believe in God or not, the universe will always respond to you at the right time. Timing is everything. If it is not working out or happening for you, it simply means that it is not your time. What is meant for you will never miss you neither will it ever be taken away from you. In Zozibini’s words “You are enough. If you do not get it, it was not meant for you or it was not your time. You are enough. You are enough.”
These are vital life facts that we all need to be reminded of once in a while.
Society’s beauty boundaries have been broken.
If there was ever to be a person to break the rules of society and break its beauty boundaries it was to be Zozibini Tunzi. When asked about ‘beauty’ she responded “The most important lesson I learnt was that women are not one-dimensional and therefore you cannot box their beauty. We all come in different shapes, sizes, and shades, with natural hair and weaves.” Below I have attached an extract where she speaks of women like herself not being considered beautiful. Her words are ground-breaking.
I will remember this time in my country forever, 2019 in S.A has been the most gruesome year for women but in the very end we have found our light in one person: Zozibini Tunzi. Her purpose was certainly bigger than her. She is our ancestor’s wildest dreams.
Zoe Modiga once said, ‘I am iconic because I am alive.’ What a bold statement I thought.
As I enter year 23, I have been reflecting on year 22 a lot and for some reason – which I have come to see that it is a profound one – I truly resonate and relate with Zoe Modiga’s very bold yet very true statement. What a brave thing it is to be alive. To continuously go through seasons of ruins yet still conquer. To keep on keeping on despite all odds being against you. I am bravery personified. I am courage personified.
As I turn 23 and enter a new year in my life, I have two aspirations:
1. To Live in Perfect Peace.
During the year 22 I found myself in constant turmoil with myself. Most
of the time it felt like I had a love-hate relationship with myself. Most days
I did not feel 22, I felt like I was a 40-year-old woman going through a
midlife crisis. But I suppose that is how growth is supposed to feel – very uncomfortable, very ungiving, feelings
of insecurity of your future, your journey – basically feeling like you are
giving more than what you are getting and you’re a complete joke.
But I want this new year to consist of peaceful growth, to have more days where I feel like a 23-year-old. I want my soul to be at peace, my mind to be sound at all times if not most times, and my spirit to be in sync with God.
2. To Be Limitless and Fearless.
During year 22 I was always being boxed and limited. Year 23 should be all about being limitless and fearless. That is how most of our twenties should be, having limitless dreams and working on them fearlessly. I am going for gold and going for everything that life has to offer this year. The whole point of being alive is to evolve into the complete person that you were intended to be. This year, I will not ask for permission. Neither should you. I aspire to get what I need and what I want. And so should you. As a 22-year-old I had been asking for permission to live my life and most of the time I was being told “yes you may, but not like that. Not the way you want to.” So in this moment I make a promise to myself to not wait for someone else to grant me permission to get what I need.
In closing I am
reminded of a verse from the bible, Isaiah 43 vs 19:
“See, I am doing
a new thing! Now it springs up, do you not perceive it? I am making a way in
the wilderness and streams in the wastelands.”
So, cheers to
God blowing my mind. Cheers to a new year. Cheers to a rebirth.
The other day I was trying to understand the reason for the events of this year that have occurred in my life. As humans we constantly have the urgency to feel like we are in control and to know why certain things occur, which explains why I was so desperately trying to put into perspective all these unpleasant things that have been occuring to me and around me. I failed to define my present self or to find the reason why, so I turned to music to try put my thoughts and feelings into perspective. Finally, Solange’s album was the solid resonance of my life – specifically three songs which I will speak about in this blog post.
Track number two on the album. Weary. This song explicitly yet subliminally conveys the first part of myself. When I took to the internet to find out the vision and idea behind this song, I immediately felt like the lyrics were myself looking right back at me – https://genius.com/Solange-weary-lyrics.
The song starts off with Solange proclaiming that she is weary of the ways of the world. She has grown weary of the ways of the world and she is ready to take care of herself and ready to fight for her purpose. The lines that highlight this for us are the ones “I’m weary of the ways of the world…I’m gonna look for my body yeah, I’ll be back real soon.” These lines of the song speak about me wanting to find my self as an individual in society.
Solange also asks the listeners to question the state of the world – social hierarchy and inequality based on gender, race, or sexuality. ‘But you know that a King is only a man, with flesh and bones, he bleeds just like you do.’This greatly suggests that he who created a social hierarchy has placed himself on a high pedestal yet he is human, just like you and I. Due to all these inequalities and social injustices, one might end up feeling like there is no place for them in the world, but there is. And we all belong here.
As mentioned before, listening to Weary at this specific time of my life, was a solid resonance of who I am right now. Given that I am an unemployed millennial, I am in a predicament where I am trying to find my place under the sun. The social hierarchy in South Africa, does not make a black woman’s journey any smooth, making it even harder to find my place in society as a black woman. But do I belong? Yes I do just as much as the white woman and white man.
“You’re feeling like you’re chasing the world, you’re leaving not a trace in the world, but you’re facing the world.”This part of the song describes my sense of resilience in trying to find employment, trying to become and basically chasing the world and its riches so that I leave a trace when I am no longer here on earth. This part depicts a series events where I am chasing my dreams, my aspirations and simultaneously fighting against the odds of the world. Which is not a very pleasant predicament.
Solange’s subliminal messages of Weary expound the part of me that – this year – has been trying so hard to make a place for herself in the world. It put into perspective my feelings of self doubt and uncertainty due to questions of whether I belong here, if this is where I am meant to be in this moment. It explained the uncomfortable feeling and weariness that comes with growing, adulting, and becoming.
Cranes In The Sky. Number four on the album. If there has been a song that I have played numerous times on repeat, it has to be Cranes In The Sky. The meaning of this song is not as hidden as the others. It is quite apparent, just like my feelings and actions of this year. Solange describes her attempt at avoiding painful feelings. In an interview, https://www.interviewmagazine.com/music/solange, when asked about this song, Solange says she was in a season where she had to look at herself outside of being a mother and wife as she had just been divorced to her son’s father.
This song speaks about the part of me which is failing to see herself outside of being unemployed with nothing to her name. We all see the world through the lens of how one identifies and has been identified at that time, so at the moment I am identifying as an unemployed 22-year-old looking at the world through the lens of unemployment. One almost feels socially excluded. This song told me to feel every feeling I am feeling, to internalize every thought and emotion but to also, most importantly, work through it. It reminded me of something Chimamanda Adichie said in her Dear Ifeawele read, she suggests that to be a feminist one must be a full person – to not define oneself solely by motherhood/being a wife and in my case, being unemployed.
In the same interview, Solange says that “… every woman in her 20’s has been there, where it feels likeno matter what you are doing to fight through the thing that is holding you back, nothing can fill that void.” As if it could not get any better the song then helped me clarify my emotions of void. Nothing can fill the void of being unemployed. Nothing can fill the void of feeling heavy. And that is okay, but the trick is to get through it and to not build a home in those feelings.
The first verse is the epitome of trying to fill the void, trying to avoid painful feelings: I tried to drink it away, I tried to put one in the air, I tried to dance it away, I tried to change it with my hair. We indulge in unhealthy habituals just to get away from constant feelings of self doubt and to escape the ever so present painful reality. This song reminded me of everything I had ever done to fill the void – there were vivid memories of it as I resonated with the lyrics.
But then there is also a part of me that is not so blue and gloomy about this year. Borderline (An Ode To Self Care). Number fourteen on the album. This song speaks about my resilience to preserve myself and to not lose myself to the mess and the ugly that has been staring at me in the face. In this song Solange took us to a time when she explored the tricky balance of engagement with the world’s struggles and the need for self-preservation.
I am one to want privacy and to protect parts of me in a world where everything is made public, in a world where some humans actually live on and in tiny devices. We are living in a time where people can very well express themselves through emojis and memes but struggle to do so in spoken words. We live in a time where our minds are so muddled that they feel like a complicated space to navigate and visions of ourselves are almost pixelated images. Self care and self preservation is the only way to survive all of this.
Although I am living in it, I am not a part of that time, thanks to self care and self preservation. It is so important to preserve the sentimental parts of yourself so that you do not run dry.
So this week I give thanks to Solange’s subliminal messages which expounded my present life. A Seat At The Table really makes me feel like I have a seat in the world despite the social hierarchy and despite the feelings of heaviness that come with not being the person you envisioned yourself to be. It made me feel like yes I belong, we all belong among the stars despite all odds being against us as individuals.
This morning something so revolutionary occurred. I was in bed and I felt my heart beat and I told myself that I have a purpose. I felt like I was reclaiming my life consciously and not just saying it – it was a very reassuring moment for me.
This Sunday I am grateful for life – I thank God that I am here breathing. I am grateful for self-awareness; so many of us unconsciously walk through life and we need to realise that that itself is not okay. The need to own your emotions, own your self, to own your thoughts is very vital. I am someone that is always so greatly aware of my thoughts, my emotions, and my self and I find this ability to be such a blessing. There is nothing as powerful as being one with your self.
Although, this past week I was mostly feeling like a child failing to adult successfully, I am grateful for Sundays that give me a chance to put into perspective my ways and thoughts so that this coming week is better than the last. Sundays give me a chance to forgive myself for being so hard on myself and to surrender to life. I am thankful for the knowing that I can re-evaluate my life and choose how I want to go forth with this journey of life.
Ever since I started blogging, it has become some form of therapy for me. I find healing in releasing and creating, its very therapeutic and for this reason I am thankful for life cause without it I wouldn’t have reached this point. Sunday gratitude also allows for vital re-adjustments to happen, it is accepting that okay this is where I’m at right now, what can I do to be better and to do better.
Sundays are gentle reminders that I am a wonder, Gods greatest creation and I hold the power I seek, the love I seek and that I am constantly unbecoming to become; unlearning to learn. Even though I am not where I want to be but I believe that I am where I need to be in this moment.
In closing, I would like to say that consistent gratitude is something that I think we should all partake in. Its opens up a channel for all life’s blessings to fall through. I have come to the end of my consistent gratitude challenge but I will obviously continue doing this but will not blog about it the way I have been.
As human beings we are ever evolving and that is a great and much needed part of life. Yet in times of evolving we must be weary of the fact that each version of oneself is the right version for that time – each version of yourself is there to serve a purpose at that time. In other words, the current version of you is the right version of you for this moment.
We are always so quick to think of our next move – after high school comes college/university after that I need a job – and most times we are so quick to define ourselves by our situations or what we do for a living not realising that by doing so, we are allowing ourselves to be defined by temporary situations or things. How many times have we heard this line before after someone has been asked to introduce themselves/tell the audience who they are: ‘hello my name is so-and-so, I’m 26 years old and I am an engineer.’ Obviously each line pans out according to the individual but the point I am trying to make here is that, in that introduction you have told everyone about your current affairs – you won’t be 26 years old in a year and there is always a possibility of that you not be an engineer forver.
Why do we do this ? Why do we continuously define ourselves by what could be non-existent in a split second, by things that are not from within? The only answer I could think of was that it is because we give our situations and/or materialistic aspects of our lives so much power without realising that your true power is what resonates from within, it is what you create, what you believe is your sole purpose in life. This conclusion led to an epiphany that in the process of being so fixated on our next move or what we don’t have or what we need to accomplish we lose the essence of life which is being present in your present self which will ultimately serve you graciously.
When one concurs that their current version is the right version for this moment, life becomes smoother to some degree. To surrender means to stop resisting whatever it is you are trying to fight against. Now imagine surrendering to your current self, what are you to lose – nothing. This is not to say one must stop working towards being the person that they want to be, instead it is simply saying ‘okay, I surrender to who I am right now but in the meantime I will be putting in the work to become the person I want to become.’ By doing so God and the universe will respond and give you the blessings and lessons this self needs in order to birth your next self. Essentially, that is how evolving works – in my opinion atleast.
The last thing I would like to say or suggest is that we allow ourselves to be the people we are in that moment because that will open up a way for the next version of yourself to unfold.
You might want to read this blog post which is closely related to the one you’re reading:
I am on week three of my consistent gratitude challenge and I think this might become a ritual for me. To be honest though, this week I am finding it hard to gather my thoughts and I am having to think very hard as to what I am grateful for. So I am here thinking of this past week and two things come to mind: solitude and God.
Solitude. Many people cannot spend time alone neither do they feel comfortable in their own skin. I do not struggle with either one of these in fact I find peace in solace. It is a place I go to when I am feeling out of tune so that I find myself again. I am grateful for the fact that I am able to live in solace. I have found home in me and I think that’s very important – for one to live in themselves and to be comfortable with that.
God. Everlasting hope and grace. This week I am grateful for God and the relationship I have with Him. I know that in Him I find hope and grace which is always so mind-blowing and so fulfilling. I thank Him for the friends He has blessed me with because those friends have become my family.
I hope that those that said they would join me in this challenge are still sending out gratitude consistently.
I have never thought of myself as being a ‘feminist’ neither have I ever really understood the notion behind it or how one defines it. Reading the book ‘Feminism Is’ somewhat changed and erased the idea I had that ‘feminism’ was all about women empowerment and women solidifying the ‘men are trash’ movement which initially started as just a hashtag. I believe that reading this book at such a time of my life – being in my 20s and still trying to find my place under the sun – has really impacted me and I doubt I will ever forget this book.
The book ‘Feminism Is’ comprises of a collection of essays written by South African feminist writers on the topic ‘feminism is’ and is edited by Jen Thorpe. The main thing I gathered from reading all these essays, that were clearly articulated from different angles, was that: feminism means something different to each and every person but in all essence is inclusive of every person regardless of their gender, race or sexuality. Feminism has a place for everyone.
In this post, I will be talking about the writers which mostly impacted my view on the whole ‘Feminsim’ concept and movement. The first is Pumla Dineo Gqola. Her essay was based on her experiencing feminism and learning what it is through her interaction with certain people in her life. She is a mothering feminist meaning that she is simultaneously a mother and a feminist.
My perspective of this essay is that sometimes, as a female feminist, you will defy conventional concepts. From going against traditional practices to not viewing marriage or motherhood as an achievement and not sacrificing your life for your children. None of these things make a woman a ‘bad woman’ instead they make her ‘her.’ Being a feminist, according to Gqola’s essay, sometimes means that you as a woman will go through many failed marriages because you refuse to settle for what does not serve you or your values and beliefs. Feminism will sometimes mean that you are a single parent also fighting against outrageous work-place politics undermining you as a woman.
“Feminism is fierceness, it is absolute refusal to be associated with anything you cannot claim in broad dayight. It is the unshakeable commitment to belong to oneself. Feminism is about knowing when to receive and when to let go” – Pumla Dineo Gqola, 2018 found in ‘Feminism Is’ p23.
Forty pages into the book, I found myself saying ‘woah, this woman is a god, how could she write such a mindblowing essay’ and that was when I was reading Danielle Alyssa Bowler’s essay/chapter. I kept turning the pages and I could not stop reading because I strongly felt that I could relate to everything she was saying and my mind was deeply resonating with her views.
I remember reading her chapter and feeling like I was looking right into my soul because everything she was talking about, I was either living it or someone else in my generation was living it. What struck me the most about her chapter was when she spoke about how we as people – millenials in particular – were living in a time where our lives are embedded in tiny devices and we struggle to live outside social media. Reading Bowler’s chapter was like reading about a world that profoundly reflected my own.
I was reading this book with a notebook in my hand, jotting down lines to remember. I had the urgency to commit these lines to memory which was prompted by their deep resonances. Bowler (2018) states that “I do not express myself – my feelings or my thoughts – through emojis, memes, and various manipulations of language. I am quite blunt and I am as naked as they come.” I could not help it, it felt like my mind was having a spasm.
The more I read this book, the more I found parts of myself I did not know I was looking for. I looked and found myself in sentences and paragraphs: to recreate or solidify myself and my ideas. My life, like many others, is profoundly concerned with the search for clarity, the need for everything within me and around me to be distilled into a clearer and cleaner sense of meaning.
The last chapter I will speak about was a chapter by Gugulethu Mhlungu. I will speak about it because it felt very personal, I could see my life and my grandmother in every idea she touched on. She greatly put into perspective what most of us black African children go through – being raised by our grandparents. Her chapter enlightened to me that feminism is also the very struggles our grandparents endure to ensure that we live a particularly beneficial and exceptional life. My grandmother was the epitomy of this – she would break her back to ensure that my sister and I live the good life.
In conclusion, I would like to greatly emphasize that feminism is not about hating men and burning bras. It is much bigger and deeper than that. Feminism is for every single body, for every race, every gender, every sexuality. I cannot say that I am now a feminist after reading this book but I do know that I have a solid idea of what feminism is and what it is not, but essentially it carries different meanings in different contexts.