The Cost of Black “Privilege” (A Private Scholar’s Take on the Pretoria Girls’ Issue)

I went to private and former “Group A” government, or as South Africans would say “model C” schools most of my life. For that, I am truly grateful and have always considered myself ‘privileged’. However, a 13 year old has prompted me to question this so called ‘privilege’ that I got from the so called ‘best’ schools in Zimbabwe, and arguably in Africa too.

Going to private school has opened so many doors for me and probably set me up to be a better professional than I would be if I had gone to public schools. We never had a shortage of teachers or resources and the education was more holistic. We did more. We explored more. We got to travel to different countries on school trips and that really opened my mind. Also, going to private school generally gave me an upper hand over my counterparts (be it on the social scene or to potential employers), since  people have an inclination to believe that people who went to private school are somewhat superior to those who did not. One other thing I have also always loved about private school was that it taught me ‘not to see colour’, or at least that’s what I thought.

The story of Zulaikha, a 13 year old Pretoria Girls High student who led a protest demanding that black girls be allowed to wear their hair in its natural state at her school has prompted me to do some introspection.  It has made me ask myself questions that I should have asked 10 years ago when I too was “Zulaikha”; a 13 year old black girl starting high school at a ‘prestigious’, predominantly white institution and sadly, I do not like the answers I am getting.

It took a 13 year old girl to make me realise the price that I, and many other ‘privilleged’ black children all over the world have had to pay for that ‘privillege’. I realised that though it manifests itself in different ways, it is principally the same. Whether one went to Harvard, Yale, Pretoria Girls, Arundel, Hillcrest or Peterhouse they have had, at some point, to sacrifice their blackness for access to white privillege.

Subconsciously, I too grew up being indoctrinated that black  hair was “untidy and unprofessional” and that dreadlocks were “rebellious and demonic”. No school I have ever been to allowed dreadlocks, except for ‘religious’ reasons  and black boys’ hair at my school had to either be very short and “neat” or not there at all, yet that of white boys could be significantly longer. I too was not allowed to speak my native language at school, except during Shona lessons and had friends who were Zimbabwean, living in Zimbabwe and had parents who grew up in Zimbabwe (the rural areas, even) but somehow spoke broken Shona. I too believed that the mark of an emancipated black person was the ability to speak polished English.

You see, private school does not stop you from seeing colour. It just conditions you to see one: white. The reason I had white friends, the reason I could “relate” to them has little to do with the fact that we all embraced our differences, but rather that I erased mine. Slowly but steadily, I had to pay for access white privilege using my blackness (on top of the exhorbitant fees; which are another story for another day). By the time I got to high school, white was right and black was whack.

We had a word for it: “gwashness”. I realise now that everything we considered “gwash”  (uncool) in high school had one thing in common- blackness. Speaking english with a Shona accent was “gwash”. Bringing mahewu (a traditional African health drink) or maputi (an African snack) to school was “gwash”. You could carry rice or pasta to school but just bring sadza and you would be the laughing stock for the rest of your academic career.You would probably get a nickname like “jembi” or “sadza” or something. Kurukwa mabhanzi (an African hairstyle similar to Bantu knots)  was “gwash”. Watching ZBC (the local channel) was “gwash”. It was “gwash” to love a song by Daiton Somanje or Joseph Garakara (sungura artists) , yet commonplace to know all lyrics to a Beyonce or Westlife song as soon as it came out. Even netball and soccer were “gwash” (because the white kids mostly played volleyball, hockey, cricket, rugby and tennis and most of the funding went there as a result). I remember the netball and soccer teams being jokingly reffered to as “housegirls” and “garden boys” (by other black kids) and we had a good laugh out of it. You see, black was poor, black was backward and black was uncivil. Black was “gwash”

All the “cool” things on the other hand, were either white, foreign or things that other black people of lesser social status could not afford to do or have. A typical  “cool” black kid had long hair straightened with chemicals and got weaves during the holidays. The only Shona song they knew was the first stanza of the national anthem. The “cool kids” spoke polished English and played hockey or rugby.  The “cool kids” didn’t go kumusha (rural areas) during the holidays and when they did, they made sure their friends never found out, unless it was to laugh at something the “gwash kumusha kids” said while trying to impress them with their “chopes” (broken English).

Like Zulaikha, I too am constantly asked to sacrifice my blackness for white privillege. Though I left private school six years ago, I say “am” because it follows you to the posh job that your private school qualification afforded you. It follows you to the posh suburb that that posh job allows you to live in and the posh friends that that posh lifestyle brings. Before you know you know it, you and your posh spouse have kids and raise them in the same way that private school raised you: to embrace whiteness and shun blackness in the name of “diversity”.

When I do have kids, I want them to get the best education that they possibly can. I want them to have the best opportunities that I can afford them, but not at the cost of their blackness. Not at the cost of their identity. Not in “independent” Africa. I do not blame my parents, for such  system did not exist for our generation. They gave me the best they could with what was there and they really did try to ensure that our home life preserved our native language and culture. However,  it is now my duty to ensure that going to private school and staying in touch with your blackness ceases to be the exception and becomes the norm in the next generation and it begins with making reforms in our elite schools and societies. It begins with changing the way middle and upper class black people see other black people and blackness in general. It begins with changing the way the schools they go to conditions them to see other black people and blackness in general.

To the current metaphoric “Zulaikha”s, I say we are sorry. You should not have to deal with all this, but we who came before you either saw it and chose to do nothing, or failed to see it at all. Worse still, we encouraged it. We are sorry for coming to these schools before you finding them as they were and leaving them as they were. Accepting them as they were. Praising them as they were.

Most importantly, to the actual Zulaikha and her friends I say thank you. Thank you for your bravery. Thank you for your consciousness. ‘Elite’ schools need more black kids like you

 

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The Price of Greatness

Of late, I have been meditating on greatness. I guess it came from a point where I was pondering the overwhelming grace that God has placed on my life, the potential I have, my abilities etc. I feel like greatness is calling. I am conscious of the amount and potency of privilege in my life- and the amount of sacrifice that brought it about and of late, my thoughts seem to always drift towards the question “what shall I do with it?”

“From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked” (Luke 12:48b)

I’ve been thinking of people like Abraham, Joseph, Esther, Daniel and the Lord himself. I realised two things that they all had in common, which I believe is what catapulted them to greatness.

  1. They were favoured by God.

Let’s face it- one way or the other, these people had a jumpstart. They possessed a trait or quality that they did not work for. They just got it.

Abraham was called by God and from that day he became different. Things just happened in his favour. Joseph had dreams. His father loved him. Esther was really beautiful and she was given preferential treatment. We are told that Daniel was one of the strong, handsome, intelligent men that were handpicked to serve the king. Jesus Christ was God, even though he walked as a human.

I also see the favour of God in my life. It’s not perfect and I’m not bragging- but there are things in my life that lead me to that conviction. It’s hard to explain but sometimes I feel, uhm, different.

 

  1. They were willing to pay the price

I guess this is the defining factor. In Matthew 22 Jesus speaks a parable of a king who held a banquet and ended up inviting people who did not “deserve” to be there. He favoured them. However, one of the people who came chose not to adhere to the dress code and as a result, they were chucked out. It’s a sad truth. Being favoured or having potential does not guarantee greatness.

“For many are called, but few are chosen.” (Matt 22:14)

There is a price for greatness. Abraham was willing to give up his son. Joseph was willing to give up his job and freedom. Esther and Daniel were willing to give up their lives- and so was Jesus.

“And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—        even death on a cross!  Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name” (Phil 2:8-9)

That’s what has been bothering me this past week: can I pay the price? Am I willing? Am I capable? The prospect of wasting the investment that has been made on my life scares me, but the prospect paying the price scares me even more. I keep asking myself if I can. I feel so inadequate. What is the price that I have to pay?

This morning, however, I think I might have gotten an answer:

“… continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” (Phil 2:12-13)

“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” (Isaiah 30:21)

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor 12:9)

 And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets,  who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions,  quenched the fury of the flames,and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength;and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.” (Heb 11:32-34)

What if the price is not what I think it is? What if the price is not a single deed or action but continual reverence, trust and obedience? What if the cost is denying myself and taking up my cross daily? What if it is communing with God and trusting Him to fulfil His purpose for my life?

Can I trust God? Can I obey Him? Can I do what he says to do and stop what he says not to do? Can I value integrity over perceived success? When cornered, will I do what God wants or will I do what seems easier? Am I willing to pay the price?

17674

 

I was nominated for the Liebster Award

I was nominated for the Liebster Award by Character on her blog, Here’s to Being Human. As I read on her blog, the Liebster Award is an award to bloggers from bloggers, a way of welcoming new bloggers to the club, basically. I’m so honored and excited that Character nominated me!
As stated by Character, these are the rules:

Link back to the person who nominated you

As stated before, Character has a really cool blog called Here’s to Being Human. Check it out.

List 11 random facts about yourself

1) I love love love Jesus!

2) I love coffee and I love my sleep- Oxymoron, I know.

3) I’ve been to 6 countries on two continents.

4) I like seeing and experiencing new places but packing and the actual travelling annoys me. Someone should make teleportation a reality like yesterday #sigh.

5) The first job I ever wanted was to become a pilot.

6) It’s never too cold for me to eat ice-cream.

7) I can fold my tongue

8) I can’t wink- you should see me try though! It’s hilarious.

9) I’m scared of dogs- in fact I’m scared of most animals.

10) I’m struggling to come up with number 10 and 11

11) When I started this blog, I didn’t really think anyone would read or follow it- let alone nominate me for anything. So I consider this to be quite a big deal

Answer the questions given you by the nominator

  1. What was the last song you listened to? I don’t know why – Kudzai Sevenzo
  2. Are you addicted to YouTube? Uhm no. Ok maybe a little bit… Ok fine maybe a lot.
  3. What is your favourite book? Her Daughter’s Dream by Francine Rivers. Infact the whole Marta’s Legacy series struck a chord.
  4. What is your favourite movie? I don’t have one.
  5. What is your favourite movie quote? “You don’t get to choose if you get hurt in this world…but you do have some say in who hurts you. I like my choices.” (The Fault in Our Stars)
  6. What was the weirdest thing to happen to you this week? I slept at 8pm the day before yesterday. Being a nocturne that hardly ever happens.
  7. What fictional character do you wish you could be? Anyone who reads minds, teleports or both.
  8. What author most inspires your work? Hmm… can’t think of a specific one, I read a lot so I guess they all subconsciously contribute.
    1. What was the most difficult book you ever read and was it worth it? Had to be the textbook for my major last year-BORINGGGG I passed so I guess it was.
  9. Why did you start blogging? I was going through “stuff” and figured I needed somewhere to think aloud and hopefully touch lives in the process.
  10. If you could only post one more blog post, what would it say? Stop and smell the roses. Learn from the past, plan for the future but pleaaassseee live for the present. If we’re not careful we’ll always be chasing something and never have time to appreciate what we already have. You don’t need that dream s/o or job or whatever to start enjoying life. Work with what you have here, now. Oh and take life seriously but don’t take yourself too seriously. Learn to laugh at yourself. Live a little! Nobody gets out alive anyways.

Nominated up to 11 other bloggers with less than 200 followers 

Hadassah’s As I travel Along

Floridah Rumbidzai Mapeto’s #diaryofaproudzimbabweangirl

ChidoB’s Mind my Mind But

Dee’s Diary of a Christian Chic

Chimezie Odionye’s Love Talk and Other Musings of a Godly Man

Rethabile

Vimbai Mandiri

Create 11 questions for the nominees

  1. Instagram or snapchat? Why
  2. What book/ movie/ song changed your life?
  3. If you got an all-expenses paid vacation to go anywhere in the world, what would be your destination?
  4. What would you tell your 16 year old self?
  5. Why did you start blogging?
  6. Current favourite song?
  7. Last book you read?
  8. What were you doing when you got into 2016?
  9. Favourite food?
  10. There’s a fire. What three items would you save?
  11. What animal best describes you? Why?

Notify all nominees via social media/blogs.

 

All means ALL (Pt 1)

All means ALL

Today I was just thinking about the “all”s of the Bible and how I have a tendency to turn them into “some”s, “many”s or “a few”s. I think many a time the problem is not so much that we don’t believe God or His word, but that we filter it. We pass it through the sieve of logic and take only what makes sense to us. It’s as if we read the Bible using polaroid lens.

We are human and as such we are fallible. We live in a broken, messed up world and at one point or the other we have been disappointed. As such, it is natural to rationalise God’s and his word. It is natural to want to leave room for disappointment. I do that too. I was actually thinking about some of the “all”s of the Bible and how I see them vs what they actually mean.

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthen me” Phil 4:13

What I think it means:

I can do some things through Christ who strengthens me. I can do what I can afford. I can do what I find easy. I can do what I went to school for. I can do what the status quo says I can do. I guess I can count on Christ to help me with the difficult stuff once in a while but the huge things- those are out of the question. Yeah I’m a Christian and I feel like God is nudging me in a certain direction but he must be kidding me. Does he seriously expect ME to do that? I’m too… (insert weakness). Sigh!

What it actually means:

Exactly what it says. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Of course I won’t do everything and I won’t do all that I’m destined for at once, but if God pushes me in a certain direction I will go, even if it’s humanely impossible because I am divinely empowered. As the Amplified Bible puts it:

“13 I can do all things [which He has called me to do] through Him who strengthens and empowers me [to fulfill His purpose—I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency; I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him who infuses me with inner strength and confident peace.]

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”(Ps 103:12)

“He will again have compassion on us, and will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.”(Micah 7:19)

What I think it means:

God is forgiving. That’s great. I like that, but I think some things are just unforgivable. There’s some guilt and shame that you just have to carry to the grave. (sigh!) I mean, even the people I hurt haven’t forgiven me. So why should God?

The sins I committed before I was saved- those God can forgive but that accidental lie I told last week- I bet he’s holding it against me. I am a Christian. I should know better. I can’t even pray to him right now. He’ll probably think “that liar” and look away. Sigh!

God said He’d forgive me but I still feel guilty, so he probably hasn’t. I feel like he’s still mad at me. So he probably is. Sigh!

Look at so and so. Busy acting holy. That hypocrite! I learnt with her back in high school she was so loose. How can they let that slut preach? Don’t they do background checks? I mean, we’re not perfect- that’s why we need forgiveness but a slut preaching? That’s just taking this grace thing a tad bit too far.

What it actually means:

Exactly what it says. God said he’d cleanse me from all unrighteousness. That includes the not-so-good, the bad and the ugly. I confessed so I am forgiven. Period. So what if I don’t feel like it? Feelings are fleeting but the word of God endures forever. I’ll just have to walk in this reality and eventually the feelings will follow.

I cannot judge anyone from their past, even the immediate past. I might have seen them do something yesterday but I have no idea where they stand with God today. Freely I received grace, freely I will give it.

“…When he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.” (John 16:13)

“But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” (John 14: 26)

What I think it means

The Holy Spirit is my teacher. He teaches me how to pray and understand the Bible and stuff… you know, spiritual things (he is the Holy “Spirit” after all) as for the social skills, hands-on and brainy stuff, I’ll just have to learn the hard way, just like everyone else. Gosh! Algebra is so hard. I just don’t get it argggghhhh! I’m probably going to fail. Sigh!

Yeah yeah, the Holy Spirit will show us things to come (book of Revelations- duuuh!)  but prophecy is hocus pocus! Trickery I tell you! That’s Old Testament stuff. In this day and age- that stuff doesn’t happen.

What it actually means

Exactly what it says. The Holy Spirit is my friend and teacher. He’s not just there to help me with the “spiritual stuff”. He is with me in every moment. We can literally talk about anything. He can teach me anything. Be it Algebra, sewing, cooking, how to deal with people, how to dress appropriately, how to choose the right mate. If I let him, he can literally teach me how to live the life I am designed to live.

The Holy Spirit will show us things to come. He is capable of speaking to me about the future and how he does that is up to him. Of course I won’t just blindly follow every “prophet” or chase after prophecy, but I do realise that God is still speaking and will test every spirit and prophecy and see if it aligns with the word of God and what God is telling me personally before I rush to dismiss it.

I hope you’ve been encouraged.  What “all”s do you have trouble dealing with in their entirety? How do you convince yourself that what God said is true even when it doesn’t make logical sense? I’d love to hear from you.

There’s so many “all”s in the Bible and each of them mean exactly that. Join me in Part 2 as I explore more “all”s of the Bible.

Love, Zvishuwo

My life feels like spaghetti

My life feels like spaghetti..

Tangled, twisted, knotted yet scrumptious looking, delicious and just well… weird really. I feel nothing and everything all at the same time. I have no idea why. I am such a paradox at times.

I should be studying, but I don’t want to. Well I do, because I have three exams next week, but I don’t because… well I just don’t.

I feel like having ice-cream, well actually no, I feel like a cup of coffee, hot chocolate, actually no. Just chocolate. As in a bar of chocolate with a purple wrapper, actually no, a wrap- a healthy one with lettuce and the like, actually no, I’m not hungry, or am I?

I feel like taking a walk, or maybe watching a movie- lying in bed, or should I call a friend? Catch up on stories? No I actually want to be alone- or do I?

My life feels like a roller coaster, the types that make you feel like you went the height of Mt Everest then topsy-turvied down to the bottom of the red sea… except it broke down somewhere in the middle and is now just stationary, which is boring, except you’re upside down, because it’s topsy turvy, which is kinda fun except…

You know what? I guess I just feel like rambling really. It’s like I feel a surge of emotions- all of them at once then I feel… well, nothing, really. One moment I’m on top of the world, the next- well, I’m wondering why I’m even here, how much progress I’m making in fulfilling my purpose, wait! Do I even know my purpose?

I know I’m making no sense at all, and it’s pretty weird that you stuck with this post this far. Bless your soul!

I should probably pen off now and take a shower, or study, or go for a jog or actually… ah never mind!

Happy Friday! Enjoy your weekend

Love,

Zvishuwo

Book Review: Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

This is the first of Chimamanda’s books that I’ve read and I must say it was a really good read. I’m psyched about the movie too. It’s coming soon and funnily enough, I saw Lupita Nyong’o making the perfect Ifemelu even before I found out she was going to play the part.

Though it has a romantic storyline, the book explores topics like race, religion, ‘African-ness’, promiscuity, change and even politics. Spanning over  three continents, three generations and more than ten years, Americanah gives interesting insights into various cultures and age groups and how they relate to each other.

Ifemelu is a young, intelligent and strong willed Nigerian girl who grows up in a “definitely not rich but not really poor but not exactly middle class” type of family (we have so many of those in Africa I think we should get a name for it). She meets Obinze, a quiet yet very introspective young man whose mother is a liberal professor and there is instant chemistry. Though they are stark contrasts, they share a lot in common. Even though they come from different social structures, they seem destined for each other. Everyone attests to this. Even Obinze’s mother knows and loves Ifemelu and treats her as she would her own daughter. When Ifemelu loses her virginity to Obinze and thinks she is pregnant, it is his mother who she runs to.

We also meet Aunty Uju, Ifemelu’s favourite aunt who is more of a mother figure to Ifem than her own mother, despite the fact that she is also quite young. She is an attractive, ambitious young doctor. Uju dates a married top government official who she ends up falling in love with. A child is produced but the affair is short-lived when the official dies and poor Uju is kicked out of the splendour that she had become accustomed to.

Circumstances separate Ifemelu and Obinze. She goes to America on scholarship, and encounters culture shock and many other changes. Funnily enough, America happens to have always been Obinze’s dream country. He hopes to go there but his hopes are squashed.

Will their relationship survive? Do they break up? Will they ever meet again? And what of Uju and her son? What happens to her now that the General is dead? Will his relatives take her son? Can she still practice as a doctor when she got her job through favours? Does she remain as close to Ifem as she was before? Ifemelu’s father loses his job. How will that affect their family lfe? Does Iifemelu lose herself to American culture and become an ‘Americanah’? Will she remain the strong willed, independant woman that she had grown into or bow to the pressure of a new culture? Well I’ve already spilled enough beans. You’ll have to pick up the book and read it if you’re interested in finding out how the story unfolds.

I liked the book because it deals with issues a lot of young Africans, Africans in the diaspora and infact everyone faces on a daily basis. I feel like anyone can identify with this book. Some of the topics that stood out to me were:

Race- every country has different race dynamics. Having been to a couple of countries myself, I can attest to this. Being “black” or “white” or “Asian” etc. has different meanings in different places. Chimamanda does a good job of outlining some of these differences using the US, the UK and Nigeria. She leaves me asking myself if I’m not as colour-blind as I think I am, if I subconsciously see or treat people a certain way because they are a certain race, or shade even.

Relationships- does love really conquer all? Is there such a person as ‘the one’? Are your chances of happiness obliterated until you find or return to them? Chimamanda explores some of these questions with Ifemelu, Obinze and their subsequent relationships. Is it an inherent trait for men to cheat? What drives them to having extramarital affairs? Do women cheat? Whose fault is it when someone cheats in a relationship? Do women run away from “safe” relationships? Are there people who always seem to ruin their relationships, no matter how good? Is there hope for them?  What of family? How do African families relate? What about diasporans? Does boarding a plane to and from England/America change the way your family members treat you? What of money? Does it matter how rich you are in family dynamics?

Money- In Chimamanda’s own words “There are many different ways to be poor in the world but increasingly there seems to be one single way to be rich.” How do Africans view wealth? How do Americans view wealth? From her own family to super-rich blonde haired hunk Curt to Blaine- whose rich upbringing affords him the comforts of white privilledge even though he’s black to Emenike- a rags to riches story and even Obinze, Chimamanda explores the effects of poverty and wealth- and the extents to which people will go to get money or prove that they have it.

The diaspora- How does it feel to call two places home and yet identify with neither? What is life like for immigrants and their children? Why do people get lauded with respect for boarding a plane and going overseas. Why are “Americanah’s” and other diasporians treated like non-Africans when they go back home? Why do they come back speaking “phon-e” (accent of the country where they visited) after just a week? All of a sudden they can’t eat jollof rice! Why? Is it really true that they are made to clean toilets overseas, even with a degree? Why are there so many Africans in Europe and America anyways? What are they fleeing? Is Africa really a jungle? Well, read the book and find out.

Beauty- I do not totally agree with Ifem’s views on hair, (You can read my views here) but she does raise important issues, especially that of colourism in the black community. Do you see a light black person the same way as a dark one? Or is the paper bag test still alive and well?

Religion- How do Africans see religion? What of Europeans and Americans? I also don’t completely agree with Ifem on this one as she seems to make faith out to be a crutch, a make believe thing that people hold onto and make fools out of themselves with because they are too weak to face reality and ask questions. I do understand where she is coming from though. With a mother like hers, I’d probably feel the same. I too have met people like Ifemelu’s mother and heard of pastors and churches like hers.

There’s so many topics and again… I’ll leave you to read the rest of them for yourselves. After all, as Chimamanda writes,

“Why did people ask “What is it about?” as if a novel had to be about only one thing.”

I felt cheated at the end though. Quite a number of loose ends. Maybe she was trying to leave it to my imagination but for a book that started with a bang, I feel like it fizzled out. But hey! That’s just my opinion. Nevertheless, the book was a great read. One of the best novels I’ve read in a while. I totally recommend it.

If you’ve read the book or when you eventually do read it, I’d love to hear your views. What stood out to you? How did you relate to the book? Please leave a comment below and lets engage.

Love,

Zvishuwo

Swimming in doubts, fears, inadequacies, insecurities

I bumped into this song today on YouTube and I must say the relevance of it is astonishing. I am going through a phase of feeling inadequate and insecure about… well a lot of things, really. Almost anything and everything.

I know what the bible says and all. I know who God says I am but then it’s just so difficult to cling to at times. It’s easier to look at the past, to look around you and make conclusions, to feel undeserving and small and weak and little.
This song was quite refreshing to me. It stirred me up and reminded me that God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness, that we live by faith and not by sight or emotions. This is my prayer tonight… Here’s my heart Lord. Speak what is true.

“Here’s My Heart”

Here’s my heart, Lord [x3]
Speak what is true

I am found, I am Yours
I am loved, I’m made pure
I have life, I can breathe
I am healed, I am free

Here’s my heart, Lord [x3]
Speak what is true

You are strong, You are sure
You are life, You endure
You are good, always true
You are light breaking through

Here’s my heart, Lord [x3]
Speak what is true

Here’s my life, Lord [x3]
Speak what is true [x3]

I am found, I am Yours
I am loved, I’m made pure
I have life, I can breathe
I am healed, I am free

You are more than enough
You are here, You are love
You are hope, You are grace
You’re all I have, You’re everything

Here’s my heart, Lord [x3]
Speak what is true

Here’s my life, Lord [x3]
Speak what is true [x3]

Maybe you’re in the doldrums like me too… maybe you are literally just clinging to faith. Just gasping to stay afloat. Don’t worry. We won’t sink, even with faith like a mustard seed, faith so small you can barely see it.

Just as this song was refreshing to me, I hope this post refreshes someone too and encourages to carry on- in spite of and to believe- despite whatever storms are in or around you. God loves you and I do too.

Love,
Zvishuwo

Xenophobia- My thoughts and why I think Africa needs more than just hashtags

Sometimes I feel like the African life becomes less and less valuable to Africans themselves by the day. First it was Boko Haram taking the girls. We hastagged them to bring them back for a while and then when the next trend came, we completely forgot about it, as if our girls are back, but are they? Then came Kenya. Innocent students killed for being Christian. Yes we hashtagged that it was not just a number, that these were faces, sons, daughters, friends but will it bring them back? Will it return the wealth of potential they took to the grave?

When you are far from the situation it is easy to hashtag and move on with your life but this time tragedy has hit closer to home. This time I realise that Africa needs more than just hashtags. That yes, though your #saynotoxenophobia posts may sympathise with me, they will not save me from the cold-blooded murderers who are placing my kinsmen in tyre rings and burning them alive with paraffin.

 

You can watch videos about it here and here.
As I write, my life could be in danger. I am a Zimbabwean studying in South Africa. My people and other “foreigners (a term in South Africa that exclusively refers to other Africans and some Asians like Bangladeshis, Pakistanis and the like)” are being massacred by black South Africans because we are allegedly stealing their jobs and opportunities and causing poverty.

My question is: Is it really that simple? Where will you be when someone with more stringent conditions, who cannot get a bank loan, cannot get free education, pays more to study here and has no connections whatsoever ‘steals’ your opportunity. With BEE and all those other exclusively black South African opportunities in place why is it that (if the allegation is true) foreigners are more preferable to employers? Is it really wise to kill someone who seems to possess a better quality or is it better to befriend them and find out what their trick is?

For a country that is only 21 years old, I think independent South Africa ought to be seeking to learn from older countries instead of being snobbish. They are repeating the same mistakes that brought us here in search of greener pastures. They ought to remember that every dog has its day. Zimbabwe at some point was in the exact same positon at this age. Our economy was thriving. The outside world loved us. We had Mozambiquans, Malawians, Indians and even South Africans seeking better conditions in our country. Never had we dreamt that tables would turn. Who would have thought that at some point people like me would leave the prestigious UZ (University of Zimbabwe) to seek education in (the then apartheid) South Africa? But Alas!

Our doctors are saving your children’s lives. Our lecturers are educating them, even our dustbin-men are keeping your cities clean but the thank you card we get is xenophobia? When your white oppressors made your lives a living hell we stood in solidarity with your ANC, but now you thank us by using the same methods they tortured you to torture us? Well then black South Africa, you’re welcome.

You might have removed his statue, but Rhodes is not dead. We thought he was, but you seem to have consulted a sangoma and resurrected his spirit. He came to divide and conquer, and divide and conquer he did. He came and told us that we now needed passports to visit our brothers and sisters. He told the world that we were barbarics who needed superior control and you seem to be trying so hard to prove his points right now. Please consult your History textbook black South Africa. Tell me, were you South African before colonization? Was there a Zambian, a Zimbabwean, A Malawian then? Do the Ndebele’s across the Limpopo not have Zulu ancestry? Was this part of Africa not empty when your forefathers came from further upland? Who, by Pan African definition is a “foreigner” and even if we are, do we deserved to be butchered? Do our children deserve to be burnt while we look on? Does not being a black South African deprive me of humanity? Are we not starting a new apartheid where the only person who is not scared in this country is a black South African? Is this what we helped you celebrate in 1994?

That being said, it would not be fair for me to finish this post without stating that not all black South Africans are bad or evil or xenophobic. Not all black South Africans are criminals. Not all black South Africans are barbaric and unreasonable. South Africa has become a home away from home to me. I have Sotho, Tswana, Pedi, Zulu, Xhosa and Venda friends who have embraced me like one of their own. They took me into their parents’ homes. They are teaching me to speak their languages. They are interested in learning mine. To them I am not a foreigner. I am a sesi, a khonani, a mngani, a ngwana (sister, friend, daughter) to some of the nicest people I have ever met. As I type, they are worried for me, sympathising with me, giving me tips, offering to run errands and doing anything to make sure I am safe until this blows over. To them I say dankie, ngiyabonga, enkosi, ke a leboga, ndi a livhuwa. THANK YOU! Your efforts are not going unnoticed. I am eternally grateful for all the value you have added to my life.

To those few perpetrators who do not know better, I say xenophobia is not the answer, because Africa is not the enemy. Poverty is the enemy, lack of education is the enemy. We sympathise with you, more than you would ever know. We know your struggles because we are facing them too. We are here due to circumstances. All things being equal we’d rather be home. Please stop butchering us. We want you to be rich, we want South Africa to prosper, but if you think this is the way, then you have another think coming.

To everyone else I say please pray with us, please raise awareness. Keep those hashtags coming. Thanks for showing solidarity with us but we need more than hashtags right now. Whatever you can do, do it. Our lives are on the line.

Signed with a heavy heart,

Zvishuwo

Deutronomy 8 [AMP]

And you shall [earnestly] remember all the way which the Lord your God led you these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and to prove you, to know what was in your [mind and] heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.

And He humbled you and allowed you to hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you recognize and personally know that man does not live by bread only, but man lives by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord.

Your clothing did not become old upon you nor did your feet swell these forty years.

Know also in your [minds and] hearts that, as a man disciplines and instructs his son, so the Lord your God disciplines and instructs you.

So you shall keep the commandments of the Lord your God, to walk in His ways and [reverently] fear Him.

For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing forth in valleys and hills;

A land of wheat and barley, and vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey;

A land in which you shall eat food without shortage and lack nothing in it; a land whose stones are iron and out of whose hills you can dig copper.

10 When you have eaten and are full, then you shall bless the Lord your God for all the good land which He has given you.

11 Beware that you do not forget the Lord your God by not keeping His commandments, His precepts, and His statutes which I command you today,

12 Lest when you have eaten and are full, and have built goodly houses and live in them,

13 And when your herds and flocks multiply and your silver and gold is multiplied and all you have is multiplied,

14 Then your [minds and] hearts be lifted up and you forget the Lord your God, Who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage,

15 Who led you through the great and terrible wilderness, with its fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground where there was no water, but Who brought you forth water out of the flinty rock,

16 Who fed you in the wilderness with manna, which your fathers did not know, that He might humble you and test you, to do you good in the end.

1And beware lest you say in your [mind and] heart, My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.

18 But you shall [earnestly] remember the Lord your God, for it is He Who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.

I can feel it… we’re coming out. The wilderness phase will soon be over. Morning is coming!!! Whooooooooooooah!!

Mangoma Friday

Happy Easter everyone!I

It’s been a while since I last posted a Mangoma Friday video… I’ve been so busy with uni, work, tests and the likes #sigh.

In the spirit of Easter, today’s video reminds us to offer the free gift of forgiveness, even when people don’t ask for or deserve it. I want to get to that level where I can forgive someone before they even say “sorry”. It also brings the realisation that forgiveness benefits me too, not just the other person.

The song is by Takesure ZamarNcube of worship addicts and features Joyous Celebration from South Africa. It’s off the album Joyous 19 and is available on itunes.

6-8 Christ arrives right on time to make this happen. He didn’t, and doesn’t, wait for us to get ready. He presented himself for this sacrificial death when we were far too weak and rebellious to do anything to get ourselves ready. And even if we hadn’t been so weak, we wouldn’t have known what to do anyway. We can understand someone dying for a person worth dying for, and we can understand how someone good and noble could inspire us to selfless sacrifice. But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him. (Romans 5:6-8, MSG)

*”Mangoma” literally means ‘drums’ in my native language but it’s loosely used to refer to music. On Friday I’ll be posting African music videos… If you have any song that you’d like me to share, please leave a comment below.

Lessons from suffering

Male-Lion-Wallpaper-02

I’ve been in a long dry season. If it were up to me I’d rather have this “cup” pass me by, but oh well! It’s not budging and it seems like God wants me to drink right down to the very last drop.

This has also been a tremendous period of learning for me. Though I might not want to admit it, the truth is I’ve grown so much more over this period than when all is easy and breezy.

The biggest lesson I have gotten from suffering is this:

 IT’S BETTER TO SUFFER WITH GOD THAN WITHOUT.

There are days when I feel like I’m falling apart, but thanks to him, I don’t. I rant and rave. I cry. I think this might just be the end, but somehow God calms me. Somehow He brings peace and joy. When I’m running on empty and hanging on the last thread, he fills me up and ties me together.

“What heights of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My Comforter, my All in All
Here in the love of Christ I stand.”

IT IS POSSIBLE TO LIVE FROM THE INSIDE OUT.

Even in prolonged suffering, He ensures that I am not in perpetual agony. It’s great to know that my problems don’t have to be gone for me to experience peace. Life doesn’t have to be perfect before I can be joyful or stress free. I am actually able to smile, not fake smiles or anything like that. Actual joy. I’m sure some people can’t even tell that my life is a battle right now. Sometimes I actually wonder how I do it, then I remind myself I don’t- it is the doing of God.

THE LIFE A CHRISTIAN IS A WIN-WIN SITUATION.

To live is Christ- to become like him, experience his power, be in his presence, resemble him and diffuse the fragrance of his goodness into the world. To die is to go to heaven and be with Him forever. To go through problems is to share in his sufferings.

Everything is indeed working for my good. Jesus commands my destiny. Not only does he see what’s going on, he can do something about it.  No power of hell (suffering that is devil-inflicted) or scheme of man (suffering caused by the free-will of other people) can deter him from fulfilling his purposes in my life.

“…From life’s first cry to final breath.
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home,
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.”

YOU DON’T HAVE TO UNDERSTAND IT FOR IT TO WORK

I don’t understand why I’m going through this phase of my life. However I can say without a shadow of doubt that my problems are producing character in me. There is a stark contrast between the girl I was six months ago before this started and the woman I am becoming. She was scared. She hid and protected herself. She held back.

I guess when the thing you feared most happens to you and yet you survive, you realise that there is nothing to fear. I’m broken but alive, bruised but alive, torn to shreds but ALIVE. Each day I realise that I’m much stronger than I thought I was.

If you’re going through a difficult phase like me, you might think I am belittling suffering. I’m not. Truth is, I want this phase to pass, the sooner the better. I want to be well and free so badly. I’m tired of being told it will be OK. I want it to be ok NOW!

All I’m saying is that I’m glad I haven’t capsized inspite of the storm. I’m grateful that I’m not walking alone in this season and that I’m learning and growing. Praise God!

Love,

Zvishuwo 🙂

He’s keeping me guessing…

‘Cause I don’t know how the story ends
But I’ll be alright ’cause You wrote it
I don’t know where the highway bends
But I’m doing just fine
‘Cause You’re in control
Even when I don’t know
Where my life’s gonna go
You’re keeping me guessing

(Francesca Battisteli- Keeping me guessing)

This is me right now in a nutshell. No idea where my life is going. Whenever I feel like I’ve finally got it all figured out life happens. So many questions about my career, my calling and of course *drumroll*… my future spouse.

The one thing that keeps me sane is knowing that my life is not my own, that I have a Father in heaven who loves me more than I love myself. Not only that, but he’s infinitely powerful and all knowing. He has never failed me. I can safely say without a shadow of doubt that everything that has happened in my life so far has worked together for my good. Yes, the good the bad and the ugly. Even that which I do not understand.

My reasoning is: for so long He has been with me, He has carried me. What could have destroyed me came. At that point I really thought it would but hey, it didn’t. I’m still standing.

So yes, He’s keeping me guessing and at times that really sucks. There’s times when I just feel like shaking God and saying “I want to know! I need to know!” but there is only one thing I need to know. As long as I know that, I do not have to worry about what tomorrow brings. GOD LOVES ME! I am His! My life is His! His plans are to prosper me and not to harm me.

The more I trust God, the freer I am. The less worrisome I am. The less fearful I am. Whoooooooooooooooooooooooh yeah!!!

“The LORD will complete what his purpose is for me…” (Psalm 138:8a)

“A person plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps.”(Prov 16:9)

25 “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? 27 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?… 30 And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? 31 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 33 Seek the Kingdom of God[e] above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.34 “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” (Matt 6:25-34)

Of Natural Hair, Weaves and the African Renaissance

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There’s an ongoing debate in black female circles on the whole concept of “African Beauty” and the role that other cultures have influenced our perception of it. The recent attack has been on weaves and braids. Should black women have relaxed hair, weaves and braids? Does it say they want to look white or Indian or Asian?

My honest opinion- it doesn’t matter! My mirror doesn’t define me. ‘Africanness’ is not skin deep. I am on neither end of the spectrum. At times I style my natural hair. Other times I have weaves or braids in. I would not even consider the topic blogworthy if I did not feel that people who are pro natural hair seem to be making the rest of us seem like less of Africans and “fake” traitors to the African Renaissance who are in some sort of an identity crisis.

I have seen hashtags like “teamnatural” and “teamweave”. I was watching ZBCTV the other day and there was a music video of a young woman singing that she is a true African girl because she has natural hair and does not put on make-up. I respect their decision to go natural, but I refuse to be labelled simply because I’m not going along with it.

The argument dates back to the era of slavery and colonialism, where blacks were seen as inferior to whites. Some of them developed “whiter is righter” mentality and started bleaching their skin, straightening their hair with chemicals or adding extensions to make themselves look more white and hence more “acceptable”. The lighter you were, the better you were treated. The longer and straighter your hair was, the prettier you were.

That was then, this is now. If one still feels that black women have to straighten their hair, bleach their skin, or use whatever methods to approach “whiteness” and thereby look beautiful then what they are having is more than just a ‘bad hair day’ and I guarantee that taking out their weave and reverting to natural hair won’t solve their identity crisis or inferiority complex. What they need is a mindset shift.

The same goes for those who consider others as less of Africans or “coconuts” (white on the inside, black on the outside) or “fakes” because they put in weaves or braids.

Lots of good things come from bad situations. Using them to my advantage does not mean I am endorsing the bad things that happened. Take Kleenex tissues and canned food for example. They came out of World War 1. Does using these things mean that I endorse the atrocious acts that happened at that time? I think not.

The texture of African hair enables it to be manipulated more easily than most other hair types. One day my hair can be short and kinky. The next day it can be ultra long and straight. I have had many Caucasian and Indian women tell me how lucky I am to be able to have any hairstyle I want. “All I can do is cut and colour but you can twist it, make it look like mine and do all sorts of things with it… it’s not fair!” You see, the reason that some women from other races don’t have African-like hairstyles is not so much that they think it’s inferior or theirs is superior… they actually want to but they can’t. My hair is coarse enough to retain most hairstyles, theirs makes it more difficult. A Caucasian friend of mine once had Senegalese twists done in her hair and by the next morning it looked terrible. You bet she never tried that again!

I don’t put in weaves to look more beautiful. I put in weaves because I can and I want to. I like the variety that hair extensions offer and find braids more manageable than my natural hair. They fit very well into my busy college schedule.

Yes, my ancestors were enslaved and colonised and made to think they had to alter their hair to be more acceptable. I detest that, but it’s in the past and there’s nothing I can do about it. I choose to move forward.

I am African and I love it. I am proud of my identity and roots. I think African Renaissance movement is a very good cause but no- I will not take out my weave or cut my hair to prove ANY point.

I will not judge black women who choose to keep their natural hair and stay away from extensions altogether, provided they do it for the right reasons and do not assume a sense of superiority or true “Africanness” or “blackness”  because of it. I will respect a woman for her character, godliness and values, not their choice of hairstyle.

I am not a member of #teamnatural, #teamweave #teambraids or anything like that. I believe in a world where my accent, skin colour (or shade) hair texture and hair style do not define me.

I am a member of “team human” and luckily, styling my hair a certain way is not part of the joining criteria. I bleed red and at the end of the day, that’s all that matters.

God First

True! Yet really difficult at times. Help us God!

theotherJC

Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me [Matthew 10:37]

Hang on a minute Jesus, this is a bit full on, this seems a bit harsh. Surely you didn’t get that right. Or maybe He did.

This can be a struggle. God first, family after. I think sometimes I get this the wrong way round. Maybe we all have. At times we let the kids rule us. At time we have allowed family to lead our life.

Yet here it is – God first, others next. It’s not that we don’t care for our family. It’s not that we don’t spend time with them. It’s not that we don’t love them.

Perhaps it’s more about not letting anything or anyone else for that matter get in the way of our relationship with God.

Perhaps it’s more…

View original post 149 more words

Put on your dancing shoes- Mangoma Friday

 “For you, Lord, are the Most High over all the earth;
 you are exalted far above all gods.” (Psalm 97:9)

Praise the Lord… hope you enjoy dancing to “Bayete” by Tembalami, a Zimbabwean artist. Some of the words are not in English but they’re basically repeating what they already sang in English (hence I felt no need to translate).

Happy Mangoma* Friday.

Love,

Zvishuwo

*”Mangoma” literally means ‘drums’ in my native language but it’s loosely used to refer to music. Every Friday I’ll be posting African music videos… If you have any song that you’d like me to share, please leave a comment below.

The Scandal of Grace…

Psalm 32

Of David. A maskil.

Blessed is the one
    whose transgressions are forgiven,
    whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the one
    whose sin the Lord does not count against them
    and in whose spirit is no deceit.

When I kept silent,
    my bones wasted away
    through my groaning all day long.
For day and night
    your hand was heavy on me;
my strength was sapped
    as in the heat of summer.[b]

Then I acknowledged my sin to you
    and did not cover up my iniquity.
I said, “I will confess
    my transgressions to the Lord.”
And you forgave
    the guilt of my sin.

Therefore let all the faithful pray to you
    while you may be found;
surely the rising of the mighty waters
    will not reach them.
You are my hiding place;
    you will protect me from trouble
    and surround me with songs of deliverance.