The Tragedy of Emma’s Speech (And The Genius of Jack Gleeson’s)


Nothing captures the world’s short attention span to a cause quite like a fair-faced celebrity’s endorsement. Emma Watson’s speech as the Goodwill Ambassador for UN Women is no exception. Described by critics, bloggers, multinational news channels and, of course, fellow celebrities in various ways as a ‘game-changer’, Watson’s speech has torn down the gates and brought in a tempestuous flood of voices into the conversation on feminism.

There are, however, some very fundamental issues to be paid attention to wherever such a move is made by a public figure. The first is the issue of why people are talking. Of the several articles I have read about her speech, there wasn’t a single one that broke Emma’s speech down and critically talked through the issues that it raised, bringing them to light. Most of the reports on the infamous speech are much more concerned with the speaker, her eloquence, the surprise that it was that she has such a good head on her shoulders, comparisons of her to her peers in the celebrity circles, as well as fears of this speech perpetrating hate-filled mail filling her inboxes! To many, it was not an issues of hearing ideas that they are keen to dig deeper in and explore, it was a matter of being impressed by a young, apparently virtuous celebrity doing something philanthropic. Mistaking the praise that we have for an individual because of their position in society with strides taken for the cause that they stand for is something to be extremely wary of.

Secondly, in a world where a movement’s success is best measured by the level of attention the media and social media pays to it, we need to take care to look beyond all the noise being made about the impact of Emma’s speech, and look more critically to quantitative and qualitative proof of the progress of that impact with regards to conversations about and moves towards gender equality. Media’s attention to Emma Watson’s speech is not to become an indication to us of a victory for feminists everywhere. Although it is in itself a very valid indication of conversations beginning, it is not an indication of progress for women. When the very same media that would no sooner to spread the news of a female celebrity’s nude photos leaking, or publish articles in which they mock and publicly shame another for putting on a few kilograms, it is highly problematic that their praises of Watson’s speech and their deeming it ‘ground-breaking’ becomes synonymous with triumph for women everywhere. The media is abuzz, but that buzz is nothing but tabloid chit-chat that will soon fade into oblivion. Conversations and actions are what will truly deem the speech successful, not the amount of attention it receives.

Has Emma Waston’s speech, then, really changed anything besides what the media is talking about? Is the world’s perception of the need for equality changed in any way? These are a few of the questions that we need to seriously ask, because at the end of the day, the importance we place on it should be because of its contents, and not because of its speaker.

When Emma Watson made this speech, she made her presence known in the space occupied by the feminist movement. Finding herself in this space was akin to entering a large room where people are  communicating shouts, each trapped in their own echo-chamber, so that few listen to each-other, and even less are accommodating of any perspective, view, or definition that differs or dares to differ from theirs. Those who do not enter the room peer from the windows and snicker haughtily at the goings-on within. Some of those who do enter the conversation do so on the defensive, ready to catch any assertion made in the favour of feminism as it flies, snap it into cleanly in half, and toss it into the wild fire of their fury. Others, like Emma Watson emerge from the crowd and speak up with the goal of unifying the two fronts, calling a cease-fire and most importantly, inviting the bystanders in to join in. Many have done this before Emma Watson in the past, but the world is suddenly drawn to her speech as though she reinvented the wheel.

While I am of the opinion that Emma’s speech, as any other voice out there, is welcome to join and add to the conversation, I do not agree that it should be deemed as ‘ground-breaking’ because she is one of so many that have articulately spoken up about feminism and its importance. A good example is that by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, an award-winning Nigerian novelist who is very accomplished in her own right, but whose accolades seem to hold mere drops in comparison to the water that Emma Watson’s do in the eyes of the media. In discussing the issue, Chimamanda Adichie delivers an eighteen minute talk that is both humorous, as well as thoughtfully constructed to draw listeners in to all the reasons why feminism matters in the world today, and touches on the issues of society’s allergy to the movement. Adichie’s speech started off with a few thousand views on YouTube, but soon started to capture people’s attention. While less celebrated, it has been so impactful that by popular demand, it was adapted into a short book, and has sparked discussion all over the world. An excerpt of the talk was also slotted into one of Beyonce’s hit songs, Flawless, widely broadening its audience. While its new-found fame is great, it is not and has never been an indication of how impactful her speech was. Rather, it is a consequence of how impactful it was. This is only one example, but there are many others of men and women across the world who have spoken up about feminism.

No matter how intelligent Emma Watson is, by virtue of her fame, she has been reduced down to her image, and this renders her commoditized- she, and everything she says, are both consumable as well as disposable. Sadly, this is a consequence of the celebrity status, and her speech is not exempted. (Watch GOT’s Jack Gleeson’s talk about the plight of celebrity below. [start at 23:00) We live in a world where the importance of what you say is determined by your anonymity or your recognition, and even then, the importance is only fleeting. In the world of celebrity, what’s hot now is forgotten as quickly as it came. This, in my opinion is what is most tragic about Emma Watson’s speech.

A Movie Called “Africa”: Angelina Jolie, Popcorn and Elephants


Guess what, everyone?!!!!!! There is finally a movie being made on Africa. FINALLY, somebody has the sense to make a movie about this mysterious land of suffering.

I was SO excited when I heard that once more, Africa’s story is being told to the world through the beautiful art of film-making. And who better to tell Africa’s story than the brilliant, gorgeous philanthropic, and oh-so-talented Angelina Jolie, whose latest “breathtaking” performance in Maleficent was so moving that it had me sitting through a whole 45 minutes of the spin-off of the fairy-tale which I love so very much (thanks, western books which I grew up reading). Angelina Jolie is a saint from heaven for stepping in to tell this story and for having “felt a deep connection for Africa and its culture for much of [her] life”.  I absolutely cannot wait.

See how much she loves Africa?

The movie “Africa” is based on the story of Richard Leakey, a white Kenyan conservationist who “is drawn in to a violent conflict with elephant poachers.” Let’s pause here for a moment and just savour these brilliantly chosen words which are so often used in the description of Africa. “Violent”. “Conflict”.

“Elephants”. (Feel free to replace with African animal of your choice)

The man of the moment, Richard Leakey

Isn’t it brilliant that this story, “Africa” is one of conflict, violence and…elephants? And isn’t it brilliant that this movie, which is based in the East African country of Kenya, is given the title “Africa?” Doesn’t it just put a huge smile (I’m talking really huge- the kind where you feel like the veins in your neck will burst) on your face to know that a continent with people in over 50 countries with thousands of languages, tribes, and tongues is constantly reduced to a place of violence, conflict, and…[endangered] elephants. It is so absolutely enthralling that if a movie about Africa is not about violence or conflict, it is about elephants! (or any other African animal of your choice). In this case it’s both! Such fun this is!

I am especially looking forward to watching Africans once more depicted as barbaric, ferocious beasts with no regard for anything but themselves and committing heinous crimes. Get the popcorn ready, people.

I am by no means saying poaching is not a big problem. It is terrible that this activity is wiping out entire species of animals as we speak. It is a problem that we have been grappling with for decades, and is still so prevalent that it has been found to generate profits of over $10 billion annually from Africa alone. But it is hardly an African problem. A large number of poached material is smuggled out by organised international criminal groups. Hear that? International criminal groups. We forget that where there is the supply of elephant tusks, there very well is demand. It’s elementary economics. With that alone in mind (although I am certain there are many other factors to consider) it is more far-fetched than water in a village “in Africa” (-_-) to title this movie, that is more about the Africanness of poaching than it is of…Africa, “Africa”. How is this the story of Africa in its entirety.

What I do have a problem with is that I am still waiting to watch a movie about Africa that is produced in the west which does not perpetrate the negative preconceptions that the world has of the African continent. And I am not talking about us “not all living in huts” or “not all speaking languages with clicks” as is the usual defense of many Africans when they are faced with ignorance (which I have come to find highly problematic, because it strips those Africans who do live in huts and have tongue-acrobatics in their languages of their dignity and deems theirs a lesser existence nobody wants to identify with). I am talking about zooming into the negative of the African continent, and playing upon these negatives each time that discourse about the continent takes place.

The truth is, Africa is a continent with many countries with many of their own individual, and some of their own collective problems. But it is incredibly inaccurate and unfair to keep telling and retelling only the tales of violence and strife. It is incredibly unfair that the world’s view of us becomes one that constantly shows us as hopeless and without agency, or as mindless people that kill one another (or our dear, dear elephants) all the time. It does not paint us as people who are capable of connecting, of caring, of dreaming, of fearing, of loving- of being human, and having basic human emotions. (As Chimamanda Adichie so eloquently puts it)

Do not get me wrong: I am not saying that we should start producing movies that depict Africans as happy people who dance and sing all the time  and have no worries at all, and ride their elephants into the sunset. Or start painting Africa only as a tech-hub where development is at its peak. What we need is a balance of the rhetorics of the continent. I know it’s a tiresome conversation that seems to still be unheard. I get it.

I get tired of fighting this battle. I get tired of ignorance. I get tired of being asked how I got to America. I get tired of being asked how I speak English so well, and being told I should be proud I do, when I honestly had no choice but to learn it (colonialism, you da real MVP). I get tired of sitting down to watch movies like “Blended”, in which the protagonists scream about going to such a strangely depicted “Africa”. And I get tired of watching others telling our stories, and us complaining about how inaccurate they pan out to be, yet we do not do as good a job of supporting artists and writers and filmmakers when they try to tell our stories to the world. We settle for buying pirated versions of our musicians’ music, and burnt copies of DVDs of films that could be better if their returns were good enough to make good investment in them worth it.

I get so. Friggin. Tired.

But it has got to be done. Each narrow-minded remark has got to be returned with a small dose of education heavily doused in as much patience and grace as I can manage. Each movie has got to be called out. Each battle has got to be fought.

If for nothing else, then for the dignity of all Africans, whoever they may be, however they may speak, and whatever house they may or may not live in.

(I love conversation, and would love to hear more views on this.)

wine glass paintigns

Cheers To The Freaking Weakened


She cannot fully pour herself into the ready glasses of those who wish to drink deep. It is a peculiar sort of fear; that to some, the taste will be unwelcome, and that they will spit her out with faces contorted by repulsion. She is afraid that all of her is a bit of an overdose- a strong drink capable of plunging many into drunken stupor. She fears, for in the past, the little that she poured for them was left half-drunk, some glasses toppled over so that it spilled onto the grimy counter-tops. Some sitting idly at the bar, ready to be discarded. Perhaps those who did not drink up did so because they were connoisseurs- those who know a cheap drink when they taste it. Or maybe they were amateurs, and the blend of flavours their taste-buds encountered was one too complex for them so sit and linger on.

She wonders if the fault lies with the drinker, or with the drink.

She thinks it best to mix- after all, hard liquor must be paired with a mixer. She dreads what would happen if she gave herself – pure and undiluted, without cola and lemonade to ease the burn as she slithers down their hearts’ throats. With time, she has put in less of who she is, and more of what she thinks is good for them. More of what tastes good, and flirts with the tongue’s senses. Less of what tastes bitter and toys with the soul. The less of her there is, the less of her is rejected in those barely-touched drinks. The less of her there is, the less she can be tasted- truly tasted- by those who are experts at swirling drinks around their tongues and peeling back the layers. These are the ones she fears most. These, who sip and sip stretch out their glasses for more.

The connoisseur does not drink the wine- they taste its secrets.

- Salvador Dali

She fears that they will grow addicted- in the most fatal way- and that they will crave more and more of her until she can give them no more. Until she becomes akin to a well whose cool, dark waters are so deep that they cannot be drawn out any longer. She fears that she will wonder if they really love her, or are too drunk to care.

She is a universe of paradoxes. She thirsts to drink deep of them, but fails to serve herself completely. And when she does, she wonders if the fault lies with the drinker, or with the drink.

Accept what life offers you and try to drink from every cup. All wines should be tasted; some should only be sipped, but with others, drink the whole bottle.

- Paulo Coelho, Brida

Learning French, Facing Stereotypes, Ngugi Wa Thiong’o and Reflecting on My Prejudices


I am on a quest, more serious than I have been before, to learn French. I remember the very first time that I sat in a classroom to learn this language, which I had very little use for growing up in anglophone Malawi. The first time I started to learn it, I was 7 years old. I went on learning it for the next 11 years. And still, I cannot speak it well.

So you see, my urgency now is fed by the fact that if I never become fluent in this language, I will have learnt it all in vain. I have been thinking, though, about why it has taken me so long to learn. I am reading “Weep Not, Child” bu Ngugi Wa Thiongo. A scene just jumped up at me, I’m which the young protagonist, Njoroge, and his fellow classmates, are lashed by their young teacher for forgetting how to greet in English. The scene greatly mirrored my own experience in learning English. I remember small moments, like when I was hit twice on my small palm at about 5 years old for writing the small letter “A” backwards. I also remember the strict “No Chichewa” rules that governed our speech throughout primary school. Prefects would police the school premises, their ears like sharply tuned antennae that listened for the slightest hint of vernacular spoken at school. I remember watching beatings in front of Monday Morning assembly.

“Samu ovu you childreni! [Some of you children]” Yelled the female teacher in a high-pitched nasal voice, “Havu beeni speaking’i Chichewa ati skulu [Have been speaking Chichewa at school]!” She screamed in her Bad English. She proceeded to call up a prefect, who, in their neat uniform and well-polished school shoes, self-consciously read out the list of offenders. They went up before the school, where they were each given three lashes which were meant to serve as warning to the rest of us of the dangers of speaking Chichewa.

They say you learn language through immersion, and I suppose such was true for me. I was immersed in a new world of English, in which my guides were stick-wielding Teachers whose enunciation was greatly burdened by the weight of their mother tongues on it. It was later, as I grew, that I learned to recognize the difference in their pronunciations, the more I watched television. Eventually, as a result of a rather aggressive approach at school, I spoke English, thought in English, wrote in English, and took pride in the fact.

More remarkably, however, I learnt to loathe my language, and treat it as inferior. So much that I sometimes took saddening pride in fumbling slowly through my father’s Chichewa Bible. So much that I was glad that my first name was Priscilla, an English name, and not Takondwa. I learnt to revoke a part of who I was, and take on an identity that was supposed to make me more valid in the world’s eyes.  I see it with a lot of young people from my country, who openly brag about how hard it is for them to speak in Chichewa. Somehow, some seeds have been scattered in some people my country, especially, so that our language and heritage is seen as unrefined raw material that needs to be transformed into something civilized.

I will be lying if I say that the bitter fruit of all these seeds does not still sprout out in my mind sometimes. I find myself regarding those with English as their second language as less learned. Just a couple of weeks ago, a young Mexican man in my Economics class introduced himself in some of the most broken English I have heard in my life, which he spoke with a strange confidence. I caught myself pitying him, and felt a deeper shame than I have felt in a long time.

Returning to America, I came with an awareness of all the ignorance I will once more have to face. (This, I realize, is a prejudiced position that I have assumed, stemming from my experience and those of many others which has, on many occasions, led me to generalize on a lot of things but which, I acknowledge, is not reflective of all Americans) I have been mentally ready for narrow minded perceptions of who I must be because of my skin color, and because of where I am from. I guess who I am and where I am from have been the victims of so many preconceptions so that I forget that I, too, am capable of such. As demonstrated from my unwarranted pity for this young man, who I do not know anything about besides that he is Mexican, and is taking economics.

It breaks my heart, that years of having my mother tongue bow down to English succeeded at making me think of it as superior, of it being synonymous with being educated (and even then only in the formal sense, which I was taught to view as the ONLY valid way to being educated). But these are conditionings that I can only notice, and be thankful I notice, because having them at the fore of my mind allows me to work on them.

English is not superior. Nor is it inferior. One thing that I am learning is that embracing diversity means this: the ability to come to terms with the fact that there are more ways than mine to exist in this world, and that they are all equally valid.

For now, French is my redemption. It is my therapy. In learning it, I am like a child once more. I am battling against feeling unintelligent, since learning a language the first time was etched into my subconscious as being intelligent. A bulk of what I say is broken, and I can see my professor suppress the sheer urge to cringe when I attempt to explain something to her. I cannot speak this language yet, and just like those who cannot speak English, or Chichewa, or Kiswahili, or isiZulu, and all those who can, I remain valid. I remind myself that.

Nostalgia, Schmaltz and Ease: Bus ya kwa Jali imakoma kumathelero


There is a song that used to boom rustily from the radioes when I was a little girl. I can’t remember any of the verses, but the chorus sang (over and over) “Bus ya kwa Jali imakoma kumathelero.” [Jali's busride feels the best when it's about to end]. I recall asking my mother what it meant. She was cutting something on the old, wooden chopping board in the kitchen. Whatever she was cutting was tough. That, or she was using a blunt knife, for her hand moved back and forth swiftly with the knife in an effort to slice through.

“Every good thing feels the best when it’s about to come to an end,” she said simply.
I remember marveling at this simple fact, and the level of truth I saw in it. Mornings were the first thing I thought of. It was June. The weather was cold, and the most appealing places to be were by the stove as my mother cooked, or between my blankets in The Girls’ Bedroom.

In the mornings, my older sister Mphatso would wake up and steal away from the bedroom to take a bath. I would stir in my bed, especially enjoying my last minutes of sleep. Moments later, she would return, and tell me it was my turn to go and have a bath. In that instance, sleep was the sweetest, and my body was curled up, awash in a new reluctance. I stayed there for moments longer, permitting myself to fall only half asleep, that state in which I could smell Mphatso’s glycerine-diluted cocoa-butter lotion, and could hear her hum as she oiled her limbs. The sound of her palms rubbing together swiftly to spread the liquid over her short, light thighs sounded just like that of my crisp, warm duvet as I shifted in my sleep. Other times, like quiet waves, coming and going breezily in the warm morning sun.

“Wake up!” My eyes fluttered open. She was fully dressed now, her neatly ironed uniform tucked into the dark-green skirt that fell right below her knees as she peered down at me momentarily. The morning sun poured in, blinding, and the smell of cocoa-butter awakened my senses. I got up, my limbs feeling as heavy as large boulders, weighed down by the turmoil of having to wake up. It was true, Jali’s bus ride WAS better at the end.

I could relate this to lots of other things, too. Like the times when my cousins from Lilongwe came over. They came once a year. When they first arrived, there was an expected awkwardness that walked into the house as they did. 

My sister and I made our way to the living-room well after they had, walking extra slowly the closer we got to the open door, whispering nervously to each-other. The smell of visitors emanated from the sitting room. Once we got close, we whispered louder and began shoving each-other savagely, neither of us willing to face the awkwardness first.

Auntie and Uncle sat down on the fat sofas after we had hauled all of their luggage to bed in the guest room (on which my mother had laid the best linens in the house). Emily and Pempho sat down quietly, often squeezed weirdly between their parents on the sofa (until they grew too big, that is). We eyed them, our new playmates, with hungry eyes, minds already plotting the different games we would teach them. 

A week later, our cousins were driving out of our compound, almost breaking their necks to look back at us and wave. Afternoons of frenzied play, scraped knees, dismembering poor grasshoppers who we forced to nibble on blades of grass filled our recent memories. Evenings of getting scolded by our mothers for playing out in the cold too late,  without slippers, or with stones, too close to windows. We waved as they drove out.

The bus ya kwa Jali was, indeed, sweeter at the end. 

I’ve been quite cool about leaving home and starting college, and as the days draw nearer, this is one bus ride I’m savoring. This was going to be a post filled with my longings and bittersweet feelings, and then I remembered a wisdom a dear friend of mine told me the other day. It’s a simple wisdom, it’s depth is not foreboding: This, like everything in life, comes and it passes. My year home is, my life as a teenager soon is, and college, well it’s coming soon but it, too, will pass. 

So here’s to living in the now. Here’s to enjoying the bus-ride ya kwa Jali, as well us enjoying the moments my feet touch the ground and it’s time to walk. Here’s to smelling the flowers, tripping over my shoelaces, breathing the clean air, and getting to cliffs from which the view of the sunset is breathtaking. 

I Shouldn’t Be Going to A Women’s College

Life, Stress

I’m starting to regret applying to a women’s school. I think it just might be the most foolish thing I have done. I have stayed strong for so long, pretending not to care that for four years, I would be in this estrogen-saturated prison, when the truth is, I have the thought constantly sitting in the back of my mind that it is going to be hell. I rarely regret anything I do- I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason- but this is not just anything. This is my future at stake, and to be honest, there is very little I wouldn’t give to go back in time and do it differently. 

I mean, I think women empowerment is great and all, but God forbid that I don’t find a husband to marry. All my life I’ve been dreaming that a handsome young man with deep, soulful eyes and a smile that twinkles would one day walk into my college classroom and steal my heart. I dreamed that we would spend hours studying together, and walking hand-in-hand through the college halls. I dreamed that one day, his mother would be in town, and I would meet her and she would fall in love with me, and that I would be a more-than-welcome addition to the family.

Now, all my hopes remain such. I will not meet my future husband, and my dreams of being a wife are forever shattered. I will not be a mother. College was supposed to be my rite of passage, and the time when I would finally find my soul-mate. It irks me now that that might not even happen anymore. What’s the point of going to college at all if there are no men for me to ogle and doodle in my notebooks about? 


I am so very silly for making the decision to go to a women’s school, because all it is is a barred academic institution where our heads are shaved, and all we do all day is walk in single files to our classes, study, and become brainwashed to hate men and preach feminism. A place where there isn’t a man in sight, and even the mention of one is grounds for solitary confinement. And when I leave, I will be the most socially awkward woman, who has lost all her capability to as much as carry on a conversation with a man. How am I even going to work with men when I don’t even know how to talk to them? 

Someone please help me. I don’t think I’m strong enough to spend four years without men. I don’t think I want to go to this evil institution. I am so very scared and I don’t know what I will do. 

I think everyone who asks me these questions would be more satisfied if the above was my response.
“Oh my gosh, Priscilla, why would apply to a women’s school?!” 

“*GASP* Women’s School!? I could never do that!”

“Are you going there because you couldn’t get in anywhere else?” 

“Are you like, into girls?” 

“Good luck finding a guy to marry”

“Are you going because you’re afraid you’ll be distracted around boys?”













Conversations I Live For


I live for the conversations that leave me in awe, at how much they have packed inside them- like a piece of paper folded many times over. With wide-eyed wonder, I watch as they unfold, over and over and over again. Each time, surprising me by the very fact that there is more to be discovered. Those conversations that hold my hand and march me boldly into places that I never knew I could go and put into words. They nudge truths that were hiding timidly in my spirit and expose them to me, so that I behold their beauty, and, at times, their disfigured countenances. So that I come face-to-face with myself.

Those conversations that back me into a corner and deny me the space to claim to have no opinion, but urge me to search my spirit and find my truth and speak it boldly. Those conversations that are gentle arms that wrap around me as I melt into a jumble of words that somehow makes sense. Those conversations that are strong, burly arms that slide their fingers under my heavy spirit, flex, and lift it up high, high, high into the sky, sky, Sky.  

I live for the conversations that provoke my mind and makes me till its soils. The filth they uncover and kill, and throw right into the soil to make it fertile. The conversations that plant seeds on those soils and leave reflection watering them until they blossom, often into truths, stories and questions- questions I ask myself and nobody in particular. And some times, answers I secretly needed, and tuck into the side-pockets of my heart.

Those conversations that thrive nearly anywhere: in pen, on keyboard, in hushed tones, or loud voices punctuated by ringing laughter. Those that make me want to speak smarter, think deeper, laugh harder, write neater, talk clearer and type faster. Those conversations that heighten my senses, so that I feel myself growing, calming down, learning, healing, every single bit at a time. 

I live for those conversations that are sacred places. Where loves are revealed, and friendships are solidified. Where hurt is relinquished, and sobs are only there for cleansing. Where passion abounds, a hundred-fold, and fuels revelation and clarity. Where some stones are left unturned, not because they are feared or sidelined, but because we know there will be other conversations as hallowed as these. 

Most of all, I live to love and treasure those with whom I have the blessed joy of sharing the havens that these conversations are. 

Dinnertable Conversations and Their Revelations

God & Faith, Life, Stress

I was sitting across from him, watching fixedly as he slurped silently and mannerfully at his spaghetti. Once or twice, he glanced up from his plate to where I sat, while I watched him mannerlessly, slouching over my own barely touched plate. It went on like this, he slurping, me poking at my food. He glancing, me glaring. Finally, he spoke up- I suppose he couldn’t take it anymore. 

“What?!” He said, a tinge of frustration frosting his tone.

“How’s the food?” I asked coolly. He looked down to his plate, where a scramble of pasta, chicken and brocolli was mixed in a madness of colours, and back at me for a second before shrugging listlessly. My eyebrows rose, and I looked down at the food. I didn’t hate it. As a matter of fact, I would have said it was pretty good. And making it had been therapeutic. Today was one of those days when my mind was just a big cloud of nothingness and everythingness. I was in a daze. I was emotional. I was slouched over my delicious dinnerplate (I didn’t care what this kid said. My cooking was pretty damn good.).The last thing I needed right now was my thirteen-year-old cousin (who, by the way, knows nothing about food besides how to eat it) insinuating that the one thing that had taken my mind off the madness that it had been and was right now was shrug-worthy. I forked a slice of carrot on my plate. It was that perfect crisp orange that tells you it was in the boiling water for just the right time. I forked a dislodged mushroom stem, and a small piece of chicken and looked up at him for a second, mouthing it with a furrowed brow. A little too much garlic for my liking, I would admit, but I’m the girl who is anal about her garlic proportions, so the criticism was welcome. Aside from that, I tasted no fault. I took another mouthful- a forkull of spaghetti, this time- the short strands un-twistable, and threatening to slide off my fork. It was delectable. Well, as delectable as a forkful of spaghetti can be, and then some. 

“It’s a nine.” 

“What?” I asked, puzzled.

“Your cooking. It’s a nine.” 

“Where did the one go?” I asked, tossing my hands in the air in frustration. 

He looked bewildered at my blatant discontent. 

“I don’t like brocolli.”

“RUBBISH!” I retorted. “You only think you don’t like broccoli because western media and propaganda has brainwashed you. If you had never seen it before and I gave it to you on a dinner-plate, you would eat it up without a fight! But because you’ve seen little American kids whining on television about how they hate broccoli, YOU,” I was pointing now, “think you don’t like broccoli!”

He stared at me, wide-eyed, and I noticed my breaths coming faster. Something was seriously up with me. I knew it, and at this point, there was no need pretending it wasn’t wrong. Most of all, this child didn’t need to take the heat for it. 

“Plus,” I added, stabbing a piece of broccoli myself, and waving the fork slowly in the air, “you HAVE to eat it, or else.”

“Or else what?!” He spat, obviously irritated by me now. 

“Or else they will come alive and attack this city. And there are no Powerpuff girls to save us here,” I said, as helplessly as I could. [See Powerpuff girls reference here]

The remark achieved its intended effect- I watched amusement replace the annoyance in his expression.

At this point, my brother, who had been pigging off at his meal on the sidelines the whole time, refusing to take part in the conversation, distorted his face to an exaggeratedly dumbfounded look and got up. 

“I can’t deal with this,” he said, walking away.

It’s safe to say I was in a mood yesterday. I like to think I am above moodiness. I’m not a very moody person. I would also admit that I have reservations when it comes to moodiness, especially where hormones are concerned. I’m not sure that it feels right to say that women are absolutely out of control in the face of the chemicals in their body. I like to think we’re stronger than that. 

The truth is, though, man or woman, we all are subject to the chemicals that are in our bodies. None of us is in control. The very fact that we are alive this second is because we aren’t in control. Everything that makes our individuality, as well as our human interaction what it is, aside from our environment, IS those differing doses of different chemicals that surge in our veins at different times. So it’s okay that for one day, my body was telling me it wasn’t too happy, and it’s okay that I wasn’t my bubbly self. It doesn’t make me a traitor to the female species, and most importantly, it doesn’t make me a traitor to myself. Au contraire, it allows me to pay attention to my body, mind and soul, and notice the places where I need healing.

You see, my moodiness wasn’t spontaneous. I will admit, I have been a quite stressed. I guess the thought of going very, very far away from home and everything I know once more, although incredibly exciting and strangely liberating, is finally hitting home now that I’m counting down in weeks, not months. The thought of getting back to a formal learning environment irks me a bit. A year is a pretty long time, y’all. What if I have forgotten how to student? There everyone will be studenting around, and there I will be, Gappying around. 

Jokes aside though, these thoughts are flying around in my head. And it doesn’t help that VISA obtaining things are an absolute headache. It doesn’t help that I have some disconnects with some people that I love. And love, generally. It also doesn’t help that I have a LOT of work to do. 

I obviously just needed to SIGH BIG, and kind of just go easy for a few. My day ended well, and I went to bed feeling a lot less sourish. So that’s good, but it’s okay. It’s okay. It’s okay. It’s okay. It’s okay to feel down. Those are the times to crawl into my cave and talk to God about it if I need to, or go out and take a big inward puff of air and expand my spirit into  the sky and lose myself in its vastness. To notice how tiny I am in the face of it. To let myself FEEL, and notice what it feels like to just FEEL. To think of how far the ground I’m standing on stretches, and how many feet rest on it. Some holding up strength, others holding up bodies trembling with fear. Some taking their first steps, others running from gunshots, some dancing, some pacing, some tapping nervously, some kicking footballs, some cold, some warm, some walking on soft carpet, others splashing through salty ocean waters and some not there anymore. And suddenly, in the grand scheme of things, to realize that my life and all its goings on adds beautifully to the grand scheme of things. 

So that’s that. That’s that. And that’s that. 

Wish me luck, and enjoy these pictures of the food I made while you’re at it!


A Snippet of My Manifesto


I revisited my passion today. I had to excavate my heart and dig deep through everything that’s piled in there, find my passion, and look it deeply in the eyes. It was time to reconnect with the one thing that I know for a fact that I was put on this planet to contribute to. 

This is how I know I have found my passion.

It is next to impossible to let it go. No matter how much else gets piled up in my mind, it’s always there, its presence always so strong and thick in the air. It’s nothing I can ignore. It’s nothing I can go a day without thinking about. It’s nothing I can toss aside. It’s nothing I can leave completely to be done by someone else. It’s nothing I can live with myself for abandoning. It’s nothing I can imagine going undone. It’s nothing I can die with a sound mind without having contributed to. 

I have honestly never felt this way before. I realize how melodramatic I sound right now, but I have an itch. An itch that never goes away, and most likely never will. My heart is rapt in attention to everything that has to do with my passion. I am attuned to it. When it changes, so do I. As it grows, I grow, too. It yearns for my attention, and I give it my attention, joyfully, sacrificially, wholeheartedly. 

I may not know the complete reason I was put on this earth, but I know for a fact that this one thing is a solid and real part of that purpose- of the bigger picture- and that this piece matters greatly. It’s powerful. In this space, ideas, possibilities, opportunities, avenues, and potential are all endless and promising. They are bursting with hope like ripe, succulent fruit hanging heavily from trees. And ME? I am bursting with this tingly feeling that I am more than capable to reach out and pluck that fruit. 

I am passionate about creating African-themed children’s content and brands. That’s a fact. If I accomplish nothing else with my life, let it be this: to have made my mark on children’s content globally, and have had the stories of the African child’s experience represented beautifully, colorfully, vividly, happily, optimistically and diversely in that content.

For dignity.

For peace.

For knowledge.

For self-love.

For understanding.

For fun.

For smiles.

For love. 

That, for now, is a snippet of my manifesto. 

Thinkings and Thoughts: Going to a Women’s School, Boys and Other Thinkings


Haven’t posted in a while, so I figured I would. I’m not particularly inspired at the moment, so I guess I will just share what’s been the happz in my life over the past month. I’m home in Malawi. It’s winter. It’s cold at times, and at others, it’s truly just a sad excuse for winter. Technically, my Gap Year is over, and I am making preparations to go off to college. Thankfully, after having spent four months in the United States this year (albeit in Boulder, Colorado, which, I’m told, is a far far cry from [stereotypical] life on the East Coast) my anxiety levels about college are rather minimal. If I think about what I’m anxious about when it comes to college (if anything at all), I guess the idea of going to a women’s school tops the list right now. 

Until a brilliantly convincing presentation given by two ladies from Wellesley College and Smith College respectively one afternoon in an auditorium in South Africa, I never planned to be going to a single-sex institution. Heck, I didn’t even know that beyond the boarding schools in my country (where girls are asked to cut their hair, the reasons for which still escape me), such institutions existed, nonetheless in higher education. I would most likely have scoffed at the idea of going to one. But given the fact that my learning about Women’s colleges and my desire to go to Wellesley/Smith (which impressed me primarily simply because they sounded like good schools) came simultaneously, I had no time to scoff. 

So here I am, going to a women’s school, and can I just say that I feel the need to become a feminist? I mean, in a lot of ways, I know that I already am one- with my own odd brand of feminism. But I feel the need to be a die-hard, strip-in-public, analyze anything and everything for misogyny kind of feminist, which I realize is a) not all that bad and b) quite stereotypical and c) banded together with other stereotypical ideas of feminism like the hatred of anything without an X chromosome, to create the reason for society’s (and by society’s I mean well, men) allergy to the term “Feminist”. Confusingly, I also feel, as I’m sure is evident, the need to defend feminism. 

I’m a girl who had grown up in an imbalanced society wherever sex is concerned, so I, of all people, should understand the need for feminism, and I do. Still, I can’t shake the discomfort that comes with blatantly calling myself a Feminist. It’s a discomfort that comes from other people doing dumb crap in the name of Feminism, and other people judging all Feminists harshly because a few people have practiced it with a healthy dose of insanity. Exhibit A: 


The more I think about it, the more I realize that I feel the same way about my faith. I am a Christian, proudly so, but I will not hesitate to be the first to agree with the fact that there are a lot of Christians who have done a lot of crazy things in the name of Jesus. I’ll paraphrase one Christian comedian who said, “I love Brad Pitt, but I’m not going to love him less because of something his crazy fans did.” Same way I feel about Jesus, and pretty much (probably a smaller scale here), how I feel about Feminism. 

Anyway, clearly this post is stream of consciousness. I also realize that I will not be around too many boys for the first time in my life. I have always been around boys, and so far, I can’t say they have particularly influenced  my life in any outstandingly significant  manner so it could turn out well. Either that, or they have been contributing to a state of equilibrium in my lif3e that will be toppled over because of this move. Either way, boys didn’t shape my choice to go to college, so I have hope.  l like boys quite a bit, though,. They’re nice to talk to and  a few of them smell nice (but then, so do some girls in my life, so I’m like, meh). It would be strange to be without them. I’m like, what if I become incapable of conversing with ther opposite sex? Oh no. Every girl has to know how to talk to boys. Because if you can’t, they won’t marry you and you won’t have babies and fulfil your one role as a woman in life. But that’s okay. I will survive. And if I do not, well, the population on planet earth is screwed because I won’t have contributed my ration of offspring. Boohoo. If Smith as a women’s school turns out to be the closed-off convent I’ve been telling everyone it isn’t, I will be very happy to reapply elsewhere. Lol, jk. I’m joking with matters that shouldn’t be joked with. 

So that’s that, anyway. The next week presents some excitement. I’m seeing my grandmother next weekend. That should be quite a ball. I am particularly fond of my grandmother. She is an old cookie with a tough spirit and an out-of-this-world generosity which I admire. So I will definitely keep you posted.