27th Mar2017

Strong Black Woman

by admin

Strong Black Woman

She’s a dark, Nubian queen.

Her Strength a spine made of diamonds.

She is a hurricane of a woman.

A woman who doesn’t care about the hushed

whispers the world envelops her with.

She is a bulletproof spirit made of a living,

breathing black womanhood.

Her body, mind and soul contort and buckle

like the capricious African landscape

under the beating sun.

She carries the weight of the world’s scorn and

derision home

only then does the cracking,

calloused veneer dissipate

like drained leaves

as winter winds push them away to reveal the

bare willowy frame they decorated so


No longer is she strong,

no longer is she the hurricane

that knocked the wind storm

so effortlessly out of her.

The world’s narrative of ‘strong black woman’

has left her mourning in silence,

her silent moans echoing back to her in the

uncomfortable quiet.

Slowly stripped of her humanity and her pain,

her vulnerability

A power so practiced it only serves to struggle

against the scorn.

This ‘strength’ is the only power she has left in

her to strike back; to dance to the unchained

rhythm of the ‘strong black woman’ narrative.

Predisposition is to always stifle her sadness,

to hide even her happiness lest she be

labelled ‘loud ghetto bitch’.

She is filled with magic

– the stuff of faery tales –

ethereal and elusive like the slow, howling

winds before the storm.

The moments of deep anxiety

and depression where the darkness within

herself eclipses all else are frequent reminders

of her humanity before everything else.

Her strength will one day be just words in her

narrative not the cover and content,

too often used to silence her true evocation

when the world looks upon her pages

for the nourishment of their thoughts.

Never downplay her power,

for she is,

from the vivacity in her veins

to the tears on her tongue,

a ‘strong black woman’.

And in the earth of her threshold,

is engraved the image of a Nubian goddess,

so pity the fool that crosses

her unconquerable spirit.

27th Mar2017

What Makes a Man?

by admin


This is a question which has made room for much debate. In my Sociology class, one girl proclaimed that what men are made from the lies they tell. While we all chuckled at that view (which, for the most part, remains true), the question remained unanswered. I would argue that traditional society’s view of what being a man is all about is focused solely on masculinity- which is a dish best served toxic.


Toxic masculinity is indelibly tied to masculinity in general, as by definition being masculine means that you have qualities traditionally associated with men, especially strength and aggressiveness. And isn’t that every mother’s dream, that their sons will grow up to be strong and… aggressive? The most extreme example of this kind of hope for a child would be Caius Martius from Shakespeare’s Coriolanus and his mother’s excessive excitement at his violent exploits, but since this is real world, and this kind of fanciful scenario is out of reach, it is quite alarming that lots of Caius Martiuses exist in modern society. Aggression; lack of emotion; and domination have become the standard for masculinity. This is what is meant by toxic masculinity.


A crucial factor in understanding how this is manifested is through understanding that masculinity (toxic or otherwise) is not innate. This is what makes it most dangerous. We have all heard the saying “No child is born racist,” and the same goes with this concept. Masculinity is entrenched in society through familial teachings and the way households are structured around performing chores and interacting with members of the opposite sex from childhood. This is why girls have to stay in the house and learn how to manage a household with respect to cleaning and cooking whilst boys do outside chores, if any. It also begins with vast differences between the girls’ and boys’ aisles in the toy stores. The boys’ aisles have automotive toys that make use of a child’s motor skills, whereas a girl’s toy usually involves the kitchen, and learning how to take care of a baby and how to maintain one’s beauty. This communicates to young boys and girls what their place in society will be, and what should be important to them.


Now, this does not necessarily mean that if you enjoyed playing with Barbie dolls and now you know a thing or two about beautification or if you enjoy cooking now, you’ve been manipulated into doing so by society or by your upbringing. The problem lies in how you’ve been taught to do these things. The same goes for how boys are taught masculinity. Young men have often been told to “act like a man”. This instruction often means that men have to be unemotional, angry, better than others, and never weak. This is one of the ways in which masculinity is dangerous– not only to women but to men themselves. Everyone is born with emotion, but a person who actively suppresses their own must be living a highly regulated and uncomfortable life and that is no life at all.


More than this, toxic masculinity  becomes an endless cycle of teachings because, even though that view argues that men are inherently not good or nurturing parents, a man must mould his son into the best possible version of manhood possible. Men may grow up thinking that they are unsuited to being nurturing parents, and that they have certain roles with regards to being a father, i.e. being a breadwinner. This further entrenches household inequality and influences how boys in a house are raised in relation to girls. This problem comes full circle as the ways in which a man views his masculinity give us great insight into how he views women. If a man thinks that understanding women, enjoying fruity colorful drinks, crying, or being emotionally supported by another man or caring about his appearance emasculates him, then it is apparent that he views women (and other effeminate people) as being weak, frivolous, and overly emotional.

27th Mar2017

A World Without Labels

by admin

When you go to the grocery store, everything seems to have its place. The apples belong in the fruit and vegetable aisle; the flour in the baking aisle; and the window cleaning products in the housekeeping aisle. You will even find multiple brands of the same product neatly placed next to each other in order to allow for a fair comparison of brands. Furthermore, some customers even go to the effort of comparing the packaging of two identical products to determine which one is the better option. I trust that I am not alone in recalling an occasion where I walked into a store to buy a measly little packet of sugar, only to discover, in the previous week, the store underwent a serious makeover. This resulted in me trekking up and down every aisle in search of that packet of sugar. Of course it would be on the very bottom shelf of the seventh aisle, just as you turn the corner where all of the Easter eggs have been displayed. How silly of me for not thinking of that in the first place! The point of arranging a store in such a painfully rigid manner is to make the customer’s shopping experience a pleasant one—now that’s what I call good service!

Grocery store 1

Problems arise, however, when we try to replicate this kind of organisation and structure in the real world. I do not blame people for trying to label others and categorise them accordingly as this makes life a lot more comprehensible. The world is a very big place that is home to many different people. It can be very confusing at times, however, the real world is not a macrocosm of the grocery store. The real world is a mess; a beautifully chaotic mess!


Following the recent Israeli Apartheid Week that took place on WITS campus at the beginning of March 2017, the question of religion has been highlighted. According to The Daily Vox the aim of Israeli Apartheid week is to bring attention to the apartheid-like crimes committed by the state of Israel against Palestinians. Every year this annual campaign creates some tension between students who sympathise with Zionist and Palestinian groups. As a Christian, I found myself subconsciously picking up the pace as I walked past the collection of people handing out fliers and voicing their opinions to anyone who would listen. Although I feel that this campaign makes a valid point, I also feel like one should promote the rights of humankind as a whole, rather than just one particular group of people.


I believe that religion is a very personal decision, possibly even the most personal decision a person ever makes. Initially the whole idea of religion was to create a sense of community. People would turn to a higher power in times of need and desperation. The point is to not feel alone in the world. Why then do we continue to discriminate against people of a different race, gender or religion? Everyone is different. Even if we had to compare two identical bottles of Tomato Sauce we are bound to find some differences between the two.


Often we place too much emphasis on labels such as race, sexual orientation, and religion. Throughout history religion has been a game of power but at the end of the day, we are all human and our religion is our personal choice. We need to stop reducing people to labels. When I look around I just see many different human beings going about their daily duties. What do you see?


20th Mar2017

Black Girl Magic

by admin

She was born a black girl, if human beings were stars,

she is the sun.

Scorching brighter than the world afraid of her



She was born a black girl, any strength she

had was hard earned,

not hers to have.

History forgets the stories of loss and violation

written in her skin,


Written painfully in obscured obsidians and

abused Browns.


She was born a black girl,

The most undesirable commodity

built for mass consumption.

Tongues that bludgeoned her blue to black,

called her broken


She was born a black girl.

A root.

As the world clipped at her genteel roots.

They ceased to exist.


In a world of white saviours and evil darkness,

She was born black magic,

She was born

A black girl


Black Girl Magic

20th Mar2017

Choosing Passion over Talent: The Stigma Surrounding BAs

by admin

For most students, transitioning from high school to varsity brings an exciting prospect of learning what one loves, rather than what is required to merely pass. There is however, that lingering afterthought of job security upon graduation. This afterthought plays a significant role in determining which degree a student chooses. The variety of bursaries offering to fund scarce skills courses does not make the decision any easier for prospective students.

Degree of Doubt

I recently had lunch with three of my friends; two of whom are studying a BCom Law degree, with the other pursuing a BA Law degree. I was amazed at how the conversation shifted from BA students having it easy to insulting remarks about how BA students ought to either have a backup plan regarding future financials or marry rich’. Being a BA student myself, I felt excluded from the discussion, and at some point, I started to question my choice of study.

It is no secret that the BA degree comes with a lot of stereotypes, and in an environment like Wits, it is perceived as being lowest on the hierarchy of intelligence. One of the ways to emphasize this lies in the building of the university. A comparison of the Wits Science Stadium with the Wits School of Arts, which is in dire need of renovation, is one of these. Arguably, the Wits Arts Museum (WAM) is in great shape; however, the question is why this is so.

Wits Science Stadium

Wits Art Museum

Well, from a personal perspective, the kind of environment where Arts students learn does not have much significance, however, the products of these students labor, with reference to WAM, is important for the good representation of the university’s public image. Although looked down upon, a BA degree improves writing and communication skills, exposing the students to different fields of interests at the same time. What students from other faculties fail to understand is that the flexibility of the BA degree and the application of theory do not guarantee a distinction. It is not about the binary between right or wrong answers. It is all about broadening your understanding. Successful BA degree-holders include EFF leader Julius Malema, who graduated with a BA in Political Sciences from Unisa, and Mashabela Galane who has a Wits University Honors Degree in Dramatic Arts and Media Studies.

In essence, if the BA degree was prioritized as much its fellow counterparts, if more funding was provided to these students, and if more job opportunities were opened up, the BA degree would have greater significance than it does now. At Wits, publications such as the Vuvuzela, outlets such as Vow FM,  and blogs such as @exPress_imPress play a significant role in making this degree worthwhile and enjoyable.

13th Mar2017

The Violence of Change

by admin

So I decided to listen to Drake’s album, no, not Views (from the Six?) but Take Care and all of a sudden, I found myself listening to a lot of the “old Drake”. Man I have to say, I used to die for Drake. I remember finding his Thank Me Later somewhere in my older cousin’s stuff (yes, I used to snoop through her stuff sometimes). I asked her what kind of music it was and it turned out it was one of her friends’ CD’s so she said I could have it because her friend would probably not even miss it. And I fell in love at “first listen”. Since then, I’ve kind of grown up musically and veered a bit off from the Drake’s brand of hip hop into other genres but that is a story for another day.

Fast-forward five years later and I’m listening to Take Care spontaneously because I was overcome by nostalgia. On my Drake binge, I also listened to ‘Club Paradise’ and the lyrics had me clutching my chest- the usual manner of “draking”. “Draking” is a term used to describe a person who listens to so much of Drake’s music that they start feeling miserable about life in general. In my case though, I became homesick. I’m due to go home in a few weeks and I haven’t been sleeping well because I’m just too excited.

Some of you probably won’t understand. “I grew up at home” has a different meaning for me: I was at home ninety percent of my schooling. I didn’t like going out. I had friends, sure, but I was, and remain, a self-proclaimed introvert. A hermit. Here’s a Warsan Shire quote that describes my kind of introvert ways well: “my alone feels so good, I’ll only have you if you’re sweeter than my solitude.” So basically, I’m a homebody.

How many introverts can say that they chose to leave their hometowns in order to go to somewhere far and new as soon as high school was over? I’m probably not the only one but I’m sure the numbers are not that high. There’s something comforting about being at home right? It’s just so effortless to always be comfortable. So there I was fresh out of high school and I still had all of my limbs intact, my mother expecting me to go to the university town that was two-hundred kilometres from my own town. The ironic part though, is that I also thought that that is where I would be going for three years but we all know that life is not that predictable. Instead, I’m more than seven-hundred kilometres away from home and the land is as foreign as Wonderland was to Alice. A few months ago, June seemed eons away. June meant exams sure, but those exams were the bridge that would help me cross to the other side: home. Now that June is finally almost  here, I’m still happy that I finally get to go home after months in this land that sometimes still feels foreign, no matter how many friends I make or how many places I see. However, I did not expect to also be dreading going home. Let me explain.

The town I come from is a small town (not on the coast unfortunately) where nothing happens but everything feels like it’s happening when you’ve been there for your whole life. Many people who stay there describe it as stagnant, not going backwards but not moving forward either. My friends and I used to joke about how people become attractive and somehow better when they leave the place. But now that I’ll be one of the people who have left and are on their way going back, I can’t help but wonder how a stagnant place reacts to those that refuse to stagnate with it. You know the people you leave back home when you go somewhere and they say “you’ve changed” with that tone of voice they use to describe someone that they don’t like? My town has those people too.

Trust me though; I’m okay with hearing that because for me it means I have grown away from the stagnation that I am seemingly not allowed to grow away from. Here’s a lovely picture that illustrates what I am trying to say:

You Have Changed

Somehow, the world has made normal things seem strange and strange things seem like the norm. I have never understood why inner change that gives an individual greater depth is not celebrated. We are not in this world to stay stagnant. I love my town. I’ve been in that shell for nineteen years and it was comfortable, yes but as the smarts of this world like to say: a comfort zone is a beautiful place but nothing ever grows there. Certainly not the flowers on the above picture. Here’s something that we should all do best to remember at the moments we refuse ourselves the opportunity to veer away from comfort:

Where the Magic Happens

There’s nothing wrong with change (with exceptions of course) but, in each case it is crucial how we choose to that particular change. There have been days where I felt like Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh, as though a constant raincloud was following only me. I had an ache in my chest that longed for one thing and one thing only: the comfort zones I chose to leave. There are still days where I wonder if I made the right choice by deviating from what was expected of me, what I expected of myself but I’m so glad I am here.

There’s this quote I have a thing for – sorry, I love words – it’s always been an analogy for me, mainly about waiting for what you deserve and the change it will bring. It’s a quote from Beginners, a film by Mike Mills.

Beginners Quote

13th Mar2017

First Year Experience

by admin



As the first quarter is ending and the level of intensity increases, Matriculants are gearing up for their exams. Last week, Matriculants from different schools around Johannesburg and Limpopo made their way to the Career Indaba, which was held at the Sandton Convention Centre in Sandton. The event offers first hand career advice and guidance to help Matriculants make the right decisions about their future .

I remember last year when I was in Matric, I had also attended the same event and, as I result, I couldn’t wait to finish high school. I couldn’t wait to get away from home, the annoying teachers and, most especially, the dull school uniform I wore. “Varsity life “that is what myself and my fellow pupils used to talk about . We saw it as a life you get to live in your own way, do whatever you want to do and wear whatever you want without anyone saying a word. But I saw my imagination fooling me when I entered the gates of University.

As a first year student myself, I find it very funny how University came out to be the opposite of what I had anticipated. I expected it to be all that television University students had presented it to be. All hot chicks, lit parties and the freedom of doing whatever I want to do.

The first few weeks were so hectic that I had no choice but to go with the flow.First day I couldn’t find my lecture, didn’t know where the toilets were and I knew no one. When I finally got my lecture, I thought I was in the wrong one because I didn’t understand a single word the lecturer said. As weeks went by I started familiarising myself with the ins and outs and made a few friends here and there. When I got my first assignment I just didn’t know where to start, as I understood nothing and had worries about my potentially plagiarising on the other hand. I then realised that the high schools cut and paste had no place. I remembered my Life Orientation teacher, teaching about time management and tried applying the method but it just did not work.  Not that I didn’t get it but just because I was busy occupied by a lot. All that happened in the past weeks made me sit down and do some introspection. I found out that I was overwhelmed by “Varsity life” and just did not know my place. This made me stand up to the situation and be the solution , give myself enough time for books or “ chow course” as students say and the rest will follow .

I am not trying to make any Matriculant  not want University anymore but I’m just trying to give a clear picture of reality. I know how awesome the feeling of finishing high school is, but the future waits. Although there are those hot guys and girls, top fashion, lit parties and “cool life “, there is more to it than meets the eye. I can now proudly say “Varsity life “will become the way you want it to be.





17th Oct2016

Who are We As Women?

by admin


I was with a friend of mine a while ago. I don’t recall how we got there, but we ended up discussing about women of all kinds: single mothers, housewives, wives who juggle work and raising children as well as taking care of their husbands, women who only have their work and no family to come home, etc., all categories of women. And I wondered; who has the perfect life? Who is the happiest amongst those women? Initially, I thought it was the woman with her work. Whether she has children and a husband or not does not matter. Because I want to be that woman. I want a successful career. I want that so much that I don’t care about marriage and raising other humans. If that does happen, then it would have happened (at the end of the day, it’s the Universe that does all the speaking) – but it is not top priority for me. Then, it hit me that no one has it more perfect and no one can be said to be happier than another. One woman wants that and the other woman will want another. We shouldn’t judge people’s lives based on the fact that it’s a life we never want for ourselves.


So, to answer my own question: we, as women, are who we want to be! The woman who is happy is a woman who has reached her full potential or is at least trying her level best to reach it. Yes, there are circumstances in our lives. The things that are so out of our control. But be strong, woman, and go for gold. Make plans A B and C, even D, so that you can look around you someday and see everything you’ve ever wanted: either you’re a housewife taking care of the household; a working wife who can manage diapers and a million rand international deal; just a mother raising children on her own, or a woman with only career prospects and nothing else in mind…just live the life you want to live. Live the life you need to be happy in life, without regarding society’s opinions and its place for us in the world. Our desires matter too, no matter how big or how small.

08th Aug2016


by admin

Keep Calm and Mbokondo Mnyandu

I tried to stand up to the oppressor

and I guess that made him angry to realize that there is a woman so brave who’s able to voice her own opinions without fear of being judged

that there is a woman who is conscientized she might actually rub off onto others and enlighten the fellow women

He got so scared he tried to make the woman feel small and discredit everything that he clearly was guilty of

Oh but this woman was so brave she dared not break

because they threw all sorts of demeaning words at her

tried to break her spirit by all means

but because she was woman and possessed in her resilience so great

it could power the nation

she continued her fight and one by one fellow women starting seeing the light and changing their ways

they were no longer enslaved by men’s expectations and their fickle idea of what beauty is

oh dear because beauty is skin deep hits you like the morning sun and never fades

woman you are strong, stronger than who they compare you with for you carry your strength it resides in you

Now if you could carry with you these word and recite them like the serenity prayer

you would be building a nation full of confident, assured, strong and beautiful women

#HappyWomensMonth #MbokodoLeads #SheRock

08th Aug2016

And So They Called Me a Woman

by admin

Because I was ‘beautiful’ and smiled differently.

Because I cried hourly.


Because I wore a dress on my first birthday.

Because I walked weirdly.


Because my father was not close to me.

Because I wore a bra at age twelve.


Because my voice was not loud enough for this world.

Because hurtful things hurt me.


Because I hated touching dirt at age sixteen.

Because I did what I was asked for no reason.


Because the smell of cigarettes was hell for me.


Because lipstick was invented


Because I found white cloths and kitchen sinks appealing.

Because my eyes see colours dancing.


Because I can give life to another.

Because I can stay for a while longer.


Because I think everything has meaning.

Because I understand where it is all going.


Because pain is a living.

Because I walk through the hours dying.


Because my name is countless assumptions.

Because science says.


Because I sit down.


Because I am like the others like me;

6 black-and-white-stripes-watercolor-fashion-woman-art-print-beverly-brown-prints

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