VALENTINES…

Christine

So a few weeks ago was the week of love where lovebirds celebrate each other…depending on choice but overall it’s the worldwide day for celebrating romantic love or if you’re a singleton (as Derrick calls it) then just celebrating life or being majorly annoyed by all the lovey dovey stuff (and memes). But in case you’re like me and a sucker for the whole nine yards of romantic gestures, with a loved one afoot, then this was the time to get excited!

My focus today will not be on all the coupled up lovebirds, I want to focus on the entire tradition of Valentines day and my opinion in regards. To be honest, I have mixed feelings on the whole issue, this being my first Valentines with a serious someone. I was clueless about the expectations of the lady on this day…”Was I to plan a date night? (but no, that’s the guy’s thing right). But what happens if I do/want to and he doesn’t? Does that mean I am not loved like that? But I want the roses and candlelit dinner but if I plan them, then it won’t be so special. I won’t feel like Cinderella. I should still do something special right, but what? Do males even like roses and chocolates ” This was part of the ongoing dialogue and frustration I faced that day.

My dilemma aside, what are the actual expectations on Valentines? I am a full fledged millennial wholly believing in shared responsibilities but would totally frown and sulk if my SO didn’t do a thing and I had to, yet I don’t even flinch at the idea, roles reversed. I would totally feel insulted and pathetic if I received nothing. So is this day that important or have we placed unrealistic expectations on a holiday and the males in relationships making them deplete themselves for the sake of assurance of love for us? But then again is it really too much to expect another to go out of their way this occasionally just to make you feel special? I go back and forth on my opinions here. Bottom line though, a relationship is between two people and you do whatever works for you…whatever makes you happy and is achievable. However, a little romance never hurt anyone now, did it?

Travel diary: Ethiopia 🇪🇹

Christine

So disclaimer! Ethiopia was my first flight. I was giddy with excitement as my beautiful boyfriend (see how I slid that in right there) and siblings drove me to the airport. The flight was smooth…..I had no expectations, just a big ole open mind and it went off without a hitch. Skipping the part about one my interesting flight neighbours and yummy flight food (yes all that happened). I want to rush to the good part…Ethiopia the country, the people. First off this was a work trip but it felt more like leisure than work.

My first opinion of the country, from looking at the capital, apart from the extremely beautiful faces is that Addis Ababa feels/looks like a phoenix. It’s rising from the ashes with all the new high rise buildings and emerging skyscraper constructions in every corner, but you can still see the cracks of what it once was. The tin shacks and shops sandwiched by upcoming 5 star hotels, the people who look just as overwhelmed with what their city is turning into, the newly constructed flyovers juxtaposed with not so well constructed roads all somehow making this wholesome city what it is. It’s its own kind of beautiful. Perfect yet imperfect. I have failed to find a one word fits all for this place. It is just what it is.

Now for the people….oh how I love these people. It’s rare to find so many in one place that match my happiness and enthusiasm for life, always ready with a smile and a new word for the day even when I do not understand their beautiful language, Amharic . This is what I have so far *not sure of the spellings though*.

Damnatush – good morning; Ishii – okay; amasekinalo – thank you; shaii – tea; Buna – coffee; konjo – beautiful/pretty; igyii – go.

If I talk about Ethiopians, I cannot fail to vocal their norm of sharing, caring and supporting local businesses. It is the benign of their existence. Almost all food is shared on one plate by all in the family; rarely did I get to eat on a plate by my lonesome. The people in this place go out of their way for you, never expecting anything in return. To be honest I have not met so many genuine human beings in one place.

At Abyssinia: a traditional sort of pub/parlour where traditional dances are performed while enjoying food and drink

My first day in a restaurant, I had the most melanin in the room no jokes (in my country I am considered lighter than most). However with time, I met all skin complexions; most of the people falling in between that type of skin; not quite black and not white either. Speaking of restaurants, the food here has an acquired taste (in a good way). First day you cannot fathom what you’re putting in your mouth due to the uniqueness in flavours, but 5 days down the road, “engera” is one of my favourites. Engera (the rolled up piece in the picture below) is the staple food in this community accompanying 90 percent of the meals making them wholesome in my opinion. They also incorporate pasta, rice, fish and beef in the meals.

A typical meal shared when in Ethiopia (Photo credit: me)

As I engaged with the people and toured a little here and there, I came to notice the richness and pride in culture that is rare in this day and age. It is as if they haven’t yet been fully contaminated with the need to be thoroughly westernised (they are the only non-colonised African nation) and in my opinion that’s a win. However, I think it’s catching on in the younger generation as viewed from the dress code (mainly jeans) and some of the music, food and general entertainment they enjoy.

f5279359-00ae-481b-bb84-58bec5766dd3.jpeg
At Entoto hills: residence of the late Emperor Menelik and His empress

The country was built on the basis of religion with Orthodox being the most common religion adapted by the people. They take every opportunity to pray, Saturdays and Sundays for the entire night, and have a lot of fasting periods, I honestly cannot recall many of them. For example during this particular season, they have the 55 days of fasting where no meat is eaten on Wednesdays and Fridays. However their fasting food is so good I almost considered going vegetarian.

To be honest though, I was alarmed when for a glaring two days, there was no Wi-Fi at the hotels because the government had switched it off for reasons unknown to us. I felt as if one of my basic human rights had been stripped away. However the residents on the other hand seemed to take it in stride that if that had been done then there must be a reason concerning security; that was my first peek at the high level of patriotism and positive mindedness of the people for their country and after my fury with the situation faded, I was impressed. They have only good words to speak about their government (maybe it’s just the ones I interacted with).

I hope this piece paints a picture of the kind of community I encountered. There’s a lot not scripted here, like maybe how the income gap is so wide between the poor and the rich that the ones who struggle to make it really struggle and barely break even, how the taxes are so ridiculous that the price of a second hand Vitz can get you a Mercedes in Uganda. I just wrote from my perspective which is usually sunny, but just like any other country, it’s not a bed of roses. I really did enjoy my time and stay and I am forever grateful to all that made it so.

Anti-Rape Culture!

I have a week long battle with myself on whether to write about this or just let it pass. A tug of war between speaking up myself to influence the change or to wait for someone else to take the first step. But then I came across a quote from Barack Obama which said that “change will not come if we wait for some other person, or some other time. We are the ones we have been waiting for. We are the change we seek.’’ And it resonated with me hence the writing of this post.

So on the 19th January 2019 a woman who was celebrating her birthday at a night club in Atlanta was drugged & raped on Facebook live and she could be heard crying for help and begging for her assailant to stop but both requests were denied. This really struck a chord with me probably because i could see myself, a friend, a sister and just every other female out there in this lady. Lucky enough for her, her assailant was later arrested by the Atlanta police department. But this got me thinking about all the other sexual predators who manage to get away with such sickening behavior especially in our African community. It got me thinking of the large number of ladies and young girls that never receive the justice they deserve because their offender was never apprehended or if he was caught and he bought his way out of justice prevailing hence walking away free as a bird. Most sexual predators in the African society get away with their actions because their victims are too afraid to speak up about the sexual assault they suffered or endured because they personally know their assailants and these are usually people in high places of power or their relatives.

The idea of speaking up and naming their Uncle, husband, step father, boss, teacher or high profile celebrity as their assailant scares the hell out them and the threats they might have received during the attack don’t make it any easier. Societies’ victim blaming culture also works as a mute button for these victims because usually when someone speaks up about sexual assault, the first question that rises is “What was the victim wearing?”

And if their mode of clothing is not up to par with societies overrated standards then they will say that she asked for it through their mode of dressing or if a married woman speaks up about her sexual assault many will shut her claims down because they believe it is the husband’s marital right hence the wife is in the wrong for even suggesting that she was raped. The victim blaming makes many victims believe that what happened to them is their fault yet that is far from the truth and this makes them think that speaking up with only expose them to further ridicule from the society.

Due to the patriarchal structure of our society most men think and feel they are entitled to women’s bodies, so they see nothing wrong with the things they do which may also include sexually harassing women. These men think that women dress the way they do for their approval and they will be quick to brush off a woman’s cry for help if they think she is scantly dressed in their eyes. Some of these predators are also prior victims of sexual assault that they may have experienced it as children which made them feel helpless and they believe that raping others is a way of exercising their dominance to show that they are strong and they ought to be feared. Some people rape others just so they can spread their sexually transmitted diseases further because they don’t want to die alone or they superstitiously believe that defiling a young girl will be their cure from this deadly disease.

I am also not blinded to the fact that some people could lie about being sexually assaulted so as to earn an easy paycheck through extortion of the would be predators or by alleging that consensual sexual acts were forced so as to destroy a person’s life or career because they know they will easily be believed at the real victims expense even if they don’t provide any solid proof.

It’s our dream to have a rape-free world! A world where our close ones will be safe from pain, mental torture, depression and all our PTSD that haunts a rape victim. Let us ,as the world, FIGHT TO STOP THIS RAPE CULTURE!

Join the conversation! Leave your comments below this post.

NATURAL HAIR TIPS FOR THE NEWBIE

Embarking on a natural hair journey can be quite challenging whether you start out with the drastic big chop or the dragged out transition hair journey. This can be so excruciating especially when you have no idea on how to care for untreated 4c hair and no one to reach out for guidance. Below I provide a few guidelines that can be helpful to a newbie naturalista.

  • Know your hair

It is important to know that your hair is different the next person even if you have the same hair texture or even come from the same family. Therefore, what works for one person`s hair might not work for you.

  • Keep your scalp clean

Your scalp is your foundation therefore it should be kept clean at all times. Being a newbie can have you trying out a lot of different hair products which can clog your pores hence hindering growth. You can also achieve this by using a sulfate free shampoo atleast once a week.

  • Be gentle

Given the fact that the nature of our hair is thick, kinky and coarse, your initial thought would to just yank it and work through it as quickly as possible but that right there is the problem because this state only makes our hair easily prone to breakage therefore it needs that extra TLC. Therefore always take your time and be careful with your hair during the detangling and styling process.

  • Work in sections

Dividing your hair into smaller sections should be your new bestfriend since it reduces breakage, enables better detangling and product application as well as facilitate hairstyling.

  • Detangle when hair is wet

Dry hair will easily break therefore a conditioner or a spraybottle with water and a wide tooth comb will come in handy. It is also very important to always detangle your hair so as to avoid single strand knots that might result into breakage. Remember to be patient because this can really be time consuming hence it is better to take on this challenge when you have enough time and you are not in a hurry to rush off to an errand.

  • Moisturise

This is every naturalista`s holygrail because natural hair loves moisture. Dry hair will easily break (and we are out here trying to save those inches as much as possible)Water is definitely your best choice when it comes to this and don´t forget to seal it all in with an oil of your choice.

  • Deep condition

This will help to maximize your hair`s potential to enable you to get healthy, strong and bouncy locs.

  • Minimise heat usage 

Opting for air drying instead of the usual blowdrying can do a great deal for your hair. Try and cut down on the amount of heat you use on your hair in form of blowdryer, curling irons and straightener to avoid that heat damage because it will only set back your healthy hair journey . 

  • Low manipulation / protect your edges

You can choose to wear your hair in a protective style to avoid over manupilating it but ensure that the hairstyle is not too tight and that it doesn`t put a strain on your edges since they are thinner and more delicate than the rest of your hair.

  • Bedtime

Protect your hair by wrapping it in a silk/satin scarf before going to bed or by sleeping on a silk/satin pillow case.