Lameck…

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African culture and abuse / black family / community education / domestic abuse


It is April 2017 and Lameck Makwiramiti is trending in Zimbabwean communities. Lameck is the man whose daughter was impregnated by a neighbour’s son. The neighbour then took it upon herself to be awfully abusive to Lameck’s daughter whilst she was pregnant. Lameck subsequently brings his daughter back home and looks after her and his grandchild with no support from the family of the boy who impregnated his daughter, years later, this evil neighbour/monster-in-law passes away.

Lameck began his own revolution and the way in which the situation itself unfolds is the most feminist issue that I have witnessed coming out of Zimbabwe. Lameck represents a willingness to speak against oppression and other wrong deeds on a personal level in a manner that defies the psychologically taxing manner that has been ingrained within Zimbabwean culture, which is; the manner that forces us to bury our pain and ‘grin and bear it’ because expressing ourselves, especially when we defend ourselves or speak against the things that are wrong, is deemed disrespectful to ‘others’.

Good for this man Lameck because Zimbabwean female in-laws are notorious for treating their sons or brother’s wives badly. Lameck attends the funeral and goes against the cultural norms of praising the dead by standing up and addressing the gathering with the facts of how his daughter had been treated; he then goes on to warn everybody there to be truthful about the deceased and her character and stop calling her a good person, because evidently, she wasn’t. He then threatens anyone ready to defy him and anyone who dares eat a meal at this funeral with a slingshot, then packs up the food, takes it away to go and feed the local homeless people and other labourers in the area.

I fell in love with the story because it will assist the Zimbabwean community in unfolding societal issues regarding the culture, the law and abuse of different sorts at the hands of in-laws; and of course, how fathers ought to stand up to defend their daughters. Lameck savagely overthrows cultural ideas and challenges popular notions of Zimbabwean masculinity and fatherhood. we witness Lameck going against the grain, he digresses from the agreed cultural script used for mourning the dead by exposing his daughter’s mother-in-law as cruel, evil and abusive towards his daughter, instead of showering her with untrue praise. Lameck defends his daughter, whom by the way, has had a child outside of marriage (this is considered shameful within the culture). May every man with a daughter please stand up and speak out against their ill-treatment. It is fathers like Lameck that will squash harmful and dehumanising cultural norms and liberate the womenfolk in Zimbabwe.

Mother’s Day 2017

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black family

img_1502It’s Mother’s Day, I get to count all my blessings and think about motherhood and how privileged I am to be a mother of four as I am treated to arts and crafts, some juice and toast in my bed.  I realise that some women pray every day to stand in my shoes because they do not have children of their own; or can’t be with their children due to a whole range of reasons.

My typical week consists of waking up my kids each morning to get ready for school, and doing school runs. Depending on the day, I might have appointments for doctors, dentists, after school activities and of course homework. Weekends are about lying in and eating pancakes for breakfast, then afternoons are for days out and or sports training, depending of course on their mood. Now, we have basketball or football training on a Saturday; and yes, my children are girls. Believe me, there are some girls that enjoy getting dirty and sweaty, racing on scooters and bicycles….and making a lot of noise, which I love by the way. Nothing beats a 3-year-old waking up at 4am cos she can’t sleep and decides to play the ukulele. Other kids would only be too happy to crawl into bed with their parents. Nope! not mine. I could suddenly be blessed with a song at odd hours of the morning. They don’t mind, and neither do I to be honest. 

Generally, my girls love the museum, the zoo, soft play….and food. Yes, they love food, too much and it is a joy to watch them eat.

It’s funny how the simplest of things; such as hearing your children’s laughter, can bring so much joy and make the heart so fond. The treat this morning and every other day when they bring me home a picture or a painting from school. The cuddles and kisses that express how much they love you when words fail them; and especially when they are full of cold and with a snotty nose. Of course, it’s not always rosy, sometimes kids get you crazy, they can behave badly and annoy or embarrass you. Sometimes they want too much of you or too much from you, and the impossible from you; and they act out when they don’t have their way. But most times, it’s all love, as they are present to allow me to mother them and experience the privilege. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Race Equality Framework Anniversary Event 2017

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diversity issues

21 March is marked by the United Nations as the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. On this day in 2017, I was invited to attend the Race Equality Framework for Scotland event. One of the main visions for the Race Equality Framework, is to ensure that all people living in Scotland are healthier, happier and treated with respected; and that opportunities, wealth and power are spread more equally.

To think that there was a time in the United Kingdom where it was the norm to come across clearly visible signs in public places that would say “NO IRISH, NO DOGS, NO BLACKS”. There was police brutality because black people were being killed by the police, and that led to rioting (the Brixton and Tottenham riots). Not surprising, these riots and issues were not really covered in Mainstream media, and so because of this, some white people may not understand the black experience of life in the UK. Rolling forward to 2017, the current political climate in the UK has fuelled distasteful comments and behaviours by non-black people in any space, be it in a learning, social or working environment. These attitudes, comments and behaviours negatively impact on black people’s self-esteem or confidence and reminds black people that even though they are visible and have been ‘allowed in’, they must not be loud enough to be heard, that nobody cares to listen, that they are not relevant, that they should know their place and that regardless of age, level of education, or experience, that they dare not advance beyond their white counterparts. 

They have it on paper that the Equality Act 2010 legally protects people from discrimination in the workplace and other areas within society. I often say that the Equality Act is often only worth the paper that it is written on as we continue to see black people being fitted into stereotypes and be treated unfairly based on those stereotypes. We continue to see that black males are most likely to be stopped and searched by police for no reason. We continue to see a stereotype around black men and boys fitting certain crimes. We continue to see that there is an understanding that migrants come to the UK to deliberately live on welfare because they are lazy. We continue to see black people humiliated at work, in meetings, in classrooms or lectures; we have heard of lecturers using their bias to mark students down because of one petty reason or the other. We continue to see the unfair treatment of black single mothers, as well as the unfair treatment of black prisoners within the prison system. We continue to see black children stereotyped as aggressive and loud etc. although I must admit that inequalities exist amongst non-black people and also the poor indigenous people of this country, the aforementioned stereotypes determine attitudes and how blacks are treated around opportunities at work, within education housing and so on.   

Thank God for this framework, at least someone is willing to make a positive impact for equality for all by eradicating racism.

Daddy Issues

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black family / community education / domestic abuse / identity / Uncategorized

daddy-issues

The term “daddy issues” is a term that is thrown around and used in a negative and dismissive way towards women. In our black community, it is used to “diss” women by ill-informed people, man and women alike; yet no one seems to take time to think about the realities of men and their lack of stability, failing to take up leadership within their families as men and responsible fathers; and opting instead to have babies all over the place and moving on to potentially ruin another unborn child’s life when they decide to move on again…. like a nomad. These men are the real reason why children grow up with “daddy issues”, yet everyone unconsciously laughs about it.

According to some people, the term “daddy issues” is used to describe women that seek male attention more than normal or women that have an unhealthy relationship with men, presumably because their daddies abandoned them when they were young. The term seems to refer to a woman who is looking for a man like her father, so that she can have a second chance at winning his approval.  Similarly, to the information that I have considered on the internet, it is said that “daddy issues” has something to do with Freudian psychology where a female subconsciously re-enacts her relationships with her father in romantic relationships, or does the opposite with romantic relationships to “compensate” for what she did or didn’t have with her father. The following are examples of females that have been labelled by this term;

-a female who has been sexually abused by her father, or a father-like figure and becomes hypersexual,

-a female whose father abandoned her family, who then develops trust issues because of it,

-a female who had an abusive father, or father like figure, who unintentionally seeks out abusive or damaging relationships.

You may very well consider that the issues are quite deep and maybe the term “daddy issues” should not be foolishly thrown around as it does in our communities. Even though the term is used to just put a woman down by insulting them or calling them crazy, clearly, it’s nothing to laugh about. It is my opinion that sometimes this term is also used by men as a way of skirting around certain serious issues within relationships. This term can be used to avoid confronting the actual issues in a situation, thereby just summing things up by using this term to shut a woman down. For example; instead of taking part in positive problem solving tactics, some men may dismiss problems and refuse to be accountable by assigning the problems to the woman having so-called “daddy issues”. In a particular example that comes to mind; a certain man refused to address his boozing or alcoholism as it were, by being in denial with the fact that the way he over consumed alcohol affected his family. He ascribed the issue to his wife having insecurities around men who consumed alcohol, even when they were not drinking in excess, because his wife grew up with a drunkard father. When a man victimizes a woman with this term, he doesn’t have the capacity to support her as a friend or better half. Also, a man (or woman) that throws this term around is unfamiliar with the issues and circumstances behind why a woman may be presenting as having “daddy issues”. I suppose it’s on them to educate themselves.

Women go through and endure so much. Even if it is the case that women have “daddy issues”, does standing by, merely labelling a woman help her? Are men right to walk away and abandon their children knowing the effect that it will cause in the long run? or is the fact that there seems to be a culture of irresponsibility amongst black men, the very reason why we continue to have fatherless daughters in our communities?

Where is the logic in knowing that in the long-run, their children will in-turn have “daddy issues; and the same term that they use on other women will be used on their children? Why is it ok for men to walk away from their responsibilities as husbands and fathers, and not take those responsibilities seriously, then have the privilege of name-calling a woman that had a dysfunctional relationship with her father? Why are some black men at the side-lines putting down single mothers, and at the same time exploiting women for sex?  Why are some black men putting down single-parenthood when they are the ones without the backbone to keep their families intact? Is it fair to say that men are the cause of the “daddy issue” problem and they need to be the solution, by knowing how to be providers, leaders, fathers and husbands?

What do the men in our community do about breaking the cycle of children that grow up without fathers, that then turn into adults that are dysfunctional? How do the men in our communities break this cycle instead of mocking women out of their own ignorance, not realizing that they are a part of that wider problem? A re-education is required…. I want to challenge you into thinking about the source and the outcome of dysfunctional behaviours and attitudes, that in turn create broken families, and how that becomes a vicious cycle in the black community, as the very kids brought up out of such communities become ignorant fathers, and mothers with these so-called “daddy issues”.

 

What did we learn from Stunner and Olinda?

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community education / domestic abuse / marriage

kaboompics

October time is when I would normally write about relationship issues, but 2017 began with bang as the Zimbabwean community witnessed a very sad and disturbing domestic issue between the so-called celebrity couple Stunner and Olinda Chideme. The couple made an unusual choice to air their marriage problems on social media, giving the public an insight into their scandals of infidelity, their finances, their unashamed disrespect for one another, and so much more. The story unfolded into an ugly blessing, but a blessing non-the less because the Zimbabwean community is now able to unpack lessons from the situation to benefit themselves or their interests. The story has a lot of parallels that other people can relate to, especially here in the diaspora, where many Zimbabweans ought to use this story as a gateway that will enable them to discuss and open up to the issues of domestic abuse, which they have refused to confront in the past, or have preferred to be consciously ignorant about.

There are lessons to learn for mothers- who see their daughters in Olinda. There are lessons for parents who have not taken the time to teach and nurture their sons to be protectors and providers. There are lessons to learn for married couples around gender roles and relationship dynamics. There are lessons to learn for single women looking for lifelong partners.  There are also lessons on how we ought to choose our life- partners. There are lessons to learn for young boys that believe they can get by without an education or a trade; and of course, there are lessons to learn too for men, especially those who believe that they can charm a woman with their good looks and great sex in exchange for material and financial provision.

All the afore-mentioned are the lessons to take from the surface of the story; but what about the background story? What about the stuff that the public didn’t get to see or hear? What/ who were Olinda and Stunner’s support networks? Who tried to help them overcome their problems? Could it be that no one helped them effectively; and that is why Olinda took to Facebook crying out for help? Were there familial betrayals, disloyal in-laws? Could it be that Stunner was not the only person “milking” his wife financially? Why couldn’t this issue be resolved behind closed doors? Why did it become so public? What about their children? Where were they when the madness unfolded? Did they witness any of it? if they did what support networks have been put in place for these children? What have we learnt about resolving marital/household issues? What have we learned about friendships and relationships?

How do you recover from something so emotionally taxing such as what this couple and their family went through? How do you get over and forgive a cheating spouse? How do you trust a dishonest spouse? How do you respect a spouse that has shown you no respect? Is such a marriage worth fighting for, or is it better to cut it loose considering that Olinda made sacrifices in order to give her husband the lifestyle that she thought he deserved; only to be betrayed and repaid with disrespect and the heart ache that we all witnessed on social media. Did Olinda deserve the savagery that mentally broke her considering that she had taken on the wifely responsibility of elevating and improving her husband’s life? Do we (the public) have the right to question Stunner’s morality?

What do we think now about money? What is our attitude toward money? What do we think about a man’s role as husband and provider within the home? What do we think about a man’s role as protector of his family? In this instance, where did Stunner fail? Should we be cynical about long-distance relationships, are they worth all the stress?

Stunner and Olinda’s relationship has been an eye-opener to the Zimbabwean community. Whatever the lessons we have taken from this sad love-story, we need to look at ourselves as a community and realise that we, collectively need to do better in teaching one another right from wrong. It is our responsibility to change our mind-sets on the issues we have learnt from this story and begin to cultivate a sense of honourableness in everything that we do, as husbands, wives, mothers, aunties, uncles, community elders etc. We must cultivate a message of love- real love and real respect for individuals. We need to take pride in hard work and not be infamous for using other people for what we can take from them. Anyway…… I have argued many times before that Africans have a different view and understanding of domestic violence issues. Most people used African cultural lens to view Stunner and his position in the scenario even though he was passively aggressive in his manner. As an advocate for Domestic violence and abuse, I was struck by the many aspects of abuse that were presented in this scenario. Even though Olinda was presenting herself in a manner that did not command sympathy from some of the people who watched the drama; in my opinion, she was (is) the victim of psychological, emotional and financial abuse, and she was exploited for her money and whatever else luxuries that she could provide. To get a better understanding of domestic abuse issues, please explore the issues at https://m.facebook.com/preventionofdomesticviolenceandspousalabuseuk/

Happy New Year

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personal development/transformational change

screenshot_2017-01-08-12-25-49-1Congratulations for making it to the last day of the year. All week I have been looking back at my year, looking at what I went through, what I learnt, what I embraced, what I rejected, what I plan on burying and never revisiting, and what I will take into 2017. I want you to do the same.

This year I put myself first before anything else. I prioritised my needs and tapped into my feelings to figure myself out.  I let go of being fearful and pursued stuff that I had initially thought was beyond me. I rejected and buried friendships and relationships with people that kept telling me that they loved me and cared about me; yet their actions said something different. I rejected and buried friendships with people that were connected to anything negative that I had ever encountered. I dumped and buried two-faced friends, gossiping friends, and anyone that did not support me or my interests.

I have embraced the stuff that gives meaning to me and my life; stuff like always having a bank balance to cover random stuff, expenses or outings. The love that I receive from my children, especially the sloppy kisses and hugs around my neck that are so tight, but enjoyable all the same. I embrace hearing the words “I love you” from my toddler. I embrace having the choice to retreat from the things and the people that I don’t like. I embrace always remaining true to myself. I embrace being able to speak my mind and having the freedom to do so. I embrace having friends online that I have never met face to face. lastly, I embrace learning great stuff from awesome people and building my success.

31 December 2016, this is the day to celebrate new beginnings. For 2017, push your purpose into action, do the things that bring you joy whilst empowering others. If you want 2017 to be your year, go out and make a change, be fierce, do things that challenge you and most importantly be brave.

Happy New Year!

 

Colourism

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colorism

Screenshot_2017-01-08-12-40-21-1.png

I wanted to end the year by sharing my thoughts on colourism as I have seen so much unawareness and a vast amount of idiocy in 2016. From talk shows with black men and women giving reasons why they prefer to date white people; to light skinned black people acting stupid because they thought having a lighter skin tone put them above people with darker skin socially; to light skinned black people becoming upset at being categorized as black; to light skinned people with an identity crisis as an effect of colourism; to dark skinned black people that have depression/self-harming tendencies/self-esteem issues;  to people being hired for jobs or video/photo shoots because they had a certain complexion…You name it, I saw it this year and I would like to address it.

Firstly, I have no respect for any black person, who attacks or puts down another black person for the shade of their skin. I want to destroy the foolish notion that implies that light skinned black people are superior to the opposite. Black people need to stop getting it twisted. The idea of compartmentalizing people because they are a different shade of black says so much about how we as black people are not ready to accept ourselves. Why then are we angered and upset by white people and other races not accepting us? Why are we upset at racism? Why are we chanting “black lives matter” when we are shot down in our communities, when we experience other inequalities such as when we are not protected by the law or when we get followed around stores whilst shopping because there is a certain perception of what people that look like us are capable of? Why is not being treated with respect as a black person such an issue, when we ourselves don’t respect each other amongst ourselves?  Why do we get upset when white people treat us differently because of the colour of our skin when we don’t respect and value our various skin tones? Why should anyone else accept us without prejudice, when we are busy side-lining and putting each other down with all this team light skin/yellow bone garbage and ignorance?

On a broader scale, I have observed that even President Barack Obama was not acceptable to his own fellow blacks in America because he was half white. For this reason, some black people decided that he was not the first black President- because he wasn’t black enough! Because he was raised by white people, some black people discounted him, as there were opinions around how he wasn’t the one because he had not been anywhere near the black experience, -but that is a topic for a different day. At the end of the day, when white people look at Barack Obama, and one else that is bi-racial, they view him as a black person. When white people look at us; we are black, whether we are mixed race, light/dark skinned or albino, they just see us as black. It is senseless of us, as black people, to be at the forefront in treating other fellow black people differently because they are a different shade of black. At the end of it all, melanin is not measured by our skin complexion. Wake the £*&% up black people!