I took a much needed hiatus from back to back blogging right after the WinterABC Challenge. I am well rested now and feel very glad to be back 🙂
As an aftermath to the challenge, I was inspired by Shazzy‘s appreciation post and thought it wise to also come back to express my gratitude for being nominated as one of the Most Outstanding Bloggers of the WinterABC 2021 Challenge – it is such a milestone in my blogging journey and I dont take it lightly.
Here are some of the heart warming reviews I got:
They say gratitude unlocks the fullness of life, so here I am… pouring out my love and gratitude to you all. Your sentiments mean SO MUCH to me.
A huge congratulations to all the other nominees, you can find their names and blog links here . A special congratulatory wish to the winner of the Most Outstanding Blogger Award: Elise Tirza!!! A very well deserved win.
Looking forward to blogging and growing in the days/weeks/months/years to come!
Day 22/22 of the #WinterABC Challenge!!!!- WE MADE IT!
Between my generally tight schedule and episodes of writer’s block, I NEVER thought I would make it through consistently blogging for 22 Days!
As a first time participant of this challenge, I close the challenge with a bag full of experiences and lessons. Before I proceed to detail my highlights of this journey, here is a song dedicated to all my fellow participants! (Fun random fact about me lol, I LOVE MUSIC so much so that at some point in my life I considered being a DJ 🙂 )
Attempting to accurately detail and off load my full bag of experiences from the challenge may prove futile. But here is my attempt in 3 of my top highlights:
I learnt how to put mywork “out there” and it didn’t back fire lol.
Before this challenge, I was very hesitant about putting my blog out there. I would write and that was it. I knew I wanted to engage with other writers and sometimes I wanted to write things that would spark conversations with others. But, I lacked the confidence to do that.
I am happy to say that the challenge has boosted my confidence and I have gotten awesome reviews, constructive criticisms and generally learnt more about myself.
2. I tried out different styles of writing
I usually lean more towards creative writing with a bias towards poetry whenever I am blogging. However, this challenge allowed for me to try out a wide range of writing styles. From Poetry, to E-nterviews, music reviews, story telling, etc. It really pushed me out of my comfort zone and there is nothing I love more than GROWTH.
3. I have made friends, future collaboration points andfuture content creation ideas
I honestly love that this challenge came with a sense of belonging. I discovered bloggers I didn’t know about and as we created and interacted it is safe to say we have created awesome friendship bonds. I have collaboration ideas and general content creation ideas and I look forward to a continuous, thriving relationship with all the amazing Afrobloggers!
Thankyou all for journeying with me and for being AMAZING PEOPLE.
It’s day 21 out of 22 days of the WinterABC Challenge. They say time flies when we are having fun and no truer words can be said about how fast the weeks have gone by.
As this is storytelling week, please gather around our virtual fire as we journey through another amazing akashimi.
Story 2: The Tears Of A Mother
Pali Akantuse …
(Readers respond: Kaikele ngefi fine twilkele)
If you do not know what these words mean, please read the intro to yesterday’s akashimihere
“Chibeka, don’t forget to fetch the water later today”, instructed Bana Chibeka (meaning: Mother to Chibeka) as she was knitting on the veranda of their house. Chibeka was not only an obedient child but she was also very beautiful, some would say she was the most beautiful girl in the land. It was indeed befitting that her mother called her Chibeka – a bemba name that means Shining.
Chibeka went to the hut and picked the insupa (calabash), waved her mama goodbye and headed to village river to fetch the water. Bana Chibeka had finished knitting and was now cooking supper when she realized Chibeka had taken an awkwardly long time to return from the river. She did not worry and continued cooking.
The sun had started setting when worry creeped into Bana Chibeka. This delay was unlike her Chibeka who would always return home before the sun set. Bana Chibeka, a single mother with Chibeka being her only child, begun to relentlessly search for her daughter.
She went to the river but could not see her daughter, she asked the neighbours but none were helpful in the search for Chibeka. Bana Chibeka, determined to find her daughter, went and sat at the banks of the river yelling for Chibeka, hoping she would hear her call and return home.
Between the yelling and crying, Bana Chibeka didnot notice that the night had gone by and the sun was no rising. As she saw other girls, Chibeka’s age come to the river to fetch morning water, her heart was filled with immense grief and abandonment.
Bana Chibeka was in a state of hopelessness when she begun to mourn the unknown whereabouts of Chibeka, cursing the village with the following song:
” Ne nama shine, ka shifwe shibole, ngo mwana wandi … Chibeka wandi …
Meaning: let all animals die and rot in the same way my daughter Chibeka has died …
She continued to sing this song as she headed back to her hut and as she sung all the animals in the village begun to die. Days went by and she continued mourning hoping the neighbours would now care about her grief and assist with her search. This did not happen. So again, she begun to mourn and sing:
Nabantu bonse, ka bafwe ba bole, ngo mwana wandi … Chibeka wandi ...
Meaning: let all the people die and rot in the same way my daughter Chibeka has died …
As she sung this song, all the people of the village begun to die. Some were pleading for her to stop singing but their cries were silenced by her grief.
Bana Chibeka then sung one last verse:
Na ine wine, nka mfwe noku bola … ngo mwana wandi … Chibeka wandi…
Meaning: Let me also die and rot like in the same way my daughter Chibeka died
With this last verse, Bana Chibeka also died.
Lesson/VIiews: To be honest, when I was younger I never knew if this story ever came with an underlying lesson. I was always more intrigued by the singing. I would always ask questions like, but what really happened to Chibeka? – that still remains a mystery. Legends have it that there is a land in an unknown place that remain unoccupied , this land is believed to be cursed by the tears of Bana Chibeka.
The older I grow and in light of the mental health awareness advanced, I believe a notable lesson from this story is the importance of being there for others. If you notice, Bana Chibeka’s neighbours were unhelpful and uncaring and this triggered feelings of pain and abandonment that led to her cursing the land.
In response to the story-telling theme of this week of the WinterABC Challenge, I will be retelling some of the folklore I was told by my grand mother when I was much younger. What better way to preserve them for the generations to come, right? 🙂
For some familiarity, “Utushimi” is a bemba word meaning Stories or Folklore. The singular form of utushimi is akashimi. Bemba is one of the 72 Zambian tribes. Grandmother in bemba is Mbuya. It is safe to call these series: “Utushimi twa ba Mbuya“. One of my favourite things about her stories were that they always had an underlying lesson/ principle as you will see.
Please comfortably gather around our virtual fire and let’s dive into the first story.
Story 1 – The 3 wivesto the king
My Grandma always started her stories with “Pali akantunse” (Once upon a time) to which I would keenly respond, “kaikele ngefi fine twikele” (we were sitted as we are sitted).
There was once a King (or Infumu as we would call him in Bemba) who had three wives. The first one was named Inkaka (meaning the quarrelsome one), the second Ulubuli (meaning fighter) and the third Uwaichefya (meaning the humble one). Each of the three wives to the King had sons.
As per the tradition of the kingdom, when choosing the rightful heir to throne, the wives of the King were required to cook delicious meals. The winning meal meant that the son to the preparing mother would be the crowned heir to the thrown.
Inkaka and Ulubuli were the best of friends neglecting Uwaichefya who they would mock and belittle any chance they got. Unfortunately, Uwaichefya’s household never received a fair share of food and other resources as the other two wives would always find a way to deprive her and her son. Consequently, Uwaichefya and the son were malnourished and unkempt.
As the day of the much anticipated cook-out drew close, the King ordered his workers to provide all the wives with the necessary ingredients they would need to prepare their hearty meals. As was their tendency, Inkaka and Ulubuli deprived Uwaichefya of her required ingredients. That notwithstanding, Uwaichefya would sneak out to the trash cans whenever she could and pick the left overs to work with.
After the first rains fell, the kingdom believed the gods had indicated it was time for the cookout to take place. The King and his council of elders gathered around the huts of the wives waiting for them to present their meals. The plate the king would eat from, was the winning meal.
Before long, the three wives appeared before the King and presented their meals. Inkaka had prepared a full inkoko (chicken), nicely roasted and served with ifisashi (vegetables mixed with groundnuts )and ubwali (nshima or cornmeal). The aroma of her food had the council salivating and was only challenged by the meal prepared by Ulubuli prepared her infamous isabi (fish) with katapa (cassava leaves), this was also served with ubwali. Uwaichefye made a meal that can not be desrcibed in words, she cooked the abandoned chicken pieces and the thrown vegetables, this was served on a broken plate as all her kitchen utensils were stolen by the other two.
When Inkaka and Ulubuli glanced at the food Uwaichefya had prepared, they giggled and teased. Reminding her as they usually did that she was not fit to be the wife of the King.
As the King approached the three meals, tension filled the air. The council of elders were confident either Inkaka or Ulubuli’s meals would undoubtedly find favour before the King. Much to everyone’s surprise, including her own, the King ate from Uwaichefya’s plate and by so doing chose her son to be heir to the throne.
Songs of praise and jubilation filled the kingdom whilst Inkaka and Ulubuli mourned in despair.
Lesson: Like I said, most of the Utushimi told by my Mbuya had important life lessons. For a young girl, this taught me to never be mean to people as bad things would happen to me as well. The older I grow, I also draw a lesson towards endurance and having light at the end of the tunnel. Uwaichefya and her son are also living proof that what’s meant to be yours will be yours, despite all odds.
Looking forward to sharing another akashimi that was told by grandmother tomorrow.
Wow… I can’t believe we are already at the end of 4 weeks and into the 5th and final week as far as the WinterABC Challenge is concerned.
This week was very exciting as it allowed for necessary conversations to be had. From the pieces I had the chance of reading, we all mostly focused on either our regional culture, that is, the African Culture or various national or tribal cultures. Again confirming the truth which is that culture is VAST.
A lot of aspects of culture was discussed this week. We had amazing and thought provoking posts on food, clothing, music, lobola, Female Genital Mutilation etc. I will edit this post along the way and share links from my amazing fellow bloggers.
This week was also about all things fashion! I think it was strategic that the two topics were paired. In my E-nterview with RKC – A Zambian Fashion designer, she said that “Something that I learned is that fashion and culture dance around each other with people and communities at the center ” and I sternly believe there could be no better words to accurately capture how the two are intertwined.
I loved that most of the fellow bloggers allowed us to journey through their personal wardrobes or national and tribal practices by sharing the types of clothes worn. It was beautiful to see! I like that most people also related with practices of Sustainable Fashion which I shared in echoing guidance from a Zambian Fashion blogger, Taonga.
On a personal level, this week was not the easiest as life kept happening. But, I am glad I caught up all the same and pushed through on my commitment to fully participate on all the 22 days of this challenge- a resilient queen! if I do say so myself lol.
Looking forward to the free story telling leeway in the next three days as we bid farewell to June and the challenge.
I have amazing ideas of the stories I will be telling. Can’t wait to read what others create.
Thank you for returning to my blog. If this is your first time here, do feel at home and come by often 🙂
In the past few days, bloggers from across Africa have been engaging in culture and fashion centered conversations. This is in line with the #WinterABC weekly themed challenge by Afrobloggers which has been going on in the month of June.
In today’s blog edition, I am honoured to be virtually joined by an amazing Zambian Fashion Designer- Kabwe Chongo, the talent behind the phenomenal RKC brand.
In this e-dialogue, we converse on all things fashion with a dash of culture. Please do enjoy reading and viewing some of her stunning creations :
… Something that I learned is that fashion and culture dance around each other with people and communities at the center …
-Excerpt from this E-nterview
What does fashion mean to you?
Fashion for me has always been a means of expression. There are times that I use fashion to quite literally communicate how I was feeling! I had a dress I loved to wear when I felt confident, my favorite pajamas when I want to feel comfortable and cozy, you know things like that.
But on another front, fashion is a means for me to channel creativity and possibility. I like being able to look at a concept and to see if I can make it a dress, a print or something!
2. How would you describe your brand in a few words?
I like to say that my brand is for women and by women. I have to apologize to everyone that I gave he, I will not be doing men’s clothing ever! I want women who work with me to feel like we are old friends collaborating on a fun project together, that we are taking this journey in creating an experience rather than just “getting a dress made”.
3. How long have you been in the industry?
I don’t even think I’m in the industry yet! But I have been working seriously for two years and been into fashion since tenth grade.
4. Where do you draw your inspiration and motivation as a fashion designer?
I draw my inspiration from a lot of places but mainly from other creators. I have always loved design and fashion and seeing the work of other designers always ignites a fire in me.
Another source of inspiration is music and visual art. There is something about beautiful music that creates a moment and sometimes I’ll be listening to like Beyoncé and I’m thinking “Wow, I can see a dress that would be a beautiful moment for this music video.” Or I may be watching a movie and monumentally irritated with a style choice because I feel something else would have been better.
5. To what extent do you feel culture influences fashion?
I took a class last year on this and something that I learned is that fashion and culture dance around each other with people and communities at the center. In essence, people’s values and customs heavily influence how they will express themselves in their clothing. A great example is how we use chitenges in our culture as covering or reserve chitenge garments for certain special occasions.
People are largely at the root of these expressions and as our culture slowly becomes more “modern” we see attitudes towards certain clothing changing because at the center, people are changing.
6. What are some of the fashion myths you would like to demystify?
Oh wow! Firstly, you don’t need to know how to sew to be a fashion designer. A lot of fashion is about collaborating with who has the best skills to bring out your vision or idea.
Another myth that I would love to fully confront is that fashion is vain or it doesn’t require much thought. There are times when one looks at fashion and feels they couldn’t be bothered with trends or the like. But I feel it is important to care about how we clothe our bodies, that we pay attention to making sure we have clothes that fit us well and make us feel comfortable.
Even in our limited choices I feel it is important to choose clothes we look forward to wearing and not just buying clothes because we can. Ifeel that fashion needs to be intentional.
7. What are your customer retaining techniques?
I pay attention to giving as great a customer experience as I am able to. From a simple greeting, to a smile as you serve or a quick apology coupled with amends. They go a long way in keeping customers and they form relationships that turn into referrals!
8. What are some strengths and weaknesses of the fashion industry from a designer perspective?
I think the fashion industry in Zambia particularly has vast room to grow in terms of diversifying what jobs can be done and how much can be made from these jobs. When someone says they want to go into fashion most of the time, you think they want to be a tailor but there are so many careers out there that one wouldn’t believe! I look at the industry and hope for the day that those amazing opportunities will be available here.
However, I do think that our industry is amazingly resilient. We may not have the very best equipment or innovation readily available but we are producing wonderful and amazing garments on all levels possible and it is amazing to watch.
9. Any closing remarks?
Thank you for taking time out to listen to what I have to say about fashion and I hope to speak to you again!
The first time I heard about sustainable fashion (as a concept) was from an amazing Zambian lady and fellow blogger, Taonga Kaonga in her blog post called: “An easy guide to practicing sustainable fashion”. I found it insightful and decided to amplify her voice through this post as well as share my views.
What is sustainable fashion?
Green Dreamers another insightful and reliable resource on sustainable fashion, defines it as, “clothing that is designed, manufactured, distributed, and used in ways that are environmentally friendly.” We are living in a time were environmentally friendly practices are no longer a luxury but a NEED. As such, adherence to sustainable fashion practices is everyone’s responsibility.
In her post, Taonga cautioned that:
The production and distribution of the crops, fibres, and garments used in fashion all contribute to environmental pollution, including water, air and soil pollution. Not to mention, many workers producing fast fashion items work under slave-like conditions …
Green Dreamers further guide that, as the word sustainable entails being able to sustain, sustainable fashion must be one that “operates in ways that can continue working for years and decades to come “.
In a world filled with continuously changing trends, to be sustainable does not only require discipline but soft skills too- which are all very manageable as will be seen below.
I believe most people do not even know that they are actually adhering to sustainable fashion practices. That’s how natural the guides feel. I think all we have to do to bridge the gap from where we are to where we want to be is to be more- intentional.
We also need to move away from certain norms like looking down on thrifting. We also have to be very okay with not being up to date with every and any trend. I like that Taonga speaks to buying less and being creative. It took me a lot to remind myself that I do not need a new outfit for every occasion but I can simply re-work the clothes in my wardrobe.
Do you practice sustainable fashion?
I will soon profile an amazing Zambian Fashion Designer and journey through fashion and cultural dynamics in our dialogue. Excited for this.
Thankyou for returning to my blog- I am sorry for the hiatus. Life happened… had to take a step back and pour back into myself. I’m glad I’m here now and ready to journey on!
This week’s conversations as far as the Winter ABC challenge is concerned, are all about Culture and Fashion. Particularly, this blog post is centered around culture. I will be responding to the question: Is the African Culture building the Africa we want? This is inspired by a debate we had at my place of work on Africa Freedom Day.
Before we dive into the substance of the blog, here is a befitting song to add melody to the reading:
To begin with, I believe Culture is better seen or experienced than reduced to words of a definition. However, the Center for Advance Research on Language Acquisition does a great job in defining culture as, “shared patterns of behaviors and interactions, cognitive constructs and understanding that are learned by socialization“. From the definition it is understood that culture entails a form of uniformity in peculiar to a group of people in as far as behaviours, interactions, food, music or clothing is concerned. In one word, I would say culture entails identity.
The African Culture, I believe cannot be accurately captured as it is also far too wide and diverse. In my poem titled, “A story is told of a land” I say this about the African Culture:
A story is told of a land…
Whose vast culture is almost impossible to capture
If culture was a currency, this would be the richest land
The abundance of expressions and traditions passed on through generations
The culture, a sculpture of a tree that’s deeply rooted yet blossoms in various impressions …
However, without disregard to the various and diverse impressions of the African Culture, I would argue that some common traits of the African Culture (relevant for some of the arguments I’ll develop in this blog) include:
Respect for elders
Unity and Solidarity
Creativity, art and skill
Female Genital Mutilation
What really is “the Africa we want“? – In my very honest opinion, I believe the Africa we want has been lost in translation. With the coming in of technological advancements and the worldview of the “global villages”. This is evident especially that the power scales of African Countries weigh in favour of countries closer to the western world’s development standards.
Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the digital era and the efficiencies of technologies. However, I wonder if this is really the Africa we want or it’s a standard that was imposed on us. (This is one of the reasons I had unpopular mixed feelings towards the Wakanda movie. It seemed to suggest high level technology in the utopia version of Africa. But, I wonder… would it have been a problem if Africa continued with it’s hunting and gathering lifestyles? Would we have not been content? Is our lack of satisfaction rooted in our moving further away from ancestral ways?)
My view aside and with all due respect to the subjectivity of answers such questions may pose, I will dwell on the African Union (AU) objectives to serve as some form of guide of the Africa we want. The AU lists the following as the hopes for Africa:
To promote the unity and solidarity of the African States;
To coordinate and intensify their cooperation and efforts to achieve a better life for the peoples of Africa;
To defend their sovereignty, their territorial integrity and independence;
To eradicate all forms of colonialism from Africa; and
To promote international cooperation, having due regard to the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Is the African Culture building the Africa we want?
I choose to take a neutral approach in responding to this question as I believe that in as much as they are components of the African Culture that may be aiding in the building of the world we want, there is a lot of cultural practices we need to move away from.
I believe the African Culture is building the Africa we want to the following extent:
Stemming from the roots of working together to fight colonisation, it is without a doubt that co-operation and togetherness are not strange tenets of the African Culture. There is a deliberate effort in creating regional groupings from a political-economic level to a social level. A number of organisations and groups (such as Afrobloggers- wink) are channels through which unity, solidarity and togetherness are promoted in Africa.
Another example can be seen from the mourning of the late Dr. Kenneth Kaunda (MHSRIP), various African States are mourning in solidarity with Zambia. This culture of community mourning can be seen from the grass root levels of most African communities. It definitely ties into building a united Africa we want.
2. I believe we want a developed and economically thriving Africa. The African culture is helping to build Africa in this light to the extent that most of our cultural and artistic skills marketable and revenue generating. The Nigeria Film industry (Nollywood) is an example of how far reaching the African Art industry can contribute to revenue generation.
Admittedly, we still face a number of set backs with regards development- lack ofgood governance and corruption being among the cross cutting limiting factors.
3. The African inspired fashion industry is economically and socially progressive for the Africa we want. From bantu knots to chitenges/kitenges it is without a doubt that now more than ever, African inspired fashion is very marketable. The Africa we want as per the AU objectives shared speaks to eradicating all forms of colonisation, I believe there’s a level of mental strength required to move past western standards being the golden standard. The embracing of African fashion is definitely contributing to the Africa we want.
In it’s objectives, the AU lists, “achieving a better life for the peoples of Africa” as a desired goal. I believe in this regard a better life is the most simplistic standard for the Africa we want.
In light of this, I believe the African Culture is not building a better life for the people to the following extent:
Child Marriages– in most African Cultures in their purest forms, child marriages were normalised and not frowned upon. The number of disadvantages this led to especially for the girl child are unfathomable. It is without a doubt that holding on to such cultural practices would not be for the advancement of the Africa we want.
2. Gender Based Violence- again, most African Cultures are rooted in viewing women as property. In marriages it was rarely frowned upon when husbands beat their wives. I believe we have had to be deliberate in moving away from such practices in order to promote the building of a better Africa.
3. Female Genital Mutilation (FMG)– This practice is deeply rooted in mist African Cultures and I sternly believe it does not in anyway contribute to the Africa we want. In his blog titled, A girl should be a lady A girl should be a lady , Benjamin details the types of FGM and the dehumanization it comes with. He states that, “Female Genital Mutilation takes very many forms, there people practicing it and don’t even know. FGM involves any kind of procedures that lead to the removal, reduction, lessening, and alteration of external female genitalia or any other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons according to WHO. I will not name the African countries where the practice takes place simply because it’s not just a few of them; it’s the whole continent that Mwene refers to as one big country. Note it is also practiced in other parts of the world but that cannot be an excuse for Africa.”
In conclusion, just like the yin and yang, I believe that there are both bad and good tenets in the African Culture. In order to build the Africa we truly we want, we have to decipher what is good from what is bad. We should be ready to keep the good and move away from the bad.
What is your take on this topic? I’d like to hear your views.
I think it is inadequate to speak of the African Culture without bringing music in the conversation. I’m very Afrocentric and gravitate a lot towards African Music- both old and new school.
In this post, I share up to 10 of my favourite jams across the continent. I should immediately say that this list is not exhaustive. Also, get your dancing shoes if you can or grab some coffee… as this will be both banging and soothing. Because if there’s one thing African Songs have it’s RANGE.
We dive in, with a befitting song to toot the African Horn:
2. Oh, Tuku… A regional and international treasure. This is one of my many favourites by him (he may feature more than once on this list):
3. This is one of Awilo’s greatest projects. At a very young age, I knew it was not a party before this song was played:
4. To keep the pace, here is yet another classic that captures the high African Spirit and our love for dance:
5. I bring you to my home town with is one- one of our timeless Artists (then known as Exile, now Israel)
6. Whilst we are in Zambia, it is only right that I roll out another one from a favourite:
7. We can’t deny the era, P-square ushered us into. This is definitely another African Sound. Easily made me get hooked onto Naija beats:
8. This list cannot be complete without a feature from the legendary Brenda Fassie. This my personal favourite from her:
9. To shine a light on the new school, I know this scale is not balanced, I reminisced on a few songs and found myself going deeper. Buuut, Sauti Sol!!!! Helloooo… these guys are really doing everything beautiful. Here’s one of my favourites by them:
10. And to end on a high note, here is one for your waists… Waah!
I love how diverse and beautiful the African Culture is. Music is a very integral part of our culture. It is used to entertain, comfort and educate as shown in the pieces shared above.
This week, the Afrobloggers camp is heating up Winter with all things Culture and Fashion. Looking forward to more of what the week has in store.