From the long messages when getting to know each other. The late night calls. The gradual yet intense obsession. The undeniable chemistry. The outbursts of laughter that made our lungs hurt. The deep, authentic, difficult conversations. The aligned visions. The matching energies. The locked hands. The tied souls.
The highs were high.
To losing sight of how we got there. The feelings of detachment and inadequacy. The betrayal. The loss of trust. The angry words. The strained affection. The altered perceptions. The tears. The forgiveness. The trying. The anxiety. The relapsing. The trying even harder. The depression. The failing to try eventually. Hands unlocked. Souls untied.
The lows were low.
Ours was the type of experience that SAW me. Deeply. Searched through the crazy cluttered spaces in my mind, heart and soul. Saw all the young emotions that I kept hidden. Saw my flaws, fears and errors. Broke my guard down and with every layer of unexpected characteristics and brokenness- strived to hold on tighter… you promised to be my fighter.
We strived for happy ever after
Ours was the type of experience that reminded me of… HOPE. Hope that I too could be loved deeply, exclusively and intentionally. Hope that there was a place away from what I had conformed to. Hope that it’s not always a bad idea to let others in. Hope in love, trust and forever.
I wish we made it to forever.
But ….. here we are, miles away from forever. At a split road. Disbanding our two man band. The show we took on the road was worth the while. Flaws and all. Thank you for chasing the highs with me. Thank you for battling through the lows with me.
You tried to lay down the beat, I tried to carry the tune. But maybe… maybe this song wasn’t ours to sing.
My mind and I are in a never ending war. It’s like my life is a miniature battle field. Some days, I triumph over it. Successfully reclaiming my sanity, calm and peace. Some days it wins our wars, pushing me to the edge and making me feel things I would rather not.
When does the cycle end though? I always wonder. Will there ever be a time when my happiness is not flavoured with random, intense waves of unexpected sadness? Is it something I should accommodate as “a part of my journey”? – these thoughts constantly flood my mind and the answers are lost on me.
But still, I sigh. Just kidding. I rise….. I guess. lol.
I am a fighter not a quitter. So, every time my mind wages war, I get in the ring and put up my best fight.
I am also one to allow myself to feel, so I live through the waves and this minimizes the risk of experiencing compound, complex lows which I may fail to overcome.
Writing is one of my ways to fight my mind, like right now. A random interlude on a working night to declutter my thoughts.
I hope it gets better eventually. My therapist commends my efforts in attempting wear my heart on my sleeves- I guess that counts for something.
What’s the point of masquerading and appearing to be perfect in an imperfect world?
Anyway, I’ll end here. (now to think of a title for this random blog lol)
If you’ve read this far, please send good vibes my way. (:
The Covid-19 pandemic has mandated several transitions in people’s lives. From personal choices like diet plans, hygiene measures and personality adjustments for people especially extroverts. To impersonal options, or consequences, such as the closure of businesses, restructuring of scheduled events, shortening of guest lists and loss or modification of jobs.
Undeniably, the employment and unemployment talk during the pandemic is one conversation that needs to be had, over and over again as it has affected so many people in different ways.
I am honored to add my perspective to the topic through this collaboration blog with my fellow incredible blogger, Lebogang who is South African based. She calls her blog the Sanctuary of Greatness and no truer words could be said. Her aura undoubtedly exudes greatness, do visit her blog and read her work: here
Whereas I will discuss what employment in a pandemic has been like, Lebogang will tackle unemployment in a pandemic.
We start with my perspective: EMPLOYMENT IN A PANDEMIC
How I got my job
I am currently working as a tax/legal consultant for an outstanding organization. I got my job in 2019, slightly after graduating from my undergraduate LLB program. It was after a series of unsuccessful applications in various firms and organizations. Till an opportunity came up through one of my best friends, who encouraged me to “give it a shot” and I did. The wait between sending the application and getting an interview call was very strenuous as I was not sure whether this application would also be unsuccessful. Luckily, the call came and I was scheduled to be interviewed. A few days after my very challenging interview, I was offered the placement. I have since been learning, growing and enjoying the journey from then till now.
Working under the lockdown andhow I coped
Before the pandemic, our office had a lot of habits that unknowingly formed our culture. Every morning, I would walk up to my desk and settle in. This would be followed by making breakfast, usually a cup of tea or coffee as I caught up on emails and read through the newspaper. Our breakfast sessions were enjoyable bonding time, from cracking jokes about sugar preferences to sharing what the other person packed and giving hot takes on trending social, economic and political topics.
Another common activity that was part of our office culture before Covid was celebrating wins or goodbyes through our “Take 5” mini parties. During the Take 5 parties, food platters and drinks would be bought after work hours and people would relax from the day, dance, sing along and share a good laugh.
When Covid-19 Pandemic rolled out, the entire firm enforced firm wide remote working as a safety measure and to also promote flexibility. It meant effective immediately, all members of staff were to work from home. A year later and this remains a firm policy.
At first, I thought working from home would be undeniably cool, I mean… no traffic jams, or wearing heels and “office clothes”. I must admit, the first few weeks were enjoyable. However, it eventually dawned on me that all the in-person bonds that formed our culture would be gone.
Further, with setbacks such as load shedding and terrible internet network, working from home was proving to be more cumbersome than imagined.
Another downside to remote working for me was having the same environment for most things. My bedroom was my office and class as I had online lessons at the time too. I got stressed out as the boundaries between leisure and work were blurred.
I continue to learn to maintain a balance of my worlds. Some days are easier than others.
Gratitude for being employed in these trying times
Despite the few challenges that I face in adjusting from the old way of working to the new normal, I recognize and count my blessings. I am eternally grateful to be employed in these difficult times, where people were being laid off or having their benefits readjusted. I do not take it for granted. It is for this reason that I always strive to perform at my best and not abuse the blessings God has given me. I count it all joy.
What could be done to eradicate such a highrate of unemployment
In my country, Zambia, a lot of factors may be cited as causes for the high unemployment rates.
From the private sector perspective, I believe the question is mainly that of capacity. Digital transformation and consequent closing of physical offices have led to the laying off of workers, such as office orderlies. Further, the automation of most procedures has seen technology replacing people that would do the manual tasks. To eradicate unemployment in the private sector, I feel fiscal and tax incentives need to be improved to allow for growth of the companies which would in turn increase employment capacities and salaries would not be looked at as an unnecessary cost.
From the public sector perspective, I believe it all goes down to good governance. A good governance structure or system would allow for policies to be put in place to firstly curb corruption which takes away money that may be used for developmental projects. For instance, if more industries were to be opened, it would capture and create jobs for people in both the formal and informal sectors. Further good governance would allow for appropriate channeling of resources and creation of financial support models for Start ups and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).
Words of love and encouragement
To everyone employed: Firstly, if you are part of the health care system and have been one of our frontline workers, I WHOLEHEARTEDLY salute you. Thank you for your grace, dedication, and sacrifice. Thank you for saving lives. Secondly, for everyone who is an essential worker showing up in offices despite the pandemic, whenever you feel overwhelmed, please be reminded to count your blessings instead. Thirdly, to everyone learning and trying to adjust their lives around remote working. Stay in there. Find breathers and ways to reduce burnout that is increasingly high from feeling confined in the same environment. Above all, stay grateful for the blessings that you have.
To everyone unemployed: I know it can’t be easy. We live in a world where the cost of living keeps escalating, making it hard to keep up. I am Christian by faith, and I believe in the Lord making all things beautiful in His time. Your season will surely come, and it will surely be astonishing. I am sending you love and prayers. I believe Lebogang’s perspective below will be very insightful and helpful. Remember you are not alone and you are loved.
Lebogang’s perspective: UNEMPLOYMENT IN A PANDEMIC
As a young girl, I had dreams which kept me focused on my studies. I was always an A-student. When I finished my tertiary studies, I never thought I would ever join the statistics of unemployed youth in South Africa. I felt so helpless. It was as if I disappointed that little girl in me who had big dreams, whose sky was no longer the limit but a surface. Disappointments from people are easy to walk past through. At least you have something to shift the blame to. The distress is worse if it is self-inflicted. It is hard to deal with feelings of self-disappointments. That little girl in me might not be proud of what I have become, but she is sure proud and content with how much I fought to be where I am today. I am just grateful to God because I am not where I used to be.
The dynamite Nsatu and I had joined heads to pen down our experiences with (Un) employment in the pandemic. I met Nsatusile during the WinterABC2021 challenge in June. I loved reading her stories. It was her authentic self that drew me to her blog, I kept checking her work daily during the winter challenge. Check her incredible blog and experience her many skills and talents. She is not only a creative writer but a whole qualified Lawyer.
We agreed that we would tackle both angles of the coin. From unemployment to being employed and the pecks which comes from both sides. Similarities, differences, and the overall sense of humanity whether you are employed or not.
My own experiences on being unemployed.
I had my fair share of actively seeking employment but was unable to find one. It has been a rollercoaster of emotions. Just when you finish your studies, super excited to work for what you studied. I could not fight back the excitement of earning a salary, having my apartment, and taking full responsibility for my family. Having been raised by a single parent, my earnest dream was to see my mom staying home, not working. I wanted to take full responsibility for her and my siblings. The reality of life proved me contrarily. I found myself working jobs that I did not study as. That was not even the case. The case started when I did not even get any employment to begin. I applied for every post I saw on the internet, social media, and word of mouth. People would notify me whenever there were any opportunities, and I would faithfully apply. But nothing came through. At times I did not even have data to send out emails. Now the hustle shifted from looking for a job to hustling few bucks to buy data bundles.
How unemployment affected my mental health
There are a lot of slurs attached to it. It is like watching your own life being flushed down the drain every single day when you wake up in the morning. Sometimes you question your sense of living. By the grace of God, I never had suicidal thoughts. Whenever people speak about their unemployment seasons, suicide is often mentioned. It gets to a point where you question your ‘why’ of living. For me, it affected my mental health. I fell deep into anxiety. The thing with anxiety is that it induces you to direct your focus, into the problem, not the solution. Instead of exploring possible doors, your mind starts playing games with you and makes you believe that your life is over. You begin to think that you will amount to zero in life. Fear starts slithering itself in, and next thing you are deep into the den of lions which you do not know how you got there.
I began to isolate myself. Being in the midst of people gave me severe despair. I constantly gauged myself with those around me. I felt like I did not fit in some spaces. Isolation became my only rescue. I am naturally joyful to be around, so my family started to notice some changes in behavior. I got disgruntled quite quickly, which was unlike me. By the grace of God, I have the most loving family who covered me with love more than anything. To them, I was still a sister who had the potential to achieve anything I wanted. Whatever they saw, it did not quite make sense to me. See, sometimes we love to be ‘Mother Theresas’ in our families. We put too much pressure on ourselves unnecessarily, only to find that they love us the way we are, not for what we have and accumulated. Yes, they wish the best for us. It does not mean when we have not achieved anything, would not love us. They would still show us love and care.
Do you know why sometimes we go through anxiety and all the discomfort which comes with being unemployed? It is because we compare ourselves with our peers. I have emphasized this quite a lot of times on my blog about the comparison. It is very dangerous, and it can cost you happiness. I saw most of my peers already having jobs, depicting cars, and others already getting married with baby number two on the way. I started having panic attacks. I spent most of my time on social media, depressing myself even more. I got used to congratulating people and thought I would never make it in my life. Comparison is toxic. If we were not comparing ourselves with other people, we would never feel as though we missed out on anything. Because we would be focusing on our own lives. Let me warn you of the effects of social media. Comparison is induced by the mirage of lifestyles we see on social media. I am not saying you should stop using social apps. Limit your time if possible. We use social apps for marketing, advertising, and all the other benefits. So it can be advantageous to us. Manage your time on social media and guard your heart.
How to deal with negativity that comes with being unemployed.
I realized that we are all facing something in our lives. Unemployment does not begin with me, and it will not end with me. My emotional state became a priority. I got tired of all sorts of negative emotions. People perceive unemployed people as lazy, and I believe that unless one goes through the season, you would never understand the emotional trauma which comes with being unemployed. It is even harsh if there are responsibilities and bills to settle. You apply and knock on every possible door, but nothing comes up. I want to encourage you to stop being hard on yourself. Most of the people got retrenched and lost jobs during the pandemic. You are not alone. Appreciate yourself and celebrate life the best way your know-how. God has plans for your life, it is not over yet.
Have a vision
It was a vision that kept me going. I knew what I wanted and where I was going. That is why I was able to remain focused. Jot down your vision and start cultivating it. You know too well what you are good at, develop your skills, and start working. Do not wait for things to come into place. Start wherever you are, with what you have. If it is a business, do not wait to have capital. You can start with what you have as you grow.
The unemployment season of my life taught me to focus on my purpose and deepen my relationship with God. When everyone else was busy with the hustles and bustles of this life, I had more time to study the word of God and pray. My faith became my priority. God developed my patience and taught me to put my confidence in Him. At the time, I did not see it, but I realized after I passed through that phase that God was right there with me holding my hands and directing my paths.
Unemployment is real. Especially now during the pandemic, people got retrenched, and others lost their jobs. It is only fair to assist where we can and be there for each other. If you are unemployed, do not be afraid to start from the beginning. Build yourself with anything and grow into it. Your employment is in your mind and of course, your hands. Use your skills wiser.
Thank you for reading our perspectives on this very delicate and important topic.
Please share what your personal experiences have been like and on which side of the coin you fall.
Thank you Lebogang for being amazing to collaborate with. Looking forward to many more works together. 🙂
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.
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.
When the idea to tackle this topic for Day 6 of the WinterABC challenge was birthed in my mind, I hesitated. Mostly because I thought it would be yet another procedural tone when I should be tackling substantive issues already. Then I had a shift of mind, I realised that by writing about Digital Advocacy, I was in fact- advocating for it. I decided to proceed against this realization.
For those old enough to have lived through the era when there was no internet and social media, you will agree that if you were told then that mass campaigns and fights against various injustices could be done behind the screen- you would gasp in disbelief. Previously, Advocacy looked like place cards and marching bands chanting their convictions and calling out injustices. These days, Advocacy looks like #Hashtags, tweets, retweets, blog posts and so much more. We are living in an era that has witnessed the uprising of Digital Advocacy.
Digital Advocacy is defined by Policy as, “the use of technology to galvanize people towards a cause, whether it’s a policy or a product. It’s an organized effort to influence public perception. Adding that, at it’s core, it can be one of the strongest forces of civic technology” .
The emergence of Digital Advocacy has been received by two main opposing views.
On one hand, there are people who ridicule the cause, condescendingly calling digital advocates “key board warriors”. Those that subscribe to this school of thought argue that injustices are reduced to “trends” or “hot topics” and that whether or not change is truly achieved, people move from one trend to another depending on what is latest. It is further argued that, digital advocacy is elitist as it only focuses on injustices that are able to reach media platforms and sidelines other injustices that may not be as “popular”. Under this perspective, it is lamented that after some time the hash-tags become… hush; whilst people’s grievances remain …. harsh.
On the other hand, there are people- like me, who recognise and appreciate the level of influence that is driven through digital advocacy. It is undeniable now more than ever, given the digital escalation that was mandated by the Covid outbreak, that the world is integrated through social and professional media platforms. I regard the internet as a window or portal to the outside world, it promotes integration and broadens perspectives.
Whereas the criticisms raised by those with reservations against digital advocacy may be emanating from genuine concerns, I believe it is disrespectful at best and inhumane at worst to belittle real life experiences and injustices into “trends”. The motives of all digital advocates cannot be stated with certainty for sure. However, I believe the same can be said about traditional advocates who would rally and chant. Even in that setting, one could only hope the cause was being supported from a genuine place. I strongly believe the same applies to digital advocacy and it cannot be justifiably sidelined based on this concern. Additionally, in a world filled with injustices, it is unfair to expect digital advocates to not vocalize or amplify on various causes in the fear of being perceived as “moving from trend to trend”.
I had a colleague who once argued that, the fact that first world injustices are broadcasted more than those of the third world is unfair. The said colleague made lengthy posts complaining about how attention is not given to local struggles. Again, I respected the perspective but was still bothered by the approach…I mean, would it not be better to use the platform you have to highlight the said local struggles than police and condemn others on how they advocate and what they choose to advocate for?
Furthermore, and unfortunately, just because a cause is fought for or supported doesn’t always imply results will yield at the desired rate. This is such a bitter pill to swallow for activists/advocates and it leads to advocacy fatigue when efforts are perceived to be in vain. However, it is no wonder that causes are fought for consistently. For instance, till date, every #InternationalWomen’sDay highlights problems that still need tackling because the patriarchal institution will take generations to follow to fully dismantle. Against this background, I contend that to perceive efforts by digital advocates to be moot because some results are not being achieved as hoped for is misguided, respectfully.
Having said that, I believe the power of digital advocacy cannot be overemphasized. Social media movements such as #MeToo have stirred up much needed conversations that cut across boarders. They allowed for people to feel seen and heard. The assurance of not being alone and the courage to share stories. Support groups emerged to help victims seek the desired justice and that is but only one example of how powerful and effective Digital Advocacy is.
Some notable things to consider when it comes to Digital Advocacy as guided by Voices of Youth, include:
Goals – what are you trying to achieve?
Audiences – who are you trying to influence?
Messages – what do you want them to know & do?
Tactics – how will you get there?
Timeline – when will you do what?
Monitoring & Evaluation – how successful are you
In conclusion, I reiterate that Digital Advocacy is not only inevitable in the era we are living in but is also beneficial. Notably, it may not be without flaws and as such, I urge anyone who notes flaws to be more solutions driven, being the change that’s desired to be seen as opposed to ridiculing the entire cause.
To all Digital Advocates reading this, never feel that your efforts are in vain. The post, retweet and hashtag movement you actively participate in has a positive ripple effect in the fight against injustices and in the support for noble causes.
The temperatures are dropping and the temptation to do the bare minimum and stay warm is at a high. However, we as Afrobloggers are defying the odds and pulling out our creative, informative and educative cards as we adequately deliberate on various topics. This week ushers us into the next phase of the #WinterABC2021 challenge.
As can be seen from my title, this week is all about Advocacy!!! I am more than excited to use this opportunity to share my convictions, beliefs and support to various causes on my blog. I am also thrilled to see what my fellow bloggers will be up to this week. I expect the various blogging platforms to be intense with LOUD, UNFILTERED and UNAPOLOGETIC voices!
For my first post of the Advocacy Week, I decided to be more procedural than substantive by discussing the difference between Advocacy and Activism ( for some reason, I believe this topic may be tackled by more bloggers- but, I feel it’s a fundamental build up to the rest of the week, so I’ll dive into it anyway).
I must state immediately though, that I did not always know that one could differentiate advocacy from activism or vice versa. For a long time, I used the two terminologies interchangeably. Until I discovered there are actually different albeit being related. This post will highlight the major differences between the two.
What is Advocacy?
Advocacy is defined as “an act of speaking on behalf an individual, organisation, or idea”. It is used as a canopy term for many intervention tools. It includes active lobbying via letter writing, meetings, running public forums, questions in parliament and other influential settings, participating in various consultative processes, digital advocacy etc.
To be an advocate is to speak and learn about social and political issues. Advocates bring attention to and EXPOSE injustices, thereby helping the activist in the fight against that said injustice. Advocates bring pivotal considerations from a grass root level to the forefront of popular conversation. It is said that Advocates use their platforms to draw attention to activists who initialize change.
Eva Lewis raises a cardinal point by arguing that, there are two parts to advocacy- vocalizing and amplifying. She importantly highlights that although everyone’s voice is important, there are instances were a step must be taken back to not vocalize but rather amplify the voices of others. (SO PROFOUND)
Stephen Hall summarizes the characteristics of Advocacy as follows:
Advocacy has three key components: relationships, sound policy, and respect;
Advocacy could be described as pre-emptive influence;
Advocacy can be either pro-active or re-active;
Advocacy usually has a non adversarial, diplomatic; soft touch
Advocacy can look like: lobbying for budget allocations, taxation changes, policy development and initiating and promoting dialogue
What is Activism?
Activism is understood to be the collective action to exert pressure on centers of power in order to remedy grievances and felt injustices. This is achieved by organizing, strategizing, mobilizing, and educating.
To be an activist is to act on one’s own behalf and on the behalf others when solving multi-sectorial issues such as: social, economic, cultural, religious and political issues. It is to be at the forefront of a movement, often times compromising one’s energy, resources and safety in order to seek justice and evoke change.
Stephen Hall summarizes the characteristics of Activists as follows:
Activism involves the use of vigorous campaigning to bring desired change;
Activism is often the result of a lack of relationships or unsuccessful advocacy
Activism sometimes uses questionable tactics – or even “illegal means” such as civil disobedience and non-violent or violent actions
Activism tends to be reactive to an issue
Lacks direct communication and relationships with key decision makers, hence relies heavily on media or the role of Advocates who may be better placed to have influential discussions with centers of power;
My understanding is that, most times activists are part of the direct group feeling the impact of a certain injustice. Whereas, Advocates albeit not being directly impacted, empathize and still use their voices in solidarity to champion the cause being driven by Activists and to amplify their concerns and greivances.
Can one be both an Advocate and Activist?
My answer to the question is YES.
From the foregoing distinction between the two, one would perceive Activists as soldiers on the battlefront whilst Advocates help in procuring the needed ammunitions and other supplies required to win the war. However, I would argue that Advocates are war buddies of Activists and that both play a pivotal, battle front role in fights against injustices.
Both are necessary in order to create systemic change. They help to bring about important social, political, and cultural changes throughout the world. Arguably, without one, the other cannot function.
“To be an activist is to speak and act. To be an advocate is to listen and dialogue. Society can’t move forward without both.“
In my view, the consequence of mislabeling when it comes to what one identifies as between the two is not detrimental. In fact, I believe it does not matter whether one identifies as an Activist or an Advocate. If anything, I would argue it is very possible to act in both capacities- consecutively or simultaneously. I believe what is cardinal is to speak and fight for what is right.
After all, as the saying goes:
“One who remains silent in instances of injustice, chooses the side of the oppressor”
In the days to come, I will use this platform to vocalize my various convictions and amplify sentiments shared by others. Whether I will be regarded as an Activist or Advocate should be secondary to the matters that will be tackled which should be of primary importance and great concern.
Welcome to yet another session of the Creatives Hub – a place where the various players in the creative cycle share their perspectives. Thank you for returning to this platform and following the discussions our panelists have been gracefully leading.