Toxic friendship story time

This is my first post as an Award winning blogger (insert relevant gif). Thank you so much for voting for me, I really appreciate the love and support. Special shout out to Kenyans for giving me a 1000+ views since I moved to Nairobi.

Since we are still in a celebratory mood, we are loosening up a bit in today’s post. As the title suggests, I will be talking about toxic friendships, mine in particular.This is the part where I give you a commercial break so you can get your tissue (you’ll need it) and tea cause sis is about to serve you (see what I did there).

Here is the thing about toxic friends. Most of the time you realise they were toxic after you’ve cut them off. I think it’s like that with all toxic relationships. When you finally find people who genuinely love and care for you, their kind gestures leave you in shock because you had normalized mistreatment. Ndithi even the red flags look like Cupid’s arrows. The smoke from the toxicity is blinding. That’s why I’m not a fan of that “love is blind” phrase.

This happened in my first year of uni. I met this girl in school. We also stayed in the same place so we gradually became friends. Let’s call her Luba. Since we stayed in the same place we used to go to and from school together. At some point Luba became too familiar and she felt entitled to my belongings. This girl would take my stuff without asking me. Yeah maybe friends do that but boundaries are always set. There are some things that you don’t touch because your friend values them. Also there’s absolutely nothing wrong with asking. Even the bible says you must ask and you shall be given (Matthew 7 v 7).
Well some days we didn’t go to school together because one of us would wake up late and the other didn’t want to be inconvenienced. So on this particular day I went to school before her. A few minutes into the lesson sis glides into class in my shoes. Ah.

Let’s talk about the shoes. I never used to wear those shoes frequently because I loved them. Besides, they were the type of shoes that are worn by people with cars, in the sense that if you walk too much, they  give up on you. Sis decided those were the ones she wanted to wear. Secondly, they were not even her size. Those who know me know I have a small foot (both in length and width), sis has a bigger foot so she obviously expanded my precious babies.

After class, we leave together. I’m so annoyed because dude why are you wearing my shoes. I confronted her and she just laughed it off. Apparently she also got mad because instead of entering the matatu (kombi) with me, she decided she was going to walk all the way to town, in my shoes guys. We get home and my shoes, my shoes are unrecognisable. Sis carried all the Nairobi dust and that’s not even the worst part. Sandals usually have that metal thing underneath (I think it’s for support) and when that thing comes out, it makes an annoying sound when you walk, plus it’s just uncomfortable wearing such shoes. So I picked my shoes to clean them, next thing I see the metal thingy peeping out. Yho my heart. I was angry guys, I’m talking about  the anger that  leaves you on mute.

One thing about Luba is that she never owned up to her faults. The word sorry didn’t exist in her vocabulary. On the rare occasions that she used it, it came with a ‘but’, or a rain of tears, accompanied with “it’s not my fault I’m like this” and a series of childhood stories.

One particular incident that I still think about till now is the day I decided to treat her and my other friends to Debonairs pizza. So we take a matatu to town and we get to the place. So far so good. Then the complaints started rolling in; “the pizza is taking too long, I regret coming here.”
The pizza came and the whole time sis was complaining about how dry it was without soda and it was ” a waste of her time”. The whole time I was quiet cause I was trying to figure out why and how I was catching L’s like this. Funny thing is she complained but she still ate it, and there was no “thank you ” in sight, just vibes. I forgot to add that she had agreed to pay for the transport fare on going back home, but she decided she wasn’t going to do that anymore. So yes, I paid for it.

Throwback to last year around this time

The best gauge  is to see how you feel after interacting with such people. If you are always feeling emotionally exhausted after an encounter with them then they are definitely toxic. They bring you down more than up, they suck out all the positivity in you.

I had quite a number of unpleasant encounters with Luba which left me at my lowest. I will not dwell on most of them because I’m planning to write a book about that lol. I remember one time I cried the whole night cause sis turned one of my guy friends against me and told me to “choose” between him and her. Yah neh.

Anyway, I want to thank God for opening my eyes and  blessing me with genuine friends who love me.
Thank you so much for reading. Don’t forget to share and leave comments. Have a lovely weekend lovelies

Generation Z-ealous part 4- the last chapter

I can almost taste the pungent odor of Fear.

I can hear it’s nefarious laughter echoing through the streets, the abandoned streets. Its fingers are snapping to the sound of our dying heartbeats. I can feel its hot breath too, spitting profanities to me, to you. Unsullied fingers grovel when they touch the hideous dents Fear has left; in my soul, your soul, our souls.

I can see it.

Fear is just a body of four letters thirsting for attention and relevance. Fear is just a four letter word whose impact can end a dream worth saving four generations.

Fear brandishes its ego in your face and you shudder, neglecting the powers bestowed upon you. Fear looks at you with pride. You are its heir, you’ll carry its legacy at the expense of yours.

Fear is intimidating but Fear is powerless. It salivates at your negative thoughts and feeds off your careless talk.

Fear is powerless, because if it was powerful, gigantic dreams and visions like these would be palatable but unachievable


Tshepang Laurence Mahlatsi was diagnosed with depression during and after his involvement with the Fees Must Fall movement in South Africa in 2016. The trauma that came with this life changing experience was the beginning of (a) next chapter.

“Next Chapter is a public benefit company registered with the CIPC. Our aim is to get everyone comfortable enough to start a conversation about mental health. As a company, we avail ourselves and our personal stories, our resources and our expertise.”

The final year law student at the University of Freestate in South Africa exudes passion and dedication. He commenced his studies in 2013 but was forced to take a break in 2016 after his mental health was compromised. “The whole experience took a toll on my psychological wellbeing. My degree was supposed to take 5 years but I took a break in 2016. I then resumed in 2017. I strongly believe that our roles and journeys in life are different. This means that our challenges will also be different. There is no need to rush ourselves in our quest for qualifications. We fight so many battles and sometimes it’s all about discipline,” he says.

He is also the co-founder of Tshepang Mahlatsi (pty) ltd, a company that helped him formalise his speaking career. He has closely worked with Lesedi fm, thus branding himself as a professional speaker who specialises in law, social justice and mental health.

Mahlatsi believes it is imperative for society to understand and be supportive of people with mental health issues. Society includes me and you, it encompasses universities and families. “Universities are not doing enough to build, assist and develop strategies for students with regards to mental health. Some factors of psychological well being are not taken into account. There is also the issue of diversity. People tend to have a traditional way of dealing with mental illness and most universities don’t take this into account. However, by incorporating organisations such as Next Chapter in their quest to tackle mental illnesses, universities make progress.”

He also highlights the importance of families in this regard. “Families, sometimes, are not prepared to listen and understand so students are forced to seek therapists, of which some cannot. They should also understand that depression or any other mental illness is not about them and does not paint them as failures.”

Mahlatsi’s future plans are not the typical champagne wishes and caviar dreams. He concludes; “we have changed success to be materialistic and I have normalised uncertainty. In future, I want to see myself happy, content and at peace with self.”


“I chose photography as a medium of expressing my art because photography is worth a thousand words.” These are the hued words of Ian Soi. The 19 year old popularly known as ‘Ian Tweezy’ is a part time student and part time photographer based in Nairobi, Kenya.

His creative prowess manifested itself throughout his childhood. “When I was young, I used to take pictures of everything and it did not stop as I grew older. I got my first camera roughly 3 years ago. Before that, I used my friend’s camera. It is therefore safe to say I did not choose photography, but it chose me.”

Criticisms are naturally projected to us. What you choose to do with the somewhat venomous words can make or break you. Soi’s approach to criticism has allowed him to grow. “Dealing with criticism is all about mindset. If you take it negatively, it will definitely take a toll on you. If you take it with a positive attitude, your work gets better and better every time you pick up the camera and shoot,” he says.

His expertise has accorded him with heroic achievements. In August 2019, one of his images was featured on Vogue Italia. The image was handpicked from a project dubbed ‘Hijab X Denim’.

Moreover, he affirms that juggling school and photography is undemanding for him. “I have school during the week and I’m usually free in the weekend. My weekend is mostly dedicated to my shoots.”

One of his wishes is to shoot with the renowned fashion photographer and youtuber, Jessica Kobeissi. “She is outstanding in what she does and I’ve learnt a lot from her over the years.”

He further urges the youth to follow their dreams and ends with his favourite photography quote:

“Shoot what you know and shoot what you love.”


Ryan Chitemere has taken his passion and expertise to launch a brand whilst being classified as a looming tech entrepreneur. The 20 year old Zimbabwean is currently based in Asia and North America and is the founder, chairman and CEO of Briskapt Inc.

His company specialises in creating technology products as well as software and hardware. The company’s main mission is to create products that empower people. “The motivation comes from the urge to solve problems, be innovative and to invent new products that empower people.”

His love for technology dates back to his childhood, and the young man has since worked hard to enhance his skills to realise his childhood dream. He recalls “loving computers ever since he was a child.”

Being an entrepreneur can be challenging, especially when you are a student. One of the biggest hurdles is handling responsibilities that come with work and school. However, Ryan makes reference to one of the challenges he has had to tackle in his journey thus far. “As time went by, I realised that some of the things taught in school did not correlate with what happens in the outside world.”

Despite this, the future is promising for him and for Briskapt Inc. His advice to young people is “Just do it. There are ups and downs but you have to be willing to take the risk.”


Thank you to everyone who has allowed me to share their stories. This is my last post under the Generation Z-ealous series. I’ve enjoyed working on it and I’m so happy to have interacted with many inspiring young people.

As usual, we end this with my favourite quote:

To the young brilliant minds with their names inscribed on this page, and the countless achievements recorded under their names, I’ve one thing to say to you; don’t forget that the bulky dreams you carry to bed every night are authored to be actualities, so dream on -Nkosinosizo Mkhwananzi.

Generation Z-ealous Part 3: ft the random thoughts of a locked up girl

Fingers nervously tapping on the keyboard, I sigh. Can I really do this, will I really do this? It’s been what? 9 months since I allowed my emotions to scatter all over this screen, your screen.

Day 500 and something of not feeling the sun’s rays glaze over my now chapped cheeks; my fingers trace over the African map patterned by the flakiness. Truth is I’m drowning in the monotony of this captivity; eat, sleep, wake up and repeat; or maybe I should eat, sleep, wake up and be…..fit?


Bongekile Gumede, better known as Bonge Gumede is a fitness enthusiast and content creator based in Johannesburg, South Africa. Born and bred in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, the 20 year old is also studying Brand Strategic Communications.

She has been steadily making grown woman moves, although she admits the vision was once “partly cloudy”. “I have always been confused as to what I would do with my life after school. I played a lot of sport growing up. In my head that meant I was in good shape and I was fit. On the contrary, this was not the case. I learnt this the day I first walked into a gym and attempted to do a sit up. I just couldn’t do it. At some point I even thought it was merely impossible but I kept pushing and I never looked back. I was in and out of the gym rethinking this whole thing and when I eventually decided to push myself, my life changed. That is how my journey to being a fitness enthusiast began.”

Most of us are bloated with the idea ‘bulkiness’ and ‘chunkiness’ when we think of fitness. Well, that is not Bonge. “Fitness and health is not just about what we see in the mirror and on Instagram posts. It is mainly about the mentality. I have had challenges with my mental health that I am still working on till this day .I have faced a LOT of challenges when it comes to my fitness journey but the one that stands out was when, 3 months ago I stood in front of the mirror and I completely broke down because I was not happy with what I was seeing. I disliked every part of my body mainly because after having put in so much work in the gym and changing my eating plan, my reflection did not attest to that. This is why I say the mental aspect plays the biggest role in one’s fitness and health journey. What caused that break down was not because I hadn’t made any progress physically – it was all in my head. I have had one too many of those moments but I am now constantly working on the way I view myself as a person, teaching myself about self-love and reciting my self-affirmations on a daily basis.”

We have been uprooted in the belief that the corporate world is the ideal work place, so being a fitness enthusiast is more like throwing an egg in society’s face. I guess our Queen has thrown a dozen. Coming from a family of analysts, upcoming engineers, lecturers, an entrepreneur, a travel guide, and lots of teachers, she admits that being a fitness enthusiast and/or a creative is not something that has always been encouraged in her family or at school. “I strongly believe that we are advised to dream big and that’s exactly what I have done but the twist here is that you are allowed to dream big but making sure that your dreams are aligned with what’s expected of you. It all comes from a place of love and wanting to see your loved ones become successful. It has not been an easy one and it won’t get any easier. I think about this a lot because I know what it feels like to want to hear that “yes” or “you have my support” from the people that you love the most and you just don’t receive it. I know what it feels to want to share the small success stories with your loved ones but not being able to because you know they won’t see it the way you wish they could. It’s a lot but I will tell you that all of that has moulded me into a force. I had to go through that to be the person that I am knowing that nothing can break me. I cannot wait to build and sit on a table with all my loved one’s and share the success.”

Instagram : @bonge.gumede/ @fitbongegumede
Twitter: @bongegumede

Bonge affirms that balancing school and pursuing her dreams can be challenging, but the tenacious force has this to say; “Do not fear being different or having a different way of seeing things. Whatever you want to do, believe in yourself and work hard. Challenges will come in all shapes and sizes, take the time to cry or scream then get up the next day and work even harder. The greatest advice I’ve ever received is that you shouldn’t wait to hear the “yes” or the “go ahead you have my support” from anybody – this is your journey and if God has put something in your heart he will see you through it.”

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Time crawls when you are encaged.


Fingers nervously tapping on the screen, I sigh. I am hungry! My mind salivates at the thought of having a dose of freshly ground air.

I am hungry though, literally.


Interesting fact: The genesis of this dish dates back to a 4 letter word; LOVE.

“Paulo’s Place, named after my maternal grandfather ,Paul, began as a love letter to my family and those who came before me.”

Zandi Sindiswa Mlotshwa is the owner and manager of Paulo’s Place, a mobile food stall and catering company. I personally consider her an upcoming brilliant culinary entrepreneur. The 20 year old started cooking at the age of 11, a time when I was still perfecting my talent of boiling water. ” I started cooking when I was eleven. I have always loved food, the art of making food and eating , but I never thought that this would become something that I want to do for the rest of my life. I wanted to emulate my mother, my favourite chef in the world, so I stumbled my way around the kitchen, her happy place, until I found my footing. I fell in love and it has been a whirlwind ever since.”

Her grandfather’s culinary expertise ordained him to be the family’s first foodie. He passed down his knowledge of different cultures and cuisines to his children and, subsequently, Zandi.


“My fondest memories as a child revolve around food, sitting around a table or a fire, sharing a meal with the people who make me who I am. It is the story of my life,” she says.
Zandi has accomplished a lot in a year, enough to qualify her dreams as validated. Growing up in a society where dreams such as hers are undermined, Zandi’s confidence alludes to her family. “I have been lucky to be surrounded by a lot of people who have pursued alternative career paths so I have not faced any criticism with regards to what it is that I do. But because I live in Zimbabwe, I am aware that the general consensus is that there is little success in the culinary industry or in any art-driven field. By God’s grace, I would like to change that narrative for myself and those around.”Instagram : @paulosplacezw


There is no going back for Paulo’s Place. Zandi is a woman on a mission, armed with a vision. “Five years from now, I want Paulo’s Place Burger Bar to be the favoured eat-out spot in my hometown, high-end fast food at your home away from home. I want to still be cooking, honouring my family name and legacy, and bringing people together. The future looks good.”


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Fingers nervously tapping on the keyboard, I sigh. I’m floating in a plethora of emotions, my breathing is drumming to the sound of silence.
How I long to hear a voice, an authoritative voice, a force, someone, anyone ,to dramatically clap their hands and say “CUT! Nkosie you have forgotten your lines again!”
I wish we were in a movie, or we were just a muddled up puzzle. How I wish the power of this pandemic was vested in a script.

“I was born and raised in Durban, in a small neighbourhood called Montclair. I lived with my parents and 2 siblings. In 2017, I moved to Johannesburg to study Film and Television at the University of Witwatersrand.”

Three years down the line, Phumelele Mkhwanazi is pursuing her Honors year in the course. She is also an Instagram influencer and photographer/editor. “Through my degree, I’ve learnt the art and techniques of directing, producing , cinematography, post production, set design and more.”


She overflows with joie de vivre, elegance, confidence, curiosity and ambition. An ardent student, Phume has various achievements to her name. “I recently got featured on 5fm for a feature I did on an EP

by officiallyyourstrulymusic where I did a live performance with a few other artists ,Ammo Moses and Tasmon day. We performed on Kid Fonques show – Selective styles.”

Phume also identifies herself as an advocate for body positivity. “I strongly believe in women being able to post whatever they want to post without being judged for it. Body positivity and women having a positive mindset no matter what people have to say is something I stand for,” she says.Instagram: coco_mkhwanazi
                    loco_por_photos

As a young black female navigating a male dominated industry, she admits that challenges do arise, but hard as it may be, determination always conquers. “As hard as it is trying to go into a male dominated industry , my advice for someone aspiring to go into it is to make sure you’re always doing something to enhance your skills , stay MOTIVATED because it will get hard. Know your PURPOSE because things only get easier when you know WHY you’re doing what you’re doing. Be CONFIDENT in what you are doing so no one has the power to bring you down.”

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Last night I had a dream. I was at the beach, my feet covered in the sand. The saltiness of the ocean was lingering on the tip of my tongue. It’s authenticity and refreshing aura was blissful, it reminded me of a girl, a beautiful girl. Its rage epitomized that of a certain girl I know, Sahara Bare.

Much to my disappointment, I woke up.
My dream was cut short, but Sahara’s has just begun.

At just 22, Sahara has the title of CEO engraved to her name. Alongside her friend Halima Said, they have launched a cleaning company, Dirt Proof Limited.
“Dirt proof is a cleaning company based in Nairobi, offering both commercial and residential cleaning services within Nairobi.”

Clawing her way to success, Sahara’s story traces back to her home country, Somalia. “Halima and I launched the company at at a time when we were both going through rough patches with our families; her being the first born   and dealing with personal issues ,me trying to get myself somewhere soon enough to be able to help my family back in Somalia. In my society, it’s not often that you hear of a  girl being given the opportunity I was given to pursue education. My father had the option to choose my brothers instead. For that reason I believe I always have a point to prove  to him and the multitudes who were against his decision.”
The 2nd year law student opted for a cleaning company to other businesses for various reasons. “The cleaning industry is basically everlasting as I would say and it has great opportunities. It’s market is not as  congested as other sectors. Moreover Kenya is a developing country and cleaning companies are definitely on high demand,” she says.

Running a business whilst holding down other responsibilities can be emotionally and mentally exhausting, especially if you are surrounded by unsupportive people.”It gets even harder being a female when your family is already providing you with everything you need and mostly education. The question is always what are you lacking or why are you wasting your time on work when you have food and school. Getting them to see or believe in your dreams is always a task so most of the time we do our work without involving them. One of my family members once asked me  what I was doing and went on to say ”I  don’t see you making money so what’s the point of you working on something everyday.”

“It is demoralising. There are always challenges and at each stage, I learn something new. That’s the best part.
Everyday I learn something new and through it, I’m discovering myself,
my strengths and ambitions.”
Despite the challenges, Sahara is determined to nurture Dirt Proof to it’s full potential. “I see myself doing so much for my family, giving opportunities to those who identify to my situation, being a major employer in Kenya, a great entrepreneur, a successful lawyer and finally being the best version of myself- a phenomenal woman!”

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If you are reading this, thank you so much for taking time to read my blog. This article is very personal to me. I started working on it last week and I only finished it…..now. My mental health has been on the line so this has been very challenging . For the same reason, I decided to name this ‘the diary of a locked up girl edition’. I wanted to share my thoughts and feelings with you as raw as they are. This pandemic has come as a shock to the whole world; we have lost lives, we are living in fear. In the midst of all this chaos, let us not forget to pray always because God helps (that’s the meaning of my name lol). Let us pray for the lives lost and their families, let us pray for God to heal the world.

Moreover, let us take care of our mental health. It is just as important as physical health. If you need someone to talk to, I am here for you. I understand you, I can relate to whatever you are feeling.

And lastly, as I always end my Generation Z-ealous posts;

To the young brilliant minds with their names inscribed on this page, and the countless achievements recorded under their names, I’ve one thing to say to you; don’t forget that the bulky dreams you carry to bed every night are authored to be actualities, so dream on. -Nkosinosizo Mkhwananzi.

SAVED: overcoming depression and anxiety

She wears a charming smile as she prances around

But deep down every source of mirth has crystallized

Her name?

Miss Understood


I was diagnosed with clinical depression in 2014. I was further diagnosed in 2018 after my mother’s passing.

My life took a drastic turn. I lived a cringeworthy lifestyle. I was disgusted; disgusted but still addicted. My emotions were never stable, I was either too happy, too aggressive or too sad.

I isolated myself from my colleagues’ questioning stares and judgemental whispers. Suicidal thoughts and panic attacks tormented me day and night. I was caged in a dark, lonely room, hardly eating, sleeping, living.

My family members picked up the unhealthy patterns and I was hospitalised. The therapy sessions helped, but I knew I had to start depending on myself if I wanted to overcome depression.

I sought God fervently, and in doing so, I didn’t neglect my mental health. Much as I received help and support, some days were never easy. It was difficult to put the broken pieces back together.

It’s been six months since I took medication or visited the psychiatrist. I can confidently say that I’m at peace with myself.

If my past is a reflection of your current life, SEEK SPIRITUAL AND EMOTIONAL HELP. Build a circle of trust but trust yourself more. Don’t keep your emotions bottled in, let it all out. You have the power to overcome this, put on your full armour, FIGHT!

Anonymous


I was only 18 years old when I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety. 4 years later, I became a victim of temporal lobe epilepsy.

It took one incident for me to know I had a real medical condition. I had blacked out and I couldn’t remember anything.

I was put on medication which stabilised the sporadic black outs and fluctuating mood swings. I can now study effectively, drive and enjoy life despite having a medical condition. I wouldn’t say I’ve overcome it, but I’ve learnt to live with it. I understand my body and mind better. In the past, it was ignorance that led to my misery.

I’m grateful for my family and friends. They didn’t start treating me any differently. I was still me; their daughter and friend.

To anyone who identifies with me, this is what I’ve to say to you. Don’t be afraid to speak up when something is wrong. There are free counselling sessions and they are just as good! Don’t mind people who dehumanize you. Their words are a reflection of who they are not who you are. It may be hard for a while but it won’t be hard forever.

You’ll be okay

This is a love letter from someone who understands you

Kind regards

Samukelisiwe Masango


I was diagnosed with mild depression in 2011. I don’t know what was worse; accepting that I had fallen deep into depression, or the fact that my family saw nothing but a dramatic girl who had adopted a ‘white man’s illness’.

After having had to endure countless therapy sessions, I escaped the danger zone. My friends were my only support system and they ensured that I was well taken care of.

My healing process began the moment I learnt to forgive myself. My experience with depression was no favourable one, but it taught me the essentials of life. I developed a positive outlook on life and distanced myself from anything and anyone that took me back to that dungeon.

Depression is not your god, you can overcome it. Don’t allow yourself to drown in despondency. If you start noticing any changes, SEEK help! Don’t wait until the storm has closed in on you. Many people may not understand you but that shouldn’t get to you. Remember that you can’t be good to any one if you’re not good to yourself!

Anonymous


I was in my final high school year when I slipped into madness. I was admitted into a psychiatrist hospital in Uganda.

I was immediately put on anti-depressants. My eating habits changed for the worst. Not only did I have to adapt to my new lifestyle of pills and needles, but I also had to deal with the massive weight gain, which tampered with my self esteem.

The fact that my medical condition was as a result of mistreatment from my family meant that they didn’t believe me. To them it was all pretence.

It took a lot of convincing from my psychiatrist for my family to accept that I was indeed a depression and anxiety statistic. The whole experience made me bitter and confused. I had so many unaswered questions; my inner being was dying.

My life changed when I met God. He became my confidant and my pacifier. I cast all my burdens to him and I was set free.

Don’t suffer in silence and don’t give in to suicidal thoughts. You’re special, you’ve a purpose. The light is within your reach, don’t be afraid. Pray, go for counselling and above all, BREATHE, THIS TOO SHALL PASS!

Anonymous


Hello lovely human being reading this,😊I hope you’re having a good day and …..I’m stalling ,I don’t know where to start. I’m kinda nervous because I’m about to let you in on some little secrets about myself. But you know what let’s dive in.

At this point you’re probably wondering what is this girl going to say… and can she just get to the interesting part already. I will get there. This testimony will be about mental health and specifically my journey with this condition.

My name is Mitchelle Florence Aduda. I’m nineteen and I’m a student, most importantly I’m a survivor and a fighter. I have survived three suicide attempts. I have fought to get my life back. It is still an ongoing struggle but I am winning.

Where do I start 😂😂 this is getting a bit awkward for me . I suffer from depression and anxiety. It
took a while for me to finally get diagnosed and put on treatment. For six years I had been suffering
but I did not understand why. I was an angry and hurt person. I lashed out at people.

I am sure you have heard the phrase “Hurt people hurt people”. Unfortunately, I hurt a lot of people during that period because I wanted them to feel just a little of what I felt, to feel the anger and the unexplainable sadness. It was not right nor will I ever justify that.

I was a pretty withdrawn person, always stayed in my little corner. I had three friends and I am so thankful for those girls because they honestly kept me going. They were kind to me even when I was horrible to them. They took everything I would throw at them and respond with love. They listened to me when I cried and they would reassure me every
single day . To some, it may not seem like much but it meant everything to me. They meant the world to me and they still do.

This is the part where we are going to delve onto how mental illness feels like. Having a mental illness is exhausting. You are having a constant battle with yourself. Having depression and anxiety is like being scared and tired at the same time. It is the fear of failure without the urge to be productive. It’s wanting friends but snarling at the thought of socializing. It’s wanting to be alone but not wanting to be lonely. Its feeling everything at once then feeling numb. It’s like you are physically tired but your mind won’t let you rest.

My mind was always racing with thoughts and questions, my self esteem was in the gutter. I had a constant fear of leaving the house and when I did I couldn’t wait to get home . People would invite me out but I would always turn them down because I would tell myself or rather
my anxiety would tell me “He is probably inviting you out for pity……. You will spoil the fun with your ugly self and your sadness” and just like that I wouldn’t go. The funny thing is later on I would regret not going out.

There’s no winning. Then one day you decide to end it all because you’re tired of feeling awful. At this point you’re numb. Once you’re in that frame nothing will stop you
from ending your life.

I tried to end my life thrice, but I still survived. I tried talking to my parents and at first they didn’t take me seriously, so I went to a friend instead. She helped me find a therapist and I was put on medication.

Here I am 8 months later, still going to therapy but off medication which is a great milestone for me. I’m living, I’m happy and healthy.

I am not yet there. I still have some off days but I don’t let myself wallow in sadness or anxiety. I’ve learnt some coping mechanisms and now I can function like any other human being . I have this zeal to live. There is hope and it does get better. All you need to do is reach out to someone and get some help. You will feel better, maybe not yet, but you will. Just keep living until you are alive again🌹.

Last but not least be kind to people, you do not know the battles they face. Check in your friends and family .I know life gets in the way and people are busy but that single text or call can change a life.

🐾If today all you did was hold yourself together, I’m proud of you🐾


Generation Z-ealous (part 2)

Joy

Noun

1. a feeling of great pleasure and happiness.

2. A state of bliss or felicity

Synonyms: gladness, euphoria, elation, exultation, exuberance, triumph.

AnoJoy

God’s daughter

1. A Christian singer- songwriter and evangelist.

2. A business law student and an entrepreneur

Synonyms: hard-worker, role-model, virtuous woman (see also Proverbs 31)

Growing up in a music infused environment, AnoJoy started singing at the age of 5. The 21 year old applauds the pivotal role played by her father in establishing her music career.”My dad is a pastor and he was the executive producer of Mainsound Music Productions record label. I loved going to the studio with him and with time, I joined the church choir”. She released her debut single ‘Ndakaviga Shoko’ in July 2017, which was aired in various radio stations all over Zimbabwe and earned fourth position on the Power Fm Zimbabwe Top 20 Gospel hits.

She most recently ventured into entrepreneurship, launching her own jewellery line, Bella Margaret. Having created a name for herself at just 21, she however asserts that it hasn’t been an easy journey for her, experiencing a few mishaps on the cusp of her teenagehood. “I went through a bit of an identity crisis because I was born into a Christian family and into a purpose. I have always believed that if you grow up in the ways of God, there is no other purpose which awaits that is out of that context,”she says.

With various achievements under her name, the eternally elegant gospel powerhouse shows no signs of slowing down.”In the next five years I would have definitely completed both of my degrees, with a few musical projects (albums) under my sleeve and hopefully a Live DVD, “she affirms.

Certain to the fact that she is destined to be an established and successful business mogul, AnoJoy also describes herself as a vessel called to serve the Lord and ministry will be her main priority.

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“I hear that the words that follow the “I AM” are very powerful, and as someone who tends to think a lot and look deep into meanings, this question is always difficult to answer. But I guess I would say ‘I am EVOLVING, I am LEARNING, I am GROWING, I am LOVING.’ In short, NALENHLE MOYO is fluid and open to experience whatever the world has to offer, understanding that the world in its purest form is full of LESSONS that encourage GROWTH, LOVE and CHANGE.”

22, to be exact- though she’s already accomplished more than most people do in a lifetime. Her first published book, ‘Salt: A compilation of thoughts‘ gave a glimpse into the life of this incredible author.”I can’t believe it’s already been over a year. This book was actually not written with the intention of turning it into a book. I was going through a very challenging time in my life and as you may know I have been diagnosed with mild anxiety and depression. That book was more of journaled thoughts during the time my anxiety and depression were at their peak. I wrote down my thoughts as a form of self therapy which allowed me to monitor the state of my emotions,” she says- adding that she wanted people to have conversations with her thoughts. “My book is more of a journal, each entry is followed by an empty page which allows the reader to write down their own thoughts. In short, my love for conversation was the inspiration behind the book.”

A tireless evangelist for more truth-telling in relationships, Nalenhle uses social media to shed light on the lessons she has learnt about life and love. “I talk about things we experience daily. I don’t believe that we can fully experience life without asking questions, asking questions and being curious about what is happening to us and around us. If you notice, I talk a lot about relationships. This includes the relationship with self, friends and family, surroundings, the body and so on. I think life is made of relationships and once we develop healthy and functional relationships with whatever and whoever is around us, we will be able to be better and live better. I’ll give an example, when it comes to body image in women, if you view your body in a specific form as the only thing you have to offer, as some sort of token, you would most probably compare yourself with other people and either look down on them because your body is ‘better’ or look down on yourself because your body is not ‘good enough’. You’ve centred your worth on a specific physical appearance. And it shouldn’t be that way at all. There’s nothing wrong with loving your body and taking care of it, it’s the kind of relationship one has with their body that becomes a problem,” she says.

There’s elegance to her and a joie de vivre. She adds that she is pleased with the direction her life is taking and would not change anything. “Choosing to live in gratitude has made me see purpose in both heartbreak and victory. For example, my anxiety fed my creativity and that is how I published my book. Losing people I love has made me extremely appreciative of the people I have and also taught me to have empathy. This doesn’t mean I don’t feel pain or laugh through it, I’ve just learnt to see it as having a bigger purpose.”

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The word I would use to describe her is: compassionate. Her organisation ‘This Is Me’ gives expression to her desire to create an inclusive society.

A student at Kenyatta University (Kenya), Nkanai Cynthia is pumped with creative ideas and an anything-is-possible energy. The 19 year old founded ‘This Is Me’ with the aim to dissolve alienation and stigmatization. “I felt like many of us are so privileged, that we hardly see what others face. The gap between the fortunate and unfortunate is very wide, so many people don’t relate to those affected by poverty and diseases. Looking into this, I wanted to create an all inclusive society, a society of acceptance, hence the name “This Is Me”. I wanted to live in a society where everyone and anyone feels accepted regardless of whether they have a mental illness, whether they are disabled, poor, homeless, male or female ; basically anything and everything.”

She has since taken society by storm with her good deeds. “So far, we’ve done several projects on feeding street kids and we’re working on taking them to children’s homes. The main aim of Feeding programs is to make the kids feel loved and valued and just as part of society.
We’ve also done Sanitary towel distribution to a girls school in Kibera (which is a slum). The idea behind it was to make girls understand that they are not alone and that they don’t have to be ashamed of menstruation .
We’ve also visited a home with disabled kids as well as kids with autism and cerebral palsy, with the hope of making them feel valued.
We also take regular visits to a start up school in a slum called Kware, taking books, stationery and reading materials to them,” she adds.

Her works have been greeted with immense praise, also earning her a finalist spot in the #MyLittleBigThing Innovation Challenge. “My project ‘Keep A Child Warm on the inside and out’ is aimed at making improvised blankets using a gunia(sack), fiber and a lesso.
The improvised blanket is distributed to street kids and street families to shelter them from the severe cold weather,” she says.

As a young woman realising her full potential, she is indeed a force to be reckoned with.

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Dear Society,
I met a lady
she could be your sister, your daughter, your mother, your friend, your relative, I really don’t know. I hear an angry voice telling her to clean up the mess. Mess? I guess that’s what my dad has planned to call me.
I can hear the regular caring voice telling her to eat, ‘Its been days. God! I’m starving.’
I want to see the world outside, put the faces to voices but mostly, I want to see her. I’ve caused her so much pain already ; they’ve been discussing. Is it my decision? Is it her decision? Is it their decision? Or is it the decision of the Botched Society?
Play: Botched
Director :Nice Githinji
Scripted by: Bilal Mwaura
Story by Ronald Marotso
Perfomed by UON School of Law

Silas Brian Owiti is a 20 year old law student at the University of Nairobi, Kenya. Coming from a humble background but clawing his way to success, his journey in the arts came as a calling when he was assigned the role of a microphone in his first ever stage play, ‘The Firstborn’.

Proving himself worthy of more than just a mere role, he was awarded Best Actor in primary level at the Kenya National Drama Festival. On the completion of his high school chapter, Silas was accorded with the titles of Best Actor in various French and English plays.

He further proceeded to tertiary level with his theatrical expertise, launching the Theatre of the Absurd (TOFA) alongside his classmates.

On Friday the 2nd of November 2018, the club showcased its first casefile in analyzing the famous SM OTIENO case. The launch was graced by prominent figures such as Embakasi East MP, Babu Owino and the legendary Casefiles KTN reporter, Dennis Onsarigo. The year 2018 was sealed with a casefile dubbed ‘The ex- Grave Robber’- the story of John Kibera.

2019 is also proving to be a fruitful year for the lawyers, as they scooped countless awards at the just ended Kenya National Drama Festivals in Bungoma for their play ‘Botched’. Among those attained were the title of Most Original Play, Best Scripted Play, Most Creative Play, Best Producer, Best Director, and Best Actor.

The barristers continue to leave the nation in awe, as they prove that ‘the court is also a Supreme Theatre!’.

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I conclude this post with the same quote (from part 1), because we are DREAMERS, we are CONQUERORS, we are GENERATION Z-EALOUS!

To the young brilliant minds with their names inscribed on this page, and the countless achievements recorded under their names, I’ve one thing to say to you; don’t forget that the bulky dreams you carry to bed every night are authored to be actualities, so dream on -Nkosinosizo Mkhwananzi.

Generation Z-ealous (part 1)

Fingers nervously tapping on the keyboard, I sigh. I’m floating in a plethora of emotions, my breathing is drumming to the sound of silence. Fingers nervously tapping on the keyboard, I scribe…….

A few months ago, 18 year old Keabetswe Jan innocently tweeted ‘O jewa ke eng?’/ ‘What’s bothering you?’, not knowing that she’d be the voice of many agonised souls. The tweet saw thousands sharing their stories and opening up to the world. Although her initial intention was to lend a ear, hope has been restored for many and light has been shed for dozens. “I literally wrote it with the intention of knowing what was bothering people. I didn’t however expect the engagements it got from people across the world”, she said. Most recently, she further created a jobs thread as a result of the alarming unemployment responses to the ‘o jewa ke eng’ tweet.

The past few weeks have seen scores being transformed from Worriers into Warriors. Doors and opportunities have been birthed from a simple tweet. No millions donated, just 4 words; 4 mere words and a charitable heart.

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I trace my eyes back to the start of this page…not too bad for a self appointed journalist. Fingers still tapping on the keyboard nervously , I take a deep breath of freshly brewed ‘I can do this’, and I continue to scribe….

At just 23, Agnes Sonko’s biography is heavily laden with positive works; she’s a social worker by profession and sole proprietor, co-founder of an NGO called Girls Life Line, African Brand Ambassador for IMM shoes and also the projects co-ordinator at Open Hearts Initiative in Uganda.

Motivated by the appalling rates of illiteracy as well as gender inequality against women and girls in several refugee camps in Uganda, Ms Sonko started Girls Life Line organisation in 2017. This initiative has seen girls receiving scholastic material and women receiving counselling services amongst other essentials.

With the intent to extend her works across Africa, she sets an example for many young girls who aspire to be like her; ‘I come from a humble background. Many may perceive it as a curse, but I see it as a blessing in disguise. It taught me to work twice as hard in every thing I do’, she says.

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17:28

*Random thoughts*

Did I just take a glass of creative juice ?

When Ansel Adams said “You don’t take a photograph, you make it”, he probably had Katleho Phele in mind. Born and raised in North West Potchefstroom, the self-taught photographer further blossomed his skills at North West University.

He describes photography as his safe haven where he gets peace of mind. “I’ve learnt so much about myself through photography. It gives me the ability to express my thoughts and feelings”, he says.

His insatiable appetite for nature has inspired most of his shoots as he confesses that he adores ‘lots of trees and flowers’.

“Photography is what I call an escape from everything that I go through on a daily basis. Growing up, I was never a talkative or rather a social person. As said, “A photograph is worth a thousand words”, and with the help of my camera I’m able to express my emotions through my photographs. Honestly, photography makes me happy. It is my personal healing tool”, he adds.

The 21 year old does not only work his magic behind the lens, as he’s also a model. Moreover, he’s looking forward to starting Graphic Design classes in the succeeding month, and we wish him all the best.

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*Random thoughts*

One day, I’ll look at the phenomenal men and women flooding Forbes Magazine and I’ll smile. One day , I’ll sit next to the President of the United Nations and I’ll proudly say ‘I wrote about you, I know you’- Nkosinosizo Mkhwananzi.

Nkcubeko Noyila was born and raised in a small town called Molteno in the Eastern Cape. 3 years ago, she launched Nkcubeko Noyila Foundation (NNF) with the aim to redress unfavourable social issues within society. “The problems that students are currently faced with are unemployment as well as engaging in risky sexual and drug-related issues. Our programs are aimed at eradicating those problems”.

Although NNF started as a women empowerment program, it has since developed to cater for both genders. She started with a simple mentorship program in her church 2 years ago, which saw her nurturing boys and girls aged between 6-16 years of age.

A Bachelor of Social Science student majoring in Industrial Psychology and Psychology at the University of Free State, she also holds the positions of channel manager at Kovsie TV and Vice President of Operations at Enactus University of Free State.

Through her leadership at the University of Free State, she has partnered with Buyembo Innovations Group, an association at the University with the hopes of branching out and joining forces with other associations and organisations all over South Africa.

Nkcubeko continues to inspire many young women, as she faces giants in her full armour of determination.

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“If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music.” ― Albert Einstein

Growing up in a Shakur infused environment, James Makori fell in love with music from a young age. At only 10 years old, he had already begun writing verses and a couple of choruses.

Identifying himself as a lover of the hiphop genre, he traces his adoration back to his childhood. ” I grew up living with an uncle who loved Shakur’s music. My mom also used to watch African American tv shows, Martin Lawrence and the likes. My cousins and my brother were Boondocks addicts, which I can say fully introduced me to the Hiphop world”, he affirms.

A Bsc Human Resource management student at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) in Nairobi, the 18 year old believes that ‘everyone has that little spark to start the fire from within’. Besides music, he also classifies himself as a poet.

Although relocating to Boston soon, to study Architecture, YungBlackAfrica’s (as he is popularly known) music career will continue to take an upward trajectory.

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Lazy Saturday morning. No chirping birds or weekend scent. Eyes on the screen, fingers tapping on the keyboard…………

The Cambridge dictionary also defines a queen as “someone who’s considered to be the best at what she does”. Quite a different approach from the usual ‘castles and royal tussles’ dished out by the media.

Tshepiso, popularly known as Kween has taken the Twitter streets by storm from her good deeds. It all started with simple daily motivational tweets, and now, many turn to the young KWEEN for assistance.

She describes herself as “kind, bubbly, understanding and supportive”; 4 good traits that have wiped tears off many’s faces.

In a society where social media is associated with unrealistic expectations, she has proven otherwise. At just 20, she has helped multitudes just by clicking on the retweet icon.

She’s the epitome of love, and a true reflection of ‘it’s not just enough to look like a Queen, instead, carry yourself like one”.

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“Leadership is not about the next election, it’s about the next Generation “- Simon Sinek

In 2016, Ellen Cooper founded Fashion Outreach with the desire to create a platform that would merge fashion and charity.

With the aim to use fashion as a tool to help the needy, Fashion Outreach has partnered with many organisations and engaged in various campaigns.

The upcoming campaign, 67 Handbags for Nelson Mandela day is in accordance with 67 minutes for Mandela day, a movement aimed at encouraging people all over the world to dedicate their time into helping others.

Having 2 main objectives, which are to spread awareness and raise funds, Fashion Outreach publicizes its work through research articles and social media channels. It’s online store and fundraising events open the channel to raising funds.

A mother, a wife, a Charity founder and a model, Ellen Cooper, who is currently based in Kuwait has raised the bar for women. She has defied odds and broken barriers, she is a virtuous woman.

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*Random thoughts*

Blogging about a blogger…(laughs in letters)

Chioniso Tsikisayi is a 21 year old Zimbabwean singer, song-writer, writer, poet and blogger. She describes herself as a creative living for the arts. “I love anything to do with the arts, from story-telling to poetry to dance and film-making”, she says .

The past few weeks have seen her performing at poetry slams, sharing her bars with the public. Despite exploring her gift in a not so favourable economy, she continues to soar high with her dreams. “I’m hoping to study creative writing and film towards the end of the year. By the Grace of God,I hope it all works out because being an artist in our economic climate isn’t easy”, she adds.

Not just a creative but also a humanitarian, Chichi (as she is affectionately known) aspires to work for the United Nations. “I’d like to work for the UN one day to combat issues facing girls and poverty, as well as climate change. I joined Global Citizen for that reason “.

Certain to the fact that she still has a long way to go, she, however has many achievements under her name. Chioniso Tsikisayi, not just a creative mind, but a rising star.

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To the young brilliant minds with their names inscribed on this page, and the countless achievements recorded under their names, I’ve one thing to say to you; don’t forget that the bulky dreams you carry to bed every night are authored to be actualities, so dream on -Nkosinosizo Mkhwananzi.

Bulawayo to Nairobi…..Grass to Grace????🇿🇼|🇰🇪

Guess who’s back with a fun article……the Queen herself… *laughs in royalty*. I must say I couldn’t wait to start working on this because it’s not just an article, it’s more of an evaluation of my personal growth. And yes, the Grass to Grace may sound shady to the Zimbos reading this (assuming they think that Bulawayo is the GRASS), but trust me, I just wanted a catchy title….remember what they taught us in high school English classes? Okay, I think I’m going off topic (gosh, I get carried away sometimes). Most people have been asking me “why Kenya of all places?”. To be honest, I also don’t know how i found myself here. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would study in Kenya….never ever. Like most of my Zimbos, I chose to believe single stories about Kenya…uhmm…( let’s take a commercial break).

My first photoshoot in Kenya (That was actually my first photoshoot ever but don’t tell anyone).

Welcome back. Where were we?? Ohhh, the single stories. I used to think that Kenya is very hot and that every Kenyan can run. Isssalie, I actually prefer this weather to the Zim one (I’m still a patriotic Zimbo though). The running part?? Well I’ve never been chased by a sober person so i wouldn’t know. However, I was told that there’s one particular tribe that leaves everyone behind; the Kalenjins. So Zimbos reading this, don’t believe everything the media tells you. Same applies to Kenyans…Zimbabweans don’t walk around with sacks full of money and we know what rice is. As a matter of fact, I left my pot of rice on the stove and I need to go check on it. I’ll leave you with something though;

Unpopular opinion: Zim weather can be good too

A few of you brought up questions and I’ll try to answer them in the best possible way (remember my responses are just my opinion).

1. Difference between Zimbos and Kenyans in terms of hospitality and personality

Well, I don’t think there’s a big difference, I mean we are all Africans, WAKANDA FOREVER. I’ve never really felt like an outsider so I would say Kenyans are hospitable. Personality wise, Zimbos and Kenyans are the same…I’ve spoken lol.

See how hospitable they are:)

2. How are you finding Swahili?

First of all Mambo *laughs in Chapati*

I actually realised that I’m very funny. Anyway, I actually like Swahili. It’s almost like a mixture of Ndebele and Shona. Some words like hapana and hakuna have the same meaning in both Swahili and Shona. Then words like mayai…..mazai…..sound the same so it’s a matter of using common sense. I really find it interesting that the language barrier isn’t that big, makes it easier to learn.

3. Are you getting married in Kenya or Zim?

I wish I knew. All I can say is God knows we’ll just have to wait and see.

4. Are you going to practice law this side?

I think So, probably. But then again, if it’s not God’s plan then I’mma just settle in Zim.

5. What’s your favourite Kenyan dish?

Definitely pilau. Wow, it’s just amazing. I would upload a picture but I don’t want to plagiarise.

6. Zim or Kenya?

Am I choosing or???? Well , I’d go with Kenyan weather and affordable prices …(both in comparison to Zim) plus a dash of Zimbabwean sadza. Also, I’d just put all my Zim and Kenyan friends in one place ( and my family ofcourse).

My lovelies

In closing, I want to thank God for bringing me this far. I’m living proof of Jeremiah 29 v 11 and I’m very grateful. Thank you for taking time to read my post and have a lovely weekend.

My EX(pectations)

Welcome to Epic 2019! I know for sure that most, if not all of us have set down goals and resolutions; having clear skin and slaying academically and clothically (lol). We do this every year, we write down goals and actually try to fulfill them, but towards the middle of the year, when the heat has absorbed the strength out of us and the economy has worn us out, we postpone to the succeeding year. I find it very interesting, that in the midst of giving up our goals, we don’t completely disregard what I’d call materialistic resolutions. A good example would be the fact that once you’ve set your mind on slaying clothically, you’d save. My sister, you can even skip meals for that fur coat. However, when it comes to resolutions that are associated with our inner being, we don’t put as much effort. Our generation is so consumed in glossing up the outside, whilst ignoring the rusting inside. My Ex(pectations ) is a promise to forget about the unrealistic and materialistic demands that you’ve been concentrating on in the past at the expense of your inner glow. A special shout out to Keren and Pauline for sharing their testimonies with us:

In a Kenyan setup, finishing highschool is like attaining some sort of honour,and the next year before joining University is like a year of liberty and freedom. Mine was 2018,and just like everyone else I wanted to fit into the ‘outside world’. I started changing my dress code, my eating habits and the kind of people I hungout with just because I felt I was not good enough. I used to do things to please my friends because I felt that they would like me better, but little did I know that they were just taking advantage of me. I got into so much problems with my parents. On some days, I would get home late. I said and did things which disappointed my parents. However I realized that life is not all about fitting in and being enough or being recognized, it is being true to yourself and with that ,I have decided that in 2019, I will always strive to be me and live according to my own expectations and not people’s.

Pauline Okoth

**

For most of my life, my self esteem has been very low.
If you asked about what I loved about myself , the answer was always ‘nothing’, because I would look at myself and see THE DUFF. That mentality was stuck with me. No matter what I did I knew I was mediocre, and because of that, I missed many opportunities. I never saw anything good about myself to the extent that I found it hard to participate in class. It got to a point where I got fed up, and this is now me, deciding that I’ll accept myself. I always spoke about waiting for my glow but now, I’ve come to the realisation that glow up is accepting myself for who I am.
I know I won’t change overnight, but changing my mindset is the starting point. I take an oath to start seeing myself as the beautiful person my friends always speak about. I vow to stop thinking that I’m not smart enough. I want this year to be my best, and it starts by leaving behind My Ex (pectations)!.

Temidayo

**

What I love about these testimonies is the fact that i can relate to them( I know you do too). Like Pauline, I once longed to fit in, I did and said things that I am not proud of. Like Temidayo, I believed glow up was measured by people’s perceptions of me.

One factor these testimonies have in common is the conflict brought by the desire to fulfill society’s expectations and yes, I have a quote that addresses that;

“Your happiness can never coincide with society’s expectations. Make a wise decision, disappoint society”- Nkosinosizo Mkhwananzi

This year, focus on being you, focus on pampering your inner beauty……ACHIEVE YOUR GOALS, lastly, leave your TOXIC EX(pectations) in the past, cut them off!

DIS(closure)

Insecurity, what exactly is it? Is it the demeaning feeling you get when you try to take a selfie but you keep seeing an Orangutan instead, or is it the voices in your head convincing you to starve yourself so you don’t become ‘The Duff’ in your squad? Insecurity is not a new word to most of us, neither is the feeling foreign. We’ve all suffered from it, some of us have defeated it, some of us are still trying to break free from its shackles and some of us have disregarded the thought of conquering it. The term in itself is broad, but it’s almost always aligned to the same things; body image and fitting in. 5 brave young men and women shared their stories with me; these are their testimonies:

For the longest time I was very self-conscious about my boobs. It started when I was in form 1 when a senior literally pointed it out to the world, she screamed “That big-boobed form 1” at me. From then I began to look at my double d chest and compare it to my peers cute A-cup chest.
To make matters worse I’d have to change my bra every 3 months because I was a growing girl and my hormones were not about to stop doing their job. One would assume that buying bra is just as easy as getting a tshirt. But for the girls with the big busts its a nightmare. The ladies at the bra shop would measure much bust and find that I was the average size 32 and that was great, but try looking for a 32DD or even 32E in Bulawayo, good luck. I was stuck with unpadded bras which I’d have to alter at home and having to double bra for sports. Having people constantly comment on my bust almost lowered my self-esteem until I realised that my boobs weren’t going anywhere and I was stuck with my girls till death, cause nobody’s forking out money for breast reduction. I must say that talking to a friend of mine who had a similar “problem” helped me fill my cup with confidence and even drink from it. I decided to own my look. I might look a little disproportional but who said I was meant to be a Victoria’s secret model anyway?

Phindile Ndebele, 19

*

I hated puberty. The transition from careless child to preoccupied pubescent teenager was violent and unexpected. I hated how I looked. My skin broke out and the buttons on my school shirt began to pop off one by one. I got my period, inherited acne and big breasts at 11-years old. At almost the same time.

I hated myself.

I quickly skipped bra sizes – I think I only wore an A-cup bra for a few weeks. I don’t even remember fitting into those age-appropriate sports bras that I was so ashamed of wearing. I got into padded bras for a bit but those didn’t work either. They were always too small, too tight, too expensive. (We seriously need to do something about the cost a decent bra!)

All of a sudden I had breasts and everyone started to take notice.

“Are they heavy?” they’d ask, trying so very, very hard not to laugh. The 11-year old boys and 11-year old girls because bullying doesn’t discriminate. My breasts were not my own: they had dirty names and loud critics. I was sexualised by the boys who were just beginning to understand their own weird naked bodies; I was ostracised by the girls who should have had my back.

I remember how much I loved running around and jumping and skipping when I was younger. The joy that comes from being a beautiful, simple child. The joy that comes from being free, free to be.

I also remember how my netball coach would whisper and chuckle with her friends whenever I’d run laps before practice. And there was that older male teacher who could never keep his eyes on my face.

My body didn’t belong to me anymore.

I didn’t really sit in my self-consciousness long enough to realise just how much this introduction to womanhood really affected me until I was about 16. How I dressed, how I walked, how I talked. I was so used to my breasts entering the room before I did so I’d go out of my way to make them less conspicuous with ill-fitting clothes. I walked with my head down a lot and I talked down to myself.

I’d make myself small to be less ‘woman’, less threatening, less me. I crossed my arms a lot. I made it OK to hate parts of myself.

Luckily I was blessed with an amazing mother, two beautiful sisters and loving friends who constantly remind me of my worth and the beauty of my breasts. I am blessed to come from a family of strong, big-breasted women with so much love to give.

It has taken me a really long time to love my breasts but I feel like the journey has only fortified me. Choosing to love yourself, all of your self, is the most liberating thing you could ever do.

I’ve taken back all of the power I gave away to the harmful elements of society and I wear it close to my chest. Yeah, my back aches sometimes and strapless tops annoy the crap out of me, but my breasts and I will always be the best of friends.

breast of friends –

i love
the soft peaks of my breasts

the creases and wrinkles –
the tender edges

birthmarks
a couple freckles.

supple,
full
mine to have.

i love to hold them
(they’re twins)

mine to look at,
to love.

i can’t wait to nurse
to nourish the fruits of
my
womb

outside.

why should i wear a bra?

i love
my big breasts

i love yours, too

may we know them
own them
keep them safe.

Zandi Mlotshwa, 19

*

My insecurities have always been about fitting in. Ever since kindergarten, I was known as that light-skinned kid, that coastal person belonging to that ‘certain ethnic group’; it’s never been ‘Oh, that’s Swaleh’. I’ve always stood out, and there are times when i’ve wanted to blend in. There are times, especially in social situations I feel like I do have to prove my ‘Kenyan-ness’ to people (that’s one attribute that I haven’t completely shaken off). My way of countering my insecurity would be focusing on me; that is working on my confidence and striving to cancel out society’s expectations.

Swaleh

*

I grew up in the States, living in a predominately white neighbourhood. The stereotype was that black people had big lips and because I didn’t meet the criteria, everyone made fun of my lips. It affected most of my friendships, mainly because I didn’t understand why I was different. I wanted to know why and how I wasn’t like most of my white friends. I felt ostracised. However, when I moved to Kenya, I slowly learnt to accept myself. Most people were similar to me and there was a wider variety of people; not everyone looked stereotypically the same. I realised that everyone was different and we are all made to look a cretain way. You’re who you’re meant to be.

Eric Kuria

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I’ve always been insecure about the colour of my skin because people tend to judge you by your appearance. When I was young, I attended a private school in Nairobi and yes, i stood out because of the colour of my skin. When I got to school,  I was not as articulate as the rest of my classmates, neither did I come from a well-up family (as compared to the rest of my peers).  I felt inadequate; people would ask me contemptuous questions like “what did you eat for breakfast?”. It gave me a low self esteem at a very young age. Things changed when we moved to Kisumu. I enrolled at a school where I didn’t feel like an anomaly. I didn’t feel so different anymore, I could relate to most of my schoolmates.

I haven’t fully recovered from my insecurity, but I’ve come far from where I was many years ago.

Kevin

I must acknowledge these young men and women for speaking out. It’s not easy to air out your insecurities to the whole world, but it sure is liberating to find closure in your disclosure. As always, I’ll conclude this article with a quote, this time not from me. A wise man by the name of Eric Kuria (did I just call him wise lol) said;

“You’re who you’re meant to be”.

Read it, read it again and meditate on it. 

Don’t forget to drop those comments (both positive and negative). Till next time lovelies:).

Makeup or CHANGE UP????

A few weeks ago, I was asked a difficult question; a question I couldn’t answer at that time. A young girl approached me and said, “Sizo, is there anything wrong with wearing makeup?”. It didn’t take me seconds to shake my head and say no, but what she asked me next inspired this very article. The intelligent young girl had asked me why I promote self love if I don’t have a problem with makeup.

In our modern day society, makeup is associated with low self esteem. Girls who wear makeup are deemed as fake and insecure, amongst other derogatory terms. Although I completely disagree with the term ‘fake’ simply because I find it harsh and derisive, I feel that there’s some truth in the insecure part. Yes, there are some girls who wear makeup to blind the world from seeing them in their natural state, mostly because they have blemishes or scars that remind them of a particular phase in their lives. I once watched a documentary where a young woman admitted to being so insecure to the extent that she wore makeup to the gym. What touched me the most is the fact that even her own friends had never seen her in her natural state because she was not brave enough to exhibit the scars on her face. It is quite sad that in the world we live in, most women with physical scars are also left with emotional scars as they are judged and labelled.

To some women, wearing makeup is just a way of enhancing their natural beauty. To some it is art. One of the things I love about my church is the fact that we are told the truth and not the things we want to hear. I’ll make reference to one phrase highlighted at our youth conference earlier this year; “Don’t do something because you feel pressurised to do it, do it because you like it”. In other words, don’t wear makeup because all your peers are doing it, wear it for YOU, do it for YOU! Most of my peers wear full face makeup, and it looks good on them, but I don’t wear it (not because I’ve a problem with it), but because I was advised to stick to aqueous cream and Vaseline (my skin reacts to almost everything). However, I am a fan of mascara and eye shadow (my birthday is in October) and I’m longing for the day I’m allowed to apply foundation and all those other nice things.

In closing, I’ll leave you with a quote I made in relation to this; ‘There’s nothing wrong with wearing makeup, the problem begins when you start feeling ugly without it’. If you’re genuinely ashamed of your looks, wear makeup until you’re confident enough to walk the streets without it, but don’t neglect the fact that you have to try and embrace your natural beauty. You are fearfully and wonderfully made, wearing makeup will not change that because what is rightfully yours cannot be taken away from you!