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Women’s Day Post: In Conversation with Tsitsi Dangarembga

black African woman

AriseTsitsi Dangarembga
Filmaker / Playwright / Poet / Activist
Photo Cred: Davina Jogi

This Women’s Month, my team and I really wanted to celebrate black African women (bAw) each day on our social media pages. To celebrate God’s gift of women who are making waves as activists, artists, and go-getters but also to celebrate our everyday sisters, friends, mothers and daughters. To be able to capture the essence of who the bAw truly is as formed by God.

I remember watching the movie “Neria” as a young girl and being moved by the plight of the widow Neria. That movie was ahead of its time and clearly highlighted the struggle of the black African woman in a patriarchal society. And so, it was a life-changing moment when my sister Rumbi reached out to the author of “Neria”, Tsitsi Dangarembga, and she agreed to engage in a conversation about…

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Dealing With Disappointment When We Move In Faith

I am a thinker, a wonderer. When I am overwhelmed with thoughts and emotions, I find writing helps relieve the pressure like an acupuncture of the soul. I ‘recently’ took a step in faith. Well, it has been a journey of 20 odd months in the making with each stage requiring that I move in […]

via Guest Post: Dealing With Disappointment When We Move In Faith by Rumbidzayi Dube — black African woman

Harare: An Imported Social Scene

Like South Africans go wild when international brands announce their launch into South Africa, Zimbabweans have enjoyed the introduction of some South African brands into their world. Think of the madness that ensued when Starbucks, Krispy Kreme and the likes touched down in South Africa.

Food Lover’s Market, Sam Levy’s Village
Photo cred: Sam Levy’s

I recently took a trip to Sam Levy’s Village in Borrowdale, Harare (commonly known as ‘the Village’, Harare’s equivalent of Sandton City) to watch a movie at South African major cinema brand, Ster-Kinekor. It was fascinating to see the brands that line the entertainment cul-de-sac of the Village. Restaurants and leisure brands there include Mugg & Bean, Newscafe, Smooch, Ocean Basket and Simply Asia in addition to Ster-Kinekor. All of these are South African brands. I felt like I had escaped the reality of Zimbabwe and transported myself back to Sandton City as the cul-de-sac buzzed with tweens, teens, young adults and families of different races.

Ocean Basket, Sam Levy’s Village  Photo cred: Sam Levy’s

In having a conversation with my parents about this phenomenon of South African brands, my Dad highlighted that the success of brands like Pick n’ Pay and Food Lovers’ Market has boosted the confidence of external investors. We have even seen KFC relaunch itself in the market after previous arrivals and unceremonious departures. This is great for our economy which has been on its knees for years and is in desperate need of foreight investment.

As an avid brand enthusiast, however, I cannot help but look and ponder at what this means for Zimbabwe aside from the obvious economic benefits. This is by no means a conclusive review of the Harare social scene. There are plenty of other local brands that serve the Zimbabwean population. You see, however, the unfortunate thing is the Village is targeted at a small minority of Zimbabweans who can afford to have a thriving social life unlike much of the population. This means the fortunate few are spending on brands that are essentially taking money out of a country that is in a huge cash crisis. Pity.

Another thing is, places like the Village foster a false sense of wellbeing when reality is, there are huge levels of unemployment and poverty in Zimbabwe. This increases the disparity between the haves and have nots. Typical of a struggling economy, it is a sad thing to witness the elite living in excess whilst the rest scramble to survive.

Finally, it saddens me that Zimbabwean citizens are so thrilled by these brands who have come into the country charging premium prices for their services which are, otherwise, standard-tier brands. Try stunt on someone in South Africa about dining at ‘Ocean Basket’ or having drinks at ‘Newscafe’ and see their reaction. It’s really nothing to write home about.

Newscafe, Sam Levy’s Village
Photo cred: Sam Levy’s

At the end of the day, I understand that there are many issues at play and this is a sign of progress for Zimbabwe. There are also some local brands that have done and continue to do well such as Pariah State and Chicken Inn (they opened a chain of drive-thru venues). My concern is that we become so enthralled with importing brands instead of creating, supporting and helping local brands flourish. We have a way to go before local brands can establish themselves and thrive as well as their international counterparts, but I don’t think it’s too soon to be careful.

I really want to see local and African brands grow from the ground up and thrive. One day, I hope we’ll be able to and be excited about exporting our own brands to countries that we have been consuming from for decades.

Black Woman, Still You Rise

Nina Simone
Photo Cred: Affinity Magazine

I recently watched two documentaries entitled ‘What Happened Miss Simone’ and ‘Still I Rise’ about the lives of Nina Simone & Maya Angelou respectively. Black women celebrated in history for journeys that were paid for in pain.

Theirs were influential lives led to inspire us all but at what cost? From Nina’s abusive marriage and lifelong struggle with depression to Maya’s rejection as a child, promiscuity and unfulfilled love life.

In watching these documentaries I found myself close to tears. Thinking of the struggle of not only them but so many black women. As black women, we can relate to such struggle. The struggle of our mothers, grandmothers, aunts, cousins, sisters and friends. The amount we continuously endure, even though endurance shouldn’t be a prerequisite of our existence. My heart breaks to think of all we have been through and the great expectation of what we are to bear.

But still – undeniably still – as Maya Angelou said, we rise. From abuse, from hurt, from loss, from straying children, from second class existence, from marginalisation, from pain, from disappointment. From the ashes, from rock bottom – still we rise.

I leave you with the words of the late, great Dr. Angelou in the hopes that it will inspire you to keep rising.

Still I Rise

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.
Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
’Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.
Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.
Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?
Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
’Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard.
You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.
Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?
Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

Maya Angelou
Photo Cred: Emily’s Poetry Blog

Are Brands Tapping Everyday Influencers Successfully?

Photo Cred: Whispers

There is a slight misconception I continue to see with some African brands on the use of local influencers. Influencers seemingly are associated with luxury, exclusive or premium brands. True, these exclusive brands are trying to make their products or services more relatable to a certain audience whilst being aspirational to others. What I tend to find boring about this is that the engagement level of an average consumer is merely that of admiration and “I wish”. Then life carries on.

It is here that I think everyday brands in convenience, food, beverages, household items and the like do not always see the opportunity. A lot of spend is made on above-the-line advertising for consumer goods which is fair. They need to inform a mass audience of their service offering and pricing point to get feet through the door. And it works for the most part.

Since moving back home to Zimbabwe, I have been observing brands and their interactions with consumers. I believe there is great opportunity for consumers brands to engage with their audiences more successfully. In defining influencers, I am drawn to a LinkedIn article I recently read that spoke of the importance of micro-influencers – not necessarily those with a gazillion followers. Everday influencers are “everyday users of a product” and “modern-day shoppers are placing their trust more and more in these smaller voices, ‘real’ users, or brand ambassadors, by seeking out insights from keen advocates of the brand” says Sharyn Smith.

On a global level, there is an increasing shift away from “celebrity influencers” to these everday influencers because they are connected to a brand’s offering and are trusted advisors for their followers. There definitely is a place for celebrity ambassadors, but there is growing room for everyday influencers especially those who:

  • Give tips on how to successfully use a product e.g. a recipe incorporating a brand’s product
  • Answer questions on the benefits of a product in comparison to others
  • Provide objective and unbiased reviews
  • Integrate a product/service into an everyday environment
  • Add real value to a brand
  • Are relatable to their audience – their followers see themselves in the influencer whether it be visually, in their values, thought process and purchasing habits

I would be very interested to see brands such as Bon Marche, OK Mart, PUMA Fuels, Dairibord and the like really make use of this. TM Pick n’ Pay has been forward thinking in creating a ‘Battle of The Chefs‘ show which incorporates their products into a human interest show. This helps create a captivate audience whilst creating brand awareness. Everyday influencers help make such a connection on a more personal and real level. Herein lies an even greater opportunity given the tough economic climate in which we find ourselves.

Homecoming Part III: Arrival

It resembled a place she once called home. Nostalgic memories flooded her mind on the drive from the airport.

The streets were familiar. She could trace the route home in her sleep. Not much change. Just dilapidation.

Everywhere she looked, the city was painted with struggle, hopelessness. People missioning to and fro for very little. Money was scarce. Needs were many.

Arriving at their destination, the joy of home filled her. How she loved the large garden and warmness of the house. But she was sad too. Sad to see the house standing – no longer in its former glory, but a stagnant replica of what was.

In spite of it all, she was relieved to be home. A place she could call home and be welcomed with open arms.

The heat bore at her. When the rain came, she welcomed the breeze it brought. The hot earth had always been a metaphor of the struggle of her homeland. Scorching, unforgiving, uncomfortable, tiring and in desperate need of a cooling balm.

Mother lightened her spirit. She’d bought all her favourite local foods and made sure she was comfortable. So typically her. Always wanting to make sure others were alright. It felt good to be taken care of.

She was amazed at how quiet she became. Referred to as the ‘loud one’ in the family, she didn’t have much to say. She was an observer. Doing as told. Adhering to cultural norms. Realising she needed to take care of the parents and the home.

Was this what life was going to be? A constant state of wander? She needed to get a game plan in order. And fast.

Homecoming Part II: Courage

She knew what she had to do. Ought to do. She couldn’t continue in wonder without purpose. Far from having it all figured out, she had to dive all in.

Her body screamed at her. Rejecting everything she was to do.

Puzzled and perplexed. The faces that stared back at her when she spoke of her decision. Was she sure this was the right move?

Everything screamed no. But peace whispered a certain “yes”. Something that she found hard to describe.

It took all the courage in her to make this decision without feeling like a failure or that she was moving backwards.

And she was grateful for this courage. She didn’t know how she would make it otherwise. Going against her innate fears.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed. for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Joshua 1:9