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?
โ€™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
โ€™Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Digginโ€™ 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, Iโ€™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 historyโ€™s shame
I rise
Up from a past thatโ€™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 thatโ€™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

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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, โ€˜realโ€™ 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.