Have you ever found yourself trolling the internet, opening the various links shared by friends on Facebook and Twitter, often to find silly predictable quizzes, stories that leave you feeling like you just wasted 5 mins of your life and more importantly that 3mb of data that will eventually add up? Yeah? More often than not that was me. I didn’t mind it, im not always looking for something philosophical or life changing and even I can acknowledge that venturing into the unknown of the internet is such a liberating feeling and a pass time I probably enjoy way too much of as a student.
However, tonight, Tonight was a little different.
Tonight, I stumbled across a link to a blog hosting the thoughts of the ladies behind the Mbewu Movement. When entering the site you are greeted by a header of beautiful smiling faces and it almost felt like they were saying to me welcome, you are home. I browsed through the ladies profiles to see who they were and what they were about and ringing in my mind were the words – “that is me, that is us – my friends and I!” I felt like I had hit the lottery. I had yet to find out what this movement was about, but thus far I knew it was a collection of young well-educated women coming together for a purpose and already I felt like I belonged.
“A collective focused on personal and social development.”
The Mbewu movement describes themselves as looking to create a platform for others much like them, were they can foster relationships of mentorship and open discussion amongst the youth and older generations in the hopes of creating a better sense of direction for the youth that are searching for direction and a purpose. I mean is that not what I’m about? The words women empowerment, development, African development, entrepreneurship, gender, questioning gender roles, education were thrown around in the different testimonials and I just felt a rush of emotion come over me because I felt like I was not alone, I was not crazy for dreaming that something like this could come about and be so impactful to others.
“These women were each hungry to share their ideas, eager to take their career ambitions to the next level, and network with and learn from business, political and social pioneers.”
You see my friends and I have recently entered an essay competition which focused on women empowerment and development. When the opportunity arose, it wasn’t difficult to come up with a team. I had studied a Bcom Politics, Philosophy and Economics (PPE) degree at UCT, together with an amazing group of girls that I am lucky to still call my friends today. Though one has left us for the hustle and bustle of Gauteng, the four of us remaining entered the competition and birthed a mini essay-writing movement of our own that we called Nguvu. Nguvu means Power in Swahili and what that meant to us was that we can return power to young women through an entrepreneurship program that would empower them to move out of the struggles and situations handed to them simply because they are female – even if if for now we could only do so on paper. We didn’t have to name our team but then again I don’t believe that things just happen in this world, nor do I for a second doubt that the choice in that name and its meaning holds a lot still to be discovered, there is power in that name Nguvu. This may have just been an essay, but in the process of putting it together, I realised I had never once thought about what it meant to be a woman, a female, a girl child in Africa. I had been lucky enough to be raised in a society where I was not limited to education and had been successful enough to make it to UCT where I am now studying towards my masters. I was so grateful for that, that I had never once considered the alternative, the what if I hadn’t been so lucky alternative. Writing that essay changed my life. It opened my eyes to what it truly means to be female, and the solidarity we need to form as women in order to advance ourselves in our societies. But we wrote the essay, submitted it, waited for the result, waited, waited, are still waiting…and nothing.
I feel like so much has been awoken to me in the past few months but I also had a strong sense of despair because “…and then what”. The results of the competition have not been released and that could be what is holding me back but I find myself questioning -How do I put this feeling into action? How do I move forward knowing now what I know? How do I as a young woman play an active role to push the women for development agenda forward in Africa even if it is in the smallest way. I don’t know the answers to these questions but I do know that my discovery of the Mbewu Movement showed me that even just thinking about those issues shows I’m in the right direction, that awakened conversations with friends can become something so long as you set your mind to it. So the ladies behind the movement, I say THANK YOU, thank you for being brave enough, thank you for putting yourselves out there to be heard, thank you for inspiring me. Their slogan is “growing together” and who knows I may be crazy enough to take Nguvu along the same path, or maybe even become an addition towards growing the movement! God?