Inspired: Mbewu Movement

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.

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The ladies behind The Mbewu Movement

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?

Friendship: No new friends?

The bonds we form with the different people we encounter at random have the ability to make such a great impact in ones life, as do they have the ability to end up meaningless and forgotten. Over the 22 years that I have been lucky to be in existence, I would say I made friends quite easily. I was always popular in school and school was generally the environment under which my friendships thrived. My parents used to tell me I had way too many friends, and why do I value my friendships so much that I sometimes let them come before other important areas of my life, family included…it didn’t resonate with me, they (my parents) simply did not get it. In primary school I would have weekly sleepovers over the weekend, alternating from one friends house to the other, sleepovers were the social event of my primary school years, and everyone wanted to be involved. Silently we were all competing to see who could host the best sleep over, as we pressurised our moms to stock the fridge, dad to be the grill master at the braai, jampacked afternoons of swimming and running around playing in the yard and late night movie outings were some of the activities my weekend sleepovers would consist of, all in the name of building friendships.

Whilst the dynamics have but little changed, I find myself thankful that in my university years, the need to have a large group of friends that you find yourself in constant competition with has dwindled over time. Relationships have evolved from being all about the fun and the now, to being about substance and longevity. I struggled with this change for some time, worrying I was losing my way, worrying I was becoming boring and worrying I would find myself alone without companionship, but instead what i’ve gained, is love, strength in my bonds, growth, purpose, lessons, drive all through the friendships that I have come to cherish. I have learnt that,

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to find true happiness is to surround yourself with those who truly believe in not only the person you are today, but the person you could be in the future”

This post was inspired by a conversation I had the other night with someone I would call a new friend as we shared a dinner together. As we caught up, talked about our current projects, gushed over our shared interests and laughed at the silly-ness of our twenties, I knew this was a friendship that I appreciated but still had to nurture, I mean its only been a few months, don’t want to rush into anything right? But with one line she spoke, she solidified our relationship and what it meant to me right then and there. I had been sharing my story about my recent break up, and the unfortunate thoughts I was having about wanting to get back together with him and forgiving him for his mistakes and this girl I have only know for a few months uttered the words,

“Dont lie to yourself (girlindiscovery), that man does not respect you”. 

Oprah Winfrey, one of my great inspirations (as cliche as it possibly can be) talks about the AHA! moment- that moment of sudden realisation, that moment the light bulb goes off in your mind and you think AHA!. This was one of my AHA! moments. She had just given me the truth I had been searching for, for over three months since my breakup, the truth I had so desperately needed to curb my love cravings for him, to end the senseless desires to return to something I no longer had any business with.

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Often we become defensive to opinions we don’t necessarily want to hear, or opinions of people that know little about you, and easily, my first thoughts could have been “who does she think she is”, “what does she know anyway”, but her words were spoken with such respect for me, such high regard for who she believes I can be, for what she believes I deserve, this friend of a few months.

I had been carrying this feeling for weeks, wanting to hear peoples opinions, yearning to ask my dearest and closest friends if they thought me ending things was the right thing to do, but at the same time feeling that they would be biased in their opinions or simply just tired of hearing about it. And yet here she came, only just hearing about it all to deliver the message that would change my whole outlook and give me an entirely new perspective.

I believe that God puts people in our lives for a reason and so I am sorry Drake, im going to have to disagree with you on that ‘no new friends’ front. To you my new found friend, thank you. Thank you for your kind words have resonated with me. I appreciate you. I value our new found relationship. I love you.