For My Fellow Strong African Women: Rethinking Strength

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Your culinary skills are off the hook, you have a special gift when it comes to tidiness and neatness, a tiny speck is a taboo. You are the queen bee of the home, you scrub that toilet like its glow is a reflection of your wisdom, you do those laundries like the president has you on his payroll. Your ironing is so articulate, I’m like damn!

Girl, you are good.

I mean, you are a total badass when it comes to everything home and hearth.

We hail thee boo.

I, especially hail thee.

You are strong.

Your strength is something I do not contend with. I admire your strength. How you chose to define strength perturbs me a little but I realize you are not shoving your definition down my throat and even if you were I know that I do not have to aspire to it because my life is my prerogative and what I should aspire and not aspire to is my exclusive preserve. No one can make that choice for me and no pressure induced by a mortal can get me to think otherwise.

I have watched you for a while now, I have watched you from a self-imposed distance. I have watched your rather haughty attitude and especially how quick you are to question other peoples strength because it does not conform to your idea of what an ‘African woman’s’ strength should mirror.

I believe you don’t know you approach others with this attitude, hence, my resolve to have a conversation with you on this.

You see darling, I need you to understand that a woman being like you and I came up with that African woman box and all it should contain.

A woman like you and I decided that being strong should be represented solely by being skilled in the art of home and hearth.

A woman like you and I decided that sleeping on the sod is what an African woman’s strength should be and because generations before us did not know that that box can be dismantled, they all tried to fit themselves into that box.

They twisted themselves into shapes because they did not want to fall short of the standard. Some of them even went as far as getting their worth and validation from it. And so being called a Proper African Woman became the number one aspiration.

I am not here to write that they were wrong, I am here to write that there are many ways to be right. There are other things, other possibilities an African woman can and should represent. There are other things an African Woman should be reputed for and that is why I will be presenting you alternative ways of understanding strength.

Ever heard of Being?

In a world where every woman has to live up to unreasonable standards of who a woman is supposed to be; a woman who has chosen to just be, to be herself, to own her individuality, to own her femininity not to intimidate anyone but to affirm others and this she does unapologetically and with poise is called strength honey.

Ever heard of Conviction?

Conviction is living life based on an inward stance and irrespective of how unpopular that stance is, you are willing to stand by it. Conviction is choosing to live outside the box in a world where many are fighting to fit into the box. Conviction, darling, is strength.

What about Emotional bravery?

Emotional bravery is owning how you feel. Owning how you feel,  when you feel and yet striving to trace the patterns that surround those feelings and questioning why you feel that way takes a lot. A lot of people don’t care. Trust me babe, when you find a woman that is willing to take an inventory of her feelings and strive to feel better, especially the way our good Lord has commanded she feels, ask for her hand in friendship. You know why? it takes strength to do that. Not many people, not many women are willing to go there.

To turn down your nose on others because they are not as physically strong as you is wrong.

To turn down your nose on others because the expression of their physical strength does not mirror what you are used to is wrong.

To turn down your nose on others because how they chose to represent their strength differs from yours is wrong.

I know you do not know and that is why I took out time to give you perspective and that from a position of love.

Now that you know, I believe you will take these words to heart, think about them and let them refine your thinking.

This African woman celebrates you, your strength and your willingness to learn.

I should write to you soon, till then, keep on keeping up.


A tired ‘African Woman’

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