#feesmustfall: It is time for an African rebirth

Feesmustfall

Education should not be a gift of privilege, it is should be a fundamental human right. It should be the responsibility of a nation to make its people are well prepared for a world that won’t always be forgiving.

The current protest in South Africa may seem like just another rowdy students throwing a fit because they can’t their way. I have heard people say this. I assure you it is not. The youth of South Africa, these students who are protesting peacefully, are asking a simple question. When are the freedoms that democracy promised going to be realized? These “bornfrees” who are meant to have a better future than that of their parents. When will this future arrive. Higher education is not privilege it is how a country builds its people to take their place on a global stage. If we block the roads that leads to the global stage what have done but taken our children and cut them off at their knees.

These protests have seen parents teach their kids how to survive teargas, a lesson no parent should teach. One that is necessary now. These parents encourage their kids to take a stand. We talk about this generation that they care about nothing but their phones and their status updates on Facebook. They are proving us wrong in the best way possible. They are not asking for free education, they want to pay they just need it to be reasonable because it is not. Education is not a privilege it is human right.

These protests addresses a bigger issue on the African continent. A continent that has stood by while governments did as they pleased. Africa is notorious for its passive aggression, we complain, moan about governments, corruption and the fact that our nations are in a mess, yet we do nothing about it. We allow our governments to get away with all manner of sins. We talk of the good old day, well buck up people because those days are not coming back. We are in the now and if we don’t stand up and fight for something now the future will be nothing but slum of broken dreams and could have been empires.

What is wrong with us? This the continent of mathematics, the continent of playwrights, nobel laureates and scientific breakthroughs. We should be a proud people, who refuse to be silenced by injustice. We cannot be letting our disruptors stand alone. We must teach our children to stand up for what is right, what is necessary and what they must.

Feesmustfall is about disrupting the status quo and we must disrupt it. You must disrupt the status quo when it does not represent the need of the people it vowed to protect. There is nothing political about feesmustfall, your political agendas are irrelevant. This is a generation of people taking back their country from people who will not look at for their interest.

Africa, we can no longer stand idly by and watch our countries taken from us by geriatrics who are stilling fight an old war that has nothing to do with our future. We cannot allow political agendas decide who we become or where we are going.

Image: Tawanda Moyo via Instagram

Courtship and intimacy: the scar tissue of the Tinder generation

Tinder-Logo

“You are a walking contradiction,” Demi says to me as he peered into my eyes trying to unlock its secrets. He had interrogated me for the last 70 minutes. We were on a first date and somehow it felt more like an inquisition than a date. I met him on Tinder the previous week and we chatted for a couple of days before I summoned the courage to ask him out. It wasn’t a big deal, but call me old-fashioned I still wonder if people I meet online are serial killers.

For reasons I will not explain to you now I spent two weeks on Tinder, it was an experiment, of which I am not sure what my conclusions are. I found myself sitting across the table from my Russian interrogator, his probing gaze daring me to deny him the answers he desperately wanted.

“Where do young successful people (women especially) meet people?” I was asked two days before my Tinder explorations began. I get this question a lot, I don’t know the answer. I don’t think these so-called young successful people know either.

“Somewhere on the path of life?” I offered.

Somewhere between theorizing where these young people found to mingle: for love, friendship and dare I say it for sex, I found myself signing up for Tinder. There is some irony to that but I digress.

“You have to tell me more about your travels. Have you been to Saratov, I am from there.” Demi’s thick accent was giddy with excitement as he whispered the word ’Saratov’ like a love song, a longing for his home town no doubt.

I have never been to Saratov, much to his disappointment but his questions were not done. He had one critical one left.

“Why did you swipe right?” he asked.

Do people actually ask this question? Shouldn’t you just assume that people swiped right because something about you piqued their interest. Are we a generation of such insecurities that we are surprised that our carefully chosen images and perfectly crafted bios get us attention?

The truth: my friend that convinced me on this ludicrous exercise actually did. But I don’t tell him that, I know where all this is going. Instead, I get cheeky and ask, why did you?

“Because you look like you would be good in bed.” All sense of civility was gone, and the false curiosity about me peeled away. A part of me admired the moxy a statement like that must take but another part of me rang in the ‘told you so’ with a disappointing sigh.

The evening ended and Demi went home alone. I had a series of dates some playing out like the one above and others bored me to the point of narcolepsy. It really could just be me, I could just be a disinterested snob. Though from the people I have spoken to about their Tinder experiences, it seems there is a sense of understanding. One person called it a ‘sex app’.

In the last three weeks I have read a lot about Tinder experiences and what is happening to the generation of Tinderers. Young people all over the United States see Tinder and apps like it for what it is, is a means to gratification. One that mostly leaves women hollow and some men counting.

Tinder is a platform sorely dedicated to satisfying the sexual appetite of a generation too busy to figure out how to make connections away from screens. It gives this generation carte blanche on openness and sometimes bad behavior. It is the play ground of instant gratification, there is little to no real human connection there.

It has been touted as the hookup culture, 20 years ago this culture still allowed for some human niceties and maybe polite conversation. Now it doesn’t seem you have to play at being nice anymore but available. The creators of Tinder built a place for people to meet, what they met for was up to the people.

Human beings have a propensity for creating technology that will make their lives easier. Food on demand, cars on demand, homes on demand, why not sex on demand as well. This is not necessarily a bad thing if everyone is clear on the rules of engagement.

There are of course exceptions to the rule. People who have met and made genuine human connections and since left the world of Tinder to go enjoy those connections. However, the majority of the Tinder experience are the rule, just read many of the think pieces that explore the average experience. Friends convince you to keep at it because they know guy who knows a guy who met his wife on Tinder.

What people do with Tinder is actually quite irrelevant, it is here to stay and with busy lives it is likely the easier way to try to connect. What I am interested is how Africans are playing on Tinder. Is the app’s use, results and experiences universal? Have young Africans too resided themselves to the hookup culture as well and is it a case of wham bam thank you ma’am? Is there even a thank you? Or do people just go back to swiping? Are we also playing the game of who gets to care less? Or Perhaps when it comes to sex and love, more is more?

There isn’t a fine line between love and sex. I am not sure people are looking for love on Tinder. How would that look if they were? However, there is a fine line between sex and intimacy, hookups and courtship. On Tinder, we don’t bother to fake intimacy anymore, the nature of the platform requires images to be doctored to attract a suitable coitus partner. There are no courtship just hookups.

If young successful people are looking for a place to meet like-minded people for the purpose of courtship, then we are all in trouble. We keep asking the question, where do you meet people in current times? It seems the real question should be why and what. Why are we looking for places to meet people? What is the outcome we hope for?

If Tinder is our last hope for connection, then we may have some thinking to do. Perhaps we need to begin with a redefinition of connection before we can find the place we connect. To exist in the world of this appify dating, you have to be open to the reality that no one will give you their heart, just their body. Frightening more, no one will want your heart, just your body. A generation that solely thrives on that is bound to leave some damage.

As we make our way through the evolution and revolution of our sexes we forget that most revolutions end in blood shed and the broken pieces of a world long gone. The hookup culture only works if everyone checks their hearts and feelings at the door. The societal and emotional damage that will follow is bound to shake up the fabric of how we date and maybe even love.

The scar tissue of what the Tinder generation are doing to courtship and intimacy will be indelible and not in a good way. No one has given this much thought, the consequences of who we are becoming, of who we have no choice but to become.

Dancing in the glorious Johannesburg thunderstorm

JHB thunderstom

Almost a year ago, I left everything behind and moved to Johannesburg. I did so kicking and screaming. I was convinced my life as I knew it was over, I wasn’t shy telling everyone this. How could it not be, I was forced to live in the apocalyptic wasteland as I like to call it.

When you live in Cape Town and experience other cities around the world that make life seem easy and accessible, the car-filled and distance embroiled Johannesburg seems to be the place where souls like mine go to die. People tell you this, and sometimes experience tells you this.

My experiences of Johannesburg before the move was in 24 to 72 hour stints. Hours spent in moving cars reading odd billboards that say: “Chinese Christian Church, Virgins Welcome.” Something like that stays with you.

My first month in the city as my new home was filled with distant aching for what I left behind. Whenever I poured myself a glass wine, there was a sense of hollow nostalgia, the kind that had no place in my new reality. It was pretty clear that I was a doomed character in my very own make-believe — what a cliche.

So I escaped it every chance I got. But this sly city has a gift for the swiftly interesting and surprising encounters. It wouldn’t let me escape, even when I wasn’t here it reminded why I needed to be.

After much resistance, on a rainy morning in the middle of Braamfontein, no umbrella in hand and only a sweater vest to keep me warm, it hit me: Johannesburg had gotten under my skin. As I stood there waiting for an Uber that may never come, the bone crushing cold of the midwinter rain pierced my skin. I wasn’t cold, I wasn’t sad or annoyed by the wetness, I was content. Happy to be in this place, so much so I danced. Stretching my hands out to the rain and danced with careless abandon. The onlookers probably thought I was nuts.

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There are elements of this city that very few cities around the world can claim, the epic thunderstorms, the people with a plan ( people seem to know what they want here) and a community for everyone. The genuinely friendly people that makes you question your own civility. This truly is a global city, full of locals, expats and people just passing by.

I have been on the search for my city for so long, I am not sure I know what my city looks like but I know what it needs to fee like. I don’t know if Johannesburg is my city but it is the city I want to play with right now. Where else will you meet a Nigerian investment banker and an ex-Russian prostitute with a Masters degree in Russian Literature buying food from your local Nigerian food supplier?

In one of my favourite Doris Day films, Pillow Talk, Tony Randall in abject exasperation says: “this is New York, we’ve got air you can sink your teeth into, it has character. Why would you want to leave?” Or something to that effect. That’s Johannesburg, it has air you can sink your teeth into, character you can unpack.

So for now, while I find my city, I am just going to dance in the glorious Jozi thunderstorm!

Top image by Alexius van der Westhuizen (his photos are amazing)

Cages of construct: the African reality and dream

An African city

Africa loves to adore its women as long as they fit perfectly in their cages of construct. African men love their women, as long as that woman is African enough. African women love their men as long as he can provide and take care of them. These women expect certain things from their men within certain constructs. We dream up these perfect gender roles that make no sense in reality.

I started watching a show called an African City on YouTube, it is about five African women, re-pats, trying to navigate their way through life in a bustling West African metropolis. The stories are interesting and characters have a certain charm about them. Kudos to the creator of the show for giving us five engaging women with enigmatic lexicon that often incite a giggle.

I told a friend about it and he hated the first 10mins, he didn’t like that all the women had done so far was rag on Africa. He kept watching though, and as I write this he is still watching. He is hooked he says, he loves the way the women talk. The show got us talking about being single in 21st century Africa. The rules of engagement on a continent that is supposedly rising. Issues that should command great presence in the national conversation but still finds its way to the bottom of the agenda in most African cities. Things like safe sex and finding a job based on merit.

You hear the crazy made up stats that it is easier to be killed by a terrorist than to get married or date after a certain age as a woman. I love those stats mostly because they get crazier everyday. This show tries to navigate this world of single and ready to mingle in Africa. A world where causal sex is great and abstinence is encouraged as well, a place that people talk about great loves and great lovers. A friend of mine once told me that when you are single in Africa, you get used to being invisible — these women beg to differ.

What got me interested in this show, wasn’t just the lexicon, or the delightful characters. It actually troubled me because it made me painfully aware the constructs around genders in Africa. In Europe it is alright to go dutch (these women say) on a date but in Africa men as expected to pay for everything. We joke about it all the time about these women who expect things from the men they date. His intellect is optional, thinking is optional so long as his wallet is available and the cards are platinum. Really?

Then there are the men. Who expect the women to be erotically beautiful and dutifully domesticated. The men who are happy to treat women both as goddesses to be adored, as well as sexual playthings. These women are mutually exclusive it seems. They will marry the goddess but not the playthings. The construct is quite laughable really. On my last trip to Nigeria an older gentleman told me: “in Africa we love our women, all kinds of ways. From the front to the back and sometimes on her knees.” It was disgusting and I pitied him, he is married and has three daughters. I worry for his daughters.

Modern African men don’t wear wedding bands apparently. When navigating dating in Africa, a friend gave me some sound advice, “assume everyone he is married until they prove you otherwise”. According to her, if you begin this way then it is a pleasant surprise when they are not — mostly they are she says. Men lie is the lesson apparently, something the women of An African City drive home.

These African gender constructs are so schizophrenic and complex that trying to meander your way through leads to questions and frustrations. What does it mean to be a man in Africa today? What does it mean to be a woman in Africa today?

Is there some maniacal genius to these constructs? If we imagine that they have one solitary architect. The creator watches as African men and women struggle with the confines of their constructs while fastening the locks on the cages with smiles and inconsequential remarks. Must be nice – not.

Nairobi and all her charms: a humdinger of a city

Nairobi

It has been a dizzying few weeks, I have made stops in several cities around the world and more yet to come. Each city even more beguiling than the next. I would however be quite remiss if I didn’t take a few moments to write a love letter to Nairobi.

On a cool summers Sunday, I stepped out of an oddly quiet Jomo Kenyetta airport into the Nairobi air. The week ahead was carefully planned, with some hard work and a bit of play. Anyone who has been here will tell you there is an energy in Nairobi that is somewhat indescribable. Some locals know it, others take it for granted. I call it the ‘Kenyan Savoir-faire’ because no matter the situation you can always figure it out. Nairobi is flirtatious but she is not coy, she will wreck you, yet make you beg for more.

My first order of business call my “favourite” Kenyan.

“I am in your city my love!” I yell enthusiastically into my mobile phone.

“Darling, this is amazing!” he echoes my enthusiasm, and so it begins.

There is something outrageous about the amount of experiences Nairobi offers. A good friend, who happened to be on his first trip the city, was marveling at every little thing. Nairobi, through his eyes, is a shinning city. Africa’s Emerald City, if you will. The city of super fast internet, and the local will settle for nothing less. This is proven true when my other favourite Kenyan and I made our way through Madrid and she was appalled by the internet speed in the great European city. In this Emerald City, you will get an adventure whether you want it or not.

There are no hoity-toity affairs here, the city and its people are full of boundless energy and it is delightfully infectious. Between sips of chai (which you must drink here), a new friend tells me you don’t have to go too far to find entertainment or lions, the latter has me excited.

The Nairobi National Park is some 20mins away from the heart of the city on a day without traffic, which is rare but possible. Nairobians claim that they have the only park of this size so close to a metropole. Truly so, because while gazing at Gazelles gracefully dancing their way across the field you can see the city’s skyline, where people bustle on about their workday.

Zebras

I love nature and as we made our way through the park on the crisp morning, even the desperation for sleep couldn’t tear my eyes away from the animals. This effect is synonymous with every park I have ever been to. There is something quite awe-inspiring about watching a family of Zebras go about their day or to witness to speed of the Gazelle first hand. If you find yourself in Nairobi, make this trip, even if it is at 6am in the morning.

When people talk about Kenya not just Nairobi, they talk about the parks and mountains and the Mara. They talk about this other worldly experience, observing lions in their natural habitat or the marvel that is Samburu — because elephants. They talk about the great tea and coffee that is made here. Here, you can drink tea one of two ways here, the Kenyan way with lots of milk and little tea, or black with the milk on the side. The Kenyan way is worth the experience, chai.

The more I visit this country, and this city in particular, I see a new kind of Nairobi. The one that has a growing coffee shop culture, there is a Java or an Artcaffe at every turn and a skinny latte is one hand-raise away. Nairobi is the city of the young. Where Kenyan celebrities hop in and out of TV studios and make their way through the busy city streets. There is a party culture here, some of it seem to be imported from Nigeria, Kenyans know more about Nigerian music than I do (shameful, I know). These beautiful people of Nairobi, these 20 and 30-somethings are happy to go see a lion or an elephant but their natural habitat seems more in the party streets or a cup of chai at Java.

I must admit, though I had cup chai at Java and latte at ArtCaffe my time was mostly spent at Mama Ashanti. A Ghanaian/Nigerian restaurant that brings the pleasures of Nigerian cuisine to a lovely out door setting. I gorged myself full of plantains and pepper soup almost every night.

In this city there is a humdinger of life that puts all other humdinger cities to shame.

Saying goodbye to Memeburn: the hardest thing ever

Cape Town

I wrote Memeburn a ‘Dear John Letter’ and someone asked very nicely that I share it. So here goes. Note, Burn Media is the holding company for Memeburn and Creative Spark is the parent company for Burn Media. My goodbye was doubly hard because I had to leave Cape Town…

Dear Burn Media and Creative Spark,

After four years, more than a 1000 posts, over 800 000 words, four continents, 12 countries and 30 cities it seems our time has come to an end. It is not you, it is me, well its you a little. From our humble beginnings in the crack whore den in Hope St. The hipster havens of trendy Kloof St to our contributions to the tech gentrification of Woodstock. Our time has been great, but alas, it is time to signal in a new chapter of my life and so I must pack up my boxes and go.

In every box I have packed there is a memory of you. The day we hit our first million, our first big interview, the day we became 20 people and the day the new york times recognized us.

When I tell our story, I will talk about the smiles, the tears and the frustrations. I will talk about the good times, the bad times and the times I nearly gave up. But more importantly I will talk about the person I became because of you, the strength I got, the persistent that became the norm and the opportunities I found. Friendships gained, the fat cactus, Rick’s cafe and the rooftop of kloof street. I will think of Apple events, company exits and share prices. Ceos and founders interviewed and heroes met. Stories I loved, stories I hated and stories that sadly couldn’t be helped.

When I talk about the losses we endured, I will also talk about the victories, I will talk about Paris, New York, Lagos, Nairobi, Seoul, London, Accra and San Francisco. I will talk about the price of passion, its rewards as well as its consequences. When I tell our story which has been written in the indelible ink of friendship, love and respect, I will talk about an unstoppable dream. A dream we all bought into without question or hesitation. A dream that would see us all break the walls of our shell to become something quite remarkable. A dream that took me out my comfort zone thrust me in the uncomfortable yet rewarding light of stardom.

Most days I felt an exorbitant amount of anxiety and vulnerability when doing this job. But Africa’s stories had to be told. Tracking entrepreneurship, the adrenalin sport of business. One I revelled in.

Even though I will miss you terribly, I must grow outside of this new comfort zone. I am looking forward to this new challenge and to starting a new phase of my career. Thank you so much for allowing me the immense privilege of telling Africa’s stories.

To my team, there are not enough words and even if there were they would mean nothing to what you guys mean to me. No human being has ever had the privilege of sharing an amazing journey as I have. I wish you all everything of the best. You are each so talented and so very clever that I can’t wait for the rest of the world to take notice.

To Creative Spark, I beg you not to lose your sparkles and continue to be a special and creative place.

I have learnt so much here, and I hope in some small way I have taught something as well. I am sorry I have to break up with you. Forgive me.

Yours always,
Mich

Dancing with strangers and meeting Princes in Lagos

Lagos Mainland

I would be doing Lagos a great disservice if all I talked about were its humidity, the impossible traffic and the hints of sexism that befell me on my last trip (more on this in another piece). I think if I were to truly explore what the delectable city had to offer and laid it bare Florence and the Machine would come to mind: “sweeter than heaven and hotter than hell”. This is a sentiment encapsulates an unforgettable experience.

I have been here often enough but I don’t really know the city, when you think about it really can you truly know a city? The city I currently live in still harbours great mysteries for me, the city I grew up seems to be so far away that its stories don’t belong in my head anymore. But I digress.

Like an inescapable dream Lagos comes to life in audacious yet subtle ways. One of the pleasures of this trip was a restaurant called Terra Kulture, nothing special by most counts but I find that I couldn’t stay away (there was free wifi). Tucked just a few ways away from the famous Bar Beach, the African themed restaurant is a fusion of art, entertainment and food. The premise for it seems is to provide top notch Nigerian cuisine while serving its customers need for culture, with the occasional plays as well as housing a gallery with exhibits from some top photographers. The whole place comes together quite nicely, like a perfectly executed dish of intellect, perfect mixology and soul food. Here the ladies meet for their weekly book club, whether books are read or it’s an excuse for a gander at the bar is anyone’s guess. I have a favourite dish here, and ate it every day I was there: Ofada rice (a sort of locally grown rice served with a spicy sauce) accompanied by fried plantain (yum yum) – it is a taste duet that sends your taste buds into an orgasmic adventure.

Ofada rice

One night after losing my resolve, I relented to go party. I danced with strangers and was proposed to by a supposed Prince. In the same breath a man claiming to be an oil tycoon promised me the world if I would only permit him a dance. It’s a strange thing venturing in the night in Lagos. I mean who could resist a Prince and an oil tycoon, me apparently. But you get the gist, the drinks will follow and the rich will play.

Unlike my last trip I decided to forgo my preconceptions and make my way to the Mainland, a place my father would rather I did not go. Lagos is vast populace and like most urban areas it has its problems, unfortunately those problems are laid quite bare for the world to view. The city dwellers don’t seem too perturbed by this; their city is still the greatest in the world and there is no telling them any different. As I made way through into the jungle of broken concrete it plays out like an unfinished dream or one deferred. The dreamers are still dreaming but its workings are incomplete, they have made their peace with what will come but I don’t they know what that is. Some believe it will never be complete and that too is okay. For the few in the know, the overpopulation and traffic is just a small price to pay in a bigger dream that they can taste on the precipice — and so they solider on.

I feel that too. I dared a trip to the beach on one the days with a friend, as we surveyed the surrounds she said to me “you feel that?”

“What?” I ask in confusion.
“The city.” She replied simply.

The ocean was waging a war against the shore, its waves crashing fiercely and the city behind us hummed in choreographed aggression. It took a moment but soon it was clear, the city is more than the pretty views, yes there pretty views here, the food (which is to die for) or cheap liquor. The city is a beast. While most tourists would go to many big cities for the sights and landmarks, this is not that city. There are sights here; I am told I am yet to actually go to one. What this city has is culture, an experience and gravitas.

Lagos, pack your malaria meds and get ready for ride of a lifetime.

A good stay at the Southern Sun in Lagos

sslagos

Nestled the booming metropole of Lagos Island, is the affluent Ikoyi neighbourhood, where houses retail in the millions and corporations dot their offices. Traffic can be a nightmare here sometimes, but it isn’t as bad as the mainland, hop over one of two main bridges and you are on the mainland or over to Victoria Island. This is where Tsogo Sun decided to situate its Lagos hotel — a good choice. The Southern Sun in Ikoyi is indicative of every South Sun you have ever been to expect it’s different.

The hotel’s golden exterior with its red and chrome finish and glass revolving door welcome you into a cool lobby, a needed sanctuary from the heat and humidity of Lagos. It’s marbled floors and glass walls gives you sense of calm from the concrete jungle that resides outside.

As I walk over the reception, I am greeted with many “welcomes” and “do you need help with your bag” – all I have is backpack but I guess for them a guest is guest no matter the luggage size. The hotel doesn’t try to be pretentious, every guest is equal and treated like the awe-like reverence that I suppose celebrities are often accorded.

The beauty of the hotel is obvious and its staff exceptional courteousness can be pegged down to a level of professionalism that the parent company refuses to compromise on. However there is more to staying at a hotel than just professionalism and beauty, for me at least.

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As someone who is never home, the comforts of home are incredibly important to me. When you are in a foreign country, those comforts are even more important. So hotels intend to be my save haven when I am away from home, I trust hotel staff far more than I should perhaps, but I feel if someone is going to have to bare witness to my bad judgement after a night on the town, they deserve some trust.

I did feel at home here, I fell into the feather soft bed with ease and drifted off into a dreamless sleep, a rare occurrence for me. I felt comfortable here, the space is warm and inviting and the bar is lively. SSLagos tries to keep its Nigerian traditions while catering for its Western clientele. Perhaps the staff can get to friendly but I was interested in getting to know them and the hotel’s work ethic better.

The food is amazing, a mix of Nigerian and the mundane. I ate, a lot then I ran a lot both in the gym and the hotels surrounds much to the staff dismay. I think they would have preferred me not wonder off too much on my own. Friends and family sent me texts trying to make sure I saw safe but truth be told I couldn’t even trip here, because someone will magically wheel around and catch me.

If I can say one thing or two about my stay at the Southern Sun in Lagos, it is that I felt at home and I had the luxury of escaping my life for a few days. The hotel staff is attentive and interesting. They were willing to indulge my questions and eager to help make my stay a better one. They even helped me cross the road, you do not want to mess with traffic in Lagos, crossing the road is its own version of The Hunger Games.

I do think the standard rooms could be a tad bigger just because I like a lot of space! This is a vast improvement on my previous experience with the Tsogo Sun.

Afrofeminism: understanding the modern African feminist

silhouette of mother kissing her daughter

A few weeks ago on a cool summer’s evening while under the carefully guided hand of a full bodied glass of red wine, a friend turned to me and asked what the modern African feminist looked like, the women he tacked on. This question should have been easy to answer as I thought I understood who she is, but it wasn’t.

Like most things that happens on a summer’s evening where sunset can be dragged on depending on the sun’s sluggishness, the question grew more fierce and terrifying the more I surveyed the dimming skyline. I think I shall address the question as best I can now. It would be easy to say that the modern African woman is all business and dominates the boardroom. It would be easy to say that she has beaten the mythos of the old world and embraced the tigress of the new world. That would be easy.

Truth be told her way is still a murky unknown, barricaded by loopholes in the law and regimes that refuse to step out of the dark ages. She is stifled by religion and bound by the emotional blackmail of her peers and the male figures in her life. When all fails, the default for African women is to go back to the old ways, the way our mothers and their mothers did it — acceptance.

However, there is no denying the onslaught of Afrofeminism, a striking second act in the history of African women and their revolutions. The emergence of the modern African woman is both accidental and purposed, an unorganised movement united by a simple cause — to be all that we can be. This resurgence and affirmation has swept through the continent and everyone is taking notice and making room for the quiet intensities and the exhilarating expression that is the modern African woman.

It’s easy to pin her down to preconceived ideas and the flawless quality of the media headlines and the newsmakers. The truth is that the modern African feminist is deeply flawed, a creature of rash decisions and fiery passion. But can you blame her though? Growing up, African girls are forbidden from dating, yet at the appropriate age they are expected to bring home the perfect husband. An idea that defies logic, leaving young girls to date in secret. The African feminist is built on this defiance, always forging a way when the path is blocked.

For years, women in Africa embodied complacency. They were wives and mothers and growing up young girls bought into this destiny because no one told them they didn’t have to. As the tide now turns and these perceptions in turn unravel to reveal more roles for women in society, the myth of what is woman is growing more complex. Young African girls see this then quickly and easily begin to saunter through their own identities with ease while falling into feminism with glee and careless abandon. Because in the end, for them, it is the norm.

The African woman that we see now is unshackled by the burdens of the women that came before, she understands the sacrifices of those who came before her but refuses to inherent their prisons. She is much darker and unabashed, unapologetic about sexuality and has no time for coyness. For her sex is not a tool to be used in a game of chance or daring, but a factor of life and a source of pleasure.

In the end, what Afrofeminism really is: is an awakening. The African feminist is debunking the mythos that boxes her into one corner of a world that is far to big to only be one thing. She preaches self-love, calculates her career path factoring a husband and children as well as nannies that help out while she is at work. She supports her man and expects him to support her, emotionally and mentally. She actively contributes to household income and sometimes makes more money. She plays a dangerous game of careful and calculated chess, where partnerships and strategic alliances guide her path.

The modern African feminist looks like whoever and whatever she wants to look like, the person who is the most comfortable for her to be. She doesn’t seek self affirmation but endeavours to standout in her own way.

Hotel woes: A bad day at the Southern Sun

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In my line of work, a hotel stay is very common, sometimes especially in the last few months I have felt more at home in hotel rooms than I do in my own home. It’s great living the hotel life, everything magically cleans itself up and food appears with a one button summon. It is a amazing.

Expect when it isn’t.

I recently stayed at the Southern Sun in Montecasino ( my first time there), a place like this with multiple stars, you would expect a certain level of service. I did and I was sorely disappointed. The ventilation in my room was shoddy, there wasn’t a wardrobe for my luggage just the thing to rest it on, come now — but I thought ‘you know what the view is amazing and it’s only for one night’.

Apparently things weren’t going to improve. I wasn’t able to have breakfast as I was leaving before it started but for some unknown reason I couldn’t get a cup of coffee to go, I mean jeez even the City Lodge can do that.

I waited around for about 10-15mins for someone to check me out, I am sorry my insanely early flight that I might miss is an inconvenience to you right now. The most annoying was the mysterious charge of around R2000 ($180) that appeared on my bill. I was there for one night and in that time I was in the room for the time I slept in it. I was nowhere near the bar but apparently I have had quite the time racking up bill like that. Interestingly the check out guy couldn’t show me the tab I signed to prove I was there and authorised this bill of awesome. I am not paying that if you can’t prove it was me which it wasn’t. So I didn’t.

It’s all quite sad because I really like the Southern Sun. I think perhaps someone was just having a bad day and a bunch of things just fell through the cracks, I am sure the service there is usually impeccable, this time just wasn’t quite it.

The hotel is actually quite beautiful and well suited. I would recommend but I am not sure I can in good conscience, perhaps someone else can tell me of their experience?

Update: The hotel called me and apologised and sorted out the wrong bill issue, so we are all happy clams now. They went all James Bond and looked at surveillance footage, yay them.