In Nigeria, an accent is a catalyst for love

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I have been debating whether I should write this for days but a conversation with a friend just convinced me to do it. Please hold up on the hunt for me till you’re done reading.

When I decided to spend 30 days in Lagos, I intended to just work and go back home but many people told me that would be a loss. Lagos is one of Africa’s most vibrant cities with something exciting each week. Its people are dynamic and energetic. I am yet to be in an African city that makes being African so cool and sexy and just darn fun. Yes, there are some challenges here, most of them deal-breakers but that is a different conversation.

As I come to the end of my trip, many people have asked me if I met any nice guys here (I hope my father doesn’t read this). I didn’t go looking for guys, and to be honest I had no interest but I did meet a lot of people and a number of them were guys. The dating scene in Lagos has mixed reviews from residents, some who love it and others who despise it. For most women, that I spoke to, it seems that Nigerian men are not much loved, some of them. “Nigerian men deceive with intent, it’s almost as though they set out to be evil and hurt you,” someone recounts to me. The creepy thing is this perspective is held by both men and women. My male friends warned me to not be alone with guys I just met or have only known a few days, and to watch everything I drink while out. It paints a rather terrifying picture of men in Las Gidi.

While men are deceiving with intent they also seem to be existing in a faux conservative world. More than one 20-something confessed their undying love to me after only an interaction of less than 15min, maybe I got mad game maybe not. When I relayed this to a friend he responded “it’s that tinge of British in your accent”. Nigerian men and women seem to fall for people by their accent, at least that is what I understood from his response. Here an accent is a catalyst for love, marriage and the world because Nollywood. The movies say when you fall you should fall hard and it should be a forever kind of thing – real or not. I would be flattered if I didn’t feel quite ridiculous every time it happened.

No one here ever tells you they just want to have sex, the conservative nature of the country makes that a fake taboo. It’s not like people aren’t doing it they just rather pretend. Goodness me, Nigerians can lie. Men lie about their physical desires and what they want from women, women do it too it would appear. Is there a law that says you must lie for survival? Nigerians believe in love at first sight, or at least they think they do. The way it plays out it seems Nigerians need to grab love by the collar and make it theirs immediately. They see a girl and they fall hard within 10mins. They will pledge their lives to these women, send flowers and even offer to buy lingerie. Nigerian girls must know the rules and signs of this game by now, so why are people still playing it?

No one asks you for a date, they ask you for a lifetime as though those are easy to give away. People throw the L word around like its going out of fashion, it’s rather perplexing. Why? It’s been an interesting 30 days learning and watching. The politics of love, dating and sex is weaved into the fabric of this city. Here it seems people are paying for sex one way or another, with the promise of love, marriage or money (security). In some cases all three. Quite the costly exchange for the promised.

These young Africans: finding a voice among the broken and angry

These young africans

I have been talking to a lot of people about young Africans. So much so that in my circles we have adopted the term, ‘these young Africans’ as a way to contextualize our conversations. The basic definition, young African professionals (25-40 years) who live in urban areas and making their way through the world. These are Africans determined to make a mark in whatever industry they are in, some of them are first generationers. First to get a college education, first to get a corporate job, first to live in the city, first to ‘make it’ as were. First to figure out life in a rapidly changing world.

There is a fundamental shift that is happening in Africa and the world in fact. While the past had parents determining the future of their children, especially in Africa, giving us a generation of doctors and lawyers. Something happened, perhaps we realized there were too many doctors, lawyers and engineers so parents decided their children needed to be business leaders and investment bankers. Then came the generation of Business School wunderkinds. Then something happened, a generation of Africans rose up and decided that their futures needed to be determined by them, enter the time of the artisans and the entrepreneurs – because let’s face it no African parent will encourage entrepreneurship straight out of college. This is where ‘these young Africans’ come in. Yes, they too have corporate jobs but it’s jobs that defy their parents understanding. Like that guy whose job is to manage the brand identity of shoe laces.

A generation of Africans as exciting, innovative, hardworking as it is problematic (stay your pitchforks, please). This is the generation that spends money as quickly as it makes it. This generation lacks basic education in wealth and asset building. This is a generation that knows how to be rich but not wealthy, just ask a Nigerian celebrity. This is the generation that would rather wear their wealth than think about tomorrow. While traveling across Africa, finding out what makes us tick, I learnt that the future isn’t really all that important. The common mantra, is life is too short and you might as well enjoy the fruits of your labor today. Makes sense, what happens if tomorrow does come? Do you start all over again?

The general consensus is that these young Africans are shit hot. Everyone wants us, all the multinationals want to see what we can do, investors are warming to our ideas. The world is both waiting for us to succeed and fail at the same time (haters gonna hate). The bulk of us aren’t prepared, no one told us that wealth and impact takes time. No one told us that credit cards are only good for the credit card companies. No one told us that liquid assets isn’t all that useful when a recession hits.

This is a generation that will work hard for their passion, we are excited about what we do and who we are. We like nice things and are willing to work for them. We dedicate ourselves to projects, companies and causing, we don’t easily fall for brand messaging. We want products we like and we are willing to pay premium for it as long as it is convenient. Our mobile phones run our lives, we work from it, play from it and connect through it. We like our Moet, Hennessy and Louis Vuitton.

This is a generation that often battle through the murky definitions of what it means to be African and what it means to live in a contemporary world. A generation of people defining equality where traditions dictate certain things. A generation finding their voice in crowd of broken and angry people. One that must take responsibility for its own future regardless of what is ahead. A generation intent of fixing an embattled legacy left to them. We are so desperate to prove that we can take control of our lives, pick our legacy yet when the time comes the shadow of our parents linger as we decide – that ever present hand of ‘guidance’. A generation that defies definition.

These are mostly thoughts in my head that needed to get out. I’m doing a series of talks in the coming weeks on the subject, likely there are more pieces to come, unpacking segments on this. Africa is a broken continent, let’s be honest. Our leaders haven’t given us much to work with and we are angry about it. Those of us that care anyway. There is potential here lots, but for the most part the same people who screwed things up for us make it hard for us to fix it.

Playing at adulthood: the grown up confessional

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When I was little, I always thought that growing happened like magic. You wake up one morning, all the secrets of adulthood would be downloaded into your brain. Everything would change, you would know how to make the right decision – you would be certified a grown up.

According to some “grown ups” I know, I have wasted my 20s. Apparently I wasn’t meant to spend it building a career and charging my way through a formidable industry. No, it seems I was suppose to spend it looking for a husband. My grown up advisors seem to think my want or lack of want is irrelevant here. The way they see it, the past decade of my life has been spent on the wrong things and as I enter this new one, which is meant to be spent on procreation, I must settle the debts incurred in my 20s. That is what adults do, they tell me.

I have been trying to explore what it means to grow up and truly understand myself for some time. I began with checklists, things adults should have done, do and have. That didn’t quite work out because I just felt like a big kid given access to things I wasn’t quite ready for.

I suppose this time around, I need to figure out the purpose of this decade before I run through it, chasing the impossible and wrong dreams. Entering your 30s in Africa isn’t terribly helpful, with all the big life stuff aching at you while the African cultures and traditions niggle at you like an unwanted lover. You are in most cases bound by propriety and in others torn by love for the people who you know in some warped way actually care about you. In Africa, when women turn 30, they enter a period I call the ticking time bomb leading to the crisis of old age – because it is all over now. The grown ups will have you believe this and schedule your battle plans accordingly — yes this is war and we are all praying about it in Africa fervently.

When you are in your mid 20s and begin to notice the world for what it really is, you suspect that there are no grown ups. You face the dubious reality that this is it, you will continue to fumble through life hoping for the best and learning. You learn that most things are like for like. The way you treat people matters, simple respect and courtesy goes a long way in earning you respect and kindness. These things matter to people. Taking responsibility for who you are and showing up is the biggest lesson you will learn.

So here is what I know to be true as someone playing at adulthood:

Spend your decade doing what makes you happy, but take responsibilities for your actions and choices because they are yours and yours alone.

Stop worrying about who is watching you, governments and companies included. If you keep looking over your shoulder life will pass you by.

Eat the damn cake, you only live once.

If you are trying to find a way to say something in a delicate manner, don’t. Just say it.

It is perfectly okay if you like Taylor Swift and not a tween, some experiences cross age divides.

If your boss tells you that you are too young to get a deserved raise or promotion, quit because that company does not deserve you.

Show righteous indignation when someone belittles Africa, because damnit we are a great continent.

Finally, save up and buy that incredibly expensive thing you really want but don’t need.

I am sure that my well meaning grown ups will tell me that I have life all wrong, my approach just isn’t done. But I have been disappointing them for so long, why stop now.

Diversity in tech: time to check our privilege

CT-water

A couple of weeks I spoke to speak on diversity in the South African tech space at Net Prophet. The talk addressed issues around race (mostly) and gender in the tech space. How can tech solve some of the gender issues and race issues in the country and perhaps beyond? How are companies and the tech industry at large dealing with fact there aren’t enough women and people of colour in tech in SA and Africa at large? From an entrepreneurial point of view.

It is such a big conversation that I felt that I needed more time to discuss I feel about this topic and some of the ways we need to start addressing it. Also, the need for context. We automatically assume the lack of something means a lack of interest or a lack of trying by other parties. When it comes to race and gender and entrepreneurship, it is a bit more complicated than that.

People get very defensive and protective when diversity comes up in their industry or company. They needn’t be. I am going to tell you something no one else will. This problem isn’t a problem but an opportunity to build change and find solutions that don’t impose on people but help and support. It is a great and important challenge that is necessary.

Why diversity matters: McKinsey and Company study

Companies with a racially and ethnically diverse leadership are 35 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians.Companies with a gender diverse leadership are 15 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians.

McKinsey and Company makes the business case why diversity should be taken seriously by companies. But there is also the logically moral case. Businesses should be reflective of the society and industry that they exist in. If your company refuses to employ and empower women and people of colour how does it expect to succeed in a society where huge percentages are made up of women and people of colour?

The conversation around diversity needs to shift from what we would like to do what we must do. An entrepreneur trying to solve problems unique to people living in rural Nigeria will never truly succeed unless that entrepreneur talks to and even hires people from that part of the world.

Why are there not enough people of colour and women in tech?

Most people of colour don’t enjoy the prilivlege of being able to go home when it all goes wrong. In black communities there is the notion of “black tax”. Black tax undercuts whatever aspiration young black people have. It is the extra “tax” that the young professional back people are expected to pay to their family immediate and extended. The most publicized case of black tax is footballer Adebayor and the story of how his income was spoken for by family. Most black people don’t have the luxury of entrepreneurship due to circumstantial disadvantages. They cannot afford it. Even if they are not paying black tax they have no support system both financially of emotionally to indulge in starting a business.

There are far too many systematic and circumstantial disadvantages stacked up again people of colour in this country and women on this continent to truly engender an entrepreneurial culture. Culturally women are taught not to entertain careers in tech let alone start businesses in tech. When enough people tell you no, at some point you might start believing that is the right and only answer. The internet on its own has not been kind to women, strong talented women are often shamed and ridiculed by the same industry they are trying to break into. Companies barely recognizes female leadership with very little role models to look up it’s a wonder young girls are not clamoring at the door for tech education and jobs.

Education is also key. Most families find it difficult to support their girl child in a career path they no little about and are not sure it will provide security and life’s comforts. Gender transformation as it is in corporate South Africa and Africa at large is already dismal. Entry into tech can seem near impossible. The few women in real leadership positions are likely paid less than their male counterparts.

Things we can do to improve diversity

Tech companies need to offer better structured and paid internships. Paying intern is a great way to balance out privilege. We need to think about internships as systematically empowering. We need practical solutions for diversity transforms in tech. Companies need to stop choosing candidates algorithmically but more humanly. A diverse interview ensures that each candidate is given fair consideration and presents an opportunity to bust unconscious bias.

There are a number of entrepreneurs that have language barriers against them; vernacular translators could be employed at startup pitches. If not, investors need to make a concerted effort to incorporate what second language speakers are doing. English may be the language of business but Chinese entrepreneurs are not expected to speak English in their pitches are Africans?

Transformation in the tech entrepreneurial space needs to be thought about from a state level. Talented young black people will likely opt for a position in with the state a big corporate because familia responsibilities. Black tax as mention. We need a new form of empowerment to change this. Black Economic empowerment or affirmative actions are not enough, it is time for diversity entrepreneurial empowerment.

The unemployment rate in Africa is on the rise, there are not enough jobs for the people who need them. New jobs must be created and these new jobs will be created by entrepreneurs. It is up to the state to help empower those who will create those jobs.

#feesmustfall: It is time for an African rebirth

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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

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

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.