Tag Archives: Twitter

The New Year Resolution That Worked

The year 2015 has been an interesting one for me, taking me through all of my elements and rocking up a myriad emotions in more ways than one.

I am not usually one to make New Year Resolutions, for the simple reason that they are pushed to the back of my mind by reality and, therefore, rendered considerably pointless. However, at the beginning of 2015, I made one resolution and pinned it on my Twitter profile.

 

twitter resoultion

You may ask why post it on Twitter and not on the walls of my room, or somewhere more visible. My resolution was inspired by the Twitter trend #FeministNewYearResolutions and through the course of the year, has been a great reminder for me, as I navigate spaces with my voice and thoughts as a feminist.

Making that promise to myself, and to the world which followed that trend, ensured that I shared my views on feminism and a great many issues affecting women and girls without reservation, and with no apology.

The online ‘streets’ can be especially ruthless for those sharing unpopular views that diverge from the usual conservative life values we have been taught to embrace as normal.

Identifying as a feminist has brought me my fair share of vitriol and trolling, especially online, with suggestions that my choice is an anomaly because feminism goes against my African values. Ha!

In past years, trolling and (disrespectful) opposition to my views would get to me and sometimes lead me to question my beliefs, lending credibility to what I have now come to consider as no different from noise. Not this year; and I daresay the conscious decision and the thought process that went into coming up with that resolution helped me in holding the fort strong and remaining unmoved by the negativity.

Proclaiming my feminist identity, especially on Twitter, took to a new level when I changed my name to Jollof Feminist, further strengthening the feminist branding of my page, especially for the benefit of new followers. This change, in itself, warranted comments that I would rather not delve into, but choose to replace with how they made me feel.

A few months ago, I was in conversation with one of the members of the diplomatic corps in The Gambia, and our discussion centered on Gambian women’s voices online and the reception to this new and growing normal. We explored the negative reactions to feminism as a concept or way of life, and I had another eureka moment.

I came to the realisation that people are not as angry about feminism itself, as they are at feminists, especially when these latter happen to be women. Their opposition, I concluded, came from a place of discomfort and displeasure at seeing women use their voices to fill up our spaces, as opposed to the previous norm of being seen and never heard. My conclusion was reinforced by the opposite reactions I saw towards men speaking on the same issues, even when simply regurgitating opinions and think pieces from women in the same spaces.

This is not to say that some male feminists do not get attacked for their views, but this can never be compared on the same scale as the attacks on female feminists. This understanding awakened a new fire in me, solidifying the resolution to remain unapologetic about my being a feminist and, consequently, my feminist views and opinions.

Without a doubt, it has been a challenging year and I have found myself in more debates on feminism and, especially, sexism than I care to enumerate. Sometimes, the exchanges would get too heated, but I pride myself in the calmness and focus with which I now maneuver through them, ensuring that my points are made in all respect, but my views are not watered down and trampled upon as irrelevant or an overreaction.

A friend once asked me if it was all worth it, and if I wasn’t bothered by the negative attention I would probably get from engaging in debates and arguments online. My response was simple: it took me a lot of learning and decisions to get here and I am very much convinced about the necessity of what I do. If there’s anything worthy I am doing, it is this.

Reading through this piece, one would think that it has all been ice, blood and fire with my experiences as a vocal feminist online. However, I am grounded in reality by the many positive reactions to these efforts, directly and indirectly.

I have been humbled and honoured in equal measure by the many young women who reach out to express gratitude for these efforts, and explain how it has inspired them to speak up about their experiences and struggles, as well as those of other women and girls.

I have also engaged with several men, young and old, who acknowledge the importance of our voices and our stories, and who vow to be more sensitive especially in navigating our shared spaces on the grounds of their male privilege.

I had an acquaintance reach out to say he has become more mindful of what he says about women when he is around me. I took that as a first step to change, while making obvious my wish that this would become normal for him and he wouldn’t require my presence to check what he says and does, in relation to women.

I have been lucky to find and engage with other feminists, especially young Africans, who have provided more learning opportunities for me, and even more affirmation of the importance of the work we do in simply being ourselves and making our voices heard. The solidarity on Twitter is priceless and the experience is one I am truly grateful for this year.

And for me, that is enough worth and result for the work being done by the many like me, who have decided to no longer be silenced. Discovering the power in our voices and the greater power in using them to tell our own stories has been enough motivation to remain true to my promise and ensure my resolution was seen through to the end of the year.

Where reality has often pushed previous resolutions to the bin in my head, this year has been different. Perhaps, this is because I made a resolution that was in complete alignment with my daily living and activities, both at work and through private ventures. In alignment with my beliefs and what I have come to accept and embrace as the purpose of my life, for as long as it is needed in our world.

I made a resolution at the start of the year, and through the course of living it, I have been blessed with countless experiences and lessons, each one reaffirming the validity of my choices and the necessity of my life’s work. I would cheat and make this my resolution for the coming year, but it would be a repetition of something that has already taken firm root in my being and would flourish even without a reminder.

In 2015, I refused to apologise and stood firm with my beliefs, but I still believe I can be more, do more, give more and embrace the wholeness of my being.

So for 2016, I choose one phrase to guide me: BE INTENTIONAL. In everything I choose to be, say, do and be a part of. Let’s see how this one works out.

As we go into another year, with resolutions or not, I thank you for taking this journey with me and for reading my blogs, even when they come from a very confused place. I am truly appreciative of the support I get through Linguere and pray that it will lead to the realisation of the plans I have to make this bigger.

Have a very awesome 2016! 🙂

Before I Die…

Here’s a poem I wrote last night for the Balafong Poetry Challenge. A mini-reflection on our relationships and taking advantage of life before death.

Appreciate me now, before I wither and die

Appreciate me now, before I wither and die

Treat me right…
Make me feel it before others do

I’m going to die a digital death
News on the internet even before my neighbour knows
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram beating Teletext
You’ll rush to change your profile pic
Before you let a tear fall
Making the world know how ‘shocked’ you are
How you’ll miss me and all the times we shared
I don’t blame you, won’t blame you
It’s the times we live in, I forgive you

For using my death to get more likes
More profile views, more retweets
Accepting messages of condolence
Responding to every ‘RIP’ with an ameen
Glad that you could remember me
Do that for me, even though I can’t see
I hope the prayers get answered
But now I hope for different

Treat me right
Make me feel your love while I’m still alive

Because it means more to me now
Than when I’m 6ft deep, a feast for worms
Can’t hear your wails, can’t feel your pain
Hug me now when we can share the pangs
Celebrate with me, let’s share a laugh
So when I’m gone and you write of missing me
There really would have been a reason to feel that way
So I ask that you

Treat me right
Celebrate me while I’m still here

For we never know what tomorrow holds
And regrets are the kisses death leaves when it’s done
Taking my soul, your soul, every man’s soul
Regrets for what could have been but wasn’t
Forgive my mistakes, I’ll forgive yours
For when I breathe my last, it would have been too late
All you’ll have is a picture of me, smiling
And memories that were never made
As you eulogize me on this online space

Treat me right
Before I die.

I Care; Therefore I Act

Source: thefallenangelspeaks.wordpress.com

    ” Lu waay di wuyoo da koy niru.”

English Translation: One lives up to the name he answers to!

In recent years, with the advent of social networks, we’ve seen a steady increase of people who care about different causes ranging from Poverty, Racial Discrimination, Child Trafficking, Sex Tourism etc. Everyday, we see posts about these issues and people pledging their unflinching support in the drive to put an end to certain practices. Sometimes, we can’t help noticing the angry tone with which these comments are made. Some of the issues tend to set fire to human blood and the owners just flare up and emotions take control. In that moment, one would think that with a click of their fingers, everything shall be resolved.

A few weeks ago, the  KONY 2012 wave swept through cyberspace like a tsunami. In all honesty, I can’t even say exactly what the video was about. I woke up, got on my Facebook and my news feed was completely taken over by posts and re-posts of the video. I only took time to read the description and scrolled past. That led me to even more KONY-related information. Friends were expressing dismay, horror, shock, anger etc at the issue. By the end of the day, the slogan #STOPKONY2012 was trending on Facebook and Twitter. Millions of people all over the world had a lot of comments to make. Somewhere between the concern and the fire to ‘get up and act now’, I could only notice the anger, anger and anger. Deep inside, I was sorry for whoever was going through the violence and ‘evil’ that was revealed in the video. I prayed that KONY gets caught and that justice would take its course.

Today, one rarely hears anything about KONY! A few days ago, a friend sent out a tweet saying ‘What happened to KONY? Y’all caught him already?’. It was a mere attempt at sarcasm but one cannot ignore the truth in those words. As the days went by, people eventually stopped sharing info about him. Everyone went back to their usual activity, the children of KONY 2012 pushed to a secondary place in our occupations. Sadly, this is not the first, and might not even be the last time we see things of this sort. Each day, we see people stand up and declare themselves ‘advocates for human rights’, ‘child activists’, ‘supporter of the anti-whatever movement’ etc. It is indeed great to see people take up interest in issues affecting our world today. It is inspiring to see that zeal and anxiety with which we make pledges to support one cause or the next. However, how many of us are true to our words? How many of us actually go the extra step to ACT? How many of us go past the stage of just saying ‘I shall act’? How many of us take time out to follow the progress of a cause we say we’re concerned about? How many of us look deep within and ask ourselves ‘Do I really care’?

This is just one facet which can be used to explain today’s proverb. Many of us like to think of ourselves as humanitarians, revolutionaries, advocates for justice and equal rights etc. We feel good when people stop by to commend us for our involvement in the ‘problem-solving team’. We respond to them with words like ‘I shall never stop until we put an end to this‘, ‘I’m in this till the very last stage’ and ‘I care a lot about this and I am gonna give it my all’. How much of our ‘all’ have you given? How much are we really willing to part with? Some might be thinking ‘ ..but it doesn’t only have to be financial’. Yes! Exactly my line of thought. Reaching into our pockets or signing off that cheque is not the only way in which we can help! Support comes in different forms and these concertedly help to create solutions. You care about ‘End Hunger in Somalia‘ but can’t give to the World Food Programme’s fund? Approach that child in your neighbourhood who has nothing to eat and feed him! You are against the discrimination of People with Disabilities but can’t join the International Organisations in their fight against this menace? Just across the cafeteria, a disabled woman is seated all alone; join her! These are just a few examples of how we can put our efforts where our words are.

Next time you stand up tall to say you support a cause, take the next step. Act, no matter how small you think the impact is going to be. They say ‘actions speak louder than words’. It is good to put up a Facebook status and declare our support for a cause, but it shall be even better if we tried to really put our energy into it. That action shall make changes and eventually, we shall all lean back with smiles on our faces, satisfied with our success in making a difference in the lives of millions!

~Beh benen aljuma~ 🙂

PICA: A Chalky Love Affair

The teacher turned his back and I quickly snatched two sticks of white chalk. My seat-mate looked at me,shook his head and went back to solving his math problems. This time, he’d decided not to lash out his favorite line ‘Bones, you’re the school’s head-girl. Stop stealing chalk‘. Yea, almost everyone back at St.Joseph’s Ex Pupils’ Primary(Ndow’s) called me bones for, er, obvious reasons. I hid the sticks in my pencil-case, taking extra care not to break them. You, dear Linguerite, might be wondering if I was a part-time teacher. Well, my cousins had painted one of the back walls at home black so we could use it as a blackboard to study. I’d sometimes get the kids on my street together and teach them the alphabet and some simple Math sums. However, the chalk used for that was from a different source and I didn’t care much about its colour. So er, yea! I guess I can’t keep it in any longer, so here’s the reason I’d steal chalk in school everyday (or almost). It was for consumption. You notice I haven’t really said anything different because using the chalk to write on a board can also be classed under consumption. Well, I did not consume it in THAT way.

I ATE the chalk sticks. I guess this is where I should insert the ’embarrassed smiley’, non?

I, like you(probably), am wondering if this is really blog-worthy, but we’ll see by the time we get to the last letter. A few days ago, I was busy going through a certain post on Balafong about the system that’s set to be introduced in the schools. As usual, the comments took a very argumentative form, each one standing firm to his opinion. Somewhere midway, someone mentioned the word ‘chalk’ and the memories came flooding in. I suddenly felt this strong itchy feeling somewhere in my jaws. It was a craving! A chalk craving. The mere sight of the word had got my senses alert and taken me 10 years down the road. Knowing I had no chalk in my room only aggravated the situation. Heck, I can’t even remember the last time I’d seen anything like it around here, with the almost-uniform use of white boards and markers. Desperate, I reached out for my tub of Nesquik cocoa powder and literally jammed a tablespoonful down my throat. Then three more! It wasn’t quite what I was looking for, but it helped stop the itchy feeling and I could sit still for once. See, I have this huge problem of wanting a certain thing and doing everything to get it. My friend says I’m over-passionate but sometimes, I just can’t help it.

I then posted a tweet about my chalk craving and hours later, I got a response from someone. We’ll call him Bajinka. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one that had that ‘weird’ addition to my diet, as a child. Mr Bajinka here was also hooked to the white stick, until he got stopped by a family member, making him resort to something else. I’ll tell you later if you can keep it secret. Anyway, to cut a long story short, which seems very weird coming from me, I learnt that it was actually a disorder. One that went by the name PICA(pronounced Pie-ka)! Cute name, you’ll admit. One Wikipedia tour and warnings from our resident Twitter Doctor later, it didn’t seem so cute. The disorder got its name from the magpie, a bird reputed for its unusual eating behavior. I was a bit worried even though I tried to hide it by sounding completely aloof and being sarcastic about it all. I did not just stop at eating chalk. I’d tried burnt matchstick heads(which I didn’t like) and paint! For this last one, I’d simply scrape off tiny bits from the walls and pop them into my mouth. Writing this now, it sounds pretty awkward and I wonder how I managed to pull that off. I share a few of the Wikifacts I found.

Pica (is characterized by an appetite for substances largely non-nutritive (such as clay or chalk).  For these actions to be considered pica, they must persist for more than one month at an age where eating such objects is considered developmentally inappropriate. There are different variations of pica, as it can be from a cultural tradition, acquired taste or a neurological mechanism such as an iron deficiency, or chemical imbalance.

If you’re wondering how harmful the intake of those substances is  and the effects it could have on one’s health, check this out.

It can lead to intoxication in children which can result in an impairment in both physical and mental development. In addition, it can also lead to surgical emergencies due to an intestinal obstruction as well as more subtle symptoms such as nutritional deficiencies and parasitosis. Pica is oftentimes culturally accepted and is not deemed inappropriate. Pica has been linked to mental disability and they often have psychotic comorbidity.  Stressors[sic] such as maternal deprivation, family issues, parental neglect, pregnancy, poverty, and a disorganized family structure are strongly linked to pica.

I also learnt that the substances were not restricted to chalk, paint or paper. A list explaining the different types of pica and their scientific names left me gaping in disbelief. I cite a few : starch, soil, clay, glass, mucus, ice, hair, wood, paper, urine and animal faeces. Self-cannibalism, where one tends to consume body parts like dead skin was also cited. Don’t worry, I’m as horrified as you are; maybe more. Unfortunately, there is no specific test that confirms pica, making diagnosis difficult. Little research has been done on it, leading to the conclusion that it is mainly caused by mineral deficiency. The ‘sufferers’ therefore, tend to consume substances rich in the minerals they’re deficient in. It can also be associated with certain cultural practices like the ingestion of soft stones, locally known as keww, especially by pregnant women in West Africa. However, it is classified as a mental disorder by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. It also affects animals like dogs and cats. Finally, the silver lining with the availability of possible treatment options, a few of which I cite below:

  • Presentation of attention, food or toys, not contingent on pica being attempted
  • Differential reinforcement, with positive reinforcement if pica is not attempted and consequences if pica is attempted
  • Discrimination training between edible and inedible items, with negative consequences if pica is attempted
  • Visual screening, with eyes covered for a short time after pica is attempted
  • Aversive presentation, contingent on pica being attempted
  • Physical restraint  

Now you understand why I got worried. I reassured myself that I’ve got no links to this disorder, but we all know that’s untrue. Apparently, the pattern of eating should last at least a month to fit the diagnosis . Well, let’s just say I went on for years with my chalk-eating. It’s been ages since I stopped and I know that I’m not going anywhere near it again. I must say I’m very lucky to have survived the effects and hope everyone else does. I thought to share the few things I learnt because a good number of you might have the same problem and not realise its gravity. Do a more detailed research on the disorder and start by practising self-restraint. If that does not help, seek medical attention. It’s never too late.

See! Turns out my chalky heartbreak was blog-worthy after all. I hope you enjoyed and, most importantly, learnt something new from it :-). Over to you now! Do you have any weird additives to your diet? Do you sometimes feed on some of the things mentioned above? Share your experiences, spread the word and get more people informed. Will be back soon! 🙂