Day 26: Being An Illegitimate Child

Today’s topic is “Children born out of wedlock” and I have the pleasure of having @_6_Legend as my Guest Blogger.  He shared his story with me and I hope as many people can get to read this and realise that; after all is said and done children whether born in or out of wedlock have the same rights and feel the same way as any other child.

We live in a society that can sometimes be harsh and harmful on the very people that make it up. A lot of people suffer due to societal standards that affect them regardless of the fact that they cannot change their position nor is it of their own making. Children born out of wedlock are some of the people affected by these societal standards and I want to talk about some of the things that they (read we) face due to their “status”.

Society is an integral part of who we are. From the people we call family or relatives, depending on the nature of the relationship, to the 3 year old girl who lives down our road, all are integral to our being. Human beings are designed to associate with and interact with the people around them. This interaction takes many different forms and has different levels of impact. They all, however, have an impact and no matter how small this impact is, it contributes to who we are as a whole. The nature of these interactions, positive or negative, also will contribute towards shaping who we become as people. As a child born out of wedlock, I had a lot of interactions which I know, now, contributed to the person I am today. I say now because when these things happened I had no idea what they meant and I sure as hell didn’t know what they were doing to me psychologically.

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Image from Pinterest

My mother and biological father were never together. She married another man and I only discovered he wasn’t my actual father when I was an adult. When I did discover it though, it made sense. He treated me differently. His family treated me different. Whenever we visited the rural areas, I could feel that I was an outcast. I think I knew right from the start that I wasn’t a part of that family but I didn’t know the alternatives and that’s why I just didn’t have that truth fall naturally to me. I told myself that my “father’s” family didn’t like me because of my mischief. I wish they had just told me I wasn’t one of them.

Then I learnt the truth…

I met my biological father when I was 20. I had mixed feelings but eventually I thought I should make an effort to form a relationship with him. I shouldn’t have. On our first encounter, he spoke about how he only lost touch because my mother got married and my step dad didn’t want him talking to her. He went on to tell me that his whole family knows about me and he would take me to meet them. No one knew about me. Five years later and I have met none of my sperm donor’s family (that’s all he is really). The moment I realized it was never going to happen, I stopped trying and I became happier. I am a fatherless person and I have embraced it. When I left my step father’s, I remember one of his sisters saying “ndakambokuudzai kuti vana vemusango vanonetsa”. Loosely translated, “I told you these fatherless children are a problem”.

The term “vana vemusango” (bastard children) has been used to describe children born out of wedlock for a long time. The term came as a description of men who wander out of their matrimonial homes and go “kusango” where they bear children. I feel that the term carries heavy negative connotations, the brunt of which is bore by the children. It is a term that shames children for being born out of wedlock as if it was their choice. It is a term designed to discriminate and sideline these children. As a society, we forget that we are all equal. Once we begin to label other people as illegitimate, we have taken a whole lot from those people. Their dignity. Their pride. Their association. Their being. We strip it all. And yet it is not this person’s fault that they came into this world in that way.

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Image from Google

I don’t even know what I wanted the point of this to be. I just had things to say and I hope I have at least articulated myself well. We all came from somewhere. Hakuna mwana wemusago…

©MaKupsy 2017

 

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Day 25: What Feminism Means To Me

Day 25 of #30DayAfriBlogger Challene topic is Feminism or Humanism or Womanism.  Where do you stand and why?  I have a Guest Blogger who shared her thoughts on Feminism with me, enjoy the read.

“I am compelled to remain on this feminist path by the many women that…feel comfortable in living differently” –​ ​Florence​ ​Butegwa

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Vimbai Midzi

 Women deserve to be treated equally, to be given a fair chance to succeed, and a safe environment to live their lives in. – Vimbai Midzi

It was a quiet realisation in a room full of women who had been through the abuse I had experienced. I hadn’t spoken at all that day, and my heart was heavier than I can articulate. There were hundreds of candles for the vigil, and hundreds of women sat in the hall – some shocked at the stories that were told, some crying, some humming quietly. My friend, who had been the closest person to me since school started, held my hand as we swayed back an forth. Without warning, surprising myself even, I stood up and began to tell my story too. I spoke with the smallest voice I’ve ever heard come out of me about a violence I wish I could forget. I stopped, one minute in, fighting tears. I looked up for reassurance of some kind, and when I looked back at my friend, she had a sign up that simply said, “You matter.” That tiny act of kindness which probably only I noticed, was the beginning of my journey with feminism and defining what it’s meant to me.

Feminism, broadly speaking, is the belief that all women and men are fundamentally equal, and that the differences in the way women and men are treated comes down to patriarchy.

Patriarchy is basically a system that privileges men over women in society – whether with regards to workplace opportunities, access to education, inheritance laws, political leadership positions or romantic relationships. Patriarchy is the thinking that says that women are intrinsically inferior to men, which trickles down into various sectors of society. For example, patriarchy is the reason in many developing countries, if a family cannot afford to send all their children to school, they’d rather send the boys and not the girls. Sometimes it’s subtle. It’s in the way girls are raised to aspire to marriage and are ‘trained’ to take care of a family’s needs, while boys often lack basic domestic skills because they aren’t expected to take part in domestic labour. Patriarchy is the reason why, for years I stayed silent about my sexual abuse, and was willing to go to the grave with it, for fear of being ridiculed or blamed. Patriarchy says that women’s lives, ideas, dreams, bodies don’t matter as much as men’s, and feminism exists to counter that.

You matter.

African feminism stems from African women’s actions and thoughts around equality within the context of African societies. It’s important to stress that my African identity is integral to my fight against patriarchy across the continent. It is particularly important, on a continent where women are systematically excluded from economic, political and social spaces, that my feminist work does everything in its power to tear apart the patriarchy that holds women back and under the feet of men. African women, post colonialism, had to deal with fighting racial oppression from white regimes, and further oppression from their own black male family members, colleagues and leaders.

Feminism is both collective and individual in its practices. Many of the changes in laws protecting women’s inheritance rights, fighting violence against women, ensuring equal opportunities in professional and educational spaces, have come as a result of the collective action of groups of feminists across the continent.  Being a feminist also means that feminists over the years have fought for me to have autonomy and personal choice –an integral part of feminism.  It also means that I’ve come to have a personal understanding of the different ways patriarchy affects me and the ways in which I fight it in my daily life.

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Vimbai Midzi

Personally, there are two things that come to mind when I think of what feminism means to me.

1. YOU MATTER

The jokes about self love aside, loving myself and acknowledging my intrinsic worth has been the foundation of my feminist journey.  Women deserve to be treated equally, to be given a fair chance to succeed, and a safe environment to live their lives in. Feminist policies like advocating for free sanitary pads so girls don’t have to miss school because of their periods, is telling girls that they matter. Their ability to attend class and society’s effort at leveling the playing field for their start in life, matters. My pain, my joy, my failure, my success, my ideas, my dreams – they all matter, and they should be taken seriously.  Feminism makes it necessary for this to be actively made a truth in women’s lives. Every demand for harsher punishments for rapists and kinder environments for rape survivors to tell their stories and get justice, every push for states to address femicide and emphasise women’s autonomy over our bodies, is feminism telling us that we matter.

2. PATRIARCHY MUST FALL

It’s important to note that patriarchy is enacted mostly by and for the benefit of men, but that women can perpetuate it too, and that men can suffer from it. Feminists fight against patriarchy as a system that harms both men and women, albeit harming women more.  Patriarchy sets impossible and toxic standards for men and how masculinity should be performed. This often means that masculinity is associated with violence, strength (the kind of strength that can never show signs of perceived weakness) and unchecked power. Men are therefore socialised to believe that they cannot be emotionally vulnerable.   for example. This would explain the rise in male suicides as a result of men being unable to seek help for mental health issues like depression. Patriarchy also socialises women to make decisions or say things that are harmful to other women, and that ultimately benefit men. When a woman judge in Uganda suspended a female court clerk for wearing a mini-skirt there were a lot of comments. In this instance, women’s dressing and bodies continue to be policed by a system that takes away women’s bodily autonomy.  That the decision was made by a woman, shows the pervasiveness of patriarchy and that; as a whole system, it needs to fall, for the sake of women mostly but also for the sake of men.

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Image from Pinterest

Feminism for me means learning and unlearning everyday.  It means standing up for myself in an environment that seeks to shrink me.  It means standing with women at all times, ensuring that our rights are protected, our voices are listened to and the war on our bodies is being stopped.  It means being unapologetically me and living myself past the pain of years of ingrained patriarchal practices and language. It means reclaiming the identity that men for centuries have given to women, and forming one for myself. Most importantly, feminism for me, is the quiet realisation that I matter.

You can find Vimbai on Twitter; @Just_Midzi she loves, supports and fights for or with black African women.  She also has a new project under way and you should watch this space for it.  A big thank you to Vimbai for sharing her thoughts, I for one now have a better understanding of what Feminism is.

©MaKupsy 2017

Day 14: Depression In Pregnancy

I was miserable from the very day I found out I was pregnant.  I was at my oldest sister’s place for the weekend and after telling her I had missed my period we decided to do the next best thing.  I think I took the pregnancy test close to 10 times before accepting that I was pregnant.  I remember the day like it was yesterday.  I later went to see the general doctor and I was nearly a month pregnant.  The water works that followed continued till months after I gave birth, it was a disaster.

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Image from Pinterest

Imagine going through pregnancy with someone who keeps telling you that he doesn’t want you but the child you are carrying.  That’s what I had to endure for a whole 9 months.  I never got any special treatment, we were together yes but if I am very honest I with myself I went through everything on my own.  I went for doctors appointments on my own, I didn’t have any maternity wear, I didn’t get any back or foot rubs, I didn’t even get any pregnancy photo shoots like the ones I see when I go through photos of people that are expecting and I spent most of my days alone because the father of my child worked out of town and I only saw him on weekends when he came home.  I wasn’t going to work at the time and didn’t have any money to indulge on my cravings but thankfully food wise I loved traditional food so my mother would send through different fruits and vegetables as often as she could.  I was a moving body of hormones and I cried almost every single day.  This is round about the time I asked my Doctor friend if slitting my wrists would lead to instant death…  I didn’t realise it then but I was depressed and what was happening inside me was only magnified by what was going on in a relationship where I was clearly unloved.

My little girl was born on the 17th of September.  You would think it would be the happiest day of my life right? I cried for hours after I found out that I had given birth to a baby girl.  I thought to myself, she is going to experience what life as a black woman is like, go through all the sorts of unimaginable mental issues because to be honest being a woman and a black woman for that is not easy.

Back home with a new born baby life was difficult.  I was trying to figure out what was wrong and boy did she cry.  She cried all the time and so did I.  I didn’t leave the house for nearly 2 weeks.  I never used to cook for myself and lived on juice and water.  The only time I got up was to go and wash my daughter’s clothes, give her a bath and take care of her every need.  I remember I never used to sleep much the first few days because I was scared I would fall asleep and roll over her and suffocate her in her sleep.  It was all too much to take in.  My cousin came to visit a few weeks later and found me in bed with my daughter, curtains closed the house an absolute mess and she couldn’t believe how much weight I had lost.  For someone who had recently given birth I had lost close to 15kgs.  She took over and only then did I finally give myself a proper bath, change into decent clothes and took a walk outside for the first time after giving birth.  She was heaven sent!  She stayed with me for nearly a month until I was back on my feet again and functioning normally.

I didn’t go through depression only.  I went through pre and post natal depression!  Those who have gone through pregnancy know that pregnancy alone is already overwhelming now couple that with depression.

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Image from Pinterest

It was a rough journey for me and this is the major reason why I don’t want to get pregnant again.  I don’t want to go through it with someone who doesn’t want to be completely involved in the process.  I want to be with someone who will pamper and baby me throughout the entire time.  Pregnancy is a miracle on it’s own and should be celebrated with love not sadness.  The image above shows what I want if ever I get to decide on having another baby.  It has to be all or nothing at all.  A man who will adore both me and the child I will be carrying will make pregnancy feel like a dream.

In our culture depression is not recognised and unfortunately for me I only got to find out that’s what I was going through then years after the incident.  Perhaps if I had known earlier I could have taken steps to better my situation?  I will never know…

Researchers say that some of the triggers of depression during pregnancy include:

  • Relationship problems
  • Family or personal history of depression
  • Stressful life events
  • History of abuse or trauma
  • Previous pregnancy loss

Mental health is something that our culture needs to start acknowledging because it affects men, women, children alike and the more we ignore it the more people go through difficult situations without having anyone to turn to.  My advice to women in unhealthy relationships is first talk things through to find a compromise but if all else fails it’s perfectly fine to leave.  Your emotional well being is one of the most important aspects in your life that needs to be handled with tender loving care.

Set Fire To The Rain by Adele played throughout the time I was in labour, a whole 17 hours of it!

Thankfully my experience with pre and post natal depression is all in the past now and I’m healthy, happy and living my best life!

Have you experienced depression before, if yes how did you deal with it?

©MaKupsy 2017

My Battle With Suicidal Thoughts

In our African Culture suicide is something people don’t openly talk about.  I would like to believe there are people who have gone through what I used to go through but never told a soul or perhaps went on to carry out the act of suicide because they had no one else to turn to.  This is not an easy post for me to write because I know it will open old wounds and raise eyebrows but I feel it’s a story that needs to be shared and hopefully help someone who is probably contemplating suicide.

I have three close friends and I have told them about my battle with suicide thoughts.  It wasn’t something I just woke up one morning and decided to share with them; I had to make sure I could trust them with my dark side and have confidence that they would not ridicule me…I have always been a neat freak.  The state of my house reflects the thoughts in my head.  If I am in a happy and healthy space my house is sparkling clean.  If I am upset and overwhelmed then as you can expect my house will be an actual mess.

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Image from Pinterest

However, there was a time being a neat freak was not only about keeping my house clean.  It was my way of preparing to leave.  Why was I sticking around anyway, no one loved me, no one cared about me or believed in me so what wast the point of it all?  I thought to myself if I finally decide to end my life then at least people should come to a clean house and pack my things away without a hassle.

This happened to me for months on end. I would think about how I was going to go about it.  I walk to work and I cross a very busy street.  Some days I would contemplate throwing myself right in front of an oncoming car, other days I would think of jumping off from an office building and on the worst days I would think of getting run over by a train.  The one time I even asked my doctor friend if slitting my wrists would kill me.  I obviously asked in a round about way and when he told me it would send me straight to my death bed I had one more method to add to my list.  What made all these thoughts more real was all the suicide incidents that I would read about in the paper every other day and I would think to myself, why not; this will definitely end all my misery!  I was in a very dark space and what fueled these suicide thoughts were the obstacles that I kept facing; (heartbreak, unfulfilled dreams, low self esteem, no life purpose).  

The thing about suicidal thoughts is that you can’t go around telling people that’s what’s going on in your head incase they might think you have lost your marbles.  You will be fighting demons that you can’t see but can feel at every waking moment.  I had an injured soul and I took to many devices to try and cure it with no luck.  My friend used to complain about my “mood swings” not realising that they had more to do with my thoughts more than anyone in particular.  I could go for weeks, months on end without wanting to speak to her and some of my friends.  I just wanted to be left alone.  I withdrew from social media platforms, I even stopped going out but took to drinking alcohol instead to numb my thoughts.

From my experience suicidal thoughts come with depression which is unfortunately not acknowledged in our culture.  Tell most people that you are depressed and they will tell you to get over it.  I know you are reading this probably asking yourself why I didn’t talk to anyone about what I was going through.  Well, I did actually but I didn’t tell them the full details. What I got in return was “It’s a phase it will pass.”  Unfortunately this phase stuck with me from College days till just a few years ago when the suicidal thoughts finally left and set me free.

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Image from Pinterest

I would be lying if I tried to give you a formula on how to get rid of that heavy feeling you feel around your chest.  The thoughts of how you are worthless and how you are not serving any purpose on this earth.  The thoughts that suicide will make things right for you.  I don’t have that because for me I just woke up one morning and the dark cloud that had been hovering above me was gone.  I think whatever it was realised that it was putting me through unnecessary pain because with each day I was becoming more and more disinterested in life and I could hardly recognise myself.

Suicide is real.  I have seen friends take their lives over a heartbreak, people throw themselves off a building because of financial stress and wives burn themselves to death after finding out about their husband’s infidelity.  Before I experienced suicidal thoughts I mocked them and thought to myself who in their right minds would end their lives over things that could be fixed? I hadn’t walked in their shoes and it was easy for me to judge them.  I didn’t know that sometimes the thoughts in your head can be so bad you have to find a way to run away from them and suicide may be the only way out.  Now I understand that some people, me included will go through and have gone through some dark phases in their lives and unfortunately for some they will not live to tell their story but for the lucky few you get a chance at life again.

I am thankful that I never went through any attempt to commit suicide.  It all ended in my head.  Had I gone through with it I would have never had the chance to see my beautiful little girl.  I would have not seen how much of a positive and determined individual I have become and I would not have had the chance to write this and share this with you.

I am generally a bubbly individual. I have great days and not so great ones but my life experience so far has made me realise that we are all going through something.  It’s easy for us to forget to be kind to the next person but if you can be good to those around you.  You never know the difference your encouraging words or smile can alter their entire day.  Your positive energy may the the one reason they won’t go ahead and commit suicide.

In most cases of suicide a person doesn’t want to die they just want to stop the pain.

©MaKupsy 2017

#RunWithFitnessBae Was Trending On Twitter!!!

Success is a result of good judgment. Good judgment is usually a result of experience. Experience is usually a result of bad judgment. – Tony Robbins

The first thing I should be telling you is how I ended up using Twitter before we all get excited about my hashtag trending.  Sometime in 2011 Miss Kupsy’s father used to spend half his time on his phone and I would get super annoyed.  Back then Facebook was the it thing and I knew he wasn’t on it so I would wonder what in the world he was doing on his phone.  Eventually I asked him and he told me he was on Twitter.  I decided to open an account and get myself started on it.  I can safely say I found myself in a dark never ending tunnel, I was completely lost.  I had no idea how the application worked and so decided to leave it for a while.

Facebook was getting a tad bit boring and I deleted the account.  I decided it was time I tried out this alien looking Twitter and guess what, I LOVED IT.  I had to teach myself about the ins and outs, the who to follow the where to place the hash key and a whole bunch of other things.  It was a fun experience because well, this was something new and I got to Tweet whatever I wanted without relatives then calling to ask me about what I just wrote.  Best feeling ever! However, after breaking up with Miss Kupsy’s father I went into a serious case of depression.  No one knew about it though, all they saw were tweets talking about how much I was drinking that day and the random outbursts of cursing.  I was in a bad space and Twitter was my outlet.  I took some time out; it must have been 2 months away from Twitter and reevaluated my life.  When I got back I was all about fitness.

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I took to writing down my new resolution on my blog and on social media pages so that I would be accountable to my words.  It was not easy at first but over time I started getting better and better and exercising and eating right.  I know I annoyed a lot of people with my runs and exercise routines but I had finally found something that was giving me happy hormones and a reason to fly out of bed. I remember around the time that’s when the term “Bae” came along and seeing that I was very single at the time I decided to name myself “Fitness Bae“and since then everyone I meet refers to me as Fitness Bae.

Back to the trending topic…I have a WhatsApp group with fitness enthusiasts.  When I came up with the hashtag years back the idea was to have more people with the same interests join me on my journey.  Going with Fitness Bae as a hashtag didn’t sound catchy enough so I thought wait, my main form of exercise is running…so let me make it #RunWithFitnessBae !! And there you have it, the hashtag that has brought people from all walks of life and different parts of the world to exercise together and stay focused on their fitness journey.

 

 

The very day I was trending on Top 3 Onai gave me a call to come through to their studio to talk about my hashtag.  We got to sit down and have a chat and was I nervous or what?  It was my very first time doing something of the sort live and there was no chance to rehearse anything.  The great thing about the experience was that they were all very hyped up and made the experience less intimidating.  Once we started off I couldn’t stop, the amount of passion I have for Fitness is indescribable.  Words were just flowing out and I was thinking why was I even scared to begin with??  It was great fun and apparently I will be doing it again soon for a whole hour!  You can listen in to the podcast; I start featuring from around 15:10 over here.

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It was a great weekend filled with Zumba, exercise, friends, podcasts, fun and a bottle of white wine!  Never in my wildest dreams did I think that my fitness addiction would take the Twitter Timeline by storm.  There is nothing as heart warming as trending and being known for a good cause.   Thank you to Onai for having me on his show.  Exercise is my life, I can’t function without it and I am happy to have a team that is equally enthusiastic about it.

A big shout out to team #RunWithFitnessBae we run this!!

 

MaKupsy© 2017

 

 

 

 

Be A Warrior NOT A Worrier!

Having a child has made me realise how different we are.  Children have no worries whatsoever, they just tell you what it is they want or need and you get to providing it for them.  They do not sit and worry if you are actually going to get whatever it is for them, just one request and they are on their merry way.  This is the attitude I think we need to adopt as adults.

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Photo Credit: @noire.diamante (Instagram)

I can tell you the number of things I have worried about so many things.  It usually never even turned out the way I had expected and I had wasted all my time and energy on an imaginary scenario! This is the attitude I adopted a few months ago, stop stressing myself out to death and just leave it to God.  Talk to him and tell him all my worries, hurts, happy moments and go on and live my life.  You see worry takes away your peace, why in the world would you want to live a life filled with negativity.  These are some of the things I tell myself when I start worrying:

  • This too shall come to pass.
  • If it’s meant to be it will work out effortlessly.
  • I have been through worse things this is just a small hump on this road we call life.
  • If my daughter doesn’t even worry about how I am going to make her request materialise who am I to worry about how God will answer my prayers?

Life is too short to be worrying about things we have no control over.

Have a beautiful day ahead.

©MaKupsy 2016

I Thought Today Was Wednesday!

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photo taken from https://www.flipkey.com

A lot of emotional issues that I can not even begin to divulge have been getting the best of me lately.  You know I am an open book but this stuff is deep and sadly it is consuming me.  I hope I will get to sit down and talk to someone about it before I lose my marbles.  It’s so bad I woke up thinking today was Wednesday, imagine; I lost a whole day and I have no idea how that even happened.

I think one of the reasons could be that I am spending too much time indoors and it’s time I did something spontaneous. I was thinking I would do some sight seeing on my own come Saturday.  Sometimes you need that right?  I will make sure my phone is fully charged up so that I can take a lot of photos and just enjoy my surroundings.  I hope the heat won’t be too harsh but I have that part figured out.  I will make sure I have ice cold water and juice to stay hydrated.  I will apply lots of sunscreen before I leave the house; wear my big ass sun hat.  Shoot!  I forgot that my pair of favourite sunglasses broke a few weeks ago.  On a totally unrelated issue, am I the only one who keeps breaking their sunglasses?  Do they make shatterproof sun glasses or something (i need to go and buy a pair from there if they do) because I have bought enough sunglasses to last me a lifetime?!

I miss adventure and once I think of the most random place to go I will go and have the best time ever!  Hopefully when I get back I will be feeling as good as new again.

I just need to clear my head and get a lot of things into perspective…

 

MaKupsy