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Heritage Day 2020 – A Look at South Africa’s Diverse Cultures

Heritage Day is a recognition that having so many cultures coexisting in one country has the potential to divide; so rather than focusing on what makes us different, why not celebrate all the things that unite us despite our differences?

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Heritage Day 2020 - A Look at South Africa's Diverse Cultures Asante Afrika Magazine
Heritage Month
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Hazel Lifa

The 24th of September is formerly known as Shaka Day in KwaZulu, a day where the Zulu people commemorate the legendary Zulu king; a day the Zulu clan felt was worthy of becoming a public holiday. Unfortunately, the new South African Parliament thought it best to omit Shaka Day altogether from the Public Holidays Bill.  The decision was a source of conflict as the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) which has a predominantly Zulu membership, objected to it. A compromise was reached and thus the birth of Heritage Day. The need to preserve Shaka Day by the Zulu people showed how they valued their heritage and individuality, a principle that inspired a nation with diverse cultures to celebrate both their individuality and shared cultures too. South Africans were given a day where they could celebrate their uniqueness, but also appreciate the beautiful melting pot that is their nation.

Former President Nelson Mandela stated; “When our first democratically elected government decided to make Heritage Day one of our national days, we did so because we knew that our rich and varied cultural heritage has a profound power to help build our new nation.” Heritage Day is a recognition that having so many cultures coexisting in one country has the potential to divide; so rather than focusing on what makes us different, why not celebrate all the things that unite us despite our differences?

The purpose of the day according to the South African government’s website is; “Heritage Day on 24 September recognises and celebrates the cultural wealth of our nation. South Africans celebrate the day by remembering the cultural heritage of the many cultures that make up the population of South Africa. Various events are staged throughout the country to commemorate this day.”

Taking on this stride makes the Rainbow Nation an example for the African continent that mirrors the country in the vastness of cultures. The relevance of this day this year is elevated by the past alarming and dividing transgressions over the past few months besides the Covid-19 pandemic. 

A few months ago we saw Miss South Africa hopeful Bianca Schoombee under fire for racist comments which she tweeted as far back as 2014. The 21-year-old model’s odds were promising until twitter ‘investigators’ found the controversial tweets.

Heritage Day 2020 - A Look at South Africa's Diverse Cultures Asante Afrika Magazine
One of Bianca Schoombee’s controversial racial tweets

Schoombee’s online trail points to a possible issue with the youth’s perception of those who are different from their peers – the very opposite of what Heritage Day seeks to accomplish. It is concerning to say the least, to think that some South Africans are fostering such a negative mentality. 

As we mull over these counterproductive sentiments, let us look forward to the braai culture that has been tied to National Heritage Day. Many can argue that there is nothing more South African than lighting up a fire and having a good old fashioned braai. The National Braai Day initiative was developed by Jan Scannell, who believed in it so much that he quit his job in finance to focus on this initiative.

Happy National Heritage Day, let us come together and celebrate our vast cultures this Braai Day.

Below: Heritage Day Picture Exhibition showcasing South Africa’s rich and diverse cultures.

Heritage Day 2020 - A Look at South Africa's Diverse Cultures Asante Afrika Magazine
XiTsonga Traditional Attire

Our Heritage Month Video pick:

Lifestyle

Morley Chagurika: @AsanteAfrikaMag #EverydaySheroes

I wish someone had told me I didn’t need a man to save me, marriage is a lovely thing, but it is not all I am made for.

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Morley Chagurika: @AsanteAfrikaMag #EverydaySheroes Asante Afrika Magazine
Image: Morley Chagurika
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Celebrating Women’s History Month 2021

Morley Chagurika, like many born into the hard life of farming communities in Zimbabwe, had all odds against her. Being a girl put her at risk of a number of issues like sexual predators, becoming a child bride, and denial of education, which for Morley happened when she was working towards her O’ Levels.

Despite such a disadvantage, Morley today helps many young girls and boys who like her didn’t have the best of starts in life, protect and educate themselves through her work with the DREAMS Programme in her district of Mazowe in Mashonaland Central Province, Zimbabwe. Morley is one of the leading programme’s facilitators in regards to a number of young people she has managed to engage with.

Her power to take her life whatever direction she chose was taken from her, a power she today is giving back to countless youths though her hard work. The mother of seven loves her job, and feels a personal connection with the girls she helps as she has experienced most of the injustices and abuse they face first hand. A real #EverydaySheroe who now laughs in the face of her adversaries by working against them.

“I don’t always have to put myself down for the sake of other people’s pride.”

What is the best thing about being a woman?

It might sound cheesy to someone, but being a mother for me is just wow. The love I have for my kids took me by surprise, I didn’t expect it to be so intense. That aspect of motherhood also comes into play when I go out and meet vulnerable young girls; I immediately feel very protective of them and want to help them.

What advice do you wish someone had given you when you were younger?

• I wish someone had told me I didn’t need a man to save me, marriage is a lovely thing, but it is not all I am made for. I am fully capable of taking care of myself, a piece of advice that would have definitely aided, hell, even saved me from my first marriage.

• My opinion matters; whether it be an idea, comment, or passion. It matters, and I am worthy of people’s attention. I don’t always have to put myself down for the sake of other people’s pride.

What is the most interesting thing about your job?

This point brings together motherhood and my work. Being a mom to boys and knowing how harsh the world can be towards girls and women at times, plus the implications of gender roles, I try by all means to be mindful of what my husband and I teach them, what it is to be a man, and how they relate to women. A lot of the issues I meet in my work are born of social philosophies and ideas that are taught from a young age. No one is born thinking so.

Interviewed by Hazel Lifa

hazel@asanteafrika.net

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Lifestyle

Forbin Audrey Nene: @AsanteAfrikaMag #EverydaySheroes

I was raised by a single mother who made womanhood and motherhood look effortless and stress-free.

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Celebrating Women’s History Month 2021

Meet Forbin Audrey Nene, a pristine example of versatility. A singer, songwriter and lover of all things artsy, who still finds the time somewhere in there to pursue a BSc. in Chemical Engineering at the Catholic University Institute of Buea. She takes the effect her music has on her listeners seriously, stating that she aims to, “provide a safe haven for her listeners”.

What is the hardest thing about being a woman?

I was raised by a single mother who made womanhood and motherhood look effortless and stress-free. Now that I am older and a bit wiser, I am starting to understand how much she must have had to deal with as she kept her head above rocky waters and raised me (Shout out to you mama, you’re amazing!).

Aside from having to survive a misogynistic and extremely sexist society where on most days total strangers, for some odd reason, feel entitled to your time and energy, I would say our own anatomy plays a big role in how uncomfortable being a woman can be. There is the effect of hormonal fluctuations due to our monthly cycles, and our bodies constantly evolving as we age and experience different things. Sometimes it feels like fighting the world while having to fight yourself as well. Women are literally superhumans just by existing.

“Women are strong, beautiful, life-giving, powerful, and inspirational beings. It is such a beautiful time to be alive as a young African woman.”

What aspect of being a woman did you think was important when you were younger, only to disregard now?

I didn’t give much thought to becoming a woman when I was younger. I just knew I would grow up eventually, have boobs and wear makeup and fancy grown women clothes like I saw my aunties do. I soon realized that there was a lot more to becoming a woman than that. There were period cramps, stereotypes, childbirth, catcalls, harassment, relationships, setting boundaries, braving odds etc.

I think womanhood caught me off guard, and in fact, still does so every other day. I actually think it catches most women off guard. It’s a rough transition for some more than others, where one minute you’re everybody’s sweet little girl, and the next minute you’re just not anymore. You are grown up, setting goals for yourself, and getting your life together while working to create a pleasant enough present and future for yourself.

Forbin Audrey Nene: @AsanteAfrikaMag #EverydaySheroes Asante Afrika Magazine
Image: Forbin Audrey Nene

What advice do you wish was given to you earlier?

• “Say what you mean and mean what you say” There’s this misconception that a woman’s “no” really means “yes” or “ask louder” or “try harder”. I don’t agree with this narrative, and so I try to live up to my word as much as I can, and speak only when necessary. It’s a thing of self-respect and integrity for me.

• “Your life, body, and mind are yours. Don’t let anybody take them away from you” I wish I understood early enough the importance of setting boundaries and protecting my sanity jealously.

• “People come and go, and that is fine”. Over the years I have found myself holding on to situations, relationships and friendships that didn’t serve my greater good, till I learnt that it’s ok to move on.

According to Forbin, women are “strong, beautiful, life-giving, powerful, and inspirational beings. It is such a beautiful time to be alive as a young African woman.” And I couldn’t agree with her more.

Interviewed by Hazel Lifa

hazel@asanteafrika.net

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Fashion & Beauty

Neka Malone – From Wrongfully Convicted & Homeless Mum of 6, To Trailblazing Entrepreneur in Ghana

I even considered suicide once, and what stopped me was the thought of “Who will love my children unconditionally, and who will teach them the foundation of faith?”

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@asanteafrikamag #EverydaySheroes

Providing a stable and comfortable home for your children is every parent’s dream, but for many years, that was something that Taneka Kahilia Malone was not able to do for her children. Born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota in the United States, the mum of six went through a most challenging period in her life. Heartbreaking as the experience was, read on to find out how Neka and her kids managed to get through some of life’s greatest challenges.

What motivated your decision to study Psychology at university?

I studied in Dallas Texas, and I was very intrigued with how the mind works and the behavior of people. My mission in life is to help people heal from past challenges and struggles, and identify with who they are.

Around 2011, as a single mother of five boys and one girl living in Dallas, Texas, you went through a lot of challenges, the biggest one being homelessness. Can you briefly tell us about those challenges which you faced? What led to you becoming homeless?

Watching my children make pallets on people’s floors was heartbreaking for me. I used that pain to push myself to become financially stable. I was wrongfully convicted of a felony in 2006, which put a huge strain on me professionally, hence I was not able to find sustainable income. I was forced to take jobs that did not pay me enough to maintain housing.

What gave you the strength to get up each day and do odd jobs, while also continuing to look for better jobs to look after your children?

My children were my motivation, the fact that they smiled and laughed through the storm. Some nights we stayed up all night just talking and thinking about the future, and that gave us all hope. My children managed to still graduate high school and build their athletic careers. It was imperative that I kept my faith and continued to rise, even if it was just a few steps at a time.

Neka Malone - From Wrongfully Convicted & Homeless Mum of 6, To Trailblazing Entrepreneur in Ghana Asante Afrika Magazine
Image: Neka Malone

I can imagine that at times it got so difficult that so many things would go through your mind. Did you ever get angry at God during your lowest moments, and did you ever give up and think you would never get out of the misery?

I’m only human, and for a long time I thought I had angered God, and that God was not hearing my cry for help. I never stopped praying, and even with all the anger and resentment of life in my heart, I still prayed and believed that there had to be an opposite to my struggle. I even considered suicide once, and what stopped me was the thought of “Who will love my children unconditionally, and who will teach them the foundation of faith?” By God’s grace, I’m still here.

“In Africa, I do not feel afraid because of my skin colour. People respect you more, you’re acknowledged as a woman entrepreneur…”

From moving across homeless shelters, motels, and friends and family’s places, sleeping on the floor and surviving on government support, what inspired all your children to stay in school, stay humble, stay smiling, and stay well-behaved and finish school?

They have never seen me give up in life. The countless sacrifices I made to make sure they attended school motivated them to want to provide a better life not only for themselves but for me also, and my children encouraged and motivated each other.

Neka Malone - From Wrongfully Convicted & Homeless Mum of 6, To Trailblazing Entrepreneur in Ghana Asante Afrika Magazine
Image: Neka Malone

After moving back to Minnesota and staying with family for about a year, finally in July of 2017, your prayers were answered and you and your family got approved for a four-bedroomed family home. Reminiscing on everything you had been through, how did you and the kids feel when you first moved into your new home?

One word – Peaceful!!!

God has been gracious to you and your family, the kids finished school and now almost everyone has a place of their own. How does that make you feel?

As a mother of six, this parenting thing was not easy. I’m beyond proud that they have been taught that no matter the depth of the sea, keep swimming, because greater things lie ahead. I’m very much humbled and blessed, and the love and admiration my children and I have for each other is incredible. They are my biggest cheerleaders, as I am theirs.

You also co-authored two books, one of which made you an Amazon No.1 Best-Selling Author. Can you tell us about the books?

‘Echoes in the Darkness’ was a joint collaboration of women who are domestic violence survivors. Amazon Best-Seller ‘Women Who Inspire Greatness’ was targeted towards the youth, and young women in particular, to help them learn about different women who overcame various obstacles while building their careers. Both books allowed me to be authentic, genuine, motivational, and inspiring, and contributing to them was so much fun!

Neka Malone - From Wrongfully Convicted & Homeless Mum of 6, To Trailblazing Entrepreneur in Ghana Asante Afrika Magazine
Image: Echoes in the Darkness
Neka Malone - From Wrongfully Convicted & Homeless Mum of 6, To Trailblazing Entrepreneur in Ghana Asante Afrika Magazine
Image: Women Who Inspire Greatness

When was Fire on the Runway born, and what was the inspiration behind starting it?

I started the Traveling Fashion Production ‘Fire on the Runway’ in 2015. Our first show was in Dallas Texas, U.S. in 2016. After becoming triumphant over my journey of homelessness and joblessness, I felt I had a deeper calling, so I started my entrepreneurial journey in mid-2014. My family was led by my Aunt Liz Adams, and we started Diamond Girls Fashion, an online clothing store with a focus on providing nice affordable wear to women in the military.

Fire on the Runway has now grown internationally, and will be touring Africa with our ‘All Eyes on Us Fashion Tour #RefocusAfrica’.

What are your biggest achievements so far as CEO of Fire on the Runway?

Changing the lives of others around me, growing my brand internationally, and now owning an all-black organisation!

Neka Malone - From Wrongfully Convicted & Homeless Mum of 6, To Trailblazing Entrepreneur in Ghana Asante Afrika Magazine
Image: Fire on the Runway

After all your kids had left home, you decided to move to Ghana. What made you decide to pack up all your belongings and move to West Africa?

I started visiting Ghana in April of 2018, and from the first day I fell in love with the culture. Later on learning about the growing economy here and opportunities to build several businesses was very interesting to me, so I stepped out on faith, and the rest is history!

In 2020 you started an online store. Can you tell us about your business and how it is doing?

The store is called Kahilia’s Kollection and we sell sophisticated everyday wear for women. A year later we are still maintaining and growing our clientele.

You’ve been in Ghana for nearly six months now. How is it going there, and is it everything you imagined it would be?

I totally love Ghana, there is a very peaceful vibe. It’s not what I imagined, to be honest, it’s more than I could have even thought of. The beauty of the country alone is captivating. One month after arriving I was appointed Social Media and Marketing Manager for the Tourism Society of Ghana, which for me was a huge accomplishment.

What are you enjoying most about being in Africa, which you could never get or experience in America?

Freedom! I do not feel afraid because of my skin colour. People respect you more, you’re acknowledged as a woman entrepreneur, not just being a black woman entrepreneur. I can’t leave out the food; my favorite is Jollof Rice and Groundnut Soup with Red Snapper fish.

In most countries in Africa, we take for granted that someone can own an all-black company or organisation, but in the United States that is such a big deal, and opportunities like that are celebrated. What is the significance to you of now owning an all-black organisation?

I feel very accomplished and honoured that I achieved something that most people in America can only dream of.

Neka Malone - From Wrongfully Convicted & Homeless Mum of 6, To Trailblazing Entrepreneur in Ghana Asante Afrika Magazine
Image: Fire on the Runway Event Flyer

What are your plans for the next five to ten years?

I will continue building Fire on the Runway and writing books, including my own story in fullness. I also will develop a mentorship program for the youth who are interested in the fashion industry.

What would you say to a single mother who is facing similar challenges to those which you faced, and all hope seems lost to them?

Keep going, It’s all part of the process! Stay strong in faith, never give up, and remember you are doing your best. Remember to love you as well!

Connect with Neka through her Instagram, @fireontherunwayllc, or visit her website, www.fireontherunway.org.

Interviewed by Gugu Mpofu

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