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2020 – The Worst Year Ever

Just like that, Covid 19 abruptly ended our social lives, on an ordinary weekday in March!

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2020 - The Worst Year Ever Asante Afrika Magazine
2020 Image Source: Arklign
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Rorisang Moyo

The year is 2020, some random day in March.  Apparently, people have to stay at home. Just like that, Covid 19 abruptly ended our social lives, on an ordinary weekday in March!

2020 - The Worst Year Ever Asante Afrika Magazine
Image: SA Government Initial Lockdown Announcement

Covid has been real. Stories turned to numbers, and numbers turned to names of people that we knew who had been affected.  Today I am going to run you through the bad things that turned out to be great this year.

A New Kinda Struggle

Most children will testify that the African parent’s narration of how they went to school always involves being scorched by fire, and being rained on. Despite all this, they knew the response to a teacher’s question in the classroom before they were even asked. It is always a story about how they had to sweep the windows and mop the roof, which shaped them into the strong adults of today.

Millennials finally have their narrative of struggle that will be passed down to generations. As millennials, we are already compiling the script of the number of ways to say no when our future offspring tries to have some fun. It goes something like this; “When I was your age, I did not leave home for one year and I could not see my friends. Please do not complain about your friend that you have not seen in two weeks.”

Era of the Zoom

Do you remember when you had to wake up at 5am to get ready for work in winter? Your toes were freezing cold and you had to look presentable while you were grumpy that you had to slave away for work. Now, one gets to work while wearing some lazy pants and colorful socks with a decent t-shirt during a Zoom meeting. You get to look like a decent working-class member of society, waist up. Congratulations!

2020 - The Worst Year Ever Asante Afrika Magazine
Image Source: Popsugar Fashion

Unavoidable Family Time 

Lockdown has also forced you to love your children. Now you know how naughty your bundle of joy is.  They have moved from climbing tables at crèche to climbing on your TV at home. Do you know how hard a teacher’s job is? You are currently struggling to supervise your 5 year old’s four-hour day at school. Imagine teachers who have to deal with hundreds of children who are just like yours, every year! A teacher’s daily life is like watching variations of the same movie. Bless their souls!

2020 - The Worst Year Ever Asante Afrika Magazine
Image: Homeschooling meme

You remember when you used to tell your university children to calm down because outside was not going anywhere. See now, outside has left. Outside is closed, even for you Mrs. Jones!

2020 taught us not to take anything for granted and that we are literally visitors on this earth.  We had to go back to the drawing board to realign our values and what was important to us.

Ever Mounting Issues

In these unprecedented times where we had to restructure our lives, the topic of mental health has had to move from being an abstract concept to something that is more real to us.  Best believe that when we have nations that have not been taught to process disaster and how they feel about it, we will be heading towards a catastrophe. At times our immediate environment can be harmful to our mental state, as it might be damaging and toxic. Throughout this pandemic, there have been reports of increased domestic violence cases as well as sexual violence cases. 

Even if Covid-19 comes to an end, the damage is done; we will emerge a damaged society. At first, alcohol was blamed for an increase in domestic violence cases. However, when it was taken out of the equation, the problem still persisted. Covid-19 has revealed a deeply rooted culture of violence that we need to resolve through a change of structural mechanisms. These should be decided on local, government, regional and international levels.

The World at Large 

Remember when you were younger and looked at the American flag with admiration, the good old lack of self-belief that we had in our leaders when America was the poster child of democracy and excellent governance. Well, I am kindly asking you to kill whatever American dream you had. The refusal of Americans to wear masks during a literal living and breathing pandemic was shocking!

We learnt in 2020 that a black person can just be shot by ‘accident’ while jogging in the park. As if that was not enough, in our very own Nigeria, Zimbabwe, and friends, police brutality was not just something people watched on TV. Think about #EndSars and #ZimbabweanLivesMatter online civil rights movements, which were a cry for help. While we thought we were resting from that, Uganda’s Museveni decided that the presidency existed for his sole enjoyment. The presidency could not be contested for fairly.

2020 - The Worst Year Ever Asante Afrika Magazine
Image: Yoweri Museveni

In 2020 we came, we saw, and we conquered. As citizens of the world, we even tried to make our own homemade alcohol using pineapple and yeast. That did not end well.

Africa maintained its place as the hub of entertainment and humour.

Men held their annual imaginary conference, ‘Men’s Conference’, simply a three day long, imaginary conference that is scheduled between 14 and 16 February. At this imaginary conference, which is designed to escape Valentine’s, men will get to talk about all sorts of things really. It’s just a men’s conference. A group of grown men promoted a nonexistent event on Twitter and gave us a few laughs.

2020 - The Worst Year Ever Asante Afrika Magazine
Image: ‘On way to Men’s Conference’ Meme

I do not want to lie to you and have toxic positivity about the current state of affairs in the world. Toxic positivity sounds like this.

  • It’ll all be fine.”
  • “You should smile more.”
  • “Don’t worry about it.”
  • “It could be worse.”
  • “Don’t be so negative.”
  • “Always look on the bright side!”
  • “Everything happens for a reason.”
  • “Think happy thoughts!”

All I will say is… “Let us be responsible. Let us stay safe, and sanitize.”

Connect with Rori via her Blog and LinkedIn:

https://rorisangmoyo2.wixsite.com/website/blog

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rorisang-moyo-2a8731193/

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Lifestyle

The Black Experience

If I today were to go to the U.S., issues like police brutality would be a cross I would have to bear due to the colour of my skin.

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The Black Experience Asante Afrika Magazine
Ulric Cross, World War II Hero, Trinidadian jurist, Diplomat and Royal Air Force Navigator

Hazel Lifa

I recently came across a disturbing piece of information – ‘African Americans hold a monopoly on all black experiences’. Now, what do I mean by this? I was tasked with writing articles about topics African women would be interested in or affected by. Through liaising with my boss I often got the comments, “Don’t go mainstream,” and, “…purely African flavour”. After a while, I realised what this white man meant was that my content was too African American.

Naturally, I was offended, being an African woman who had thought of what she called ‘relevant content’ which was appropriate for her demographic. But I know better, I took the criticism in an attempt to evolve and grow. It is through this process I have come to realise something; the issue here was with what my boss thought was ‘African American’ and ‘African’.

“Just like any other group of black women, African women have the same dilemma as to what constitutes professional or well-kept hair.”

My content on colourism, hair and the hyper-sexualisation of the African woman’s body came off as a bit too familiar for him. In his mind, he thought he had a clear idea of what African content looked like, but he never considered what race most Africans are, and that’s… black.

Granted, maybe some phenomenons like colourism were identified and further studied by the African American community, but does it mean they are the only BLACK people that go through it? There is a reason why African American content seems similar to some African content, and that is a matter of race. Historical events like colonisation and slave trade separated black people and threw them in an array of directions that make up today’s geological locations of black populations.

But at the end of the day, we share some issues, grievances and trials based on the colour of our skin, the texture of our hair and the shared experiences that come with the territory. For instance; where I’m from, many don’t know anything about colourism, yet it is alive and very well in indigenous derogatory terms like, “black wadada” that poke fun at darker-skinned individuals.

Another example is seen in how we approach the topic of the African woman’s hair. Just like any other group of black women, African women have the same dilemma as to what constitutes professional or well-kept hair. Many chemical relaxers have been welcomed into African households for decades and damaged African women’s hair, just like in America. But because such topics are covered more in the West, or dare I say communities in the West have more time and tools at their disposal to dissect such topics, does this make them the only black people who can claim them?

Once upon a time the white man came with a religion and attempted to save us, as he assumed we didn’t have a god. The other time, Africa had to be saved from its barbaric ways, because we ‘had no community structures’. We have come to know that both statements are untrue! Sure, Africans might have not known the words religion or community, but we did have an understanding and structure of both concepts within our societies. Point being, just because someone names something or identifies it first, doesn’t necessarily give them a monopoly over it.

If anything, I think this flawed lens of looking at things, in a way gives us a false sense of diversity. Not to say there isn’t any diversity in the world, but in certain situations like this particular one, we are the same due to shared experiences. If I today were to go to the U.S., issues like police brutality would be a cross I would have to bear due to the colour of my skin.

However, with all that said, we today more than ever aren’t aware of this deep and valid connection we share. After the years and efforts put into ending oppressive atrocities like slavery that aided in the division and displacement of black people, we the black people still propel such divisions in a failed attempt to establish historical currency.

“…we don’t own lions as pets, nor hunt for our food. We have supermarkets like in the West, iPhones, and drones.”

Yes, certain experiences like apartheid, slavery and colonisation are personal to certain subgroups of black people, but that’s not where the history of those black people begins. Rather, that is a mere drop in the ocean of culture, traditions and history that is abundant in the black race. Disregarding the shared experiences and identity that connects all black people only reinforces the divisions thrust upon us by historical events. It screams we have no history or identity, other than the stories written for us by slave traders, colonialists, racists, etc.

Putting so much value in mental shackles and focusing on how and where we ended up looks down on the aid African countries gave each other as they fought for independence. It disregards efforts made by individuals like Ulric Cross, a World War II hero and lawyer who had no affiliation with Africa, but related with her plight as a black man who also came from a colonised land. There is more uniting us than the differences we choose to honour.

Furthermore, I think how the world views Africa particularly is very narrow and one-dimensional. Africa is forever put in a box where she represents the wild, animals, and for a lack of better words, a primitive environment of sorts, an idea that got a technology boost in blockbusters like Black Panther. But in reality, many will tell you that we don’t own lions as pets, nor hunt for our food. We have supermarkets like in the West, iPhones, and drones.

Connect with Hazel:

Email: hazel@asanteafrika.net

Instagram: @word_smith96

LinkedIn: Hazel Lifa

Twitter: @Hazel_Lifa

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Lifestyle

Chiropractic – An Alternative To Medicine

This avenue of pain relief is estimated to be a cheaper alternative of treatment, as it reduces the need for pain relief medications, and in some cases, high-risk surgery.

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Chiropractic - An Alternative To Medicine Asante Afrika Magazine
Image: Spinal Cord. Image Source - https://hr.umich.edu/

Hazel Lifa

We all get aches and pains – it is a key component of the human experience, hence the goldmine that is the pharmaceutical industry. While the miracle of modern medicine cannot be denied, it is important to note that it comes with its fair share of cons. Taking simple painkillers for elongated periods of time has negative effects on an individual. It is not uncommon for some medications to solve one problem, and leave patients with another. With that said, there is a solution in the pseudoscience that is, chiropractic.

What is Chiropractic?

Chiropractic is a pseudoscience that focuses on the treatment of disorders on the musculoskeletal system, particularly of the spine, that originated in the U.S. This treatment involves the manual manipulation of the spine, joints and other soft tissues to ease discomfort and pain, and improve function in the body. Chiropractic also involves an array of areas like exercise, acupuncture, progressive muscle relaxation, meditation, and health and lifestyle advising.

Chiropractic - An Alternative To Medicine Asante Afrika Magazine
Image: Chiropractic Treatment

How the Treatment Works

The practice is based on the premise that the body can heal itself with the aid of these manipulations which are intended to align one’s bones, muscles, joints and cartilage. Practitioners of chiropractic, called chiropractors, may hold a Doctor of Chiropractic D.C degree and be referred to as a Chiropractor Physician.

Early chiropractors believed that musculoskeletal disorders affected one’s general health through the nervous system. Chiropractic treatments treat pain in the lower back, neck, knee, shoulders, headaches, whiplash and menstrual cramps, to mention but just a few. Chiropractic also aids in an individual’s lack of focus, and with allergies.

It is known to reduce the pain of osteoarthritis, a condition caused by the erosion of cartilage between the joints that causes bones to rub against each other. Symptoms of scoliosis can also be aided by the help of chiropractors, as well as the general posture of an individual.

Athletes can also benefit from the practice; the treatment improves joint movement, lessens tissue restriction and aids injuries. This avenue of pain relief is estimated to be a cheaper alternative of treatment, as it reduces the need for pain relief medications, and in some cases, high-risk surgery. The treatment usually doesn’t hurt, but aching much like the one felt after exercise can occur.

Chiropractic - An Alternative To Medicine Asante Afrika Magazine
Image: Benefits of Chiropractic Care: Image Source – Radiant Life Chiropractic

Treatment varies from patient to patient; it depends on details like age and type of pain one feels. Patients are screened before treatment to ensure they are good candidates. For instance, an elderly patient may be referred elsewhere due to the softening of bones that comes with aging, which makes joint manipulation a risky option. An individual on blood-thinning medication also isn’t a candidate for chiropractic.

It is because of this that chiropractors do due diligence before treating clients. They will inquire about one’s medical history, do a physical examination, and demand that tests like X-Rays and CT scans are done, so as to create a treatment plan tailored to an individual. Chiropractic treatment aims at giving patients long-term relief as opposed to a quick fix. Chiropractors will ask how a patient lives; if they spend long periods of time sitting, staring at a computer, or standing, to get to the root of the problem.

The practice is still new to the African scene, but an avenue worth looking into. It’s not to say modern medicine isn’t effective, but at times it might not be as effective or appropriate. As the case with medical doctors, patients must also make sure to deal with a professional and qualified chiropractor, so as to avoid poor service that could lead to serious complications.

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Colourism, The Daughter Of Racism

While the mixed-race offspring of black and white parents were considered less than for being half black, their lighter complexion granted them favour and positioned them somewhat better on the spectrum.

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Colourism, The Daughter Of Racism Asante Afrika Magazine
Image: Colourism; Image Source - unsplash.com
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Hazel Lifa

Colourism is this ugly family secret that everyone knows about, but doesn’t care to discuss; a droning sound in the background we have become accustomed to, and can’t remember a time without it. It is described as prejudice or discrimination against individuals with a dark skin tone, typically among people of the same ethnic or racial group.

This colourist mentality has deep-seated roots in the racial pecking order of black and white people, which have seeped into other ethnic groups with the same premise of, ‘the lighter the better’. During the colonial and slavery eras, white settlers/slave owners made it a point to establish white superiority, and deemed black less than.

This idea created a ‘spectrum’ per se, where black was the extreme negative, and white the extreme positive. While the mixed-race offspring of black and white parents were considered less than for being half black, their lighter complexion granted them favour and positioned them somewhat better on this spectrum.

This prejudice is very subtle in its appearance, but has lethal and life-changing effects. It can be seen in the praise of lighter-skinned individuals and the undesirable label given to dark-skinned black people, all under the guise of preference. Looking closer at the situation, it is undeniable that colourism has a close relationship with racism, a by-product, or as I have said, a child of racism. Like racism, colourism is taught. No one is born with this idea, but rather has it drummed into them through channels like media.

Furthermore, it is important to note that this taught preference is more directed towards black women, hence making the situation gendered. We see this learned preference in areas like dating and the entertainment industry. Hail the ‘yellow bone’ that seems to have it easier and seen as more of a desirable woman than her darker sisters. This very notion is what drives the billion-dollar business that is bleaching; this colourist standard of a black women’s beauty has fuelled the market of dangerous creams, lotions, pills and treatments, all in the pursuit of fairer skin.

Black women in entertainment have attested to the fact that this public secret exists, from South African entertainer Khanyi Mbau, to Lupita Nyong’o all the way in Hollywood. Mbau has never been secretive about her bleaching, among other elective cosmetic procedures she has had done. She spoke to her bleaching being mainly a ‘maintenance issue’, rather than for her job in an interview. She also spoke on the favour which fairer-skinned performers like Pearl Thusi get because of their looks.

Colourism, The Daughter Of Racism Asante Afrika Magazine
Image: Khanyi Mbau, before and after bleaching her skin

Across the globe, Lupita Nyong’o claims she has been told at an audition that she is too dark for television, but stayed true to her talent. Simply watching television, one can see the living and breathing examples that in my opinion perpetuate the self-hate that is colourism. Because we have become so used to it, we fail to recognise that this mindset is essentially making us hate ourselves. We have young men flooding the internet with how much black women disgust them, to careers judged on skin tone rather than the actual talent, to little black girls who grow up feeling ugly.

Colourism, The Daughter Of Racism Asante Afrika Magazine
Image: Lupita Nyong’o

At the end of the day, we are subscribing to a white man’s opinion of our beauty, not ours. Looking down on your own race speaks volumes to just how embedded this construct of self-hate is drilled into the African’s psyche; he/she feels she sees the world through his/her own lens, yet it is clearly not the case.

Colourism is just another one of the ugly invisible chains of colonisation that still live within us, generations after the fact. Think to yourself before you label a darker-skinned individual unattractive, less intelligent or any other negative label. What is so bad about their features or performance or mannerisms, whether it be in everyday life or in front of the camera, besides their skin tone? When you can do that honestly, then you are thinking for yourself, and not following someone else’s lead.

Connect with Hazel:

Email: hazel@asanteafrika.net

Instagram: @word_smith96

LinkedIn: Hazel Lifa

Twitter: @Hazel_Lifa

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