Africa, Xenophobia

Xenophobia?

What does it feel like to be a mindful Depression survivor with strong Pan-Afrikan views, and a flair for storytelling? South Africa was in the news again last week, for the obvious reasons. I was at the public library again.

Ghana-Must-Go.

I stumbled upon the timely history of this bag. What Kenyans and Ugandans call osuofia bag or mimi. This bag is sturdy, efficient and low budget. Here, this bag just saves the day. In West Africa, it is (in)famously called the Ghana-Must-Go bag.

Ghana-Must-Go. The plastic bag that is made of historical and political fabric. The bag that carries emotional baggage. The bag that embodies soul rot. Nobody told us that in 1983 the Nigerian government under president Shehu Shagari expelled millions of West African migrants, mostly of Ghanaian descent. The bags were on high demand during that short ugly period, hence the name.

In recent times, we have found a more articulate name for that atrocity. Xenophobia. Except South Africa is now on the spotlight for it. #ForeignersMustLeaveSA was trending on twitter just three days ago.

Violence is bottom barrel low they said, we are all Africans. The AU should take a stance: Ask the government of South Africa to protect African migrants, asylum seekers and refugees. How thoughtful. But until the AU does so while asking these ‘victim’ countries why they are not making their citizenry comfortable at home, it is ill-advised. Bearing in mind that the ability to emigrate from the third world is deeply embedded in a form of privilege. This is not an act of microaggression. Someone said political correctness is fascism pretending to be manners. I put it to you that political correctness is a cancer. It undermines democracy and the fabric of society. You do not go into people’s homes and make them not feel at home. An in-law does not replace a biological child. If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen.

Most African countries are embarrassingly mismanaged. Being anywhere from the middle class and below is the ultimate test of faith. You get up every morning and get demoralised from your doorstep to wherever it is you’ll be trying to make ends meet. You live from hand to mouth. You lead a frugal existence. If you’re not languishing in poverty then you’re just one ‘bad’ financial decision away from it. One hospital bill away, one semester’s tuition away, one simple car away. Poverty is always looming. Always lingering. These are bandit countries where even those with sterling credentials leave the private sector to go and loot in government. Because that is the prudent way to have a decent life here. Where the gap between the rich and the poor widens by the tick of the clock. Where the intelligentsia is intimidated and replaced by highly trained ‘professionals.’ Where presidential palaces and the streets are as different as night and day. Countries run like warehouses. Countries with economic structures that stink to high heaven. Economies on their deathbeds. Tyrannical regimes of men who put their countrymen on graft and tribal steroids. Where presidency is treated like a birth rite: till death do us part. Where republics operate like monarchies. Do we not know that in Equatorial Guinea the sitting president of 4 decades is now deputised by his own son? The bottom line is, the average African is disillusioned by his government. Most African governments are tactfully skilled at disenfranchising their people from access to livelihood. But South Africa is taking the heat for getting concerned about her sovereignty and her citizenry. For reacting. Xenophobia is just a reaction. Actions precede reactions.

In the spirit of Pan-Africanism, I think African history needs to be re-written. To include the home truths. For our healing, for our mental health, for our coexistence, for unity in diversity. The lions now need their own historians, because the history of the hunt is notoriously adept at glorifying the hunter. History must now be written by the villains. For the victors have long been crafty in their victory. The whole history should be revisited, from precolonial days. Maybe then, we might accept that before colonialism, African communities were sovereign and mostly just united by the vast geographical location, skin colour and white imperialism. That Africa was a continent of immense energy and culture with hundreds of different languages. And our history did not begin with colonialism.

Just before dust could settle on the xenophobia hashtags, the librarian in-charge announced to us that the government has suspended the borrowing of books for reasons best known to it. It might interest you that the said public library is actually understocked with books that are in all conditions but pristine. Books that we pay to read and borrow, with added hefty fines for exceeding your deadline. Not to mention how strenuous it is to secure membership if you are neither a student nor employed.

Xenophobia is not it. South Africa is the scapegoat. And the AU is nothing more than dogs barking at the full moon. I think we better think while it is still legal to!

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Mental Health

Differences

December babies, the stage is finally ours.

Season’s greetings everyone!

It’s been one rollercoaster of a year. These are some absolute historical times, the planet took a bender. The weather is foul, the economy is off-kilter, being frivolous in public can cost you or your loved one’s life in this pandemic, death is always looming. I turn a year older in some 9 days. I took my last Prozac and Olanzapine on 3rd August 2019. What a time to be alive.

There’s some doom and gloom in my head and heart lately, sometimes. This life is tinged with an inert kind of sadness. My friend died 2 weeks ago. It is terrible to love something that death can touch. We put him to rest, the heavens opened up and it poured massively. I gained a powerful guardian angel.

This year mistakes have been made, karmic dues have been paid and dreams have equally been realised. I have been outdreaming myself in ways I never imagined. Reading is still my most fulfilling activity. Authors are such national treasures. Real mercurial creatures with their own unique quirks. The reason I started this blog was to try to speak my mind and write my heart, just like them. To wring words out of my hurting heart. And to escape residual pain.

I sit in awe of the magic that is art. Artistes, writers who suffer monumental losses, go through turmoil but still manage to create beauty. Their unerring ability to touch us, to leave us speechless. To leave us frozen in our tracks, to bring us to our knees. To numb us, to soothe us. To hypnotise us, to awaken us. I sit in awe of words that go past your heart and get plastered on your soul. Words that slap and hug your whole being at the same damn time. I sit in awe of people who bleed words. I sit in awe of precision. Of boldness, of candidness. And the notion that the hurt might just be good for the art after all.

Sometimes I’m convinced that I have steel bright intelligence but zero common sense. I falter. Yesterday I thought my brain broke at the examinations hall but then I realised I just couldn’t process that my hands could actually write again. I lost 20 minutes of the allocated time. I’m thankful to be able to have a strong grip of my pen again.

Flip side, I miss the therapy sessions. I miss the whole effect of benzos and psychotropics. Just occasionally. That feeling remains unmatched. It’s a spiritual experience. It felt like the liminal space right before you’re born and right after you’ve left heaven. But I do not miss the psych nurses, maybe just the doctors because they tend to have the experience to treat each patient as a unique case and not as a book example. I will never forget this one time one of those Nazis decided to subtly advice me that I need Jesus rather than meds, all while directly administering the meds to my veins!

When your heart breaks but your spirit is solid, that’s when you know there’s so much kingdom left to come.

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Mental Health

LOTUS UNFOLDING

Have you ever spent an unholy amount of time trying to make your hair tame and acceptable only to step out and have the wind make you look like a witch that just flew on their broom?

You’re running late. Anxiety has you by the collar.

Then you come across a live performance of one of your favourite artistes. He’s decked up in some tough blue denim jeans. A big cloud looms over the concert. His artistry makes you ridiculously happy; takes you above the cloud and into the stratosphere. He’s making magic. You’ve lived to pay homage to a consummate genius. Long live the music and your dancing feet.

Unbridled joy. Rekindled energy.

That’s it, you’ve mastered the art of survival and now you’re starting to live again. You must live again. Mindfully.

Some days are wholesome. Peopled with warmth, love and wonder. You’re infused with strength and sweetness. You sit with joy and it knows you by all your names. You feel the universe rallying behind you. The unknown and the unseen cheer you on.

Some days are marred by profound grief. Sad as raindrops on a grave. Bitter and unforgiving. But dear grace continues to carry you. You’re happy to put yourself back to bed and try again tomorrow. With hope, chance and a fresh face.

You sit in awe of the epic war between your heart and your mind.

December, your other boo, is almost here.

There’s so much kingdom left to come!

Power to you, young blood.

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Mental Health

SOULFULNESS

She feels colours,
Sees love,
Smells achievement,
And hears a smile.

Finds bits and pieces of her in unexpected places,
Dances to the beat of her own drum,
Worships rose petals, red lipstick,
And maybe you.

She’s a brave caterpillar,
Alone in the cocoon,
Morphing into the beautiful butterfly.

Ahead of her time,
Yet right on time.

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Mental Health

RAINBOW AURA

Last evening I got home, jumped into the shower and washed the day off. As I sat combing through my journal, it struck me how much random people tell me how intelligent I am, and it wrung tears out of my hard heart.

I’m humbled and touched that I apparently come off as a mind blowing smallness of an existence; a blend of daintiness and intelligence. Especially in these absolute historical times that we’re living in, where if I open my mouth, just like you, it’s most likely to decry the pandemic, the foul weather, the off-kilter economy or the state of the nation. Basically this maze we’re lost in.

Last week two strangers coincidentally told me I look seventeen. But I’m a couple of years older than that and feeling blessed that I don’t look a day like my scars.

I still remember how the unjustness of life was sitting heavy on my chest. How good days were just thinly veiled bad days. How I sat with emptiness and it knew me by all my names. How I got tired of praying for happiness so I prayed for a little less pain. How debilitating depression is. How dreaming of better days vexed my spirit, troubled my mind and weighed on my soul.

Sometimes, a lot of times, there’s so much madness underneath the grace. In feigning strength until it’s inked in your bones, in outlasting your demons. But I have mastered the art of survival and now I must learn to live. Because I deserve to live.

Today, in retrospect, I have no solid desire to be called strong. It will be a cold day in hell before I allow myself to be called strong. I don’t want to be called strong in a culture where strength is defined by your ability to hide your feelings in the face of adversity in front of others. In fact, I’m not strong, I’m human. I’ve been here long enough to understand that once the spiritual cuts across the mundane you cannot be modest about how authentic you are.

Once the spiritual cuts across the mundane, you cannot be content with being the gold fish in a fish bowl when you’re a shark in the ocean.

You have no business shrinking just to fit in.

Cheating myself out of happiness by consciously immersing myself in things that force ugliness into my soul is too expensive for me. Way too far-fetched a narrative.

To my younger self, the girl who didn’t know better, I forgive you.

I’ll strive to meditate on my blessings, protect my energy and fill my aura with positivity. I’ll mould this rainbow aura.

The rainbow is a perfect arc of an array of brilliant colours. A symbol of a gleaning hope and promise of brighter days. A blessing in your ventures. An indication that the rains have passed and no fate is insurmountable.

Lifetime praises to my father, the man made of textures deeper than what they’ve been apprenticed to. The man more polished by greater forces than flashy malls. The yin to my yang. My kindred spirit. The best, most doting father and I can only hope to hold even a fraction of his greatness.

Ancestor praises to my father’s mother. The woman who had the most beautiful wrinkles when she smiled, as if her face was the map of her life. The woman whose unflappable philosophy of overcoming everything that came her way still guides me even in her death. The woman who affectionately called me “Wuon par wa” (our father / head of the homestead), one of the most (if not the most) powerful terms of endearment in my culture.

Great indebtedness to my mother and my siblings. Especially to my biggest sister, mother of my favourite nephew. When I grow up I’d like to be a flaming charisma like you. And to my little brother, thank you for the random endless warm gestures of love!

And to this cat that is hell on wheels – she plays too much when my alarm goes off so I never oversleep and get late for work. Daily gratitude.

Profound recognition to my friends. Especially the one who gave me a book to read on our most recent date. May your brain never bicker with mortals. And to the other one, the queen of hugs and holding hands, for answering every frantic call and text with reaffirmations of grace, I see you! And to all the others who are not afraid to be vulnerable with me; the ones who bare their souls to me, the ones who don’t have a single selfish bone on their bodies, I celebrate your strength and sweetness.

Unbounded gratitude to my readership and the general blogosphere, especially the very inspirational Mental Health warriors. Your beautiful comments in solidarity truly hone my brave spirit. Thank you for your courage and raw honesty. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for the candid ruminations on mental illness.

Thank you. Words fail me.

I sincerely hope all of you hang in there. Pitch your tents in the land of faith. Hope. No matter how cliché it sounds. We are the riddle the world is still solving, and we’ll be the reason humanity will take a stance against stigma.

Zealous fervent prayers for each one of you. And me.

May grace continue to carry us.

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Mental Health

HEARTSTRINGS

Do we have to put on the whole armour of God to exercise patience this year?

One thing I’ve realised about 2020 is that my eyeballs don’t go far back enough for me to roll them as hard as I need to. From the pandemic, to the state of the nation, to the foul weather, to the fact that I haven’t really cracked open a book this semester.

Sometimes my heart is tinged with sadness, the inert kind. The kind that leaves me looking for the next doorway back into the blogosphere. What a strange rising!

These are seemingly some unforgiving times. The falsity of the fabric of society we live in is even more vivid now. A cesspit of iniquity. September is Suicide Awareness & Prevention month. We cannot have health without Mental Health and I find it mind boggling that many people still go without healthcare and medications for manageable diseases, issues and conditions just because they can’t afford health insurance. I’m aware of the business aspect, but, be that as it may, I just don’t find it reasonable.

This month also marks five years since my father’s mother died and she’s still sorely missed from our lives. A magic maker, a birth giver to stars. A beautiful woman, from the tips of her toes to the depths of her soul. On the evening we buried her, the heavens opened up and the rains poured down. I gained a powerful ancestor. Today I sit in awe of the wonderful people God placed in my life to nurture me. Love is warm, I learn. It cradles our lonely souls and thaws the ice in our hearts. It’s the metaphor for salvation. And might.

Last weekend I was at the hospital for my routine check up. I still don’t weigh past 51kgs. But my beaming face tells its story. I can’t believe that a little over a year ago, my brain was so lethal that for me to tame it I had to lose my ability to write with my own hands! Now my mental health is nothing like it used to be. Thank goodness. It’s been thirteen months of unbridled peace and sanity, in the grand scheme of things.

To celebrate this milestone, I’m considering getting myself another dog for my birthday later this year. Dogs are such a hurricane of life and energy, and signing up for a lifetime of love and wiggles is the ultimate heartwarming gesture for me. Sometimes the best therapist has fur and four legs. I’ve also had my hair loc’d since April and I feel like I own some shares in Afrika. My level of spirituality is so grand no mortal can harm even a single strand of my hair.

I look at myself in the mirror and see the reflection of a God. I become sensationally inspired by the beautiful mental and spiritual space I’m in. It took me many years to realise that I’m a whole lot of lovely and I deserve every damned chance at happiness. I refuse to cheat myself out of happiness.

Well the demons of Mental Health hate having their stories told but here I am, levelling up my hero, on my internet black box. Unbowed, unmatched and undefeated. Unparalleled.

October will be magical–I can feel it in my bones!

Serious love and solidarity to everyone struggling with depression and self actualization.

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Life, Mental Health

REFULGENCE

The sun was very out today. It didn’t rain. Mother Earth is breathing. Father Time is watching. The bougainvillea hedges bloomed and turned all crimson red.

It’s been almost a year since I stopped using psychotropic medications. My hands can write again with good grip, my feet don’t teeter anymore; I can now take the stairs high up as I please. (Joy’s finally flowing from my toes to my fingertips!) I also sleep through the night unaided and I take my meals religiously. The weird memory lapses are just memories now.

My nephew, our rainbow baby, is almost teething.

So I passed by church today. This time, I fell down onto the cool dust, below, on my knees, giddy with excitement, overwhelmed by humility, as I sent up kisses of gratitude to a gracious God. They say when God shows you mercy your story sounds fictitious.

Hope was a dangerous thing for a woman like me to have – but I still had it. I went from holding on to dear life to demolishing everything on my path. From feeling like if I made it to the end of the year (for like the past 10 years), I deserved an Oscar for best acting of the year, to feeling VERY BLESSED despite some speed bumps along my journey. On every single one of those days, I was a warrior. A trooper. One that triumphantly transitioned from being part of elite brainiacs called Bipolar to another esteemed group of spiritual gangstas called patron saints of soulfulness. 🤣

Here I am. Sinking deep into this bath of unapologetic self love. Lit like a fire, tall enough to lick the gates of heaven! A true reflection of a God. The ultimate God soaked metaphor!

Please give ALL the flowers to God!

I’ve always believed that what Mental Health needs is more awareness, more advocacy, more unashamed conversation, destigmatization. Imagine if all of us had a teaspoon of compassion!

Here’s to more sunlight, more candour, more empathy, more words untrammelled.

“S/o to everyone transcending a mindset, mentality, belief, desire, emotion, behaviour or vibration that no longer serves them.”

Peace & love!

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Bipolar Disorder, Creative Writing, Depression, Life, Mental Health, Mental Illness, Mood Disorder, Poetry

STRENGTH AND SWEETNESS

She’s strength and sweetness.

She’s a warrior,
Her bones are inked in resilience.

She’s a demigod,
Her small existence is astounding.

She’s a paradox,
Her weakness is her strength.

She’s majesty,
Her soul is royalty.

She doesn’t soar the skies,
Yet her wings are by no means,
Less than the eagle’s…

She plods, she ponders,
Some days,
She simply persists.

In silence she battles,
And in despair she remembers, love.

She gathers all that is left of yesterday,
Her glitchy mind, her patchwork heart,
Her sharp edges, her missing parts,
Everything.

She soothes her frayed heart,
Hoodwinks her demons,
Clothes her agony in grace,
Hones her brave spirit,
Feigns fresh hope,
And walks quietly into a new day.

Her emptiness still lingers,
Her pains still ache,
Her veins are weary,
Her smile is riddled with scars,
Yet she’s lit like a fire tall enough to lick the gates of heaven!

What a strong woman!
A woman made of staggering rebound!
A true reflection of a God!
The ultimate God soaked metaphor!

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Life, Mental Health, Mood Disorder

JOURNAL 20/2

Because paper is more patient than people.

Lately I’m humbled. Humbled by the many windows of grace; by my God who not only shows up but shows off too. By the emotional explosions that thrust me into the arms of that loving God.

I’m thankful for the tasteful and timeless music and my dancing feet.

I’m impressed by that empty bottle of antidepressants on the bedside that hasn’t left me feening for one more pill for the life of me. Six whole months later. And my stout-heartedness and criminal level of resilience through it all.

I’m stunned that I’m slowly becoming a vibrational match to my dreams. And that the unknown and the unseen seem to be cheering on.

I’m intrigued by this life that’s peopled with inspiration. By this one ardently sweet, indomitably good-natured person who thinks the same about me.

I’m awed by my sister who looks spookily like me but isn’t my twin. And especially by her stellar personality.

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Life, Mental Health

SAVING GRACE

Dear Depression,

My old friend, the black dog, the slayer of beautiful souls, the barbed arrow right through my heart, the chaotic evil.

The demon singing horrifying lullabies to my weary veins, the insecurity killing my glorious dreams, fraying a piece of my heart and numbing a fragment of my soul… it’s been a long time coming.

I would like you to know that you have been crossing my mind a little more than usual these past days and I won’t sweep it under the rug. I made it clear on my last post that exulansis does not live here – my pen will keep bearing me witness.

You’re a quintessential part of me; I have religiously ridden with you even in the face of death without flinching but you still haven’t done me right. When we met at age 14, I was quite innocent then, but not anymore. Thank God.

Many people do not understand when I say that pain is beautiful, because they believe I’m romanticizing pain. That I’m glorifying the process of surviving pain when in reality it’s the lesson in the survival that I glorify. Pain is beautiful, it gives me insight and empathy and compassion and soulfulness. And those are not your everyday qualities. Thank you for teaching me that my life is not sunshine and rainbows everyday and that’s okay.

Depression is the cubicle I’ve sat at, the fishbowl existence I’ve lived in, the cold table I’ve dined at. But they say you must learn to get up from the table when love is no longer being served. So today and all subsequent days, I choose to get up from the table. I choose love. All forms of love including self love. I mean didn’t they promise that if I love myself authentically, my energy and aura will reject anyone that doesn’t know my worth? Well you, my friend, do not know my worth. I can say that with a straight face and without an ounce of doubt in my soul. There’s no ghost of a chance here.

I choose love. There’s not a hope in hell that I will go wrong with love. Because love is a metaphor for forgiveness, a metaphor for strength and sweetness, a metaphor for redemption, for salvation, for healing, for wisdom, for might, for beauty, for royalty, for triumph, for goodness, for authenticity, for illumination, for jubilance.

Love is the voice of an angel from the shores of agony, from the tunnels of darkness, the sound of an angel serenading me to life, the heaves coming from my body.

Love is my father speaking words of affirmation, calling me graceful, professional, titular names everyday to my sometimes jaded soul from the other side of the phone. Love is my mother passionately calling me “the star” when she has five other wonderful children that she bore.

Love is that doctor whispering me out of fear and putting my soul back in my body and ultimately both back in that recliner where he sometimes reads that medical history that reeks of something like the voodoo incantations of a stark raving mad Haitian witch doctor.

Love is my friends answering every frantic call and text, keeping up with my monotonous rants and not having a single selfish bone in their bodies.

Love is that little girl at service last Sunday that clutched my hand a little tighter when my teardrop landed on her shoe during that spiritual sermon.

Love is also that very very little boy from the opposite gate that by waves and smiles back each time we lock eyes. My goodness, whose beautiful son could this be!

Love is the deep and seamless conversations from our childhood.

Love is a real bond in a flawed world.

Love is me learning a bit more about love and a little less about myself. Love is my favourite colour…love is your favourite colour too.

Love is my nurturing mother, love is my protective father, love is my charismatic sister, love is my unborn child lingering in my lover’s eyes.

Love is the whispering wind, love is the sun kissing the earth, love is the leaves breathing, love is the sea washing out, love is the raindrops pelting the roof as I sleep sound.

Love is the tasteful and timeless music and my dancing feet.

Love is my patchwork heart and my glitchy mind adorned, love is my sharp edges and missing parts validated. Love an ocean of confidence.

Love is Wabi-Sabi. The understanding that a box full of darkness is still a gift, and I can use that well for the highest good.

Love is the emotional explosions that thrust me into the arms of a loving God.

Love is sharpening the blades of my pen to destigmatize the conversation around this sinister thing that is you, depression.

Love is catching a dream filled with affection and awe inspiring things and holding it in my heart until I get to see my loved ones in heaven.

Love is becoming a vibrational match to each and every one of my dreams.

Love is butterflies, the whimsical beauties darting and swooping as they frolic between the greenery while I look on dreamily, touching me with their pale gossamer wings and leaving their magic on my skin as they restore my faith.

Love is the smell of fresh roses.

Love is the bountiful sky soaking my soul in the joy of illumination.

Love is the prickly bougainvillea not requiring a nod to harbour the blooming sight that wishes to protect its flower pod.

Love is the yellow brick road to happiness.

Love is the future.

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