Betrayed by Arnold Sanginga

I woke up with a lot of pain, my head was aching with pain, my thighs screamed with pain, and even though the pain was blinding my eyes I could see red stains on a white background. I looked harder and realised it was blood. Real blood. The cold truth hit me like a blow and I was thoroughly flabbergasted, because the blood was my blood and I wasn’t dying, but how come it was my blood? Who or what had caused this? All these thought were buzzing in my already aching head. I tried to scream but my throat choked and muffled my scream, instead I cried.


The truth slowly dawned on me that Mugisho had done it. He was my closest and best friend. I trusted him with my life, just because he was different from the other rich or perverted boys in our village. Mugisho had a thirst for knowing and learning; this made me inadvertently become his friend.


Women said “Men are all the same, they will continuously use and destroy you my daughter Clementine” That made my heart burn with anger, fiery anger. To me I thought they were jealous of me and Mugisho, even though I understand how they were trying to help me now, I didn’t know then. However, as it soon happened and I realised he was the same as all of them.


“Clementine, you look so beautiful like the stars in the nightly sky. Are those new corn row you have done?” Mugisho said. I smiled, however I thought in my mind does he tell that to all the girls? I didn’t care, while I was with him I felt happy and protected from malicious things. My, was I wrong about that. He started by holding my waist, at first I thought it was just his friendly ways. Then he whispered in my ear “Clementine, I have something to tell you.” I looked at him and wondered what was so important to disturb the peaceful night. “What is it you want to ask me Mugisho?” Still staring at him I replied. All of a sudden I saw a glow in his eyes and an evil smile whipped across his face. “I will tell you, but I have to show you something first” he said lightly.


“Where are you taking me Mugisho? I have to go home it’s getting …” Before I even finished he kissed me, I was so surprised at first but then my instincts kicked and I pushed him away with all the force in me.

“What are you doing Mugisho?”

“We’ve been friends for a long time Clementine, it is about time we actually had something between us.”

“We already do Mugisho.”

“I mean more than that Clementine. I mean love!”

As soon as he said that I panicked, because I knew what he meant exactly. He tried to kiss me again I pushed him back. However, this time he returned my push with a blow to the head and that’s all I remember.


His a monster. A bloody monster. He is a bloodthirsty murderous monster. The thing I thought he was different, whereas he was just using me for his pleasure, I was like a toy to him, unlike him I trusted him like a brother.


Now am crying because I will be an outcast, a foolish outcast, while he must be smiling to himself. The pride I had gone like the mist. My family what would they do if they found out? No one would marry me a foolish girl.


I sat there crying, till I could cry no more. Wet patches of blood engulfing my body reminding me of my pain. The pain of losing my virginity.




I Fear for my Daughter by Thokozile Zimba

I fear for my daughter because of the color of her skin

No matter how dark or light, I fear that she will let in,

The hurtful words that cut deep into her soul

And define her as a person that she herself doesn’t know.

I fear that she will wake up and look in the mirror one day

I fear that she will hate the cover that she calls her body.

And so she will cover that cover with makeup and with paint

Hoping that the colors will hide the painful stain

I fear that my daughter will wear an A that she won’t know

She’ll become a scarlet maiden and a token of sorrow.

I fear that she will walk out in a skirt or jeans and know

That someone somewhere down the line will mutter the word “whore”

I fear for my daughter if she is as passionate as me

Because she will be misunderstood and called “ungodly”

I fear for my daughter if she spends time with my mum

Because she will never be able to settle for things and she’ll be a strong woman.

I fear for my daughter if she begins to care

About the clothes on her body or the way she combs her hair

Because people will always talk about it, and try to make it “right”

I fear for my daughter if, at that point, she decides to stand and fight.

I fear for my daughter if her advocacy is misconstrued

And if everyone but the two of us takes that as being rude.

I fear for my daughter because I will not always be around

To be her biggest supporter and to lift her off the ground

Because I know that they will lift her up and then they’ll pull her down

They’ll strip her of her purity and that which she dubs profound

I fear for my daughter if she expresses her deepest thoughts

That her being a sexual being is something for which she can be caught

I fear that she will think that she is guilty, guilty of a crime

I fear for my daughter if for this natural act she must spend her time

Spend her time in her bedroom dreading the very next day

I fear for my daughter if she decides to go away.

How am I, as a mother, supposed to go through life like a metronome?

Ticking and tocking and sitting their knowing that my dear sweet child is gone

She is gone because she couldn’t take it, the pointing and the stares

I fear for my daughter because she might not be there

She might not be there to bask in the glory that is surfing the storms

She will leave me believing that judgment and hatred and negativity are the norm

I fear for my daughter if she opens her heart up

I fear for her if she dares

I fear that she will expect a lot from someone who may never care

I fear that she will hurt someone as a woman scorned

I fear that she will regret the day that she was ever born.

But I know that she will be strong, and able to handle a lot

I know that she will climb the mountain and enjoy the view from the top.

So now I fear for my daughter because her mother will love her too much

I fear that she will leave me but I know she’ll stay in touch

I fear for my daughter if she is a better version of me

But I would fear for her more if she feared the prospect of being free.

So my dear unborn daughter, don’t worry about the world

You are going to be okay; you are my strong, courageous girl.

Femininity by Wanjiru

Feminine means ‘of or relating to girls or women’

I am a female so in me should be inherent qualities which should be considered feminine, right?

Well this hasn’t been as straightforward as it should be. In an age of feminism, I have seen the differences between men and women erased. Where in a way, to say ‘feminine’ is gender stereotypical. It is to put a woman or a man in a box where their character, conduct and inclinations are defined.

On the other hand, I can’t ignore the fact that gender identity to some extent does exist. That some traits are more common in males than in females such as logical thinking and straightforwardness. And some traits are more common in females than in males. Women are for, example, generally more intuitive than men. The result is that we balance each other out beautifully.

Femininity comes from the core. It then radiates outwards. It is natural, it isn’t anything acquired. It may vary from one woman to another. As cheesy as this sounds, femininity is being in touch with oneself. For me, being feminine means that very often I write about events, my growth and evaluate my feelings. That sometimes I follow my intuition and not necessarily logic, that I am an open listener.

Men can be feminine in some ways; it’s not a bad thing. The same goes for women. Human beings are complex creatures. What is important is self-awareness.

I have been internally conflicted in the past because I haven’t felt ‘feminine’ enough in the light of traditional femininity. Grace, demureness, aesthetics.  I have little desire to put on makeup or wear dresses or be aesthetically appealing- not for me or anyone else. I’m not particularly elegant or proper. This may have translated in a mild aggression towards women who do take this interest. They are conformists, vain and maybe trivial. This view is obviously unfair.

It has taken sessions of silence and reflection to get out of restrictive cages and stop putting people in them. Self-discovery is a beautiful and ongoing process.

Vivian Ojo’s G-Roots

From a young age I had always been aware that little girls and little boys were inherently different. There were things about us that would never be the same and that was fine with me, until as a young girl growing up in post-Apartheid Namibia I began to realize that differences were not so well cherished and were often used as platforms for discrimination. It was my blackness that opened my eyes to the oppression that accompanied my womanhood. This is why, though I understand each struggle to be its own, I have become increasingly aware that as Dr King so profoundly suggested, the injustices of any one cause, so deeply threatens the justice of another. I therefore write poetry as a black, African woman, which I believe speaks to any form of suffering.

Death of the strong black woman by Thokozile

Sisters…take heed…brothers…be strong enough to recognize the seriousness of your sisters’ struggles

while struggling with the reality of being a human instead of a myth, the strong black woman passed away.

Medical sources say that she dies of natural causes, but those who knew and used her know she died from: being silent when she should have been screaming, milling when she should have been raging, being sick and not wanting anyone to know because her pain might inconvenience them.

An overdose of other people clinging onto her when she didn’t even have the energy for herself

She died from loving men who didn’t love themselves and could only offer her a crippled reflection. she died from raising children alone and being condemned for not doing a complete job. she died from the lies her grandmother told her mother and her mother told her about life, men and racism.

she died from being sexually abused as a child and having to take that truth everywhere she went every day of her life, exchanging the humiliation for guilt and back again. She died from being battered by someone who claimed to love her and she allowed the battering to go on to show she lovvv’d him too.

She died from asphyxiation, coughing blood from secrets she kept, trying to burn away instead of allowing herself the kind of nervous breakdown she was entitled to, but only white girls could afford. she died from being responsible because she was the last rung on the ladder and there was not one under her she could dump on.

The strong black woman is dead. She died from multiple births of children she never really wanted but was forced to have by the strangling morality around her. she died from being a mother at 15 and a grandmother at 30 and an ancestor at 45. She died from being dragged down and sat upon by un-involved women posing as sisters. she died from pretending the life she was living was a Kodak moment instead of a  20th century, post slavery nightmare!

She died from tolerating Mr Pitiful, just to have a man around the house

she died from the lack of orgasms because she never learned what made her body happy and no one took the time to teach her and sometimes, when she fund arms that were tender, she died, because they belonged to the same gender. she died from sacrificing herself for everybody and everything when what she really wanted to do was be a singer,dancer, or some magnificent other.

she died from lies of omission because she didn’t want to bring the black man down.

she died from race memories of being snatched and snatched and raped and snatched and sold and snatched and bred and snatched and whipped and snatched and worked to death.

She died from tributes from her counterparts who should have been matching her efforts instead of showering her with dead words and empty songs. she died from myths that would not allow her to show weakness without being characterised by the lazy and hazy. She died from hiding her real feelings until they became meticulously hard and bitter enough to invade her womb and breasts like angry tumours.

she died from always lifting something from heavy boxes to refrigerators.

The strong black woman is dead.

she died from punishments received from being honest about life, racism and men. she died from being called a bitch for being verbal, a dyke for being assertive and a whore for picking her own lovers. She died from never being enough of what men wanted, or being too much for the men she wanted. she died for not being too black and died again for not being black enough.

she died from being misinformed about her mind, body and the extent of her royal capabilities. she died from knees pressed too close together because respect was never part of the foreplay that was being shoved at her.

she died from loneliness in birthing rooms and aloneness in abortion centres. She died of shock in court rooks where she sat, alone, watching her children being legally lynched.

she died in bath rooms with her veins bursting open with self-hatred and neglect.

she died in her mind, fighting life, racism and men, while her body was carted away and stashed in a human warehouse for the spiritually mutilated.

and sometimes when she refused to die, when  she just refused to give in she was killed by the lethal images of black hair, blue eyes and big butts rejected by the Nkosi’s the vilakazi’s and the mtshau’s.

sometimes, she was stomped to death by racism and sexism, executed by hi-tech ignorance. while she carried the family in her belly, the community on her head and the race on her back!!!

The strong silent, s**t talking black woman is dead.

Me by Mama Kofo

Strangers stop to eat at my place
The laughter of children echo in the fireplace
I wonder if the world ever stops to wonder;
What will it be like if I was not here?

Mine is the right hand that wipes the tears
The shoulder that bears the weight
Of heart torn apart by the world;
What will it be like if I was not here?

The other person blames me for being weak
My peers look down devastated
Is there any need for self -condemnation?
What will it be like if I was not here?

Despite all they want to entrust me
With the funds in the coffers
Which their friends would otherwise squander;
What will it be like if I was not here?

Mine is the heart that bleeds
And left fingers that have been insulted
By a metal that does not engender loyalty from the other person;
Must I continue to bemoan my lot
And continue to count my loss?

I celebrate my strength and rejoice that I am different
I celebrate my virtues, I will not trade them for million cents
The world is lucky that I am here;
I am a woman

My Mama

As mama put on the lovely orange Kitenge dress that I had chosen for her, a beautiful smile adorned her face. I had never seen my mama smile so broadly. That smile had no boundaries at all. I told her she was the most beautiful person I had ever seen and beguiling laughter bellowed from her being. Ever since she had kicked baba out, mama was like a beast that had just broken its shackles of slavery. I intensely remember that night she coerced baba out of the house. That day baba had come home earlier than mama and went straight to his armchair at the corner of the sitting room to watch TV. There was nothing interesting so he kept on browsing the channels, all the while I was pretentiously doing my homework as I watched TV. Mama arrived a few hours late, tired and exhausted. She had told us that this was the most important day of her work since she would be presenting her research to her seniors. However, baba acted oblivious to this fact and the first thing he told her was that his stomach had been growling for hours then. Mama told him he should have prepared himself a sandwich and he shuddered a little because mama had never answered him back. Soon baba recovered and told her to get her ass into the kitchen and be a wife. Mama kissed my forehead, dropped her heavy bags and went to the kitchen. In ten minutes she was back with warmed up stew from last night and some indomie noodles. Baba who loathed indomie was beside himself with fury and swung his heavy hand towards mama’s face. Now this was a scene I was used to hence I did not need to watch it. Baba would hit mama and she would reel and fall down then he would kick at her until she lay quiet. I would then pick mama up, rub her head and joints with ointment and then help her up and walk her to my room where she would pass the night. To my surprise there was some reeling and falling but no kicking, silencing, and picking, rubbing or helping up. While on the ground after that first strike, Mama unleashed a gun and pointed it at baba. Her eyes were cold and fearless and I was scared because she looked like she would kill him. The beast was unshackled. The lioness that slept within her had arisen and there was no turning back. That gun saw baba pack all his belongings, apologise profusely to mama and walk out of our gate. That night Baba left with mama’s dullness and sadness. Nowadays her laughter came more easily and she glowed like a Vaseline baby.

In church the orange Kitenge dress I had chosen made her look like a goddess in the midst of all the other people in the congregation. Mama danced like Miriam Makeba in that ‘Pata Pata’ song, she swayed her hips in circular motion and clapped her hands as she sang jubilantly. God had delivered her from the demon of a husband she had. Going to church was another thing baba never allowed mama to do. Apart from going to church, mama was not allowed to arrive home late; to cook indomie; to put on makeup and even to show her hair. Her crown of natural thick hair followed her dance steps today and the red lipstick was yet another defiance to her past. For lunch we had indomie and at that moment I saw mama for the phenomenally phenomenal woman that she was. When I grew up I wanted to be just like her. I wanted to be my new mama who made important decisions, not just of what food to eat and which furniture to buy but of which school I shall attend, which estate we will live in, which church we will go to, where we will shop and even where we will invest.

In as much as mama was happy and unbwoggable, many people failed to see her as her own entity. For example one Saturday mama decided to take us to Parina Hotel for dinner in order to celebrate her job promotion. The waitress that served us kept saying how lucky my mum was to have such a caring husband who allowed her to come alone to such an expensive place. Mama who never kept quiet for the sake of peace anymore, shouted at the waitress. Such instances were common and mama was even once regarded as a prostitute when we went for vacation to one of the coastal hotels. I was happy that baba was no longer there to make mama cry by beating her but I noticed how society would beat her for not having a husband and make her cry. Such societal treatment led mama closer to God.

One day in school I read a book of a woman who stayed in her marriage despite her husband beating her up. The woman in the book would stay because the husband would buy her Jasmine flowers and perfumes whenever he beat her. In as much as Jasmines and perfumes smell good, the book gave them an awful smell by keeping the woman from kicking the man out just as my mama had. That evening I told mama about the book and asked her if she would have kicked baba out if he gave her flowers and perfumes. Mama took me into my arms looked into my eyes and told me that gifts do not replace love, they reinforce it. She told me she kicked baba out not only because he beat her up but also because he did not love her. She told me that I should never persevere under someone who hurts me in the name of love. I nodded satisfied and tucked that piece of advice tightly in my heart.

We had one annoying neighbour who always heckled abuses at my mum for kicking out her husband. He would call her a selfish sinner. Mama always retorted back at the guy and she always had the final say. “If you were that man’s wife you would know who the selfish sinner was!” Mama started going for some women group meeting in church and slowly she stopped snapping back at the annoying neighbour. In fact one day when the man called her a slut she locked the door and started crying. Mama hardly cried outside prayers but this time round she cried holding her tummy and looking downwards. I was perplexed because I understood that the neighbour was just idle and annoying. I ran to hug her as she cried and she told me, “Maybe I should have persevered and changed him with my love.” That night I overheard mama repenting to God for kicking her husband out yet he had not committed adultery-the only worthy ground for a divorce.

After that prayer I was not surprised when one day after school I met a man sitting with mama. The man looked just like baba except for his white smile and moustache. He also seemed a bit more gentle and wealthier. He was very happy to see me and gave me a big hug. Mama told me that he was my new father. As soon as she said that he smiled and told me that I would call him baba from that day onwards. Having a new baba felt weird, I was so used to just having mama and I feared that this new one would just be as bad as the old one. I was not wrong because a few nights after my new baba had moved in he told my mama that her food was not tasty and that her prayers before meals were too long. Mama did not say anything she ruefully smiled and kept quiet.

Soon mama stopped going to work so that she could have enough time to cook the tastiest of meals for baba and me. She also stopped wearing her beautiful Kitenge dresses and lessos and instead wore plain cotton and linen dresses that my new baba got her from his trips to France and China. One day I returned to school and I found mama’s beautiful thick natural hair gone and in its place was silky long hair which she said baba preferred.

In my last year of primary school, baba said that I needed to change schools because we were moving to a better estate and the standard of education in Salama Primary School was not good enough. We moved into the leafy suburbs of Down City and baba bought a new car. My new school was called Maono Primary School. Every day baba would drop me to school and the school bus would bring me back home where mama would be waiting with tea and her magical pancakes. As I drank my tea, mama sat across me and I noticed that she was no longer mama. She no longer made decisions that were not what we would eat and what furniture should be bought. She talked less and stopped calling me to her room to help her choose what clothes she should wear. She wore what baba liked, cooked what he liked and even bought the furniture that would best satiate his tastes. One dinner mama served noodles and baba gave her a thumping slap telling her that she should have known that indomie is a meal served by lazy women and men do not like it. She shook her head in agreement, said sorry and kept quiet. I looked across at her and noticed my new baba had brought back mama’s dullness and sadness. Mama no longer glowed like a Vaseline baby.

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