So I went to Kigali this weekend!

‘Yall know I live in the bush of Tanzania, so I literally needed to get to a city to not only buy some more Dove soap and use an ATM, but I wanted to go out to restaurants and try on shoes and put make up on. I even did my eyebrows internet friends, its getting real.

Anywho, Kigali was soooo….QUIET. And clean, its clean as hell, Paul Kagame plays no games. Try to liter in Kigali and you will be evicted from the city probably.But it is so, so quiet. Like, there are no street vendors, no one plays music too loudly, eating in public is considered taboo.

Wellllll you know my Ivorian self didn’t understand, West Africa is where all the loudest people come from. So to go to such a quiet city, it was so odd. It was like Kigali was missing its pulse or something, it had such a muted undertone, like people were unsure of how much noise or how much fun they should be having.

Still, it was a beautiful city, with lots of cool lounges, hookah bars, cupcake shops, I really enjoyed being there. It seems like a very Western city, making it relatively easy to live in so it seems. Lots of expats running around going to coffee shops and French bakeries. I was feeling it.

It did make me miss Abidjan though, so so much.

I went to a lovely wedding this weekend, it was a really fun outing seeing as the weekend activities here in Ngara are slim to none!

Anywho, my co worker invited us to his cousins wedding and of course I was available  I put on make up for the first time in 2 months. Oh how I have fallen lol.

Nonetheless, it was a night of eating with your hands, dancing, and dealing with drunk Tanzanian men trying to grind on you while asking for your number. You know, the usual…

So I did what I do best when I get to any African city, I buy fabric and make pretty dresses 🙂 Ngara is so small, most of the fabric stands just sell the same designs, but I was able to buy some unique pieces when I went to Arusha last month so I am happy again!

I went to my co workers tailor on Saturday and she took my measurements and I realized I have definitely  gained weight while living here. At least 7 pounds. Sigh, such is life. I told my Tanzanian boss that I was getting fat, she said “OHHH that is so good! You must eat more!”

African women sure know how to make you feel better about your expanding hips and waist line. Nonetheless I’ve started jogging in the mornings so hopefully that will help.

The struggle is real.

So my best friend, sister, and absolute love of my life just celebrated her 1 year anniversary. I remember crying like a crazy woman at her wedding last year, and now she’s been a wife for 12 months already! I can’t even deal!

I’m so happy to even know her and am so happy she met such an amazing man. We fank God oh!

Since a major part of my job at WomenCraft is marketing the products that our artisans make, I get to travel around the region meeting them and recording their lives through photos for our new website and online store. Its the best, I ask them to smile and they say, “make us laugh and we will smile!”

Speaking butchered Swahili is usually good enough to get them to laugh at me, then I snap pictures of them and all is right in the world. I feel so blessed to be here, doing this, I  am not sure how I ended up here but I am so so grateful.

So so so grateful.

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I never shared my Europe photos with you internet Friends! Wells  after completing my masters and getting a job in Tanzania, I said I should reward myself by going to Paris to visit my sister Ciara and my family, and Spain since I’ve always wanted to go and the flight was $30 round trip from Paris.

So I handed in my thesis, moved all my stuff from DC to my parents house, packed my life into two suitcases and left America. I spent 10 days in Europe with my boo boo Brandi and then took a lonnnggg flight to my new home (Paris to Qatar, to Uganda, to Rwanda, to Tanzania).

I had an amazing time in Europe, and Spain blew my mind. It was so sunny and beautiful compared to rainy and cold Paris, it was perfect. I ate, I visited my beautiful family, I went clubbing, I randomly ran into my old friend in Barcelona, I ate, I went vintage shopping, I ate. It was like a little send off before moving on to Tanzania, to my little town Ngara where the internet works sometimes and women don’t wear pants.

And it was the best decision I ever made, I had such an amazing time and I can’t wait to do it again…once I’m not poor anymore.

So against my better judgement (because I am out of shape) I agreed to teach a “Hip Hop” dance class to a group of cool ass boys at the orphanage down the street. By the end of it they were teaching me moves.

So I’ve been in Tanzania for almost a month! I can’t really believe it, I feel like I am watching myself, like I’m not really present but I’m watching myself live here. Its odd lol.

Nonetheless, last week was amazing, we went on our route week to visit all the women we work with around the Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda border. The pictures are random shots from that week, meeting all our Artisans, seeing how they live, how they organize themselves, they have such entrepreneurial spirits…naturally, they are African women. They were so welcoming but they were confused as to how I was African and didn’t speak Swahili, I told them soon ohhh soon! Im learning Swahili quite quickly thanks to my tutor and flash cards lol.

Anywho, TZ is beautiful, the people are quite entertaining, and I am excited to travel around East African more, I’m going to Dar es Salaam next week for a work trip, almost 24 hours of traveling to get there. Pray for me yall.

More later, Im at an internet cafe and I don’t feel like paying for another 30 mins.

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Why 2013 is treating me so well:

1. My loved ones are healthy and happy
2. I turned 26 in LA and Vegas dancing until 4 am with my best friend, confidant, and realest woman I know (pictures above)
3. I completed my masters program with a thesis I am very proud of
4. I got a job in Tanzania and will be going to work with amazing African women in 10 days
5. I get to go to Europe to see my Ciara before moving to Tanzania
6. I’ve made my family very proud

“The white man is very clever. He came quietly and peaceably with his religion. We were amused at his foolishness and allowed him to stay. Now he has won our brothers, and our clan can no longer act like one. He has put a knife on the things that held us together and we have fallen apart.”

– Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

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Why 2012 has been the best year of my life:

-I dropped everything and moved to South Africa

-I attended the African Gender Institute where I stretched my views and ideology in crazy directions

-I grew closer to those who I love the most

-I rode a horse through Swaziland and slept in a cave with a beautiful German girl

-I worked at the premier legal center for women in Africa

-I rode a bus to a sleepy beach town in Mozambique and almost drowned in the Ocean

-I witnessed my best friend marry the man of her dreams in Paris

-I finally lost these 15 pounds stopping me from fitting into my leather pencil skirt

-I finished my graduate course work at Georgetown

-I got rid of my ex-boyfriend baggage once and for all

-I slept on the floor of the Dubai airport 5 times

-I finally visited beautiful Ethiopia and now see why Ethiopians are some of the proudest people in the world

-I experienced backpacking for the first time and got my iPod stolen in Kenya

-I hosted some of my best friends in South Africa for their first time on the beautiful continent

-I experienced the beauty of Table Mountain and flying by the top of Mount Kilimanjaro

-I discovered that Nairobi is hands down one of my favorite cities in the world, and that feeding Giraffes stresses me out

-I realized how little I need to be happy

-I welcomed a second niece into my heart

-I met my Zimbabwean soul mate in Cape Town

-I spent the holidays in my beautiful Abidjan with the best people I know in the best place I’ve ever experienced

-I navigated the narrow allies of Stone Town Zanzibar and found the most beautiful beach in the world

-I rode a boat to Dar es Salaam Tanzania without getting robbed or sea sick

-I witnessed my big brother marry the perfect woman

-I finally figured out men…they do what they want, when they want, just gotta find the one that wants to put you first.

-I rediscovered the beauty and excitement of being young in the District of Columbia

-I turned 25.

I thank god everyday for my life and the people in it, and my guardian angel of course.

I am writing this because I need people on the internet to know that these images are actually setting women back at least 18,599 steps:

Some would say that these are images of strong, successful, RICH, women just being “bosses”. They are making it rain on skrippers and are smacking booties in the video for their umpteenth hit song. All good fun. All examples of powerful women doing big things in their careers. No, Stop it. This is actually what I would call unfortunate gender appropriation. Meaning that these two superstars are actually just replicating stereotypical sexist acts in order to validate their existence in traditionally masculine spaces. I.E instead of steering their music, or behavior in such a direction that would uplift the women who consume their music and images, these women revert to what they have been taught. That the public disrespect and over sexualization of black women in the media is what sells records or gets baller husbands. Rihanna I love you, I’ve been getting down to your hits since high school, but what makes you think that copying and pasting the lewd behavior of men in strip clubs is empowering? If this was your personal life fine, but to proudly flaunt these photos on your social media outlets is disappointing. To show off how much of a boss you are by dropping $20 bills on these strippers private parts is not a sign of power, it’s a sad attempt to do what the boys do, and there is nothing more tragic than a woman whose ambition is steered towards being as xy or z as a man.

On another note, when did being a boss automatically mean you need to see how closely you can mimic a Lil Wayne video? Nicki Minaj are you really doing all you can to aid in the perpetual cycle of big booty fetishization on my TV screen? Is that you really rubbing and smacking the asses of video “models” in another sad attempt to validate your existence in Hip Hop? Is this the path you are blazing for future artist and females trying to bust through the music industry? The notion that black women are unable to have successful music careers without becoming walking representations of male desire has arrested our development to the point of self mutilation and in some cases complete destruction. It is bad enough that we must navigate the deep waters of skin lightening, long blond weaves, butt injections, and the like, but we now have famous figures continuing the cycle by partaking in the same sexist banter and behavior as the men.

It is a reoccurring problem when women construct their identities, particularly in the hip hop community, around patriarchy and sexism. I know it is easier said than done, but when are our favorite artists going to begin creating their own spaces that do not include gender appropriation?

I’d love to hear some thoughts on this…