Bring you fire: Bushfire 2k17

As I reflect back on this year I can’t help but share the wonderful experience I had at the Bushfire music festival. Video footage coming soon but here are some photos from the event. Let’s just say we brought our fire

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New meaning to the Fourth of July

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This past Fourth of July marks my second one celebrated here in the magical kingdom of Swaziland. And much like the last it was filled with lots of love, laughter and delicious food. I was able to meet the new group of PCV’s aka G15 and share some of my experiences from this past year. It felt so weird to be on the receiving end of the questioning when just last year I was the one asking all of the questions.  Non-the less it was an enjoyable time although I was missing home and family a whole whole lot. I took a few pictures in the PCV made photo booth. It wasn’t until I took one with the American flag when it really hit me. Although the fourth of July is the American Independence Day where there was the separation of the thirteen colonies from the British and the adoption of the declaration of independence not everyone was free on this day, more specifically my ancestors. So despite the celebrations and the jubilee most African Americans don’t see Fourth of July as an independence day. Well at least not Independence Day for us.

 

Slavery began in 1619 and even though Abraham Lincoln “ended” slavery by signing the emancipation proclamation in 1863 there were still slaves in Texas until 1865. It “ended” for African Americans on December 6th 1865 when the 13th amendment of the constitution was ratified. The three most important documents in American history; the declaration of independence (Jefferson), constitution (Madison, Morris, et al) and the bill of rights (Madison) all were created with the belief that there were a set of natural and inherent rights just from the fact of being human. The declaration of independence was written to express all grievances from the British. I like to think of it as all the reasons for why a couple is breaking up so I like to call it the break up document. The thirteen colonies hit the British with the “oh its not you its me. I need to be free from you and your controlling ways. It’s time for me to go find myself and that’s exactly what they did. The declaration and the bills of rights served as sort of limitations on government power and control. I like to think of it as a lesson learned aka best practices document where the colonies were able to voice how they would like to be treated in this union since the previous relationship

ended in a breakup. In summation the two documents (Constitution and Bill of rights) were intended to serve as a tool to ensure that all Americans are equal in the eyes of the law.

 

I can remember growing up hearing some adults say “the fourth of July aint nothing but the white mans Independence Day. Hell our ancestors weren’t free and shit today neither are we any closer to freedom”. At a young age those words didn’t mean much to me in the midst of the fireworks, endless food, ice cream and hours of fun with my cousins whom I didn’t always get a chance to see. Fourth of July was a time of fun, family and laughter so often times we suppressed the harsh realities of what this day meant to our history. On this day at home I’m usually the Debby downer in a sense that I don’t feel patriotic enough to celebrate such a holiday so I’ll go to the cookouts more for the chance to spend time with loved ones but not for the holiday in it’s self because I know my history.

 

I can remember the first time is heard abolitionist Frederick Douglass’s speech “The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro” and his most quoted line “The fourth of July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn”. This resonated with me so much. And now with my interest in the criminal justice system and modern day slavery this quote reigns supreme. On my khombi (kum-bee:mode of transport here in Swaziland) I couldn’t help but think of all these things and decided to hit up some friends from back home to take my mind off of things. I hit up my friend Christi (love you baby grrrlllaahh) to see how her Fourth of July went. She said things were wonderful but then was like “Sis you got any of those salty friends who make sure you know that we weren’t free on the 4th?”. My response: “Hell yes that’s pretty much me”, as I chuckle to myself. She then begins to say how she can be like that also but then goes on to tell me that for this 4th of July she posed this question to herself and friends: “What do you feel liberated from?” or “What are you liberating yourself from?”. Leave it to black people to be able to turn any negative to a positive and make that ish their own. So the fourth is a day of celebration of independence but as we know from our harsh history in America that African Americans weren’t free on this day so why not focus on liberating ourselves from the things that hold us back from living our best lives. I had to give my sis two snaps for that as I immediately went into my infamous introspective phase. I asked myself “Kirah what are you liberating yourself from?”

 

The list of things just came so fast but the one thing that stood out to me most are people. This has been one of the most self reflective years I’ve had in a long time outside of my freshman year of college and the year I spent teaching English in Malaysia. This year I’ve spent so much time working on myself that I don’t know if my family and friends will recognize me when I get back home. I dug a whole lot deeper into those places I’d closed off and threw away the key; to those thoughts that I would usually pretend to have amnesia when they would randomly resurface.  But not this time around. I had to sit with myself. With my thoughts. With my feelings. It was like fighting for survival from myself at times but it was and is necessary for my spiritual growth as a woman and as a citizen of this earth. I wouldn’t change this year for a thing.

 

In this year I can truly say that I’ve learned to liberate myself from people who are not good for my spirit. The ones always on the receiving end but never give to my spirit as I give to them. I swear at times it felt like I had loss weight because I felt so light, so free. I don’t want to go back.  One of my favorite authors Rob Hill Sir wrote this quote that resonated with my whole entire being: “It’s nothing wrong with wishing the best for somebody, but you have to realize when keeping them close isn’t best for you. Unrealistic expectations attract disappointment. Realize that what you want from certain people may be more that they’re able to give. Don’t be naïve. You can’t force loyalty or love; and you’ll only let yourself down trying to. Everybody won’t always be who you want them to be. Accept the fact that you can’t always change certain things or people, regardless of how much you care.” I had to accept the fact that not everyone is meant to stay with me along this journey and that it’s okay to leave people to grow by themselves and allow them to do the work. In doing so I can see Gods light shining brighter on and thru me for others to see the God in me. I’m in a good place. A happy state nearing Joy and it feels good. So I ask you my readers: “What are you liberating yourself from”?. Special thanks to Christi for being my spiritual sista and inspiring me to write this piece. Keep your peace queen and keep liberating yourself from all the things that decide they want to steal your shine. Love you to always and in all ways.

Is the thirst really that real?

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In a day and age where it seems like our generation is yearning to be loved or love themselves, it confuses me to think that a term like “The thirst is real” can exist. There are so many ways to think about this quote so I decided to ask a few of my millennial friends what they thought about it before I decided to share my own thoughts about it.

Before I share their thoughts about the quote I would like to first give a very brief definition of the word thirst from both the Webster’s dictionary and of course the urban dictionary.

According to the Webster’s dictionary “thirst” is defined as a : a sensation of dryness in the mouth and throat associated with a desire for liquids, the bodily condition (as of dehydration) that induces this sensation and or an ardent desire most synonymous with a longing or craving for something.

Now let’s see what the urban dictionary had to say shall we? According to urbandictionary.com thirst is a form of lust of or want of members of the opposite sex. This term can refer to both males and females.

So from these two definitions it seems like we have a few different meanings for the word, let alone the term itself. For our generation the term is most frequently used in the way depicted in urban dictionary but I am curious to see what my fellow millennials had to say about it.

So here is what they had to say:

Thirst in the form of pursuit of the opposite sex

“Low key in some cases the thirst is really that real. Especially if it’s the person that your soul is tied to. Especially if it’s the person who has everything within them that’ll make you better and you too are reciprocating that beneficial and genuine energy. The thirst is forever gonna be real if that person is dope. But when the thirst is rooted in simple physical attractions or fascination when no foundation and soulful ties. Its vague. Its easily replaced. Its never truly quenched but has the never thirsty again. Its never satisfying. The thirst for success and growth is real. The thirst for wisdom is real. The thirst for guidance is real. Like I’m dead thirsty for God to just use and uplift me. To comfort me. To mold me. When it’s materialistic or superficial it loses its ability to truly hydrate you. But the type of time I’m on, I’m not looking for those quick reliefs. I’m looking to truly be filled and hydrated. “- Twilight

“To me thirst means yearning or wanting the opposite sex or sexual desires. So when you ask is the thirst really that real it means is wanting sex or someone from the opposite sex that important that you’ll do anything for it, such as pretending to be somebody you’re not, killing for it, selling your body for it. Are you really that thirsty that you’ll do anything to be quenched”- Nijah

“What is thirst? When all we want is to be loved 100%. I want some one to be thirsty for me. I want some one to be someone’s water If water is all I need to live a healthy and nourishing life. The thirst only becomes thirst when you add a third party. You know what you want and what you need to be happy with someone else but the second you go and ask for a third parties opinion they somehow slip that thought into your mind. How dare you look at someone and tell them they aren’t good enough for you without attempting to accept the initial thirst. So thirst is just lust, curiosity, and infatuation. You can’t put a cap on someone’s feelings so don’t judge their thirst” –Vanetta

Women and men have forgotten what it means to court someone. These days when a person is trying to date or court you its considered being thirsty. This term makes me feel some type of way honestly. The thirst is real is a sense of our generation believes that this is a negative thing when it’s not. Back when my parents were younger consistency as good and showed a person that they were very interested in you but now consistency is he “thirst”. Who the heck made up this dumb term”- Whitley aka Whit aka Big TX

“I would say it means people lowering their dating standards because they’re thirsty or people not seeing the thirst in the courting scene” – Sherra

“If you like someone, there should be no shame in telling them. Person A wants to boost their ego when Person B’s trying to get their attention by calling Person B thirsty. Person B’s thirst reflects positively on Person A because they view themselves as highly desirable. So desirable in fact that they have the power to indulge in Person B’s affections or tease them for it. In the end, both people are losing out on something that could blossom into something positive. I would rather be Person B a thousand times over. If you like someone and want to be with them there’s no other way to express that than to show them. And if they claim “the thirst is real” then they ain’t thirsty for you and you need to keep it pushing. Someone will need you to quench their thirst eventually” – Erica

“Is the thirst real? When I think of that I think it means do you really want it? How bad do you really want it that you can taste it and be thirsty enough to get it” – Omar

“Coming from a heterosexual guy I would say the shameless pursuit of trying to get in another person’s pants. So I would say just randomly sliding into someone’s DM’s when you have no mutual friends or no connection to even knowing that person. Also being borderline creepy to another person by constant compliments and just saying anything to get that person to take mutual interest. I would say in Botswana from women to men its them approaching me. Me telling them that I have a girlfriend and not wanting a second and them saying “I don’t care and following me around trying to look for an opportunity to try to get into my pants.”- Caleb who was in Botswana

“First thing that cross my mind is guys chasing girls” – Michael

“So when I think of the term/question, “But is the thirst really that real?” or “The thirst is real”, I focus on a few areas. For me it’s a dilemma of moral integrity and how we define ourselves based on our ability to satisfy ourselves sexually through the use of others. Measuring our self-worth based on what we’re surrounded by or exposed to and wanting to emulate it by any means, even if we don’t understand why. So to me, the thirst couldn’t be that real. But it is, because we make it so and we’re not doing anything to change the narrative.”- Addison

“Is the thirst really that real = are you really that horny that you can’t control yourself”- Ashley

Attention

“Yes I believe the thirst is real. The thirst for attention. There are a lot of individuals who primarily use social media as a platform to draw the attention that they feel they need to validate who they are, and make them feel better about themselves. This can go both ways with men and women. There are a lot of women who post seemingly harmless but more so inappropriate pictures of their bodies online to attract warranted attention from men who gravel over the sight of any uncovered skin. Men as well. Some more famous examples can be images of the game and amber rose. Today’s society is all about flaunting and portraying yourself as something you really aren’t to attract attention and notoriety of others. This “thirst” is tainting our generation. –Dallas

“The thirst for attention is real. The thirst for a love that looks better than it actually feels (hence social media times have mad us our own marketing teams) also “fake love” from likes on social media, to perfect couple photos from the not so perfect (far from even perfect couple) thirst is real but what people are seeking to quench, the thirst is not real at all. So as long as we have half individuals searching for something to fill them up (outsourcing the power to fill themselves up and looking for it somewhere) the thirst will always be real. My main point is the thirst is real but what is being used to quench it isn’t. “ – Rahwa

Material things/Acceptance

“Sexually I question whether the thirst in Swaziland is that real for people within the country and then volunteers; myself specifically. I think a lot of the sexual tension especially for young people is pressure. There is a belief that everyone else is doing it and I want to be like everyone else. I was just telling someone today, I have noticed a lot of people even as children are afraid to stand out. Therefore just the notion of their friends are doing it makes them think they have to do it as well. The issue is the attention. No matter who you are or where you are from there is some part of you that likes the attention of being needed while others like the attention of being catered to. You want to feel wanted and quite often we express that desire sexually. Sometimes its not even the sex it’s just the feeling of not being alone. So I guess I am saying the thirst is there is a way but it comes from something much deeper” – Lisa

“Yes the thirst is real. Why and what exactly does this phrase mean to me? Well a lot of people are trying to keep up with others whether it’s a celebrity, co worker, family member, etc. instead of being content with themselves and living life for self. Johnny got a new car. Guess its times I get a new car. Johnny only rock designer. Damn let me find a way to buy some designer. Thirst is doing it for others acceptance and liking. Now a days some are becoming so thirsty they’ll even kill or die to quench it and I ask myself why? It’s the generation we’re living in. More parents must teach these kids/teens its okay to struggle and fuck what Johnny doing”- Dashaun

“Thirst is me not having running water in my tap almost ever. Needing something so badly that you don’t even want to admit. But can’t help but show it. Usually it’s some kind of snack for me. Like fruit roll ups. Once, I stole one from another kid in first grade” –Nada

“When real is the only thing that matters, I’d have to say the thirst is pretty damn quenching”- Sunshine

So from these responses it is clear that there are so many ways to look at this quote. The way in which I would like to talk about is the thirst for love and lusting after the opposite sex. For me “thirst” was always used synonymously with “court” or “showing interest”. To me if you are wanting to get the attention of someone you like then why not pursue them? Why is this considered thirsty? I do not know?

Over the years i’ve grown to learn my personal love language and that is time and thoughtful gestures. If you do those very things I’m bound to fall in love. I can’t imagine catching feelings from someone who was too afraid to express interest because he was more concerned with not seeming too interested aka “thirsty”.

So for me the thirst is real. It’s real in that we should stop caring what other people think. It is real in the sense that we should have more faith in ourselves to pursue the desires of our hearts. And lastly it is real in the fact that we should not seek acceptance from anyone else but ourselves.

From reading my fellow millennials responses to this question: Is the thirst really real I couldn’t help but come to these conclusion. Some folks in this generation are lacking something and to be honest that something can be love for some, attention for others and overall acceptance from the world. I’d like to think that it’s natural to desire such things but my problem is how we go about these things. Are we loosing ourselves in the pursuit? And most importantly, Are we forgetting who we are and what we believe?

I ask these questions because they are important things that we should consider before we decide to look anywhere else outside of ourselves. It all starts with self-acceptance. It’s something that can be taught but more than anything it’s learned. You must believe in yourself and love yourself first.

It’s a process, and it can be hard at times I know but it’s important. I only speak from experience.  So Let’s get back to love and more importantly self-love. It’s truly needed in the world.

I’d love to hear you’re thoughts on this topic so feel free to comment and subscribe below. Peace and blessings always

Ya girl Kirah!!

1. be kind to yourself

Just when I was feeling spiritually low God sent me my sisi in Christ and fellow PCV Nicole. Go check out her blog when you get a chance at settlernswaziland.wordpress.com

This weekends Reach Conference in Jo burg with International Church of Christ was exactly what I needed. I indulged in familiar american foods and restaurants and god to hang with some awesome Christians who are souled out for Christ

 

I really enjoyed the message from the singles session entitled “Take a Selfie”. A selfie was we know it according to Websters dictionary is

A photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and shared via social media but for the purpose of this message a selfie means to take a good look at yourself and your walk with Christ.

Lamentations 3: 40

Let us examine our ways. If you are going to reach in and grow you have to really examine yourself. Are you more concerned about your hair than your heart?

ASK YOURSELF THESE THREE QUESTIONS

Luke 9:57-61

  1. Am I spiritually fit?

In order for you to be a servant in the kingdom of God you have to be spiritually fit.

2. What are you choosing before Christ?

When we lack contentment we begin to look back.

Luke 14: 34

3. What does your spirituality look like?

James 1:22-29

Colossians 3:5-6 (get rid of the filth in your lives that is holding you back from a relationship with Christ)

3 steps to taking a perfect selfie

  1. examine yourself
  2. take action
  3. continue

Remember: Have the humility to accept what you see and Humility to accept what others reveal to you about what they see

Its never to late to make a change and change is continual. God bless and keep the faith

Self-Acceptance Challenge

So from the last blog post you can see how much fun I had at GLOW Camp 2k17. The camp was filled with such great energy and amazing counselor lead sessions for the girls. Of course I sat in on almost all of them because I am always excited to learn. One of the sessions that stood out for me was the one on Self- Acceptance. What exactly is that? I thought the definition given to the girls was excellent so I wanted to share it.

Self acceptance is an invitation to stop trying to change yourself into the person you wish to be; long enough to find out who you really are.

Wow. I hope you enjoyed that definition as much as I did. For me it was exactly what I needed to hear. I feel like I’m always changing but the core of me always stays the same. I’ve been struggling with accepting the fact that I’m single, away from family and friends, out of shape, and not always my optimistic self. So I decided to challenge myself to jumps start my acceptance of my current self and embrace the adversity and understand that God has a plan for my life that doesn’t need my approval or understanding.

The session have an excellent list of 8 ways to jump start self acceptance that I would like to share.

  1. be kind to yourself. (no one judges you more that you judge yourself. be patient with yourself and accept your flaws)
  2. confront your fears
  3. stay positive (write yourself sweet notes)
  4. accept imperfection
  5. don’t take it personally
  6. forgive wholeheartedly
  7. believe in yourself (try and fail but don’t fail to try)
  8. don’t give up no matter what

So I challenge you to join me on the is self acceptance journey. I can’t guarantee that you won’t experience discomfort, minor set backs, etc but what I can ensure is that it will be worth it.

GLOW GIRL GLOW

Glow Camp 2k16 was a blast. GLOW stands for Girls Leading our world and is a female empowerment program started by Peace Corps Volunteers here in Swaziland. Through this program clubs are formed by PCVS and Swazi counterparts all over Swaziland to help empower young Swazi girls to make better informed decisions about their lives. Since you missed it of course here are some photos from this years GLOW camp compliments of my best friend Nathalie. Go check out her blog: https://negesnarratives.wordpress.com/

 

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Crowning of Big Mamma: The camper who showed leadership and commitment to GLOW during that dayimg-20170427-wa0015.jpgimg-20170425-wa0002.jpgimg-20170425-wa0005.jpgimg-20170427-wa0014.jpg

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Aerobics Session

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Beautiful GLOW girls just casually QUEENING!!!

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No obstacle formed against these girls shall prosper. Amen!!

I’ll be your HEad Wrap QUEEN

So this one has been a long time coming so for that y’all please forgive me. I can remember the first time the head wrap chose me. It was after countless hours of trying to figure out how to perfect the Queenness of such a wrap. I literally didn’t want to let my ancestors down so it had to be right. I consulted my kindred sista Queen herself baby J and she showed me the way. From there I doned a  head wrap almost everywhere I went. It has become second nature to me. A way to always give homage to the Queens who came before me. In most recent years I’ve become very intentional about almost everything like the way I dress, from the trinkets on my locs down to the natural deodorant I rock under my pitts.

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Everything serves a purpose. Everything is symbolic of something larger than myself. On this journey of self-discovery I wanted to learn more about the head wrap and its history both for African Americans but for my ancestors from the motherland. Most of what I’ll share about the head wrap is from this awesome article I recently read entitled “The African American woman’s head wrap: unwinding the symbols” by Helen Bradley Griebel. Feel free to check out the full article here: http://char.txa.cornell.edu/griebel.htm

Another great resource is this video https://www.facebook.com/refinery29/videos/1619284988101687/

There are some awesome nuggets in there. For starters the head wrap originated from the motherland and is symbolic with the crowns in which Queens wear. When Africans were brought and sold into slavery their masters would often require for them to wear their hair covered as a symbol of bondage. Can you believe that? Some states like Louisiana even had laws in place where slaves were not allowed to walk around without their hair covered at all. Could you imagine having to live under such restrictions considering the resurgence of rocking fros and loving our natural hair?

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Hattie Mae Daniels. She is best known for her role as Mammy in Gone with the Wind (1939), for which she won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, the first Academy Award won by an African American entertainer.

Of course like every other tool used to oppress black women, slaves flipped the meaning of such a thing. For one wrapping our hair at the time ensured tidiness and protection from insects and dirt while working long hours in the field.

 

Unlike traditional European usage of the head wrap where women would use a triangle like piece of fabric tied under the chin, the African American head wrap was the total opposite. It started with a long rectangular piece of fabric tied upward on top of the head and tucked within itself. It would elongate the face and bring attention to the natural features like a crown. I love my head wrap and I rock it with great honor and pride because I know I am a reflection of my ancestors. Here is a quick step by step quide for how to do your own:

Step 1: Get you some popping fabric, cloth, t-shirt, towel (yes i’ve wrapped my head with towel before)

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Step 2: Decide which style of wrap you wanna rock

Step 3: Put your hair up at the top of your head or find a filler to add inside your wrap as a base to wrap the fabric around

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Step 4: Ill be describing how to do this wrap pictured for this post. Start with the wrap at the base of your neck

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Step 5: Bring the fabric forward and bunch it in your heads in front of your forehead

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Step 6: Cross the fabric and begin to wrap the cloth in a circle around your hair

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Step 7: As the cloth begins to run out begin to tuck the ends inside the already wrapped fabric

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Step 8: Thank the ancestors and get your black girl magic on and popping. OOooookkkaayyy

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Also below are a few pictures of some of my favorite headwraps I’ve rocked with some of my favorite people in the whole entire world.

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