Bag Lady

Sometimes I find myself fleeting within

Within to a place that lacks rules and understanding

Where all of the canvasses are blank and your thoughts float off into the darkness

There lies room for my new passion

Room for my next idea

I read something from Alex Elle where she said she had  made a promise to stop looking for love anywhere that was outside of herself

I find that to be such a profound statement

I want to be selfish but my heart just seems so open to the possibilities of love

I had a conversation with my friend and we discussed the woes of being single

But he had a good point

He said that we are supposed to enjoy our singleness even if we are seeking to be married

It is in our singleness that we are supposed to grow closer to God and live in his light by learning to serve others

In our learning to serve others we are preparing ourselves for the CHOICE of loving someone while also moving away from pronouns like “I”

But more towards pronouns like “We” and “Us”

So where do I go from here?

It’s like it’s so much easier said than done

I desire to be married in a few years

Like singleness in the way in which it has been presented to me from society seems like some sort of quest for experiences with other people

I guess I’m selfish with myself in that sense

Not everyone or just anyone is welcomed into my spirit

And I for damn sure ain’t letting you into my temple

I told myself that if I didn’t have anything else in this life at least I have this body in which I promise to cherish and keep sacred

I guess maybe I’m equating singleness with promiscuity and sex but I think alot of singles are solely seeking those physical pleasures that I personally want to reserve for marriage

I hate to generalize but that’s the sense I get

Like “What’s your body count”?

Is that really a question?

It should be how many people do you carry in your spirit?

Or better yet

How many soul ties you got?

Who you done let into your temple?

 

Lungile

IMG_3542.JPG

Young Queen I see you

Smile so big it’s the sunrise

Some lies

You once told yourself

I’m not beautiful

Honey child please

Nickel for my thoughts

If I collected all of our insecurities and sprinkled them like

seedlings in the earth

We’d be able to feed the hungry

Quench the thirst of our masters because they just couldn’t stop coming after us

Your beauty is skin deep

Lifted

You uplift those around you

Anxieties for what?

They jealous

They can’t be us

You’ve found yourself

Hidden between the coconut oils and mango butters

You found the recipe to life

The natural essence

You’re in your element

Learning to love

And be loved

And to love again

I wonder

No ones ever loved me the way you loved me

But who is to say not one ever will?

We get fixated on the past

Still trying to chase that high

It’s like we’re yearning to recreate those memories

But they’re memories for a reason right?

I suggest it’s time

It’s time to move on

I wonder sometimes if you still think about me

It’s like i’m not yet sold on your current reality

But what do you have to prove to me?

Absolutely nothing

Still trying to understand these feelings of mine

And why I still care so much

It’s like I’d put the distance of the world between us

And still all it takes is a picture to bring my thoughts back to you

I wonder what I’ll say

When and if we ever do speak again

Will we pick up like nothing ever happened

Or will we inquire about our lives and what happened over the past few years

I think about that conversaion in your parents car

Outside of the gallery when we reflected on life

And how far we’d traveled

And how much we’ve grown

Or that conversation where you confirmed your relationship status

But couldn’t stop apolologizing for some reason

And making excuses for the change

Sorry for what?, I wondered

Kinda moving on?

You said you wanted to ask me to be your girlfriend that day in the car

For us to pick up where we left off

To write our next chapter

I wonder what stopped you from asking?

Was it fear?

Uncertainty?

Potential rejection?

Or was the connection so intenselike its always been that you hid within yourself for cover

Well whatever it was

I wonder if it’s still there

I wonder if what I feel for you anymore is even real

Or if i’m suffering from the complications associated with loneliness

Like what if we meet again and we each have our significant others on our arms?

Will out heart reach out for one another?

Or will they stand still in the silence like total strangers?

I wonder

It’s Called the Healing Process

akirah-in-swaziland

It’s called the healling process

So here goes

Each day I strip down

And remove a piece of me

Not forever

But just for now

It’s like reorganizing your closet

Or a book shelf

Or your food pantry

Getting rid of the old things

Adding the new things you just purchased

Brushing the dust off of things you forgot were there

And starting a fresh

It’s something about forgiveness that finds its way in during the process

To yourself for not being the you you know you are

To the world for not giving it your all

For here is where the healing is transformative

Where the strong holds are released

And where the joy finds it’s rightful place

Unlike before where it was snug tight between your insecurities

Or hanging off the ledge waiting for you to grab a hold of it

It has a place of its own now

And its here for good

A little something something

I went to my hut

So I could cry alone

Because I didn’t want these tears of joy to be comforted

I wanted them to be felt in their essence

Ugly cry and all

My school did the unthinkable yesterday and surprised me with a welcoming ceremony that I will never forget. Up until that moment I simply felt like I was existing in my community but not exactly a community member. I would walk around and greet people at times and still get blank stares of  confusion or chuckles at my broken siswati which was expected but a part of me was ready to be over the “New girl” in highschool phase and to be seen as just another girl in the community. Wishful thinking right considering my bright red toms and often colorful attire could be spotted from a mile away lol. Ill take that. But  none the less my deputy head teacher has invited my top what he called a cultural event at school and said “Nosmilo you must come”. It will be a nice program for you to see swazi culture. Unbeknown to be I thought it was going to simply be that but it turned out to be so much more. I should of known something was up by the way the security guard quickly escorted me back to the entrance or the school as I made my way to the officer. From a far he yelled “Hamba Hamba” meaning go go and all I could say was “Lapha” meaning there? Mine? Over there? Me?

I had no idea what he was talking about. He said Nosmilo you must stay at the gate. It’s a surprise. And still I had no clue. I guess I just really wasn’t expecting anything. And then it hit me as im being paraded in by the schools majorettes that in actuality this so called cultural event was in fact a surprise welcoming ceremony for me. Yes lil ole me.

The Love was warm

The laughter wild and untamed

The smiles many

The rhythmic energy alive and well

I sat on the stage of the courtyard as my head teacher Mr. John said some of the most touching words to me.  He said “You see African-American and what I want to emphasize is the African part. It means that you originate from Africa. You are one of us. Your home is here”. I felt my eyes water something serious and my voice cracked. All I could say was thank you and smile because man I was about to cry.

You see outside of this being my “DIY” year, more importantly its been my “Get real Year”. Not so much with people but more with myself. Getting real about the things that I want, my faith, learning more about myself. I want to know my origins. Like I’m African American but what does that mean for me? Where do my origins lie?

The ceremony only went up from there when the “umbholoho” group sang a wonderful song just for me. It goes

Welcome welcome

Welcome nosmilo

(repeat)

Welcome to Swaziland

I can’t quite remember the rest of the verse but it was beautifully accompanied with rhythmic footwork and various other dances. Mr. Mseni could sure get down for an old man if I must say so myself. The group was followed by rap and dance freestyles and a lovely poem entitled “Happiness” which a student dedicated to me.

For my school to have so much faith and confidence in me was astounding. I can’t help but feel motivated. With such great group of supportive people I can’t help but succeed.

Where’s your faith?

Image result for got faith

I’ve been reading the bible more and its been providing a lot of clarity for me in terms of how I want to live my life as a Christian. It’s been good. Just real good. Currently reading Luke and everything that I am reading is making me reevaluate how I view myself and how I need to sew more if I truly want to reap from Gods harvest. Also the question of Where is your faith? Has been ringing loud and clear in my head. Like the question keeps presenting its self time and time again and I think god is trying to tell me something. I think its in regards to my my walk with Christ and how it could be way stronger but also my community. Although its only been maybe three weeks I feel like I haven’t done much in terms of my community andn im staring to worry that maybe its me or something. Like I hear about all the meetings that people are being invited to and yet I haven’t gotten a single invite. Instead I spend most of my day on my homestead playing games with the siblings from sun up to sun down or either consumed with chores or rearranging my hut. But then the question Where is your faith? Poses itself yet again. Like do you think god would have led you all this way to leave you. The answer is NO. I should know better but I’m human and flawed. I am making connections and building relationships with people in my community. Just taking it one step at a time and reminding myself that this is not a sprint but a steady jog or yet a marathon. I’m in it for the long run. Just last week I decided to venture out in my community to check out a NCP (Neighbor Care Point) that I heard about.

My sisi was so kind enough to accompany me on my journey. It was about a 30 min walk from my homestead but it was good because that left lots of time for girl talk. My sisi loves telling me some of the most random stories and of course I am always all ears. Sadly we reached the NCP only to find it empty and adandoned. It looked as if people hadn’t occupied the space in quite some time. I felt defeated because I really was looking forward to meeting the people at the NCP hence the 30 min walk lol. But none the less we stopped by one of the makes houses from my church and said hello and that’s when she informed us of the NCP being closed. It was good to get a bit more clarity.

As we were leaving the makes house I saw a young woman with a warm smile in the distance and of course I smiled back and gave a friendly Sawubona greeting which means Hello is siSwati. I followed my hello with Unjani which means how are you? I also asked her her name and she replied “I’m Samkelisiwe and I’m a volunteer like you”. This surprised me because most people don’t have much knowledge about Peace Corps or the work we do. After further speaking with Samu she told me that she works for the Bantwana Initiative which does similar work to what we do at Peace Corps hence why she said “I’m a volunteer like you”. We chatted in the shade of the tree briefly about her work with the organization and she promised to keep in touch and invited me to meetings. I was so grateful to have met her. I then persisted with conversation and asked her about the NCP (Cornerstone) and she told me it was closed because there was no food. She also shared that there are few NCP’s in my community and that the lady who runs the Corner Stone lived near the tree we were currently standing under for shade. I asked where and she responded “Lapha” which means over there.

She said I’ll introduce the two of you. There I was meeting Make Khumalo. A gentle woman of maybe 50 or so who also greeted us with a warm smile and a Sanibonani.  We chatted in my broken siSwati with most translated by Samu and make Khumalo said “Yes I run the Corner Stone and teach the preschoolers but they won’t come if there is no food and there hasn’t been a delivery for a while”. Who delivers the food? I asked. “The World Food Program” she responded.  “But I don’t know when they will deliver” she followed. I could hear the hope leave her voice as her gaze shifted towards the road.

It was clear that she needed an answer from me or some sort of solution although she didn’t say those exact words. All I gave was the statement that I don’t have any money but I do have time that I can give. Time? Really? Is that the best thing I could have said? I don’t know but that’s all I could say in that moment. She seemed unimpressed with my response but still intrigued by my offer. I took her contact information and promised to come back and help which is a promise I plan to keep. I just need to figure out what to do about the food situation.

My peace corps brain quickly went to the idea of creating a community garden for the NCP but then my own brain said really a garden? Sustainabilty is important and the long term idea of a garden is a splendid idea but what do we do in the right now? People are hungry today. Like right as a sit to write this blog. Could they really afford to wait for a whole year until they reap the benefits of a garden? These are questions that I ask myself and answers I have yet to come up with. This was a great moment for me in really thinking about the role I want to have in my community and what I plan to do moving forward.

This Little Light of Mine

Image result for light coming through trees

Like the where is your faith question that always follows me the word “Light” also accompanies it.  I think about it so much in comparison to the dark. I enjoy things rhat remind me of Light including the sun, sunflowers and of course the word of God as I try to immerse myself in such things. Today I read Luke 11 and it talked about prayers and hearing the word of god but what stood out to me most were the scriptures about Light. A few weeks ago I wrote a blog post entitled “Walking into the Light” in response to me finally closing the door of a long relationship that filled the empty and often times lonely part of my life. I needed comfort and stability and I used the relationship turned friendship for that but it hit me one day. I needed to be putting that very energy into the word and into my relationship with for only he can provide. God tells us in Psalms 17-18 that that “The righteous cry out and the lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart and saves such as have a contrite spirit.

So I decided to cry out to the Lord. I decided to seek the extraordinary love of Christ instead of settle for the idle comforts of the world. I officially wanted to walk into the light because I knew God would be waiting there with open arms. In Proverbs 5 he teaches us to “Trust in him with all of our hearts and lean not on our own understanding” because he is aware of how easily we become misguided and swayed by the worldly things. I wanted to truly “in all ways acknowledge him and he shall direct my path” – Proverbs 6 because I needed some guidance. I needed to wallk into the light.

So fast forward to today as I sit on the grass mat of my hut in Mpompotha reading Luke 11 I am reminded of my responsibility as a Christian and as a believer. Luke 33 “No one, when he has lit a lamp, puts it in a secret place or under a basket, but on a lamp stand that those who come in may see the light”. So we as Christians must be pure in our intentions. When we meet people we must not force feed scriptures to people but yet try our hardest to live life as God intended. A life of pure Love for both ourselves and for others. That is the second highest commandment which is to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. In doing so people will see the Christ in us and be drawn to us as Christians. From experience its not always what you say but what you do. People are always watching and boy do they take notes. So let your light shine bright for the world to see. Be eager to share your testimony and all of the wonderful things god is doing in your life.  I promise it will resonate in someone and they will listen.

More than anything people want to see that you are human. They want to see that you too fall down and make mistakes. Lets face it no one like a  Misses perfect. What good does it do for you and for the world to walk around on a high horse looking down on others? A prime example of this was in Luke 11:39-40 when Jesus was talking to the Pharises and said “Now you pharises make the outside of the cup and dish clean but your inward part is full of greed and weakness. Foolish ones! Did not he who made the outside make the inside also? Like just because you present yourself in a certain way on the outside means absolutely nothing if your heart isn’t pure.

My daily prayer to god comes from Psalms 51:10-13 “Create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit away from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me by your generous spirit. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners shall be converted to you”. This prayer renews my responsibility as a Christian and follower of Christ to live a just life and honor him in every encounter. This prayer works for me and I would like to encourage you to try it also.

I would like to leave you with this final scripture Luke 11:34-35 “The lamp of the body is the eye. Therefore when your eye is good your whole body also is full of light. But when your eye is bad your body also is full of darkness. Therefore take heed that the light which is in your is not darkness”. Remember, God is in all of us so seek beauty in each and everything because they are all apart of God’s creations. Let your light shine thru. It’s time.

HGTV’s Fix My Hut

 

I officially moved into my hut in the bustling hills of a town called Mpompotha which is located in one of the hottest regions of Lubombo. It’s so beautiful here and my host family is the bomb.com. My brothers have been helping me a great deal with little improvements here and there and a special shout out to my counterpart for his help also. This is officially my DIY (Do it yourself) year with the help of others. I know that makes no sense but I have to start somewhere when it comes to acquiring these Bob the Builder skills lol

Here is a look at some of the before and after photos of my hut. Jamilah the volunteer before me was so gracious to leave behind a few goodies including the cooking table, the hanging shelf by the kitchen area, the hanging wardrobe and the shower sticks to hang my curtins.

I added one handing shelf by my photo wall by myself, my bo bhuti (brothers) helped add the shelves by my bathing area and an additional shelf to my table and my counterpart Lucky helped me add the pot stick and the mosquito net which looks like a canopy to me.

I am planning on getting in the wood shop at school and making a bookshelf and hopefully a small coffee table. I want to make a little seating area with pillows. But none the less my hut is starting to feel like home.

Umhlanga: Traditional Reed Dance Ceremony

dscf6206dscf6219dscf6408Phodscf6427

Photo Credits: Kirby Riley

Umhlanga

Traditional Reed Dance Ceremony

 

We filled the stadium in anticipation

The cheers they came from everywhere

Bright colors

Beads

Lihiya’s of every pattern

The beauty

The pride and joy of a nation

There were thousands and thousands of girls

From every corner of the country they came

The women of Swaziland are fearce

In all of their beauty they stand tall

Ready to take on the world

 

 

Time Flies when you’re having fun

dsc_0736dsc_0739dsc_0749dsc_0759

dsc_0766

Its been a crazy few weeks with packing, moving out of the temporary host family site (Nkamanzi Village), swearing in, getting way too turnt up, moving to my permanent site (Mpompotha), experiencing the Reed dance (Umhlanga), etc.

So where do I start? This post seems like its going to be preety long considering that I haven’t been as much on my P’s and Q’s when it comes to writing my blog post. I guess I’ve been pretty busy  which is the truth. If it was a lie you could say Umnemanga (means liar in Siswati).

Leaving behind Nkamanzi

I moved out of the most beautiful village ever. I left behind a place I’d called home and a family I’ve grown to love like my own. It was really hard and I cried so much that I think I made myself a little sick. It’s interesting how in such a short period of time one can grow so attached to people and things. I think that’s the beauty of connection that’s within all of us. That Friday before I had a small going away party filled with lots of love and laughter. I invited a few friends over and made sure to cook some of the “AMERICAN” foods that my family loved and had tasted from my abundant leftovers. The menu included spaghetti, coconut rice and beans, sautéed spinach and lots of chips and drinks. It was a small get together but it was the thought that counted. We listened to music, chatted and gazed at the beautiful moon for majority of the night.

The following day was family appreciation day and as much as I wanted my lil bhuti to come I could only take three family members and my Gogo (grandma) decided that children weren’t allowed to come. This really broke my heart because I had promised my lil bhuti (brother) that he would be able to join for the event. I was also selected by my peers to give a speech in Siswati so that was exciting. I stumbled over a few words but overall my message was heard and the Swazi community members seemed really proud.

 

dscf5498

dscf5647

akirah-in-traditional-wearubuntu-tattoodsc_0170-1dsc_0161-1akirah-in-traditional-wear2king-and-queens2

 

Swearing In

This is the moment that I’ve been waiting for for as long as I could remember and it’s finally here; Swearing in that is. The few days before we endured a extensive set of final evaluations and interviews to access if we were fit to serve. We waited  nervously in a crowded classroom of peers for our envelope that would reveal our fate (if we would serve or be sent home basically). I opened my letter and the first words I read were Congratulations and that’s all I needed to see. That word sealed my fate. I was officially going to serve as a Youth Development Volunteer in Swaziland. That was such a memorable moment for me. All of my hard work leading up to that point had finally paid off and a weight was lifted off of my shoulders. I also met the language requirement of Intermediate Low for service so that was another burden lifted considering I had been studying my butt off the past couple of weeks for the beast aka LPI (Language Proficiency Interview). It was really important to me that I passed and I did. Yay Me.

Moving along…..

For swearing in I decided to wear traditional Swazi attire. A lihiya (top) and sidvashi (bottom). I paired those with a beautiful traditional swazi beaded necklace. I felt so beautiful and proud to be wearing the traditional clothing. Many volunteers were afraid of wearing the clothing because of cultural appropriation but I saw the act as cultural appreciation. Appreciating a culture that has wholeheartedly taken us in as their own in many instances. I am so fortunate to be serving in the beautiful kingdom of Swaziland. I can’t wait to hit the ground running.

Walking into the Light

Clap sing
Clap sing
Clap sing
Walking into the light
Ooohhh walking into the light
Walking into the light
Ooohhh walking into the light
It’s easy
It’s so oh oh oh oh easy

I chose to walk into the light
Not because I am afraid of the dark
But because I want to see things for what they are
Not for what I hope them to be

IMG_3301It’s easy to see things when they are clear
Unmasked by the things around them
Free and bold as they stand alone
Unapologetic in what they are and
More importantly what they stand for

As I walk into this next chapter of my life
I want to be clear of my intentions
And remain unwavering in the things that are important to me
I want to check in with myself from time to time
And always know that no matter what I’ll let god lead the way

I want to trust my heart
And let the choices I make today
Be the decisions I can live with tomorrow
I want to love

Without fear
Reservation
Or push back
Why?

Because I deserve it

Walking into the light
Ooohhh walking into the light
Walking into the light
Ooohhh walking into the light
It’s easy
It’s so oh oh oh oh easy
(Song I learned from GLOW club)