Choose life

God sets before us life or death and implores us to choose life.

This world can be crushing and its dark days oppressive … but there is always hope, even when our own hands threaten to drown us, there is hope … even just a sliver as if through a crack … and when we walk through the valley and the ghosts lurk in the shadows, remember that the shadows are shaped by light … and when we are deep in the cave, deep in the earth of despair, remember that there is light somewhere beyond these dark oppressive cold places … and that as long as the sun rises somewhere beyond our view or that even when it fails to shine, that the Son always promises to shine, to be present in our weakness, in our strength and every place we find ourselves. I pray you find your tether that leads you back out of the cave. I hope you hear the love in the voices that call your name and remember your place among us and the deep pain that your absence is bound to leave. I plead with you … choose life.

Truly we have been loved by the Lord.

If you had asked me 2 weeks ago, I would have never thought it possible that we would be making phone calls asking about funeral arrangements for such a young life, I would have not believed it … maybe I would have done something differently … Weeks before, I had been prompted to read the words of Job when everything had been taken from him, and share them with my daughter. I Also shared the Song “Though You Slay Me” by Shane and Shane.

I’ve been playing this song on repeat for maybe 3 weeks and I thought God was just asking for faith in this time while we wait for my husband’s visa. I was not expecting the police call or the day that would unfold. My daughter’s best friend was missing and as we found out later that day, had passed away.

I have questioned God’s goodness and love, and where He was as she died, as I am sure others have. I have been in denial and angry, as I am sure others have been too. I have questioned my own role in her loneliness or her view that she was not valuable.

Here I am sitting in my car remembering my daughter’s face yesterday as her friend’s coffin was lowered into the grave. She has seemed strong but I wonder what questions have raged through her mind.

I have remembered my own struggles when I was younger, about Tadiwa’s age, and how God got me through … and yet, here is a beautiful child no longer with us, a child who professed Christ and was so loving and caring … how could he not give her hope? I have wondered why he saves some and doesn’t others, and how He could ever find glory in this … and I have no answers …

You often hear people talk about depression and “mental health” as a white people problem, often conflating mental health with depression or mental health disorders. Firstly, you cannot end the stigma of mental health or make mental health normal. Mental health is just mental health and does not mean poor mental health just like heart health does not mean poor heart health.

Mental health issues exist in Africa … yes, we may have lower suicide rates and lower diagnoses of depression and other ailments but there are issues and I don’t mean the kind you see exhibited in the classic — eating out of the garbage, taking clothes off in public — way. We see it clearly in people who lose a loved one and sink so deep into a depressive state that they die within six months. Those are the classic forms of mental health issues we see and acknowledge but mental health issues can vary for each person.

Most African societies are connected societies and we have people around us; There’s always a grandmother to talk to when you have problems or when you want a relaxed chat. Because our families and friends are so close, we learn we belong and even when the world feels like its caving in, we have a safe space in our families. That is the key, I think to our low expression of mental health issues … our clans provide a mitigating factor, there’s someone who says something encouraging even when we haven’t shared our problems, there’s always someone, when your nuclear family isn’t safe, because the child belongs to the whole family. We learn resilience by watching our large clan go through things and still stand, and by people holding us up when we feel lost and without hope. That’s why I think resilience is a community trait and not an individual one.

Don’t think I am parading African cultural practices as the best in the world, every culture has it’s good and bad, the point is, we do community well and I believe that mitigates our mental health woes. When we move to a country like Australia where life is so fast paced, and there is so few of us, these issues become more pronounced and hearing your people say “we don’t suffer from such things, we are African,” is not only unhelpful, it is damaging. We all struggle and fall and minimising other people’s pain because it doesn’t fit our perceptions is dangerous.

We claim mental health issues do not exist in our communutues, and yet, we buried a sweet soul yesterday, an African child, who seemed happy and okay … who has broken so many hearts and left her friends and family wondering what they could have done differently. A child in her prime, who felt so out of hope that death at her own hands seemed like a way out. It all seems like a bad dream and I keep expecting to hear a story from my daughter about what Tadiwa is doing with her life but everything is now in the past tense … Rest in peace Tadiwanashe Kapatika, aptly named, in your friendship with our child, “we have been loved by God.” In your gentle nature and excellence, “we have been loved by God.” We may not understand, but God who sees all and holds you, has every answer.

A loss of respect … Senator Anning

We recently saw people gunned down in New Zealand, by a man we can only call a terrorist … then we saw a Senator declare that the victims are to blame because Islamic terrorists are usually the perpetrators of violence. Senator Anning was wrong, and in the least downright insensitive. He seems to justify the unjustifiable and forgets that every act of terror can be justified by those who propagate hate regardless of religion or ideology.

We are to condemn violence for what it is and not load the blame on innocent people, regardless of what we think of their ideas. I find it interesting that when Senator Anning was egged by a teen, the country rose up and applauded him. This young boy was wrong, and in the least downright disrespectful. We respect people not because we agree with them but because they are human and understand that every human has a right to dignity.

In one instance the Senator justified an abhorrent act and in another the rest of the country justified the assault of a leader among us (wise or not, still a leader). In justifying these actions we are saying to our young people that there are instances where dishonour and disrespect are okay and that it is okay to attack those we do not agree with. While not on the same scale, that is similar to what the gunman and Senator Anning did. They all said “because you don’t think, look or talk like me, I will hurt you.” “Because your ways, your views or world view is different from mine, you are not worth the dignity awarded humans.”

Lets teach respect and tolerance especially when we don’t agree or even when we hate what someone stands for.

Africa’s gift at ‘Straya’s door

Tuli bantu
The heart and soul of Africa’s roar
Tuli bana
Africa’s gems, the pride of her soul

Born wherever His winds may take us
Created from shades of dusts. Remind us
No matter how hard hammers hit, we rise
Rising like the beauty of her sunrise

Forged in the core of her heat, purified
Bathed by her streams our dreams flourish
We lift those around, in ways sanctified
The women before us, we don’t tarnish

Together we shape and sway; our ways wise
In our strength we unshackle our allies —
Our sisters, we bare up, never treasonous
In our speech, in our deeds, integrous

Tuli bana
hearts forever made on Africa’s floor
Tuli bantu
Africa’s gifts laid at ‘Straya’s door.

Happy women’s day to all women. Together we can do so much. This was a poem I did tonight at the gala organised by the Organisation of Africans in WA. The lines “Tuli bantu” and “Tuli Bana” translated from my native Bemba mean “we are people” and “we are children,” respectively.

I am my own worst critique and today, I would have loved to share a video of the poem but I messed it up, so I won’t be doing that … It was so bad, I even apologised for the errors … something I have never done , when reciting a poem … it’s all good though, we will do better next time.💕

Remembering one of our greats

This past week, saw a post about the passing of one of Africa’s greatest. I didn’t even recognise the photo that was shared and had to ask who it was. Oliver Mutukudzi or Tuku as some refered to him had a characterist rich voice that captivated even those of us who didnt understand the words. I remember him in the movie Neria. I had very romantic views of that movie until I watched it again about 2 years ago and realised the song I had long loved actually was about pain and suffering … I still do love it and want to watch the movie again.

This great artist put out a brand of music that helped me fall in love with being African. He sung in His Shona with such ease and comfort in who he was, and it drew you to His music; using his music for advocacy whilst also entertaining. Its a sad time for the continent but even sadder time for his family and we pray that God in his infinite grace and wonder can bring comfort.

Rest in peace Sekuru, may all you did for our great continent ring out throughout the ages.

My Food Trek met Zambia

Hehehe … so I came across a video circulating on the Zambian web that left me needing to punch something before I even finished watching it. It was one of those things that leave you feeling like someone has come into your home, urinated on everything, and walked away without taking anything but your dignity.

Okay maybe not so serious, but you get the point. I went on youtube looking for this video, where a young American man did little research about the country Zambia, our home and claimed to be cooking our food and called whatever mess he cooked Nshima and Ndiwo … then he went on to make very disrespectful and ignorant comments. I found no videos on the My food trek channel and after googling, understood why … 😂He had met Zed Twitter. Even after he had posted an apology and taken down all related videos, Zambians were still commenting and sharing the video so other Zambians could see … and oh my ribs at the comments. Reminded me of the #lintonlies Twitter war that was sparked by Louise Linton when she more than embellished her experiences during a 1999 Gap year she spent in Zambia.

On a serious note, though, Americans need to learn that you do not invite yourself into someone’s home and insult them like the my food trek video guy; or get welcomed into someone’s home, like Ms Linton, and then insult them and that is why we as Zambians felt so passionate about making it known that this was not okay

plans for 2019

Christmas has come and gone, and if you are Christian, the last few days may have, or may not have taken on some significance. As we come to the end of the year, I have to admit that I am not too happy with what I did with my 2018. I broke one of my rules … not waiting for the next year to make plans. As we go into 2019, I remember the things we have achieved, but I can’t shake the feeling that there was more to give. I’ve been working on my own planner but have ended up buying one just so I can stay on top of my planning. I have struggled to use one this past year, but I am hoping that I will go back to my usual form this coming year.

I have been reflecting on the things I want in a planner and because I couldn’t find a suitable organiser type planner, and have tried different planning methods, I have come to the conclusion that I prefer simple layout binder planners where I can keep everything from my work schedules, blog posts, to reading and cleaning lists. So I set out on a quest to make my own planner and even that has been a learning experience for me. This coming year, I will be using an Otto binder planner, with some of the inserts that I think I need. I want to be productive, and this is how my mind works best to achieve this … My attention span is so short lately, I can’t use my phone because of the many distractions it comes with, This is not a new years resolution, just an attempt at sanity.

Luse lwa ba Lesa

I have been feeling a bit sorry for myself lately and while watching a woman talking on Facebook, heard this song. Haven’t heard it in a while but it reminds me of God’s good grace and even as I am typing this, I find myself unable to contain my smile. It’s a song from the Bemba language, one of the many in Zambia, and a huge part of my heritage. When translated it says, “when you see me dancing, singing, rejoicing and carrying on, I am doing it for God because He has brought me this far, because of  His “luse.” The word Uluse or ‘luse encompasses different English words. It speaks of mercy, compassion, grace and in some instances forgiveness; it is used when we feel sorry for someone, or when we ask for forgiveness or mercy. God’s mercies are undying; he waits on us patiently and His compassion has always been my rock. Our standing is based totally and wholly on His mercy. The song talks about a difference that should be seen in us Christians, that despite our circumstances, we should exude joy. The singer talks about people wondering about what His secret is because when others lack, God provides for him, and when tragedy befalls him, he is still joyful. So when you see me smiling, dancing or carrying on, know I have much to be grateful for and it is all by His grace. Hope it blesses you as you dance to it 🙂

Living without Him

I’ve been married a little over a year and have known my husband for about 14 years, and probably, as hindsight would have me believe, loved him for close to that. In the time we have been married, we have spent about 8 months in the same place and the other 8 apart. This seperation, especially the last 2 months have been HARD! Now some people would ask, why aren’t you living together when you love each other? There are two answers for that … Paperwork! And God!

Australia’s spouse visa process is a long and taxing process. Just answering the huge number of questions relating to our relationship is atleast a days work and then there’s the large number of evidence that needs attaching after you have paid the $7000 price tag for love.

Second is God. I keep trying to remember that God takes us where He will and opens doors and closes them, and leaves us in the waiting que for whatever reason. I say this because all authority that exisits exists because He allows it to. So in line with that, the visa will be granted when it’s granted.

I’ve learnt, in this period of waiting, how dependent on my husband, I am and how much I love him. I talk to him every chance I get but also that despite love being present, when we can’t see someone, it becomes harder to be vulnerable or maintain those lines of communication. Many a time, when our communication fails, misunderstandings, hurt and arguments follow and even when theres no misunderstandings or arguments, our lives just seem less happy, but the less we talk, the less transparent we want to be, which makes starting up that communication harder.

In being married, I have discovered that as much as I dislike hangouts with people I am not comfortable with, I love quality time with those I love. Now, this got me thinking, if in the absence of my loving, amazing but flawed husband, I can struggle for sanity so much, why don’t I struggle when the lines of communication are dying between me and my perfect God? God still speaks through His scriptures, that we so casually maime for our amusement or for itching ears. When we set time to dine with Him and hear from Him, our joy is made complete, we find our place, and no matter what goes wrong with us, we can stand with Him by our side.

I’ve found myself wondering why, as Christ’s bride, the church, members of His blessed body, we do not yearn for Him like a wife longs for her husband. With my husband being away, no other person entices, and yet, with Christ, there are so many things that entice and cause us to doubt His nearness. My prayer is that I grow to love my Christ, more than anything in this world, including my husband and I hope and pray that that would be the case for us all, those of us who, like a husband and wife, have been made one with Christ.

My dark world

I found myself driving in the dark
Some light came from around me
And then it was gone

I found myself lost, one with the dark
So removed from light once inside me
We felt the same …one

I found myself covered in a cloak
Non-distinct, except bright eye
Felt right to the bone

I’ve found fear in my dark, burnt out shack
My thoughts – proof of evil – lie
Thank Christ I’m not gone