I have been caught up on the trend of Africans writing their own stories and trust me it’s such a beautiful thing. It is such an authentic experience for me to read an African narration forged by an African with a few words in vernacular to emphasize points especially those phrases that lose meaning when translated. I take pride in knowing that I have written a few ‘stories’ of my own. Unfortunately, I haven’t written anything in vernacular (well, at least not yet), so thought it befitting to throw in my own one liner and call it an African proverb. I prefer to tell my stories in one line and I think I am pretty darn good at it because I am one cheeky girl who always has what they call “clever answers” at the tip of my tongue. It is my preferred style of writing and I would love to hear about your style and take to your personal writing.


Before I go on a tangent and write a blog about me, my ‘work’ and my “clever answers”, let me focus on the main thing…

 So initially I wanted to write a blog on the two trending books in South Africa and discuss the writers war in my article before choosing a favourite – Dominoes by Somizi Mhlongo and From A to B by Bonang Matheba. This theme was going to be my “Pièce de Résistance”, the chief dish of my literary meal, until I got lost in the characters and swallowed up whole by the stories each had to tell and how they told it.

Somizi vs Bonang

So instead of creating a review about the two literary antagonists (and ex bff’s), I am going to provide a review of each book separately.

Dominoes came as a recommendation from one of my book club members mainly because everyone took an hour to read the book. I loved reading Dominoes – it was an effortless and idiot-proof read, which lots of South African’s could relate to, which added to its popularity.

Side note: if you have a reading target for the year, I would suggest you add this book to your cart (thank me later).


I love the title of this book and I love that he defined the title for us in a way that left no room for assumptions (and you know what assumptions do – they make an ass of you and I). Brian Temba’s hit single, Dominoes, inspired the book’s title and I now understand why it is a perfect fit because it sums up a story of breaking down walls, barriers and stereotypes… Somizi Mhlongo’s story is that of the proverbial walls falling like dominoes.

I can name the date, time and place of the morning I began reading this book – I was having such a bad morning; I did not want to go to the gym, I just wanted to be in bed, and I thought Somizi’s story could be a good pick-me-up. I finished it that very morning and still made it to work with enough time to make some brekkie. As I mention earlier it was an idiot proof read however, I felt it to be an unsatisfying quickie. All I could think of as I went through the day was, “size does matter!”. Size matters because it allows you to narrate your story properly, it allows you to connect with the reader and for your reader to understand your journey as a writer. I am a huge Somizi fan and I love his story but the speed of the book left a bad taste in my mouth.

We can talk about size the whole day but what I loathed the most about the book was his June 16 memory mentioned in the same speed as his fall out with Bonang. I think that if you are going to mention such a historic event and mention that you were there, it would only be befitting to hear the story from a Somizi point of view. Also, considering Sarafina, a movie about the events that led to the 16th of June, is one of the most iconic South African movies and represents the iconic role played in the movie by Somizi, I feel like he gave an aeriel view of the event that made June 16 so trivial. One can argue that it wasn’t that type of ‘party’ but if you are going to open a bottle of bubbles, you need to pop the cork. You need to go the full nine yards…

Now that I am done with my rant, I will dive into the content within the book – Somizi’s story and his unbreakable spirit. Somizi’s story is a story most African can relate to. It’s a story most Africans will appreciate. It’s a story that will challenge most Africans to introspect.

“There weren’t really that much of guidance and role models. We didn’t have anyone to look up to who was educated. So I looked outside for inspiration”.

I sobbed when I read these lines; I sobbed because I am fortunate that I had and still have role models growing up but I realised that I am not paying it forward, I realised that I am not being a good role model. I started asking myself if I am spending time giving the younger generation guidance or am I just perpetuating the problem. Somizi is definitely an outlier because he had the wisdom to look outside for inspiration which I commend him for, but not everyone has that type of wisdom. This challenged change in me more than anything and I hope that once you have read the book, the spirit of change spurs within the depths of your souls, minds and hearts. Guidance was a common theme in most of the chapters of his book. When he was down and out, he mentioned guidance because he was trying to keep up appearance which, in retrospect, he deemed unnecessary. He also emphasises the importance of guidance when referring to the new celebrities, e.g. Babes Wodumo and stresses that talent is only one slice of the cake, and if mismanaged, the amazing talent will result in a downfall. I personally think that good guidance nurtures an unbreakable spirit.

As I read some of the lines in Dominoes, I realised how fickle life can be and how we actually don’t have infinite time with our family or friends. For instance, when Somizi left for Broadway I don’t think he ever imagined that he will never dance with his father again. I don’t think that when he couldn’t go out for drinks with Lebo, he knew that it was going to weirdly save his life, and death would rob him of a friendship like that. This got me making a list of people I need to have a conversation with in 2017 because the only thing that’s certain in life is death.

Somizi, I take my hat off to you for saying NO. I think a lot of the South African ‘soldiers’ fell because they couldn’t say no. I mean Brenda Fassie was such a legend, I think if she had offered me drugs I would take them in a heartbeat. I mean if I tried to walk in your shoes I would have taken those drugs for a lot of reasons with one of them being that maybe doing drugs with a legend would allow me to gain favour with her especially after she called you boring. I am in awe at the fact that you stood your ground. You just redefined NO for me and I think a lot of Africans especially aspiring artists have a lot to learn from this.

Somizi also touches a lot on failing, doing it all over again and staying ‘humble’. I mean this guy was accused of sexual assault, he lost a lot of things but he rose above it and everything that he touches professionally sparkles… He is all over my screen and radio because he chose to fail forward and displays resilience every single day…


A philanthropist by night and a marketer by day. She is always keen to listen and learn.

I remembered when Pepsi and I were discussing a concept for the article and how controversial and exciting it would be to write about the ‘book war’ between Somizi and Bonang. I am glad you have shared a more positive outlook. This has made me realize that each book could have it’s own space. Well, at least I will draw that conclusion with conviction when we get to read your opinion on Bonang’s book. No pressure 🙂


– A Shared blog by Kara Stevens of

We place a copious amount of pressure on ourselves as females and probably even more so as Black females. In Africa, the intricate balance of cultural expectations, corporate struggles, and racial dilemma’s and topped off with patriarchy is one that leaves us pulled in all directions. These are the threads that have sewn and stitched the garment of SBWS, the strength and resilience we have developed as females is represented in the physical, emotional and psychological weight we carry in our lives… which can leaves us broken… and broke! I’m passionate about financial freedom, & even more so about women empowerment. It is always gold when I find an interesting take that includes both. I am guilty of SBWS and I struggle with vulnerability, but I had not consciously registered the impact on my finances.

Enjoy the read. ||Nwamara Obiike

Strong Black Woman Syndrome (SBWS) calls on Black women to be the problem-solvers, chief caretakers and “end all, be all” for everyone in their lives sans support and respite. Essentially, the Strong Black Women Syndrome demands that Black women never buckle, never feel vulnerable, and most importantly, never, ever put their own needs above anyone else’s—not their children’s, not their communities, not the people for whom they work—no matter how detrimental it is to their well-being.

As a community, we’re slowly coming to terms with the emotional and spiritual dis-ease this syndrome has on the Black women it envelops. Sadly though, we continue to fall short in analyzing its ravishing financial implications, though they are numerous and quite glaring.When we fully unpack the acute financial downside of this unrealistic cultural expectation and tired trope, we can clearly see that SBWS leaves Black women and the families they support not only broke, but also broken. Here are four ways.

  1. The Strong Black Woman Syndrome produces financial underachievers. In many a family, Black women are subsidizing the financial lives of adult children, grandchildren and spouses all on one income. This phenomenon creates wealth hubs instead of wealth webs. With wealth hubs, Black women’s incomes are at the epicentre of wealth and capital in their immediate networks. This phenomenon jeopardizes and threatens the stability of families led by Black women, because there’s little financial reinforcement created to buffer financial strain placed on one income or set of resources. It’s also nearly impossible to spread financial risk equitably if there is only one source of income.

Wealth webs, on the other hand, occur when family members are connected to other family members with growing assets, thus creating a strong network of capital and resources. When there are several sources of income, opportunities for wealth creation become easier to create.

  1. The Strong Black Woman Syndrome stifles business expansion. For Black women with this complex, there’s the distorted belief that they shouldn’t ask for help. An aspiring entrepreneur with SBWS is often uncomfortable with asking for support—seed money, a referral, or child care support—because she considers it a sign of weakness or believes she can’t depend on anyone but herself.

Failure to speak up for what’s needed to expand a business cripples its growth. Period. In the event that an entrepreneur with this syndrome reaches out for help, it’s usually too late, and she loses out on key industry connections, slowing down the trajectory of expansion by years or creating less-than-ideal business agreements.

  1. The Strong Black Woman Syndrome encourages impulse-buying and emotional spending.It’s a law of nature: whatever is repressed never goes away. Ever. In fact, when whatever is pushed down finally surfaces, it tends to explode with the same pressure with which it was forced to quell.

When a Black woman living under SBWS seeks an outlet for all of the emotional and financial caregiving she gives to others, it’s usually online, at a dealership, or at a mall. And usually, what she buys to comfort her soul and spirit isn’t cheap. The cost of the purchase can be in direct relation to the feelings of neglect, overwhelm and resentment.

In other words, the more pain she feels, the bigger and more expensive the reward.

  1. The Strong Black Woman Syndrome models financial dysfunction and passes down a maladaptive money relationship to the next generation. When children observe financial martyrdom in the money behaviors of women in their lives, they emulate these practices as adults. Girls grow to be these women; boys grow up to marry them.

As a personal finance coach, I work with adult Black women who, despite their age, continue to harbor rancor against their mothers for their current financial predicament. In a recent coaching session, a self-proclaimed “recovering Strong Black Woman” shared that she learned to take on a disproportionate amount of her household expenses—using all of her salary for bills and living in an unhappy financial silence in a rocky marriage— because she saw her mother do the same with her father when she was a girl.

The Strong Black Woman Syndrome is a racist and sexist archetype created to emotionally and financially marginalize Black women. It keeps Black women far from emotional happiness and financial wellness, thus limiting access to their full humanity. Beware.

Nwamara Obiike – A Shared blog by Kara Stevens of

“I am not an early bird, or a night owl. I am some form of permanently exhausted pigeon!” J African Child | Blogger|Financial Crusader

This rings true for me even more after having read Thrive by Arianna Huffington.  The expectation for women, especially black women to carry the weight and put everyone else’s needs above their own has serious ramifications as stated by Kara Stevens. Arianna Huffington also shared that you can not fill another’s cup before filling your own. SBW take care of yourself. Be conscious and be intentional but above all, take care of your self.. Thanks Nwamara for sharing-Lerato


Black women breathe flowers too: After Nayyirah Waheed

Black women breathe flowers too: After Nayyirah Waheed

Black women are amazing, there’s no doubt about that. However, most of what people think we are amazing for isn’t even our own doing. If I had to detail the gymnastics we’ve had to do to survive, you’d be reading all day. Failed by fellow women, failed by our men,  black girls have been on their own for a while now and we’ve held our own. We have shrunk ourselves,  we have pulled tricks out of hats, traded our physical and mental health and dignity all to get sh*t done.

Now all of this has supposedly toughened us. It has given off the impression that we embody strength. Maybe we do, but trust me, it was never by choice. Black women have never purposely worn the badge of strength, it has been thrust on us by all those who benefit from us wearing this badge.  What this has done is that it has made mannier men-and dare I say black- think that we aren’t delicate. That we don’t need care. That we thrive in our position of strength.

Issa lie.All of it.

Growing up, I watched my “strong” grandmother be given pocket money from her own grant by my grandfather. The logic was that because she was strong, she supposedly could make-do with less money. That very same grandmother could only run to her daughters to cry and share her anger. Her pride and sense of family could not allow her to share her pain with anyone outside her family, because well, her respected preacher husband’s reputation needed protecting.

I further watched my own mother raise 4 children alone. I watched as she too, pulled tricks out of a hat to give these kids the best shot at life. With a man who walked out on her,  she had to embody “strength” if any of us were to make it.  To this day,I have no idea the extent of my mother’s sacrifices for us. What I do know is that, hurt as she was,  she had to swallow her pain and anger time and time again for our sake. She made sure we weren’t jaded.

Now now, some of you are probably unable to relate to any of this because your fathers and grandfathers and uncles and brothers and cousins are amazing (right….). What I do want you to be honest about though is how often the women in your family have been burdened with wearing the badge of “strength” for the sake of the family’s survival. How much bitter shame, heartache and rage they’ve had to swallow back all for the sake of the men in their lives?

Great…now we’re getting somewhere.

This strength badge that only black women seem to have been gifted with has created this perception of the existence of “strong black women”. Our “strength” is tried and tested each time black men mess up and we have to either clean up after them or siqume inyala(cover-up their shenanigans). The irony of this is that men always seem to be the testers of the depth of this supposed strength that they have thrust upon us. It’s a never-ending fountain that they drink from often.

Black women breathe flowers too poem

News flash:
Like all your delicate other women,”black women breathe flowers too” as Nayyirah Waheed so eloquently put it. We aren’t woven in strength,  we have had to learn that so as to carry the weight of our deliberately weak men. I for one am sick of this badge that I’ve never asked for. Black women cannot continue breaking and shrinking for the sake of men. Believe it or not, black women aren’t any more stronger than the average person, we’ve just done what needs to be done to survive.
Yeah,let that sink in. We are neither hulks nor magicians.
Frank(ie) Talk is a Development Finance Masters student at the University of Cape Town. When she is not making bracelets at Relate, you’ll find her at some coffee shop in Cape Town reading or theorizing about the World.
This could not have come at a better time. The hashtag #Menaretrash has been trending and has once again exposed our  society -a society at shame with itself with how it treats its black women. It is an epidemic. Until we fix it and until we accept that black women breathe flowers too we will never be able to fix the many socioeconomic issues we face today. And it is not even just about that. It is about appreciating the women who evoke so much strength to just make things work. Frank(ie) is ranting-rightfully so!-Lerato

2017-What have you been reading so far?

If there is one thing I appreciate about our Meetups, it would be the variety of books we talk about. Our last General Meetup was not focused on a specific type of book but was about what we had been reading for the last month in our individual capacity. The aim of these general Meetups is to expose each other to other types books out there that we would otherwise have overlooked. Often a person’s recollection of a book and its impact on their life is enough to influence you and catch your interest. If not, you at least consider adding it to your book list.

So what have the ladies been reading so far?


Nwamara Obiike: Kasinomics by GG Alcock and Rich Woman by Kim Kiyosaki

[AFRICAN GIRLS READ] In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunities ................... Ms. @didilexx at Bamboo Island, Krabi ................... Tag @blvbc and use #AfricanGirlsRead to be our next featured reader ................... #books #bookfollow #bookstagram #ReadingMotivation #Readers #reading #bookclub #2017 #Africansread #quotes #quoteoftheday #africanliterature #africa #Africansreaders #follow #africanwriters #authors #africangirlsreadtoo #bambooisland #krabi #phuket #kasinomics #HAPPYBIRTHDAY #blvbc

In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunities ……………….
Ms. @didilexx at Bamboo Island, Krabi ……………….
Tag @blvbc and use #AfricanGirlsRead to be our next featured reader ……………….
#books #bookfollow #bookstagram #ReadingMotivation #Readers #reading #bookclub #2017 #Africansread #quotes #quoteoftheday #africanliterature #africa #Africansreaders #follow #africanwriters #authors #africangirlsreadtoo #bambooisland #krabi #phuket #kasinomics #HAPPYBIRTHDAY

[LATEST ARTICLE ALERT] I NEVER GREW UP IN A WEALTHY HOME By Nwamara Obiike Nwamara shares her journey to financial freedom and is currently reading #RichWoman and #womenandwealth in a her desire to share her take on #Wealth, #women and #africa. We can't wait to learn more from her. #bloggers #blogpost #books #kimkiyosaki #bookfollow #bookclub #womenempoweringwomen #LeadingLadies Enjoy the read and share your thoughts #blvbc

Nwamara has been reading a lot of Financial books and also recently wrote about spending habits. See Her tip from having read both books would be to ‘Start Small’. It is about getting the basics right first then expanding and even getting to a point where you can buy investments in other markets.

We should all be investing in our Financial Literacy. It is expensive to be poor! If you learn more, you earn more.

Asake Okin: Various blog posts

Asake Okin has been reading a lot of blog posts. One that she recommended was We discussed the Imposter Syndrome. This phenomenon is common amongst women. This is a feeling of inadequacy and feeling like you don’t deserve to be where you are. These feelings hinder you from progress. The very same feeling of exposing your weaknesses is bound to become your reality.

Ijangolet Ogwang: The Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes and Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod

The Year of Yes 3

For Ijangolet’s thoughts on ‘The Year of Yes’, see

Miracle Morning

Ijangolet is on a journey of re-reading and applying the books that she has read in the past and a book that she has been enjoying is ‘Miracle Morning’. It is about the theory that what you do before 8am influences your day. I was excited about this discussion because I am not a ‘morning person’ and getting a good start to my day is always something I try to perfect. It is about having time for yourself so that you have time for the rest of the world. Morning rituals were shared. My biggest takeout is that I need to work on sleeping early so that I am in a position to wake up early. It is a work in progress.

Ashleigh: 10 Simple Steps to Property Wealth by Jason Lee

Making Money out of Property in South Africa

’10 Simple Steps to Property Wealth’ is Jason’s second book after the one I recently read, ‘How to make money out of Property in South Africa’. We discussed buying property to sell that is by buying low and renovating then selling the property for good margins. There are other ways to making money like buying a 2-bedroom apartment and converting it into a 3-bedroom apartment. This would usually take less than a year. We also looked at generating alternative revenues from properties through marketing and signage to add value to the property.

Thuli Dube: The Wait by Meagan Good and Devon Franklin and The Smart Money Woman by Arese Ugwu

The Wait

Thuli found ‘The Wait’ to be interesting but overrated with all the media hype around it. The book has a Christian premise but claims to be relevant in all sphere of life. We spoke about how we tend to settle for less and at the same time hinder ourselves from being with the one we deserve or actually desire to be with.

So the question was, how do we bring about these opportunities that allow us to be with the partner we are praying for? Ultimately, it is about being patient and waiting on God. The risk of losing patience when waiting for your partner is that you will ‘end up playing musical chairs’: settling for anyone who comes your way.


Thuli also enjoyed ‘The Smart Money Woman’. I think this book has been doing the rounds in BLV BOOK CLUB J.

Read for more on Smart Money Woman.

The Smart Money Woman characters

Pepsi: How to get from where you are to where you want to be: The 25 Principles of Success by Jack Canfield and The Defining Decade by Meg Jay

Pepsi has a passion for reading on relationships and all things ‘love-related’ and this year, has also decided to re-read a lot of books in order to be apply what she learns in real life.

How to get from where you are to where you want to be

How to get from where you are to where you want to be’ is about taking control of your life. Jack Canfield talks about an equation: situation+response=outcome. We always complain about our circumstances and the people we have to deal with every single day but we never really think about what we can do to change the situation. We allow the situation to have power over our lives. We sometimes spend time complaining about whatever is bothering us yet we never think of what is within our realm of influence. What did you do?

The book also talks about self-belief. With that comes programming yourself so that when you are in your comfort zone you are uncomfortable but when you are in your uncomfortable zone you are comfortable. This fosters continuous improvement. You can do anything you want to achieve but nothing comes easy. We also spoke about time being our currency and how especially at work, we often complain about the tasks we are given. Instead, we should always look at what value can be extracted from that task.

Pepsi’s 2nd book is ‘The Defining Decade’ by Meg Jay is about how your 30’s are not the new 20’s.


‘The Defining Decade’ is about the things you should do in your 20’s to set you up for life. Meg Jay, the author also touches on relationships and how in our early 20’s we tend to not be intentional about relationships we enter. This set us up for the risk of finding ourselves in our late 20’s playing musical chairs with whoever is available. We also discussed feeling stuck in careers and feeling like we can not pursue new avenues. The starting points should be your points of interests. We should not feel stuck. Our 20’s are also a time for us to spend as much time as possible with our parents. As they get older, they have also become wiser. Time, as mentioned before is of the essence as our parents get older. We should be able to communicate and share as many memories with them whilst we still can. For more on the book, watch

Frank(ie) Talk: Beautiful South Sudan by Achier Deng Akol Ayay

[LATEST ARTICLE ALERT] BEAUTIFUL SOUTH SUDAN : A LOVE STORY by Frank (ie) Talk Link in Bio Frank(ie) Talk shares her thoughts on Beautiful South Sudan : The Heart of Africa and her biggest lessons from the book. Enjoy the read and share your thoughts on the article #books #bookfollow #bookstagram #ReadingMotivation #Readers #reading #bookclub #2017 #bloggers #follow #follow4follow #zimbloggers #sabloggers #naijablogger #africanbloggers #africanauthors #authors #blogpost #black #Africansread #africa #africanliterature #blackgirlsreadtoo #article #authenticity #beautifulsouthsudan #achierdengakolayay #sudan #blvbc

Frank(ie)Talk met a friend from South Sudan whose father, Achier Deng Akol Ayay, actually wrote the book, ‘Beautiful South Sudan’ and she felt she had to read the book and broaden her view of Africa. She learnt to be more intentional about seeking an alternative view on any place out there. Read for more of Frank(ie)’s views on the book.

Lerato: The Power of Habit of Charles Duhigg, Making Money out of Property in South Africa by Jason Lee and The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives by Lola Shoneyin

Those who follow me on social media will know that I have embarked on a 30 book challenge. Given my schedule and various plans for 2017, 30 seemed like the magic number to achieve this year. I am currently on my 8th book which means that given we are in the 4th month of the year, I am not lagging too far behind. I will not go through all the books I have read so far. That is a whole separate post for another day but I will dwell on at least two of the books I have read so far this year.

[AFRICAN GIRLS READ] If you believe you can change - if you make it a habit - the change becomes a habit. This is the real power of habit - - Charles Duhigg .................... Ms. @lerato_nkanyezi in Cape Town, South Africa ................... Tag @blvbc and use #AfricanGirlsRead to be our next featured reader ................... #books #bookfollow #bookstagram #black #ReadingMotivation #Readers #africanbloggers #naijabloggers #zimbloggers #sabloggers #reading #africanblogger #Africansreaders #follow #follow4follow #africanliterature #africanwriters #africanauthors #blacktalent #thepowerofhabit #charlesduhigg #capetown #park #southafrica #blvbc

Through ‘The Power of Habit’ I learnt that for me to change, I need to understand why I do what I do-what triggers my actions? It is with that knowledge that I am able to manipulate the stimulus or that I at least become conscious enough to change how I react to that trigger. For example if you are a smoker and are trying to quit smoking, you start by analyzing and figuring out what causes you to smoke. If you realize that feeling stressed in preparation for an exam causes you to smoke, you became aware of that trigger. At this point, smoking is a way for the handle the pressure of exams. The question should now be, what healthier alternatives can you adopt that can provide a similar satisfaction. You might find that chewing gum or squeezing a stressball (the list of solutions are endless) can be your new ‘habit’.


Making Money out of Property in South Africa

My interest in financial literacy developed after reading Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki last year. Ever since then my interest in reading on property has become a gateway to me one day having many properties under my belt and achieving multiple streams of income. As Jason Lee states in ‘Making Money out of Property in South Africa’, ‘Only a fool treads into unknown territory with their eyes shut’. I see saving for a deposit as a beautiful hindrance as this buys me time to learn as much as possible about the Property market. Jason encourages the power of negotiation as this, he believes, has resulted in him getting making deals and making a good profit. Of course, this means, identifying the right time to purchase property. Being up to speed with current affairs and knowing the state of the economy is necessary in determining when to purchase property. It is all about the law of supply and demand. In a booming economy, people have more spending time and hence, the demand for property is a lot higher. However, in an economic downturn, negotiation becomes your greatest asset.

The Secret Lives of Baba Segi WivesThe Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives was a beautiful escape into fiction. It is set in Nigeria and is about a polygamous man and his interactions with his wives especially his youngest wife, Bolanle The plot blew my mind especially when we discover why his fourth wives can not bear any children. Lest I say too much, I will not go further on this book but I would definitely recommend this book especially seeing as it is an easy read.

It was only after our 2hr Meetup that we realized that we had spoken about Finance, Morning rituals, The Imposter Syndrome, Property, Relationships, Success and Navigating your 20’s. We could have spoken about a lot more if time had allowed us but we can definitely attest to the knowledge and the collaboration that the book club provides. If you are interested in joining us, subscribe to the newsletter below and contact us on

Compiled by Lerato.

Lerato is a Supply Chain professional in the FMCG industry. Not satisfied with being confined to her day job, Lee is always reading something different. The development of women and Africa are what fuel her passion. She would one day love to have dinner with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and pick her brain on so many issues.

Eat, Pray, Love made me do it.

Eat pray love…

I did not enjoy reading this book. It was like that new guy in the office that everyone raves about but when you see him, you still ask for the new guy because your thirst is not satisfied. With every page I flipped, I could not help but roll my eyes at Liz’s (the writer’s) apparent lack of awareness of her own privilege; I only finished this book because of “media pressure” and I sincerely hoped that she would redeem herself at the end of the book with some possible insights, wisdom or something.

I love love and I believe that companionship enhances feelings and emotions that I already have. With no doubt you can be happy, you can have fun, be challenged and be fulfilled without the validation of a man. Throughout the whole book Liz was obsessed with male attention which made me question why she went on this journey searching for her best self. In my opinion she flirted her way through the book and just fell into the trap of the western world and their obsession with eastern religions.

In as much as I hated how “Eat, Pray Love” was written, along with the writers ignorance, the objectives of the journey is what inspired me to do it. The objective being able to answer the simple question, “what do I want?” Your identity and happiness is definitely at the end of the honest answer to the question.

…made me do it.

Sometime last year I went on a quest for pleasure and devotion in the Far East and Far West of Africa. The objective of this trip was to find the sweet spot between mind and my soul. I wanted to find my best self in every aspect of my life.

I decided to go on this journey because of three simple reasons. I was at a stage in my life that my vision for self was a little blurry, I could not recognise myself and lastly I could afford it (I am beginning to sound like Liz). This article is less about the book and what it made me do but about the little nuggets that I found interesting.

While walking through the streets of Africa I was like a curious little child, always asking why.

I encountered a businessperson from Eretria, Solomon. Unfortunately, it had to be a man but I did not go looking for it. Solomon had his ducks in a row but did not have a companion so he was on a pursuit of love, he was visiting a woman he had never met but was certain she was the one because they had been chatting for months. Solomon left me with the following things to reflect on:

  • Life is too short, do what makes your heart happy.
  • Your family should be your core.
  • Use a condom.
  • Love is worth the sacrifice.
  • My man was born in the eighties.
  • Have lots fun

Out of all the things he said during our encounter, I hold this one point more dearly; for you to evolve, do everything fully.

Ethiopian Food

          Addis Ababa

In Addis Ababa I overindulged, I ate local cuisines that my palate could not recognise, I danced with strangers and I consumed an array of beverages. I had conversations with everyone who was willing to listen. It brought so much joy into my life because for once in my life I was able to converse without trying to make a first impression or satisfy a preconceived idea of who I should be. It was so freeing and refreshing. I reflect on the following nuggets from this experience:

  • Life is too short to be insecure.
  • You need to marry your friend (Lessons from married men who love their kids but not their wives).
  • Respect is important to woman as much as it is important to men.
  • Do not put value to money.
  • Be authentic; do not doctor the way you talk or express yourself to suit a stereotype.
  • The sacrifices your parents made were not for you to be mediocre.

Abidjan 2


During my travel between Abidjan and Yamoussoukro, I focused on feeling instead of doing. This was the hardest part of the journey because I was nursing the hangover of overindulging in pleasure. It did not surprise me that the biggest reflection for me was on SELF CONTROL! The contrast of the high then low allowed me to look in deeper than the surface. I felt like I was in forced rehabilitation. Because I was out of time and the constant reminder of the objective of the trip, I pushed myself harder and allowed myself to search deeper. In addition to self-control this experience taught me the following:

  • I am worth it.
  • You need to be in the present because tomorrow is just an idea.
  • Do everything with passion.

In as much as the objective of visiting Elubo was to balance out pleasure and devotion it is still a journey I go on daily with intention.

To answer the big question, I am clear about what I want and I am unapologetic about it!

By Pepsi

A Philanthropist by night and a marketer by day. She is always keen to listen and learn.

Thank you for sharing your journey. I am inspired to continue travelling and exploring the world. I appreciate your honest thoughts on the book and how you made the ‘Eat,Pray,Love’  journey your own. There are many lessons to be learnt out there and you do not need to travel far. We have many hidden gems within our own continent of Africa.

Travel and Books.That’s all I really need! :)-Lerato


So, Tell Me Who are You?

I gasped taken aback by the one question that demands an instantaneous response, but the weightiest question I have encountered. You don’t want to flounder; you want to respond with the eloquence that is reserved for royalty. You want to pause at all the right places for the listener to feel the texture of who you are descend upon them. You want to be certain of even the conjunctions that string together this all-encompassing tapestry. You want confidence to beam with the certainty of a sunrise in your very eyes.

“ I notice authenticity without so much as a second glance. They’re the ones with white knuckles and shaking hands. The world tries to rip it from them but they never let go. You must grab hold of who you are with both hands and never let go.”- Cindy Cherie

Authenticity: I soon realized that, that twelve letter world was all things I hoped my response would be to that question, “Who are you?” and any other question that resembled it. I found this virtue the spring from which all other virtues were free to be entirely themselves. Kindness was one of a kind. Happiness was joy. Humility was the realization that you my dear are not the center of the universe.

I found myself obsessing over authenticity and all of a sudden wherever I looked there it was staring at me adorned in all its glory but oblivious to me staring at it. It wasn’t there to solicit my praise but when I applauded it, it glanced over its shoulder and smiled.

[AFRICAN GIRLS READ] A good book in the beach is pure BLISS. ...................... Ms. @sharoniogwang and Siwe at Cape Town, South Africa ..................... Tag @blvbc and use #AfricanGirlsRead to be our next featured reader ...................... #books #bookfollow #bookstagram #ReadingMotivation #Readers #reading #bookclub #2017 #bloggers #blogpost #black #Africansread #africa #africanliterature #sisterswhoread #blackgirlsreadtoo #follow #yearofyes #beautifulsouthsudan #shondarhimes #beach #sand #capetown #southafrica #blvbc

A good book in the beach is pure BLISS. …………………. Ms. @sharoniogwang and Siwe at Cape Town, South Africa ………………… Tag @blvbc and use #AfricanGirlsRead to be our next featured reader …………………. #books #bookfollow #bookstagram #ReadingMotivation #Readers #reading #bookclub #2017 #bloggers #blogpost #black #Africansread #africa #africanliterature #sisterswhoread #blackgirlsreadtoo #follow #yearofyes #beautifulsouthsudan #shondarhimes #beach #sand #capetown #southafrica

I recently read the Year of YES by Shonda Rhimes, what I marveled at was how she didn’t attempt to perform literary gymnastics unless she really felt like it. She was shockingly honest about the things she struggled with and the wounds she is still plastering. She confesses that she like many women struggled and still struggles to embrace compliments, irrespective of the fact that she Shonda essentially owns Thursday night television with Greys Anatomy and Scandal. The Year of YES, was a challenge to say yes to the things she feared and this is how she undid the fear. Saying yes to what she feared she soon realized she was saying “Yes” to the parts of herself that she felt undeserving of, was saying yes to “stepping into the sun”.

She takes a scalpel and dissects the character Cristina from Greys Anatomy and how she represented a rainbow of authenticity that Shonda vicariously lived through and found herself.

This Cristina that we made was a revelation. She was never silenced. Never small. Never insecure to make good on her natural gifts. The Cristina of our collective dreams was larger than life. While often afraid she overcame her fears through sheer strength of will. This is why I wrote her more eloquently. Coloured her brightly and drew outside the lines.”

I have since seen this authenticity rear it’s head in the humility of Maya Angelou: “ I consider nothing human alien from me.” I see it in Chimamanda’s brilliantly crafted letter to Michelle Obama applauding her for being not what was expected but striving for true above unique. Its in the way Chimamanda wholeheartedly celebrates Michelle in words that are alive, raw and oh so generous. It’s in Zadie Smith and how she admits that she doesn’t read comments about her writing simply because she doesn’t have the stomach for it and she would rather be happy than voluntarily seek unhappiness. All these women are yards from perfect but they are real. Perhaps by knowing what we like, what we don’t, what makes us happy, by intimately knowing ourselves we are better able to just be all that we are. Witty, Intellectual, Childish, Idealistic, free. The wind, rain, a train and spring time.

The Year of Yes 2


So, Tell me Who are You?

By Ijangolet Ogwang

Ijangolet Ogwang is bullish on Africa. She is most passionate about complexities and the opportunities hidden on the continent. When she isn’t writing, she is reading books from multi-faceted disciplines. She is passionate about how entrepreneurship can be used as a tool for economic growth, catalyzing the idea that business must be used as a tool for doing good and social impact. She is a Finance professional, understanding the stories numbers tell by day and crafting stories by night

The Year of Yes is on my list of books to read in my #30bookchallenge. Ijangolet has given me another reason to read it. We are a month and a half into 2017. May it encompass the authenticity we need in order to live our best lives. Let us know who we are and never let go.-Lerato


Reflection Points

It is not every day that you can claim to have an author as a friend. When Thuli first told me about her plans to write a book I was excited for her. It is something that I have been thinking of doing one day and to see someone my age, from a similar background realise a similar dream is inspiring. Inviting her to the book club was a no-brainer!


Thuli is passionate about youth education and empowerment. Her book-The Scent of Freedom: Rest in You is just that-Empowering! Within her first year of publishing, Thuli has already been nominated for the Zimbabwe International Women’s Awards-Author of the Year. You might remember the article

The Scent of Freedom is the type of book which you will extract a lot of value from if you are ready to do the work. By work I mean, taking time to face your demons head on, being brutally honest with yourself and furthermore, reflecting on how you can live your best life. I read this book at the perfect time in my life, even though I will admit, I tried to resist it because of the deep thoughts it made me confront. Having it as our November Book Club Read helped a lot and the discussions during our last Meetup made me realise that there is a need for books like this. It also served as the perfect book to end the year.

I will share with you the parts in the book that stood out for us:

Reflection time- Because the nature of the book requires setting some time for reflection, a question was posed on the importance of reflection. The Scent of Freedom has reflection points in every chapter. These are some questions that help steer your thoughts. This is useful in helping you clear your thoughts and come to a resolution on the best way forward. A common thread I have observed with the leaders I have encountered is that of setting time to reflect. They use it to look at the past-what worked and what did not work and to look at plans for the future.


How often you reflect is up to each individual but there is also a danger in ‘overreflecting’. Be careful of this to avoid spending too much time wallowing in your thoughts and not enough time doing something about it.


Playing charades- This was my favorite chapter in the book. This mainly revolves around authenticity. My initial interpretation was that of the image we portray to those around us. This could be our immediate friends and family and on social media at large. A quick disclaimer that the ladies so rightly pointed out was that social media will always be a tool to show the best version of ourselves to the world. Very rarely do we find ourselves being vulnerable on this tool. The important form of authenticity is that which is to ourselves. It is so easy to believe our own lies. Are you being honest with yourself? It is all good and well to smile at the world and act like everything is ok but you owe yourself the highest form of authenticity or else you run the risk of the faҫade you have so well created unmasking itself.

At the toughest point in my life, I found myself learning to answer the question we often overlook – ‘Are you ok? How are you?’. I learnt to say no when I was not ok. I am glad I did that because it allowed me to address why I was not ok. Pretending to be ok would have left me dealing with the issue 3 months later. I urge you to do the same when you check in with yourself or when someone close to you asks you that question.

It does not take much for our dreams to die- It is so easy to find fault within our dreams and reasons for why they could never work out. We allow society to guide our worth. I urge you to look back at what dreams your 16 year old self had. Have you accomplished those dreams? If not, why? Chances are high that you allowed your dreams to die gripped by the fear of failure. Well, the next step is to ask yourself what are your dreams now. My favorite quote by Sheryl Sandberg is ‘What would you do if you weren’t afraid?’ Do it. Don’t let those dreams die. 

Forgiving yourself- ‘Never be ashamed of a scar. It simply means you were stronger than whatever tried to hurt you’. We tend to bury our heads in the sand, ashamed of the scars that serve as reminders to the whole world of the fact that our lives are not perfect. Scars- emotional or physical, are reminders of our past. Regardless of whether they are self-inflicted or caused by others, you are still standing. Let us own our mistakes, forgive ourselves and use those scars to prevent ourselves from making the same mistakes. Better still, let us use our scars to serve as testimonies to those around us. Let us turn lemons into pink lemonade 🙂


Happy holidays!

Lerato is a Supply Chain professional in the FMCG industry. Not satisfied with being confined to her day job, Lee is always reading something different. The development of women and Africa are what fuel her passion. She would one day love to have dinner with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and pick her brain on so many issues.


I moved back to Cape Town recently and what you find in Cape Town is opulence, the kind of cups that continuously runneth over but what you also find in Cape Town is the sight of atleast five beggars on my way to work. Dirty, ruggedly dressed carrying their tired bodies what would seem aimlessly around, searching for drops of water at the bottom of empty bottles.


The reality in South Africa is that racial lines continue to separate the rich and poor. Where white is largely correlated with opulence and black hardship. Cape Town is aesthetically ravishing but it is in this beauty that a large majority of the racial tension is hidden. Between awkward stares at high-end restaurants and half smiles, remarks about my skin and hair, I think to myself, Yes I AM BLACK and how does black still evoke stares and fascination in Africa or rather black in places that economically scream white evokes these stares (A thought for another article perhaps).

This article does not aim to address inequality or analyze the ideas of “black pain” or “white superiority” or the deficit of what it means to be humane but instead reflect on the writings of I Write what I Like by Steve Bantu Biko and more recent, Writing What We Like ( A new generation speaks) by Yolisa Qunta.

i-write-what-i-like writing-what-we-like-yolisa-qunta

The idea of Black Consciousness is the idea that as black individuals we must remove ourselves from the margins of pages of history. We must embody our stories, the stories of our people, our heritage, our practices and view these things as good, relinquishing notions of relativism. Bantu Biko aptly describes this as the cultural and political revival of a oppressed people. The term revival here speaks to the restoration of an identity. It is accepting our uniqueness with eagerness to define who we are in a world that is not short of wanting to label us, if we do not have the words readily on our tongue to call our hair beautiful. To call our mothers strong with their grazed knees, to call our villages humane and our dances the all-consuming ability to express ourselves unconstrained. To have names like Robert Sobukwe, Julius Nyerere, Rosa Parks, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Thomas Sankara & Toni Morrison just to name a few loosely on our tongues and minds. Biko states that the most powerful weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.



Biko continuously in his book dissects the systems that have aimed to capture the black man’s mind and reiterates this hope “There’s nothing to be ashamed of in language and culture. In fact you should be proud of these things”. His quest is not to travel back in time but rather that we look back and gain inspiration from history to make it relevant to the present and trace the evolution of the black culture.

Reading recently Writing What We Like the book is a commemoration of black voices and thoughts contextualized on living in South Africa. I sometimes wish the liberation leaders like Biko could get a glimpse of the immense impact that their literature has had in influencing the conversations of the current day. The book is as light hearted as it is informative, the first section of the book, Different Shades of Black explores the different nuances of what it means to be black and how it reflects in what’s expected of the male child or growing up between the suburbs and the township and navigating one’s identity. The next section, What have we struggled for, traces the experiences today that make one ask the question. The book is compiled of stories told by “ordinary black” women and men, with each essay I thought of a personal experience or someone dear to me who had a shared experience. It felt very familiar, like a conversation over brunch with a group of friends.

I grew up in a small town surrounded by everyday superheroes one of these being the lady who sold vegetables on the same street corner for years, everyday joyously greeting passers-by and sharing thoughts on politics and humanity. Choosing somehow to remain resilient despite the burdens on her back, of feeding numerous children and suddenly living in a society with systems that reject her. She was a hero but I didn’t know this until now because since i was six I was taught that we only find heroes that matter in books. Resilience. Hard Work. Dedication. I have lived in and amongst these attributes but I always had this singular view of what they should look like.

I am hopeful that my nephews default will be seeing the world in ways that I am only learning, that his history lessons would be filled with African leaders, his economics classes will tell him about the role of the informal economy, he will encounter his first black author in grade one and in finance micro-financing and stokvels will not just be two irrelevant lines in a textbook.


BLACK, synonyms: strong, resilient, my ancestor’s dreams, resourceful, magic, vast as the night sky, all encompassing, infinite, large, capable. GOOD

Ijangolet Ogwang is bullish on Africa. She is most passionate about complexities and the opportunities hidden on the continent. When she isn’t writing, she is reading books from multi-faceted disciplines. She is passionate about how entrepreneurship can be used as a tool for economic growth, catalyzing the idea that business must be used as a tool for doing good and social impact. She is a Finance professional, understanding the stories numbers tell by day and crafting stories by night.

Some powerful words Ijangolet! It calls for us to reflect on what being black means to each one of us and to start having the necessary bold conversations about blackness in all its glory. Let us start or continue ensuring that BLACK is synonymous with GOOD.-BLACK and PROUD Lerato

Beyond Life’s Void: What we are about

I have been getting a lot of enquiries about what #blvbc is about and how people can be a part of the movement.

BLVBC was started in November 2015 when a couple of friends and I started meeting up to discuss books over some wine on a Sunday afternoon. We each had different relationships with books but had similar goals of becoming avid readers. We are young professionals who are particularly passionate about Africa. This does not limit us to the types of books we read though. The books somehow always lead to conversations pertinent to our lives.


We all get to read the same book every two months alternating with our own personal books. Everyone gets to choose the book of the month at some point and the genres of books we read vary.


We meet on a monthly basis. The idea behind the book club is that it is easy to read many books and still not absorb the essence of what the book is about. Reading and getting various opinions on the same book allows one to be multi-dimensional in their thinking. There are many instances where we have read the same book and each person had a different perspective on the book. This has also opened the forum to many conversations and arguments. These are encouraged. That is how passionate we are about books! One of our most powerful sessions was when we discussed Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki. The conversation centered on how we as young, driven women handle our finances. We shared tips and the highlight has been on some of us working towards getting into property management! I would not have been proactive about setting my eyes on property management in the near future had it not been for the book club session. I cannot wait to share the success story of our endeavor when the time comes. Such is the power of women coming together, empowering each other and sharing ideas!


It was in February 2016 when two of the book club members and I discussed how rewarding it would be if we could share our discussions on a public forum. If these discussions can help us, surely they can help others too. Not everyone in the group is a bona fide writer but that does not hinder us from sharing our stories. Each individuals’ story is valid and besides, writing is a skill I have always wanted to hone and the website provides me with the outlet to do so.

Ultimately, we want to be a forum for all things |African|Woman|Conversations| with our values being:

Knowledge Sharing: Cultivating a reading culture among sisters.

Honesty: Creating a bond through honest conversations.

Story Telling: Rewriting the African woman’s narrative.

Collaboration: Empowerment and opening our minds through sharing and collaboration.

Inspiration: Encouraging women to feel good about themselves and strive to be the best they can be with what they have.



We plan to tap into that #africangirlmagic and keep the conversations flowing on many topics and issues.

To join us, feel free to contact us on and subscribe to our newsletter.

Gareth Cliff On Everything

Everyone who has ever read a post by me knows I love opinion pieces. And, probably more importantly, I like people who do not take themselves too seriously. Hence it was a given I would eventually get my hands on Gareth Cliff’s book on, well everything.

The book is a light hearted, yet serious, account of South Africa and the world at large according to the “shock jock” Gareth. Gareth has gained fame for his outlandish statements, and has stayed true to form on this book. Though I would like to think he just says what we are all thinking, albeit aloud. Below are a few of my favourite topics that were touched on in the book.

1. Opinions are like buttholes (edited)- everybody has one. Mr. Cliff touches on why  people are offended when others have opinions that do not agree with their views, worst still do not have an opinion about anything. I couldn’t agree more. You have to believe in something, right? How does one go through life not having an opinion or a view on things? Ferrari versus Mercedes, Skittles versus Smarties, matte versus gloss lipstick? How do people get into your head and see what you are about if you are going to agree with everything that the next person says? “How interested you are in the world will determine how interested the world is in you.” Need I say more?

“How interested you are in the world will determine how interested the world is in you.”

Gareth Cliff

2.Dear Government I, II & III- a series of letters addressed to the government on some issues that were pertinent in 2011 (the year the book was written). We complain about the government and lack of service all the time right? However, how many people actually put pen to paper (literally) and write to the government to express their views and better still suggest solutions. The reason I quite liked this was the proactive approach. Without going into too much detail Gareth talks about why BEE is not working, why we should stop renaming roads, and the state of education. This open letter generated a lot of traffic towards the author, both good and nasty, but all this propelled a discussion on the issues around the country, culminating in an invitation from the Office of the President to meet and discuss the issues that were addressed in the letter. In a time where we have become “keyboard warriors”, complaining about anything and everything on social media, here is a good example of going the extra mile and actually doing something about it.

3. Old Money, New Money- this is a topic I have recently taken interest in. In this 21st century we are living in there has been no greater focus than what we spend our money, and if we are lucky enough, wealth on. I was quite taken aback on Gareth’s opinion on this, probably because it was one of the things I disagree with. So he talks of the usual story of how “new money” spend their earnings on fancy cars, clothes, jewellery and things that ostentatiously show off their wealth, i.e. bling. The generation of today is not interested in settling down, getting married, buying a house or having 2.5 kids. They refuse to be tied down, go where there is opportunity, and as such are more than willing to uproot our lives and move to Timbuktu if that is where the opportunity is. Buying a house or saving up for retirement is not something that will be top of their list. I really do not see the problem with it. I do not subscribe to that life but in a world that is forever changing, what is the point of weighing yourself down when you could just buy a fancy car and Michael Kors purse that you can take with you half way across the world? Just saying. 🙂

4. The meaning of life– I will sum this up with an excerpt from the chapter, taken from Monty Python’s “Meaning of Life”

                         Why are we here? What’s life all about?

                            Is God really real, or is there some doubt?

                            What’s the point of all this hoax?

                            Is it the chicken and the egg time? Are we just yolks?

                            Or, perhaps, we’re just one of God’s little jokes.

                            Well, ca c’est le “Meaning of life”.

                            Is life just a game where we make the rules    

                            While we’re searching for something to say,

                            Or are we just simply spiraling coils

                            Of self replicating DNA.

                            In this “life”, what is our fate?

                            Is there Heaven and Hell? Do we reincarnate?

 “If you do nothing else, live.”

Apart from the appeal to live life to the fullest, I loved this chapter as it introduced me to the greatness that is Monty Python.

5. Lead, follow, or get out of the way- “If you’re not going to lead, then follow, and if you’re not going to follow you better realise that you’re in the way.” Short, sweet and to the point. I touched on this earlier but it is worth saying again. Look at how university students have taken into their own hands a matter that has plagued varsity education for as long as it has been around. Exorbitant fees making education not accessible to all. Though some of their methods have been questionable, now we have dialogue taking place on how we proceed in improving the situation thanks to these brave students. On the flip side, if you are not going to lead by this example then follow and support the cause, whatever the cause may be. And if it is not for you, then get out of the way and let those who do proceed.

In summary this book is quite a mature and thought provoking and mature (well, most of the time) account from someone who wouldn’t necessarily be your go to guy for worldly advice.

By Siphathi

Siphathi is an extroverted introvert. When she is not injecting a little humour into the world she is an engineer trying to pay her bills. Lover of sport, soccer and formula 1 to be exact. But most of all she is an avid reader who loves getting lost in books with a glass of wine by the side.

A good review by Siphathi. It is very relatable in today’s context even though it was published in 2011. Keep sharing your opinions Siphathi. They allow for fierce conversations on issues that one can not ignore or get out of the way for. -Lee