Lean In: From a guy’s perspective | Part 2

The reception received from the first part of our interview has been great so far. Thanks to our readers for sharing your thoughts and sharing the article. If you have not yet read the first part of the conversation, have a look. Lean In: From a guy’s perspective.

Part 2.

Sheryl also mentions like-ability in the book where when a women is being strong and assertive, it comes across as being aggressive whereas for a guy being assertive is more accepted. Have you seen the same thing come across in your experiences?

I can’t think of an example of the top of my head but I definitely know it happens but that problem also goes to other ladies saying the same thing. I’ve heard a female manager saying that she prefers working with guys and I asked ‘why’ and she said that ladies can be emotionally volatile. It’s the stereotype that has been built up.

It speaks to why as women we sometimes have to be conscious of what we say for fear of being labelled catty.

Picture a scenario of a team of guys in a meeting where a lady just comes point by point knocking out everything that has been presented by one of the guys. The guys walks of out the meeting with the embarrassment that all the guys saw him being disrespected by a lady. If it had been a guy knocking out the presentation, it would accepted a lot easier. The treatment should be the same regardless of where the criticism comes from.

Sheryl Sandberg also mentions mentorship in the book. There are fewer women in leadership in Supply Chain, which calls for me having male mentors. Personally, there is a sense of discomfort for me based on experience and what I have seen as some guys have ill intentions towards the process. This means I then limit myself at having a wider array of choices of mentors. Do you feel a similar way about being close to your female counterparts or even having female mentors-the few that are in your industry?

I think the biggest worry is even if nothing happens, perception may always question close relationships between men and women in a professional setting. The two approaches I can think would be group mentorship which removes the unnecessary discomfort and the other way to approach it is that your mentors don’t always have to be in the same company or in the same industry.

Another thing I wanted to discuss was when Sheryl mentions that most men attribute their success to innate qualities, being intelligent, good people skills and so forth whereas women tend to downplay their contribution to success being to more external factors and sometimes even luck! Do you see yourself speaking typically of what Sheryl has said?

I think it could be a character thing. I have always come from a more humble perspective. I know where Sheryl’s statement is coming from but it’s not something I have done myself. On the one side, I don’t believe in claiming all the glory and being pompous about one’s achievements. At the same time, I also don’t believe in understating your own achievements and not believing in yourself. I think there is some middle ground where you know you put in the effort and you should recognize your part in your success. I understand where Sheryl was coming from. I think in that regard she was trying to encourage ladies to believe in themselves and understand that they got there because they actually put in the effort.

In Lean In, Sheryl also talks about the Leadership ambition gap and I can link it to another statement that she makes which is ‘Don’t leave before you leave’. I can testify to the fact that some women talk about the ambition to one day be married and have kids almost limit themselves, preparing themselves for something that has not even happened yet. It is sad but true. Do guys ever connect their career plans to the same possibility of being married with kids in the same way?

I think guys do think about it. They just delay those kind of decisions to later on. They give priority to their careers when their young. Which is why she says ’don’t leave before you leave’. Guys are actually doing that from the onset. I do hear guys making those trade-offs and compromises a lot later. There is also nothing wrong with someone having the intentions of wanting to have kids and taking care of them full-time. Sheryl mentions it in the book.

I think part of comes from when in high school our parents tell us to focus on our studies but at same point when we get older, during university or when we are working, we start getting questions around our dating life and marriage plans. That becomes part of the goal.  We are then made to believe that we should plan our careers around that goal.

So we have solved the problem! It’s the previous generation. It’s funny but there is an element of truth here.

Yeah and there are more women who have chosen to not be guided by that and so hopefully, more young women can realise that they can find someone who can complement their career and goals without making such sacrifices early on. I can imagine those ladies are probably not even with the guys they made sacrifices early in University.

In conclusion, what is the one profound thing you feel women should take from the book?

There were two big things for me. The one was when she said,

‘What would you do if you weren’t afraid? ’.

It’s a question that everyone should ask themselves. It has got to do with everything you are pushing for in life. A lot of the time we just don’t get where we want to because we are afraid. If you ask yourself that question, you start to open your mind and push towards that goal. The second one was

‘Proceed and Be Bold’.

So ‘What would you do if you weren’t afraid?’ and now ‘Proceed and Be Bold’. Because the book has been read by more ladies than guys, I think the onus is for the ladies to push these conversations forward. Even if guys don’t read the book, women can have the conversations around the principles from it with their male counterparts.

Thank you so much Tanaka for sharing your perspective and being the first male guest on the blog!

By Lee:

Lee 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.

Lean In: From a guy’s perspective

It is not often that you get to hear of a guy being interested in reading a book like Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg. After all, the subheading is ‘WOMEN, WORK, AND THE WILL TO LEAD’ with the focus being on women in the workplace. In an edition of Destiny Magazine, CEO of Absa Capital, Nomkhita Nqweni mentions that she bought a copy of the book for each of her male colleagues on the Barclays Africa Executive Committee. She felt a responsibility to help them understand the motivations of the company’s many executive women. Therefore, when a good friend of mine, Tanaka Mutakwa, shared that he was keen on reading the book and just wanted my thoughts on it before he did, I was keen to get his perspective on the book and saw a good conversation in the making.

About the guest:

Tanaka Mutakwa is an entrepreneur, software engineer, runner and avid reader. He lives in Cape Town and is the Founder & CEO of the NoDaysOff Lifestyle Brand. To get to know more about Tanaka you can follow his blog where he writes his ideas on how you can push yourself to succeed in your goals and ambitions, building habits that stick and doing great work. He occasionally writes about business and running too.

So here goes!!

What made you want to read the book in the first place?

I already read quite a lot of different books so when Lean In came out I saw that the book was getting quite popular. I tend to read the books that everyone is talking about. It’s just that the whole idea around the book was that it’s a ladies book so it took me a bit of time to get to it but then a few of my guy friends who also read a lot of books had also read it and recommended it and gave it positive reviews. I also chatted to a few ladies who have read it and they all kept saying that it is not really a ladies book so, I got the book on my kindle quite a while back and I was just going through the books I haven’t read and I decided that maybe it’s time I read Lean In. I did ask you too if you have read it and got similar views. I had to read it at some point just to get perspective on it.

Your thoughts on the book?

The biggest thing for me was that it was eye-opening from a guy’s perspective because you sort of get the idea that inequality does exist but I think she did well to bring out the statistics and you can’t argue with that. It was mainly eye-opening in that there has been lots of progress that has been made in terms of equality. It is just that there is still a lot of work to do. This is mainly in terms of how much ladies get paid on average compared to men and how much more representation of men compared to ladies there is in leadership. One does not see it explicitly unless someone points out the statistics.

So assuming that whilst reading it, you were able to put it in parallel with experience in the workplace. Have you seen certain inequalities that you have possibly overlooked?

I think that relates well to my industry which is also why I enjoyed the book because Sheryl is from Facebook and is in the Tech industry. From the onset when I got to University, the number of ladies doing technical related degrees like Computer Science was few compared to the guys and that has continued to filter. I have been working for six years. I have worked with almost 40/45 male software engineers. At my previous company, I worked with two female software engineers and at my current company, the second lady just joined so that’s four ladies in a six year career! I think that’s the biggest one. Sheryl mentions it in the book that ladies kind of shy away from the technical degrees or are pushed away by the notion that it’s a ‘guys’ place and end up going into different fields and I genuinely believe that there is nothing about Computer Science that says it has to be a guy’s field. That has been the biggest observation. Just like how there is a lot being done on racial representation, there is a lot that needs to be done for female representation.

Do you think enough efforts are being made to work on getting better female representation?

I’m going to use South Africa as an example because that is where we are based now. I think obviously the government in South Africa will give companies more points if a company has black females in leadership roles so that kind of drives companies to push ladies into leadership positions. But I don’t know if it should be sold at a company level only because some of these issues need to be solved at grassroots level. It has to be solved by the way cultures influence how an individual is raised. Companies definitely play a part which is why I would say that it would help if people in leadership positions in these companies, both men and women, read not just this book, but read all kinds of books that point to this, looked at these statistics and then start looking at what they can do. The best advice I can give is that maybe companies should encourage people towards reading it and then from there people can then at least make the moves to help out.

So what are your thoughts on equality?

My thoughts, personally, is that everything should be equal and even before I read the book that was my ideology. I know it doesn’t work like that in the world. That’s the problem. And I think a lot of the stuff again goes back to grassroots and how people have been brought up and the things you see as you grow up become what you expect in life. There is still a big inequality. Well, we’ve already talked about the workplace one. If we go into the home one and you go back to our own culture in Zimbabwe, a majority of families are structured in such a way that the father is the centre of the family so they are supposed to be seen as the person who does all the work for the family. If I go back to how I saw things when I was growing up, my dad did all the outdoors stuff, fixing bulbs etc and my mom would sort out the house, the kids and she would handle the cooking and stuff like that. And that’s how families are split around Africa and possibly around most of the world. So the thing is when people are growing up seeing these things they tend to assume that’s how things should always be structured-also coupled by the fact that if you do try to change it, your parents could start asking you, “what is wrong with you?” and if it’s a guy, “What are you doing in the kitchen?” or something like that. I think it will happen over time. It will transition.

It’s a lot harder in the poorer communities. That’s sort of the default. If you want to look at where the book has been criticized, I don’t know if you were going to talk about that but, it’s that how are you going to fix those people who are never going to get access to the book? She spoke from a privileged point of the view. She did not cater for someone from whom the traditional way of thinking is already a default. For those ladies who come from the poorer communities. In those communities it will be seen as disrespect and it can become a big issue.

For me in the home setup, it makes sense for the father to be as involved as much as the mom just for the children’s best interests. And similarly, if it’s not in a marriage but just a boyfriend and girlfriend setup, it’s about supporting each other. The guy has to support the girls’ career and the same thing, the girl supporting the guy’s career. .

I agree with you on the fact that Sheryl spoke from a ‘privileged’ view as one of the few who has been to an Ivy League, was already very intelligent, was naturally a go-getter but for people who are not really like that, I don’t think it would be as easy to relate to the book- maybe inspiring but not easy.

It may be a hard criticism because we don’t know what Sheryl’s intentions were. Sometimes if you fix the problem for the privileged people, you indirectly create an opportunity to fix it for the people who are not so privileged. If she had planned to cater the book for everyone, it would have been difficult to even get the book to places like rural Zim. Maybe the idea is to fix the issue also at the top where at some point you get equal representation at the top then suddenly a rural girl from an underprivileged community grows to see many more role models and starts seeing what’s possible. Sheryl could argue that that’s the angle she was going for.

Sheryl talks about making your partner a real partner in both the book and the Ted Talks video and she also talks about the myth that we women have about having it all. There is desire to be an amazing wife, mother, daughter, and sister and do great in our careers but at any point in time we cannot have all these roles working out well and that’s where the call for a real partner who helps in sharing the load comes in. Other than the traditional background you have mentioned, where is the disconnect for men?

In general, guys are very proud. I recall an example, must have been from the book, where there was a guy who was celebrating that his child was born and he was playing soccer with his friends on the same day. The guy was proud that he could tell his friends this. So, I think peer pressure is one of the biggest factors. So, you have to completely isolate yourself from that and just be fully committed to your family. The stereotype says that men should be assertive and should be leaders and so being ‘controlled’ goes against that, but surely one’s family takes priority.

 For more on this conversation, look out for a continuation in tomorrow’s article!

By Lee:

Lee 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.

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Lee in her NoDaysOff merchandise.

Queens

 Written on Women’s Day-9th August

As the sun comes to an end on this momentous day I can’t help but feel deeply fueled with the fire to make a significant contribution to the social, racial, and economic freedom. A woman, a feminist at that, days like these are a reminder of the journey still ahead to complete freedom for females across the continent of Africa. Sixty years ago on this day over 20000 African Queens united in solidarity to march to the Union buildings in a protest against a law that intended to segregate them. A voyage to the Union Buildings in South Africa to fight against the regulation of a law that required them to carry a “pass” where ever they went…an exclusion tactic for Black women to be secluded, isolated and discriminated against.

Today, we celebrate women’s day in South Africa, symbolic of the efforts of all those women who fleshed out the way for us to lead lives filled with opportunity, culture, and the appreciation of our differences. We appreciate you phenomenal woman in all your glory and despair, in all your thickness and curves; your successes and failures!!!

“This document (dom-pass) that labels you a third class citizen…take it, and burn it” – [Winnie: the movie]

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As a tribute to Women’s Day, and to all of you phenomenal women, may you be reminded of your Strength by this Maya Angelou classic and a read of the 3rd issue of Sibahle Women’s Network magazine: An issue which pays tribute to remarkable females; for you are beautiful, you are Bold you are a Super Power!!!

Sibahle Women’s network magazine: https://issuu.com/sibahleafrica/docs/sibahle_magazine_the_queens_issue

queens

”You need no permission to be who you want to be, do what you want to do and make your mark. “ Images courtesy of @everydaypeoplestories

By Nwamara Obiike

Thanks to all our readers for the support we have been getting with the Women’s Month series and thanks to Nwamara for calling out the Queens out there! Nwamara, I see you! -Lee

 

The scent of freedom – why I wrote the book

Why I wrote the book:

I wrote the book to help other young women find liberation from the chains that bind them and hinder them from making positive progress towards their destiny and personal goals, such as the past, failures, oppression and negativity.

I have since learnt that whilst life does indeed have unfavourable circumstances often times our limitations are mainly self- imposed. We go through life, picking up disappointments that we never quite deal with fully, and mistakes we overlook to forgive ourselves for. No matter how much people believe in us, if we lack confidence in ourselves we will always be a victim of low self-esteem and we will never go for the joys and happiness we rightfully deserve. We will continually blame ourselves for the messes we will find ourselves in and fail to move forward positively.

In the debut memoir ‘The Scent of Freedom: Rest in You’, which deals with issues that apply across all genders and generations, I transparently share my failures and triumphs, life realities and startling insights about how a life can be broken, moulded, realigned and positioned for great significance in order to encourage others to break free from the chains that hinder them from living out their full potential and reaching for their destiny.

Lastly, I wrote the book to leave a legacy as I believe that a book (anything recorded in writing really) outlives the author beyond their time. Whilst everyone has a unique mix of experiences in their life, there is nothing really new under the sun! If I can live a small bit of what I have learnt so far then those coming after me do not necessarily have to learn everything from the start always!

Bio

Thuli Dube is a Chartered Accountant, Author and Publishing Consultant, who finds her therapy, healing and release in writing. She has a heart for young people, with a special focus towards young women and a passion for youth education and empowerment. Thuli is keen to bring life transformation to her audience by assisting with their transition process into becoming whole and restored individuals. Born and raised in Zimbabwe, she relocated to the UK in 2015.

She believes in living a purpose driven life and making an impact on her immediate community. She aspires to enable individuals to fully realise what they were created to accomplish.

She also assists other budding authors with tools and skills to publish their manuscripts and distribute them globally.

-Thuli is another of our writers in the club. For those interested, The Scent of Freedom is available on amazon.com (Paperback and Kindle Version). For those in Zimbabwe, you can also purchase your copy at Wholeness Incorporated or Jabula (NLCC) Offices. I am also proud to announce that Thuli has been nominated for  Author of the Year for the Zimbabwe International Women’s Awards  (ZIWA). We are so proud of you! Voting is now open.http://ziwa.twunhu.com/vote/. Please support her! – Lee

thuli-dube-ziwa

Letter to my daughter

“Beautiful girl you can do hard things”

On Identity.

You are beautiful, I will tell you this as often as possible because the world will often tell you otherwise, so it is important that I ensure that I am one step ahead of them. It is only fitting that the treasures you carry within you are packaged immaculately. It is important that you do not reduce beauty to one’s physical appearance as you would have cheapened what I have found as one of God’s most remarkable traits, how He has left a piece of Himself in many things. Fall in-love with yourself dear child, cut your hair and then grown it long but love yourself all the same. When you are eighteen you can wear makeup if you choose to but you will stop wearing makeup if you ever believe that you need it to look beautiful. Fall in-love with all your detail, spend time with the things that people will give names, such as “your quirks”, it is these things that make you who you are. In your journey of loving yourself be sure to not make yourself the centre of the universe, may humility be the diamonds on your crown.

On Life.

Dream, let no-one measure your dreams bigger than that heart of yours, you are colossal beautiful girl, so always choose courage and never settle in the cocoon of comfort. Being Black and a woman people will often have stereotypes that they try and impose on you, pay them no attention and break every box they want you to live in, some eyes will always see you in part and not fully, this has nothing to do with you. Look to the sky often, look at how vast it is and remember that you are blessed, not of your own doing, so it is my hope that you find what you are most passionate about and in the pursuit of this you build a ladder that others can climb. I recently read a very powerful quote that stated that not all things are about happiness but some of the “monumental moments” in our lives are about wholeness, this is what the hard days teach us, they build character. Lastly see everyone, say hi and thank you and try address people by name.

On Love.

Love anything and there is a possibility that it will break your heart. I am yet to meet the love of my life but I have encountered love and it is fascinating. I hope you meet someone who will look at you each day and thank the heavens for your existence. I hope for you the kind of love that reaches into your soul and calls your scars beautiful, that challenges you to do and be better, that on the bad days brings you breakfast in bed. I wish you the kind of love that makes you nervous, even after years it still is a beautiful surprise. I wish you are loved this way and that you love this way and even deeper, but know this, no-one will ever love you as much as your mother will one-day in the distant future when I give birth to 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.
Very fitting as we celebrated Women’s day yesterday. With our experiences as women, our mistakes as well as our triumphs, we have the mandate to write our stories and keep them for the next generation of young ladies to learn from. – Lee

The path

Do you think you have never walked the path? That path you are ashamed to speak about, that path you were the victim at the same time the person to be blamed or that path you initiated someone into thinking it is the right path. Your home became silent with the mention of the path. We all know the path exist, sometimes we know people who have been through the path, we want to speak about it but silent seems like the best form of dialogue.

I wish all the people who went through the path had an Aunty like Morenike, that Aunt who went through the path and is unashamed to speak about it, to coach you and does not judge you when you finally misbehave, who stood by you in your lowest point and when she tells you things will get better – you believe her because she understands what it feels like to walk through the path.

I remember a young lady who was expelled in my secondary school for having sexual relations with a senior boy (he was also expelled), during interrogations she mentioned their house maid (male) that defiled her and the sexual relations continued till she joined our boarding house.  Looking back, I wish she was never expelled, I wish someone spoke with her about it, I wish her parents had noticed changes in her mood, in her closeness with the house-maid(male) I wish someone had told her she will not die if she spoke about it.. I wish I wish I wish.04

Daughter who walked this path and the character Aunty Morenike taught me we need to create an avenue for our young boys and girls who experienced the path to speak about it without being discriminated, it taught me the importance of speaking about our struggle with the right person and the dangers of not getting counselled, it taught me to quit the marriage shaming as I do not know what the unmarried people have been through and preventing them from making the big decision.

Although the path in the novel was on “rape”, the list of our paths are different and we need that one person to speak with. Personally, when I had a disturbing path, I went for counselling and I have surrounded myself with people who make it easy for me to speak about any path.

You are not alone, you can check the following pages on Instagram, if you feel you are alone:

  • Standtoendrape
  • Shewriteswoman
  • SanemindNigeria
  • Thesiweproject
  • Womenofrubies
  • Soundmindafrica

Have you been through the path? What did you do? Did you reach out to anyone? Were they helpful?

As we celebrate Women’s month, we encourage our readers to take the first step to understand and seek assistance about any disturbing path. Going for therapy doesn’t mean you are crazy or weak.

Daughters who walk this path was written by Yejide Kilanko – a Nigerian who lives in Canada.

ÀSÀKÉ-Ọ̀KÍN – Muslimah ll Supply Chain ll Occasional Blogger ll Amateur Photographer

SULA

I was recently gifted with (and essentially forced to read) my first Toni Morrison. Toni is a renowned female black author that has gripped the hearts of many avid readers.

Sula is one of her literary fictions. After my baptism into Toni Morrison’s work, I have to admit that I finally understand the deep respect many hold for her work.

In Sula, Toni Morrison fiercely defies social conventions- not only through her characters and the message Sula forces one to confront- but also in the manner that she writes the book. In a period when black authors had a box that they needed to conform to in terms of how they tell stories, Sula is a breath of fresh air in its strong refusal to be classified as anything other than good fiction.

Sula is a story about two friends, whose race and gender-though the critical points of contention in the story-Toni fights to make irrelevant. Sula and Nel live as they want to, with an intentional disregard for social norms and confines. This is until a tragedy occurs which gradually leads Nel to gravitate back to social norms to mask her role in the incident and to play the role of the ‘good’ one in the aftermath of the tragedy. Sula on the other hand does not change, instead, as her compatriots like Nel grow into their set social norms, Sula’s blatant refusal to regard her gender or race as things that come with preset definitions renders her even more repulsive to the conservative community.

It is in this brilliant contrast between the gravitation of Nel to the role of ‘good’ and the community fiercely fighting to keep in tact their preset definitions of ‘good’ versus Sula and her family’s refusal to pay any attention to the demands of social etiquette, that Toni Morrison clearly brings to the surface how biased and preconceived our binary definitions of ‘good vs. evil’ are.

Sula forces you to look internally. At some points, I saw parts of myself in Nel and some of my deepest longings for freedom in Sula. This spectrum of Sula to Nel really proves that the fight within us isn’t just between good and evil, rather, it is between freedom to be truly ourselves (however grotesque that is) and the pull to fit into social conforms.

For fear of giving away too much, I would like to explore one personal key takeout from the book as alluded to above: the attempt to erase binary views on good and evil.

Toni Morrison, through the characters of Sula and Nel along with the supporting characters beckons us to confront the spectrum of good and evil. She forces the reader to question the purist idea of either or in looking at these two concepts. While social convention defines one thing as ‘good’ and another as ‘evil’, Toni Morrison counter argues that things are not that simple. Sometimes goodness is worn to mask the evil that one really has within them. So in order to keep intact these binary views, people at times wear the mask of a certain side (good/ evil) within the confines of social conventions and definitions. Through the character of Nel, we see how this perceived superior position of ‘good’ is synonymous with social convention. In Sula to contrast, we see how the the perceived position of ‘evil’ is synonymous with being fully comfortable in one’s crude self. It is through this spectrum that we see the pivotal role of the other characters in the book that Toni Morrison uses to drive this point of no simple ‘black and white’ home. The brilliance in her writing unfolds the story beautifully and forces you think critically.

In closing, I would like to give a warning: the book is not for the lazy/ passive reader. It forces you to dig deeper within yourself to try make sense of the story and to connect the dots. Toni Morrison gives no easy way out for her readers nor does she write a typical and cliché narrative. She is resolute in writing the way she likes and forcing you to dig deeper than you would like to. It is for this reason that I absolutely would recommend this book to anyone tired of reading a typical and predictable narrative.

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.

I am more convinced than ever to start reading some Toni Morrison as the book list keeps piling up🙂. Thanks Frank(ie). – Lee

A writer? No, just a feeler

I spent two hours this evening writing as I do ever so often but if asked whether I am a writer chances are I would answer with a shy and possibly dismissive (It’s nothing to write home about tone), “No I am not a writer but I am borderline in-love with words in their various forms”. It’s very similar to how perhaps a baby who has learnt to walk probably thinks: “hey, I can actually take steps” but she wouldn’t say she is a walker, at least not yet a certified walker but just in that weird stage between crawling and walking that someone should perhaps come up with a name for. Poor analogy but I suspect you understand what I mean.

I read an interesting post on instagram the other day written by a writer, as her bio clearly stated :Writer, paraphrasing her post she said something along these lines: I would not say I am a writer, I am just a feeler who uses writing to scratch the itch when it arises. And this ladies and gentlemen, I have found is a sentiment that resonates with me and probably with a lot of other aspiring writers. Most times, I write because I am feeling emotions so deep that they demand that I ink them onto pieces of blank pages (or type them onto my cellphone screen) and make them memorable. I write best when I am on the extreme of either side of the spectrum: Sunshine and rainbows kind of happy or the kind of sadness that makes your heart feel like it is beating out of rhythm. I am a certified feeler on the journey of becoming a writer because it is only once one is published does a closest writer feel like they can finally wear their : I am a WRITER t-shirt.

I have found writing to be one of the most beautiful spaces, I have often found solace here from avalanches of emotions, I have seen beauty between letters and I have revisited lovers lost in the corners of my notebooks. I am currently attempting to become a certified writer. Yes, you guessed right, I am writing a book but more specifically a novel. The next paragraph will probably be the hardest to write, where I want you to get a glimpse of what we will call “The Novel”, yet equally I am not yet at a place where I am letting a lot of people in on what it is actually about.

“The novel” is based in Uganda and South Africa the two countries that house the stories of my origin. It is a story of becoming, not my autobiography but instead it borrows pieces of the people I have met and the conversations I have heard. The book follows the lives of two girls, their learning, unlearning and relearning about themselves, the world and those closest to them. It is a combination of a love story that consumes your entire heart, political themes and discovering the essence of one’s self: Home.

It was inspired by Africa and by a need for us to record our stories, Chimamanda said it best when in her TED Talk she remarked, I always wanted to read books that had people like me in them, people who had been to places I had been, that I could relate to. I was also inspired by the notion that we can look at the very same thing yet have it evoke different emotions. Africa yes there are vast complexities and uncertainties, now let us shift our view: Africa the blank canvas with so many opportunities, as uncertainty makes all things seem plausible.

I have learnt that writing a novel is like scaling a mountain, it takes a lot of patience and perseverance, I am still learning. There will be days where you just have to push through, knowing fully well that you are solely using your grade one vocabulary and you will feel inadequate on those days, then there are the day’s where you feel like you and Shakespeare could have been friends drinking tea and rhyming. On those days write and don’t stop until exhaustion overtakes your body. My biggest annoyance has been the moments when half way through a chapter, I realize that I have written 2000 words that make the previous chapter not make sense so I have to delete and try again or when one minute a character is wearing a blue dress and in the next line she’s wearing a red dress: consistency in the story is key, this too I am still learning. In summary I am in the awkward space between a feeler and a writer, that someone should come up with a word for, wish me luck Ladies and Gentleman. I will leave you with these words:

“If you hear a voice within you say, “You cannot paint”, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.” – Vincent Van Gogh

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.
Ijangolet is a writer. There, I said it! We can not wait to read and review your upcoming book. – Lee