Thursday, September 04, 2014

We've Moved: The "New"

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

― Anais Nin

For Circumspecte, that day has come: unveiling another layer of possibility
I've spent the past year preparing for our transition from a blog to a full-fledged website.

Photo Credit: Nii Nai-Kwade

Now that the hour is here, I find myself quite emotional. 
Circumspecte: SEVEN years worth of priceless insights and experiences.  I'm thankful. 
While this may be my final post here, you can still access our archive of 331 posts
(see menu to the right)!

I am also excited! 
For all of you to discover the "new" Circumspecte, our team (!), and all we have in store!
Our URL may have changed, but our essence remains the same:

Inform. Interact. Inspire.

For now, I just want to say THANK YOU. Introducing, Circumspecte 2.0:


Monday, June 09, 2014

Circum-Byte: Introducing CHALE!, Ghana's newest street-talk web series!

Chale, how! Chale freeeesh!

Depending on intonation, pronunciation, context, time of day, people involved, energy, mood, the Ghaniaan word "Chale" - apparently a localised version of "Charlie" - can mean very different things!

In this case, it's the newest "street-talk" web series produced by the Fashionista GH and Excelsis crew which - according to the official CHALE! Facebook page - seeks to "capture our very essence and the word on the street across an interesting mix of issues - some of which we easily gloss over."

I mean, how can you knock that hustle? E be cool waaa.

When Fashionista GH team lead Ob Absenser first sent me the link to preview, I was immediately captivated by the name and branding - ingenuous, I'm willing to bet that every konkonsa (gossip) session in Ghana begins with "Chale". Then came the sound bytes for M.anifest's Blue (Charlie What Dey Happen) and it's street cred was sealed.

After sharing my impressions with Ob about the CHALE! concept, we got into a very interesting discussion regarding language and more specifically, the lack of subtitles in the first episode which - quite aptly - captures people's opinions about the World Cup and the Black Stars' chances of winning. Here's what Ob said that struck me:

"When I was in primary school I read a book by a Nigerian author. He never translated the local language. That stubbornness kind of stuck with me.

Our discussion was spurred by the fact that I couldn't understand a word of the Ga one of the ladies was speaking, and I wanted to know what she was so passionate about. I asked Ob if he planned to include subtitles. His response:

"Aha! So I wish people would FIND a Ga speaker to translate... What she said is very funny, but in English? Might lose the kick."

Can't argue with that. It's about time we started promoting our local languages online and creating content around them. If not us, then who?

We're already seeing an emergence of Ghanaian web series, beginning with the uber successful (or shocking - depends on who you ask) "An African City" YouTube series produced by Nicole Amartefio and Millie Monyo. I've had so many NON-Ghanaians, from Kigali to Tunis, asking me about the show and whether there will be a season two. According to Nicole, they are working on it, looking forward to it myself. Oh, and let's not forget Boys Kasa and the antics of the humorous Kalybos, the only boss with one 's', and his darling (yet ever elusive) Ahuofe Patri!

Given the success of Fashionista GH, Ob's latest project is bound to be as riveting. Why? There's a ton of great content to capture and even more people to consume it!

Chale, how you go do am? You for go with the flow, na what I mean? And without much further ado, I will spare you all from my poor attempt at pidgin LOL.

Ladies and gentlemen, the first episode of CHALE! with guest presenter Nana Fokzi. You can also check out Manifest's joint below. E dey be!

P.S. Are you crazy excited as I am about the World Cup? This time dieerr, Ghana for show them all! Go Black Stars!

Friday, May 30, 2014

Mentorship: The Importance of Knowing Juliet

I had come home to find a stack of papers and brown envelopes in my laundry basket. Assuming it was my sister’s, I ignored them. That is, until I needed the laundry basket. They were mine: college applications, recommendation letters, letters from high school, the works.

I ignored them still. Until I needed yet another excuse to delay my packing (procrastination becomes your best friend when you absolutely dislike packing). So, leafing through the stack of materials I’d long forgotten I had, I time-traveled to younger versions of myself and of my parents.
Among the things I found were invoices, letters and notes from my first real job… straight out of high school. Now I must say that I didn’t get my job as an administrative assistant and sub-editor the traditional way. Applications? No siree. Connections – mum tells distant-not-really-a-relative aunt of so-so and so that her all-grown-up-distant-not-really-related-niece is all done with high school and looking to keep busy – nope. I got my first job through my network. – There’s a crucial difference between “networking” and “connections” which I’ll probably cover in a later post. – I wasn’t looking for a job. I was preparing to start a software development course at AITI-KACE when my good friend Nani called me up about a job she’d applied for. After interviewing she decided it wasn’t for her and recommended me instead. I got called up, went in for the interview, and by the end of it, I was employed.
Now you’re probably wondering what all this has to do with anything. Among the papers I found was a list – a bucket list of sorts – for my time at my then-new job. Looking at it, I was confused. I didn’t recognize the handwriting. Later, I realized it was Juliet’s handwriting, and the memory came flooding back.

Monday, May 05, 2014

#BringBackOurGirls: Boko Haram & Nigeria's 200+ Chibok Girls, Three Weeks On

On April 15, 2014 an estimated 200+ girls at the Chibok Government School in Borno state of Northern Nigeria were abducted by armed militiamen suspected of being members of the radical Islamist group Boko Haram. The girls had just returned to school to take their final physics exam following school closures across the region after targeted attacks by Boko Haram. Almost 20 days after the incident, over 200 16- to 18-year old girls are still missing, with about 50 escaping and returning to tell their harrowing tale.

Accounts from nearby village inhabitants, who witnessed a mass wedding taking place indicate that the girls may likely have been "married off" to the militiamen, have left parents and relatives at wits end. There are also fears that the girls may have been trafficked into neighboring Chad and/or Cameroun. Their parents received this information when they ventured into the wilderness with bows and arrows in search of their daughters.

Two weeks after their daughters were abducted,  distressed parents, relatives and concerned Nigerians took to the streets to beg the Nigerian government to do more. The main message is to bring back the girls alive.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Circum-Alert: iHAV Conference - July 30 - August 2, 2014 - Accra, Ghana (Applications open)

Ladies and gentlemen, Entrepreneurship is IN!

Not just because entrepreneurs are some of the coolest peeps ever, but because we Africans have a very real challenge on our hands. The dilemma presented by Africa's youth bulge: to either sink or swim in the face of youth unemployment and other issues.

The good news is that there's a growing awareness of just how much of an opportunity or a challenge the youth bulge presents for Africa, and people and organizations like Christabel Ofori and the iHAV (I Have a Vision) Foundation are working on capacity building and employment generation by putting "Vision in ACTion!" with the IHAV Conference.


iHAV Conference: An annual conference "designed to raise a generation of young African entrepreneurs who will work collaboratively to create employment and provide sustainable solutions to Africa's challenge".

2014 Theme: Creating an Agribusiness Revolution with Africa's Youth.

Topics: Embracing ICT, Women's role in agriculture, Climate change impact, Globalizing local markets, Agribusiness

On the agenda: Coaching, mentoring, lectures, roundtable sessions, dialogues and debates, group project challenges, business plan development.

July 30 - August 2, 2014

Accra, Ghana. Venue TBA


Participants: 100 outstanding and innovative young problem solvers aged 18-28 years. Apply here.

Resource people: Over 15 prominent business and political leaders and change champions.

Speakers: Sigismund Dzeble, PZ Cussons Ghana Ltd; Jennifer Agyeman- Image & Life Coach; Former Minister of State Dr. Gheysika Agambila; Regina Agyare, CEO of Soronko Solutions; Ehi Binitie, CEO of Rancard Solutions; Edison Gbenga, Executive Director, African Recovery and Agripro Lead; and Yaw Adu-Gyamfi, award winning Atlas Corps Social Entrepreneur.

Sponsors: Agripro, Independent Skies Magazine, Sangy Nursing Services, the Kumasi Centre for Lifelong Learning, Ghana Center for Entrepreneurship, Employment and Innovation (GCEEI) and the National Youth Authority.

  1. Entrepreneurship is IN (and essential to African and youth development)
  2. We're making agriculture sexy
  3. IHAV Foundation is youth-led, regional and culturally diverse; show support
  4. IHAV provides a platform for further youth opportunities
  5. We're the ones we've been waiting for. Let's get to work!

How (to get involved)
  • Apply by May 24, 2014 to participate (sponsorship available)
  • Sponsor, partner, advertise: Christabel Ofori: (+233) 0243650790, email: 

Official Press Release


Need social media marketing for an Africa-focused and inspired event or initiative? Contact info[at]

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Poetry/Prose: Dirty Dancin'

We danced. For months on end.
The tango, the waltz, even salsa'd it up
Amidst the swirling shadows, intoxicated by tune
Daylight? T'was always the dark we craved
Grinding against each other - wanting, denying, no sleeping tonight
Heavy breaths in sync, bass tempo till light

Staring. Breathing the other in. 
Intimate, strange.
Enveloped, conspiring; tearing the other apart.
Remedy to the madness, but poisonous at touch
Pure and utter insanity, the reasons to exile.
Yet come night fall, we dance it up again.

Deeper into the dungeon, velvety curtains drawn apart.
Deadly passion, intoxicating yearning.
Scratch marks the evidence of struggle.
Copulate, then dilacerate.
Copulate, then dilacerate.

Pure and utter insanity, deeper into the dungeon we go.
Nooks and crannies, monsters under the bed.
The questions. The shadows. Therein all dwell.
The darkness hath come and conspire with it we shall

We dance. Over and over again.
A misstep here, a two step there, a little shimmy in between.
The rhythms of our beings, conspiring.
One body, one name, multiple souls contained. 
Hate it or love it, we dance.
Till the end of time, dirty dancin' all night long.

Inspired by the questions, the give and take, the exchange, the ebbs and flows of our be-ing. 
The many versions of oneself we encounter in solitude; when we dare to go within. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

Circum-Alert: Lean Accra - Sign Up to Win Free Tickets to 3-Day Entrepreneurship Workshop!

We're excited to be partnering with Lean Startup Machine (LSM), a three-day workshop on starting a successful new business.

Most new startups fail because they build something no one wants. LSM teaches you a systematic process for learning which products or services will succeed and which ones will not. Over 25,000 entrepreneurs have had their lives changed by the LSM experience.

The date for LSM in Accra will be announced soon.

Sign-up today to be notified and get a chance to win a free ticket to the event: click HERE.

the lean startup machine - accra team 
twitter:  @leanaccra

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

We're nominated! Vote 'Circumspecte' in #BlogCamp14 Awards & Join Me for a Chat!

Hi everyone,

Ghana's 2nd Blogging & Social Media Awards is ongoing and I'm excited to let you know that Circumspecte and myself have been nominated for a total of THREE categories!

  • Best Blog
  • Best Female Blogger and 
  • Best Twitter Profile

You can vote by clicking here - all you need is your email address and a few minutes. Voting ends March 28, 2014. I also encourage you to take a look at some of the other nominees, a lot of great content and folks.

I must say that after our nomination and subsequent win for Best Citizen Journalism and News last year, having three nods is very encouraging and tells me that maybe I'm doing something right :)

Thanks to everyone who nominated/votes for me and everyone who reads, follows, engages and supports me.

Jabdulai vs. Circumspecte

That said, I'll admit I am a bit surprised about a couple of things.

First, that (the "second generation" of Circumspecte) made the list in lieu of (this site, which is the more popular one). Again, that's a good thing. So in case you were wondering - yes, is Circumspecte. It's just (hopefully) a better platform geared at improving your online experience, because in essence, you are central to Circumspecte.

Second, that my twitter profile (@jabdulai) made the cut! Definitely a pleasant surprise, thank you tweeps :)

So last year, I used my nomination for Best Citizen Journalism blogger as an opportunity to see how effective social media could be as a campaign tool. In addition to tweeting my heart out about how Circumspecte has helped me grow, I created this video on 10 things you probably didn't know about Circumspecte, slipping in a few seconds of me doing the Azonto. From what some commentators said, the "azonto bribe" worked - their words, not mine LOL!

Well it's 2014 and Azonto has - quite sadly - had her day. I hear the dance in the streets now is Alkayida (not to be confused with the terrorist group); which unfortunately I have not learned. So there will be no dance antics this year.

Let's Chat!

As we say, Content is King and Conversation is Queen.

I'd like to invite you to have a Twitter chat with me on Friday March 21, 2014 from 12:15pm to 1:00pm GMT;  a "Meet the Blogger" kind of thing. I will be sharing some blogging and social media tips, and we can talk writing,  branding, development, media, education/career, scary "life stuff" - basically stuff you find on Circumspecte.

I'll respond to any questions you might have - like this "Ask Me Anything" Q&A session I did in 2010 - and will ask a few questions of my own about what your Circumspecte experience has been and what you're interested in.

Got questions? Comment below or email them to me at jemila(AT), with your name and/or twitter handle. You can join or follow the Twitter chat via hashtag #MeetJemila.

Great, I'm already excited and hope you join in!

In the meantime, here are 20+ reasons why you should considering voting 'jabdulai' (Circumspecte) by March 28, 2014.

Thanks for all the support!

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Poetry/Prose: Hybrid

Grand plans.
That’s what we had.
Of where we’d end up, how we’d end up, when we’d end up.
I mean, we said “let’s leave it to Allah, let’s wait and see”.
But really, the levers in our mind had long clanked away.

Breaking news:
I will never be Ghanaian, African [insert whatever label] enough.
Trust me, I have tried.

To hold on to the vestiges of who I think - we think - I should be
To reformulate the Ghanaianness in me 
Down to the last ei, o, and more recently, the last tweaa
I mean, how can you possibly not know how to Azonto
It was the fad. Now it’s vintage. 
Encoded in our identical histories.
Yet it seems you missed that particular memo.

“Too American”, “Too White”, “Too Outspoken”, “Too Different”
Yeah I know.
 You make me aware of the fact daily.

With every “It’s not how we do things”,
Each “why can’t you be like…”
But see - we traded all those possibilities in.
The minute I checked in, went through security, boarded that plane.
And maybe there might have been hope yet
If I hadn’t gone running in all directions at once
But I did.
So here we are.

The glamor of going abroad.

The consequences of going a-broad.
Extending identities, redefining opinions, encountering the new,
This they neglected to mention.

Of being torn between two worlds
Of having the impression - ay the appearance - of being one or the other
But never actually quite getting it.
The impressions of five odd years,
From an alley in Pairs, a boat in Dakar, countless subway rides in NYC.
And yet, you ought to still ride the trotro in Accra the same?

Grand plans we had. 
And here we are clutching away at the frays,
Willing the time spent elsewhere to come back.
To reinstitute the plan second, minute, hour, day by day.
Yet - we know time lost is never regained,
And time spent seeking time lost? Equally futile.
So why do we insist, tarry along this tired, old path?

I would have you know me, I would have you see me, I would have you learn me anew
Just so I would have the honor of doing the same. With you.
Yet, here we are. Swimming in the wreckage of grand plans gone adrift.

I’ve never been conscripted, but o the wars I’ve fought!
Trying to justify, trying to explain, trying to make you understand.
And then I wonder - whatever happened to “May Allah guide us”?
Whatever happened to letting things unfold according to His will?
If nothing truly happens without our Creator’s acknowledgement,
whatever happened to trusting that this is how it’s meant to be?
That maybe, maybe this hybrid of a person the earth coughed up,
Is exactly who she’s supposed to be?

Choose your battles, not every one is meant to be fought.
This particular war I thus renounce without another thought.

I will never be [….] enough - not for you, not for them, sometimes not even for me
But that’s okay, because I’m still a work in progress, a hybrid being ever formulated
And if it be His will that I be broken down and built up anew multiple times on end
Who am I to say otherwise?

Hybrid. The glamor of being in-between.

Circum-Alert: Behind The Seens - The "Gratitude Journal" Challenge

“Be thankful for what you have; you'll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don't have, you will never, ever have enough.”

Oprah Winfrey said that. She should know, she kept a gratitude journal for sixteen years! So here's the deal: as part of Circumspecte's "Behind the Seens" project we're inviting you to keep a "Gratitude Journal" this year - beginning Monday February 3!

Why participate?
Well, I don't know about you, but we seem to always be in a state of wanting. I definitely have moments where I finally have something I'd wished or prayed for moments ago...and yet I'm off chasing down another "want" or "need" without appreciating that which I do have.

If Oprah's theory is right, you'll see more goodness in your life. If it's wrong, you'll still get to learn something about yourself and life. If you're like a writer like myself - or want to develop your writing skill - it'll help make writing a daily practice. At the very least you'll be more conscious about yourself, your environment, your life. All in all, you've nothing to lose, but so much to gain.

How to participate?
Write down at least one thing you are grateful for at the end of each day. No expectations, no obligations, nothing too large, nothing too small. Write it down. Even if it's just breathing or being alive.

At the end of each month we will invite you to share on what you were most grateful for, your "Gratitude Journal" experience, surprises - anything really - and it just might end up being featured on this website!

What do you need?
Yourself. And something to capture it all.
  • Old School - You can decide to go all "traditional" and put pen to paper - a journal, diary, notebook, calendar.
  • Tech Savvy - You can also go the techy route by using  - your smartphone, tablet, computer. And guess what? There's an app for that! Check out Gratitude365 (iPhone, paid) and Attitudes of Gratitude (Android). You can also just use the good ol' notetaking applications like Evernote - a personal favorite - or the note feature on your gadget.

esfjourno2Special Offer

If you decide to go old school and you are currently in Ghana, we're happy to announce a special offer with the Energy Solutions Foundation - makers of these gorgeous journals (see photos).

You can own one of these beautiful recycled journals for a discount of 20-30%!

Just email ESF and mention "Circumspecte Gratitude Challenge"!

Sign Up
Up for the challenge? Got questions? Email me!

Monday, January 20, 2014

BloGHome: Contribute to Ghana's First Social Media Hub, Generate #MoreStories

The current wave of African storytelling is largely driven by access to social media and citizen journalists who literally break the news as it happens. But there's still a lot of content yet to be created - especially in Ghana, Africa.

BloggingGhana has been at the forefront of social media and citizen journalism in Ghana since it's inception in 2009 by a group of 8 friends. Now, the organization has hundreds of active members who contribute to news, information on Ghana, Africa, from the ground up.

After five years of meeting and working in cafes, auditoriums, schools, and so on, BloGH is finally coming home. Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to BloGHome. With the launch of its #MoreStories fundraising drive, BloGH hopes to raise $10,000 to furnish its newly procured office in Accra (see below).

Per it's Indiegogo fundraising page, BloGHome will include a training area for training students, civil society, government actors and organizations on using social media to engage and advocate for change. It will also serve as a "safe space" for bloggers and other Ghanaians to meet, brainstorm and work on social-impact projects.

Why Contribute?

Well, first off, you get great perks ;)

BloGH has proven - time and again - that social media can have more impact beyond likes, pluses, and loves - and contribute positively to development.

Take the organization's widely acclaimed Ghana Decides project which provided information on Ghana's 2012 presidential election and post-election events like the Supreme Court case.  Many international media like the BBC, Al-Jazeera drew on information shared on Ghana Decides' social media platforms and Ghanaians all over the world followed the historic election closely with the hashtag #GhanaDecides.

And then there's BlogCamp - an annual event which provides training and insights on social media for business, media, entrepreneurs and  recognizes Ghanaian netizens using social media and the web in innovative ways. The inaugural BlogCamp in 2012 drew an audience of over 1000 participants and BlogCamp 2014 slated for April 12, 2014 is bound to be as exciting, if not more.

The organization's upcoming Inform Ghana project seeks to digitize and improve presentation of important information for journalists, civil society on areas such as education, health and governance.

Perhaps, the most unspoken, yet profound impact BloGH has had is the creation of a virtual and physical community of media professionals, creatives, entrepreneurs, bloggers, information seekers and consumers, content creators (the list in endless). This ecosystem facilitates knowledge sharing, idea generation, and collaboration. It helps promote information access and enables Ghanaians to tell their stories themselves. It also helps companies, CSOs, tailor their communication strategies to reach a wider audience, clients, consumers, and in so doing contributes to Ghana's economy.

As a proud BloGH member, I can attest to the support, camaraderie that the BloGH community provides. It is a powerful network of highly talented individuals, leaders who are - quite simply - passionate about Ghana and Africa. In many ways, BloGH is a family, a home away from home. A much needed dose of fresh air.

The late Komla Dumor of BBC World News - one of Ghana's finest media professionals - dedicated his life to telling Africa's stories in a balanced way, to unearthing the nuanced truths about being African, to proving that - in his words - "An African can be a global journalist too". We believe that too.

The next crop of excellent African global journalists, social entrepreneurs, policymakers could be born at BloGHome. You, dear reader, could contribute to exactly that.

Did I mention the great perks? :)

How to contribute?

1. Invest in BloGH financially:
2. Donate office equipment:
  • Contact BloGH's Treasurer: +233 026.146.9710 
3. Have other ideas for supporting the drive? Interact with @BloggingGhana on TwitterFacebook.

4. Watch & share this 2-min video, spread the word using the hashtag #MoreStories:

Thanks in advance for your support in building a better-informed Ghana!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Ghana's Komla Dumor - Insights on Courage & Embarking on the Narrow Path [Tribute]

Source: Komla Dumor's Facebook Page
"There's so much more to tell about Africa than the usual stories about war, famine and disease."

Komla Dumor.

Son, husband, father, Ghana's "Boss Player", Africa's storyteller, BBC World News broadcaster, inspiration - courage personified.

If anyone had told me that Komla Dumor's Black Star would burst out into eternity on January 18, 2014, I would have called them a liar and then some. His 41 years of life might seem "short" to many of us, but from all indications, this amazing soul found it more than enough for doing what he set out to do: to be a journalist of the highest order and to contribute towards telling Africa's stories. His awards, accolades and accomplishments are well recorded - perhaps more so after his untimely demise yesterday from a cardiac arrest in London - and numerous people are sharing their condolences and tributes on social media with variations of the hashtag #RIPKomla. Undoubtedly, he was a force to reckon with.

All this said, there are two things I admired about Komla Dumor - besides being a great journalist and a proud ambassador of Ghana, Africa - First, he was a family man. He shared countless anecdotes and photos of his adorable children, calling it his "other job". He was proud of it. Second, he was down-to-earth. He took time to reach out to people, random people like myself on his networks, to encourage, to share his point of view.

The thing about being a journalist is that you spend a lot of time capturing other people's stories, and less time telling your own. What I'd like to focus on however are some poignant, insightful comments Komla Dumor made and shared on his social media platforms, to get a sense of the man behind the man.

Friday, December 06, 2013

Celebrating Nelson Roilhilala Mandela - Africa's Servant-Leader, Man of Principles

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.

The man who best embodies the ideals and principles we cherish; the ideals and principles worth pursuing.

Passion. Courage. Perseverance. Forgiveness. Conviction. Love. Humility. Purpose. Faith. Vision. The list is endless.

What a soul.

He was from us, but not of us. Unlike many, he understood the changing tides of life, the stark contradictions which easily elude us. He was a leader in the truest sense of the word; he sacrificed his personal ambitions for the good of his nation, his people.

There are almost no words to capture the essence of this man; his work; his symbol; his legacy. Mandela's very being speaks for itself.

"In him, we saw so much of ourselves," South African president Jacob Zuma said during his statement on Mandela's passing. I would add, in him, we see so much of who we could be.

And that it especially true for us Africans, for societies where the concept of leadership, human rights, freedom is still a mirage, still uncertain.

I can't quite remember the exact day I learned about Nelson Mandela. He's just always been there. The fatherly figure whose simple existence has a profound impact on the world, on global consciousness. And even though I never met him, never spoke to him, never read his entire works or listened to all his speeches, the fact that I lived in the era of Nelson Mandela has had an immense impact on me.

Unlike Jesus Christ, Prophet Muhammad (SAW), Martin Luther King Jr, Kwame Nkrumah - leaders and legends in their own right - he was here, in the now, not locked away securely behind the veil of time. A living legend.

Whenever I think of Nelson Mandela, many things stick out to me. Too many to capture here. But I will share some of them.


After his 27 years in prison - in solitude, in hardship, in torture - he was not only able to forgive his 'enemies', but also to guide an entire nation to forgiveness.

How many of us could do that? To look beyond the now. To see the possibilities for growth, for love. To ignore the knee-jerk reactions our egos sometimes produce. How many of us would forgive and work with the very people who make our lives a living hell, much more invite our persecutors out to lunch, into our homes? How many?

He understood that forgiveness is not about the other, but about the individual. It's less so absolving someone else of their faults, but rather of freeing oneself from a negative experience.

Patience & Perseverance

Nelson Mandela had a goal. One he was willing to work for, yes. But more importantly, one he was willing to patiently pursue. He believed in an apartheid-free South Africa, a nation where human dignity didn't depend on skin color. While there were setbacks - one 27 years in the making! - while there were detours, he pushed on.

In this era of "now", we could all learn something from Mandela on patience and perseverance.  We give up too easily, give in without a thought. It's not simply about the end result, but also about the process, the journey. The things worth having, are worth waiting and working for. This quote by Mandela says it all:
"I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can only rest for a moment, for with freedom come responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not ended."

Vision & Courage

With all the trials and business that life comes with, it is difficult to see beyond the now. To go past the hardships and see the essence, the strength of character that comes with struggle. It's also difficult to have the courage to move beyond the now, to stick to one's convictions, one's purpose, when perhaps your task at hand is not understood by your own people, by those closest to you.

Nelson Mandela dared. Not only to challenge, but also to pacify, to reconcile. Not only to tell the truth, but also to live the truth. Not only to live for himself, his family, but to stand for his nation.

Mandela was human. I'm sure he had fears, moments of doubt, ego-ridden episodes, like all of us do. But he dared to move beyond that, to choose love over fear. In that, I can think of few who can compare. He saw beyond the now, and with time, he drew that vision into our now. "It's always impossible until it's done," he said. And he did.

Purpose & Sacrifice

This is a word that many of us have an idea about, have probably taken a sip of, but have never fully drank in. It's easy to sacrifice for oneself, for one's friends and family. But it's hard to sacrifice for the good of an entire nation, a people, of people who you'll probably never meet, who you probably disagree with or don't even like, of generations yet to come. Yet he did this, he gave himself up for the good of South Africa, for the future he envisioned.

I recently watched TD Jakes "Winnie Mandela" movie and I was struck by the depiction of the challenges Mandela and his family had to endure. But what really made me tear was the fact that after his release from prison, Mandela had yet another cherished thing to give up: his wife, his love. He separated from Winnie Mandela largely in order to keep the peace in his country, for the fact that her presence could derail the goal he so tirelessly strove towards. What a sacrifice.

He knew his purpose and he took on the responsibilities it came with.

The Servant-Leader

Nelson Mandela, the servant-leader. This aspect of the man is perhaps the one which most resonates with Africa, for African youth. He was someone parents could tell their children about when describing a true leader. He was someone Africans could look up to as a symbol of hope. He was someone who symbolized the global ideals of freedom and human dignity. He inspired, correction, inspires:
"Sometimes it falls upon a generation be great, you can be that generation." - Nelson Mandela
We have few African leaders today who truly embody the word "leader". Mandela was a politician. But he was a different politician. His demise comes a day before Ghana's celebration of it's farmers. In many ways Madiba was a farmer. He nurtured people. He led from behind. He empowered people. He got on his knees and did the work.

He admitted his foibles. He chose peaceful resistance over bloody turmoil. He shared himself. He didn't put a disconnect between himself and the people. He served, he represented hope for a better Africa. And then, after serving his time, he handed over the reins. He understood, that true leadership means assisting others to discover their own purpose, to serve and lead in their own way.
"For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others." - Nelson Mandela

Today, there's an obvious vacuum where Mandela was. His sun has set. Yet his influence, his example, his soul lives on. Alhamdulilahi for the gift of Nelson Mandela. Thank you Madiba, for a life truly lived. Rest in perfect peace.
"Death is something inevitable. When a man has done what he considers to be his duty to his people and his country, he can rest in peace. I believe I have made that effort and that is, therefore, why I will sleep for the eternity." - Nelson 'Madiba' Mandela

Nelson Mandela. July 18, 1918 - December 5, 2013 

Monday, November 04, 2013

Guest Post: Make Love at First Sight by Flossy Azu

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Everyone around her seemed to have that one person to love. Each lonely soul she had previously found solace in had eventually been joined by that stunning other they had been patiently waiting for all morning. And yet she was still alone at her table, typing away empty words on her machine which looked like it would also leave her in three seconds.

She looked around one last time, her eyes silently begging for a lonely friend, someone who looked as empty as she felt. Someone who would make her feel the soothing comfort of lonely company. None. Every customer at this restaurant had someone to lean on, someone’s hand to brush against during flirty laughter, or someone’s eyes to gaze into as a whispered lover’s intense conversation lost the two in a world of their own. Rolling her eyes she dove back into her work and lost herself in the black words she was typing.

Suddenly she felt a presence. An intent gaze had fallen upon her and stayed there. She felt her body stiffen in nervousness. She wanted to look up and discover what wonder awaited her. She thought about the possibility of the love of her life sitting across the patio, looking at her, taking in every inch of her beauty. The more she thought about it, the surer she was that the surprise that awaited her was a tall beau ready to make her his wife. Her mind’s eye told her of his six foot three structure, broad swimmer’s shoulders and arms so strong they could kill a small puppy with one carelessly placed strike. She saw his black curls fall around his face in loose tendrils, and she knew of the coolness in his hazel brown eyes. The kind of cool that cannot be threatened by any situation, but turns red hot in passion when behind the closed doors of the bedroom.

She imagined his smile. His perfect rows of pearl white teeth that spoke no lies, guarded by the lips of a god.  She saw the smile of her husband-to-be, the man she could love for the rest of her life, and she loved every moment of it. She loved how his tongue rolled the Rs in his mouth, as if tasting them, playing with them a little before letting them tumble out of his mouth. She loved how he would listen to her speak, and never interrupt. She loved how he would be so attentive to her needs, and how he would massage her feet. She thought about all the things he would do, “Breakfast in bed, surprise flowers, heart melting romantic dates, tender kisses, passionate embraces.” She thought about everything cliché every girl had thought about and hoped for. She knew it was all mostly cliché but she did not care, because she knew it was all true, and she would want all that and more in a man.

When she had formulated her dreams in her mind and convinced herself that today would be the day that it would all come true, she raised her eyes to find her beau.

Toothless. The dirty old man smiled at her. His dirty hand in the zipless crotch of his torn trousers, he was furiously jerking his hand. He winked at her and licked his lips and he kept moving his hand fervently, his eyes cruising all over her body. Fighting back the gourmet doughnut she just had, she was thrown into the reality of her “beau”- the homeless man on the street corner.