My Lesotho


— By Lealimo from Lesotho

Lesotho is a very mountainous country, blessed with rivers, waterfalls and valleys. Lesotho depends on water and animals, its our biggest economy.

I recently came back from my father’s home village, one of the remotest and very rural places in my country called Thaba-Tseka. It is about 8 hours’ drive from the capital city and then 2 hours ridding on a horse to get to the village since it’s inaccessible by car.
Before technology and everything else that comes with it, before “stilettos and make-up” and the current lifestyle, there’s culture and family, where I grew up and came from.

The pictures below portray a good story of where I come from. They represent culture and family. These young girls draw water from this spring each day for domestic purposes and the young boy herd sheep riding a horse. They are my cousins. They do all this chores after school, which is an indication that education is important to them. I am not an exception as I went through the same route. This woman is our grandmother and she prepares dinner for everyone while they also offer assistance to her.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

My great grand parents and I grew up in this village and under the same circumstances. The roundavels you see is the original plan of Basotho houses in rural villages made of mud. In the capital city the same house is built in a modernised way and its part of Lesotho’s emblem. The very same culture and family lifestyle moulded me to be a proud Mosotho woman who knows where she comes from.

Here are other picture from rural Lesotho, my Lesotho:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


The Most Misunderstood Part of my Community


— By James from Kenya

I am a Kenyan citizen with a keen interest in my country’s cultures. I come from the Kuria community which is found in both Nyanza province of Kenya and Mara province of Tanzania, thus falling within two countries. The Kuria community has many cultural practices; some commonly shared among African communities but some are uniquely Kurian.

For instance the way we give names to our children is quite unique. Our community has 6 distinct names reserved for first born. There are three names for the first born sons and three for the first born daughters. These six names happen to be our most common names. These names are Chacha, Marwa and Mwita for sons, and Boke, Gati and Robi for daughters. To this end you may think that anyone bearing any of these names is a first born. Hell no! The Kurians also have the practice of naming after their relatives. For instance I am called Marwa, an obviously first born name; which I am not. Actually I am named after my grandpa. My surname is Mwita because my father is my grandpa’s first born son.

Among the Kurians, it is also a normal thing for names to cross the gender boundary meaning you can find a boy bearing a traditionally female name such as Boke, Gati or Robi. Equally a girl may bear a traditionally male name such as Chacha, Marwa or Mwita. My younger brother is named after my grandma. Still following, Good so nominally, since I am named after my grandpa and my brother is named after my grandma; my brother is my wife! Yes. I know. It gave us a great deal of embarrassment during our childhood for older women would always refer to us using our grandparents’ relationship—husband and wife. Sorry I digressed. Back to our six names!

Due to our naming practices, the six names easily dominate other names. And as I move around the region, I always encounter a very curious question whenever I introduce myself to people: “Why is it that every Kurian name I know is either Chacha, Marwa or Mwita?” Should I be answering this question with the history of our naming practices? No! I always tell the askers that they should learn about the Kurian culture.
I tend to think that our naming practice is the most misunderstood part of my community—easily the most misunderstood until you encounter the Nyumba Ntobu.

PS: The Kuria community has thousands and thousands of other names 😉

How I landed my First Job


— By Festus from Nigeria

The job hunt started with a celebration after I finished my final exam as an undergraduate at the prestigious University of Nigeria. I will never forget that wonderful day. I can still picture the wonderful celebration that came with it the usual “four years don waka” ritual inspired by Nigeria’s style plus track titled: “four years don waka.”

This is a popular celebration in Nigeria’s Universities. It ushers students into a moment of celebration laden with joyful screams, hoots of laughter, tears of joy and a period of thanksgiving to providence for a successful or safe degree programme—four, five or six years, depending on the course of study.

During this once in a lifetime celebration you would see students clothed in white vest—emblazoned with autographs of different colors of permanent marker pen or highlighter, you’d see excitement palpably woven amongst them.

I joined in the celebration too. I enjoyed every single minute I spent with my classmates—reveling.

After the celebration, I came face-to-face with reality. We shook hands, exchanged contacts and soon became friends. This reality’s baptismal name is also known as: Life after school. What I call “Life of a graduate”.

It comes with a lot of thoughts and challenges. It’s at that stage you start hunting for job and this time around you’ll hear news like: “there’s no job.” Well It’s true; there’s no job. But, I’ve never accepted that cliché for once. I’ve always believed in God’s grace and hard work.

Still, the search continued. I kept sending mails to editors; I never relented in checking out for opportunities on the Internet. I kept applying till I even became tired of applying. Days turned into weeks, weeks rolled into a month—still, nothing happened.

However, the story changed on the 30th of August. I received a mail from U.S based African Exponent that was only a few weeks after I applied for a staff writer position. Amid anxiety I applied and when I was invited for an interview on Skype, my heart was housed in fear too. I didn’t expect anything big. The thoughts of “You don’t have your certificate yet” flooded my thoughts. “After all you just graduated few weeks ago,” I continued, in deep thoughts.

But, the interview panned out well. My three-year experience as a young journalist paid off. I got the job. And here is the surprising news: I was the only person offered employment as a staff writer out of 198 applicants all over Africa.

I was gob smacked. I shed tears of joy. I screamed, I celebrated.

The news is still unbelievable even as I am writing this piece. It is an experience I will never forget in my life. An experience I will preserve for my children and my generation is to always believe in themselves, in God and in their hustle (hard work).

The Moment That Changed my Life


— By Franklin from Nigeria

Back when we were asked what we wanted to become when we grew up, I always mentioned medicine and honestly, being a doctor was it for me. I knew it was my calling. I’m pretty sure I wasn’t sure of the different categories of medicine available, but I was just comfortable with being called Doctor up and down the whole place. Seemed cool!

Fast forward to secondary school; I join the Nigerian Red Cross Society you know? Somewhere along my supposed life path I got acquainted with basic first aid and in my fourth year, I was even made an assistant Health. Prefect! So I got to be in charge of the sick bay. It was then I found out I wasn’t really the most comfortable person with blood. For a doctor-to-be, that meant war. I mean, what kind of doctor loathes blood? I dismissed it and prepared for the university to get rid of my fear of blood.

Somewhere along the line, I had a one-on-one with the school’s guardian counselor and it was as though she was specifically speaking to me as if she knew I had a thing for blood. She kept talking about how we have to stick to what we enjoy doing and not rush into plans simply because someone else was doing it or because it seemed cool. I was shaking. I had to sit down and think and it dawned on me that I might have just liked the idea of being a doctor. It was very cool to say but the least. They were adored and given respect as they moved in their white coats with pens by the right pocket. It was then I had my moment of clarity, the one moment that I would say changed my life for good because I may have been an average doctor endangering the lives of people all because I wanted to feel cool or enjoy the respect.

I eventually went to the university, studied Microbiology and now, I write for a living on OMGVoice. I mean, I like to think I’m pretty cool to my readers and people who say nice things about what they read on the website regularly. I am, I’m pretty sure.

It Seemed Like a Dream Job…


— By Akhona from South Africa

Farm Juliets is what the big town dwellers refer to us a given that a lot of us come from a small town with nothing but a church and school for entertainment. If we are lucky, we can see an already out of the box office movie sometimes. I guess we have a certain unappealing swag about us that only the city folk can identify with, but one thing for certain is that once the city bug has bitten someone, that person never wants to go back to the folklife. Whatever it was….

My name is Akhona Zibonti and I was born and raised on the outskirts of the Indian Ocean in a rural town called Port St. John’s. From a very young age I have always felt that I didn’t belong in PSJ (as we fondly refer to it). I have always felt the slight suffocation with the idea of spending more than a few seconds in the town. I guess one can say I was never really in love with my hometown from the very beginning because I am ashamed to say that I have never fully gave myself time to know and explore the much interesting parts about the town.

I think Joburg caught my eyes from a very young age. I remember I had always dreamt of coming to Joburg and my day dreams where always situated in Jozi… I felt that the city understood my personal desire for bigger and better things. For a while I believed Joburg understood me better than anyone. If I recall correctly 2002 was the year I told myself I was not going to spend another precious moment in PSJ, sadly it was also a year I was grieving my grandfather. A tall salt and pepper proud, gentle yet strict old man with a look that could stop the universe and a kind soul that could make one want to get closer to God.

So I had made a plan, which never materialized though. I guess I felt there was no point in staying in a place where some of the people who made me feel safe were no longer residing there. It might look as though it was an outcry of a grieving soul but for a split second Joburg made me feel like I was living in Never Never Land and I enjoyed it. I enjoyed it for a long time. My naïve soul believed everything and everyone in Joburg was good.

Fast-forward to 10 years later and life has shown me a thing or two. I have always known and felt that my calling was helping people. When I was introduced to Khanya College I felt that I had found my purpose. Khanya is situated at end of Inner City Johannesburg in a building called the Freedom house. This organization falls under the Khanya umbrella which fights for different social-oriented causes. When you first see the building you get the idea; an inner city’s dilapidated situation with crimes, buildings without running water or electricity but always full of occupants, from toddlers to adults. Khanya is situated in Prichard Street diagonally opposite to where prostitutes operate. It always catches me off guard when I enter the building with a polite guard and a functioning elevator. The elevator is even serviced when it needs to be!  The organization prides itself of having a large area for the press as well as a full-functional kitchen. Their programs attract people who don’t trust the Inner City given all the good deeds that they have done over the years.

Khanya is draped with many good deeds. As a former worker, I can only tell you of the psychological damage one faces from the hands of Maria whose narcissist ways ensure that you are isolated when she showers her wrath on you with degrading words. I felt as though this was a form of oppression and made me question my abilities that constantly would come up in conversation …

I remember Thuli, another coworker, would always say to me “Don’t let her break you, because she wants you to break and make you beg for your job.” Thato, Nokuthaba also felt her constant torture and after years passed all I had left was Palesa. The place with its uplifting ideologies suppresses its workers while overworking…. At one point she had said to me about how she had to beg the Director and other in charge for me to get the job and that I should be grateful to her to have this job. To be honest I was petrified of losing my volunteer position.

Even though I was promised a larger salary than the one I was getting, I never questioned nor did I want to disrupt the status quo. It is sad that a number of South African or non South Africans live under constant fear everyday. When it was time for me to open another chapter in my life, I left without a heartbreak or bitterness towards her, because I finally learned that throughout the time I worked myself to a zombie and this will not change a thing. Regardless of what I would do, she was a narcissist who always thought she was superior to me. In retrospect, I had realized that I should always steer clear of self-doubt and stop it in its tracks. What is left now is figuring out: what is next?


“Darling You Have to Learn How to Live!”


— By Maria from Uganda

From a very early age, I started to feel like I didn’t fit in. I was awkward, shy, and an introvert. There is nothing profound about that revelation, because most people feel that way about their life. I mean we’ve been doing this human thing for thousands of years and we are still discovering new things about our minds and our bodies every day. Being Human is not easy! Dealing with other human beings is also not easy. Depending on our personality, background, culture, beliefs, or environment, we all handle it differently. My naïve adolescent self decided that I needed to find a way to fix my wallflower nature. I wanted a book that would help me figure out the best way to deal with people. I felt it was necessary to become a person that fits in effortlessly, someone that everyone loves. At the time I didn’t know the true meaning of the terms introvert or extrovert or the extent to which they affect our environment. I would just pray for God to change me. I would daydream about being someone else, some beautiful girl somewhere who was popular and successful.

When I reached 19 years old I started searching through libraries and bookstores. I started buying books mostly from  the self-help section. I must have looked so strange in the bookstore. But, despite all the books, my best learning experiences have been life experiences.

My twenties have been a decade long lesson on mastering the art of being an adult human being. I thought my husband would be in my life by now. I thought my mother would hold my first-born child by now. I thought I’d start gingerly climbing up the career ladder in one lateral line. However, in this decade my mother passed away. I got a job in my dream organization and realized how damaging and unhealthy competition can be. I have not met my husband. My room is still untidy. Life is every shade of grey you can think of, instead of just being plain black and white.

In my strange imagination, I can see my introvert myself as the soul who was probably shoved into the birth canal, to start her journey as the female Maria Nabatanzi. I can see myself refusing all attempts by my heavenly spiritual teachers to convince me to come to earth and learn some universal lessons about being human. I can imagine me as a soul who told the teachers that I agree with ALL the theoretical lessons but I have no interest in learning the practical side of being a human on earth. I probably threw tantrums and spent time in the naughty corner of heaven for my behavior. Of course none of that worked because I am here.

I am here on earth as Maria Nabatanzi.

When I got to University in the first week, I realized the opportunities available to me were endless! How could I let such good fortune pass me by? One evening I sat in my new bedroom and gave myself an internal pep talk. I wasn’t going to let my timidity stop me from living my life. So I got dressed in my favorite dress, slid on my leather boots, grabbed my jacket and matched out the room to my first social event alone. My stubborn soul has finally accepted the wisdom of my teachers.

Life puts me in situations that challenge me. This is what I think God would call LIVING. But it’s not my lesson alone. We must all bring something new to the table through human experience. Just look at all your favorite heroes; whether they’re a saint, president of sports hero throughout life, they did one thing. They taught you a new way of living, a new way of handling a challenging situation.
I bet my spiritual teachers are high fiving themselves in jubilation, “You see, she is not a lost cause after all!”

Visit Maria’s blog: Happily Flawed

The African Mathematician & Writer


— By Kearoma from Botswana

My educational background is a little humorous but also very inspirational. My journey went from being an aspiring doctor to a writer and I’m currently completing my final year for a BSc in Applied Sciences with a double major in Mathematics and Statistics. Quite unexpected right? I also want to say I went to the school of life, but I don’t think I have garnered enough experience yet in that aspect to make that claim.

My fondest memory of my childhood is being four or five years old with a play set of medical doctor’s tools- stethoscope, plastic injection set and the like. I would put all my teddy bears and dolls on chairs and play hospital; this hospital of course had one doctor who did everything from bathing the patients to giving injections. I grew up knowing that I wanted a career in medicine, in fact I wanted a life around medicine.

Life of course doesn’t always work out the way we plan it, you could be planning to go live a life of solitude on an island and life will bless you with one in a busy city with a huge circle of friends. This of course didn’t happen to me, I still wish for a busy city life though. In my case life handed me Mathematics and Statistics.

Fast-forward two years later, I did not reapply for med school. In fact, the dream was slowly drifting away from my mind and I was trying to decide what I wanted to major in for my Applied Sciences course. I chose Mathematics and Statistics because the past two years had made me fall irrevocably in love with the two. I was excited and giddy at the prospect of trying something new and taking leaps towards my future.

What I am most thankful for is my family’s support. They never once questioned my decisions; they only just made sure I was certain this was the path I wanted to take. My mother of course was scolding me for wasting my writing talent in journals and books I allowed no one else to read. She was truly one of the people that urged me to share my writing with others. Her constant questions about why I was hiding my talent and her mention of the award I had received at 18 for best in English Literature for my high school leaving exams at the national level and a day of toying around with starting a blog led me to actually start my blog.

Writing has always been one of my main hobbies, I would write poems about teenage love affairs and mighty female characters. I guess the truth of the matter is that, in Botswana, the arts are not something we grew up knowing could feed someone. Maybe at the time it was because I wanted to be a doctor but it was also due to the fact that we grow up noticing how everyone is a nurse, a doctor, a teacher or a politician. Only first world countries had people who made careers from blogging or singing on YouTube.

I love writing and I love African literature even more. I love how African writers weave ordinary stories into gems that just make so much sense. I wrote a story that was on brittlepaper about a young woman who lost her father who had been a mathematician. My Ghanaian lecturer who is a Mathematics Professor well into his seventies came to class one day and shook my hand because he had read the story. I didn’t know where he came across it but the mere fact that he was congratulating me filled me with so much joy I cried in class.

My academic life is only at the beginning. There is so much I want to do, so much I want to write about and as my lecturer likes saying “so much to calculate and find derivatives of” because that’s what life is all about; living it to your best ability. I wouldn’t change anything even though sometimes when the theorems and formulas don’t come to my mind in a test I think I would be better of learning about verbs and stuff and studying English.

I have learned that life might not always turn out the way we want it to but it will always lead to somewhere better. I have learned that making plans is good but sometimes the unplanned life is also worth it. I also learned that Africans need to stop looking down on other careers; I could decide I want to spend my days singing and reciting folklores in Setswana at the mall for the rest of my life and people would call me a mad woman. There is a need to let young people do what they love. Its better being happy with what you are doing, that I believe is what makes one excel.