24May2017

AWiB AWiB Blog

AWiB Blog

“I believe that a key to leadership, particularly on our continent today, is having a clear, persuasive and achievable vision.” ~ Akere T. Muna

Last week I had the great pleasure of moderating a lecture discussion at the 6th Tana High-Level Forum on Security in Africa, hosted in Bahir Dar. The lecture entitled, “Leadership in Africa: Reflections on the Legacy of the Late Dr. Wangari Maathai, was part of the annual Meles Zenawi Lecture Series at the Tana Forum, and this year delivered by Barrister Akere T. Muna, Chairperson of the International Anti-Corruption conference and Sanctions Commissioner of the African Development Bank Group.

I was particularly delighted to moderate this dialogue for two reasons: firstly, Dr. Wangari Maathai was the first female leader that the Tana Forum was paying homage to since the launch of the lecture series in 2014. Secondly, the life,work and leadership of Dr. Maathai has often fascinated me. Delivering his lecture on Dr. Maathai’s legacy, Barrister Muna rightly noted that she was a woman of many firsts – the first female to earn a doctorate degree in East and Central Africa; the first female to ever Chair the Department of Veterinary Medicine and become an associate professor at the University of Nairobi; and the first female to ever receive a Nobel prize.

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“The beautiful thing about fear is, when you run to it, it runs away.”

~ Robin Sharma

A client of mine asked me to help her with her fear of flying.   She said that she recently got educational opportunity to study abroad for her second degree but would not be able to consider that due to her incapacitating fear of flying.   

Fear is defined as an emotional and physical reaction to a present, known threat.  Fear has a strong controlling power.  It protects us from possible harms and alerts us from possible dangers.  However, the mind also has the capacity to create danger messages when not warranted and incapacitate the person from moving forward.  Fear may result from experiencing tangible attacks by something that has endangered our lives orbeing; or it may result from intangible thoughts created by the mind.  Hence, some fears are imaginary, and not real.  “What if I am not successful in life? What if I would not makeprofit this year in my business? What if I am dismissed from the university? What if I cannot get married? What if I do not give birth to children? What if my children are hooked into addictions? What if… What if… What if…..”

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Talk about New Year’s resolutions, I finally made one that I committed myself to seeing through, and guess what guys? I saw it through and reached my goal, with flying colors I might add! Of course, you already know, the journey consisted of some splitting migraines, long endless nights, dragged out quiet days, and more than a pinch of the wonderful hormones. Being pregnant was quite the ride and I am happy to now say, I got to my light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel ya’ll! 

First, I had to make the decision to myself that I was prepared to go on such ajourney to begin with, which involved some serious reflecting time with myself. It’s an amazing change of perspective when a woman decides to make that leap; a leap into the unknown realm of motherhood, a scary yet very beautiful leap into the nature of creation. It was not easy to confidently take the next step in my life. It required me to really consider all that I had learned at AWiB, as far as my femininity goes. Everything I learned from all the self-development classes I attended on those Saturdays came in handy, preparing me beyond what I could have imagined I could achieve.

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I live for,

That rare moment when you instantly connect with someone through

The grip of genuineness that strips you both of preconceptions

Stripping each other of stereotypical connotations  

miscellaneous misconceptions

eroding in a silent inflation of candid injections

making way for deeper exchanges

 

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“When you hit the nose, the eye cries.”

~ Amharic Proverb

My daughter and I went to Switzerland to visit with a friend about two years ago.  Walking around, we reached a place where we saw a statue of a broken chair in front of the UN office.  We asked what that was about and learned that “The Broken Chair” is a monumental sculpture in wood constructed of 5.5 tons of wood and is 12 metres high.

The sculpture was erected by Handicap International in front of the main entrance of the United Nations, where it was intended to remain for three months, until the signing of the Ottawa Treaty in December 1997 in Ottawa. Following ratification by 40 countries, the Treaty became effective as an instrument of international law on 1 March 1999. 

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 Recently, a friend of mine sent me a link to an essay on feminist parenting by the excellent Chimamanda Ngozi Aditchie (1). The piece impressed me so much that we had it sent out as reading to the Setaweet mailing list and it came up on the next discussion of the Setaweet Circle which coincidentally focused on the topic of 'Being a Mother and a Feminist.' A writer leaves her mark on the mind of her reader when she strikes a nerve, when a certain combination of words hit a chord that chimes long after. I keep thinking of a phrase from that essay, addressed by Aditchie to her friend who had recently become a mother and had asked Aditchie for advice on raising a strong daughter. Aditchie states, "The first is your premise, the solid unbending belief that you start off with. What is your premise? Your feminist premise should be: I matter. I matter equally. Not ‘if only.’ Not ‘as long as.’ I matter equally. Full stop."

I haven't parented like I matter equally. I have given my five-year old daughter, and my three-year old son, everything I have. I think nothing of going to the Pediatrician twice a week to get every cough checked out but my own asthma would some times flare and clear, unattended. I still carry my son on my hip because he likes it even though my back never healed from bringing him into the world and I often ache afterwards. If we eat out, I will order what they like and finish that off as I hate to waste food. Until recently, I could have counted on one hand the number of nights I slept through the night since my son was born.

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