Quick Thought Of The Day: Dear African Woman…

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Single.

The mere notion of the word sets our teeth on edge as Africans.

If you are an African girl/young lady/woman, you know that by a certain age you will be expected to enter into a relationship with the ultimate goal of marriage. As you rear into your early 20s aunties and uncles begin to assess just how much your lobola will be

I cannot even begin to count the number of times I’ve heard “Namatama, those beautiful legs and big hips! Awe, were going to receive serious lobola [bride price]!”.  Inquiring as to when you plan on getting married continuously suspicious of every male earthling they see you associate yourself with, thinking “yes, that’s the one!”. Because there has to be one.  Because you have to be in a relationship. Because you’re a woman, and you have to get married soon.

I am fortunate enough to come from a very liberal and forward thinking family. My parents never pressure me in any way to look forward to a relationship as a goal. My mother tells me to go with the flow “que sera sera, whatever will be will be” she tells me. My father tells me “There’s more to life than being married. If it’s for you then great if not that’s okay.”

Ironically I find myself under pressure from those outside of my nuclear unit. Extended family. Society. “Friends”.

The fact that I am intentionally single is unfathomable!

Something I find extremely perplexing.

As a female in her early 20s about to commence her post grad studies, getting ready to travel the world and pursue her passions; why should the notion of romantic engagement be my ultimate goal? As we’re entering 2019, I’m about to begin what could possibly be the most exciting year of my life, but you’re telling me all I should be thinking about is “bae”? Really?

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How many guys do people tell the same thing?

Before HBO came out with Issa Rae’s show Insecure (my current fav fav fav), my favorite show of the sort was Girls.

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I enjoyed Lena Dunham’s portrayal of 20 something women trying to navigate their way through life, relationships and trying to exist in the real world. Something I imagined ones 20s should be like. A time for self-discovery and self-awareness. A time to explore ones passions and talents. A time to live. A time to see. While the show included aspects of these women’s romantic pursuits their lives were not necessarily centered around having a boyfriend/husband or not.

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Unfortunately in the African context, as a young lady I do not possess this privilege. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie best described it in her book “We should all be feminists”.

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“Because I am female I am expected to aspire to marriage. I am expected to aspire to marriage. I am expected to make my life choices always keeping in mind that marriage is the most important”.

Now this is not to say I am against marriage. That couldn’t be any less true. One day I hope to find my soul mate and have a soccer team of kids (like a minimum of 6… yeah I said it). I hope to be a great wife to some awesome dude, and bada** soccer mom with a thriving career. What I am against is what you will “single shaming”. Being pressured in African society to confine myself to a relationship even when I do not wish to do, so to make other people happy or comfortable. Being pressured to alter the dynamics of my friendship with a male best friend to include romantic aspects, because that is what’s expected of me. Putting ridiculous timelines on my life telling me I’m running out of time.

“You’re so pretty though, why are you single?”

“You have an amazing personality. You’re so smart and funny. How can you be single?”

“Why aren’t you dating (insert name of male friend that is assumed to be my partner)

“That body, but no boyfriend? How?”

Things I hear on the daily. While I am flattered, these are not just harmless voices of concern. They’re perpetuating misconstrued notions to young girls that singleness will be the bane of their existence. Instead we should be encouraging them to find themselves first, to pursue their dreams, to reach for the stars and that love will find them along the way. And if it doesn’t that’s okay. I choose to be single not as an act of rebellion but that of choice. I’m lucky enough to have a number of amazing male friends that I could pursue if I chose to. But why is the fact that I choose not to at this present time a problem?

When I embarked on my weight loss journey and lost a tonne of weight people’s first assumption was that I was doing it for a guy. Why else would I choose to be healthy and change my life right? Haha! I found the notion that I put so much blood, sweat and tears into becoming a better version of myself for a guy extremely insulting. Yet again the assumption was that my existence should revolve around the idea of being in a relationship.

This also hinders dynamics between men and women. As an African woman its taboo for me to have a platonic male friend. The world makes romantic insinuations about us making the entire dynamic awkward. Even worse as female initiating friendship with guys can be proceeded with caution because guys in our society assume we want more. Like no sir, I just wanna hang. Maybe watch some soccer, play paintball, grab a beer- not trying to be your wife. {Alexa, play “Friends” by Marshmello by Anne-Marie}

As an African woman I am expected to be in a relationship and if I’m not I must be searching, praying and fasting for a man. “OH LORD BRING ME MY MAN SO THAT I MAY BE COMPLETE!”.

While I may be accomplishing so many other things I should keep in mind that until I am betrothed I haven’t really accomplished a thing right?

Well I digress.

“Our society teaches a woman at a certain age who is unmarried to see it as a deep personal failure. While a man at a certain age who is unmarried had not quite come around to making his pick” -Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

In Zambian society the first thing people will ask is “but is she married?”. A woman could be a minister, a doctor who has recently discovered a cure, an air-force pilot, a brilliant scholar but for as long as she isn’t married she might as well have not achieved anything. If she doesn’t have a man in her life nothing else matters.

Being in a relationship is great but so is being single.

I will not pray and fast because I am single, because even on my own I am whole. I have the right to choose my own path. I am a 22 year old African woman who chooses to go with the flow. Who doesn’t require a relationship to define her. And even if I do happen to be in a relationship, it still does not define who I am therefore doesn’t need to be a topic of discussion or determining factor of any sort! It’s nobody’s business but my own! When I do get married, I will let you know. Until them “Keep calm and carry on”!

And so I say…

Dear single young African female,

Stay single until someone actually compliments your life in a way that makes it better to not be single. If not then it’s not worth it. Feel no pressure. Your life is your own. The only thing more beautiful than the woman that knows what she wants is the woman that isn’t waiting on anybody else to get it for her”. Take your time is. You’ve got this!

Xxx

Namatama

One thought on “Quick Thought Of The Day: Dear African Woman…”

  1. It is what you have been told to do. BUT, you have your own mind to do what YOU want to do,It really makes me so sad that some women do not speak up for themselves. It really breaks my heart.

    Like

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