Black child, Black woman, you are fearfully and wonderfully made by a secret clay that makes you unique, beautiful , ravishing, exquisite, gorgeous and I love you.”_ Kwena Manamela
We live in a world where black millennials ignore who they are, who are not confident unless they westernise themselves. I had a digital interview with Kwena, the woman who is adamant about black consciousness, about woman and confident about herself.
Most of us are born and bred in this colonised country, When you come across an African strode women, give her a bell’s. That thing is hard maintain. Kwena Letswalela is the queen of BLACK CONSCIOUSNESS and ULWASA publication Coordinator- A woman for women. The following is not a profile of her but her brief understanding of Black Consciousness.
Kwena was born and bred in Ga-Matlala, a small village situated in Limpopo. Her love for herself has always been the reason why she loves being black. She finds it very pivotal to educate young women about appreciating themselves and knowing who they are. If you need a person to make you understand who you are, why you should love who you are, embrace who you are, walk with pride and lay a foundation to young ones. Look no further-she is the go-to woman.
What is black Consciousness to her?An awareness of one’s identity as a black person especially as a basis for one’s culture or one’s tradition. An awareness for one to take pride in one’s Africanness. ” we can not talk about black conscious and not talk about Steve Biko”
Black consciousness is about educating people and conscientious them with issues such as, traditional wedding and white wedding which are both cultures belonging to different races. The traditional wedding you call it, is your culture and white wedding is the European culture. So this is to say Hey black people, Hey black child, Hey black woman you are who you are, you have your own identity, you have your own culture, tradition, a way of living and it is okay to live like that.
“Too many people misinterpret -when we say people should love themselves the way they are. We not saying No to putting make-up on and weaves. It’s okay to do that as long as you do not lose your identity in the process and think that, just because you dress and wear like European then you should think like them. You can still think and deal with issues in an African way, look at certain issues and matters that affect your community from an African point of view. I take pride in who I am as an African woman.”
Which books were essential for you to read in order understand this?1. Testimony of Steve Biko by Steve Biko2. Black consciousness reader by Baldwin Ndaba, Masago panyane, Therese Owen, Rabbie Sermulsa, Janet Smith3. The philosophy and opinions of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey4. Miss education of the Negro by Carter.G. Woodson.
Kwena regularly typed her WhatsApp statuses which touched the hearts of many. It all became worth it when she started receiving appreciation texts. Her realisation was that you shouldn’t assume that people know and never get tired of disseminating information that will help other people. She then said ” that lead me to talking about it everywhere I go because of the impact I make to people.”
She was provoked by young girls who do despicable things due to peer pressure. So she made it a point to start talking to them, making them feel at hope but through out the process she realised that most of them lack confidence. “I decided we should start from the bottom, make them aware of who they are and right now? I have flowers that bloomed.”
She also bloomed- giving talks at her village which began at primary school and escalated to high school then regular talks everywhere, in tertiary to academics because she believes you can slay academically but you also need to slay in knowing yourself.
What is the one thing you never leave behind when you talk about Black consciousness?What Steve Biko said, The attitude. If you believe that you are inferior and act likewise then you will be inferior. for example on social media we see white people saying goodnight and black people say you should do chores before you sleep, that is what we call “inferior”. Our minds are programmed to think that we are inferior hence we glorify everything and all the bad things. We feel inferior as a race. Remember dieticians proved that white bread is not healthy but all the brands when advertising their margarine, peanut butter, polony etc they use white bread, that is to say everything white is superior even when it doesn’t have the right proteins than brown bread but because it is white. We all know that if something is played to you over and over, you end up believing it. this is to say that black people were instilled with the mentality of being inferior and now they don’t need to be told anymore. They can feel it, act like wise. if you believe that the white people are inferior and live with that for years it sinks and that’s how you will be. I always say that black child you are not inferior you are human and white people are not superior. They are human.
This is what she would say to a black child.You are beautiful with features that looks good on you. You are the descendent of the queen, women who took care of their men in so many ways to make Africa what it is today. Descendent of women who made the world what it is today. Believe you me, there wouldn’t be American history, European history without a black woman. African women played a pivotal role in a manner that men started to fear black women and created the patriarchal nonsense that we are in now.
Black child you are beautiful, strong, intelligent and there is nothing you can not do if you put your mind to it. Your ancestors built pyramid, were astronomers, created dentistry, medicine, aesthetics and manicure not the Europeans but your ancestors. Your skin is the most valuable thing ever, your hair is unique, your hair is your crown wear it with a smile. it doesn’t matter how it is. You are unique and beautiful in your own way. When you see yourself on a mirror, see a queen as you get older and age see a Goddess in you because that is what you are. Respect yourself and remain kind.
Never define yourself when you are old by your title especially Mrs. Marriage does not define you as an African woman when you grow. Grow up to be anything that you want to be. The world is your oyster. You can fly baby girl.
LASTLY, she explained that in Africa we do not build old age for our grandmothers, we take care of them ourselves and they teach us. There is an African proverb that’s that says ” Younger ones may walk faster but the old ones know the road” and they will teach us.”
Black child You are not alone and stop being intimidated by the whites. You can do this UNPROVOKED. If you feel the need to have a conversation with or invite her to give a talk. Please comment below. I will provide her email.