The Land of Rights and Freedoms

I have been in the UK for a year now and it has been a eye opening experience. Over the past months, time and time again I have asked myself if coming here was a good idea. My answer is formed from my experiences here. The UK is the land of freedoms. The rights of people are entrenched in all sectors of life. As a foreigner I feel free and safe here. I have the rights and privileges like a citizen of UK. I believe that is why it has such a diverse population similar to the USA. Maybe that’s what makes both countries great.

Would I feel free in the US though? As an African freedom constitutes a lot in my life. Looking at our history, Africans have been fighting for freedom. As a Motswana in my country Botswana, I have always felt free and safe there therefore I want to live in a place where I am free. Free to go anywhere, say and do anything without fear, offered the same opportunities like everyone else. I have always wanted to visit the US. Why? Just because its America, its the land of opportunities, I mean anybody can make it there. Right?

Judging from media reports, I’d rather stay in the land of freedom than in the land of opportunities because freedom itself creates opportunities. Do I regret coming here? I’d answer I’m free and safe!

Same Ol’ same ol’

Its another year, another woman’s day, and the struggle for gender equality and women’s rights continues. Every day sees women struggling to reach their full potential. Every day leaders around the world, both private and public sectors, announce positive strives and reforms for women empowerment. Over the years the world has seen great improvement in women’s rights and freedoms. Their working conditions have greatly improved. The world is seeing more and more women being in leadership positions. It is all great for women today than probably 20 years ago and more and more is done to improve the lives of women today. A young girl today has more or else similar opportunities like the boy child.

Really, it looks all good for women, outside! Really. NOT! Most of women’s rights and policies are on paper only. Its a fact that women earn less than men and work longer hours. Its a fact that women are not offered the same opportunities, that men and women are marginalised at work in terms of career advancement and employment opportunities. A woman, especially a mother, is more likely to be sidelined for an employment opportunity or career advancement. Experts agree that pregnancy or rather motherhood is seen as a career setback. Motherhood means cutting back on the length of hours one works so as to be home on time, to go to school meetings and extra curricula activities, it means emergency leave due  to childhood sickness. It doesn’t look good for women. Hence more and more women in the corporate world postpone motherhood and cutback on the length of their maternity leave. Some employees consider hiring a mother a not so good decision for business.

Family might not be good for women but for a man it is a career advancement. A married father is more likely to have his career propelled than a married mother. A married man, especially who is a father is  seen as a model for maturity, commitment and honesty and therefore an asset. A mother on the other, married or not, is seen as a liability. This is something that is  not written in company policies but  it happens behind closed doors. Policies against gender marginalization might be in place but societal mindsets are still far away.

Speaking of society, despite women being leaders in the society and bringing in positive changes, they are still seen as not as capable. Women in leadership positions especially politics have suffered more for aspiring to be in higher offices. They are judged harshly than male leaders. Society feel they are not capable and are more likely to be persecuted than their male counterparts. For instance I believe that had Theresa May been a man she wouldn’t be meeting with such resistance in the Brexit negotiations. Probably that’s the reason why policies fail. Societies are still not as progressive as policies. I mean how can one implement something that he/she does not believe in. Governments need to invest more in changing the mindset of their societies for policies to work.

For instance, in my society in Botswana, whenever there is an incident of gender based violence, the question that is asked is ‘what did she do to him?’, which implies justification for that violence. That kind of mindset simply set us back in the war against women’s right and Gender based violence.

All in all, the world needs to change its mindset for policies to work. I mean the Beijing Conference came and went. Governments ratified their policies but more than 20 years later, things have not really changed much, they are all in paper. Implementation needs to take place, time to talk and write has long gone. Its time to walk the talk and writing

Happy Women’s day to all women and girls around the world. special shout out to my Black sisters around the world

Liberal Belief

Europe is full of churches. Almost every corner of the street there is a church, England being the ‘worst’ of them all. The churches are old, very old but beautiful. As a Christian and believer i was so happy but surprised. Surprised because i thought the western world did not believe. I concluded that media was lying as usual. I have come to realise that the media does not always tell the full story, and it is the same the world over, not just in my part of the world

To my surprise, i realised that it was true. Most people in the west may call themselves Christian but do not practise their Christianity. The most amazing thing in the west is that their laws uphold religious belief and tolerance. Though people here do not practice religion they respect each other’s religious stance. It is also ingrained in them and every policy even in the workplace. I guess it is something that Batswana and Africans can learn from the West.

Botswana is said to be a Christian country. We start everything with prayer, at work, schools, hospitals, all meetings and ceremonies. But we do not really have religious tolerance. Generally Batswana are humble people who uphold the spirit of Botho. Botho is the reason i cannot say anything bad about another person but we do not have an ingrained respect for other people’s belief systems that are especially foreign to us. Even as Christians, there are other churches that are given more recognition than others.

The UK is full of foreigners or people who are not originally from the UK, they have brought with them their different cultures and religious beliefs. Despite them being foreigners the UK has embraced their diversity and this is ingrained in all aspects of society. As Africans, we have diverse tribes but traditionally there is a commonality in our belief system. African faith is based on the believe in ancestral spirits, our ceremonies also pay homage to our ancestors. Despite this commonality, there is a lot of intolerance among ourselves as Africans. We can copy from the West on how we can unite in our diversity. If Europe can accept a foreign belief system, why can’t we as Africans accept each others’ not so foreign beliefs.

Lets believe in Africa

Generally Africans are the least supporters of Africa. We see the world out there as much better than ours. Funny enough the world supports Africa. Look how sold out the Nigerian soccer team’s tshirt was, days after its launch! And its was bought by more Europeans than Nigerians!

Since i have been in the Western world i am a little disappointed with what i have seen so far. Probably i expected to see what i haven’t seen before and some glamour. Nope there is no glamour but there are a lot of very intersting old buildings. I have realised that probably my home is a much better place for me to be. Do i sound conceited, maybe?!

Despite my disappointment I am clearly impressed with how the West is taking care of its people and itself. In the West anybody can make it in life and you don’t have to be an executive to survive. This is why the West is probably excelling. Africa ought to copy this.

The west might be developed in terms of infrastructure, politically, technology, financially and economically but Africa is developing at a faster and better rate that they developed. How and why?

Africa is full of potential but what it lacks is a sense of industrialisation and entrepreneurship. We have land, lots if it. The western world has less land that is why they colonised us, to extend their land.
Land means more mining, farming, raw materials and opportunities to build our businesses. It means more job creation and improved lives.

To get to where they are the Western world made mistakes. Lets learn from mistakes made by the western world. We cry of brain drain but what do we do about it? Lets improve our labour laws and retain our skilled manpower to improve productivity. I have come to realise that here labour laws are enforced and they have the minimum living wage which every employer should abide by. Both employees and employers are protected by the law and are at par.

In Africa, labour laws are not enforced. Employers get away with breaching simple labour policies. Our minimum wages are so small but our governments pat themselves on the back for mediocre just because it looks better than what their next door neighbour has in place. Employees are not protected by employers therefore are left at the mercy of clients or service users. There is a lot of disgruntlement among employees hence low productivity. Governments should ensure that laws are in place to protect both the employee and employer. Lets draft simple labour laws that are easy to read using simple language, lets not hide behind big terms that are difficult to interpret and end up shooting ourselves in the gut trying to decipher the meaning. After all its the Queens language not ours.

Europeans trade among themselves. If you don’t believe it, look at the performance of the Euro. The second strongest currency in the world. If we want to make it as Africans then we need to improve trade among African countries, remove trade and travel barriers between African countries. Its cheaper and easy to travel in Europe than anywhere in the world because there are no travel barriers among European countries. Lets not look at the outside world to trade but lets look within. The western world has money and they will use money to get more than just goods. We should not make ourselves vulnerable for a quick buck. I mean how do you leave your neighbour and go on to sell another person those goods, for what?! More money?!

Africans need to know what they want in their own countries and get rid of political leaders who do not share their vision. We need to believe in Africa. Africa is great to live in and once you are there you don’t want to leave. I mean look at the numbers of white Africans that we have. But the West has an allure about it that makes it attractive for African citizens. Leaders please make Africa attractive for us who have fled to the West to go back home.

Peace

One step forward two steps back

All my life i had to work harder than most people to get what i want. Can i say the world doesn’t seem friendly towards me?! Maybe! Throughout my career life, i have been passed over promotions, further studies, sponsorships, etc. At one passed i was so devastated and angry that i lost interest in my work. My work became shoddy, and i didnt care at that time. Not only that my son was diagnosed with autism. He needed all sorts of therapy and my paycheck was not enough to cover everything. My lovelife was non existent. My only constant in life were my family and friends.  At that time i couldn’t see the support they gave because i was so wrapped up in self pity, disappointment, anger and pain. My smile faded and my joy just went away replaced by bitterness. When you are at that stage you tend to make poor decisions. I made poor decisions that I’m still paying for , one way or the other. Loneliness is your companion when you are at that stage. I got on by having a daily dose of hugs and prayer

Fast forward to today, i am having the same kind of negative feelings that i had years ago. I’m at my lowest because i failed an exam which allows me to extend my stay here, earn better money and get a chance to make more money. Im starting to regret my decision to relocate and start this journey. My mood is low and my heart is full of heaviness. Im beginning to feel that the Lords presence is faraway. I don’t have friends here and i miss hugs from a dear friend. I wish i could cry but i cant. I am so unhappy.

My solution: a daily dose of junk tv, lots of juices and red meat, exercises and walks. God is my salvation and he will see me through this. I am going to redo the exam with vengeance. I am going to study and practice for it. Daily prayers and verses are a must. I will triumph Amen

The bad thing about being in a foreign  country is lack of friends. Loneliness creeps up at the most awkward times. I used to judge the behaviour of my fellow country women especially when they were immigrants in a faraway country. Most of them went into relationships that were not really meaningful. They were knowingly being exploited financially, emotionally and sexually in these relationships. It happened to most of them regardless of age. Now i can almost understand why they let it happened: loneliness. Its easy to judge in ignorance. This journey has opened my eyes to never judge rather try to understand why. I now understand the plight of the immigrants back home and i hope to never take things at face value.

I first left home at the age of 18 for my national service to a village in the desert 900km away from home. I was not scared instead was excited. The village i lived in had a population of just 300 people. There was no electricity, ni running water in the house and no source of entertainment except the bar during the weekend. I had no time to feel lonely since i had a lot of exploring to do. Im now surprised that I’m actually scared now though I’m older and have lived on my own for some time. Also i get lonely a bit because i have no friends. Guess sometimes being young is a blessing.

Once again i will take a leaf of knowledge from my young self and combat loneliness with exploration. Ciao😚

Hi again. I have been taking stock of my life and i have come to realise that though i feel like i have not accomplished much in life, truth i have ticked a lot in a list of my childhood dreams. The dreams that have taken me into a totally new journey, full of doubts and career regression.  I’m scared especially  at my age but i know I’m not  taking this journey alone, I’m in the presence of the Lord. He can’t have taken me this far to leave me alone. Faith makes any journey easier. Faith is what we lean against when weary and troubled. God’s grace is ever present.

At my lowest i always feel that I’m under-utilising my potential but then i ask myself whose journey is it, mine or others’? Who determines the success of an individual? I feel the society puts too much pressure on us women especially black women. According to societal expectations, a woman my age is supposed to be married with children, living in her own house, with a successful career that pays well. Society has no time and empathy for a single mother. The fact that you are a single mother concludes failure on your part. Albeit the same society will question your womanhood when you are single with no child. It is a no win situation.

As a single mother I’m questioned about the whereabout of baby-daddy but on the other hand  I’m told to look for a daddy for my child. At the same time when i get a man society will label me a home wrecker especially when that man happens to have a baby-mama.

Most daddies in my part of the world dont play a significant role in their children’s lives. Mostly theirs is a ceremonial one and a father who plays a more significant role is heaped with praises for being exemplary. A father who ‘babysits’ his child for 2hours in a weekend will be praised as if he spends his whole time with his child. Funny enough if he is married, people question the wife’s abilities as a mother. Despite the world changing, societal views and norms on gender roles dont change much.

I have come to realise that the western world is far advanced in family roles. Fathers and mothers are accorded same responsibilities and expectations. Both take their roles seriously and there is a lot of support between the two parents. Hence the laws regarding parenting are easy to enforce. Unlike in my Tswana society, parental roles are differentiated yet they expect the law to put both the mothers and fathers in an equal position. This has made enforcing laws regarding parenthood difficult and unfair. Absent fathers want their rights upheld while absent but then what about their responsibilities.  Its a tough situation that won’t be solved by court laws but by rehabilitation and revolution of societal norms and views.