It has been seven months since I last posted on here. My excuse was simple: I have nothing to write about; Cape Town is not as exciting and interesting as Kampala. But, the real reason is that I have been lazy. There is always something to write about, I just didn’t have the passion or drive to do so. Sometimes it is refreshing to step back from a hobby and take a break so that the passion is revived, and that is exactly what I have done with writing and with teaching yoga. Now that I am feeling more internally settled I am back in the writing and yoga mode.
To shortly recap since my last entry: I have moved into a house with some interesting characters;
danced for five days straight at Afrika Burns reviving my passion for ecstatic/free-form dance;
started rock climbing in the outdoors pushing myself mentally past my fears; turned into a student again with all its reading and writing and thinking and questioning of everything;
got an impromptu spiral tattoo;
travelled through Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Swaziland with my love, visiting friends along the way and making new ones; become an auntie to baby Micah (aka Mekah) and worked with my colleagues to develop Girl Up into a full-fledged NGO in Uganda.
These past few days have been quite transformative in that they have forced me to look directly at the life I am living and ask questions about my intentions and vision for the future. I haven’t come to any solid conclusions, but realised when, where, and with whom I prosper and that it is impossible to plan for the future, instead it is much better to just chill and flow. To begin with, I was invited to assist with the Biennial HIV Prevention Summit for Women & Girls in Johannesburg. Given that my Masters research project is focused on sexuality and HIV peer education programmes, I thought this would be a great opportunity to access this part of the women’s movement in South Africa and meet HIV women activists. But, before I went I stopped in Swaziland to visit my dear friend who is living there and working on a permaculture farm.
For those who don’t know what permaculture means, here is a short description from the Permaculture Institute: “Permaculture is an ecological design system for sustainability in all aspects of human endeavor.” In Swaziland, I spent my couple of days drying herbs for the medicinal tinctures, watering the plants, and preparing garden beds. I realised that I don’t necessarily have a green thumb, but I love being outside all day and seeing the results of your work, something that is much more invisible and often demoralising in activist work.
I also went on a beautiful hike where me and another great friend found ourselves skinny dipping under a waterfall and drenching our skin in the sunlight.
Fast-forward 24 hours and I am note-taker for an HIV Conference where every speaker was saying essentially the same thing: young girls between the age of 14-25 are the highest at-risk group. Sitting all day, typing, drinking coffee, and trying to assist participants as much as I could. While it was quite boring, I did enjoy the energy in the room. Because we were running an hour late waiting for the Minister of Women, Child, and Persons with Disabilities, participants began dancing and singing.
What a beautiful sight! I also enjoyed the question period, albeit only fifteen minutes, during which one HIV positive participant criticised the use of the word “sugar daddy” as an explanation for older men who use their money to woo young girls because it wasn’t derogatory enough and instead glamorises the idea of being a “sugar daddy”. So if nothing else comes out of this conference, at least maybe we will create a new and more negative term to refer to these men.
I left at 5:30 feeling slothy, sad and too domesticated for my own good. So I put on my running shoes and hit the street to see what Johannesburg is all about. Before I knew it I found a primary school with a lovely field to run on. When I asked a man at the front if it was OK if I ran there, he instantly asked if I wanted to play tennis. Perfect! A tennis game to close off the day! It felt so natural and fun to be moving my body, feeling the blood rushing through, and finding a new friend. Sometimes I wonder if I made out for this women’s activist gig. I find the complaining and talking and gossiping too much at times. I want to see results and nothing is really happening. We will see. Life throws funny curve balls when we aren’t watching. I will take life as it comes and remember that the outside world is always there to explore and get lost in.
Till next time my friends in faraway places. May you remember to let the wind guide you when your plans are washed away. Once expectations dissolve, miracles appear.