Thoughts. Ramblings. Heavy-hipped. Mango-obsessed.

A Saturday Well Spent...

Imagine. 100's of women marching from Trafalgar Square thru Tottenham Court Rd to University College London chanting 'Whatever we wear, wherever we go – yes means yes and no means no'.

Yep! I went to a women's march last Saturday called Reclaim the Night. Marching against male violence & rape. I found it quite empowering to just be amongst so many women - there must have been at least 700 of us.

I was disappointed at the lack of black women there though - when we congregated at Trafalgar Sq just before the march, I made a point of walking around counting the amount of black women there - there were 15 on my count. But then there is some history behind that which I'm not completely versed about (but I won't go into it in this post). But I did think that for an issue that is unfortunately far reaching, affecting so many women - black, white or green - that there would have been more black women there.

Couple of things that stuck in my mind:

- bystanders taking pictures of the march; some of them, women - and wishing they'd join in

- an elderly woman placing a banner in front of an adult sex shop and the owner calling the woman a rude word and promptly kicking the banner away.

- Stringfellows (a nude-dancing club) was en route - some of us chose to sit/crouch down in front of the building for some time and demonstrate.

- a woman at a bus stop giving us the dirtiest look I've ever seen in a long time - a prolonged spiteful look

- chanting/singing til my voice kinda said 'time out, hun'.

I saw a couple of women I know that I hadn't seen in ages - a teacher from a lovely girls' school I had a residency at (I still miss that school), the lovely women from The Woman's Trust, and even a fellow poet, Jay.

After the march, we gathered in the student hall of the university. I wish the speakers on the panel had more time to speak and the audience were given a chance to ask questions. I didn't necessarily agree with everything the speakers had to say, but I did see that essentially everyone's hearts and thoughts were roughly in the same place. It was also great to see a couple of men coming out to support as they are part of the solution.

I left before the after-party, picked up leaflets on FGM, signed a couple of petitions, added my names to mailing lists on my way out - went home preoccupied, pensive but thankful to be safe, a roof over my head, healthy, loved and supported.

(p.s: Transport for London were giving out free safety alarms – I picked up 5 for the women in my life. If you'd like one (or more) sent to you, pls get in touch with Darren Crowson at

Peace... in whatever colour you imagine it to be...

Wow - Your Mobile Phone is More Important Than Your Life?

Today, I saw a woman crossing the road - a main road. She was on her mobile. She didn't even look up to see if a car was coming.

A car almost knocked her over, but she was so engrossed in her phone conversation, she was oblivious to what almost happened. She just kept on talking.


Go Figure...

London doesn't disappoint - it's about 6 degrees out there. Very windy. Cold. Wet.

And then I hear music from an ice-cream van.

I'm like: are you for real?, you really think a mum's gonna press some change in her child's hand to go buy your ice cream in that kinda weather?


Black History: So Much Things to Say...

I ran a workshop over 'Black History Month' with a group of women - I'd been invited by Inspired Word, a women's collective.

I guess some people assume that you go in as a workshop leader to inspire a group, but in all truth, it really is the other way round for me - I have gained strength, insight and inspiration from many groups. There's a particular workshop experience I will share in a later post about a girl whose wisdom & insight has never quite left me.

I have to say that it felt great to be amongst women - strong women. I've always loved creating/talking/being with/amongst women. We all wrote pieces inspired by Lauryn Hill's version of Bob Marley's song So Much Things To Say. We also talked about the personal significance of the whole commemoration of the passing of the abolition of the slave trade act. It meant different things to each woman. One felt that it was an opportunity for her to really acknowledge the pain her ancestors went through but to also acknowledge their strength, while another felt the commemoration was a sham. I, on the other hand, felt a mixture of anger and boredom at the whole thing - instead of the usual month, in 2007 we have a whole year in which we are reminded we were slaves. It's never really sat well with me.

I took the opportunity to roll us back - to take the focus away from slavery and to write about a time before that. We were never slaves even when we were deemed as such. A rose by any other name...

When they wrote, such truth came out. Such truth about who these women were, are, have always been.

If any of this speaks to you, I'd urge you to try this exercise yourself: imagine who you were before slavery. Write about it. Or paint it. Sing it. Or dance it. Smile over it. Build a shrine over it. And think about what is stopping you from being that person in the here and now. What part of who you were back then can you transfer, transform and embed into who you are now.

When I did the exercise, I wrote this:

I stood solid          big mampy feet       unshaved armpits
looking out over....

      farm   sunset

play      children   sisters

green / connected to the earth

   men & women ruled together   (actually, they didn't rule, they presided)

short orange dusty hair

a runner.

                   South African.
We lived
not survived.

                   Cheeky smile

We Are the Children of Those Who Chose to Survive...

The above title is a quote by Nana Pouissant in Daughters of the Dust. Though I'm yet to read this book, Nana's quote is mentioned in a book I own called Acts of Faith (Daily Meditations for People of Color) by Iyanla Vanzant.

We are the children of those who chose to survive...

I haven't read Acts of Faith in ages, but today I picked it up on my way to work - it had been whispering my name for a couple of days. I've never really read it from back to back - I tend to just randomly open a page and read - somehow I feel that whatever page I choose is the one I'm meant to read.

Well, today I flipped open a page - and I felt it was so relevant to my previous post about 'Black History Month' particularly where I wrote:

... and if you're gonna teach a black student about slavery, why not also teach them how strong & stubborn their ancestors were to have survived it, to have held doggedly to language and customs and rituals - and that that strong defiant gene exists in them, the student.

I thought I'd share that page with you. Because it resonates. Because it (re)confirms. Iyanla writes:

If you have ever doubted your ability to survive, look at who you came from. Don't limit yourself to parents and grandparents, go all the way back to the root. In your family line is the genius of those who were born into a barren land and built the pyramids. In the oasis of your mind is the consciousness of those who charted the stars, kept time by the sun and planted by the moon. In the center of your being is the strength of those who planted the crops, toiled in the fields and banqueted on what others discarded. In the light of your heart is the love of those who bore the children who were sold away only to one day hang from a tree. In the cells of your bloodstream is the memory of those who weathered the voyage, stood on the blocks, found their way through the forest and took their case to the Supreme Court. With all of that going for you, what are you worrying about?