The diabolical dilemma is that l am a marketer who does not believe in brands.Its a paradox l cannot seem to reconcile hence my consternation at writing this particular subject for the winter challenge and in the process derailing my ambition to keep up to date with this winter goal. l like true authentic scenarios and my gut feeling seems to suggest that brands are overrated. I call it flossing for the cameras.
My experience is that when we become brand loyal we become entwined in deception – a pretentious climb into a fake utopia that only makes our fall all that much more spectacular when we discover that the brands we craved for have turned out to be an illusion -How our view point of our favourite stars has dwindled because they could not eulogize with us the mattering of lives black. We became disillusioned because we fell in love with the brand and not the generic humans and cannot accept the default picture we see.We made them superstars when there were just like us -humans.
I chose therefore to become master of the generic. l want applications and remedies that work- the rest of the package is meant to scoop the top dollar. Branding is about imagery , persuading the mind to having an alternative view – creating a new perception of a non existent world . I should know about changing perspective- afterall l am an artist. My baobab trees are simple pen strokes in different shapes creating the illusion of a tree until the tree starts looking like a tree. Fake it until you make it- religious leader once said.You hype up the product and service so well it starts looking good in the name of branding.
The generic though stands tall and proud. There is no better understanding of the generic more than the medicines churned out by big pharma. The typical medicines we peddle and foist down our throats are mostly creations of our own generic African medicines that were hoisted off from our own bushes and given away for a few cents by some bureaucrat-only to have them come back to us in diluted perfumed form. So my trip to the pharmacy , if l must ( after l have tried my own herbal remedies) is asking for the best of a product (the brand) and asking for an effective form that does the same job but costs less ( the generic)- that same formula l use in everything. Read the fine print at the back of a branded product and look for the most competitive alternative. The generic has no fanfare to it. No extras , it is what it is. l like to think of myself that way too . Very generic-l stay true to myself. I only ever keep my short African hair or my locks. Those two options since my early teen years -my mother will say it was eczema that made me have that choice only, others swayed by the illusion of westernization will say a little demon is lurking there-come on!
You see , the problem l have with brands is that what you see is not what you get rather what you see is what you want to see. I always say that as long you have not met a marketing person in person you are okey-meet them one on one my friend- you will be sold hook-line and sinker, because you will be sold illusions of grandeur and splendour that will make you spend more than you ought to -ask those saddled with credit card debt chasing illusive brands made to work like drugs.The moment you drink from that cup you will no longer be able to drink from any other cup. The road will become saddled with keeping up appearances and waiting for the next better version. Brands will the peril of most.
I will occasionally use a few brands but my life certainly will not revolve around brands. Brands become too big and become a law unto themselves and then forget why they started in the first place. They become a facade -an idea and no longer a product . Its not that you are lied to, no-far from it. The selective part of the mind will only hear and see what it wants to. So the brand l care to peddle and represent is- good old me.The best brand in the world that l care to work for is the one that comes out when we press the default button-which is all of us in our generic form with all of our flaws and humanity. l love to see the authentic unbridled form that is not genetically modified. Brands are genetic modifications of a false reality and so unfortunately l remain unsold on the life of brands-maybe a victim of my trade but also a brutal assessment of the same.l will remain master of the generic and peddler of no brand.
#Day9 #WinterABC2020 #afrobloggers
I am a passionate creative artist so my passions are not shades of grey rather there are very black or white. When l like something l love it or simply loathe it. l unashamedly love the multi- faceted kubatana site http://kubatana.net/ A popular Zimbabwean site with the following social media handles http://www.twitter.com/Kubatana and http://www.facebook.com/Kubatana l love Kubatana not neccesarily because they have published a few of my pieces but because it is a groovy place- a mixed bag of bourgeois academic articles and common men everyday struggles bringing a human face to our work and struggle as development practitioners in Zimbabwe and bringing the voice of ordinary citizens to the fore. Kubatana.net just has a way of making difficult topics mundane and normal breaking down complex bill’s and amendments which seem to be always a constant in our country. They know how to infuse art in their content creation , super friendly and always on time every minute with content from Zimbabwe , Africa and taking well placed pieces from reputable sites right on to our doorsteps. If you want to catch up on everything happening in Zimbabwe then visit Kubatana.net. Kubatana is a shona word that means to be united or to be together.
On the international front l keep upto date using https://www.politico.com/. I find their articles and content refreshing and offering hindsights on many facets of the world political space. Not afraid to tackle hard questions on race injustices ,and the world political terrain , the site speaks for itself.
Back home https://www.techzim.co.zw/ popularly know as Techzim is a reliable source of information on technology , digital information and reform and l love that they always look at the impact of technology on social and economic issues and are not afraid to call a spade a spade.
Finally what would my life be without https://bustop.tv/ popularly known as BustopTV offcourse these guys are funny but they use creativity to change the narrative and offer hope to thousands of young people in Zimbabwe. A creative online TV channel that produces news, skits and documentaries using comedians.I follow most of their social handles.If you want to see an unpretentious representation of real Zimbabwe then BustopTV is the go to place.
#Day8 #contentcreation #WinterABC2020 #afrobloggerswinterchallenge
My content creation is a work in progress.As an African creating content l thought it best to not throw the stone to far away from me and focus on self.l reflection of those mistakes l ought to avoid.My writing enthusiasm came from my experience in writing biblical sermons for both my Associate and Bachelor’s Degrees in Biblical studies.You had to churn out close to Eight good Sermons on paper per week.
It was a hard analysis of each book and chapter from the bible-however it was upto you the individual to give title to each write up.
Coming up with titles was always the hardest.When do you come up with a title-after or before the write-up? In creating content for my sites l always struggle with the title and l find myself grappling with fancy titles.My critics who are my young sister and husband say my titles are never straight forward.They meander like a snake or river.l hope in future to avoid meandering titles and come up with more direct titles for any content l create.
My content does provide a glimpse of the pictures and scenarios l hope to paint but could do more towards unpacking solutions.l hope in future to profer more solutions to the problems l write out.
My primary critics point out to the fact that my post are usually on the long side-most of the times.Well, l do hope to write less arduous post with less ramblings in the future and this post is a start -see- its straight forward and short.A good start.
#WinterABC2020 #day7 #afrobloggerswinterchallenge
Zimbabwe has countless writers and bloggers whose pieces always give me copious amounts of reflections. The works consist of a myriad of different subjects ranging from analysis of our Socio Micro and Macro conditions to inspiration about Art and Culture and sometimes good old fashioned opinion pieces.
I love the work by these masters because it is always so meticulously thought out following persuasive threads that carry me along to the intended purposes and always leave me breathless . Some of the pieces are totally unapologetic and unassuming with writing machismo and amazonian attributes flowing through the intricate patterns of writing , some plain nostalgic reflection on long gone by eras that illicit beautiful memories in my soul. Some are brutal analysis of a system in decay prophesying of an apocalyptic harsh reality that some times our minds as Zimbabweans cannot fathom and begin to comprehand. Some are just timeous reports on the ongoing daily grind that is life. Such are the feelings l encounter when l read the works of Alex T Magaisa bigsr.co.uk in his Big Saturday Read (BSR) every Saturday and Thandekile Moyo in her pieces for the Daily Maverick and other publications and Larry kwirirayi in Three Men on a Boat ( 3-Mob.com).
The one person though who made me think about seriously putting my thoughts in a blog is Tinatswe Mhaka of the Black Legal Narrative when l met her at a workshop , speaking passionately about her work as a legal fundi in trying to speak about issues pertaining to young women from both a feminist position and a legal perspective. She spoke so fondly of her blogging experience that l was catapulted into that world instantly. When l met Mbizo Chirasha at the invitation of our Arts organisation to help teach rural girls to use poetry as a tool for learning his understanding of social media and how to use it for social justice impressed me. l like his work that he showcases under (MIOMBOPUBLISHING.COM) and in his manifold sites with his unrelenting push for poetic justice and short stories resonating with the ambience of African life. Not only is he a passionate writer but a prolific spoken word smith with his booming voice and beautiful character matching this discourse.
All these writers in my world are passionate, unrelenting, purposeful and beautifully imaginative and represent my country well in the fight for a more just and equitable world and their works deserve to be read and reread. l think that in our life time we might not truly understand their value and place in our history only for future generations to peruse and ruminate on their every word and wonder if we knew how beautiful gifts to the literary world there were but such is our dilemma as Zimbabweans ,we want to celebrate our heroes when there are long gone. l however choose to celebrate this literary genuineness now , able to bring out written fonder day-in and day out , week one-week out. You are scribes exhibiting constant excellence and my writing heroes and heroines.
#WinterABC2020 #day6 #afrobloggerswinterchallenge
If social media has taught me anything it is that l was born during the wrong era.l work with pre-teenage and teenage girls in rural areas and l always tell them that l would have loved to be teenager in this opportune time because studying and reading would have been so easy.In our time we had to carry truckloads of books in our backpacks that are probably now the cause of my the back aches that as l become older. We had to visit the library almost everyday gobbling vast tracts of information stored up in these books.
l literally read all the encyclopedias in the school library-l loved reading in the library and that’s how l developed a steadfast culture of reading.I was not very selective of the titles , at that time one could read Nancy Drew , the Hardy Boys and jump straight to the Mills and Boon series ( the later was not found in school libraries of course) in between reading that scary book on all the tropical diseases found in Africa. If you think Nollywood is exciting it is because you never read the Pace-Setters books coming out of Nigeria.Every parent had to buy the Student Companion.Now young people just have to be part of social media groups and understand how to use the internet and then information just oozes out of the media apps to such an extent that there is even now disinformation- it is just not fair .However for this l am grateful because l do not struggle with attention deficit as so many of the young people nowadays struggle with because of the side effects of social media is a failure to concentrate on one thing for more than thirty minutes.
It is amazing what our young people can do because of social media.l only learnt how to use a computer when l was starting to work in my early twenties and only through a crush course l had to beg for from my young sister after l had inadvertently told the interviewer that l could use a computer when l could not ( and you know how young sisters are like). My nine year old daughter also knows things about computers and social media l could possibly only dream that l still struggle with and my 5 year old twin boys already know how to use everyone’s smartphone . Social media has thus taught me that l was born in the wrong era and for good cause l wouldn’t have gone to school -why would l need to go to school with the tutorials of everything on youtube. Hopefully my children do not read this because l do want them to not go to school, because if there is another lesson that social media has taught me it is that human bonds and connection are important.
You can have many friends on all the social media platforms but the ones that truly count are the ones whom you can whisper to and touch in your moments of happiness and despair. Social media can be flattering yet a facade and sometimes we ruin our very good relationships when we twerk at our keyboards following the latest tweets and posts while ignoring our partners and family in the same room because we become so fixated on our screens.
Social media has taught me that as a marketing person the field has not changed but rather that it is the medium that has changed. The principles of marketing as espoused by the gurus of marketing remain the same. Social media is the new ‘place’ everything else is still marketing. So for now my profession is still safe but l worry about artificial intelligence ‘AI’ -we won’t be needed soon l say- but for now make hay while the sun shines.
The last lesson is a lesson l teach young people- do not post pictures of yourself in compromising positions on social media. Social media does not forget quickly. Once it’s out there it’s out there in the clouds never to be deleted.Do not say l never told you so!
#WinterABC2020 #day5 #afrobloggerswinterchallenge
The phenomenon of poverty once set creates a momentum that perpetuates itself like a well tooled industry complete with resources that ensure that it never dies but rather thrives.It is so deeply entrenched that only a deliberate injunction can dismantle its shackles. The momentum is the cycle and like the symbol of marriage it is a ring that has no qualified entry point and those who seek to dismantle its power must find a tenacious willingness not privy to common tactics and stategies. As a Social Entrepreneur l have observed commonalities in rural poverty amongst girls and women across the spectrum that needs systematic dismantling and without such an approach it becomes difficult to unhinge. In this particular narrative l do not seek to dwell on the nature of the poverty circle but rather on how to dismantle the structures.
I use the word structures here because poverty is an institution built by years of being and one should never assume to want to dismantle it by piecemeal strategies -it also needs an attack on its pillars. My assertion is that rural poverty in the life of girls is perpetuated by patriarchy-the dominance of decision making and resource allocation by men and boys for men and boys. Girls and women neither have the power or resources to break the chains of poverty and ironically the only way to truly break the cycle is to find power from those who seem to perpetuate its hold. Imagine asking for space at the decision making table from those at the table who do not wish to create the space-that is patriarchy.
The one attribute of patriarchy is that it is perpetuated by a class whose education base is very limited and l say this not in an unkind manner but to delineate those who are enablers of patriarchy but also complicit in its use. The one way thus of fighting this patriarchy hence fighting poverty is to educate the girl child both academically and metaphorically. Dollars and resources must be poured in vast amounts in the life of girls ensuring a robust transition from an early age by changing the narrative right at birth. The offence that society in this case men felt at the Beijing Conference was not that women were demanding an equal share at the decision making table but also that they could dare question the status core. How dare women do that ? Question their very place ? Education and its benefits thereof creates the ability in women and girls to question the status quo.It creates the foundation for knowledge building and the narrative can begin to change as women and girls begin to know their rights.
The maternal nature of women and girls make this population the best candidates for inserting a human rights based approach to decision making. One only has to see the disasters that came out from governments dominated by men only on the podium. The more the number of men gathered around the table the higher the body bags at the morgues. Here men must read carefully-no one is saying do not be at the decision making apex but rather share the burden. One of the reasons menstruation hygiene is still a challenge in rural areas is simply that it is limited to the biology of women and girls. Even still the high mortality rate of pregnant women and girls in the service of child bearing is also because it is very much a biological problem befalling women and girls-had the tables been turned with men and boys oozing quantifiable liquid from their manhood we would see a revolution to period poverty. If only men and boys could carry their offspring in their bellies and not in their loins surely the high mortality rate at child bearing in rural communities would be next to zero but alas it is not to be.
Patriachy must be thus dismantled by education so as to ensure the chains of poverty are broken.Patriachy encourages violence and fosters it creating the conditions for it to breath. You are beaten out of your wits by your own brother , father or partner and when you stomach enough courage to report you are confronted by a men manning the post using rules and regulations established by men with pot bellies and should you somehow manage to have your issue to the courts are faced by a judiciary frothing with patriarchy.
I put it to you therefore that if there is a chance of dismantling poverty in the life of rural girls it is must be centered first on dismantling patriachy by investing in the education of the rural girl child.
My name is Sefelepelo Sebata. It was and still is a difficult name for most people to pronounce. My school teachers of different cultures and backgrounds had varying versions of what they thought my name sounded like-my lndian primary school teacher asked me what was the short version of my name -I said Sfe and he thought l said Sipho and so l became Sipho in primary school and those l went to primary school with tagged along in high school and made every one call me Sipho. So in primary school and high school l was Sipho , but that’s not my name.l am Sefelepelo Sebata. l know it is difficult to write and pronounce so l prefer that people use the short version which is Sfe.
Pronounced Se-fe-le-pe-lo my name has its roots in my Sotho culture and was given to me by my paternal grandmother -it means do not give up, be tenacious and persevere. African names always have a story and meaning and mine is not any different. My grandmother must have been speaking to a circumstance she felt was causing her to give up and when l was born aptly titled me Sefelepelo maybe- to remind her self to not lose heart. I believe that names shape who we are and might help along or destroy a person too.
l choose to let my name inspire me and take me forward. I have chosen to give my children names that are inspiring and beautiful because l know how difficult the stories of names can become. l would have loved or hated to hear exactly the circumstances that led her to giving me this name. My strong belief is that l am first a child of God and an African and everything else is really secondary. I am a very opinionated person with a lot of things to say.
The pursuit of popularity is not a badge l care to carry so l speak and write my opinion although with large doses of compassion. Compassion has always been my bedrock from the time l discovered the Sermon on the Mountain. My mother calls it naivety and she might be right but l like it that way. l am an accomplished painter and drawer of landscapes. l am a trained marketer and theologian and gifted with beautiful oratory abilities. My favourite book to read is the bible not neccesarily for religious reasons actually but because that is a well written book. From an African perspective l did get into marriage late for a woman -l was in my early thirties and so l do have small kids compared to my peers but its okey l enjoyed my journey of independence. It’s not possible in Zimbabwe to not have been shaped by our history. Our life is riddled by the constant pursuit to overcome difficult situations.
I was born just before Zimbabwe attained independence but it seems although we attained independence from the colonial elements we are still under the shackles of injustice , corruption and drought. We are still waiting for our moment of true emancipation and freedom. When the grind of being seems insurmountable l remember my name.The one who does not give up.That is the hope l have for the future and my children -that we do not give up.
A paradigm shift from a meat diet to a more healthy life.
When it comes to how my body looks l did take the gene’s from my mothers side of the family. It is quite possible you know -to be a woman and look more like the men from your mothers side of the family-my late grandfather and uncles-thats me! These men are on the short side with their weight making them shorter with nice round protruding African bellies from years imbibing on meat and the African brew and let’s not forget gene’s. l on the other hand do not imbibe on any African brew so all the weight and shortness l attribute it to my genes.So it is not a surprise to me that one of my fraternal twin boys looks like my mother, including his complexion and mannerisms and nothing alike with his father. Thank the heavens the other fraternal twin is a split image of the father otherwise they would be some reckoning of sorts needed. So my uncles love their sadza which l also do. Our African totems make us lions which are hunters and thus love meat. So they love their meat -l used to likewise love meat-l however do not subscribe to the notion of the totems playing a part on who we are or what we are not.
A lot of travellers love our Zimbabwean meat-l have seen people when they come to conferences in Zimbabwe rushing to buy all our biltong and fresh meat if they can get away with it at the border because our meat is top class. The point l am trying to make is that our selection of meat is very good and l at one point loved my meat especially offals with Sadza mixed with the famous covo vegetable from the local gardens. Yes , people eat cow intestines- it’s a normal Zimbabwean thing to do. Its called maguru ne matumbu .It takes time to make the offals so that there are ready for consumption-these are boiled until ready then throw in some condiments of tomatoes,onions and all the works including vegetables and some oil and soon paradise. l forget to mention you have to clean the offals first.With time l have learnt to reduce my intake of meat and l have learnt to appreciate other vegetable based diets and so l have to say my favourite local food is sadza with sugar beans cooked the same way as offals but tasting better and healthier but occasionally l do go back to the offals.l have learnt that our weight can be related to our gene’s but also to the lifestyle we live and the things we eat, so eating a plant based diet reduces the prevalence of high blood pressure and other underlying ailments that we modern Africans seem to be picking more regularly than our forefathers and as such we need to look again at what we eat and how it impacts the environment while still enjoying the diverse dishes that make our daily life.
My site : The Musings Of A Rural Social Entrepreneur- stem from my advocacy work as a development worker , mentor , artist ,theologian ,writer and villager entrenched in rural life. lt is quite absurd for me that sixty percent of Zimbabweans live in rural areas yet are one of the most underrepresented populations with a limited voice in national discourse. It always seems decisions are made on behalf of this lot without genuine consultation with them.
The aim of my site is to muse and ruminate on the issues that rural folk in Africa face especially the issues surrounding women and girls such as water , sanitation and hygiene issues. Access to equitable education in comparison to counterparts in towns and cities, gender equity ,access to information and resources and the myriad challenges around drought ,climate change and sustainability. My desire is to present the situations and challenges in a Afro-centric manner and offer solutions steeped in homegrown solutions that offer discourse towards sustainability and not mere rhetorical approaches steeped in other cultures responses to issues they face. Mind you , l am not saying that the solutions offered by others are not valid but rather that they need to be afro-centric in approach,working with local people and local ideas ,supporting working systems and integrating new ideas.
If my musings can result in the questioning and start conversations around issues that villagers face l will have done my job. It literally startles me when policy makers in Africa most of them in their sixties and seventies sit down to make decisions for an African population with 60 % of its population under 25. We need to bring the issues of these young people to the forefront of debates especially because the bulk of these young people are in rural areas. Our older African generations must not be afraid to pass the baton stick to us -they need to understand that they have cultivated enough of Ubuntu in us and that we will not sell our birthright in our pursuit for justice and equality. When we write it is thus our assertions that we must be trusted, that we have it altogether-we write because it is an avenue to speak and be heard and hopefully not to be silenced. Our writings become our voice for all youth and women and all underrepresented populations.
When we question systems and practices through our writings it is not that we do not respect those who are ahead of us it is only that we seek to grow and be sustainable as a continent. We cannot continue to rely on the benevolence of others yet we hold vast tracts of resources and wealth. We are the go-to continent of the future. When we do not speak up and stand up those who will come to us in the future will not come with balanced scales but with better bargaining power tipping our continent once again into the abyss of poverty and dependence. When we write we give credence to the culture of reading that needs to be engrained in our young ones. It is not possible to be writing when one is not reading.How else can we grow as a continent when we do not incalculate the culture of reading. As we write it is to also illicit the drive and need to push those of our own to read and write-up, inspire while being inspired. Young people in Africa have a voice that cries to be heard and through our musings we shall be heard and brought to the tables of decision making.
The Musings of a Rural Social Entrepreneur are stories and reflections l encounter in my quest to bring a voice and agency to the issues rural youth and women face.My name is Sefelepelo Sebata.
l make a commitment in the next coming days of the Afrobloggers winter challenge to stay true to my roots and passions and be unrelenting in the pursuit of relevance from voices unheard by twerking away on my keyboard and writing all the twenty two Challenge posts.
l do not say that it will be easy but l do say it shall be done.l do not say l have the time but it shall be done.l do not say that l will always have the resources to do so but it shall be done.l do not say the creative juices will be spewing all the twenty two times but it shall be done.It is a commitment made in stone with a somber mind and not under duress.