Wielding Soft Power

My initial pitch to Sidique for this article was completely different in tone. I had written the piece in rumination over an extraordinarily difficult time in my life. As such, the article I had initially planned is loaded, raw and inherently unfiltered. I am of the thinking that conversations that may leave you shifting uncomfortably in your seat and scratching at the itch in your throat are sometimes necessary for change. However, after some serious deliberation about my life and headspace at present, I began to think about the stories that we tell the world of ourselves and I knew that to publish a launch piece that was stirred by pain would be setting the wrong precedent. It became clear that I would need to establish the kind of rhetoric that would dominate this space from the onset. This wasn’t an easy decision to make. I had angry truths to unbundle but ultimately succumbing to rage and pain would have haltered my ability to heal and grow.

I’ve been cautious with my use of language over the last few weeks. Africans are keenly aware that there is power in the tongue hence we are deliberate in the words we use to express our emotions. I am so attune to this idea that I’ve been careful with the words that reach my lips because ultimately it is these things that would be spoken into my existence. A few years ago, Sidique and I had established the idea of collaboration to create an alcove for my thoughts as I circumnavigated the Australian environment as an African immigrant. At the time, life got in the way of my ability to write and produce content and so I made the decision to take time out to pull myself together. It feels particularly good to be back to claim this online space as a place for genuine, empowered and progressive insight through a personal lens. I hope to widen your scope through my perspectives but also to have an opportunity to learn from my readers through exchange.

September 2016 was unrelenting. It felt that every day that month had been designed to test my head and heart. I woke up every day to a new saga and I remain baffled by how quickly the quiet of my life during August had been upturned by the return of something old, broken and permanently hazardous. By the end of the month my resolve had been completely shaken. Out of desperation, I humbled myself and went back to the beginning. ‘Mom, dad, I’m in pain. I need you’. After hours of tearful conversation with my mom because poor dad was too overwhelmed, I was reacquainted with an old image of myself.

Mom said, ‘you wield soft power’ and the words seemed to get my blood circulating again. I mulled over these words. I had heard them from my first year studying an international relations course. I was taken aback by how this lacklustre political science term had so perfectly summed up the woman I was raised to be, the woman I am and had momentarily forgotten. Soft? Yes, most definitely. Powerful? As God intended. In using the world ‘wield’, mother was deliberately impressing that I had a power that I had not yet recognised or used. She was reminding me that whilst it may have seemed that my womanhood had made me vulnerable it was that very womanhood that made me infallible. The bloom of spring has been so heavily delayed (we ought to be talking about global warming) but I think of how I spent the last year cocooned and healing and I now know that September was like that cold glass of water your childhood friends would chuck at you at a slumber party. September woke me up again. It was a rehashing of an evolved edition of a more fulfilled woman.

They say introductions are crucial and so I know that I am fortunate to have the opportunity to cut, colour and clarify (shine bright like a diamond) an introduction that reflects the spirit of the woman those of you who inhabit this space will come to know. As with every journal style writing project I embark on I start by redefining the parameters of the conversation by letting you know that this digital space mirrors the same experience you might get had you sat next to me on my worn leather couch. You won’t see me with my hair net on and I can’t offer you food and drink but I can promise you that the conversation here is authentic.

I feel a greater connection with people who conclude statements with my name. It seems to suggest that the words should not be mistaken as belonging to anyone else. So please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Linda and I am a twenty something Zambian born, Johannesburg raised black woman building a life for myself here in Adelaide, Australia. I do not own a television and so music can usually be heard playing throughout my apartment. When I am happy I read a book a week, when I am sad I can barely read at all. I like to eat but I eat far too much. I’ve spent the last four years trying to resume the running that kept me fit throughout my teenage years. I have yet to succeed at this. My girlfriends are fuel to my fire. They keep my blood warm because through them I am constantly learning, growing and exchanging in the wisdom and sensuality of the female spirit. My heart has been hurt so I am taking a break from romance. I am my mother’s daughter and my father’s soldier. I am the overprotective big sister. I believe in a God but I will still respect you if you don’t. I like to wear pretty dresses and flowers in my hair. My flesh is soft but my will is strong. My heart is bruised but it hasn’t stopped beating. My head is always thirsting for new ideas. I am proud to be a woman. I am proud to be black and I am proud to be African. I see the unprecedented potential of my generation, I plan on boasting about it. I am pleased to meet you my friend.

I am a Zambian born, Johannesburg raised millennial. I am fortunate to live in beautiful Adelaide, Australia. I read extensively and cook often. When I am not working, studying or learning, I am writing for Salt Magazine, organizing sessions for the Bare and Basic community or spending time with loved ones.

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