#BrighterLives

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Every year, on the 21st of June, MTN Zambia closes its community outreach project, #YelloCare. It runs from the 1st of June and has a grand finale, this year’s was a career day, where the event is wrapped up and of course lives are changed.

This year’s #YelloCare opened up space for women in tech, and worked with amazing organisations like Bongo Hive and Asikana Network. Partnering with Lubuto Libraries, young mothers were given the chance to learn computer coding and of course #BrighterLives.

So Why Girls in Tech?

Under the theme #BrigtherLives, these young women went and broke so many barriers, that I’m not even sure they realized. Historically, computer programming and technology services, have been roles relegated to the nerdy man sitting in front of a computer with a five day old hungry lion packet next to him. But these ladies were so young and had brilliant ideas. They were dreaming up things I literally never thought about at their age. A recycling app? TAKE MY MONEY!

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The thing is, as we go about life trying to find a way for ourselves, we often find that even though the spaces are opened up for us, young women are way to timid or just don’t know enough to take the charge they ought to be taking.

Initiatives like Asikana Network and #YelloCare are some of the few ways that young women’s brilliance can be felt in these spaces that are just waiting for them to be occupied. Ladies bring a special type of creativity to the table, but often we are either silenced or just too plain scared.

Focusing on tech, because that was this year’s theme, its important that ladies get to share their creativity and smarts with the world. If we’re going to make the world a better place, let’s get all hands on deck.

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The world is becoming digital. Lets get with the program.

As the world is being steadily transformed with digital solutions for otherwise mundane problems, and its up to us to keep up with it. If young people, such as myself are not careful, we will be left behind in paving the world that we want to see.

Shout out to the youths, for making things happen. But lets not get complacent. It can be daunting, going out into the world with all these bright ideas that may be misunderstood, rejected or just plain discarded, but lets not end there. We have a whole world in front us, just waiting for the taking. Its time we got up and made our footprint.

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The 21 days of #YelloCare have since ended, but I can assure you that minds are buzzing with all the possibilities that life holds for you. Its easy to believe that we have it the worst, but the truth is, where we are right now, could possibly the best we ever have it. Don’t get discouraged. pray hard and then work hard. Always give your best. and when you have, don’t forget to give a hand to the people that are next to you.

Keep your sights up and keep positive, because when we all care, everyone can have a #BrighterLife.

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Barren

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I tried to be a ray of sunshine
In your garden
Run my fingers
Over your stone walls
Caress you
With warmth and light
I tried to make your flowers grow
I tried to scorch
The weeds in your heart
Burn away the rubbish
And the debris
I tried to shine bright into your garden
But you wouldn’t let me.

You shut out the light
By building a wall so
High
That even my rays
Couldn’t climb
A glacier so strong
No one could break,
No one could touch.
Your garden is barren
Your field is fallow
Your wall is cold as ever

And me, the sunshine?
The sun traces a path in the sky
And where the darkness is too much for the light
The sun sets.

Tired

I rub my hands across my eyes.

Once.

Twice.

Twenty times.

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Photo by Heather Zabriskie on Unsplash

I wash my face and stare off into the distance. I sigh. The air escapes my chest as a bubble that is as weary as I am. I look at my phone. 7 chats, all unread. I shrug. There were more chats yesterday. All asking for my attention, my love, my care, for me. I trade my soul for the wounds of other people, who forget that I too get tired. But you see, no amount of physical sleep can cure a tired soul. I have poured so much into other people that I am now an empty vessel.

 

 

 

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Photo by Ahmed Rizkhaan on Unsplash

 

 

So I sleep the emotions away. I crawl into bed at 8 pm and I am out like a light. Sometimes the monsters visit me at 1 am, but these days they respect that I am too tired to even give them attention.

 

So I sleep. Like the world will stop momentarily. And let my heart and my soul catch up with my body.

I rub my hands across my eyes.

Once.

Twice.

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Twenty times.

This time a streak of tears glistens on my palm.

The Female Body

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I stand in front of the mirror and regard my naked body; disparagingly. They say that each body is a work of art, so why may I not treat to it to critique. I sigh as I shrug. In the general sense of arms and legs, it looks fine. Well, save for flabby biceps and wide thighs. But the areas of my skin that my clothes do not hide are rife with flaws. Imperfections. Blemishes. Stretch marks trace paths over my ass, pointing towards…well. Scars are littered over my shins and calves, the memories of imaginary battles I fought as a free-spirited child. Acne scars scatter themselves across the bridge of my nose, connecting the dots of my incomplete adolescence.

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I look at this body I own. In its awkward lumpiness and half formed curves. I sometimes despise this body. I wish it was straighter, like a stick. Glossy magazine cover acceptable, you know? But sometimes I wish…I wish it was like Beyoncé. A curve so blessed, it became bootyful. But at the end of the day, it’s the only body I have. I may dislike it on some days, but on all days, I respect it.

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Soliloquy to My Lover

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I heard, once upon a time, that life has a funny way of sneaking up upon you. When you least expect it, it happens all at once, and might just leave you a little bit dizzy from all the change. My mind wonders as I watch the buildings whizz past me, as I travel towards a place I call home.

“I would not call myself an obsessive girl. And neither would I say my thoughts stray towards you. Rather my thoughts stray away from you, towards other thoughts, seemingly pale in comparison to yourself.

I don’t want to give you a saviour complex, because I was not in need of completion.

But you came into my life, a tall dark stranger and smiled at me. A beautiful smile. Your smile. And somehow, my world turned upside down.

This is not supposed to be sappy or gross, this is a truth about the condition of my heart. Or perhaps former condition, somewhat old and torn, but still beating, still believing in love.

This serves as a soliloquy and a shout out.

To the man with the biggest heart that matches his delightful smile.

To the one, who makes me happy, makes my heart burst

It’s a thank you. For being here, with me, even if it seems like the distance is planets away.

This is for you being perfect. Perfect for me.”

It feels like no time has passed at all, before I reach my destination. My heart races as I walk, this feeling isn’t unfamiliar. It leaps, and bounds and makes perfectly timed pirouettes. Then I see you. And a smile spreads across my face, just like the millions of times before. I try (and fail) to hide it.  And then I am wrapped in your arms, in your warmth. Time melts away, and the world stands still.

 

It’s just you and me.

Lonesome

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Casually
Tossed aside.
A casualty
Of the affections
Of a heart that was
Racing so fast,
It forgot to check
It’s rear mirrors
And inevitably
Crashed.

Discarded and disused,
Gone and forgotten.
A whisper in the memories
Of many nights long passed,
When stars would shine

For two unlucky lovers
Who thought they held time.

Downcast and disconsolate.
A girl who’s name you used to know,
A boy who’s heart you used to hold.

Lips that would part yours in kiss,
Are clamped together in a thin line.
Underscoring their disapproval of you.

Shuffling forward,
Away from the toxicity.

Your departure is as silent as a petal
Falling to the ground.

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Battles of The Inner Mind

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Photo by Tachina Lee on Unsplash

It’s a little bit funny,
How my heart will go out,
Smoke gun and barrel,
Waging a war,
But at the first sign of trouble,
Screams out retreat.
Dont get me wrong,
This is not defeat…
I’m not giving up,
But I’m not giving in.
I am protecting
My interests,
With dagger and knife,
Holding my sanity
Close to me,

I am outside my mind,
Convincing myself
That my heart is right,
When Lord knows I’ve never been more wrong

But
I’ve got the broken pieces
Of a trust betrayed
And you harbor none of the pain.
I have the tear stains on my face,
You have the gain
Of a story you were allowed to leave behind,
As I lay in the ashes,
Circling in our names
In the dust of the past.

I have a steely grin
Transfixed onto
A downcast face,
A heart of ice
That thaws to raw
And unforgiving muscle.

I breathe in pain,
In every sinew
Every pocket of air.

And then I exhale.
And let it go.

I swim in the thought
That my opinion is not absolute,
And while my feelings
Are valid,
They are misplaced,

And I understand.
That I am wrong.
And all I seek is forgiveness

Lockdown : the Aftermath (cont)

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Photo by Sara Silva on Unsplash

I was mistaken in thinking that panic would ensue Milimo’s words.

Nope. I was greeted with overwhelming silence. Once again, we were a few misguided kids, trying to find our place in the world.

I sank into a chair and buries my head in my hands. I pressed my fingers to my eyelids, savouring the coolness of my fingertips on my overheated face. I exhaled, trying to wrap my head around the problem we had been presented with. Who could possibly have hacked us?

“Do we have any further information?” I asked croakily.

“The system the hacker is using is far beyond anything I’ve ever seen,” Milimo whispered, stuck between being scared and awestruck. “Their hacking methods are ridiculous. They set up several firewalls. I can’t even get their location.”

“But we can guess.” Silas said gravely, crossing the room. He stood in the middle of the room, flexing his muscles menacingly. “The only unusual activity we’ve seen was in the north of Lusaka. It’s pretty obvious that’s where they are.”

“We should go after them,” Stephanie piped up.

“We should do nothing of the sort,” I said, standing up. I walked right up to Silas and stared up at him, refusing to be intimidated by his huge stature.

“I already killed the whole country. I won’t let you guys die too.” I breathed out

“Oh, for fucks’ sake, we aren’t even living!” Stephanie yelled at me, her hair whipping around her face. “Those that hang out with the dead are dead! Do you really think hiding from shadows is being alive Chabota?”

“Steph, you were on my side.” I growled lowly.

“There are no sides!” She screamed angrily. “There’s life and death and us. But there are no sides”

 

I returned to my seat, feeling defeated. I needed the team to see reason, but the truth was I didn’t know what I was reasoning with them to do. As it stood, we were all sitting chickens, waiting on the sky to fall.

 

 

15.3879oS, 28.3297oE, Engineering Annex. STATUS: CONDEMNED

In the aftermath, I got used to the draft in the annex. Not because the windows were poorly boarded up with flimsy sheets of cardboard but because I never felt Stephanie next to me anymore when I woke up. We were miles apart. I often woke up groggy and wistful. Sometimes, Bupe would cross my mind, but I would shake those thoughts vehemently out my head. The past was behind us. This particular morning was colder than usual for a day in the middle of summer. I pulled myself from behind the boxes and woke up to what looked like a meeting.

“we’re glad you’re finally awake.” Stephanie said scathingly. I flipped my finger at her and pulled a chair into their jumbled circle.

“we’ve decided to investigate the activity in Lusaka North.”

 

 

15.4140° S, 28.2853° E, STATUS: INHABITABLE

Even before we shut down The Network, this old shopping mall gave me the creeps. It had been refurbished into office space for government spies, that masqueraded as people equally sinister. Interestingly enough, the black market flourished right next to the supposed law makers.

“I remember buying my first gun here,’ Silas said reminiscently. He chuckled as he added, “I also bought my first gun license.”

Milimo scoffed as he pulled out a tablet from his back pack. “They’ve completely secured the network. I can’t even monitor their activity.”

“did you try to look at the national electricity grid?” I asked non-commitally.

“of course, I did,” he scoffed.

“no need to be rude, brother.” I mumbled, throwing the peace sign at him.

“brother?” he asked incredulously. “Chabota, you’ve barely spoken to anyone since we shut this shit down!”

“you guys are acting like its all my fault. We were in it together!” I growled at him, taking a step closer to him. I flexed my knuckles, unconvincingly, feeling braver than I really was.

Milimo flung his arms apart and screamed, “look at you shifting the blame! I’ve been hacking into fucking infinity while you mope around the streets, picking up junk that reminds you of your dead girlfriend. I see you storing that stuff, in your locker dude.”

“it’s not like that.” I said, turning away angrily.

He laughed mirthlessly, “oh yeah, tell that to Stephanie.” Milimo turned away from me disgustedly. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Stephanie wipe her face as she stepped past us. I exhaled and fumbled blindly for a blunt.

Silas grabbed the blunt from my fingers and tossed it away. “I need you to be alert in this, we’re going in with guns. Also keep your goddamn emotions in check, you sound ridiculous.”

He stepped forward and motioned for us all to huddle.

“I can’t tell you guys I know much about what’s going on there, but I do know that its gonna be dangerous.” He said gravely. “Y’all got your weapons?”

Everyone nodded their assent. I was reminded that I needed to collect my own gun from the trunk of the car we had ‘acquired’ to get here. It was a very run-down Toyota Corolla. As I pulled the boot open and selected the smallest pistol I could find, I was reminded that freedom comes at a price.

Dear You

 

Dear you.
Guess what?
The box you crafted
Out of the projection
Of your inadequacy
Does not fit my proportions.

I am too tall
For your puny mind
To fathom.
I am a sky scraper and you
You are an anthill,
Crushed to dust,
By people’s feet as they
Sweep over your insignificance,
You rebuild on shame and insecurity
And yet you expect me to shrink?

How funny.
Because you see, I am a mountain,
I rise high and above.
I am an unascendable fortress
Firm in the roots of the earth,
Three dimensional
The reflection of a Creator
Who took extra care on me.
But you. You are a grass plain.
Flat and uninspiring,
The trampled upon,
Suffering the underfoot of giants
As the walk past,
You are my door mat.

I am volcano,
Fierce and proud,
When I wake,
The whole earth tremors at my presence.
But you are just a kettle of boiling water,
The fire lit stove,
Easily put out.

You think that you can fit me
Inside your pocket,
But I am far above and beyond
Who you believe I am.
I do not fit in your palm,
I do not fit in your life,
And I most certainly do no
Fit in your mind.

The Distance, The Tears and The Lack Of Resolve

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Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

When we fight
It feels like there is a weight
Sitting on my chest,
Restricting my movements
Making me go slower
And slower
And slower.

When we fight
It feels like someone is gripping
My heart,
And squeezing it tight,
Making it beat fainter
And fainter
And fainter

It feels like someone stole my breath
And is constricting my air way, and it’s
Painful
So painful
Oh so very painful.

It feels like someone took our spark and snuffed it under his shoe.

It feels like you are your own person.
And I don’t belong to you.

Lockdown : The Aftermath

Status report : All previous sectors have been dissolved and reaffirmed into Lusaka city. National Archives (lat. long. Undefined.) Yielded poor results as to names of suburbs and residential areas. Missing records, either burnt or discarded.
Livestock have been rounded up and stray and cats have been impounded Diseased or wound animals were killed.
Remains of the people have been permanently locked in cold storage. Accessible only by computer short code.

Unusual activity in Lusaka North. Investigations under way.

Status report May 17; 20:49: Transformer power has been shut down in all areas. Computer network is compromised. Currently running on solar energy.

Status report; May 31, 21:03: Lights flared up in Lusaka North. Investigations underway.

Status report, June 2: Influx of strays in the streets. Ethernet network crashed.

15.3879° S, 28.3297° E: Former Engineering Annex.

The past month had made me get used to silence. The streets were dead quiet, save for the wind rustling through avenues of trees.
We also sat in silence. We tried but the atmosphere was quiet heavy around us yet for all that, we stayed together, appreciating that there is strength in numbers. Besides, it got lonely sometimes, walking through the neo-apocalyptic streets. Despite there being no immediate danger, we always found ourselves at the base by nine pm latest. I’d often find Milimo hunched a laptop, coding aimlessly, or if not playing mindless games. Silas found some old dumbbells and took to working out often. His spare moments were spent pumping weights. Stephanie and I drifted apart. She spent most of her time writing in a journal or crying. She had lost her sparkle. And I felt like awraith. Walking through the empty streets, hiding from people who aren’t there. I took an inventory of basically everything I came across. The buildings, the plants, the street furniture. I felt it kept me sane.
As per the usual I was back at the base before nine. The atmosphere in the base was heavy. Stephanie was crying again and Silas was pacing the room frantically. Milimo of course was typing furiously at his laptop, barely looking up as his fingers flew over the key board. Before I could speak, Stephanie flung herself into my arms, wailing.
“What’s going on?” I asked, fearing the worst.
“Chabota…” Milimo said from across the room. We’ve been hacked.”

Lonely