I AM EVERY WOMAN.
This is a statement I live by. I cannot separate myself from the issues and experiences that women from different walks of life are faced with. Their pain is my pain.
Their achievements are my achievements. Their setbacks are my setbacks. I am EVERY woman.
One book that changed my life is The Colour Purple by Alice Walker.
It tells the story of Celie, who was violated by society, by her family and had her identity stripped away. Through meeting and interacting with other women with similar struggles – but who had different responses – found her own voice and power.
Part of the reason the book had such an impact is that I found a lot of similarities between myself and Celie.
Growing up I was a quiet and reserved child, passive, and that passiveness
I would observe others doing life, never thinking I could do the same.
I learnt a lot from books and what others had to say about me, what my parents’ expectations were and what society had prescribed for me being black and a woman, but never took time to question the world or myself, as to what I wanted.
Reading The Colour Purple was almost like reading a book about myself. I lived in better conditions and in better times than Celie, so I quickly realised I had no excuse to be leading my life the way I was.
The book taught me the most powerful lesson – women can liberate one another.
It is every woman’s journey to not only find her voice
I applied myself from a young age, as that is where I gained confidence. I didn’t have to be apologetic about being top of the class, because I had earned my position.
I felt that the playing field was levelled and that is where I first encountered my #BlackGirlMagic – the space to raise my voice as a black woman and celebrate each other’s beauty, power and resilience.
Through academics, the world of books was opened. It is through telling our stories that we become empowered and empower other women. We live in a time where women’s voices and their presence in ALL spaces is vital to the survival and improvement of our society.
It is through sharing of our stories that we liberate ourselves as well as each other. Our magic lies in being unapologetic and unashamed of our stories and being able to say, “I am EVERY woman”.
This Women’s Month, Nal’ibali is paying tribute to all South African women.
Andy Maqondwana is a radio presenter, MC, entertainer and academic.