Our Ancestors Wildest Dreams: Elisabeth Tubajika

I met Elisabeth more than ten years ago when we both lived in South Africa. It was through social media that we reconnected again and when the idea for this piece came about, Elisabeth was one of the first people that came to mind. As a black woman, I have come to the realisation that it is important to celebrate your milestones and achievements regardless of whether the world co-signs with what you’re doing and who you are. No one embodies this better than Elisabeth. Elisabeth started a non-profit organization in Texas call ‘We are The Voice’ to celebrate the beauty of Congolese culture and also raise awareness on the inequality that the women in the Eastern region of Congo face. Elisabeth also has a podcast called ‘Master’s Piece’ with the aim of encouraging people to live in a way that glorifies God.

In your own words introduce yourself

Elisabeth is a wife, daughter, sister, aunt and a friend. I am and will always be a child of God that is my truest (if that’s a word) identity; without God I’m nothing.

 I am a proud Diaspora and native of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Before I am an American I am a Congolese woman. It took a long time for me to embrace everything that is a part of me but I love being African and I love being a brown skin girl. To really make it simple Elisabeth (Kadesi) now Tubajika is a world changer. My mission before leaving this world is to have impact. whether that impact is big or small in the eyes of society, I pretty much don’t care. I want to inspire people to become their best version, I want to create, I want to build, and I want to empower. Oh I can’t forget to add this one I love to travel, laugh, dance and shop (Very important details lol).

Aperçu de l’image

When it comes to the experiences and places that have shaped your life, what or who has contributed to the woman you are today?

The biggest contributors to the woman I am today goes to several people, some tangible and others intangible. The greatest influencers of my life are my parents, the greatest role model of being a Godly woman is my mom. I also have my sisters and friends who teach me so much about life & virtual mentors (if you know what I’m saying). A big contributor right now is my husband. Being married for 4 months now, he’s taught me a lot we’re both learning together.

In general, I love learning from people who refuse to be victims of life’s circumstances. People who are passionate about their purpose. The places that have really shaped my life are all condensed from experiences in Congo, growing up in a post-Apartheid South Africa and being an African in America.

What are some of the things that you’ve accomplished that fill you with unfiltered back joy?

Graduating from University was one of my greatest accomplishments as an African girl. I always thought that it wasn’t possible for me but when I got my 4-year degree, the possibilities seemed endless. Another great achievement for me was starting my first non-profit organization (We Are the Voice) in 2012. Our mission was to help the battered women of East Congo and promoting education for orphans in Africa. Congo at the time was constantly in the media with negative press; and though we did and still do have conflicts and wars I wanted to show Americans a different type of Congo.  The beauty behind despair. The Congo with riches, wealth, enough natural resources to assist the world, beautiful black women, talented artists, and a beautiful culture. To be able to gather people from everywhere to hear your story, your vision, is a beautiful achievement.

In light of your philanthropic endeavour, ‘We are The Voice’ what was the internal shift that needed to occur to move from being appalled by something, to doing something to make a change?

One thing, mind-set. It takes a mental decision to change the narrative of your story. To move from being a victim to a leader. Congo is such a powerful country but with poor infrastructure and leadership.   Who do we continue to blame? The Belgians, White people, western countries? I was tired of our country being portrayed as a victim; yes, we’ve been through a lot, but we’re not slaves. We’re warriors, kings and queens.

Aperçu de l’image

 I did a lot of reading on my culture while in college; I was curious about African studies. I asked my dad a lot of questions, and those who grew up in Congo during the 1960’s (our independence). I read a lot of books and watched movies on great leaders who changed the trajectory of African politics and culture. If you’re tired of seeing negative press on your people start becoming the kind of person you would like to see in the press.

What are the biggest lessons you’ve learnt on your journey thus far?

Nobody is responsible for your happiness. If you want something communicate! Say it, go get it, and most importantly do something.

How have you maintained the authenticity of your brand in this age of social media?

With social media everyone copies and imitates each other, and you can get discouraged feeling like your vision isn’t necessary. I heard this quote somewhere and it changed my view on authenticity. When you come from a place of experience, when you share and create based on your own experiences you will never lack content”. There is only one you and that is your superpower

Aperçu de l’image

The climate that we’re in necessitates rest both physically and mentally for black women, how do you take care of yourself to prevent burnout?

The year 2020 has been a very challenging one for everyone with black lives matter, COVID19, and unemployment rates at its highest. I prioritize my mental health, is important to me. I don’t leave that responsibility to someone else. To keep my sanity in these times I have to run, pray, meditate, and watch a lot of comedy. My husband and I laugh a lot together so thank God the quarantine didn’t destroy us lol.  Another important step for me is controlling what I choose to watch. You have to manage every aspect of your being: spiritual, mental, emotional and physical. They are all VERY important.

What advice would you give to the younger version of yourself?

I would tell that black girl that there’s nothing more beautiful than being yourself, you were supposed to be different embrace it.

What does it mean to you to be you ancestors wildest dreams?

Being my ancestors wildest dreams is a very profound statement. To me the question is what were my ancestors dreaming about? What were their desires? As black people we all come from different tribes and backgrounds, our history dynamics are so different. One thing our ancestors all had in common was the need to survive, to be free and to leave a legacy. I want to give my ancestors more than that, not only do I want my freedom, I want excellence for my people.  I want to thrive not only survive. I want my ancestors to see that I was able to be a steward of their history, wisdom and culture.

To my ancestors we’re tired of being victims of the past, we’re tired of only fighting, we hear you. It’s time to take our crowns back. We are royalty.

Our Ancestors Wildest Dreams: Intro

We can’t afford to wait for the world to be equal to start feeling seen.

Michelle Obama

In a system built to destroy you, joy is rebellion! My family arrived in a post-apartheid South Africa from a war torn Democratic Republic of Congo and the one thing I can always remember from those early years is never feeling as though I could fit in anywhere. I spent a lot of my primary school career trying not to be noticed. Whenever people asked where I was from, I was quick to shutdown anything that linked back to my heritage and answer Belgium. Which is true as my place of birth, but I remember very early on, learning to be ashamed of my blackness. I remember one girl calling me a ‘makwerekwere’, a derogatory term used in South African for foreigners. On the other side of the spectrum, my white schoolmates were being raised by parents who enforced the old apartheid regime. Black was bad, black was dirty, black was wrong. In a few peoples eyes it felt as though I was the ‘dirty black’ who dared to be in the same space that they were in. I was lucky enough to find a group of friends that made surviving high school , and a system that was so against me, much easier!

In my thirty years of being a black woman, I have gone through a plethora of emotions. At times I would wish I was the right type of black to fit in with everyone else, and on the other side I wished I was a more acceptable type of African…whatever that means. Other times I wished my nose was straighter, less bulbous and indicative of my blackness. It took going to study in London to help me find my true identity and to stand boldly in who I was as a black woman divinely crafted in the image of a breathtaking God. My first year in the U.K. was marvellous. I grew up in a tight-laced conservative Christian family. I had my first sip of alcohol at 17 and the lightweight that I am, I passed out (still happens 😂) but somehow I still had enough sense in me to remember to tell my friend to tell my mum that I’d fallen asleep if she came into the room and found me passed out. Such is the fear that having African parents can instil in you 😂. In London, away from my parents’ rule and away from being in the shadow of my siblings, I was my own person. For the first time in my life, I found myself surrounded by people who were from different cultures, but they carried their culture and blackness with pride. The black women I met weren’t ashamed of being black, my goodness they were stunning. I started to wear my hair in its natural texture, I experimented with colour contact lenses (black girl rite of passage…), I embraced not only my features but my skin colour as well. This is gonna sound a touch shallow, but it did boost my ego a lot that people…and by people I mean the hotties on campus, had a bit of jungle fever for the girl from Africa 🤷🏾‍♀️ very much a ‘Mean Girls’ moment! And while 2020 Aurélie has grown so much (praise be to Jesus,) and no longer needs male validation to thrive, I was 18 and very silly at the time.

In those years living in London, I truly believed and embodied a phrase made popular by Dark n Lovely: ‘my black is beautiful.’ Fast forward to when I met my husband. I was a bit jaded by romance and had no strong feelings about getting married. I knew if I wanted to have children, I could do that by myself. My mom was quite horrified by that, which humoured me a lot more than it should have. Hubby is the most refreshing part of my life. The bonus & most importantly: he did not fetishise back women like SOOO many other creeps I encountered before him. Neither of us have ever applied the phrase ‘I don’t see colour’ to our relationship. In fact we’ve always been transparent about the differences in our upbringing, and the lives we have so far led. There are so many things that make being married to Sam wonderful. I’ll gush about that in another post…

Hubby and I had some marvellous plans for the future, and then 2020 hit. In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, black people were reminded of an enemy they have always had to face…racism.

The passing of Big Floyd reminded us all of how far we haven’t come since Martin Luther King marched at Selma, and Nelson Mandela become South Africa’s first black president in post-apartheid South Africa. I remember waking up on Saturday morning going for a run in an attempt to forget the emotional and mental trauma of realising once again that to some, black lives don’t matter. I recall coming back from my run the morning after the video of his passing circulated, and started to feel so ill that at some stage I asked myself ‘covid is that you?’ I woke up the next day feeling physically better largely due to a sleeping tablet, and as I continue in my attempts to heal from the collective trauma that the black community is dealing with, I am grateful for the sweet Holy Spirit that continues to remind me of something:

I am my ancestors wildest dreams

As a black woman, I should not be where I am. Free, educated, alive. And sometimes I forget that. I am notoriously bad at slowing down and smelling the roses. It truly takes ALL of heaven’s armies to stop me. This is one of those moments. The realisation that who I am today is what my parents, and grandparents (on my mothers side cause Lord knows our fathers always have messy family dynamics) prayed for.

As a black woman, I have often found myself in deep need of a pouring into my spirit that I am loved, valued and beautiful. I am grateful that I have very dear and lovely people who have seen this in me when I have not. As black people the world often times wants us to forget that we are loved, valued, and beautiful. This is a world that crushes so much of our spirits that we forget the beauty that being black is. What the enemy wants to do through racism is to break us. He wants to keep knocking us down until we get to a place where the trauma becomes a part of us, a part of our DNA that we continue to pass to our children, and their children, and their children. To get to a point where we grow so tired of fighting the microaggressions that we face on a daily basis that we retreat on the inside and start to feel the years of trauma breaking us down mentally, physically and emotionally. I refuse to be broken. The revolution WILL be televised and I will be part of it. This is where our ancestors wildest dreams comes in. An online space to remind black people of the beauty and magic that lies in their melanin. Some of them I have the privilege of knowing personally, and others I admire from afar. The magic embedded in the DNA of all black people will not be stopped. Our stories of success and overcoming in spite of the odds so heavily stacked against us, will not be erased. I look forward to sharing more from a community who are EVERYTHING that their ancestors dreamt of!

Black Lives Matter

Saying that Black Lives Matter doesn’t mean that other lives are valued less, it just means that there is a group of people who for years have been undervalued and exploited and it’s time we stop.

Nathan Ryan

Black Lives Matter is more than a slogan, it is a movement that was founded in the United States of America, after the murder of Trayvon Martin. This movement is about connecting Black people from all over the world who have as their primary mandate to act in the best interests of their community. As a black woman living in South Africa, I am grateful that the levels of racism I have faced, have not led to me losing my life. The unrest in the US has forced us all to evaluate just how clean our hearts are. Now more than ever, I am grateful for the friends/allies who have never pegged me based on my race. As we seek out new actionable ways to embody what Christ instructed us to do i.e ‘love thy neighbor, as you love yourself’ (Mark 12:31) may we not shy away from the awkward discomfort that some of these conversations will bring. It has been heartbreaking to realise over the past few days that there are people who would much rather die than admit that black lives matter. Thankfully in spite of the vitriol of hate that people spew out to black and other non-white people, I am comforted by the words of Maya Angelou:

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Tired

Another day, another name added to the ridiculously long list of women who have been brutally murdered in South Africa. Living in South Africa right now, particularly as a black woman is overwhelming. We have racist (and in some cases xenophobic) views to dismantle every day. There is a pandemic outside that is still raging AND on top of that, the men in South Africa have as their mandate to kill until all the women are dead and they have the country to themselves. Isn’t it funny that everyone knows someone who has been sexually or physically abused yet the amount of slaps on the wrist that these men are given is disproportionate to the women who have been murdered.

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Say Her Name!!! #TshegofatsoPule

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In South Africa I have never felt safe running, constantly watching over my shoulder, carefully mapping out which routes to take. Getting nervous when I see a group of men congregating, at times running with a scowl on my face in hopes that I look unapproachable enough to not be murdered. Each time a woman is murdered, we hear and read the same statement from the incumbent president. Last week (June 2020) in the covid-19 update, President Ramaphosa referred to the men in South Africa as the second pandemic that women and young children are having to contend with. Truer words have never been spoken. Being a woman in South Africa means living with anxiety that the minute you step out of the house, you aren’t safe. I for one plan my runs around less busier hours which means less men gawking, less anxiety and hopefully more safety? This is why I advise all women in South Africa to become well versed in protecting themselves, the men in this country have no intention to stop. The proof in this lies in the fact that I had initially written this post in June but I never finished it because thinking of the women who are now another horrible statistic. When will it end? It’s the question on every woman’s lips because we are tired. Rest in peace Kwasa, I am so sorry this country could not protect you.

Asithandile 'Kwasa' Zozo Lugalo died at age 20 after she was allegedly fatally stabbed by her boyfriend.
In memory of Asithandile “Kwasa” Zozo Lugalo.

Yeah, black lives matter but what about…

I was in two minds about writing this post as I truly believe that while anger is a valid emotion, sometimes it is best to let the pot of boiling water cool down before you use it…did I just make up a proverb? As the Black Lives Matter movement gains global momentum, I have up until now been silently watching how it unfolds in South Africa. I’ve started to see posts from some white South Africans almost negating that black lives matter, because of the farm murders that occur. Bear in mind that 74% of all farms in South Africa are white-owned, so does it not make sense to that wherever any race is a majority, they will make up the bulk of the stats? This is in the same line of thread as those who have rightly said ‘white people account for more police murders in the US.’ Well duh…the US is a majority white country is it not? However black people, in particular, black men are more likely to be killed by the police. I have countless times posted that the BLM movement is not about establishing a new order of white people vs. black people, it’s about dismantling racism. It’s the world vs. racists. I think it is also important to address those who have coined their own slogan ‘some black lives matter.’

If I’m being honest, I have sometimes felt as though in South Africa we hide behind the phrase ‘rainbow nation’ which sounds progressive but we really haven’t come that far. One of the reasons could be because the conversation of racism in South Africa isn’t just about dismantling toxic white privilege. The conversation in South Africa is a complex one because we’re dealing with two ugly monsters: racism AND its equally disgusting cousin, xenophobia. I can say that the reason why these attitudes persist is because we have a black population still very much feeling the inequality that was established during the apartheid era, add in a government that has more times than not served their own interests above the people who elected them and you have the perfect conditions for racial and ethnic discrimination to persist. More than anything as we watch what is unfolding globally, let us take this time to reflect on our attitudes towards other races and ethnicities. We have to realize that acknowledging the pain of one community, does not negate the pain that another community has or is still experiencing. Saying black lives matter does not mean that others do not. If having conversations about racial and ethnic discrimination makes you defensive, and deaf to hearing the plight of one unlike you has experienced, perhaps being racist/xenophobic is better suited for you…

Black Lives Matter | Peace Action New York State

Dear White People…Pull up!

Growing up as a Congolese immigrant in South Africa, life wasn’t easy. People need to confront their xenophobia as much as they need to confront their racism (that’s a story for another day). For a long time I remember thinking ‘wow they like me,’ whenever a white person would say ‘you’re not like other black people.’ You receive that as a badge of honour, a compliment. You fool yourself into thinking that in spite of your race, you’re accepted, you’re valued.

If there’s anything that I’ve learned, it’s that we can only fix this world together, we can’t do it divided. I cannot emphasize that enough. We can’t let the de-sensitivity seep in. The, ‘If it’s your problem, then it’s not mine; it’s a woman’s problem; it’s a black people problem; it’s a poor people problem.’ I mean, how many of us in this room have colleagues and partners and friends from other races, sexes, religions? Show of hands. Well, they want to break bread with you, right? They like you? Well, then this is their problem too. So when we’re marching and protesting and posting about the Michael Brown Jr.s and Atatiana Jeffersons of the world, tell your friends to pull up.

Rihanna

Now I’m older and I finally see it. I finally get it. The subtle ways that we’re pitted against each other. As if it’s a competition to see which black person is most worthy of being alive, of breathing. It is not lost on me that I am married to a white man and regardless of how we view our children, there are people in this world that will try to break them. It is my duty to ensure that this doesn’t happen. The anxiety has felt overwhelming at times, crippling even. But I am reminded that we have to be proactive, using whatever platform we have regardless of how big or small it is. Engage in conversations that challenge your inner Pharisee. You know who that is right? The part of you that is secretly (and for some people openly) judgemental, the part of you that ‘doesn’t see colour’. The part of you that has for a long time never seen life through the lens of others who are different to you because ‘it isn’t your platform’. When a black friend/colleague or partner chooses to share with you the world through their lens, listen. Don’t try to justify certain actions or re-write THEIR experience/s. It is a dangerous AND ignorant assumption to make that because it hasn’t been the case for you, it isn’t the case at all.

Don’t wait for someone else to educate you, do the work. Pull up! ✊🏾 Here’s a resource I found on the web, for the non-black people in the room who are ready to do the work: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1BRlF2_zhNe86SGgHa6-VlBO-QgirITwCTugSfKie5Fs/preview?pru=AAABcoTynOg*doiSCYsnnyftRjNy23Qzsw

I am as overwhelmed as I am numb. I’m tired emotionally and mentally. But still I will continue to rise.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Maya Angelou

30, flirty & thriving

On the 18th of April 2020, I turned 30. I’ve been looking forward to this day for the past year. I don’t know why. Perhaps it’s the way we’ve been conditioned by society about the ages that represent growth, wisdom and responsibility: 21, 25, 30 and 40. Those were the ages that growing up, I looked forward to. There’s something about leaving behind the twenties that makes 30 feel grown up. It feels like overnight I’ve developed a different type of skin. I realise though that is wasn’t overnight. There were habits that I developed over the past two years that prepared me for thirty without me feeling as though getting older is the curse that the media will sometimes spin on us women. There were attitudes, and thought patterns that I consciously had to refuse in order to enter my thirties in the healthiest way possible.

The New Normal

The smile on my face… plastered.

How is lockdown going for you? Over the past three weeks, I have gone through ALL the emotions, and none of them have involved much productivity. There’s a strange thought that started spreading across mainstream social media channels that this is a time to learn a new skill whether that is playing a new instrument, learning a new language etc. Basically if you’re not doing any of the aforementioned things, then you’re a wasteman. Yesterday I was speaking to my supervisor who is part of the covid-19 response task force and he said something that is aiding in shifting my perspective in regards to what life post covid-19 is going to look like. Until we get to a point where scientists have created a reliable vaccine, we are going to have to find a way to go back to living not as we used to , but as our new world requires us to. Life is not going to look like what we previously knew, and in all honesty, we should be very glad about that. The normal that we were used to was unhealthy with ethnic groups with people that look like me, left on the outside. The old way of living was toxic. I suppose if you benefited from the old way of living,, you’d be resistant to accepting the reality that things are never going to be the same again.

Behold, I am doing a new thing;
    now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
    and rivers in the desert.

Isaiah 43:19 (ESV)

Y’all please don’t come for me and loop me in the same group as the crazy Christians who say covid-19 was sent by God for a mass cleanse to restore the good in humanity. RUN from those peeps!!! What I am saying, like Isaiah writes in the verse above, God can make our world (individual or collective) better in the midst of what feels like a crappy season in the wilderness. The one thing that we do know for certain, and that I think we can find some comfort and safety in is this: things are never going to be the same again, and that’s okay! It might actually be the best thing to come out of this., We’re still gonna have bad days, and that’s normal. It is a global pandemic after all. It’s okay to feel as though you’re not coping, and if you need a little bit more support, don’t be afraid to reach out. The only thing I’m working on is actually found in the title of a very popular Bee Gees song, ‘staying alive,’ and you know what? That is good enough.

One bowl triple-chocolate brownie recipe

Are you ready for the only brownie recipe you will ever need? Because let me tell you my friends, THIS.IS.IT! There’s a time and place for ingredient restrictions, and calorie reduction… that time is not now. Diet culture has made us feel bad about our cravings, geez we’re humans. Sometimes we want chocolate, and chocolate is what we must have. Not a cardboard tasting substitute that only makes you crave the real thing more. So if you’re in the mood for something decadent, delicious AND easy, here’s the recipe you were looking for! The best part is the washing up is very minimal!

This recipe took place in one bowl which lends to its appeal because 9/10, I don’t bake because of the clean-up. 🧼 🧽 This recipe will give you yummy fudgy brownies that are as great the next day as they are when you first make them!

INGREDIENTS:
240g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 tablespoon coconut 🥥 oil
260g white sugar
200g muscovado OR light brown sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon salt
130g all purpose flour
100g unsweetened cocoa powder
200g roughly chopped chocolate, 3 different varieties are very important for this recipe (I probably used more because I didn’t like the eating quality of the vegan chocolate but in the brownies they’re delicious! *chef’s kiss*)

Look at those yummy pieces of chocolate 🤤

INSTRUCTIONS:
Preheat oven to 180°C
Lightly grease a baking pan. Line with baking paper and set aside.
Combine melted butter, oil and sugars together in a medium-sized bowl. Whisk well to combine. If you have a handheld mixer, your ways shall be made straight 😂 Add the eggs and vanilla; beat until lighter in colour (another minute).
Sift in flour, cocoa powder and salt over the bowl with your egg, sugar + butter mix. Gently fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until JUST combined.
Fold in all of the chocolate.
Pour batter into prepared pan, smoothing the top out.
Bake for 25-30 minutes for or until the centre of the brownies are JUST set to the touch.

You can sub coconut 🥥 oil for any other oil EXCEPT olive oil which belongs in salads but not brownies 😂

Resurrection Sunday

Last night my mom asked me what Easter means to me, and I’ve been thinking about it all day. One of my favourite things about this time of the year, (Resurrection Sunday) is the fact that a woman (Mary Magdalene) was the first to have seen Jesus. Throughout the Gospels , I’ve always found it so beautiful (& comforting) to read one account after the other where Jesus saw the value of what was traditionally thought to be the insignificant sex, growing up in a traditional patriarchal African household it was a big deal to know that I was loved and valued beyond measure… beyond just one day growing up, getting married, popping very cute babies out & that’s it Jesus beam me up 😂 Jesus lived in a time when it was scandalous to allow women to speak, let alone treat them with respect, yet He did it… might He have been the first male feminist? On that cross, in a moment that seemed to be marred by darkness, Christ poured out His love for us, placed value on all of us. I suppose you could call it a homecoming of some sorts, one that we work out everyday. A journey of us becoming who we were always meant to be. ♥️

‘Death could not hold You
The veil tore before You
You silence the boast of sin and grave
The heavens are roaring
The praise of Your glory
For You are raised to life again

You have no rival
You have no equal
Now and forever God You reign
Yours is the kingdom
Yours is the glory
Yours is the Name above all names

What a powerful Name it is
What a powerful Name it is
The Name of Jesus Christ my King.’