Personal Scribbles by Wandi Jama

Unedited moments in my life, using a personal ink to portray what lies beneath the picture.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Slay In Your Lane: The Black Girl Bible


 'Slay in Your Lane’ by Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinene  is an inspirational black girl tool book that gives an insight into the challenges black women face in every sphere of life.
The black girl bible features 39 successful black British women spanning from different industries and explores what it means to be young, black and female in the U.K.
 How did you meet and come together to create this book?
Y: We met at university in our first year and it was a predominantly white university. There were very few black people and we became very close from there.
Essentially how the book came about was from  Elizabeth's interest in reading  a lot of self help books, she was also keen on furthering herself in her career. She worked in the corporate world and had read a lot of books such as 'Lean In' by Sheryl Sandberg, 'Girl Boss' by Sophia Amoruso  and all those kinds of books about how to survive in the workplace, the secret rules of how to get ahead and how to be more confident.  But often as a black woman when you’re confident it can be read as arrogant, and there were a lot of rules in the books that didn’t translate for black women. They spoke to white women. So Elizabeth rang me one day and asked if I can write her a book about how to get ahead as a black woman in the workspace. I thought it was an excellent idea and thought someone has already done it, but they hadn’t!  I always joke for the sake of our friendship that this is too good of an idea for her to gift me and thought we should do it together On a serious note though, she’s massively talented in marketing and was a marketing manager at that time. I had my journalistic expertise and thought we should just do it together. We needed it be more than just a book but a movement.
How did you decide on the title of the book?
Y:Elizabeth sent me a picture of Solange Knowles at New York Fashion Week and she captioned it ‘slay in your lane’ I called her and said I’ve never heard  of that phrase before in that way. Obviously it was a play on the term ‘stay in your lane’ I thought it's a memorable title.  When you look at Solange Knowles she could have lived in Beyonce’s shadow but instead she carved her own path, found her own lane and found herself. The picture encapsulated that she’s forging her path and doing her own thing. That’s essentially the essence of what the book is about as a black women:  to stay in your own lane, slay in it and do well in it!
The book also includes 39 inspirational black British women. How did you select them to be apart of the book and what did you learn from them? 
 Y: We had a long list of about 200 women but it was very much about throwing everything by the wall and seeing what sticks. We knew there were several black women in this country that were doing amazing stuff. If we could speak to all of them we could. It was about whom do we have access to, and at the beginning we had access to none of them. A lot of it was quite literally sending DM’s on instagram, twitter, googling for agent details and going to events we knew they’d be at and hoping to maybe get a chance to speak to them. For instance we went to the Afrohair & Beauty Live event, which is an annual hair show in the U.K. and knew presenter, June Sarpong would be there. We asked her in person if she would love to partake in the book and she agreed. We were bypassing the gatekeepers because some agents would’ve been dismissive over it. As soon as people hear something is black they become cautious and view it as not being an important thing. We did our best to speak to the women directly and it worked really well. We also learned a lot from them. From health to dating, to workplace and representation. It was so wide and broad. Our oldest interviewee, Margret Busby who was the first black female publisher in the U.K and the youngest is currently 73 years old. We spoke to women in our age group like Florence Adepoju,  she’s a beauty entrepreneur. All the women have a wide breath of experiences.
                                                 credit: Waterstones
What challenges did you face whilst writing the book?
Y: The biggest challenge was probably time management. We both had fulltime jobs whilst we were writing the book. It was physically, verging on impossible to do what we wanted to do. We did the interviews by ourselves with the women; we had a photoshoot with them that we organised ourselves independently. We were physically writing the book and doing the research. Thankfully we lived together at that time to ensure we stay on top of it. There were a lot of ‘sick days’ and lunch times where we were sneaking out to interview people. Every weekend was dedicated to writing the book. There was very little downtime during that period.  We were hands on and ran social media accounts and website. We even had interns cause the workload was too much.
 Has anything changed after publishing the book?
Y: Literally so much! We’ve never been so visible, despite me being a journalist before. We put a lot of ourselves in this book, in terms of our own personal experiences. Like doing book signings and people genuinely coming to see you and engage with your book because it spoke to them. It has been humbling and overwhelming. In the book I speak a lot about representation and the lack of it in a British context. When we see black women it’s very rare in terms of good media representation. They also tend to be African American. We have little good black British representation in this country, not because there aren’t any positive role modes, as evidence by this book but they don’t get the visibility that they should. It’s been interesting becoming part of that representation by virtue of writing this book because we’ve done a lot of press and did a shoot with Vogue, ELLE, Times Newspaper, Refinery 29, appeared on the metro and did an interview with BBC Breakfast. Being on the other end and providing that representation and people talking about how much it means to see girls like us on TV has been a massive change.  I’m seeing the difference our visibility has made in terms of black women knowing there’s space for them in publishing and that our voices and stories do matter.
                                                   credit:@slayinyourlane
What are your personal experiences of being a black British woman in the workplace?
E: I’m unable to talk about my personal experiences in a great detail but I think that there are a couple of things from across the board that black women experience in the workplace. These things range from having an idea and voicing it but people not acknowledging it. Whereas if someone superior to you, or if a white male or female voice it people tend to acknowledge it. I’ve personally seen it and experienced it. That feeling of your ideas not being taken seriously is something we talk about it in the book. There’s a term we use  called ‘white co sign’ it's when as a black woman your ideas are being vouched for by a white man . It is not something we encourage because it's not the best place to be in and a lot of black women have experienced it.
Imposter syndrome is what a lot of women experience, but when it comes to black women it doesn’t come from the same place. A lot of it is embedded in the notion that we are women and black and our identity alone presents itself a lot of challenges. When you work twice as hard and get to a particular workplace, you’re almost grateful to be there, even though you have all your qualifications and probably have more qualifications than your white counterparts. You have  that feeling of being grateful to be there. It’s almost a feeling of ‘oh they’ve let me in’. When you have that mindset it manifests in your interactions and you’re likely to let things slide and not speak up for yourself because you’re internalising your achievements. 
What micro –aggression experiences have you had?
E: In the book we talk about micro-aggression in great detail and we list the different types of micro-aggressions, how they come into effect and how to deal with them.
I think a lot of the times we know it has happened to us but one of the amazing advices in the chapter was around how to pick your battles. I’m one of those people who don’t want to let anything slide. There’s a chapter that details out how to deal with micro aggressions and for me one of the ways to deal with it is to  trust my instinct, because I believe there’s no particular way to deal with it cause we are all different. One of the key points about micro-aggressions is to learn to pick your battles so you know how to take an educated approach and also know when you need to walk away.
How did your families react to the book?
E: Our family and friends have been aware of this book for a long time because it's been in the works for a while and they’ve finally seen it come to life. They are proud and it was amazing and overwhelming to see them proud.
What has been a ‘pinch me’ moment after publishing the book?
E: We’ve had so many  ‘pinch me moments’ that have made everything so exciting along the way after publishing the book. One of those moments was when Sheryl Sandberg emailed us and wrote a formal endorsement for our book. We always say to her this book wouldn’t exist without her essentially. She opened up the conversation about women in the workplace. Another 'pinch me moment’ was when we were at our launch party and Denis Lewis who is one of our interviewee’s came up to me with 3 books and asked me to sign her books. I mean, she’s Denis Lewis! She's an Olympic gold medalist. It was so surreal.
What do you hope readers will take away from the book?
E: One of the things that I wrote in the afterword of the book is that when I turned 21 and graduated, I wrote a note to myself about the kind of approach I want to take in life. It was kind of a manifesto and a promise to myself. Whenever I lacked motivation, I could refer back to that note as something that would give me a broader perspective about what I wanted to achieve in life and how far I’ve come.
In that note was a quote from Maya Angelou "My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humour and some style."
That’s one of the things I want a reader to take away from this book, especially a black girl. Your mission in life is filled with opportunities, ups and downs but there’s still so much beauty and great things to come from it. I just want a black girl to be in control of her future as much as possible and just thrive and have a great time whilst doing it. Over the years I’ve always gone back to the note and its reignited that spark and  helped me refocus my purpose. I hope that once they read this book its something they can go back to depending on where they are in life and it will reassure them that they’re not alone. There’s a sisterhood captured in this book to guide them in difficult but also triumphant moments in their lives.
Can we expect more books?
E:I feel like my life has been leading up to writing ‘Slay in Your Lane’. Everything life has thrown at me has all been leading up to this book.  It was such a therapeutic and cathartic experience to take this journey especially with my best friend. It definitely feels like we’ve given birth and our baby is out in the world. We hoped it would manifest in different ways, mediums and platforms so we excited to see what other things could come from the book and it doesn’t necessarily have to be in a book. So at the moment we are open to a lot.
Describe a black girl in 3 words
E: I don’t know if I can describe a black girl in 3 words cause I can’t pigeonhole who we are in 3 words but the main thing I would say about every black girl I’ve met and also basing it on our stories is the fact that we are so resilient and that resilience comes into play in positive ways. We are go getters, we strive for the best for ourselves, our families and communities. We seek inspiration in so many things and we go against all odds. The resilience on the other hand can be quite detrimental to ourselves in terms of our mental health and self care. It’s a double-edged sword and that super woman complex of being perfect and flawless. When you’re resilient there’s no other option but to be great.
Slay In Your Lane (£16.99, Harper Collins) is out now.
For more information on the book follow the  Slay in Your Lane twitter and instagram account @slayinyourlane

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Thursday, July 19, 2018

Why You Should Take a Staycation (Featuring Pepper Tree Venue in Bloemfontein)


I was born and bred in Bloemfontein, a small city in South Africa and I won’t lie every time I come home to visit my family I tend to get a bit frustrated about my small city. I always feel like I’ve exhausted all the places I can go to and things I can do. However,  I was quite surprised to find out that there are actually quite a few places I’ve never been to or even heard of and Pepper Tree Venue being one of them!

Pepper Tree Venue and Guesthouse is a function venue that hosts weddings, parties, corporate functions and also offers a chapel for weddings. The name comes from the large Pepper Tree that grows in front of the venue.

The modern guesthouse has seven en-suite double rooms with private patios. It’s located northwest of Bloemfontein and is a 10 minute drive out of Bloemfontein, making it the perfect home away from home staycation!




My friend, Zee and I checked in, in the afternoon and arrived to wine, a welcome note, chocolate and hot chocolate to mention a few. Charne, the events coordinator and guesthouse manager was kind enough to show us around the venue and it’s facilities. There was even a small wedding ceremony happening on the day.




After our mini tour, we obviously had to take pictures before the sun set and a few instagram story videos because what’s a staycation without a few snaps? The one thing I looked forward to was lazing around and catching up with my girl and we did just that! The lovely thing about a staycation is that it’s the perfect excuse to laze around without feeling guilty. We bonded over wine, music and just had a good ‘ol girls night!



We were later treated to a mouth watering 3-course dinner meal in the dining room. 
Starter: Tomato soup

Main:Chicken, lamb, pumpkin fritters, vegetables ,rice and a side salad.


Dessert: Chocolate mouse served with Amarula.

During dinner Gerda, the owner  and Charne came to check up on us and definitely accommodated our every request. The one thing that stood out to me was the staff and top management’s hospitality. Everyone was so welcoming and made us feel right at home. After filling our stomachs we rolled back to our room and as you do on a staycation, we lazed around again.    
In the morning, I was spoiled with breakfast in bed.

After checking out from my room, I enjoyed a cup of green tea in the lounge area made specially by Robert, the co-owner.

I left feeling relaxed, rejuvenated and impressed by Pepper Tree’s ability to pay attention to the finer details and their ability to create a relaxed and homely atmosphere without compromising on creativity and class.

What a great way to get away without actually getting away!



      Why You Should Take A Staycation:
 
Perfect way to take a break from home or the city if you’re on a budget.
Perfect for Alone Time and Self care.
Perfect excuse to laze around without feeling guilty.
Able achieve zen without hopping on a flight.
One way to enjoy your city.
Offers you a new perspective on your city.

Love & Scribbles 
Wandi
 
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Friday, July 13, 2018

Taking a Sho't Left to the Knysna Oyster Festival



Sho't left- a word derived from everyday South African taxi lingo when a commuter wanting a ride to a destination close by will ask the driver to ‘sho’t left’ meaning he wants to get out around the corner.

Sho't Left is a South African Tourism campaign that aims to promote a culture of local holiday travel, take short breaks around South Africa and challenges South Africans to see their country differently. 

The website offers advice and tips for first-timers on choosing destinations suited for their preferences and budget.

I had the pleasure of taking a sho’t left to Knysna in partnership Wesgro for the Pick n Pay Oyster Festival.  Knysna is a small town in the western Cape Province of South Africa with an oceanic climate and along the Garden Route  - a 200 km stretch of road that winds past white sand beaches, forested mountains and picturesque towns spaced no more than a 45 minute drive apart. The heart of the Garden route is in Knysna.

HOW TO GET THERE
Fly from O.R Tambo International airport in Johannesburg to George Airport for just under 2 hours then drive to Knysna for under an hour along the garden route.  It however depends on your place of departure. 

We were fortunate enough to have Gavin Oosterwyk from Fairest Cape Meader Tours to show us around. Gavin picked us up from the airport and was our tour guide through out our stay. He was insightful, funny and lovely to have around. For an alternative option, I would suggest you hire a car, as public transport between Knysna and George and around Knysna is not efficient. 


WHERE TO STAY


We stayed at the lovely Madison Manor Boutique Hotel, a quaint and charming hotel that offers both luxury and comfort.  The boutique hotel offers all the imperative luxuries every guest wants- high-speed wifi en suite rooms, and full English/continental breakfast. Oh and not forgetting the remote controlled curtains that I might have gotten way too excited about.



The hotel is also the perfect option for affordable luxury, spectacular views and is centrally located to the center of town. 




We had lunch and a spa treatment at Pezula Hotel and boy oh boy was it a treat!  The staff paid attention to detail, did their research about guests before arrival and definitely catered to all our dietary requirements.

The luxurious hotel is set in a lush paradise of ancient indigenous forests, mountains, lakes and pristine beaches on the prestigious Pezula Private Estate. The hotel boasts a golf course, 2 restaurants, a bar, fitness center, games room, a spa and many more facilities. 

We had lunch at Zachary’s restaurant and thereafter we were treated to a Swedish spa treatment that also included a waterbed spa treatment.  The hotel is certainly luxurious and has something for every type of traveller.  


WHAT TO DO

Ocean Odyssey’s Marine Eco Tour ensures an enlightening experience that serves to highlight the estuarine and marine environment of Knysna. 
We enjoyed the spectacular sightseeing cruise that took us across the Knysna Lagoon to explore the beautiful coastline. We even spotted a whale! 
The tour also includes various historical and cultural information of the area and our guide was knowledgeable and friendly. If you plan on going during winter, wear something warm and comfortable.






As a wine lover, this was definitely one of the highlights of my trip! 
The wine festival is the premiere showcase for local wines, from over 200 wines from more than 50 different estates.  We had the pleasure of tasting the many wines from across the Cape Winelands and Garden Route and oh I might have just become a wine connoisseur in a little over an hour lol!


We visited Headquarters of Hope (HQ) Community – a non-profit company that provides support and sustains 2 skills development centres. The skills development centres are: Hands & Heart and iThemba. They are located on the same premises as Hope HQ and their aim is to provide support to skills centres and be able to turn unskilled citizens into skilled citizens of Knysna and South Africa. 

Hope HQ also runs a wooden bird crafting operation. The handcrafted birds are sold at the HopeHQ Gallery and the students make some of the products from the skill centers. They were kind enough to gift us with their beautiful birds. 

The students from the centers are able to partake in an apprenticeship program and become master bird craftsmen. 



Pledge Nature Reserve is in the heart of Knysna filled with indigenous plants. The afternoon stroll hosted by Hashtag tours and perfect for those who want some peace and nature while not having to do a strenuous hike.

We were treated to a Swedish spa treatment that also included a waterbed spa treatment. I was so relaxed; I even took a nap whilst I was on the waterbed. We thereafter relaxed by the pool area with some champagne and of course we had follow the mantra of instagram by having a mini photo shoot, because what’s a thousand memories without a picture?




We explored Knysna in a unique and fun way on a Segway personal transporter.  At first, I was quite anxious but with the help of our tour guide, I quickly got the hang of things and had so much fun riding within the Knysna area, overlooking the coastal views. 

 Knysna Segway Tours provided the highest quality orientation, training and tours and included a 15-20 minute training followed by a 45-minute tour around Knysna. 


WHERE TO EAT


Upon arrival we were welcomed at Black Waters River Lodge for lunch and drinks. The hospitality was impeccable and could not stop taking pictures on their refurbished bathtub seat.  




We enjoyed dinner at the Island Café at Turbine Hotel. The setting is very pleasant and the interior deco is immaculate! The restaurant also serves breakfast and lunch.



Shisa Nyama at Nekkie’s Township
Shisa Nyama- term used in many South African townships to describe a barbecue where people come together to grill meat in an open fire near a butchery.                            
We had lunch at a Shisa Nyama at Nekkies, a township in Knysna. Gerald from Thole Township Tours offered us an intimate look into the local township experience. He also showed us around the township of Khayalethu, home to the largest Rastafarian community in South Africa.  



The Paddle-Cruiser is South Africa’s only paddle driven vessel that offers a unique and luxurious fine dining experience.  The menu caters for all dietary requirements and the dinner cruise includes a buffet dinner. We got to experience the magnificent 360 degrees lagoon views. 
Departure times for the dinner cruise are 17h45 in winter and 18h15 in summer, I would suggest you arrive a bit earlier to take pictures before boarding. 



We had our last supper at the vibrant 34 Tapas and Oyster Bar. They have a wide selection of Spanish, Mediterranean and South African tapas. They also offer fresh oysters from their oyster tanks. 



I usually travel abroad but I’ve come to realise my country has a plethora of beautiful places to explore. I had the most amazing experience and still in awe of the beauty of South Africa.  I certainly experienced a taste of paradise in the heart of my country!

My country is my oyster! 


Love & Scribbles 
Wandi
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