#afrofoto day 10 | I went into a stinky graffiti alley for YOU!

What have I learnt so far?

That it is impossible very difficult to blog everyday when a small human being depends on you for nourishment, entertainment and prefers you are mostly within her lines of vision [unless she’s sleeping] on weekends…and you also enjoy doing that AND need to nourish and entertain yourself with her.

I owe you guys 3 posts now! You will get them I promise! As I type this one I already have tomorrow’s *insert salsa dancing lady emoji*.

Today was HOT (upper 80s) and we started the morning sleeping in a bit. We got up to get ready per the usual when my cousin called saying he wanted to take us (his niece really lol) to the farmer’s market in DC so we ended up doing that. We went to the Union Market area where there are a lot of wholesale fruit, veggie, meat and all sorts of in between vendors only to find them closed so we ended up going into Union Market itself. We walked around to choose something to eat and settled on  Takorean. So good! Afterwards….well earlier when looking for parking we’d seen 2 guys taking pictures in one of the graffiti’d alleys so we decided to do the same. My cousin loves his car and is into that type of thing so me too I joined in. I remembered #afrofoto and that I was WAAAAY due for a post so I thought hey me too let me get some pictures in here. It was stiiiinkyyy in that alley, but because I love you guys I endured it 🙂 I love how the pictures turned out with absolutely no filter 💗!

(no filter no nothing)

This basket-bag was my late grandmother’s and I got it from her while she was still alive. She’d already been in the States for 2 years undergoing treatment at that point with my grandfather coming and going between here and Zimbabwe months at a time. At some point while he was in Zim, I decided to go and visit him since he was mostly in the house alone and it had been a while since I’d seen him/been in Zim. This bag was in the closet in the room that used to be mine as a kid and is always where I stay when I go. I really liked the bag so coming back I used it as my carry on to hold those extra things we somehow accumulate despite having come/traveled light. My grandmother and I would be on the phone coordinating the things she wanted me to bring back for her and there was quite a bit.

She definitely got the bag herself when she went to Tanzania while my mom lived there and Kilimo Kwanza, in Swahili, means Agriculture First. I’m not quite sure if it may have been promotional for something or just was like that at purchase. What I love about it is how durable it is! It’s made of woven rafia (i think) material and reinforced along the edges and straps with fabric so it does not give no matter what you put in it. I also love the wide strip of kikoi on the front with the fringe uncut. I used to use this as my bag at work, but retired it for something else in the rotation. Today I came full circle back to it for the market because it could fit my baby necessities, wallet AND I’d have been able to add whatever we would have gotten.

Happy Sunday folk and may you go into the new week with new energy, joy and focus….says the person typing a blog post at a quarter to midnight on Sunday night and hasn’t finished packing the baby bag for the baby sitter because it’s better to let the baby sleep than end up waking her up accidentally for that.  Yes…!

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*@afropolitaine*

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afrofoto day 7 | on necklaces and STUFF like that…and whatnot…or whatever

I moved exactly a month ago now and it’s taken much longer to get settled. I definitely reduced the number of boxes that were unpacked and have a functionally arranged closet….along with a pile of cloths still on the floor to be sorted through. In realizing I still possibly another year of breastfeeding my honey bunny I’ve tried to organize clothes by keeping those that are practical and easily accessible for that and then there is the sentimental reasons keeps, then the this is one of a kind how can i get rid of it. Those last 2 categories are mostly what is on the floor because I am strongly aspiring minimalist. Moving really really really reinforced that. You/we like to think we have not that many things until it’s time to move. Even then you look around yourself and see the big furniture items and maybe think I don’t have that much stuff, but once the furniture and big pieces are out, the STUFF is really where it’s at. I was so upset with myself for how much stuff I had. I’ve got boxes at the door of things I already identified as having been unused or unnecessary at the other place. Thank goodness for the silver lining of babies outgrowing things at a pretty consistent pace. On the one hand yes you have to keep getting them things, but on the flip side you get to get rid of things at the same pace.

Anywhoooo I finally got to a box that has my jewelry and I’ve also sorted through that. Quite a few ended up in the bucket of jewelry I will NOT be keeping. Some are just because I never really loved them, but many are just not practical for a grabby baby who’s teething at this point. Today’s #afrofoto is one I kept. I have loved this necklace from the time I got it at one of the African themed jewelry stores at OR Tambo airport in Johannesburg. In fact, many stunning pieces I have are from shopping I  did transiting through that airport. Pretty pennies were paid for them. I’ve definitely outgrown the jeweled phase of my style for now…or until my boo boo is well beyond being fascinated by colorful things around my neck. So yeah.  What does the necklace have to do with moving and the stress of it? Nothing or something necessarily,  but it was part of the STUFF we find ourselves with in these situations.

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*@afropolitaine*

afrofoto day 4 | cut from the same cloth (on upcycling my late Gogo’s fashions)

FullSizeRender-27Continuing from my last post, one of the things I did whilst in Zim was get some clothes made. Until that point I hadn’t bought anything maternity because quite frankly its all hideous and unflattering…to/for me. I wanted some cute African print somethings I could maybe even wear beyond pregnancy.

 My grandmother was, to anyone who knew her, a very very stylish lady even well into her goto-ness (grandmotherness). ALL, if not 95.9% of her clothes were African print dresses, skirts and tops and whatnots from fabric she’d collected from all her travels. She visited my mother in all the countries she lived in and did quite a bit of traveling herself to others. Those were a lot of countries and she had a LOT of clothes. Like the rooms that were ours when we were little have closets full of her clothes. Her room’s entire wall of closet had more clothes….I’ll just leave it at a lot.

In being my grandmother’s handbag when I was little and well into my adulthood while she was alive one of the things we enjoyed doing together when I’d be in Zim is going to her tailor maNdlovu. They had a very special relationship so while I was home in July I took a day where I picked 2 of my grandmother’s outfits whose print I liked and took those to maNdlovu to upcycle them. At this point it had been a year since my grandmother’s passing and when i walked into her shop she started crying….and then I did too. I think especially that I was pregnant must have really touched her because she knows how my gogo would jokingly nag me about her great-grandchildren. MaNdlovu immediately recognized the outfits I brought because she’d sowed them.

I had a couple of pictures for what I envisioned and of course she had to chime in about the length of the dress and the snugness of the dress I wanted…i had to sternly, but lovingly remind her she was not making a dress for gogo anymore and that gogo would have wanted me to wear whatever the hell i want. After all, in her own heyday, my gogo was a stylish shasha (fly girl)!

Cut a long story short, today’s #afrofoto is what maNdlovu made. It’s cute in and of itself, but sooooooo far from what I showed her. She is one of those tailors, especially when you are first going to her, you need to go back to 7 times for the first 5 things she makes for you before she learns you. I’m glad it managed to be wearable post part.

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*@afropolitaine*

Today was Africa Day and I’m bringing back #afrofoto – Day 1

I have 2 alarms set in the morning. The first one goes off, but it’s not for getting UP. It’s for WAKING up…I have 20 minutes to check into the world outside the 4 walls around me (news, email, social media etc.) AND feed baby for the morning while we lie in bed. I get into Instagram and there were a few posts, especially by people/Africans in time zones ahead, wearing their African print clothes, showing off jewelry and/or flashing back to their last trip back to the continent. Did Africa die…? no! It was all for #AfricaDay!! Today was/is Africa Day. Quick history behind it – May 25 marks the founding of the African Union in 1963. It’s celebrated in many African countries and, OF COURSE, by Diasporans – we no dey carry last.

I typically choose my outfit for the day the night before so I thought to myself *insert thought bubble* “How can afropolitaine the blogger mark this here day in her own way? – CLOTHES of course”!! There’s a dress I’ve worn just once that I bought while in Ethiopia when I went to the market on an in country work trip to Bahir Dar. There were so/TOO many dresses like it, but something about the color combination caught my eye [it wasn’t the combination of either neon colors nor the red-yellow-green]. I haggled HARD for that dress because the market was HOT, had WAAAAAY too much going on and I knew I didn’t want to have to come back so I was getting everything in gifts for others there and being DONE. I wore it the first time while living in Baltimore (just moved a month ago) at Artscape to a Wyclef Jean concert (life was gotten there [he really is/was such a talented artist and I didn’t realize how many hits he’s had throughout his career….but that’s a convo for another day]).

The dress. Let’s talk about the dress. It’s the typical/traditional woven off white cotton called shemma. It’s a pretty casual style and a bit see through because the weaving is light so I wore a beige short tank dress underneath as a liner. I actually fell in love more with it now because I previously thought it would only be cute during maternity – this dress said no girl you can wear me anytime!

 I enjoyed wearing it and got several compliments in it *insert dancing salsa girl emoji*  (yes …i just realized dancing and salsa make that redundant, but also it could be salsa the food).

Onto where this blog stands currently. OBVZ I have not blogged not nearly enough. Actually, even not near enough is way more than what I’ve done. Motherhood has taken all those moments I used to use for stuff like this and replaced them with a completely different set of joys. When it’s not those joys its also just enjoying the teeny tiny sweet ounce of doing nothing. Funny how doing nothing also means something completely different now that I’m a mom. “Doing nothing” can be folding laundry you meant to 3 days ago when it dried, doing your OWN laundry, clearing out the clutter indoor inbox…lol…it’s different. I do, now that she sleeps better (earlier and longer) want to ease my way back into blogging. It was, after all, one of the joys I had before. I’d like to make a commitment to you all so STARTING TODAY, I’m bringing back the #afrofoto daily series! I’ll commit to 10 days first and push to make it past that day by day.

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(guys I couldn’t [be bothered to] figure out how to shrink this a bit…but shoutout to Riko for taking the pic)

So yeah this whole post was Africa Day and #afrofoto day 1. The dress is from Ethiopia, I’m excited to be back…ARE YOU WITH ME?! Ok, let’s do this together 🙂

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*@afropolitaine*

I Got a Boob Job in Ethiopia. (read for context)

Earlier this year (2016), March to May, I went to Ethiopia for work. One of my projects is there and was in need of more direct support since, until then, everything was being managed and coordinated remotely. This post will make very little reference to work because…well that’s just how I’ve rolled online! Also because it was equally, if not more enriching for my personal development and self awareness and the stamps in my passport marked me learning the world a little more.

Sooooo…where to begin. It was the first time I went to a country I had never been not knowing anyone at all…that’s not completely true. The first one I did that SOLO and for that long not knowing anyone – 2 months is a long time. When the opportunity came up, the challenge excited me and per usual, being the pragmatist, I mentally prepared myself to be able to withstand whatever the emotional challenges of taking a leap would be. It was definitely going to happen and I had fears, but that wasn’t going to stop the show.

Got there and hit the road running and there was a lot to do, but I made a deliberate effort to personally experience the country. I looked up restaurants, tried foods, visited museums and traveled to different regions.

Here are some tidbits about the country:

  • population = about 94 million with the Addis metro area holding about 4.5 million
    • most populous landlocked country in the world
  • Addis Ababa is 2400 – 3000 meters above sea level
    • 2nd highest city in the world after Asmara, Eritrea
    • some say is about the
  • languages = Amharic (spoken by about 30% of the population) is the official language while Oromo is spoken by more people (33%)
    • next most spoken are Somali and Tigrinya
    • over 80 total languages with almost 200 dialects
    • language groups = Semitic, Cushitic, Omotic and Nilo-Saharan
  • religion :
    • Ethiopian Orthodox = 44%; Islam = 40%; Protestantism = 18.6%
    • Ethiopia was one of the first Christian countries in the world when Aksum Kingdom (modern day Ethiopia and Eritrea) made it the state religion in the 4th Century
    • traditional religions are practiced by almost 3% of population mostly in the south

Now that the formalities of context are out of the way, you may be wondering how all of this connects to boobs in the title. Well….

A few weeks upon arriving in Ethiopia my skin was Guh-LOWING! You hear me?! Every comment/compliment on my snapchat was about how good my skin looked. Having been deliberate about the skin care and makeup I brought on the trip paired with eating so much healthier food, drinking a lot of water to counter the challenging altitude, the different air and the African sun – I was like of course I’m glowing. Why/how would I not be?! Work was stressful, but the newness of a completely different environment was renewing my soul.

Although I love injera and the several types of shiros and wots, it was quite different that everything everywhere all day was that. Some food and smells were new to me so it made sense that my olfactory senses were sharp as a hound dog.

I was ALWAYS tired you hear me?! It didn’t make sense at ALL except that is a side effect of being in much higher altitudes (check 2nd tidbit above) I equated it to altitude sickness. In my efforts to stay fit I would try to go running on some mornings and found myself short of breath very easily. I made it through workshops and trainings by the spiritual Redbull grace of God because I would struggle to actively stay alert. It didn’t help that now coordinating daily chats with boo as well as check ins and teleconferencing with home office on a 7 hour time difference meant very little sleep after the Ethiopian work day was over.

Also, I was very VERY irritable. Unreasonably so. It mostly happened internally, but many mundane things irritated me. Actually, they were quite legit – at the time. And in hindsight. Why would I find the cleaning lady or housekeeping’s hair on the table or countertop after she cleaned. WHHYYYYY? In. The. World. did I find hair in my food at different places in my time in Ethiopia than anyone should ever have to throughout a lifetime?! It put me off eating completely because I was almost guaranteed to find a hair so I ate looking for it and the times I let my guard down I would feel what had become the familiar horror on my tongue. Seriously, one day I had completely given up on food and decided to get a smoothie. Ordered a simple mango something something at this clean looking establishment where it took entirely too long to make, but ok they are cutting fruit from scratch ergo freshness right?! NO! It tasted good, and about halfway through I felt something thickish, long and stringy so I thought oh this must have been a stringy mango. NO. It was a long (4 inches or so) string of hair all up in my mouth. As I pulled it out of my mouth I wanted to FIGHT E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G. Why had God forsaken me?! I thought I had already reached the pinnacle of quitting finding hair on my food only to look up and have ways to go. I’d thought my previous level of Quit was it, but I completely QUIIIIITTT!! I never thought it was possible. I never hespererit. We thank God for his mercy that endureth forever because…

Off the segway and back on the main road. So glowy skin, heightened smell, increased irritability, indefatigable fatigue, and now we get to the last thing. Connecting all of this to the title of this post – les boobs. They were big. Ok bigger than what I left the US with. There was a noticeable more-than-snug to how they wore. I adjusted to the outermost clasps and extended the straps down a little bit so the brassiere wouldn’t dig into my shoulders. What was gentle regular cleavage was now a little more jiggle and bubble than I considered classically classy. The middle button on my very nice dress shirts would sometimes come undone. Hhhmmm. Was I eating too much?! *hint hint*

Cut a long story short, I found out I was pregnant when I was in Ethiopia. While I was out there solo, so far from home, with no friends or family around. I was all I had to support and get through the news and associated next steps. We had been talking/joking about it on the phone and almost a month into my being there boo and I got really real with the reality that something outside of altitude sickness and Africa being great for my soul was going on.

Cut a long story short again, at the point I found out I had been a month in the country with a month more to go. Six weeks pregnant and keeping it between the two of us …. and my Ethiopian colleague whose wife was currently pregnant who I asked about a good doctor or hospital to go to after I confirmed by peeing twice on Chinese labeled pregnancy tests I got from the pharmacy down the street that I was IN DEED with child.

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I successfully wrapped up my assignment in Ethiopia fully satisfied with everything I had been able to accomplish professionally, but/and ready to go back home. Reunited with boo and now figuring things meant coming to real terms together vs. whatsapp calling and face timing over wifi.

On my social media, I still interacted and posted with the same almost regularity as before and there wasn’t/isn’t anything in particularly that would make anyone see a picture I posted and say I’m pregnant. Except that ONE TIME we were going to the beach and I was on snapchat snapping from my chest upwards. I was wearing a haltered bikini top and a friend commented “BOOBS”. It was the only moment I thought – can people tell?! Within that week about 2 other close girlfriends casually commented something about my boobs and I casually lol’d it off with a “thaaaaanks girl”. At this point I thought about starting a joke about myself. That I had actually gotten a boob job in Ethiopia because it turned out to be much cheaper than in the US, but that I hadn’t revealed it yet because they hadn’t quite finished healing.

No I did not get a boob job in Ethiopia guys! My body was and is still preparing itself to feed a brand new human addition to our race and my family (yikes my very own one!) who will come out of this very body. One who currently has developed all her bones and insists on turning all the way up in my belly. Who has my heart melting at a black and white sonogram. Initially my breasts were the first protrusion to signal something big was happening…that is until the last few months that my belly now outprotrudes them by a couple more inches.

I am pregnant and 7 and a half months in, I’m closer to being a mother than I have every been in my life. A whole me. Woman. Mother. to a Daughter. Her early stages of development happened in Ethiopia and like the feelings I had prior to going there, I don’t know everything about what’s to come, but I’m over the fears and more excited about the newness of the experience, our child, our love, a NEW love come what may.

While I’m expecting, expect to read more posts about my bun in the oven
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*@afropolitaine*

Upon Touchdown in Africa

Yes these are random, but i was just looking back at the first several pictures I took upon moving back to Zimbabwe at the beginning of March. Enjoy 🙂 :

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yes i put a full face of makeup in my excitement to go to town with Gogo. Say it with me – “meltdown”! I have since reduced what I put on…

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my feet kicked up and watching Press TV. Think what Al Jazeera was before it went mainstream, but better. AJZ rocks though!

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Tired, but very happy face

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Was watching tv with my granddad and he fell asleep. (This was the stage i was whatsapping images of every single moment to my cousins and aunts back in the states)

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roasted groundnuts, freshly harvested and still a bit damp. Lordt! :p

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went to visit a friend and enjoyed the fresh breeze, greenery and spaciousness of a typical Zimbabwean yard

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out to lunch at Cafe Munandi with my favorite person in the world – my grandmother ❤

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Still eating freshly ground peanuts, freshly grown corn and mangoes from the garden

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(out of order) had just gotten on the bus from Johannesburg to Bulawayo – my first time travelling between the 2 countries by road

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my baby cousin (uncle’s daughter) Olwethu (means “Ours”) where I spent the night upon arriving in Jo’burg

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catching my breath after that 1st shower after a loong flight (went from DC to NY to Amsterdam [3 days] to Paris to Jo’burg)

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my childhood friend, Dean, now lives in Jo’burg and picked me up from the airport

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*@afropolitaine*

Caught the Bouquet

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On the weekend of Easter some friends and I drove to Johannesburg just to have a change of scenery and roadtrip/hangout. We left early in the morning at about 2:30 in the morning and eventually arrived in Jo’burg later that day about 2:30 in the afternoon. Yes a whoooole 12 hour long drive. I’ll definitely tell you more about the drive in a separate post.

While I was in Jo’burg I was torn as to when I would come back to Bulawayo because my friends I’d gone with were planning on coming back on [maybe] Wednesday. To be fair she was coming to see her boo so I fully anticipated the possibility of staying longer, but knew I couldn’t be away from home that long. A friend of mine was getting married in Bulawayo that Sunday, but I still wasn’t sure if I wanted to attend. That Saturday morning my grandmother called me telling me she wasn’t feeling well and asking when I would be back. That was all i needed to know  I was leaving THAT very day. I logged online and bought my Intercape bus ticket for the bus leaving at 6pm. I  was going to make it to the wedding after all. I got into Bulawayo on Sunday morning and showered and took a nap once I got home. Woke up and went to the wedding with my grandparents.

It was a lovely garden style wedding. The girl was getting married to a Belgian guy and his brothers and boys had come all the way for the ceremony. There was very good entertainment and the food was decent. The dance floor opened up and then the announcement for the bouquet throwing came. I smoothly and sharply went to take my seat with a childhood friend’s parents as we caught up and chatted a bit. Music stops and single ladies are asked to get on the dancefloor for the catching. I sat there and rolled my eyes because I always haaaaate this [silly] part.

My grandmother shouts from the other side of the room that “Pumpkiiiiiin!! Sukuuuuuuma [get up]!!” Oh snap, how do I say no or not  stand up? So I did. All the dressed up ladies are all screaming at the bride to throw it at them, some are pacing so as to maximize the surface area and probability of catching the bouquet. Since I was not the most excited to be up there I stood still in the back. The bride approaches, turns around and chucks the bouquet. Before the flowers even left her hands all the other ladies were screeching and jumping/dancing. As if in slow motion, all I did was put one arm up and the flowers came straight to my hand. I didn’t even lift my calf or ankle or anything [the heel on my shoe was so high I might have fallen had I tried to anyway).

I was glad I came back because my grandmother was happy and actually felt better with my return, but LOOK at GOD?! – I caught the bouquet for the first time I stood up 🙂

Apparently I have a year according to the people who came to congratulate me. A year to do what I’m not really sure. It might be to have a wedding or it might be to meet someone….*shrug*. My mom, who wasn’t able to attend because she lives in South Africa and had travelled to Indonesia during the wedding, called the mother of the bride to confirm that I had in fact caught it lol…..

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I came home and put the flowers in a vase. They died about 4 days later.

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*@afropolitaine*