Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Of a brave little girl

My daughter and I are huge fans of Disney movies, the classics and the new (Frozen anybody?!). We have a ritual; I bring home a set of DVD’s, hide the familiar looking ones (she’s obsessed with Simba from lion king, so any movie that has a lion will be watched ad infinitum. I am still recovering from Penguins of Madagascar). So I pick one that she will enjoy and maybe relate to, pick any lessons where we can. The flavour of this month has been Aladdin. We swooned over Jasmine, were mesmerized by the cave of wonders and terrified when Jafar turned into the biggest python we ever saw and promptly ran out of the sitting room. So much so, she now calls it the snake movie.

Evil villain++

In spite of all the dramatics involved (running and hiding during parts with Jafar) she has insisted on watching the movie every night. This behaviour lasted till a few days back. This particular night, we settled in front of the TV to watch our movie as per usual, when it got close to the part where Jafar turns into a snake, she got up and went to the bedroom and returned with her maleficent stick (The staff from Maleficent, she got a makeshift one) so anyways, she stands in the doorway, waits for Jafar to turn and runs towards the TV brandishing her stick. I literally flew to grab her before the stick hit the screen and held her. And there she was fighting to hit the snake in TV with all her might. It was a highly entertaining sight. Luckily, Jafar was turned into a genie and locked away in a lamp soon enough.

I did not think any of it until yesterday when I told a friend this story and when we were done laughing deliriously, he went,”I suppose that took a lot of courage.” And it hit me then what a brave little girl I am raising. She watched Jafar turned several times and ran and hid. Then she decided this one time that she was done running, she was going to do something about it. So she armed herself and prepared to kill the “snake”.  I can’t believe that I am now profoundly inspired by my 3 year old. We face snakes every day, in several aspects of our lives, and we keep running and hiding. It’s about time, we picked up those sticks, looked fear squarely in the eye and killed it.


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

On naysayers and women who are winning ...

Ola dolls,

This was meant to be a situation update. Alas, that will come when I work up the energy to write properly. Writing is such hard work, who knew?!

Anyways, I was featured in African Woman (Yey!). Read the article here. That brought a lot of positives, I've seen a surge in orders and am sure it's because of that. What I did not anticipate was the negatives. I was shocked and a little disappointed to find out that a group of people think that the store (my dream, my baby, my vision) is a smoke screen. Apparently, I am a doing a lot of hard work laying on my back and that's what's paying for my bills and "lifestyle". What lifestyle I wonder! It's just a mark of how small minded and deeply patriarchal this society is. Because a woman at my age cannot possibly have achieved the things I have (such tiny minuscule achievements at that). What hurts me most is that these are people who have watched me literally pull myself out from the bottom. These are people who I met as a lowly intern and told that I was going to be a CIO. It simply amazes me that it's unfathomable to them that I have spent the past years in their presence evidently working my bottom off and this is what they think of me now.  Ashawo! Abeg! Find another insult.

Oh and no shots fired at my sisters dealing in the flesh trade. I see and respect your hustle. Someone has got to do it. I am quite sure I am not above it. I have a child, so help me God, I'd do anything within my power to fend for her, whoring inclusive. But no, that's not my current line of trade. Sorry to disappoint you all.

Tell em Joseline!

Early this month, I had the pleasure of meeting and spending time with a phenomenal woman. She owns and runs a million dollar company operating in more than 5 countries. She was born and bred in Uganda like me. I was (and still am) in awe of her. How she turned a 2 person operation into this giant of a beast is nothing short of awesome. As we parted ways, my request to her was this; write. Write it all down. For us, the women who are trying to get to where you are.

I spend a lot of my time speaking to and encouraging female entrepreneurs thanks to ZimbaWomen (more on that in the situation update) and the most common attitude towards business or life for that matter is FEAR. Women are afraid. Not cautious (which is a good thing in business). Just plain old fear. We fear to invest our savings. We fear to commit our time. We fear to share our ideas. We fear to formalize. We fear to ask for help. Drat, we fear money!  We are paralyzed by this fear. Thanks to the mentorship program courtesy of Cherie Blair that I am part of, I have been able to interact with quite a lot of women who are at the peak of their entrepreneurial careers and the one thing that all these women have in common is the lack of fear. She wants a contract to supply inventory, she hunts it down, fearlessly. She wants finance, she marches into a bank and asks for millions of dollars. They have realized that doors will not open for them, they have wield an axe and break the door down. Women who win are not afraid!

Here's to all the women I know (myself included) conquering their fear;