Favorites quotes from the #LionessesofAfrica 2017 Annual conference

Hi Everyone

Apologies for the silence on my part. These last few months have been rather full…But I also believe I was definitely suffering from writers’ block (with 36 draft posts and none quite complete…lol!).  I decided to stop hiding and share with you one of the highlights of my year as we are preparing to bid farewell to #2017: I attended the #LionessesofAfricaconference2017 in September!

36768118510_1536e98954_o
Melanie Hawkens (founder of Lionesses of Africa)

I have been stalking Lionesses of Africa (LoA) for like EVER…so I was over the moon and nearly fell off my chair when I received the invitation to their 2017 conference. Not attending was not an option, so I re-arranged my schedule at work and cleared the day so I could attend. Looking back, it was probably one of the best investment of my time this year. There is just something about being around a group of African women on a mission to improving their continent through their businesses. Their passion, determination, grace, resilience, strength and beauty: how can one not be inspired? There are loads I could probably say but decided to share with you some of the favourites quotes and pictures of the event.

20170906_125129
A panel of women in the finance space. From left to right: Polo Leteka (IDF Capital) , Andrea Bohmer (KNF Ventures and Knife Capital), Juliana Rotish (Africa Technologies Ventures), Puti Mahanyele (Sigma Capital)

 

” A lack of belief in themselves is what is holding women back” M. Hawkens

“A community of women” M. Hawkens

“There is nothing more beautiful than steel manufacturing” M. Kyster

“shy about our achievements because we are afraid to fail” M. Kyster

LoA picture 1

“We need to teach our girls to be brave” M. Kyster

“You can’t manage what you can’t measure” J. Rotish

“Embrace who you are” J. Rotish

 

LoA picture 2
A panel of women in male dominated sectors. From left to right: Melanie Hawken (Lionesses of Africa), Kofo Akinkugbe (Secure ID), Kate Quartey-Papafio (ReRoy Cables), Mayleen Kyster (Africa Steel Holdings), Ally Angula (Leap Namibia Group), Flora Mutahi (Melvin Mash Intentional & Manufacturers Association Kenya)

 

“With all due respect sir, if my husband had come to ask for a loan…would you have asked him to  come see me for a loan” T. Durotoye

“Let’s start by celebrating the men who support us” T. Dorotoye

“I wanted to build up a world-class make-up brand from Africa and stuck to my vision” T. Durotoye

“Tell the African stories” T. Durotoye

 

LoA picture 4
Tara Fela-Durotoye (House of Tara) being the boss that she is!

 

“I strongly believe in a better Africa where Africans are integral to solving Africa’s problems” C. Ukonu

“If not you, who…If not now, when?” V. Shaba

“It is important to understand what type of financing you are looking for”

36991326752_bc5eb8d0dd_o

“The world’s best councillors are those who have been healed themselves” R. Droganis

“You just need to worry about your now…God brings people to you when you are ready” R. Droganis

“We have a 100 year plan” V. Shaba

“I don’t know what is unsocial about entrepreneurship”

LoA Picture 5
The ever so beautiful & business mogul Phuti Mahanyele

“Technology is just a means to an end” J. Rotish

“First of all, you are enough” J. Rotish

“Someone once told me that the only reason you got invited to this high profile conference is because you are a black woman in tech” J. Rotish

“You do not need to wait for some people to validate your value” J. Rotish

36348827013_d5a3aa11d2_o

“I knew as I was meeting the MD of the bank that I was not going to ask for 0.5 millions, I asked for 20 millions loan instead…and I repaid it fully” T. Durotoye

 A young lady far wiser beyond her years…Currently a student but aspiring entrepreneur, she decided to stalk Melanie & scored a ticket to expand her network as she refines her business idea #Congogirlmagic.

You can have a more detailed summary of the event here. I hope you enjoyed this post & wishing you the best with these last few productive days before the festive season

XxKenaya

 

P.S: Please note that credit for most of the pictures (except the last one) goes to Lionesses of Africa. See more pictures here

 

A letter to the young African professional

Hey all 🙂

I hope you are enjoying your week-end whatever your plans are. Someone I admire once said, “when there is an elephant in the room, you must introduce it”…Today’s post is something we all know about especially in Joburg i.e. the social pressure to

Photo taken from FundsforNGOs (https://www2.fundsforngos.org)

“try keep up with the Joneses”, be seen, constantly be and/or have more… I see too many people drowning in debt (and sometimes even depression)-this age of social media does not help either where we tend to compare ourselves to people’s best angles/moments…This phenomenon is not only applicable to South Africa, I have seen it with the Congolese/Angolan/Namibian/Nigerian community as well…but at what cost and when/how does one stop it?

  • It’s okay to be you and progress at your own pace
  • It’s okay to purposely choose an entry level car to maximize your savings. A bigger car does not mean success: most of the time it is just a bigger debt
  • It’s okay to skip the Friday drinks at that fancy pub if trying to cut down on your own expenses
  • It’s okay to bootstrap your bonus and/or savings and invest this into a degree and/or side hustle/business
  • It’s okay to re-evaluate your friendships if you feel the need to constantly keep up appearances to fit-in
  • It’s okay to skip the latest/hottest festivals in town
  • It’s okay to split the bills as guys/girls friends especially if everyone is working (unless of course it’s the first date: then guy must pay, i’m old school like that…lol!)
  • It’s okay to live below your means (& not incur extra debt) to finish paying off a bond/help with your parents with your siblings’ school fees and/or buy your parents a house (depending on your family financial status)
  • It’s okay not to wear designer clothes and skip the latest trends
  • It’s okay not to be the boss (just yet) and learn as much as you can while still young
  • It’s perfectly okay to be content pursuing a career in the private/public sector and not be an entrepreneur
  • It’s okay to fail a number of times (and go through financial difficulties) before establishing your company (most successful entrepreneurs failed at least once in their lives)
  • It’s okay to skip the holidays to Paris/London/Dubai/Thailand/Zanzibar if you cannot afford it
  • It’s okay to ask for help (included mental) when not coping
Photo taken from Jobberman (http://blog.jobberman.com.gh)

What sometimes helps me is that I come from a country whose economy collapsed a number of times, and saving for rainy days (when you had a bit extra) became a way of life for us as loans from the bank were just not an option. This has stopped me from taking unnecessary debts such as clothing account stores, etc. The other reality check is always being grateful for what I have/where I am wrt to the rest of the continent.

To conclude, never be ashamed to live within your means & stop the comparison game.

Until my next post

XxKenaya

 

Maxicash: THE hottest money transfer app for the diaspora

Hi Everyone!

I hope all of you are doing fabulously well and are preparing to #finish2017strong. Today’s topic is something VERY relevant for all African students recalling from my own experience: money transfers. This probably has caused MANY headaches, screams and sometimes tears for many. The struggles of sending/receiving money home affordably, quickly and reliably were SUPER real especially for Africans-so you can imagine my joy when I found out about Maxicash.

Maxicash

When I left Congo 13 years ago, the country was in a bad shape and very few people had a local bank accounts (my parents included). Just like everyone else, hard cash was mostly how we went about our business… So when I first came to SA, I travelled with enough cash to last me about 1 year (school fees, rent and pocket money) and you can imagine the stress I had knowing very well that if I lost that money and/or it got stolen I would be screwed literally!

Fast forward a few years, Money Gram (through Standard Bank in South Africa) and/or Western Union made it easier to send money abroad. However, besides the fact that the transaction fees are relatively high-I can count on my one hand out of the MANY times I received money, when it was a pleasant experience…bleh! Their approach is very simple: everyone is a suspect of fraud and they make sure you run around for your own damn money (or your parents’: Same difference, we are Africans…lol!).

Picture credit-The African Exponent
Picture credit-The African Exponent

One thing that almost ALWAYS got me was the fact that most Congolese people have 3 names (I actually have 4) and you needed to ensure that the first and last name were the same… And if for some reason the person who helped your parents back home got it wrong (bear in mind French vs. English): abeg, you were screwed! I remembered this one time my dad had to go back to the Money Gram agency 3 times on the same day! Courtesy of a not so great till clerk at Standard Bank.  Fast forward a few years, things got easier when the DRC Goverment made it mandatory for everyone to be paid electronically. After that, my parents started transfering money from their Congolese accounts. While this became the cheapest option, it came with its own challenges as it requires a 3-7 days delay (and the money has sometimes gone awol in the system a few times, lol!) .

The good news is that this needs not be the case for you anymore in you are  a Congolese in South Africa: you almost NEVER have to go through that again. How? Well, Maxicash MAxicash-Phoneis a mobile transfer money app developed by a group of Congolese techpreneurs that facilitate transfers between South Africa and DRCongo. All you have to do is download the app  (available in your app store) and register your bank account. Even sweeter is the fact that they cap their transaction fees at R70 (plus a minor commission, ~$5) regardless of the amount of monies sent. I might be wrong, but you simply cannot beat these rates currently esp. since the money is available immediately and it is all VERY discreet (super important for us Congolese folks…lol!).

So what yáll waiting for? Call up your folks, let them know about Maxicash and let the download begin!

 

 

I hope you found this useful & stay awesome until my next post 🙂

XxKenaya

ASA’s two cents on #Charlottesville

Hi Everyone

I hope your day was better than mine. My timeline was filled with updates about what is happening in the US & I spent a good part of my day writing, deleting and rewriting on my personal social media about #Charlottesville. I decided to come out of my “blog-coma” and share with you my thoughts.

The beautiful/sad thing about being from the DRCongo is that you really have seen it all:

A displaced village
A displaced village -courtesy of Worldbulletin

nothing can shock you (women raped, kids dying because they are malnourished, people choosing to stay sick at home and “pray the disease out” because there is no money for hospital, premature babies dying because of a power cut, families eating 3 times a week because there just isn’t enough food, my own brother held at gun point over night during a shootout between 2 political camps, and let’s not even talk about politics, war, the list goes on)…We (Congolese) are a broken nation riding on fickle hope for a better future, yet here we are…despite being scattered around the world, we stand together, we smile, we dance and the slightest positive thing sends us into euphoria…The one thing we know despite our horrible history and present is that we remain one and it shall be so.

Charlottesville
Charlottesville protest-courtesy of CNN

If the Congolese can survive the atrocities in our country, I also strongly believe that #Charlottesville cannot and will not break a nation built on the hard labour of migrants regardless of what a small group of people have to say about how to #maga. Love will win!

Wishing you all a great week 🙂 <3

Challenges faced by African students while abroad

Hey y’all

Today’s post is exactly about why I started this blog: sharing our experiences as African students abroad and the challenges we face on a daily basis. I came across this article on World University News (here) about a Nigerian student (Adeagbo Oluwafemi)’s experience while trying to enrol for his Master in South Africa. The main challenges he encountered were:

Raising finance through scholarship

He deferred his registration by one year in the hope of securing a scholarship. A year later he was encouraged to apply for a Scholarship 2scholarship knowing very well that as a non-SADC he would not qualify and later encouraged to come to South Africa as it would be easiest to access funding opportunities

Being promised he would secure a scholarship upon his arrival in South Africa which did not materialise

Upon his arrival, his supervisor relocated and he was left to Scholarship picture_GMfend for himself. As a true hustler with good grades, he secured a scholarship which could finally cover the tuition fees halfway through that year. Alas, his troubles were not over.

International student fees over and/above tuition fees

Non-Southern African Development Community (SADC) students (Africans or not) are expected to pay international feesSupport required for ASA (~$2000 additional on a yearly basis), and off course this is something he was never told through his dealings with the university.

I thank his courage for sharing his story: Adeagbo was fortunate enough to later secure a Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD) scholarship which covered all his fees and allowed him to finish his masters. However, this is not the case for everyone and I have seen this happen to at least 2-3/5 African students doing their postgraduate studies in South Africa, and sadly not everyone gets a happy ending.

I hope you found this post helpful ( know that you are not alone and can overcome this if going through something similar. Alternatively know what to watch out for if you are planning to enrol in a postgraduate degree).  See below the full article.

Do share your story and/or send this to someone going through a tough time. Until the next post :).

XxKenaya

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

High numbers of postgraduate and international students in a university are major requirements for successful evaluation and ranking. African universities are now preaching ‘internationalisation’ and collaboration with foreign institutions through various programmes, for both research purposes and international recognition.

South African universities are leading other African universities and this can be seen in collaboration between South Africa’s universities and those in Europe and America. This is a welcome development. However, internationalisation is putting other African citizens studying in South Africa under pressure. 

Another major role of internationalisation is to create an environment for South African students to learn the cultures of other countries – particularly from African students who come from nations north of the Southern African Development Community, SADC.

But this internationalisation is being undermined by exorbitant international student fees. Non-SADC students struggle to access postgraduate scholarships despite all kinds of funding – local and international – available for postgraduate study in South Africa.

But without further ado, let me briefly narrate my experience as an international student in one of South Africa’s top universities.

My experience

I was in the final stage of an honours programme in Nigeria when one of my lecturers, who had gone to South Africa for his PhD, sent me an email suggesting that I apply for a masters at a South African university. He said there were several postgraduate funding opportunities that could cover my studies.

I graduated with a good result and applied for a masters at a leading South African university (which I will not name), with the intention of getting funded. I was working for an international company in Nigeria when the outcome of my application came – and it was positive.

I was very happy, having always dreamed of new experiences. But it turned out that this was a mirage. I was supposed to start my masters that year but could not because I had no money to fund myself, so I deferred my admission to the following academic year.

During this period, my prospective department sent all applicants a form to apply for a particular scholarship that is attached to the department. I did a lot of spiritual vigil, fasting and praying, because I discovered from the application form that the scholarship was restricted to South African students and those from SADC and that it was rare for students from other African countries to be awarded.

It was a bright Monday morning when I got an email saying I had been accepted for the masters a second time, and that this placed me in a competitive position for the scholarship because admission to the programme was a prerequisite.

I started preparing myself for the great journey ahead, having made up my mind to make use of the second opportunity, come what may.

I immediately contacted someone to help with medical aid and other required documentation in order for the South African high commission in my country to issue a study permit. My permit application was successful, though not without hassles.

While in the middle of preparing I received an email on the outcome of the scholarship, and almost fainted when I read that I had been unsuccessful. But something in me kept me going.

My former lecturer said I should find my way to South Africa and would surely get a scholarship once there. I gathered the little money I could from friends and family. On arriving I discovered that the lecturer was no longer in South Africa to accommodate me, and after staying with his friends for three weeks, I was sent on my way.

I could not register at the university because I could not pay the fees. I went to the department for help but nothing came of it. I kept going back and praying for a miracle.

The scholarship and financial aid office said all available scholarships were for South Africans but I could apply for a university merit award due to my excellent result. I applied and was lucky to get it in the middle of the year. I went immediately to the registration centre – I couldn’t wait to finally be a masters student.

Shocking international fees

But I got the shock of my life when I was told to pay an international student fee of more than R16,000 (US$2,000), over and above a tuition fee of almost R35,000 (US$4,500). I was so stressed that I nearly developed psychological problems. I thought of returning to Nigeria, because at no point had anybody told me about the exorbitant international student fee. 

The international fee had been jacked up from R2,500 to R16,000 – and it keeps rising every year. In 2012 the international fee at the university, payable by all international students including Africans from outside SADC, is around R21,000.

I was incredibly lucky eventually to receive an international scholarship from the German Academic Exchange Service, DAAD, which paid all my fees – one lucky person among very many foreign students in South Africa who are struggling to complete their studies.

I finished my masters but was then faced with the problem of funding PhD studies as an international student.

More help needed for African postgraduate students

What is interesting is that there are large numbers of international postgraduate students from African countries north of SADC, but they pay the same fees as students from rich countries.

What is happening with internationalisation when African students must pay such high fees on their own continent? Students leaving one European country for another are treated as home students.

It is also interesting to note that some universities with such fee discrimination are also collecting substantial government subsidies based on their numbers of postgraduate students. 

Many African students have landed on the streets due to the discriminatory policies of some institutions in South Africa, and have lost completely. I know a lot of students from Nigeria and other non-SADC nations who have had to drop out of university because of this problem.

I tried, in my capacity as an executive member of an international students’ association, to discuss this with my university, but the international office and management were dismissive. And most annoying was that the international fees have kept increasing by more than 10% a year.

I sincerely appreciate the scholarship that was awarded to me during my masters, but I was just lucky.

I write this story not to blame anyone or any institution, but to show that international students from the non-SADC region of Africa are finding it really hard to survive, and to argue that they should not be made to pay what non-Africans are paying in South African universities.

I believe South African and international funders should increase scholarships for international postgraduate students and should include non-SADC African students in their funding schemes – because these students are contributing positively to development in South Africa and Africa through their skills, research and publications.

Adeagbo Oluwafemi is now a PhD student in a South African university that charges lower international student fees.

Good deeds for the DRCongo on #YellowSunday

Hi Everyone

I hope your week has started well :)! This post is about #YellowSunday and is a plea to all my Congolese friends and those who consider themselves friends of the DRCongo. #YellowSunday (which was yesterday) is organised by a group of Congolese and let by the NGO Save The Congo.Yellow Sunday nurse training It is intended to raise money for girls’education in the DRCongo. The campaign aims to raise GBP 100,000 to train women as nurses by reaching 10,000 people who will each donate GBP 10 each. If keen, click on the link (here) for your generous donation.

Here’s why this matters

  • DRCongo has one of the highest rates in the world in terms of rape statistics (48 women are raped every hour)Yellow Sunday
  • Rape is being used as a weapon of war to displace entire communities. In the words of Dr Mukwege‘s one of Congo’s most popular activists and Doctor, “women and girls are particularly targeted by the use of sexual violence, including as a tactic of war to humiliate, dominate, instil fear in, disperse and/or forcibly relocate civilian members of a community or an ethnic group.”https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/may/22/rape-congo-doctor-denis-mukwegehttps://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/may/22/rape-congo-doctor-denis-mukwege

    Dr Mukwege
    Picture from The Guardian (here)

 

 

 

 

 

Other charities you might be interested in supporting

  • Panzi hospital, which supports women victim of rape in war zones & created by Dr Mukwege (treated over 40,000 raped women)

    Dr Mukwege 1
    Picture from The Guardian (here)
  • Malaika Foundation. Created by model and Philanthropist Noella Coursaris-a foundation which aims to empower young girls on the street through educationNoella Coursaris
  • Les Amis de Kimbondo: This one is particularly close to my heart as some of my family members volunteer there. All the monies donated supports the necessities, which means there is nothing left for things such as nice clothes, toys and/or soccer balls

Thank you in advance for those who will either share this article with their network and/or donate. A peaceful and prosperous Congo in our lifetime is possible if we all do our bit.

Until my next post

Xxkenaya

Other posts about #YellowSunday

  • Radio France International (RFI)’s article (here)
  • Save The Congo’s article (here)

The untold story of the (immigrant) security guard… Part 1

Hi All

Today’s post is about something dear to my heart: telling the stories of those who have overcome challenges and excelled despite their humble beginnings as security guards. Just like the post I wrote about the Congolese hairdresser (here), this post is a bit of a tribute to a few of these brave souls, their courage and determination. I have had the pleasure of interacting with some and thought their stories should be told on ASA (that French and broken Lingala can be handy after all…lol!). I have decided to split the post into two parts [keeping to my promise of shorter posts :)]: in the first part, I try to answer many of the questions I often come across when speaking about security guards with various people (see below). In part 2, I share their specific stories.

Source: http://www.wikiwand.com/en/Security_guard

 

Why leave your country to become a security guard?

The gross domestic product (GDP) per capita in the DRCongo is $384 in 2016 (this works out to $30/month) versus $200-250/month salary as a security guard. This means that these numbers as low as they are, still make sense for anyone falling in that income category that makes it out of Congo. In most cases, the person decides to sacrifice his quality of life in his host country (e.g. South Africa)  to send at least a 1/4-1/2 of his salary back home.

Furthermore, many “economic and/or political” migrants that leave their country, only save enough money for their trip (plane ticket, visa, etc) and only have enough money to keep them afloat for a few months. Once arrived in the host country, securing an income (regardless of one’s background) becomes priority No. 1 and as we know immigrants are not exactly the preferred choice for the most attractive career choices.

I get the need for a job part, but why a security guard though?

Yes, I have heard that question many times (O_o)!!! In South Africa, it is one of the easiest jobs to get for foreign (and undocumented) immigrants. Naturally, many of my countrymen are in fact known to be “security guards”; it is also one that does not really require mastering your host country language i.e. English (which can be a real barrier especially for Congolese).

What about the educated ones? It is such a waste

I have heard people being shocked at the fact that many of the security guards are educated (i.e. have a tertiary education from their country of origin), why then settle for such a job? Based on the reasons above, you can understand that “something” however small is better than “nothing”. Well… Plus, one understands that it is not forever and it is a “for now”.  I believe the ones humble enough to start as security guards while trying to find their feet and not starve should not be looked down upon but encouraged to move to the next level.

Wrong initial orientation

You will know from my post about what I wish I knew before I left my country (here), that the first year in a host country either sets you on the right path or can set you back depending on the circle you join. As you know by now, most Africans arrive into a family whose values/views end up shaping a lot of your first impressions of your host country.  For e.g. regardless of where you come from and/or what your social ranking is back home, if the family that welcomes you suggests working a security guard as a first job based on where they are/what they do-this is likely to become the norm for you.

Could it be enough, is it all “they” aspire to?

Well, the blunt answer to that is a big “no” for most people. However, this depends on a number of factors, such as “papers” particularly (i.e. being legal), being able to speak/write well in English and have a valuable skill that can be used elsewhere. Some people do it full time and others do it part-time to supplement their finances (while either studying and/or working on their dream e.g. become a singer, etc) just like it has been the case with Uber drivers. Usually, the ones with ambition (and/or degree) only use it as a stepping stone and move on to something else within 2-3 years max. Part 2 will tell you more specific stories.

 

I hope you enjoyed this post. Let me know if you have more questions and/or want anything else discussed. Show some love and drop a comment below :).

Until my next post

XxKenaya

ASA’s recent favourites

Hi y’all

Today’s post is short and sweet. I thought I would share with you a few of the things I have been enjoying lately

Nathaniel‘s Bamboo kitchen board

I purchased this from Checkers (a local chain store) and have used it both as a platter to serve food and cutting board

20170409_082640_resized

Positivity at home

Based on my reflection of what 2016 taught me (here), you will know I have decided to strive to live in “gratitude mode” and focus on finding things to be grateful for daily. In line with that, I am trying to create a welcoming/peaceful atmosphere in my flat with positive messages

20170503_065820
Door stopper I picked up at Sheet Street
20170501_082033
I also picked this from Sheet Street

Keeping active indoors (more like trying to)

I gave up my gym membership when I moved cities as I was not using it fully and decided to train outdoors for the 21km (refer to my previous post about preparing it for it, here). Running outside is becoming increasingly difficult as winter is fast approaching, so I have decided to work out in the comfort of my home, using Fitness Blender and Billy Blanks‘ Taebo  Youtube videos.

20170501_091846 (1)
I purchased these from Game

Colour black

I am determined to eliminate anything grandmother-ish”” and/or I no longer wear from my wardrobe & replace it one item at a time. Almost everything that have caught my eye and I have purchased recently is black & I must be going through “loving black every day all day” kind of phase…lol!

20170512_072053
From left to right: (i) both unibody piece and bra from a lingerie boutique in Menlyn, (ii) chocker and black top from River Island,  (iii) sun glasses, earrings and dress from H&M
20170414_080011_resized
These flat shoes from Woolworths

Coffee

You guys know I am proud and self confessed coffee addict 🙂

20170505_134625
Favourite latte from Seatle Coffee
20170501_082051
These three pots I got from Mr Price Home

New places

Most capetownians will laugh at the idea of moving up north: I mean what would life be without Table Mountain and the beach? Lol!… I have genuinely enjoyed discovering a few outdoors spots Gauteng has to offer, and it seems there are lots of these hidden gems.

20170418_174924_resized
Alkatrand Park, Pretoria Lynnwood
20170429_164315
I got to tag along a friend of a friend’s party at The River Cabin
20170427_111902 (1)
I went for a hike in the Walter Sisulu Gardens (& would highly recommend it)

Have great week

XxKenaya

Running my first 21km, the #OMTOM2017 !

Hi everyone

Today’s post is something I am VERY proud of: running my very first 21km last month (insert happy dance)!!!!  I got to run the half marathon of the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon (OMTOM) and finished in 02h53 min before cut-off time. See more details below

About the #OMTOM2017

If you are South African (or African for that matter), you will know that this race is very famous and often referred to as one of the most beautiful races because it quite scenic and connects two oceans (i.e. Indian and Atlantic). It happens annually on Easter weekend: he fun runs (i.e. 5 and 10 km) happen on Good Friday; while the long distance races (i.e. 21 and 56 km) happen on Easter Saturday. If you are a runner, you know this race is ALWAYS oversubscribed and therefore application does not guarantee being selected. In fact, they run a mini lottery and only a selected few that apply get to run the race. After a decade in Cape Town, I decided it was time I try my luck: I applied in November 2016 and entered the lottery… To my surprise, I was selected in December to run on the 27th of April 2017 🙂 !!!

20170415_055534
A picture of the crowd of runners before starting: 27,000 people

WHY I RAN

You will recall from my post about what 2016 taught me especially the line about setting up ambitious goals I learnt from Terri Savelle Foy (here). Many of my Congolese friends and even my own mother just did not get why I was doing this especially since I suffer from Lymphoedema (a pre-existing condition I have to live with and manage). Well, running 21km was one of my goals, in fact the very first on my list. For me, ticking that box was crucial because it would also give me the confidence to believe that I can reach/achieve the others with God’s grace, self-belief, hard work and discipline.

HOW

I had such a brilliant plan all worked out in my head: I was to run 2-3 times per week in February & would get to running 10 km comfortably and later in March would move to 15 km. The last few weeks would simply involve maintaining my stamina and muscles… such lies I told myself, lol!  The reality is that I must have trained a maximum of ~10-15 times: only 5-7 of those were 10 km run, and I only managed to run 15 km for the first time the weekend before the race…lol! I only did one in-between 10 km race which was uphill (the Monster run in Pretoria)

SETBACKS

Motivation-Truth is there was MANY times I thought I should rather give up (e.g. I just moved cities, was adjusting to a demanding job with deadlines close to financial year end,etc). However, luckily for me I already purchased the return ticket to Cape Town and simply could not get myself to go to Cape Town and not run. I decided giving up was no longer an option.

Mama bear’s visit-No training happened the week before the race sadly as my mother came to visit me that week. While I absolutely loved having her (my mother really has become very close to my best friend), the main challenge was that I did not have much time outside of work, hence we would spend the evenings together (she also felt very strongly against me running “on the road” and/participating to the 21km for that matter).

Lymphoedema-I was diagnosed with lymphoedema in 2001 and have learnt to accept/live with it since then. What it means for me on a daily basis is that I walk with a swollen foot, I can’t always buy any pair of shoes I want, long flights without compression socks are horrible and I need to watch out for very hot weather conditions and too harsh exercise as it exacerbates the swelling and can lead to fibrosis. I had to train taking into account the fact that I needed to listen to my legs and work with them.

20170415_102352
Wearing my compression stocking on the day of the race

D-DAY

I am actually the couch potato in my family…lol! Both my brothers are quite active, play sports and both ran the #OMTOM before, so they helped me with my nutrition (i.e. carbo loading the night before), have electrolyte solutions, how I should pace myself, etc. This gave me the moral comfort to believe in myself despite my limited training. I decided to run relying on a combination of God, a kick-ass play list full of Congolese rumbas and the spirit of the race to carry me, lol!

 

20170415_052903
Final touch-up with my brother as he was helping me attach my race number

 

My African parents lived up to their expectation and off course did not allow me to leave the house without quite a lengthy prayer (what we would do without our generous parents?…lol!).  Sadly, this meant we left later than we should have and were speeding to the race starting to make it in time…bleh!

20170415_090611
Runners (and friends/family) after the finish line

I must command #CapeTown and its people for the incredible support during the race: families came out to cheer and applaud for runners IN MASSES: we definitely felt the love 🙂 !

20170415_085512
Me post the finish line despite the many cramps I had, with my hard-earned medal after (2h53 min)
20170415_085505
A picture of the finish line which was at The University of Cape Town, Upper Campus

NOW WHAT?

Well, running was a mini goal to help me on route to shedding 10 kg and back to size 12 (never have aspired to be skinny and never will). So my fitness journey continues (although I must admit to having slacked with the start of winter in South Africa and a bit of a high post completing the #OMTOM2017…lol!). I am keen to run 15-30km per month and do a second 21 km maybe in the 3rd quarter of this year: let’s see.

 

I hope you enjoyed this post and, it has at the very least inspired you to get out of your comfort zone and push yourself in whatever area of your life.

XxKenaya

Other links you might enjoy

  • Training for the first marathon by Lymphoedema runner (here)
  • Tips for your first half marathon by Runners World (here)
  • 7 training tips for your first half marathon (here)

Learning to live alone 101

Hi ASA fam

Apologies for the silence on my part… SO much has happened in these last months! Not even sure where to start… for starters I moved cities for work reasons and for the first time EVER in my life, I get to live on my own in my early 30s… (O_o), yikes! Today’s post is all about documenting that transition in my life. The ASA regulars will know I previously lived with my brothers & even wrote about it (here). Although some may think me living with brothers for so long was lame, I know that others might relate to this especially as an African student abroad with siblings. Living together just makes sense because sharing makes rent (& living costs) cheaper, gives parents peace of mind in terms of safety (esp. for a girl) as well as the fact that staying with family (most of the time) does give one a bit of moral support and a nest to fall back on.

After staying with a generous friend for over 6 weeks, I finally managed to find a place I can call my own and have been living here for almost a month. My biggest fear was loneliness and not knowing what to do with myself, on the contrary-I am excited about the experience thus far. Below are some of the things I am genuinely enjoying:

My own bed

This was true while sharing, and remains true even in my own space. My bed has become such a great source of inspiration…lol! I plan, write, pray, think, etc all under the comfort of my blanket…lol!

20170401_185142_resized

My own space

At the moment, outside of my bed…my own space is reduced to the couch I got from the Coricraft clearance store at a bargain. It’s my favourite place to have both my breakfast and dinner (and off course that warm cup of tea/coffee).

20170401_192543_resized

Meal planning

If you read my post of surviving living with flatmates, you would know that one of my biggest challenge of living with boys was around food: boys just eat, and eat and eat (O_o). So regardless of how much cooking and/or food planning we did, we would always run outta food (esp. the good stuff first). I am enjoying the fact that what I leave in the fridge is not going anywhere, and linked to that the ability to do meal prep.

20170409_144505_resized

The Sunshine in my mini-garden

The new place has a bit of a garden and although I barely get to spend much time in it, the little I have has been refreshing

20170401_105636_resized (1)

Furnishing and decorating

I decided after a negative bank balance that I needed to pace myself and take things one step at a time otherwise I would ruin myself financially…lol!  Because I am still chasing the basics (e.g. a washing machine), my only decoration are these Masai blankets I purchased at the Masai Market in Nairobi (Kenya) as they bring much-needed colour to my place.20170403_200019_resized

I hope you enjoyed this post. I plan to do a post in a few months once the place is a bit more furnished, inspired by two bloggers I admire Laura Lacquer and AlaWaiki (from my fav Congolese blogger).

Stay well & catch you at my next post

XxKenaya

P.S: Other articles you might enjoy

-12 things nobody tells you about living alone from College Times (here)

-17 things nobody tells you about living alone from The Huffington Post (here)

-How to live alone without feeling lonely, by Apartment Therapy (here)

 

 

Save
Translate »