Lately, I have been thinking who am I and where do I belong? I think in life we all go through these phases. The conclusion I came to was that I have been code switching all my life. I grew up in an environment where I was encouraged to speak English over my mother tongue Shona. I went to primary school that was predominantly White. I was one of the few Blacks in my grade. Then I went high school and it was predominantly Black.

I could barely speak my mother tongue at the time but did understand it but it was a very basic understanding. When I tried to speak it, I was specifically told by my schoolmates not to speak it. That still haunts me till this day. I was embarrassed by this and still am. I felt as if I was not Black enough or my Black card had been revoked or something.


As I mentioned, in my household I was encouraged to speak English because it seen as being educated and the “Good Black”. For years this affected me and I could not take pride in my Blackness because as an African, language is such an integral part of our identity, our rebellion and our culture.



My younger self believed that I was failing at being Black. I was stuck in a rock and hard place because at times it seemed I was being shunned for not speaking Shona fluently. Yet I did not completely fit with in with our race. There are certain things that a Black women get, something as minute as patting your weave or the use of the word “girl”. I get so excited when I hear my friends say “girl” because I know the tea is going to steaming hot…LOL!!!

This dilemma I was in really affected my Black womanhood and me. When I reached my twenties I met more people like me and it was refreshing. I felt that I had met my tribe. I even made friends that liked historically white things but spoke the most perfect Shona. They were considered coconuts and weird as well. My older brother who is pro – Black, Black conscious and has an obsession with Tupac but my Shona is better than his. I realized that as much as I had code switched I had been looking at being Black so narrowly. This taught me that my Shona may not be the best but I’m Black af. I could not believe for all these years I believed and perpetuated the lie that there is one way to be Black.


There are so many ways to be Black and I love that about my race. I find the complexities and nuances about Blackness to be amazing. I love learning from Afrofuturists , Blerds, Black rock n rollers and so on. Being Black is more than a stereotype or a caricature and I’m so glad I learnt and embraced that.


Anxiety & Me by Violet Kadzura


A few months ago, my life changed in a way I never anticipated. I was enjoying a quiet Sunday evening and the next thing I knew I was hyperventilating, crying, throwing up and having heart palpitations. It was anxiety, and that was the day it went from something I had never had to think about, to the invisible strings that seemed to be controlling my actions, or rather the actions I couldn’t take. 

From that night, I fell into what felt like one of the darkest times of my life. I couldn’t find the motivation to get up in the morning, I was weighed down by a hopeless sense of dread and everything I loved couldn’t make me feel better or give me enough relief. My mind has always been powerful. I have manifested achievements, come up with creative ideas and written some of my best work with my thoughts. But that mind, that person and those achievements suddenly felt far away from me. I felt like a different person, a shadow of myself - someone who obsesses over the worst of everything, someone who actually can’t see any light or hope at the end of the dark tunnel. It terrified me because I was never this way, I felt unfamiliar to myself, a terrifying notion for a person who has always prided herself on self-awareness. 

The months that followed were a nightmarish loop of fear, panic with moments of relief that made me wonder why I got anxious in the first place. Sleep became a struggle, caffeine made me even worse and the harder I tried to come out of it, the more I felt like I was being pulled down into the darkest corners of my own mind. To make it worse, I had more free time that I have had in a while, and for a self-confessed workaholic too much free time can become the curse that causes your brain to go on overdrive. To ease the fear and fill up my time, I took a deep dive into all the research I could get my hands on - I read about successful people who have faced this monster and defeated it, I tried to find reasons for my own brain turning on me and I tried to understand as much as I could, my new reality. I joined Subreddits, I checked hashtags and I read books but it couldn’t shake the questions I had about myself and this anxiety, and even greater questions about what this meant for me, my work, and all my relationships. 

Will I ever lead a normal life?”

“Will I ever get out of this darkness?” 

How do I talk about this, who do I talk to?”

The other thing I just couldn’t shake was the shame. Maybe it was the way society talks about anxiety, or the fact that I hardly heard anything at all about it, but I felt so much guilt about not being able to just suck it up, get over it and just get on with my life and my work. I’ve struggled with low self-esteem before, but this time my confidence really took a knock because I felt like what I had wasn’t an illness, but a weakness that I had to just be a grown up and face. That shame ate at me, and it still does. I have told very few people about my struggle and it was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do.


Anxiety can eat away at the truth you believe about yourself. When I’m calm and normal, I know who I am, I know what I am capable of and I know my truth. In the worst moments, all this goes out of the window and it’s exhausting to go through this roller coaster regularly. My current reality is fighting for my inner peace, silencing that inner voice that keeps me up at night and stops me from being me. What I do know is, my truth doesn’t change no matter how much my anxiety tries to convince me otherwise. I’m still beautiful, I’m still strong, I’m still capable and even though anxiety is a part of my life, it isn’t all of it and it doesn’t take up my whole identity. These reminders come in handy during the hard times. 

The Gem that is HBO's Insecure by Nomalanga Mashava


I will admit that I am one of those people who lives in my world or under a rock as some would say. I had never heard about Issa Rae or The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl. My friend, the series guru, recommended Insecure to me. She said it was going to be a good watch. I took her advice because she is not usually wrong about these things. Well except Scandal but no one expected that to become the train wreck that it is.

When I watched the first episode of Insecure I was thoroughly impressed by everything. The clothes, the story, Issa and Molly’s wardrobe and the music. I actually watched the pilot twice because it was just that good. I have actually watched the season 1 too many times to count. It became my pick me up series when I was feeling sad.

I think what I appreciate about Insecure is that it showed life of modern young Black women. I related a lot to it. I related to being overlooked at work and the ignorance of white people. It’s shocking some of the things you are asked or experience. I completely understood the concept of code switching. I didn't know that was what it was called. I felt bad for Dada because I do think she got fired but at the same time Molly did warn her. I mean hell I was warned by my line manager who was also Black about how unpredictable my boss can be. I think some may take it as being offensive but at times it’s a good heads up.

I was also blown away when Molly ran into her friend and the concept of mental health and asking for help came into the conversation. As someone who has gone to therapy and have friends who suffer from mental illness I was in awe about the way they tackled this topic. An important topic to me and giving an insight that going to therapy can be a sign of growth and trying to figure yourself out. It’s unfortunate that the Black community looks at therapy as a source of weakness or don’t see how helpful it can be.

Another topic that I had actually never thought about was the whole Jared messing around with a guy when he was younger. I thought it was such an interesting topic and Molly could have handled it better. I also saw the double standards of it all. How come in society women can experiment but as soon as a man does the same he is automatically called gay! It was crazy because I had also made those statements. Personally, I would not feel comfortable with dating a guy that had experimented with another guy but maybe that is the way I have been socialized.  It was great that the writers brought this up and really made me think.

Insecure is a complex and nuanced show in showing the struggles and triumphs of being Black in America but it also shows us the complications of  modern dating , long term relationships and friendship among Black people. I think the relationship challenges are what got a lot of attention. The #LawrenceHive is alive and well. To be honest I am not mad at them and their anger is understandable. Issa and Molly’s behavior throughout the season was deeply selfish and they were terribly unlikable. They judged each other actions as friends tend to do. They were at times terrible to the men they dated. Molly treated Jared  terribly on multiple occasions . The way she blew him off for “guys on her level” was realistic and appalling. I must confess I have also done that but not as rude. Molly came off desperate at times and way too high maintenance. It was actually sad to see and infuriating at the same time.

Issa on the other hand is no better than Molly. Her relationship with Lawrence was stagnant and it really did suck that he forgot her birthday. It did not mean she should’ve half broken up with him, lost faith in him and the relationship, and the kicker, cheated on him especially after the Best Buy situation. I must admit the cheating situation was hilarious because Black men took it so badly. I read the tweets and men were livid. It was great to see how the writers’ flipped it. As I said the #LawrenceHive is alive and well. I commend the writers’ room for exploring this. What I found interesting about this reaction is again we see the double standards in society that men can cheat but if a women does it “Lord have mercy”. I had never actually thought about that. Additionally, women are supposed to put up with cheating because of that tired statement that men use to justify cheating is that is in our nature to cheat. Total nonsense and alternative facts.

Insecure is an amazing show that tackles race relations in society and the perils of relationships. I thoroughly enjoyed the first season. Everything came together well the direction, costumes, settings and music. The Insecure soundtrack was so bomb. I cannot even deal. I think what truly makes it a good show to me is how relatable it is especially at where I am in my life. Insecure is like a Black millennial handbook and I think that is pretty awesome to see. Representation matters so much on television. It is great that we are being blessed in seeing being Black in so many different ways with shows like Insecure, Greenleaf, Queen Sugar, Dear White People, Black-ish and many more.

I am excited to see what topics Issa and her team will tackle this season and what dope-ass music will be played in the show. I am also excited to getting to know the characters better and other characters getting more screen time and being fleshed out more. What I am really curious about what is single life going to be for Lawrence and Issa. Cannot wait for Sunday!!!

Emmy so boring by Phumuzile Mabasha

This year’s Emmy nominations are out and boy are they boring. We live in a time of Peak TV and there are over 400 shows currently on air. Obviously I did not expect every show to be nominated but a surprise or 2 would have been much appreciated.

2016 saw an amazing group of new television shows with people of color. This growth of diversity in TV was encouraging especially since the audience was introduced to new talent, on and off screen.  We welcomed the Greenleafs and Bordeleons on OWN’s Greenleaf and Queen Sugar respectively. We journeyed to Atlanta with Earn, Paper Boi and Darius (my favorite character in the show). We travelled to the West Coast at meet Issa Dee and all her drama.

2017 continued with the diversity with the second season of Netflix’s Master of None which gave us the critically acclaimed episode about Lena Waithe’s character coming out and explored more of the world of Azizi Ansari’s character.  Netflix continued this by bringing 2014 film Dear White People to screen, which tackled many issues experienced by Black people. Even with the loss of important characters, Jane the Virgin and How to Get Away with Murder were still in top form.  Underground came back for a second season but sadly was cancelled. Another notable turn was Sterling K. Brown take as Randall Pearson on NBC’s juggernaut This Is Us.  Tracee Ellis Ross came into herself as Rainbow Johnson in this past season of Black-ish. Oprah, who in my opinion is such a stellar actress gave an award worthy performance in The Immortal Life of Henrietta Hacks.

I must admit that I am quite disappointed with Thursday’s nominations as they seem extremely predictable, with nothing ground-breaking or exciting. I expected these nominations especially in the women’s categories. Do not get me wrong I thoroughly enjoyed Big Little Lies, The Feud and The Handmaid’s Tale. I will not knock Saturday Night Live hustle because they were hilarious this season.  As I said there was so much amazing TV and amazing stories across the board that I do wish the newcomers such as Queen Sugar, Greenleaf, 13 Reasons Why could have been shown some love. Even shows that ended this year such as the stellar Leftovers and HBO’s Girls could have received some love.

This year there were many people of color nominated. Not as historic as the previous years but representation was definitely there. I’m thrilled by this but these nominees were to be honest the usual suspects. I expect Viola Davis to be nominated because she is brilliant in How to Get Away with Murder but it would have been nice to see other leads from other shows be included such as Dawn-Lyen Gardner of Queen Sugar. I also would have loved to see Insecure get some love. There are some shows that are constantly overlooked and time and time again have stellar performances such as CW’s Jane the Virgin and Starz Power to name a few. 

The question I asked myself after yesterday’s nominations is am I asking too much from the Academy? Is it fair to want surprises and have other favorite shows and performance nominated if there are over 400 shows on TV.  I mean I can barely keep with what is on at the moment. I have my main shows and then if I hear buzz about the show I may watch it. It is crazy because most of the shows that I fell in love with I binged watch off season. Now that it hard because off season has some decent shows and there are so many shows on right now that I need to do a catch up. I also wondered to myself is the voters of the Academy exposed to the shows that have people of color in them not the usual suspects of Black-ish , How to Get Away with Murder, Orange is the New Black etc.

Even though the nominees are predictable, I will watch the Emmys because I want to see if Big Little Lies sweeps and if This Is Us takes the gold home because it such a beautiful show. I do wish that some fresh shows would have gotten some Emmy love but maybe next year. There are some amazing and groundbreaking shows on television and I’m enjoying what I’m seeing, but maybe it was naïve of me to think that Emmys will take notice. 

Finding my Strength by Nomalanga Mashava


When I was a teenager, 16 to be exact, I was bullied. This particular person, who initially was my friend, bullied me in hindsight because she was jealous of me. She was jealous that I did better in school than she did. The funny thing she was better at art than me, but that’s neither here nor there. As time went on I became super frustrated and lashed out to her. It did not go well. She and her friends made a huge deal about it, and I was ostracized from my form and accused of being too sensitive. The being too sensitive” is literally the most dismissive thing someone can say but as a 16 year old it stuck with me. From that day on, I vowed to myself to never to cry in public or show emotion in public.

My mother is a very loving person but growing up she insisted on being strong and she was always ready to stand up for herself. I am the complete opposite of that and it took until my mid-20s to learn to stand up for myself. I felt that to be a strong Black woman showing emotion was a sign of weakness. I also grew up in a family where emotion was shown but not the way I would have I liked. When I became older, the emotions became more overt and that generational gap that I had with my mother and father fell. In retrospect, if I felt scared, sad or needed to cry I would always wait to find a bathroom or go home and do it there. I could not let the mask fall. I had to be okay and strong. I had to be in control. I kept hearing those words that I heard when I was 16 that I was too sensitive and to me it signified weakness.

In all honesty, that was the biggest load of trash I told myself that showing emotion is a sign of weakness. Firstly, showing emotion is not just crying or being sad. It can be positive like being happy, passionate or angry. The saying “being emotional” in society has a negative connotation because I think humans don’t know how to deal with their emotions and the emotions of others. Emotional maturity is something that’s needed in society.

Last year, when I was working at my previous job, I came across a girl who at 21 was very emotionally in tune. It was very refreshing that she would cry at the drop of a hat when it was appropriate. In some moments she would happy and passionate and was very open that she was a sensitive person. I was in awe of her self-awareness. For years, I had prided myself that I do not cry in public and my emotions are private. I believed that this was strength. I was in control but was I really strong and in control?! Why would I deny myself my vulnerability? Why would I deny myself such a human experience? I mean I am human, even though for years I wished I could be a robot. Yes, I really did. The irony, I was never really in control because the thing about emotions they will come back to catch when you at least expect it. I found myself crying at work twice. I found myself breaking down and crying over the demise of a situationship in spectacular fashion, in the middle of the street drunk. One of the worst instances is that when I graduated from University the first time. The day of my graduation, I found myself in tears while sitting pretty. The emotions poured through me and this is when it dawned on me that I may be suffering from depression.

All the years of trying to be strong and in control came crashing down because my mental health was in jeopardy and I could not cope. Therapy was a life saver because it allowed me to learn to express my emotions in a healthy way. It taught me that there is strength in fragility and feeling pain or happiness is human and I should not deny myself this. This realization led me to be more open with my friends, ask for support and learn to support them. It brought intimacy into my relationships with my friends, mother and particularly myself. My father recently passed away and if I had not gone through this journey of finding my strength through emotions and vulnerability, I would not have survived this painful part of life. I would not have known how to ask for help and confide to my mother and friends.


So the biggest lie that I have ever been told about my Black womanhood is that showing emotion is a sign of weakness. My truth is that I found so much strength in my emotions and vulnerability. Sometimes, as Black women we need to take that mask off. Superwoman needs a break here and there to heal, regroup and practice self-care. I hope society will encourage us more to take our masks off.