Who is the African Woman?

What is your definition of an African Woman?

Wikipedia’s definition: ‘Women in Africa are women who were born in, who live in, and are from the continent of Africa”

The Urban dictionary definition: A woman with African heritage. A woman who usually has a dark skin complexion and thick kinky or coily hair. A woman who comes in a variety of shapes and sizes which can range from slim/slender to thick/curvy.

I think the Urban dictionary comes close but not quite….

I believe the Africa woman is the most misunderstood and misrepresented person in the world. The question of “Where are you from?” comes up often in my travels around the world. When I proudly say Kenya, it is almost always followed with the statement “You must not live there.” to which I respond, “I do.” This answer is often followed by a look of confusion and more questions: “But you speak so well, and you are beautiful?” They are rendered speechless and don’t know what to say. To them I don’t fit in the “box”, I don’t fit their definition of an African Woman. Outside of Africa the definition of an African woman conjures images of starvation, illiteracy, and oppression; she is someone to be pitied, she screams development aid and should appreciate that the world has coming to her rescue.

Though there are challenges, this opinion of the African woman couldn’t be further from the truth. But how can we blame the world when their knowledge of Africa is through very narrow lenses of war reporting, and books written by others? We haven’t told our stories and the story of “our Africa”; it is time we started writing our narrative.

Who is the African Woman?

The African Woman is beautiful, powerful, unique, feminine and authentic. She is phenomenally resilient, passionate in the pursuit of her dreams and inspirational in her drive to succeed, she is multidimensional seamlessly moving between the traditional and modern, the village and the city, the, home and the office…she is Limitless

Her strength is remarkable, she holds the family together, she is a business woman, she is in the boardroom, she is a mom, and a wife, innovative and inspirational. She wears different hats effortlessly. She is amenable accommodating while still maintaining her independence and without being overbearing, which takes tremendous strength and confidence.

I take so much pride in being an African Woman, I wear it with honor. So much so that I founded a beauty brand “Ythera” inspired by this Limitless woman. It has taken me many years to own the title of proud “African Woman”. It took leaving the continent, travelling extensively, interacting with and managing diverse cultures in the workforce in the developed world. I am completely at ease in the Western world, but at my core, I am a proud African Woman.

It has been a journey of discovery and self-awareness with many trials and tribulations. It became very clear one Christmas many moons ago when I lived in Las Vegas. I had invited a very diverse group of friends for Christmas dinner at my home: it was an amazing day spent with friends from around the world. The following day my South African friend’s husband made an observation African Women take for granted, he said he thought the strong, powerful, independent African woman was only a product of the younger generation, i.e. his wife and her friends, but after meeting my Kenyan friend’s mom, he realized the strength defied generations, it was in our moms, our grandmothers; intelligent, independent, but still respectful to their husbands and those around them. Their strength shone through, it was admirable and mind blowing.

That observation was a turning point, I started seeing African women from all around the continent including myself, with reverence. I was in awe of this extraordinary, beautiful women; “The African Woman”. I was especially thrilled when I had a chance to meet their mothers, it was transforming. The strong women we are have been raised by our parents, it was not by chance. The African woman is the Ghanaian Woman on Wall Street, she is the Kenyan producer in Hollywood, she is the Ethiopian woman on fashion runways in Paris and Milan she is the Nigerian petroleum engineer in Houston, she is the Mozambican mother in Seattle raising a family with two special needs children, without a hair out of place and never complains, she is the Kenyan woman overseeing the system development of a global hotel chain in Hong Kong, she is the Zambian woman who founded a food processing plant in Zambia, she is Ugandan woman in University dreaming and aspiring to make a global change, she is you, she is me. This began a journey to a new definition of self, a proud African Woman. She defies definition…She is Limitless.

“Limitless “is the definition of the African Woman, beautiful, powerful, unique, remarkable strength and phenomenally resilient. This is who we are, and it is our responsibility to write our narrative.

You deserve to be at the table…embrace it! Own it!

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