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I am a woman, creating my future as I speak!

´Being woman is not to be a potted plant´ Professor Alice Walker stated in her lecture at the Steve Bhiko Annual Memorial. My view of my life as a human, coloured, woman, feminist, activist, humanitarian, writer and poet has changed and coming to self realisation that I am the only one that can change my future, I am the only one that can claim my freedom as a radical thinker, but this entails education and learning from the various strong black women from the African Diaspora to the Americas, Europe and The East in history and in the present and future. Even though the context maybe different the fight is still the same and this is what I would like to give back to my community, my society, the chance to think differently about things and themselves. My struggles and challenges range from eviction to poverty to being unsafe on the streets and I can only but change it through speaking out, educating myself on the issues and using my talent as a writer to speak out about it.

I believe that writing / language is a tool that has been used against us and still today is being used as a tool of oppression and for me to free myself from oppressing myself I have to speak out and write my own story.
I believe to create change in the society for me as a lesbian woman and to not be oppressed in this patriarchal world, I have to educate myself on a spiritual, intellectual and physical level, for me to be able to assist in creating the ‘different world’ that I know is possible, as Ghandi said ‘be the change you want to see in the world’

My journey right now is a journey of self empowerment, internal reflection on the things that I have been taught about myself as a women, a black women and as a lesbian and as a human being and introspection thus far has lead me to the realisation that no one can speak for me, but myself and this ultimately is a legacy that I would like to pass on to my sisters in this struggle right now and with each others help, create a future of equity.

My writing has offered me other opportunities that are under the human rights banner.
• I am currently working with a visual artist and documentary creator focusing on creating social
Change in Malawi, using poetry and visual art to create awareness around social ills in Malawi
• I was apart of the African day celebration in Cape Town, the theme was xenophobia, as I can not stand by and watch as my own blood run in the streets.

I am apart of the stage production ‘Reclaiming the P…Word’ produced by Mary Hames. This edu-drama uses story telling and stage performance to raise awareness of women’s oppression in the past and in the present day. This production speaks out against women abuse, the history of women abuse, the victim becoming the survivor and the objectifying of women.

I am Community volunteer, for Triangle Project in Cape Town, coordinating a women’s only safe space,
My objectives for the safe space group are to facilitate discussion and raise consciousness with lesbian women in my group (this is not a closed group, so there is always new faces at events) around their own identities and the perceived constructed lesbian identities and other issues that face us as lesbians.

facilitated a poetry event where women that was apart of Triangle Projects’ photo voice project ‘Ndim Lo’ had the opportunity to share there written word and was also opened up to the idea of using poetry/writing as a tool of activism and raising awareness. I believe writing in it natural form is a method to establish social change with in our communities as lesbians and the general society.

I am apart of the leadership and safe space project at Triangle where we are looking at enhancing our understanding of Oppression, activism, leadership, education ect.
We meet once a month, for a whole day training session, which consists of discussion, thought provoking exercises and leadership building with the objective to be able to coordinate and facilitate awareness campaigns in our communities

This is only part of my journey.. I will as time goes on give you more information of my work and activism in my community..

Comments

NI NI AYE's picture

I wish I were with you

Hi Olivia

Thank you indeed for letting me know your development activities. Most of them answered what I wanted to know. I am also a teacher exploring ideas to support my students and community to be more developed . I wish I were with you for many more talks.

You are highly impressed.

NI NI AYE

Congratulations on Very Happy Teachers Day through ten years journey!

NI NI AYE's picture

I wish I were with you

Hi Olivia

Thank you indeed for letting me know your development activities. Most of them answered what I wanted to know. I am also a teacher exploring ideas to support my students and community to be more developed . I wish I were with you for many more talks.

You are highly impressed.

NI NI AYE

Congratulations on Very Happy Teachers Day through ten years journey!

nilima's picture

ALL the best for your future

ALL the best for your future works!!!

OliviaCoetzee's picture

thank you

I appreciate the support and hope to share and learn from you.. all the best

warona's picture

we salute you

Hi Olivia

keep the spirit up,work harder your reward shall be great,I appreciate what you are doing my sister but as for me being a lesbian, its something that is just odd.I can see that enthusiasm inside of you,you are so committed, being the comm volunteer leader is not a joke, i know in South Africa lesbianism is legalised,hey my sister that is gainst the order of life.Biblicaly God never created woman for woman.Such a beautiful woman like you deserves something not inspiring other women for something that at the end you will not enjoy.I know my dear that you might be well respected with what you are doing but i want you to understand that God loves you so much.As i can see how willingly and devotenly you are working in your community people of such calibre are rare my dear. Yaa you are a leader But! kip that in mind.

"success will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time " And when confronted conquer with love

I need to ask, who is the 'we' that you are talking about?
Do you understand oppression of self and of others?
I do need to understand why you made the statement "Such a beautiful woman like you deserves something not inspiring other women for something that at the end you will not enjoy." what is this something that you are speaking about?

Please tell me why do you think that I do not think that 'GOD' loves me.. my sister! have you ever thought of yourself as love and this 'God' you are speaking not being external force? That this 'loving GOD' resides with in each of us... I am very strong, wise and complete spiritual soul.. and I feel right now that you are trying to push your 'agenda' on me..
I do not respect that, as that is what 'patriarchal cultures' indeginous and western, have been doing to women since the beginning of time.. I have realised that I have oppressed myself for a very long due to these systems and my voice as a WOMAN, A BLACK LESBIAN WOMAN has been silenced because I do not fit into the 'norm' of a hetrosexist world.. My sister have you ever reflected on your believes and the structures that you are apart of, have you questioned for yourself and not for others, why we as women are still oppressed to the highest degree.. and how this believe system actually oppress us to be the 'beings' that us can be?

Do you critically read the bible or do you believe that it should not be questioned, because 'some one ' said it should not be questioned?

I have realised the power of my own mind and what I can create with the power of my mind..I have realised that the love that we search for in an External God is not possible for "I am love".. I am my thoughts, I am my believes..
I am the 'word', that makes me 'GOD' of my own life.. I believe us all to be beautiful, in soul and spirit..

The product of an 'external master(GOD)' has sold well.. It is still selling, this 'hierarchal' believe, has created oppression from racial opression to gender oppression ( the enslavement of blacks, the enslavement/abuse of women) and it is still so alive because we just accept, we have accepted for centuries and centuries, what we are/were being fed..
I create as I speak..

Do some research in your bible about 'creation' and the 'tongue' and the 'word'.. Every thing starts with a thought, it then flows into language(labels) that we were taught, then because we have a photographic memory, we attach pictures to the words(labels) we speak.. (just for interest sake try it, think of something a word, any word and see the picture that you form in your head) this then becomes an action, because of the pictured we pulled from the memory jar..
these actions turn into effects and these effects have consequences..
do research on the other 'faiths /religions' and understand what they speak about when it comes to 'the power of the mind'. Like the bible says in genesis, "they now know what we know" and in this do you really as a women believe that your 'ancestor' eve, created the pain this world is going through, you are going through?

Ancient wisdom speaks of the mind as being the most power tool, we as human beings have, and how ever you use it that is the what your reality will look like, and our minds have been constructed by alot of things telling us what is right and what is wrong and we dont qeustion, it we just accept and that to me is oppression, when we just 'accept the wrongs and the rights that is given to us by 'the master' this means we will eternally be enslaved in our minds..

Another famous criminal to the human race said.. "Tell a lie long enough to a people and they believe it"

I hope to continue teaching and learning, from you my sista! As my wisdom can not be extracted by myself alone, as I am one with you as you are one with me.. Thank you for sharing..

Olivia

KAREEN UDOH's picture

words beyond the ordinary.

Hello Oli!
Good to read from you.I do tell poeple that this world is unlimited, also ;God that we may feel we know is unlimited. Meaning that one cannot know all of Him, for if man unluckily to GOD know Him in totality,man will or is ready to take over from, or overthrow GOD.Thus unfortunately to man such plans is + VOID.And to man God is then THE MORE WE LOOK ,THE LESS WE SEE OR KNOW.
Back to my point,I appreciate your intellectual inclinations of thought. LIFE TO ME IS LIKE BROWSING, the more you dabble into sites,the more it unfolds,and sometimes is by mistakes or high quest. Pls Oli,more greese to your humanist nature.
I'll like to know you more,I have a project in Nigeria ,which I think we can pilot together,You have a strong will and can make things happen if based out of sound and rational reasoning,also beneficial to the society.
Kareen Udoh

OliviaCoetzee's picture

Humanist nature is it not pure?

HI Kareen

HOw are you doing , I have read your comment but there are things I dont understand with the comment "Pls Oli, more greese to your humanist nature" please clear this fro me.. I would like to hear more about your project that you would like to Pilot.. thanx for the support
Olivia

KAREEN UDOH's picture

clear commentery

Hello Olivia!
Pls sweetheart, log into your system and check the meaning and concept or theory of HUMANISM yourself, for better enterpretation.Is a very good trait and I so much believe in it.
Ask for my project,I'll make out time to post details to you,but know that am out for or interested in whosoever that is ready to partner with me for the work of POSITIVE CHANGE ,not just story tellings.And sincerely,I see you as a free spirit,a very active and determine person to work with.You're STRONG-WILLED,that's the spirit for Action.

KAREEN UDOH

Mei Li's picture

Olivia, Sorry for the

Olivia,

Sorry for the multiple posts! I didn't mean to bombard your page! I'm trying to delete some because I double-posted the same thing.

"...our compassion is the practice of unconditioning." Jakusho Kwong Roshi

Mei Li's picture

Removing the lens

Hi Warona,

Some of the things you said are the foundation for reasoning that create oppression against lesbians worldwide. Whether it is legalized in the country one lives in or not, it is a constant fight to be seen as equal, to love out in the open.

I have heard your argument so many times and although I understand it comes from a purely biblical perspective, I hope you understand how hurtful and ignorant it may also sound. You are really only talking about sex as well. That is all most people are talking about most of the time, that's why "A man was made for a woman" comes up, or "a woman was not made for a woman," you are talking about anatomy and sex. This usually leads to the next step in the conversation, "a woman was not made for a woman because two women cannot reproduce."

If you truly believe we were created in God's image, you would not think that a person's innate sense of love is wrong.
Also, the age-old belief system centered around going forth and being fruitful and multiplying upon the earth does not serve the current world we live in.

We need to be fruitful and mulitply health care, education, a sense of equality, preservation.

You basically said in your post that Olivia is so wonderful and beautiful and deserves a man to compliment her. I would have to disagree! I am a woman who loves women, inside and out. I am strong and my voice is powerful. I see systems of oppression for what they are because the world I live in treats me like a second-class citizen, because the world I live in makes me constantly fight for my right to love openly.

Where does it say in your bible that god did not create a woman for a woman?

I think if you would take a second look, you will not find any evidence of this.

We seek to understand one another through communication, so I am glad you wrote your post because Olivia's reply was simply invigorating for me to read! We cannot uncover the truth of anything without constant questioning and openness.

Peace to you.

"...our compassion is the practice of unconditioning." Jakusho Kwong Roshi

Mei Li's picture

Poetry is Not a Luxury

Olivia,

I smiled while reading your entire post, to know you are the source of empowerment in the communities you speak of. I, too, have worked in my community using poetry as a teaching tool to empower the women and queer youth around me. I worked specifically with women transitioning from prison into safe houses and taught them weekly poetry workshops. I introduced them to poetry first with Audre Lorde's essay, Poetry is Not a Luxury. I hope you have read it, but in case you have not, I will paste it at the end of my comment for you to appreciate. It is, perhaps, one of my favorite pieces of literature, along with Adrienne Rich's 26-page essay, Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence. In Lorde's book, Sister Outsider, she has a wonderful dialogue between herself and Rich (if you do not have this book, it is available to view for free on google.books and the chapter I speak of begins on page 81). They have both been sources of empowerment for me to understand the world of lesbianism and the segregation (of women of color, lesbians, classes) that existed, and still exists, within the feminist movement.

You replied to Warona with this, "Do you critically read the bible or do you believe that it should not be questioned, because 'some one ' said it should not be questioned?"

There is a documentary called Fish Out of Water and it takes the 7-9 major scriptures in the bible that condemn homosexuality and reveals them for what they really are - which, ultimately, have nothing to do with homosexuality. The problem is that people do not critically read it, they do not study it in the context it was written. In scriptures of Paul, the scriptures (aside from Genesis, and Sodom and Gomorra) most often used to condemn homosexuality... at the time these scriptures were written HOMOSEXUALITY was not even a word!

Also, the lessons taught from the bible that are not critically thought of lead people to blindly follow and accept other systems of oppression, as you mentioned. Sodom and Gomorra, meant to be a tale of hospitality, actually condones incest and rape. So, instead of looking at this scripture through the lens of homosexuality, why don't we check out the global statistics on rape and incest? Scriptures of Paul deal with pedofilia....homosexuality is considered perversian...then why (this is only a US statistic) are 90% of pedofiles men, and 98% of those men HETEROSEXUAL?

Back to Audre Lorde, as reading this is always uplifting. I will post it in my own journal too, along with the link to Rich's essay. If you have not read it, I think you may find it enjoyable. Your voice is strong and it is a pleasure hearing you speak so adamently on your power of creation. I believe as you do - our minds create the world we live in. Once people begin to depend on their own selves as creators then the ultimate fear of external judgment may begin fading and our focus will be on THIS world, THIS moment. It was once said that "the kingdom of heaven is at hand" and I take that to mean we create the world we wish to live in. It is really one of the only things I've ever read from the bible that I smile upon. I do not believe in heaven above or hell below, I believe in the creations of the mind/body/heart/spirit which together in harmony have the ability to create peace on earth.

Audre Lorde: Poetry is Not a Luxury

The quality of light by which we scrutinize our lives has direct bearing upon the product which we live, and upon the changes which we hope to bring about through those lives. It is within this light that we form those ideas by which we pursue our magic and make it realized. This is poetry as illumination, for it is through poetry that we give name to those ideas which are, until the poem, nameless and formless-about to be birthed, but already felt. That distillation of experience from which true poetry springs births thought as dream births concept, as feeling births idea, as knowledge births (precedes) understanding.

As we learn to bear the intimacy of scrutiny, and to flourish within it, as we learn to use the products of that scrutiny for power within our living, those fears which rule our lives and form our silences begin to lose their control over us.

For each of us as women, there is a dark place within where hidden and growing our true spirit rises, "Beautiful and tough as chestnut/stanchions against our nightmare of weakness" and of impotence.

These places of possibility within ourselves are dark because they are ancient and hidden; they have survived and grown strong through darkness. Within these deep places, each one of us holds an incredible reserve of creativity and power, of unexamined and unrecorded emotion and feeling. The woman's place of power within each of us is neither white nor surface; it is dark, it is ancient, and it is deep.

When we view living, in the european mode, only as a problem to be solved, we then rely solely upon our ideas to make us free, for these were what the white fathers told us were precious.

But as we become more in touch with our own ancient, black, non-european view of living as a situation to be experienced and interacted with, we learn more and more to cherish our feelings, and to respect those hidden sources of our power from where true knowledge and therefore lasting action comes.

At this point in time, I believe that women carry within ourselves the possibility for fusion of these two approaches as keystone for survival, and we come closest to this combination in our poetry. I speak here of poetry as the revelation or distillation of experience, not the sterile word play that, too often, the white fathers distorted the word poetry to mean - in order to cover their desperate wish for imagination without insight.

For women, then, poetry is not a luxury. It is a vital necessity of our existence. It forms the quality of the light within which we predicate our hopes and dreams toward survival and change, first made into language, then into idea, then into more tangible action.

Poetry is the way we help give name to the nameless so it can be thought. The farthest external horizons of our hopes and fears are cobbled by our poems, carved from the rock experiences of our daily lives.

As they become known and accepted to ourselves, our feelings, and the honest exploration of them, become sanctuaries and fortresses and spawning grounds for the most radical and daring of ideas, the house of difference so necessary to change and the conceptualization of any meaningful action. Right now, I could name at least ten ideas I would have once found intolerable or incomprehensible and frightening, except as they came after dreams and poems. This is not idle fantasy, but the true meaning of "it feels right to me." We can train ourselves to respect our feelings, and to discipline (transpose) them into a language that matches those feelings so they can be shared. And where that language does not yet exist, it is our poetry which helps to fashion it. Poetry is not only dream or vision, it is the skeleton architecture of our lives.

Possibility is neither forever nor instant. It is also not easy to sustain belief in its efficacy. We can sometimes work long and hard to establish one beachhead of real resistance to the deaths we are expected to live, only to have that beachhead assaulted or threatened by canards we have been socialized to fear, or by the withdrawal of those approvals that we have been warned to seek for safety. We see ourselves diminished or softened by the falsely benign accusations of childishness, of non-universality, of self-centeredness, of sensuality. And who asks the question: am I altering your aura, your ideas, your dreams, or am I merely moving you to temporary and reactive action? (Even the latter is no mean task, but one that must be rather seen within the context of a true alteration of the texture of our lives.)

The white fathers told us, I think therefore I am; and the black mothers in each of us-the poet-whispers in our dreams, I feel therefore I can be free. Poetry coins the language to express and charter this revolutionary awareness and demand, the implementation of that freedom. However, experience has taught us that the action in the now is also always necessary. Our children cannot dream unless they live, they cannot live unless they are nourished, and who else will feed them the real food without which their dreams will be no different from ours?

Sometimes we drug ourselves with dreams of new ideas. The head will save us. The brain alone will set us free. But there are no new ideas still waiting in the wings to save us as women, as human. There are only old and forgotten ones, new combinations, extrapolations and recognitions from within ourselves, along with the renewed courage to try them out. And we must constantly encourage ourselves and each other to attempt the heretical actions our dreams imply and some of our old ideas disparage. In the forefront of our move toward change, there is only our poetry to hint at possibility made real. Our poems formulate the implications of ourselves, what we feel within and dare make real (or bring action into accordance with), our fears, our hopes, our most cherished terrors.

For within structures defined by profit, by linear power, by institutional dehumanization, our feelings were not meant to survive. Kept around as unavoidable adjuncts or pleasant pastimes, feelings were meant to kneel to thought as we were meant to kneel to men. But women have survived. As poets. And there are no new pains. We have felt them all already. We have hidden that fact in the same place where we have hidden our power. They lie in our dreams, and it is our dreams that point the way to freedom. They are made realizable through our poems that give us the strength and courage to see, to feel, to speak, and to dare.

If what we need to dream, to move our spirits most deeply and directly toward and through promise, is a luxury, then we have given up the core-the fountain-of our power, our womanness; we have give up the future of our worlds.

For there are no new ideas. There are only new ways of making them felt, of examining what our ideas really mean (feel like) on Sunday morning at 7 AM, after brunch, during wild love, making war, giving birth; while we suffer the old longings, battle the old warnings and fears of being silent and impotent and alone, while tasting our new possibilities and strengths.

The link to Adrienne Rich's essay: http://www.terry.uga.edu/~dawndba/4500compulsoryhet.htm

I will be reading your posts and listening to you intently :)

"...our compassion is the practice of unconditioning." Jakusho Kwong Roshi

OliviaCoetzee's picture

In solidarity

Thank you for your comments and reading material suggestions, I hope to hear from your side of the world and the stories that you tell, it is important to raise awareness, but it becomes quite scary when, people run away from raising their own awareness, but I will not stop.. My objective is peace! Equity! liberation of a colonialised mind! Liberation from capatilism! Liberation from seggregation and discrimination! The path is long but my boots are made for walking, thank you for sharing your path with me and for sharing my path..
Olivia

warona's picture

YOURSELVES

Hi Mei & Olivia

Its good to hear from you,thank you very much for now i know you lesbians can stand and talk.However i dont want to cause any faction or any irritation. i hope to enjoy our conversations as we move on to achieve set goals in our communities.And its a great pleasure for me to know that you combating our/your communities with healthy tips that they can embark on.

To add on the life you are living of lesbian,that one i dont want to say anything,because you guys you ve a choice, so life is all about choice sometimes, and one has to know what is good and wrong.So ladies may we work together to save our world and exhort others who are in a tight corner who needs our assistance.

Thank you with regards

Warona

"success will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time " And when confronted conquer with love

Warona
yes all of us have choices and my sister even you have a choice to be with a man and I dont judge you for that or tell you what is right or wrong.. please let us work together to erradicate social ills that lead to hate crime of lesbians,gays, transgendered people, black people, poor people, women, social ills that leads us further into the destruction of living peacefully in a society wehre equity is recognised and it is a believe, I do thank you for stimulating my mind like this. It proofs to me that there is still allot to do when it comes to the liberation of minds, as we have been and still are oppressed/colonised and this leading to our believe systems and values being calculated on the basis of patriarchy, capitilsm etc.

In peace with you..
Olivia

KAREEN UDOH's picture

A stroke of courage to all

Hello Comrade!
Must we always confliting? I know this's an intellectual issues that needs argumentative display,but lets try to garnish it with Love,Beauty, a free, civilize and neutral standing point,not personal in any idea or views.We're also here to learn, so lets open our minds to all,then personally and consciously thin out what doesn't go well with you.But for me, in the terain of wisdom or knowledge,nothing is a waste.The BEST PROVE TO TRUTH IS TIME.
So lets ride on with love and good reasoning,so we don't loose focus.
More love from me to All!
Kareen

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