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You Remind Me: A Love Poem to My African Systahs

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My Dear Systahs,
I am writing to you from the beautiful country of Rwanda, The World Pulse delegation has been in Africa for about a week and a half now. As a proud African American, I have always dreamed of this moment and now it is here. I am in Africa and it feels like home. My role here is to listen to the voices of the strong, enlightened and empowered women and to create a performance of dance, music, song and poetry to debut later this year. I am a writer, playwright, author, poet, graphic artist, woman's advocate and creative visionary who is also a survivor of domestic and sexual violence. You can see more information about my last play at www.TangoingWithTornadoes.com

I have so much to share of what I have heard and learned during my trip. My heart feels so full and I know for certain that this may be my first trip to Africa but it will not be my last. However, I must head downstairs to dinner. I leave you with this poem that I wrote after several days in Kenya, and presented at the Speak Out in Kenya.

(C) 2011 S. Renee Mitchell

You remind me of my family
Your lips, your eyes, the way you move your hips
It is so familiar, so much like the people I call
My sisters, my children, my mother, my friends

You remind me
When you sing your songs of welcome
You remind me to remember to always listen to the music in my heart
To give hope a special melody, to welcome love into my life

You remind me
When you take my hand and show me places I have never been before
That sometimes I must have the courage to be vulnerable
To follow and not just lead; to trust the wisdom of a gentle stranger

You remind me of Kujichagulia, of self-determination,
Of believing in myself, creating for myself and speaking for myself
You remind me to always speak my truth

And when you boldly raise your voice and share your stories
When you open yourself up to criticism and judgment
By sharing your shame, your secrets, your dreams
Your pain, your triumph, your newfound ability to read and to write
Despite living in what is sometimes the worst of circumstances
Despite a lack of food, water and resources
In the face of spotty electricity and inadequate encouragement
You remind me to lean on my faith for a better tomorrow

You remind me of Ujimaa, collective work and responsibility
To do what you can for the good of the community
To share what you have with others who have less
To care for the orphans, the widows, those living with HIV and AIDS

You remind me to use Kuumba,creativity,
When you craft the bricks by hand that will create homes owned by former street beggars
When you pool your shillings for a merry go round that will help single mothers build their businesses
When you provide safety and comfort to battered women who received love at the end of a fist

Over and over again, you remind me of ubuntu
That I am because we are and because we are, therefore I am

You remind me
That when you use Imani, your faith,
To follow the urgent calling of your heart, your God, your dreams
That when you are enough, you remind me that I, too, am enough
That all that I need is already within me
And that impossible is nothing

I see myself tiptoeing around the margins of your stories
Soaking in the inspiration as if I were a newborn suckling at her mother’s breast
You remind me
That sisterhood knows no boundaries of language, race, country or bloodlines
And that family begins in the heart

You, my dear systahs, remind me of hope!

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juliapp's picture

Beautiful.

Beautiful.

Amani K's picture

Thank YOU Renee

My dear Systah Renee,

It was absolutely fabulous meeting you in Kenya. You have the most wonderfully beautiful voice for telling the story in poetry and wonderful words that resonate across oceans. Self-determination, Ujamaa, Imani and pulling together - that IS African women - after many years of looking outwards for help, a time comes when each one of us realizes we are the hope we have been looking for - and in that moment of recognition, awareness and enlightenment, their is no turning back.

Welcome home, Systah!!

Love and Light,

AmaniK

Dr. Karambu Ringera
Founder and President, International Peace Initiatives
Vice President, Global Ecovillages Network (GEN) Africa
Advisory Board Member, Women Human Rights Institute, University of Toronto
Member and Delegate, Soroptimist Internationa

olutosin's picture

This is Beautiful!

Thanks so much for visiting us and for sharing these well crafted words.
Love you sistah...

Olutosin Oladosu Adebowale
Founder/Project Coordinator
Star of Hope Transformation Centre
512 Road
F Close
Festac Town
Lagos-Nigeria

https:

consolata's picture

RE: A great writer

Renne,
For sure you are gifted. Reach out to as many people who need inspiration through the talent. It comes out so well...
For sure you are Womans Hope ambassador... !
Hope to hear you more often..

Love Consolata

Arthur's picture

Awesome

Great, deep and touching

Insha Allah's picture

cool

Both the poem and the poet touch my heart! Cool!

Best,
Insha Allah

Shwe Wutt Hmon

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