This is a further blog post by Nandi Jola, a Poet, and an activist. She was born in Port Elizabeth, South Africa and now lives in Portadown, Northern Ireland.
I have been flooded by images of America and that man who like many man that have power do, and really to be honest, I have no time to spew anger, I am trying to move forward without any anger but spread words, beautiful words and by doing so I want words to build bridges, plant the seeds and touch people.
In my understanding of life I have come to realise that throwing stones and breathing tear gas is not revolution, in my youth I did all that in South Africa. I took to the streets in anger with my fist up in the air shouting Amandla! The songs are still ringing in my ears, and the passion will always be there, now and again I rally or hold a pluck card and speak in public, but what has all that achieved?
My friends always say “All this activism has brought you nothing but heartache” and I have to agree with them to some point, what have I gained from it? Respect maybe, but I don’t want respect and I don’t want recognition, it is change I want and when I don’t see it I ask myself why did I even bother.
I am now in the trade union, and the more I push the lonelier it gets and I somehow think now that I am getting old, if only I went to the pub and got drunk instead of being a speaker on International Women’s Day or if I went to Glastonbury with all the money and time I have spent trying to make a difference, would I be happy? The thing is I didn’t choose this life, It chose me, I didn’t choose to be black and growing up under Apartheid South Africa and witness the things I did and felt the things I felt, and when I came here I didn’t choose to be in an abusive marriage, instead I chose to get out and raise awareness and found myself somewhat intertwined between bravery, rebellion, law, and loneliness and I don’t know any different. I don’t know what a nine to five job is like (well I do), nor do I know what a happy childhood feels and looks like, I just know how to fight with the hope that things will be better and now I am near forty and I don’t know how to stop fighting when things are always not just, not right and not Ok.
So, spare my thoughts for a moment I do want to comment on your Facebook posts about America, yes I want to sign that petition and join the #Blacklivesmatter movement. I want to be like Angela Davis and other women who have fought injustices, I know what I am doing matters too, but I ask myself to who? Who cares and who is listening?
No recourse to public funds has been a battle for migrant women and their children for over thirty years and all those years lives have been torn like precious cloth, somewhat society has been pressed so hard by the rod of the oppressor to lack of fully grasping the impact and trauma, everyone is fighting a battle, be it unemployment, mental health, sexual abuse, we all suffering one way or the other. I only had just finished reading “Kerry Girls by Kay Moloney Caball” when I read about the Earl Grey Scheme, I wept, I have come to realise that life has been painful and it has targeted and affected women in a way that requires one to think deep about the intended target.
I have seen the role of woman in society when men went to war, how they built communities and fed villages, in Africa when men come and brutally rape the very woman who gave birth to them, and I ask myself the same questions as to why women are marginalised and not protected, yet it is those questions that we ask day in and day out and despite the fight for equality and raising awareness on these very issues that paralyse women, I find that little if any shift happens.
No recourse to public funds has claimed lives of so many women and left so many children vulnerable and subjected them to physical abuse and trauma, I have protected my child like a hen, I would sit up all night just to be ready to defend myself and my child in case of an attack and I have worked tirelessly to put bread on the table despite not being entitled to work, I would rather go to prison for working than put my child at risk of abuse by men, yet that depends on the ability of defiance, not every women is as fortunate to even get out. I realise that my role in life is to write, especially on such issues. I have the personal experience, tools and I am in a safe position to tell these stories, just like women of the Irish Revolution and many other women around the world who kept record and over the years we have looked through their stories and find strength, pieced through their souls and weep, for it has always been hard and it has always been a fight.