Folashade is native Harlemite, currently working, living and loving in Cape Town, South Africa. She serves as the Communications officer for Embrace Dignity, a small human rights based NGO that works with survivors of the commercial sex industry and advocates for legal reform. She is also a writer of prose, short form and poetry, as well as an event planner and future business owner. Some of her work can be found online at progressivepupil.com or through her personal blogs, HarlemtoCapeTown.wordpress.com or The Sunshine Writings.
What are your purposes and passions?
I think at my core, I am just a messenger. Since I was young, I always wanted to give words: good ones, bad ones, but it was because I somehow understood early on how communication was an important area in the scope of human existence.
How you came into knowing what your purpose is? What things did you encounter throughout your journey to get where you are?
I used to desire to be in media, a journalist to be exact, and had dreams of writing for like VIBE or Essence. But I think the God saved me from that, because even when I got to the prestigious internship, I was miserable, and seeing the corporatization of a natural human process just didn’t sit right with me.
I eventually went to grad school, where I eventually was introduced to the basic tenets of social justice. Social justice had been around me since I can remember, but not explicitly. It came in the form of my pan-Africanist upbringing and an emphasis on giving back.
What inspires and motivate you?
When I first came to South Africa, it was about finding work in social justice, I just wanted to be involved in something that served a purpose, that directly served the people it discussed helping. I could have looked for a desk job at an NGO back home, but you never see the faces of the people you serve that way. I wanted to see their faces, need to hear their voices, because that informs the kind of messages that we should be putting out.
Gender Based Violence and Prostitution are huge issues that remain the elephants in the room taking up space and making people uncomfortable, but no one wants to talk about it. And the way that it affects people of color is disgraceful, but somehow that always gets left out of the narrative.
I’ve been out here for a year now, and just this Wednesday, I feel like my work was validated. Not that my job or others don’t support me, but I felt like all the work I put in made sense: after an intense dialogue on a panel for One Billion Rising, a member of an org that is against our legal position on prostitution came up to me and said that while she doesn’t agree with our position, she understood how and why we got there and agreed with some of our points. That is the point of communication, isn’t it? To get people to understand, even the hurtful and painful issues, to make them, (whoever them is for you) understand. Since my org’s inception, the opposition has remained steadfast and antagonistic even, so to hear those words, I felt like I didn’t just accomplish my goal in representing my org, but I fulfilled my purpose, really and truly. And that is the most mind-blowing feeling in the world.
What inspiration would you like to pass on to others looking to make Black History?
Living in your purpose isn’t just a one-off sort of thing, it’s a constant and consistent desire to maintain whatever that purpose is for you, so moments like that should be cherished and used as markers that you’re heading in the right direction.
Because it’s all about the messages, right?