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?
This month is designated as black history month. We will pay homage to the many leaders that came before us and paved the way. As we should. So let’s now take a moment and many moments after today to give thanks to them and show our gratitude. They set the example and blazed the trail for our current generation of leaders, prodigies, and revolutionaries.
History brings forth relevance. The doings of yesteryear, spills over to our current legacy building and change makers are being born and sent out into the world daily. We progress with the times and we have to ask ourselves what are we doing now? Who will pave the way for the generations to come? Who will be their Martin Luther, Malcom X, Rosa, and Harriet?
I am a firm believer that if you are being yourself unapologetically then you are living your purpose and sharing the many gifts that are bestowed within you. So this month I want to pay homage to those who are living on purpose NOW! Celebrate everyday people who lead their lives doing what they love, spreading joy along the way. This month is Black His&HerStory Month!! This is for the black prodigies that are here and now!
Some may know and many may not, but a couple years back I underwent a lifestyle change. And I shouldn’t be utilizing underwent as if it is a part of my past, because I still very much am transforming daily and learning more. This week, back at home with the family proved just that. I do not like to place myself in any type of boxes or label myself as this or that. So I don’t. I do what I feel my body wants at the time and then her and I measure the effects afterwards.
Going home for me, is always a challenge when it comes to my current lifestyle. I like to eat, mingle, and mostly have a great time while enjoying family and friends – old and new. Life is an experiment, every moment of it is. And we are all here to make the most of our experiences and learn from them. Why is coming home a challenge, because I eat differently, I carry myself differently from my past, and I am more in tune with myself than I had been in younger years.
So coming home this week, I knew I would be partying. And yes partying with fly ass five year olds count as partying because ain’t no party like a children’s party, cause them kids neva stop!!! Hey! I knew there would be food and sweets galore and I knew that my family would want me to enjoy myself just as much as they did. And when it comes to black folk, we know how happy and unified we get when we sit a plate of food in front of our faces.
To the experiment…. I ate this week. I ate things I haven’t eaten in years. And no I don’t feel bad about anything, I’m glad that I was able to go through this experience in order to learn more about my body and what works for me. I do not crusade my lifestyle on anyone, I am a firm believer that you do what works for you and what your body feels it needs. Everyone is different.
When I came home, my niece and I weighed in, just for fun. That is what girls do in Mima’s powder room. We play. So we both jumped on the scale together, and then separately. I came in at a whopping 129. Normal. For me. This was just a few days ago, Saturday I think. Today, almost a week later I am 145.
What the what???? Now, I’m not spazzing out or anything but looking at the changes in my body and how my insides feel has me a little on edge and ready to get home back to my normal regimen.
What caused a 15lb increase you ask. Well I ate birthday cake, cookies, I even had a ‘chicken’ hot dog, coffee, eggs, grits, brownies, beans, cabbage, and turnips. Oh and at my dad’s I made a veggie lasagna with cheese. At my uncles I had some brown rice, collards, and piece of turkey. I also have not been drinking as much water as I should. Oh, but you’re vegan….read the first paragraph again please. Yes, my lifestyle mostly consists of a vegan diet but I do what I feel. I must say I enjoyed eating those things and I do not beat myself over the head for having them.
The results, of course the weight increase, my stomach and thighs have reaped the most of this gain and my hourglass figure is more like a liter at the moment. I have had a headache for the past couple of days and my digestive system and bowel movements have seemingly been working at a slower pace. What I have learned from my experience this week, is that the lifestyle that I choose, mostly a vegan diet works for me and my goals. The sugars and starches do not do well with my personal genetic makeup. I would never be able to go back to the way that I use to eat, and eat that way daily. If I did, I will be back at 210 with all types of problems going on.
The reason I am not mad, but ready to get home is because now I know for sure the items that are not conducive to the wellness that I need. I now know that when I am out of my element I have to really be disciplined in what I put into my body. I share this because I am transparent as can be, when it comes to my eating and health. I share this to inspire others. I share this because it motivates me to take my wellness to the next level. I share this because we all have similar stories and someone will not share theirs. I share this, so that you too can share your stories. What are some changes that you have made in your life, that may be a challenge when you go home or hang with old friends?
A few months back I posted about a few gentlemen who assisted a disabled man off the train. That was the first edition of this sequel. Today I sit and reflect on my morning and what a full 4 hours it has been thus far. All 4 full of community, assistance, unity, and altruism.
Today, I am on my way home. "I’m coming home, I’m coming home. Tell the world that I’m coming…." I digress. I left out this morning in that blistering cold around 6:30. It is definitely cold out there folks! Like I almost got frostbite cold, no seriously. So once I arrive at the station I meet Walter. He is asking for change for breakfast.
I pass him a couple dollars, say salutations and begin strutting on. Walter asks, "you got it? You want me to help you?" I say no I’m good. He says, "buses or trains?" Bus. Then of course he insists. He grabs his bags, instructs me to stay right there. I don’t I keep walking behind him . He has someone watch over his things as he helps me with mine.
Not knowing his name at the time we chat as we make our way through the station. We get to the bus terminals and he introduces himself and tells me a little more about his comings and goings. He thanks me once again, I thank him. And of course bless him for blessing me. I tend to overpack and plus I’ll be gone for a week so… you can imagine. We say our goodbyes and hopes to see each other soon.
As I wait for the bus I talk to a passenger and help her cross the chains with her luggage because it was a struggle for me. I then look to her and say I’m going to sit over here while I make my breakfast. She says, "I got you." Not realizing the time, I sit and prepare my avocado and banana and the bus begins to load. I get up and try to get over to my bags. She stands there and hold up the line so that no one goes in front of me. So sweet. I tell her and everyone else to go ahead, I had too much in my hands and didn’t want to hold them up. As I try to gather my things a lady says, "you need help?" I look up and the gentleman behind her grabs my suitcase and begins strutting up the aisle. He rolls my suitcase as if it was his own. I smile with my bowl and other duffle bag in tow.
We commence our journey, and some passengers engage each other by assisting with times and addresses. We continue down the road, stop in Richmond and pick up some newbies. A family of 3 with one on the way sits with a lady. They share snacks between the 4 of them, the family and the lady and laugh. They are who prompted this post. I had yet to realize that the morning had been filled with altruism and community as much as it has until I began typing. To the family of 4 and their new friend, my riding buddy, and Mr. Walter you all inspire me!
A few weeks ago, I was pleasantly surprised by one of my favorite movies, Finding Forrester. So as I sit and look I begin to wonder why I fell in love wth this movie years ago as a teen. No apparent reason came to me, but then I looked on. And now I see why. The things we know but cannot comprehend in certain periods of our lives. Why I fell in love with the movie? It is the writing, the mentorship, the friendship. It is the teachings and the growing that intrigued me most and still does.
I would be asked on several occasions by people who did not know me, if I was a writer. Because I was always pen and pad in tow. More doing research than anything else. Sometimes I would say yes, other times I would say no. And at other times I would have no idea as to what to say. Just a hunch of the shoulders and a tilt of the head.
Are we not all writers? We all have a story, similar to others but uniquely to ourselves. We all go through a phase and period of our life and we write. We write for school, we write for ourselves, we write. I am a writer and I have always been a writer. I will always be a writer. Will this writing bring me fame? Will this writing touch hearts? Will this righting be read? What’s your story? Will your righting be read?
I have always known I was here to contribute. To add value to the world and be of service; I know this. I have always wondered how and what is it exactly I’m suppose to be doing. How to go about it, I guess.
The reason I had yet to find the answer is because I was looking past the simplicity. I was looking outside of myself. I was looking beyond myself. The way we can change the world is to simply be ourselves. Find out what it is that you want to do or like to do and explore yourself.
Just Be. For there is unity in diversity. When you are being you, you are supplying your gifts to the world effortlessly. We were placed in this realm to get to know ourselves, to dis-cover ourselves. Be You.
If you are not sure who that is, then try and explore every inkling until you know a little bit more. Then explore some more. That is your one true purpose. Loving life, giving yourself, and supplying us with your presence.