“Everything You Believe About East African Women Is Wrong”

“East African womanhood is a minefield between the region’s war zones and too-simple Western understanding thereof. The experiences of women from Ethiopia and Somalia serve largely as a barometer of the nations’ violence. But our foremothers taught us resistance long before we had a name for it. Their stories alchemize the violence that forced them out of the arms of their families and toward countries that don’t recognize their strength. Spinning blood into honey and bone into gold, they transformed their pain into our power…
Aida showed us that words can make magic. She makes phone calls as she cooks, cleans, categorizes, catches, contorts. Her voice is soothing, full of warmth. To receive a phone call from her is to know you are loved — wherever you may be — part of her patchwork, and she wants you to know your beauty completes the whole. Relatives everywhere from Canada to Ethiopia sense the honey in her “hello,” and in the Ethiopian proverbs that roll gently off her tongue, even when she’s scolding. The one she repeats most often is simple. Translated into English, it highlights the beauty of the collectivism she and the women around her model: “For one person, 50 lemons is a burden. But for 50 people, those same 50 lemons are simply decorations.””

I really like that proverb.

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