African Wellness Tips
I blossom here, where I stand, but my roots are deep in a foreign soil. My origin goes back to a different time and space. It is traced further than I or anyone else can remember. It has been partially lost, interrupted by war, immigrated and re-translated. Being a second generation immigrant has taught me a lot about resilience, faith, self-love, empowerment and overall wellness. Being one foot here and one foot there, has had it's disadvantages and it's perks and I wanted to share some wellness tips that I have observed from being in Africa and also growing up in an African household. Knowing our busy Western lives, I wanted to pick the easiest tips for you to incorporate in your everyday routine to better your health. So if you want to hear what this Canadian gal has to say about African wellness then read on...
Eat real food- Processed foods, packaged foods were nonexistent in my parent's upbringing. Everything is planned ahead and purchased at a market with fresh farmer's vegetables, grains and meats. The next time you're in the grocery store try shopping on the outside of the store: grabbing greens, fruits, almond milk, bread etc. without going to the aisles where the junk is (or looking down at the cash register where all the candies are). And that's how you shop like you're in an African market!
Go outside- Sitting outside on my grandma's porch was like a hobby. One would wake up at the crack of dawn, eat outside, hang out outside and just be out there till it was time to rest. Who can blame them, it's soo beautiful.
Wake up early- While I was in Africa I stayed at a hotel that wasn't too far from Grandma's house. Every morning my aunt would be at the hotel at 7am. This is AFTER she went to the market to get essentials. To be fair, the sun does rise at like 6am so there's an advantage there.
Take it slow and be mindful- After buying Chapati on the street one morning, my grandma was confused to why I rolled it up and started walking and eating. Maybe it was my go-getter multitasking gene that kicked in and has made me soo accustomed to speed walking and eating breakfast all at the same time. But she made me sit down on a random rock on the street and just eat (and nothing else). Also things like watching the stars, walking around and not ever checking the time, really gave me no other choice but to be present.
Everybody's in your inner circle- Your neighbors, church-goers, classmates and even your mother's bestfriend's daughter's acquaintances is also your bestfriend; so learn to be open, social and a chatterbox (or a good listener).
Embrace life- In the Western point of view Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter and all family gatherings equals avoiding certain relatives, a potential fight, pent up emotions and just overall unhappiness. Spending Christmas (and my brother's birthday) in Africa opened my eyes to embracing life and all it brings. Next time you have a family gathering coming up, think about the way you feel about it; are you anxious? are you frustrated? Try to shift your attention off of the individuals and focus on yourself and making gatherings more positive for yourself by being positive.
Walk and bike everywhere- When I was in Africa I would walk from Gram's house to Grandma's house while everyone else either biked and walked alongside us. This is easy to incorporate for us Canadians in the summer but try to commute in an active and more environmentally friendly manner once in awhile.
What's social media?- Yes there are phones in Africa but do people have time to be glued to them, of course not. Social media is used as a way to communicate with far away family before it's tucked away. Try to set times to put away your phone and know why you're using it and use it just for that to avoid endlessly scrolling.
Think outwardly- When I was about 14 I screamed and called my mom because I had *drumroll* STRETCH-MARKS! Something that was so big in my universe was puny in my mother's. She shrugged and, I kid you not, she walked away. Not in a heartless way but because she couldn't possibly see the reason I called her. Her reaction struck a cord in me that day, the way she shrugged it off is the same way I didn't let it bother me, till I absolutely fell in love with my stretchmarks! Since then I've met (and my mother knows) people with actual scars, deformities, sicknesses, abusive and traumatic pasts and all around actual problems. Not that acne, ezcema, stretch marks, cellulite, wrinkles and all that don't hurt one's confidence, but that they're things that just like my mother, I've learned to shrug my shoulders to.
Seek guidance- Elders are the backbone of a community and hold a whole lot of knowledge. In American context, elders are not held on the same pedestal. The narrative around age promotes ageism and looks down on the knowledge and the lived lives of older adults. There are way too many people that I know that don't talk to their parents or don't think highly of those before them. Obviously not everyone is always on good terms with their parents/grandparents and I totally get that, but try to acknowledge the life they've lived and the lessons that they've learned before we even existed. Also, higher guidance has guided African nations for generations; surrendering your life to something bigger then yourself in order to life a fulfilled life is key.
What African country are you from? Republic Democratic of Congo
What is your ethnicity? We are from Uvira where we belong to the Kifulero tribe.
What is your African Name and what does it mean? Busime and it means joy!
How many African Languages can you speak? 1 (or 2 if you count French)
Were you born in Africa? No, Canada.
When was the last time you were in Africa? 2010 sadly.
Favorite African food? Chapati, beans, cassava leaves and plantain (all vegan by the way)
What do you love most about Africa? There are fruit trees literally everywhere to pick from
What makes you different from other Africans? Probably not being born in Africa and speaking a choppy Swahili lol
What's a ridiculous question you've been asked about your culture? "When did I move to Canada?" I have been told that my name hints that I wasn't born here which is completely ridiculous. Or when people ask me if I identify as Canadian or African then lecture me on how I'm actually not technically Canadian or I'm not African enough!
When do you plan next to go back to Africa? End of this year, fingers crossed!