Fortunately, the conversations surrounding representation of Black women are becoming more popular. This does not mean the representation is actually happening, but the fact that we have Black women actually creating spaces specifically for other Black women to showcase their talents, celebrate them and tap into untold herstories is incredible. That is why I am excited today to have a conversation with Yohanna Kagayo, whose work is dedicated to Black women and creating spaces to celebrate their art and contributions. Yohanna, who most people know as “Yohaminist”, was born in Burundi, Bujumbura and raised in Canada. She is currently majoring in International development and economics at the University of Ottawa and describes herself as a spontaneous young woman who is still slowly trying to figure out herself and enjoying every step of the growth.
Thank you for participating in this Yohanna. It means a lot to me and I’m sure the readers. So since today we are talking about being carefree, as a young Afrikan woman, what does this mean to you?
Being carefree for me means enjoying a life where no worries overwhelm you. Learning how to separate your work and fun life, managing your stress, and allowing yourself to be free. A part of being a student, I also have a part-time job. Managing both of them and having some time for myself is a lot. Giving myself a break sometimes to breathe and do things such as; yoga, meditations or even go out for coffee by myself really helps. As students, we often stress on the smallest things that could be resolved in very little time. What we don’t know is that stressing on that thing will worsen the situation. Managing your stress and taking a moment to exhale has also helped me. Controlling my emotions and finding ways to avoid what can cause that stress is the key. Staying carefree and cutting off all form of negativity in my life has given me more hope that life isn’t as bad as everyone describes it. I’ve distanced myself from individuals that slow down my growth process, individuals that dont share the same vision and goals with me and individuals with bad vibes. I think it’s extremely important as an Afrikan young woman to be carefree because we live in a society that downgrades us and the only thing we could honestly do is to support each other and reunite as young Afrikan woman and conquer this world. If we don’t support each other.. Who will?
That is so on point. So in what ways do you practice being carefree?
Like mentioned previously, I practice being carefree by meditating each morning before starting my day. It helps to control my concerns and transforms them into little things that could be resolved with time. It calms my whole being and gives me strength. Another way that I practice is exercising. When I first started going to the gym, I knew that it would be hard. With dedication and hard work, I achieved exactly the results that I wanted. Going the gym also helped with the stressful lifestyle that I once had. I would put all my anger into my workouts and felt so delivered and free afterwards. I also believe that spending some time alone and giving yourself a break from everyone is the most important way to being carefree. I enjoy being alone! It gives me this sense of independence. The little that people don’t know is that I’m really not doing anything. I just sit down in a coffee shop drinking my latte and observing.
You mentioned that you immigrated to Canada at a young age, can you tell us more on that journey and how it influences your identity as a carefree Black girl?
When I first moved to Canada, I had a hard time integrating. Things were so different than back home. I remember going to school on my first day of 2nd grade, a little bald-headed girl coming in with such thick French accent since we spoke French at school in Bujumbura. I was made fun of for my accent, for my very short hair & for being Black. I felt so unwanted. In Canada, French Canadians don’t speak the same way we did back In Burundi. They use a different kind of French and frankly, I find it horrible. I was bullied for having a good french accent and for being a Black bald headed girl. I once got kicked out of the girls changing room because I looked like a little boy. I struggled to fit in with the little white kids that made my childhood so difficult. Apart from being left out with the little white girls, I wasn’t accepted within my community as well. Since my French accent was so thick in Canada, I decided to start speaking French like them. I later on went back to Burundi for summer vacations and started getting bullied in Burundi as well. I was called names like “ Muzungu’’ and a lot more. At the age of 9, I had to face being excluded by my own people and from the white kids at school. I then decided it was time not to give zero Fucks. I started dressing like a little boy and speaking however the fuck I wanted to speak. My journey of being carefree then as a 9-10 year old and has been going on since.
If you could meet the little 9 year old girl you just described for us, what would you tell her?
To hang in there. Reason being that I had a very hard childhood. I had ( still have ) a very big forehead and people criticized me for having a big forehead. I was very skinny and tall and people also found ways to attack me for my appearance. At the end of the day, I concluded that I was criticized for being me. I would tell my younger self to hang in there and not pay attention to other peopl’es opinions. One of the most beautiful women Pon de replay with her gorgeous forehead and other women doing surgeries to look as skinny.
Before we end this amazing conversation, tell us about your desire to create platforms that celebrate black women such as Sayaspora and how this interjects into your carefree lifestyle
Sayaspora is a bilingual web platform founded in 2015. The idea to start SAYASPORA was born out of a desire to create a greater representation in the media for young Afrikan women as well as women of Afrikan diaspora. We aim to reflect on and to present the diverse experiences, challenges, and triumphs of youth stemming from the Afrikan diaspora.
Being a member of Sayaspora has played a big part in my carefree lifestyle by gathering around with all my sisters and engaging in a conversation that leads to amazing connections. We all have the same need to send a message to the youth in the diaspora and changing certain stereotypes in our Afrikan society. Breaking stereotypes given to us such as ‘’un-Afrikan’’ as sexually unattractive and humorless man-haters. We are committed to giving women a forum, a voice and the skills to articulate their needs and interests.
Today’s featured video: Nitty Scott- La Diaspora