Reflection 3 (09/04/2015)

Mine is flawful writing.

With gaping holes and seams which seem to be holding up only by peculiar acts of divine intervention.

My writing is a wineskin- marred by the abomination that is a marriage of the old and the new.

Old wine is mature.
(Old wine is dear, my dear).
Old wine is not for mere folk- it is for places where dining is waited for for months on end.
New wine is cheap.
New wine is folly.
New wine is what you try at twenty-one.

The two are acid to my writing. But anything is art. So the scalded pieces which remain from this marriage birth my writing.

So my writing speaks, I suppose, to scalded hearts.

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My Second HuffPost Article Is Published!

It’s finally up!

Changing Africa’s Image is something that is incredibly close to my heart. So, I took an incredible amount of time in reflection, reading, talking to people, and putting my thoughts together in a manner that bespoke the dignity and agency of African peoples from all walks of life. This one was truly a labour of mad love for my continent. Read my second Huffington Post article here and I hope, as always, that it resonates with you. <3


One Laura Mvula

Laura Mvula is the sort of artist one bumps into every once in a while who captures their heart completely- albeit in a gradual manner. I try not to be quick with declaring my love, because often, after a few listens, what I thought was love fizzles into a calm fondness. But what I feel for Laura’s music has proven quite real.

From my first listen, her music had my attention. Her album became my writing music. It is easy enough to listen to that it does not yank at my attention and demand that I listen attentively, but when I do, it is absolutely beautiful. I thought I was alone in noticing her reminiscence of Nina Simone, but as it would turn out, a lot of people see that in her. I think there is something about comparing an artist to someone they remind you of that takes away from the integrity of her art, so even though I’ve done so in the past, I will not quite dub her the Nina Simone of my generation (not that that is not a complement, and not that it isn’t true).

She is Laura Mvula, and my, is she spectacular. In her own right, with her own unique sound, and with that heavenly hint of rasp in her voice that peaks at all the right moments in all the right ways, Laura Mvula is, well, Laura Mvula. I hope you will enjoy her music as much as I do.

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Christian Arguments that Don’t Work

Originally posted on Hope Stands:

If you engage with Christians long enough about reasons to believe, you’ll eventually hear a certain kind of argument.  It goes like this.

Skeptic: I’m just not a person of faith.  It’s hard for me to put my trust in God.

Christian: Oh, Skeptic, yes you are a person of faith!  Why, everyone has faith!  In fact, you put your faith in things every day.  Take the case of that chair you’re sitting on; you had ‘faith’ in that chair, otherwise you wouldn’t have sat down on it.  It also took faith to get in your car and drive here today, for you could have gotten in a car accident!  But you ‘believed’ in the car.

Skeptic: (Puzzled look on his face.)

Christian: (Satisfied; smiles.)

But here’s the thing, believing in Jesus Christ is not like sitting in a chair or driving a Honda.  No wonder…

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“O God, I have tasted Thy goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more. I am painfully conscious of my need for further grace. I am ashamed of my lack of desire. O God, the Triune God, I want to want Thee; I long to be filled with longing; I thirst to be made more thirsty still. Show me Thy glory, I pray Thee, so that I may know Thee indeed. Begin in mercy a new work of love within me. Say to my soul, ‘Rise up my love, my fair one, and come away.’ Then give me grace to rise and follow Thee up from this misty lowland where I have wandered so long.”
A.W. Toze

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#7 What Are You Doing Here? Refocussing Faith- Intro (Devotional)

This would have marked a month since I posted a Monday devotional. It has been on my mind. Rather than a product of procrastination, my silence has been a result of losing focus. My next short series of devotionals will delve into the theme. For now, I want to share what has led me to center my study on this.

I get distracted. Life can be distracting. Between majors and hair-days and ambitions and projects and dreams and hopes and fears, it’s easy to take my eyes off Christ.

In the thick of all my thinkings and endeavors (and sometimes, the lack thereof), my time with God became a dull affair. On the few days that I did, I would sit down to read my bible and breeze through it, and then say a short general prayer. Prayers I meant, but prayers I prayed with a little bit of obligatory exasperation.Thank you God for your love and faithfulness. Thank you for your word. Help me to live for you. (or something of the sort)

And then off I would go. Back to my life, back to my daily grind. Isn’t it so easy? To go so easy in this faith journey, that we loosen our grip and slip away? In times past, this has happened, and it has been the point at which my walk with God took and stale break. I know that days without time spent focused on God and his word in earnest lead to weeks, and then months. Suddenly, church becomes unappealing, and reading God’s word not only becomes something I procrastinate- it morphs into an inconvenience.

Oh, but how faithful God is, my friends! How marvelously faithful He is!

In church yesterday, we read about Elijah. He’d just gone through a dark spell and been strengthened by God, when on his journey, he walked into a cave and slept.

But the Lord said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

10 Elijah replied, “I have zealously served the Lord God Almighty. But the people of Israel have broken their covenant with you, torn down your altars, and killed every one of your prophets. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me, too.”

11 “Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, theLord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but theLord was not in the earthquake. 12 And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.

And a voice said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

1 Kings 19

What are you doing here? This is direction of my conviction. What am I doing just getting by? What am I doing waffling about in this walk with God?

Do I realize what awesome value and privilege I have to have access to a Holy God? God, in all his vast splendour and magnitude, desires intimacy with little old ME. He desires my heart. My intentions. My hopes and my dreams.

When I think of why we stay away from God, or get comfortable on the surface, I think we’re afraid of where God will take us. We’re afraid of who he’ll ask us to become. Sometimes, I think we keep away from him with a creeping fear in the back of our minds that he will ignore our ambitions and obliterate our dreams.

In a post I wrote months ago, I wrote this, and it spoke to me.

A thought came to me. To stop holding my dreams and desires tightly in my clenched fist, hidden behind me as I step into God’s light. As if to keep them away from Him. As if he is the snatcher and shredder and burner of dreams (and as if these are tasks he executes while he laughs fiendishly). As if those dreams aren’t more precious to Him than they are to me. As if they aren’t His…

Read full post here

What are you doing here? What am I doing in my faith. Why am I here, following this Jesus. Where am I going with this? What am I giving to God? The bits and pieces of myself that I care the least about? Or all of it- my failures and successes. My fears as well as my dearest, most lofty ambitions?

What am I doing here? Before a Holy and mighty God, whose greatness goes beyond my desire for him, and yet he calls for it. Whose Glory is not reliant on my praise, and yet he dwells in it. God, who is the reason for my existence. Who loves me with an unimaginable love. Who waits so patiently, and is the still, loving voice in the midst of the noise of my little life.

What am I doing here?

Today, I am thankful for the Holy Spirit, who does not let me wander too far off before he asks me what I’m doing there. My prayer going forward is for focus. For a dead-on gaze on my God that stands fixed, undistracted from things that will pass away. A love for him that is shown in the way that I treat opportunities, relationships, gifts, hopes, fears and dreams that I have.

I hope you will journey with me in the coming posts, and that together, our eyes will be turned to Jesus.

Recommended Readings:

1 Kings 19: Elijah’s story

Matthew 14:22-36: Peter and Jesus walk on the Water

Featured image from here.


For Amayi (My Grandmother)

We call my paternal grandmother Amayi.

Amayi is a short woman with a slight, hunched-forward wobble to her walk. A few years ago, right before of my grandfather’s passing, she fell ill and lost her speech. Her speech went from the heavily accented Chichewa to being virtually nonexistent and in my grandfather’s final days, he took up the role of her translator. (I suppose decades spent with one person inherently deposits the ability inside of you to decipher their innermost thoughts and feelings, even when those thoughts and feelings manifest themselves as a mishmash of words) My grandfather, with an air as calm as there ever was, turned her mumbles into requests which, when met, sent my grandmother’s face awash with a brightness, a relief that someone could understand her.

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Amayi in her Jewellery looking all dolled up. That handbag print is giving me life.

When he passed away, I remember watching Amayi weeping over the mound of newly filled grave, her husky cries peppered with cryptic mutterings. From then on, she did not say very much. What was once confident gibberish morphed into spells of frustrated silence thrust contemptuously between futile attempts at enunciation. I could not blame her. Being quite the talker, I cannot imagine not being understood, not having my thoughts translated into the words I mean to speak.

Over the years, we have watched her take albeit small steps to recovery. We have heard her speak more often. In place of the frustration, we have seen a quiet patience settle in. We have heard the familiar words and popcorn out amidst the jumble that she speaks, with a reassuring frequency.

I do not know what is wrong with Amayi. I know she cannot speak, but I do not know where her speech went, or when it will come back. I do not know what her condition is called. I do not know if it is progressive, and I do not know if I should carry on waiting to hear her full thoughts articulated.


I used to be quite irritated on our occasional visits with her when I was younger. My sister and I, both usually in trousers, would have to wear zitenje (wraps) over them to avoid both my grandparents’ religious and traditional disapproving glares. As I have reflected over the past few years, however, I imagine what a whirlwind both their lives were in an ever-changing colonial, then post-colonial country.

I have estimated that there are over 50 years between my grandmother and I. I have estimated eons between the ways we think. I have estimated that when she looks around, Malawi is a completely different place than it was when she grew up.

In her Malawi, modesty was paramount. In my Malawi, we are at war to dress as we please (or not at all, it sometimes seems!). In her Malawi, girls kneel down when they greet. In mine, a mere handshake suffices. In her Malawi, a boy in the family is a gem. In my Malawi…well, in my parents’ home, I never felt less important than my brother.

I have come to accept her offerings of zitenje for me to cover up as her own brand of affection- her own way of meaning well. I have come to see, in her lack of words, a genuine delight and craving for fellowship. I have come to understand that I matter to my grandmother.

I wish now, that I could ask her about her girlhood. I long to have conversations with her about the games she played, the songs she sang, how she met my grandfather. But these are all conversations I can no longer have with her. I don’t know if I could if she could speak, either. My grandfather was always the talkative one. In fact, I don’t recall my grandmother ever speaking too much. She is a stark contrast to my maternal grandmother, Anamasina. But Anamasina’s is a post for another day.

Probably my favourite photo of her.

Amayi has taught me patience. She has taught me tenderness. She taught me to respect culture. Even though I bitterly wore those zitenje over my trousers, I learnt that reverence matters. That just because I believe differently, or embrace freedoms that others deem not only unimportant, but abomination, does not mean I should condescendingly wave my freedom in their faces. That sometimes, love is expressed in our own discomfort.

Amayi taught me to value words so much more. To treasure this inclination that I have towards them. It’s funny, because in her wordless season, so much of what I have learnt from her has to do with words. I have learnt that in our one-way exchanges, my words to her matter as much as those she wishes she could speak. I have learnt to sing songs and be grateful that I can. The image is still etched so vividly in my mind of her rocking back and forth to hymns playing rustily on the radio that I once heard her sing. She has taught me that God is present. I see it in how she bows her head when we pray, in how she nods her sincere ‘Amen’ when we are through.

Today, in a rather uneventful stint at work, I thought of Amayi. Today, I am thankful for my grandmother.

Photo Credit: Uncle Rev Zacc, and Aunt Rev Aidah, and Rev Dad (family of pastors, y’all!)


#6 Let’s be Real: Uncertainty, Inadequacy, and Hope (Devotional)

This was going to be my final post on the book of Job. I finished reading it on Friday, and I think I must emphasize how quickly it went by. Something about it right from the onset made me anticipate ploughing through it, but it was honestly an easy read, which I am incredibly thankful for.

However, I think I want to share something else with you. It’s one of those spells in my walk. Inadequacy has given me some blows over the past several days. I have been clouded with uncertainty about my future. Today, it has manifested physically- I feel physically exhausted, and spiritually drained. It’s one of those times when I sit down to read my bible and my mind is half there, and half adrift in nothingness.

Whenever times like these come (and they do), I am reminded of something my mother said in a context I cannot quite recall. She said some words which have become something of an assurance whenever these sorts of dry spells come. She said that very often, the times we feel the least like praying are the times we need to pray the most. 

I always take that as a reminder whenever I feel this way to cling to my faith. My friend Alheri is relentlessly reminding me to guard my salvation with fear and trembling. When I meditate on the bit of scripture from whence I know her counsel comes, I am also reminded of God’s Holy Spirit, which I know according to his promise is constantly at work in me.

Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.

Phillipians 2:12-13

All that said, I have to confess that I have not posted my blog post in part because of how I was feeling. I want my words to edify, and how can they when I feel so fragile? As I reflect, I realize that this is often my instinct when I hit a bump in the road- to withdraw into my own little world until everything feels right. I also realize however, that if and when my focus is on Christ when I write, even the broken bits of me will reflect his glory. God is a master at making beautiful things out of the dust. He is a master at taking our mess and uncertainty and turning it into healing, hope and restoration.

So today, I trust him completely- to take all that I’m feeling and this fatigue, and use it as he wills for someone. I pray that in my dimness, a bright ray of light will shine for someone. I trust, too, that he is with me, always and forever. THIS, I do not doubt for a second! He is with me, even when I feel so out-of-sync.

Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
    and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
    the night will shine like the day,
    for darkness is as light to you.

Psalm 139

Since I finished my Job plan, I picked up my devotional by Sarah Young, which I don’t use every single day, but revert to whenever I have no other course of action in my bible reading. The entries over the past few days have been so instrumental in reassuring me, and I want to share them with you in closing.

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It is well! Have a Blessed remainder of your week!