Wednesday, 5 August 2020

On handling Loss || An Interview with Stella Mpisi

Loosing your loved ones

It's the month of August already! I always have some sort of time shock when it's a new month! Like how did we get to four months away from Christmas? Anyway, I have to say I am happy to be starting this month with a very exciting feature.

I am drawn to stories and how they shape people. I want to hear how people are dispossessed or elevated by their experiences so I started digging. And to be honest, I found treasure. I was drawn, excited, cried even, at some things I found.

I was particularly intrigued by Stella's Story. The honesty and openness of it. I binge-read her Blog in one sitting. Her writing style is simple but it will draw diverse and complex emotions out of you, open your eyes to the nuance of what you once considered obvious till you can see the unconventionality of perspectives. Whoosh! I am typing so fast I might go on a spiral and forget the purpose of this blog post.

I reached out to Stella and she responded so warmly and timely. I feel so honoured that she agreed to do this ( I am actually smiling my I am so blessed smile) I am so grateful for this. I learnt a lot from her response and I hope you will too.

Let's meet Stella

Being an orphan

I became an orphan when I was ten years old.

I am so glad to have you here please introduce yourself?

Thank you so much for reaching out to me. My name is Stella Mpisi, a Congolese-born South African writer. I became an orphan when I was ten years old. Both my parents died on the same day. My experiences with orphanhood are what inspire most of what I write. 

The more I grew up, the more I realized that I was different from South African natives,

What was it like growing up in South Africa?

Growing up in South Africa was both interesting and challenging. On the one hand, it was interesting to be a part of such a diverse nation. Being exposed to people of different racial backgrounds, cultures and religions was intriguing. However, there was always a sense of disconnect when it came to certain issues. The more I grew up, the more I realized that I was different from South African natives, even to those who looked like me. As a child, I did not know how to embrace both cultures as being a part of me. I often hid my Congolese identity out of pure ignorance or out of shame of being different. 

Have you received any push back in terms of sharing your journey with people, have you had anyone try to measure your grief and tell you that you are supposed to just move on?

Very often! The biggest pushback I have received is from family and friends. People misinterpret my writing for being a sign that I am stuck in the past. They do not quite understand that grief is a journey and that I’ve chosen writing to explore and navigate it. It is not a destination to be “stuck in”. 

I lived in denial for many years,

How did it feel losing your both parents on the same day and what was the most defining moment in that for you?

The feeling was of sheer disbelief and confusion. At ten years old it had never occurred to me that that was even possible. I lived in denial for many years, even after seeing both my parents in their coffins at the funeral. At the back of my mind, I secretly hoped that God had made a mistake and that my parents would come back somehow. I guess the most defining moment for me was when I finally let go of denial and accepted things for what they were. 

In a recent post, you talked about being an orphan bride and how you were able to navigate through it, in that light how do you handle disappointments and what advice do you have for anyone who feels sad that their expectations were cut short

I think with time and age I have learnt that life is not a straight line. The first step to handling disappointments is understanding that events do not define you and learning to get up when you fall. Another important thing is that you have to understand that problems come and go (no one lives a perfect life) and what matters is not the problem itself, but how you react to it. Your reaction or lack thereof determines the rest of your journey. 

My mistake was that I relied on religion and religious principles and not so much of spirituality and my actual relationship with “the unknown”.

You mentioned giving up on God at some point, how did that feel + do you think having a spiritual life is important in handling Loss?

Wow! This is an interesting question. After my parents died, I held on to God with all my strength. I didn’t blame God for any of the things that were happening to me. I relied on prayer to survive. But after many years, I got tried and questioned everything. Life just didn’t make sense anymore and I lost all faith. How could God be so good to some and yet just abandon me? I felt empty. I think spirituality does indeed help with handling loss. My mistake was that I relied on religion and religious principles and not so much of spirituality and my actual relationship with “the unknown”. I believe that spirituality has no rules and is about you as an individual and the individual relationship you have with God. That relationship is very important when it comes to grief. 


You have had to Isolate yourself at some point and try to hide your pain. How effective was that in itself and do you think hiding from pain is a solution for grief? 

For me, I think isolating myself was needed. I think isolation comes with the territory. However, I don’t think that hiding from pain is a solution. I had to go through that period of isolation to focus on myself and to understand that I needed to address my pain. That’s the “phase” I am in right now. I think it is important to mention that grief is not a problem you find a solution to. People grieve because they love. You don’t just stop loving someone because they are no longer alive, so you never really stop grieving. That is why I believe in positive grief.  

Did pity from friends and family contribute to the length and intensity of your grief. 

Most definitely. I can’t stand pity. It makes me cringe. I understand that people mean well, but pity has always made me feel “less than”. 


Has being an orphan affected motherhood for you, any life lessons?

Oh yes! Becoming a mother changes, you and I think going through that change without a mom is one of the most difficult things I have had to go through. My daughter is almost two years old now and the most important motherless motherhood lesson I have learnt thus far is that of being a positive example for my child so that she can look up to me even when I will no longer be on this Earth.  

Without writing I don’t think I’d be anywhere near the level of healing I have reached today.

You mentioned writing as a coping mechanism, how was that like and where are you in your writing journey. 

Writing helped me through many obstacles. It is almost like I am able to escape the troubles of the world and pour my emotions and thoughts down on paper. Without writing I don’t think I’d be anywhere near the level of healing I have reached today. Apart from my blog I am currently working on a fiction novel in honour of my mother. I’m super excited about that! 

“there are as many ways to grieve as there are people on Earth”. Everyone is different.

How would you advise people to handle loss and the pain that comes with it, is there like a rule book? 

There is no rule book whatsoever. I read somewhere that “there are as many ways to grieve as there are people on Earth”. Everyone is different. What I can say, however, is that it is important to have a support system and to learn to take care of your mental health. 

Orphanhood and grief

Do you ever outgrow the need for having your parents + advise for young people who want to hurry up and just be independent?

I think being independent and needing your parents are two different things. With every important life experience, I feel the need to just pick up the phone and call my mom and dad. The relationship between parent and child does not end when the child becomes socially and financially independent. 

How has loss affected your relationship with people?

I have serious trust issues and I am somewhat anti-social. For many years I lost all trust in mankind. With time I am slowly rehabilitating the social aspect of my being. It’s an uphill battle. 

Give us two fun / random things about you? 

I LOVE rapping. I can rap several Eminem songs from start to finish! LOL. Also, I hate the smell and taste of the coffee. 

I learnt so much from this and I know you did too. What are your takeouts from this post? How do you handle loss? Let's chat in the comments + Stella would love to reply you. If you have any suggestions or people you want me to feature tell me and we'll make it happen. Love ya!


How to survive orphanhood

Thursday, 23 July 2020


Cassie Daves blog planner

I got the Cassie Daves blog planner last year but I never got around to using it. I was not as intentional as I am now about blogging. 
This planner literally put my head in the game. Before I continue, let me just say that Cassie Daves is so amazing, her creativity, curation, style and work ethic just inspires you to start and make the most of what you have. I am not kidding when I say I visit her blog at least twice every day.

Blog content planner

The delivery of this planner was relatively quick. I was so excited because I have had bad luck with deliveries in the past but this one came signed sealed and delivered, tailor-made to cater to all blogging and content curation needs, the delivery guy was handsome, not that you asked but anyway. The Cassie Daves blog planner is not just a planner, it is a guide. Holding it in my hands was an absolute dream. 

The cassie daves blog planner

The beautiful thing about this blog planner is that it can be used by anyone for diverse purposes, you don't have to be a blogger or content creator to use it. It is great for journaling and keeping track of growth as an individual, plus it's so classy. 

I remember getting questions from people on how I got it whenever I brought it out to use so trust me to carry it everywhere.

From the features of the blog, you can tell that the planner was made with precision, Cassie paid attention to detail. 

When I got the planner I started to question all my intentions, like why did I really create my blog in the first place? Do I have a community/ audience? There were questions on the first page like "who do you write for?" "What is your aim?" it made me sit down and actually think of how to create value. I felt dragged, to be honest.

Blog planner nigeria

Unlike other planners, I have seen or downloaded from the internet, the Cassie Daves blog planner stands out for me. It provides a workable format for you to follow in terms of setting goals and promoting your blog on all social media platforms. 

It points you to websites that make your content creation process seamless. It even goes on to teach you how to structure and arrange your blog posts, how, when and where to share your posts.  

The planner is a whole master class! I was completely stunned when I saw the tips on how to collab with brands on the planner, like could blogging get any merrier,  If this isn't premium content then I don't what is.

My favourite features from the Cassie Daves blog planner are 

1. The to-do list

To do list

If you are a very impulsive person like me then this will help keep you in check. You just have to write down everything you need to do for the day and tick it off as you go.

2. The quotes/ affirmation page

Daily quotes

Cassie daves do better

It is just refreshing and motivating to read and remind yourself of what is truly important. Some of the quotes relate to a present struggle and when you read it, it hits different. 

I don't know about you but I like to flip the pages and see words like " never stop choosing joy"  "own your magic" and my all-time favourite "do epic shit" ( this one has a tee-shirt, you can shop  here )

3.  The blog post ideas and goals page

Blog post ideas

Life goals

Content creators are in the habit of writing down a ton of ideas without a plan or action in place to implement those ideas. This page makes you think of practical steps to ensure your idea come to light. 

There is an actionable steps page where you can outline steps and actions you need to take to your blog to the next level.

4. The blog post calendar and social media posting schedule

Blog post calender

Social media scheduling

This helps in scheduling your post, so you have a time frame to work with. It helps you stay consistent on social media and your blog. The last thing you want to do is not to show up for your community and watch the numbers reduce.

5. Blog review and stats page

Blog statistics

This is for taking stock, more like a reflection page to enable you document how far you have come and the areas of improvement to take cognisance of. It is an overview of your blog/ social media growth. Eg you could take note of the number of shares, views etc.

The cassie daves blog planner check list
I and this planner have been through thick and thin. It is very durable.

Note pads
Other Cool colours!!

I hundred per cent recommend this planner for everyone. If you keep diaries or journals you need this, so step it up a notch and get the Cassie Daves blog planner or note pad. There is a discount on the planner now, you can check it out here.

To know more about Cassie Daves and to shop the Cassie Daves blog planner visit her blog and online shop.

Shop cassie daves

Do you think planning and journaling are important? Are you team write down the vision and make it plain or team everything dey my head? Tell me.

Tuesday, 21 July 2020


I am haunted by the cries of the dead
And the struggles of the living, 


I am scared of home, 
The one place i find serene,
Away from the temper of the scorching sun, 
The stench emitted from the heart of men,
And every other rotten breaks 
Evolved from the surface of genesis. 

The soles of my feet are never perceived
By the soil of blood and water
Unless my shanty runs out of supplies. 

My simplicity entices the eyes of the mysterious,
And my life, a pandora's box. 

I am haunted by the cries of the dead
And the struggles of the living, 
Their voices have now become
An entertainment to my ears. 

My stare says i love you,
Her smile says i love you too.
Words weren't said


The sky almost white.
Traces of blue.
A sunny day.
We sit side by side
Like Simba and kopa
Watching the sunset.

My lungs fill with O2
Mixed with cologne
And a glass of fine wine.

The atmosphere blends so fine
I could feel my legs swing
To a rhythmical pattern.
Her legs swing too.
The view from up here spells poetic.
Men, women and children play in the water,
Running to shore each time the sea gets too excited.
Flocks of birds take off from trees,
Racing against each other like a medal awaits the first runner.
My stare says i love you,
Her smile says i love you too.
Words weren't said.

Poetry on lonliness

I am like an adopted puppy secluded from the love of the mother and roof of the father.


I am without mother and father,
The last of my kind.
The circle of love that surrounds me dwindles away along with the dance of the wind.
My world slumps like an angel stripped of its wings into a space filled with solitude,
Gently choking in it like a wrecked ship,
Slowly losing the sight of light, consumed by the fog of darkness. 
I am like an adopted puppy secluded from the love of the mother and roof of the father.
I hear the echo of what sounds like the voice of my mother. 
My name radiating from all corners of the earth, round and round.
Take me by the hand, your father is waiting for you; the voice said.
I am like a sadly terrified puppy lost in the middle of the woods, 
Dying to run back into the warm arms of the mother. 


Young poets

How did this poem make you feel?
What was your favorite Poem from the collection and why?
You can connect with the Poet on
Instagram @the.chokolate.guy

Saturday, 18 July 2020

3 Things you should never say to anyone after the lockdown

This is a guide to help you not to attract curses for yourself. We are all looking forward to the end of this pandemic so that we can return to our normal lives without fear. It's been roughly three months and a lot of people have not seen each other since the lockdown. 
It is normal to anticipate and have expectations about each other but let us be civilised. It is important that we consider people's feelings. Remember it's a pandemic we went in for, not a life master class, a vacation or summer body camp.

We are human and our feelings are valid, it doesn't make sense for anybody to make another person feel bad about anything this period. There is power in the tongue o!  I know some of us Africans are savage by default. Some of us don't even know that these things are wrong. So I am here to help you. In case you don't know what I am talking about. I have created a 3 step guide for you.

Here are three things you should not say to anyone when you see them after the Lockdown

Pandemic and lockdown diaries

1. You have added/lost weight / or any other comment about peoples bodies.

If you just say you are looking good or fresh, you won't die I promise. The gods won't send you to the evil forest if you just avoid making comments about people's weight.

Trust me everybody has a mirror and when it comes to weight loss or weight gain people's goals differ, it is an emotional journey for some people. Imagine body shamming a woman with PCOS( polycystic ovarian syndrome) one of the symptoms/ effects of it is excessive weight gain. You don't know the struggle such a person has had to go through.
So just zip it before you demoralize somebody.

Coronavirus has messed up our mental health, do not turn your mouth into an assistant virus. Shalom! 

2. Did you even achieve anything this Lockdown

Coronavirus pandemic

Kpele o Albert einstein. See eh, its a pandemic not a productivity contest. Everybody is dealing with things differently. While I agree that this is a good time to discover yourself, read books and make money online if you have the means and resources, I also think that we should not judge people or put undue pressure on them for not striving to become the next big thing. Let's give ourselves grace. 

It is natural to crave self-gratification and accolades. It is okay to want a pat on the back sometimes, just don't do it out of spite or comparison.
Life is not a thug of war. There is space for all of us. Ask others how they are, how they are feeling, how they got through the Corona period. Heck, some people could not even feed.

We know you went over and beyond, more power to you, just don't make anybody feel less by trying to downplay or weigh your effort with theirs. This too shall pass, let's just be civilised. 

3. Me too / my own was even worse.

Lockdown diaries

Well done o! Mr Experience. I understand that you want to empathise and you want to relate to everything after all this pandemic hit all of us. But note that it hit us differently. when someone is relating their woes to you resist the urge to make it about you.

Listen first and show concern before you tell them how your own house was on fire. It's hard, but it is doable. If you seriously wanted to talk about it, then you should have opened up first. This thing is not a competition, there is no prize for the most miserable Lockdown experience. Just be present and offer assistance anyway you can.


Lock down diaries

Thank you, stay safe and resist the urge to shalaye! Please if you have any more suggestions or opinions, let's party in the comments.

Wednesday, 8 July 2020


Female friendships are vital
Illustration by Reyna Noriega

I feel like if I say happy new month you will not respond because this is almost mid-July and it's been a hot minute since I posted.  I sincerely do not know where the days are racing to, but we move.  This post was birthed from a conversation I had with a friend. 

I have been doing a lot of reflecting lately and I noticed something interesting about my life( so this post is purely born out of personal experience) About 80 per cent of the emotional, physical and financial support I receive come from the women in my life. It made me so glad to be able to squash the ‘’women don’t support women narrative.’’  My friend believes that Female Friendships are a disaster and that it comes with so much baggage.
Female friends over male friends

I know a lot of females who would rather have male friends as close friends or keep more male friends. This is because according to them, women are too much drama. There is unnecessary competition over male attention; there are disagreements that last longer than they are supposed to. Guys just punch each other and get it over with. It is just different for women.

While I admit that some of these are true, I maintain, that to a large extent female friendships are a necessity. I can't speak so much for male friendships, it doesn't receive the type of backlash female friendships receive, even though, the ‘’bro code’’ is a concept I strongly suggest should be re-examined as it is becoming a haven for the unsafe and unacceptable behaviours of men. We will rant this rant another day.

Why Female Friendships are Important

They can simply relate in a way male friends can’t: when you go through stuff as a girl/ woman both physically and emotionally, you want empathy and not sympathy, in that you need someone who not only understands how you feel but has felt that way too.  E.g. you can’t even explain cramps to yourself - the pain is like your entire reproductive organs are at war and the weapons of the warfare are pepper, hair clips and a grinding machine -  let alone to your male friends.

How do you tell someone who doesn’t have breasts that your breasts feel heavy or uncomfortable sometimes? I don’t know about you but I like it when my sorry comes with an ‘’I feel you’’ type of support.  

Female friendships are valuable

They are less judgemental:  Hold on, before you bite me. There are some emotions you feel that make you take some decisions and actions that you end up regretting.  You need someone with a mind as dynamic as your own to understand this behaviour.

Think of the heart to heart talk you have with your female friends, it’s like an unravelling, you explore things that are deeply personal, you literally feel the connection in the conversation. There is a kind of vulnerability and acceptance that you receive; it is a different kind of vibe. 

If you went to a boarding school remember those nights that you gather in a circle and just share experiences. It is almost divine to witness a group of women who unburden themselves and have a good time. You can't get that type of feeling with the opposite sex.

They help defy stereotypes:  Nothing beats having a group of formidable and reliable female friends. It is so empowering to know that you have a tribe of people who are like you, have faced similar struggles and are thriving regardless.

It helps narrow the narrative that women never want each other to succeed or that we are materialistic and always seek male validation.  Society already puts a lot of pressure on women so having each other’s back makes us stronger. 


Why female friendships are important

Tips to maintain/ create Female Friendships

Check up on each other often: Attention is important, find a way to constantly communicate.  It could be planning a trip, a zoom monthly check-in, occasional phone calls or texts etc.

I have a female friend that I really adore and we could spend hours talking on the phone and not run out of things to say, if I am not calling her, I am thinking of calling her. It feels too good.  My best girls and I have a WhatsApp group called ‘’wives and girlfriends’’ it’s so important to me. It is a safe space where I can say anything and not be judged.

When something good or bad happens to me, the first place I want to share it is on that group; the crazy girls that are there probably don’t know how much they mean to me lol. 

Illustration by Reyna Noriega
Learn to Engage with women both online and offline:  Don’t only put yourself in a position to be toasted by guys, do that for women too. Meet them, show interest in their work, it matters. I met one of my most appreciated Female Friends at an event, I walked up to her and said hi and we got talking; now she is my G. There are so many instances I could give but you get the point. 

Have you experienced any friendship drama? share the gist, please!

I do understand that some Females are daughters of Jezebel. It is not easy to handle the hurt and betrayal from female friends. Agh! It can pain. but the same goes for men. Scum has no gender. Don’t put the entire weight on women, female friendships are not a disaster.

There are still strong and supportive women who don’t gossip or compete for the attention of men.  It is important for men and women to complement each other, after all, we share the world. I still maintain that nobody gets you like your own kind. Nobody gets a female like a female!

Do you have more female/male friends? 

What is the reason for your preference?

Saturday, 27 June 2020


Illustration by Petra Eriksson

I have not posted in a while because life lately has been a lot to handle. 
I have lost so many things these past few weeks that I am now convinced God is purposely giving me the decluttering I never knew I needed.

There has been news of death everywhere and it just left a sour taste in my mouth. I have asked all the questions from why do people die, to why do good people die, to why does death not have any sympathy. 

My SD card woke up one morning and decided to clear itself. Something about it being corrupted. It didn't give any sign, it just up and cleared alongside tons of important photos and documents. I felt empty like I had lost time and memory. I had no clue whatsoever. I was numb.

Then I suddenly felt peace. Sometimes when you lose a part of you, it awakens a new side of you. 

It makes you discover some kind of strength, gives you thick skin.
Losing someone or something can be painful but sometimes it's a wake-up call. To push you, to spur you, to encourage you.

When I lost those files. I realized how uncertain life can be, I learned caution and preparation. Let me use a cliche to explain it to you " do not put all your eggs in one basket." I have a 500GB hard drive, I have a laptop, what then stopped me from backing my files up? 

Loss is so dynamic that sometimes you prepare and bad things still happen. Life is not Originals or witches of East end where you will be immortal or just cast a protection spell on yourself. Life is way more complicated than that. Sigh. 

The most you can do is pray, build a relationship with God, and stay safe. Just do the needful.

When it comes to losing loved ones, I really don't have much to tell you except that time will make everything a lot easier, and clearer to you. Hang in there.

You will learn power and endurance. Your heart is very elastic, it can take more than you know,  ask people who have lost people they thought they would never live without, some of them are still here living and strong. 

This post is all over the place because that's exactly how I feel at the moment.
But know this, you have the power to rebuild, to recreate, to invent a new space. To move on. You can heal. You did not die because it is not your time to die, there is still work to be done. 

COVID has taken a lot of people from us, to be honest, this year has been a lot from racism to rape to massacres but you are still here. You survived. It didn't get to you, even if it did, it didn't break you, even if it broke you, you can & will be fixed. So I will tell you to hold on because it will soon be over and everything good will come.

This poem by Lucille Clifton has been on my mind and lips lately, it is so timely, read below

Won't you celebrate with me

won't you celebrate with me
what i have shaped into
a kind of life? i had no model.
born in Babylon
both nonwhite and woman
what did i see to be except myself?
i made it up
here on this bridge between
starshine and clay,
my one hand holding tight
my other hand; come celebrate
with me that every day
something has tried to kill me
and has failed.

Have you experienced loss before? How did you handle it? Are you scared of losing a loved one? Tell me.


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