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Phenomenal Woman Maya Angelou: Thank You, Siyabulela, Siyabonga, Ndi a livhuwa, Re a leboha

There are no words I can use to describe her life, which she has not already done.

They say people who share their lives in an honest manner are ‘open books’, the irony, as we fell in love with her with each of her books that we opened.

Dr Maya Angelou, April 4, 1928 – May 28, 2014, lived a rich and very colourful life.

As an African young woman, growing up in a world and within a system that prioritizes everything but African sheroes, I will eternally be grateful that amongst my very long list of sheroes, Dr. Maya Angelou was certainly one. As a young African female, who has had a love affair with words, poetry and literature, it is people like Mama Maya and her peers that have been the green light to say ‘do you girl’. In all your creative, crazy, eclectic energy, thinking glory, do you unapologetically and do it exceptionally.

Without even attempting to replicate what has already been stated all over media and on the internet about this gem of a soul gifted to us in a human body; it goes without saying that she touched many lives simply through the gift of her words. The world does not need more weapons, guns, politicians; the world needs more healers, more feelers, and more people with a conscience, people who understand the consequences of their words first let alone their actions.

In a matter of months we have bid farewell to astounding thinkers: Nelson Mandela (December 2013), García Márquez (April 2014) and now Maya Angelou (May 2014).

‘Phenomenal Woman’, a very popular, all time favourite Maya Angelou poem that resonates with my being entirely as I continue my journey of self love and my womanhood, as an African and as a curious soul having a human experience. Having been raised by a strong woman, having witnessed the grace and excellence of all the women I have had the honour of encountering (friends parents, aunts, mentors, cousins, sisters and other girl friends), this is our anthem:

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.

I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them,
They say they still can’t see.
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing,
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
The palm of my hand,
The need for my care.
‘Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.
—Maya Angelou

Rest In Power


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