The free labour trap: Stop being a “yasss queen”

Practising social distancing and working from home as a mother of a one-year old has meant I have to be intentional with taking the time to rest and making time to be present with my family.

It has also allowed me to revisit some of the things which I’ve been meaning to do. You know, those things we hang on the ‘I will get to you when I have time’ shelf? Yup, things which we have been putting off for months now.

With the increase in online activity filled with Microsoft Teams or Zoom meetings, it came as no surprise when every other day I would have a friend or an acquaintance texting me for feedback on their website or requesting tips for self-care regimens. It was always this or the other odd thing, which they have started taking on with all the free time we seem to have at our disposal.

There is a super thin line between helping someone out because you’re homies and selling yourself short- Zimkhitha Mathunjwa Click To Tweet

I don’t mind getting on a call so that you can pick my mind on an idea you would like to try out or give input on a concept you’re testing. I equally have no qualms about connecting or plugging you to a great resource base to make things happen for you.

Where it gets a tad tricky is when I am asked to work on something and use my resources and expertise, without compensation. There is a super thin line between helping someone out because you’re homies and selling yourself short because of your ride or die ties.

The issue with being a free labour ‘YAAAAAAS’ queen

I am sure you’ve had acquaintances and colleagues asking you to proof-read their work and offer feedback on proposals or creative projects. Or friends who have asked you to work on their business plans or hustled you into a last-minute brainstorm sesh on their projects and because this is the sisterhood of the ‘each one help one’ mantra, we show up and shake it up.

At what cost though, do we continue to tap dance to this thankless tune of free labour? If you’ve been here, you know that once you’re done, some don’t even have the inclination to acknowledge the time, expertise and resources that went into helping them. That is a post for another day entirely.

This, however, is about how I have decided that my free labour has reached its quota. I am not available to perform these ad-hoc tasks unless I am getting paid for it. Sis, fatigue ain’t cute and I am not open to overextending myself any longer.

Make ‘No’ your ultimate BFF

We need to normalise handing out our rate card when asked to offer our expert advice or do work for friends and family. There is nothing wrong with this, we’re all trying to get our coins, Queens. Let’s not abuse each other’s generosity for self-gain, plus, it’s disrespectful.

Not only will taking a stand on how you spend your time and allocate your resources ensure that you do not overextend yourself, but it will bring you peace of mind.

A big part of self-care that we often overlook is knowing how to say no. No, is extremely liberating and it also makes sure that people do not take advantage of you.



I am not saying be selfish and not leverage off of each other’s knowledge and skills. These are the tenets on which sisterhood and community are built. We look out for each other and put one another on. What I am advocating for, is being self-FULL. Stop treating yourself like an afterthought, be intentional about prioritising yourself. Give yourself the respect which is due to you.

Stop treating yourself like an afterthought, be intentional about prioritising yourself – Zimkhitha Mathunjwa Click To Tweet

3 things to avoid going forward:

  1. Saying yes to a strategy and brainstorming session which will require research from you and will be resource-intense without compensation.
  2. Do not consult on a project or provide feedback for work that will be remunerated but you receive nothing.
  3. Say no to friends and family requests to do free work that you ordinarily get paid to do.

Many won’t be happy with the decision I have taken to cut free labour. The beauty of this is that it isn’t about what people say, it is 100% about me. I will be happier for it; my relationships will be healthier as a result and my coins will stay popping. Surely, this is a good look! Remember that the work you do is important, and you are equally important.


Want access to more resources and articles to get you ahead in your career? Visit SheLeadsAfrica.org!

Molped Feature on Yasmin Belo-Osagie: Co-Founder, She Leads Africa

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About Yasmin Belo-Osagie

Yasmin Belo-Osagie is a co-founder of She Leads Africa and is one of the board of directors at FSDH Asset Management.

She graduated Cum Laude from Princeton University with a bachelors degree in History and with a minor in Finance. Thereafter, she completed a culinary course at the renowned Le Cordon Bleu Paris, before getting her Masters in Business Administration from Stanford and JD from Harvard Law.

Her career started as a business analyst at the prestigious Mckinsey & company, where she worked for two years on finance and consumer goods, in Nigeria, Togo, Ghana, Switzerland and Kenya. She then founded She Leads Africa in 2015 with Afua Osei and serves as the chief operating officer (coo). In 2018, she joined FSDH Asset Management as a director.

You can connect with Yasmin on LinkedIn and Instagram.

What does friendship mean to you?

To me, friendship is really about support and what I would call co-upliftment. It’s having a group of people who are there for each other and think about ways to make themselves better. I also love to laugh, so I especially like being around people who are funny and make me laugh.

When I talk about co-upliftment, I am not saying we have to text each other every single day. However, I find myself inspired and uplifted by my friends, just by observing the way they live their lives, and handle their careers, it drives me to want to succeed as well. 

Can you tell us of a time when any of your girlfriends connected you with a career or business opportunity?

So this happens to me all the time. I find that my friends are constantly helping me out when I find myself in tight situations. I have an example from when I was doing some work for a client and I had made a mistake and was now running out of time. One of my friends came through and connected me with her husband who worked with us and helped me save the situation.

Last year, I was trying to contact the singer Kandi Burruss for an event I was planning and a friend of mine connected me with her manager.

Even beyond work, it’s the other million little things my friends do for me. With all that’s going on with me at work, I also needed to shop for my wedding dress. A friend of mine, knowing that I won’t be able to make the appointments, went and made them for me. Not only that, she took the time out of her workday and went with me to all my dress appointments.

Is there a time when your friend(s) helped you through a difficult situation in your career?

My time at graduate school was particularly difficult, because between lectures all day, working with my team at She Leads Africa and the time zone differences, I just had so much to do. There were definitely days when I was overwhelmed and just stayed in my room crying and questioning myself. 

During this time, my friends were a big source of encouragement to me regardless of the time I called them. They were particularly helpful, always checking in with me, reassuring me and allowing me just to complain whenever I wanted to.

How many women do you have in your power circle, and why did you choose them?

I would say I have a small circle of like 3 or 4 women including my sister and my cousin, and a slightly larger one of like 5 or 7 other people I have connected with, due to my relationship with my core circle. 

In choosing my friends, I really look for people with whom I share similar values. So one such instance is that I take my career very seriously, and so I look for people who take their careers very seriously as well. The women in my circle, have gone to some of the best schools, are at the top of their careers and work in the best companies. So when we are together, there are always conversations about our careers and what our next professional and financial moves are.

Another thing I look out for is people who make me laugh. I love to laugh and I don’t take myself too seriously, so that’s something I really look for in my friends as well. I like to spend time with people who also love to laugh and don’t take themselves too seriously.

I also like people who have some amazing character traits. So in choosing my friends, I like people who are kind, honest, have integrity and are thoughtful as well.

Lastly, look I love having fun so most of my friends are people who love having fun as well. I believe that life is to be enjoyed, and when we go out, it should be lit. So I definitely like people who also like to enjoy life and have a good time. Basically, we work hard and play hard too.

There’s a saying about how you’re the average of 5 people you interact with, and it’s so true in my case because if you look at my friends, you’ll better understand the kind of person I am.

How do you think young women can network with other women to achieve career success?

For networking, I believe in networking based on shared interests. So a book lover for example, might join a book club because when you have similar interests with a person, then it’s easier to build a relationship.

Another thing that works well is using recommendations or referrals to build a network. You can ask people who already know you, to introduce you to people whom they think you will be able to connect with.

As an example, when  I am travelling or going somewhere, I will ask my friends to connect me with someone cool in the city I’m visiting. The great thing about this is that since your friends know you very well, they will know the kind of people to connect you with. You can also talk about what you’re interested in learning, or what questions you want to ask and request to be connected to people who could help you out. 

Also, I keep an eye out for people whom those I respect talk about. One instance of this was with my then boyfriend, now fiance. He used to speak about this particular woman and how intelligent she is, so I asked him to connect us and introduce me to her. We were able to build a relationship and now she’s on the board at She Leads Africa.

Is it okay to just DM or email people and ask them to mentor you?

In the case of just randomly texting people and asking them to mentor you, I think it’s okay provided you do it in a thoughtful manner. So I recently addressed this in our Motherland Mogul Insider program, when I spoke about how to build relationships with mentors. 

One tip I would give is, instead of overwhelming people by asking them to mentor you, you can just send a message to say that you love what they do and then ask them if they have time to chat with you about 2 or 3 questions, which you can list out.

Then over time, you can just keep in touch and build an organic relationship by updating them about what you’ve done and finding ways to even be helpful to them.

Finally, what advice/tips do you have for young career women, to help them build and maintain valuable relationships with other women?

My major tip is to understand that relationships are give and take, and so even if this is a senior person you’re connecting with, just find ways to help them. It could be sending them an article to help them with what they’re working on or recommending someone for a job with them. Definitely find ways to offer them something, as they give you advice.

Another tip is respecting people’s boundaries. For example, if someone says I don’t have time right now to mentor you, then you shouldn’t get offended. Instead, you can back off and check back with them in a couple of months and see if they have the time then.

It’s important to understand that people have a lot going on and may be unable to give what you’re asking, so recognising that boundary is very important.

Lastly, just be authentic. Don’t always try to be friends with the rich and famous people. Find people you respect and vibe with.

#MyGrowthSquad series is powered by Molped (@MolpedNigeria). Connect with them on Instagram.


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HOW TO MANAGE DIFFICULT CLIENTS IN 2020.

With the decade is almost over, it’s the perfect time to check the relationships that are important to us.

Whether you are an entrepreneur, side hustler or corporate climber, maintaining a good relationship with your clients is an important part of your success. Unfortunately, not all clients make it easy to build a positive relationship.

How do you get that schmoney and manage difficult clients without losing your mind?

Apply some Emotional Intelligence!

Emotional Intelligence (EI) is the ability to understand other people’s emotions, empathize with them and respond to them appropriately.

Here are 3 tips to help you manage tough clients using Emotional Intelligence:


1. Be self-aware

The first step to empathizing with your difficult clients is evaluating yourself.

Think about how you communicate with your clients – are you showing them that you care? If you are a manager or business owner, is your company encouraging a culture of empathy for clients?

2. Listen Intelligently

Just like your personal relationships, listening is an important part of maintaining positive client relationships.

Sometimes, clients are difficult because they don’t feel heard. Consider what your clients might want from you, even if they haven’t expressed it. Listen actively by noting pain points, asking follow up questions and keeping the lines of communication open.

3. Understand your clients’ personalities

Clients are people too. When you manage people, it’s important to understand their temperaments.

Cholerics tend to be logical and use focus on facts. Stay proactive and result-oriented with choleric clients. Melancholics pay attention close to details. You must your processes for efficiency with them.

Phlegmatics can be indecisive. Be patient and helping them understand the information they need to make a decision. Sanguines tend to be carefree and impulsive, so you might consider keeping communication informal to keep their attention.

Understand your clients, their personalities and deal with them appropriately.

Which of these tips will you use to manage your difficult clients in 2020?


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6 Reasons Entrepreneurs are Vulnerable to Mental Health Issues

Entrepreneurs are known to possess specific skills that fuel their desires to start, manage, and succeed in a business venture. These traits, however, are also being seen as contributing negatively to their mental health at a given time in their lifetime.

Recent investigations indicate that entrepreneurs are more likely to suffer mental illness. According to Michael Freeman, a psychiatrist, psychologist, and former CEO, entrepreneurs are 50 percent more probable to report having a mental health breakdown, with some particular conditions being more prevalent among founders.

In a recent study, Dr. Freeman observed that up to 72 percent of entrepreneurs surveyed self-reported mental health issues.

The findings from the research indicate that entrepreneurs are:
  • Twice as likely to suffer from depression
  • Six times more likely to suffer from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Three times more likely to suffer from substance abuse
  • 10 times more likely to suffer from bipolar disorder
  • Twice as likely to have a psychiatric hospitalization
  • Twice as likely to have suicidal thoughts

Let’s talk about Mental Health

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mental health is not merely the absence of mental health challenges.

It is the “state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community”.

Also known as mental well-being (MWB), mental health, which is traditionally studied in medicine, psychology, and public health, is increasingly gaining attention in other disciplines as well.

Scientists, psychologists, economists, management experts among many other experts are taking an interest in the mental health issues of entrepreneurs.

The experts have concluded that mental disorders are not only common but may, in fact, fuel the entrepreneurial spirit.

According to Michael Freeman – executive coach to entrepreneurs and clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of California-San Francisco School of Medicine…

“Mental health conditions are accompanied by positive traits that enable entrepreneurs to excel.”

Take ADHD, a condition that research suggests is more prominent among entrepreneurial types.

“If you have ADHD, two of the positive traits are a need for speed and an interest in exploration and recognizing opportunities,” he says. “[you have] an ability to act without getting stuck with analysis paralysis.”

Entrepreneurs are recognized as contributing to economic growth, innovation, and job creation across the world. They do so by identifying and addressing the needs in a particular market.

The late Steve Jobs referring to entrepreneurs said, “People who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”   

In the midst of stiff competition and many challenges, entrepreneurs have to employ strict and strategic measures to remain in business. By so doing, these business-oriented individuals often neglect their wellbeing in a bid to grow their ventures.

Although in the past, entrepreneurs’ mental health has not received much attention, recently, leaders across the world have begun discussing mental health issues to create awareness on the matter.

Earlier this year at the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos. World leaders including the UK’s Prince William, CEO of HSBC, among others, shed light on mental health problems in a therapeutic and non-stigmatic way.

The mental health crisis in start-ups

With such alarming and scary statistics, the question is: why are entrepreneurs more likely to experience mental health issues?

Speaking from his Nairobi office, director of Consulting and Training at People Centric Management Company, Ken Munyua shared with us insights on the following seven areas that make entrepreneurs more susceptible to mental problems.

1. Fear of failure/uncertainty

“Fear of failure has crippled many people even before trying,” observes Munyua.

Uncertainty and anxiety contribute negatively to our mental well-being. With so much competition, uncertainty is ever a looming phenomenon among entrepreneurs.

Remaining positive and pressing on in the time of our powerlessness should be the ultimate goal for any businessman/woman.

“Get out there and try; if it does not work, use the experience to improve on your next venture, Munyua advises.”

2. Social isolation

Incognizant of how they contribute to mental problems, those close to the entrepreneurs can create a social gap through alienation.

While entrepreneurs are excited about the new venture, often, the society including friends and family fail to offer the needed support.

Choosing to the non-traditional path can bring about social isolation as one focuses all energy and time into succeeding in the business. 

3. Stress

Munyua notes that in the formative stage, in particular, entrepreneurs require more time to start and ensure the business survives.

During this time, many people in business are pressed hard in managing both business and social life.

Over time, the stress leads to sleepless nights, overworking, and lack of appetite or skipping meals due to work and the problems keep spilling over, which can lead to depression if the stress is not addressed well on time.

4. Impression management

One thing that entrepreneurs do well is acting like everything is working even at the edge of failure.

By creating this facade, entrepreneurs do not seek help even when they need it as they do not want to appear weak.

This disconnect between personal experiences, and what they share with the public creates insecurity, and a sense of confusion, further leading to stress, and consequently depression.

5. Inadequate resources to address mental health

Mental health resources in entrepreneurship, as is the case in other fields, receive little or no support.

As organizations and firms come together to fund and support budding as well as existing entrepreneurs, factors such as mental wellbeing of the businessmen and women should be factored into the budget. 

6. Too many expectations

Munyua observes that Carl Rodgers, a renowned psychologist, warns that human beings are disturbed when expectations are not met. “Always hope for the best but prepare for the worst,” Munyua adds.

Our mantra should be “expect nothing, and be prepared for anything,” as the saying by the Samurai of ancient Japan goes. We should be open-minded about the eventualities that might come; both positive and negative. 

Munyua calls on entrepreneurs to have a go-to person (s) who is ready to support and invest in your well-being.

Moreover, establish a routine that allows you time off business or any other work-related duties. Use this time to rest and rejuvenate physically, spiritually, and mentally. 


This month of October, our theme is Girl Talk. We’re touching all topics relating to your personal life, mental health and so much more. Got something to discuss with us? Send us a DM to ASK SLA here.

How to rise above disappointments like a boss

There is this weakness that comes with disappointments or failure. One cannot really tell if it’s that kind of ‘general body weakness’ or something that goes beyond that. Something inexplicable.

That kind of feeling that makes one feel static, with little or no zeal to move forward. No doubt failure is often accompanied by disappointments and a lot of pain, which leads to unfulfillment or even depression.

Here are some ways to deal with and rise above these situations


Never Give Failure Power Over You!

It’s important for us to note that failure only has as much power as we give it. No! This is not saying you should immediately be filled with joy, slot in your best song and start dancing like nothing happened. (Well, you can do this if it works for you)

However, the point here is, the day we determine to deal with those failures and move on, is the day we actually move on.

Dealing with failure entails dealing with the dark clouds of disappointments, and the pain that comes with it.

Until this is done, every other thing will seem stagnant, as one may not have the drive to move on to the next phase of life.

Life is a Teacher! Take Notes

We see books on ‘Secrets To Success’ here and there, but I think there should also be books on ‘Secrets To Failure’.

This is not to guide one ‘into failure’ but ‘across it’. Knowing the bumps, as well as dos and donts of getting across where true success lies.

When we know the secret to failure in a particular field, it will be easier to either avoid or overcome it. For now, life remains the one school that teaches all, with no exception to failure.

This is the reason, moving on doesn’t just require leaving a particularly rough phase without taking anything along. Most failures leave us with nothing but lessons.

Whether these lessons are positive or negative doesn’t matter. What matters is for one to take note of these pitfalls, in preparation for the next phase of life.

Learn To Move On!

There is never a time life would take a pause because of one’s disappointments. So, the greatest evil we can do to ourselves after experiencing failure is to hold on too tight to it, that life leaves us behind.

Yes, bring it out! Pour out the emotions even if it means letting the tears escape your eyes, but after all these, move on! Even if you have to start inch by inch.

Change Your Narrative Now

Life happens, but how often do we happen too, after a particular setback in our relationships, businesses, careers or just our overall private life.

Often times what we do when life happens negatively is sit in the pain, perhaps in the midst of sympathizers and wait for things to keep happening to us, as it pleases.

The table can be turned around when you join the league of people who change their narratives. They may fall at some point, but they choose the better option of rising again.

They take their lives in their own hand with a sense of purpose.
They do not remain ‘nouns’ in a world that is a ‘verb’ itself. They move!

Success has no tribe, race or gender. Ironically, failure is even one of the major factor binding the history of most winners all over the world today.

When you fall, there are two choices- either you sit on the ground (till a good Samaritan come to pick you up) or rise and move on.

Moving on doesn’t mean one won’t feel the pain or shame of falling.

Moving on only indicates you’re in control of life, rather than life being in control of you, and this will definitely facilitate reaching your intended desired result.

Start happening! Stop waiting for things to happen. Change your narrative and live again!


This month of October, our theme is Girl Talk. We’re touching all topics relating to your personal life, mental health and so much more. Got something to discuss with us? Send us a DM to ASK SLA here.

NNENNA OFOEGBU: 5 REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD CONSIDER VOLUNTEERING

Nnenna Ofoegbu holds a BA Hons degree in Public Relations and Communications and has recently started her own Events business.

She loves writing self-help themed articles and is a mentor. Nnenna is the founder of Yes You Can! A platform that inspires others to live a more focused, goal-driven life.

She also has a long-term passion for fashion accessories and has started her own fashion jewelry company called Exquisitely Yours London.

Nnenna is a huge advocate for giving up personal time for free in exchange for gaining valuable experience, knowledge and career advancement.

Through volunteering and interning, she gained some connections, opened doors and opportunities she would never have been offered otherwise had she not volunteered her time to work for free.

And that is why she thinks one should consider volunteering if they have never done it before. Whether you’re already employed in your dream job or you’re a fresh graduate looking for your first dream role.

It could be through a professional internship at a global organization or by volunteering in your spare time with an NGO.

There are many advantages to volunteering like being offered a job within the organization. Bringing your expertise in one area or learning a new skill in another area you’re interested in can benefit both parties.

You’ll also get to meet new people and expand your professional network.

However, opting to volunteer may not be a financially viable move for everyone. Although a lot of organizations can allow you to work remotely if you are expected to work from the office than expenses like travel and feeding may be left up to you to cover.

This can be off-putting especially if your finances are restricted, but there are ways around it. You could suggest agreeing to volunteer for a short period like two weeks for example, or on a part-time basis like one day a month. Do what works best for you. This will help you to limit your costs.

Nnenna Ofoegbu decided to #volunteer with a well-known charity to upskill her CV after being out of the UK jobs market for a year and not being able to land an interview. Read more… Click To Tweet

She was fortunate as the charity offered to reimburse her for her travel and feeding expenses, and she worked on a part-time basis of two days a week.

She thought it was going to be a piece of cake – oh how wrong she was! It was hard work and challenging. But she had a great mentor who helped her work on and improve her skill set.

It was all worth it in the end when she got to walk a well-known British celebrity down the red carpet at the charity’s annual awards ceremony and go to St James’ Palace for a private garden party.

There are some perks! So, why should you consider volunteering?

Here are Nnenna’s 5 reasons why you should volounteer.

1. Gain or improve an existing skillset

Taking up a corporate internship or volunteering with a social enterprise will give you the opportunity to level up your skillset.

Whether it’s your I.T proficiency or presentation skills, use volunteering as a valid way to learn something new or improve an existing skill.

Working with other skilled colleagues will also enhance your skills and improve your interpersonal abilities. 

Top Tip: Keep a list of any new skills you have gained both soft and hard as it will increase your market value.

By keeping a journal during your time volunteering you will be able to self-reflect on your personal and professional development.

Make sure you update your CV, as additional skills add value to it.

2. Shows ambition

Generally speaking, ambitious minded people are more likely to get ahead in the workplace. Whereas the passive and unassertive person tends to be overlooked for promotion.

Volunteering helps you to create the right impression within the organization. It shows that not only are you willing to give up your time for free but that you’re career-minded and take your professional development seriously.

It shows senior management that you’re focused, responsible and enthusiastic member of the team. It shows assertiveness.

Now all you must do is bring your A-game and add value to the organization by positively contributing to the team.

Top Tip: Set some goals or list the things that you would like to have mastered or achieved during your time with the organization.

Discuss them with your supervisor and come to an agreement on what support you will need to achieve your goals.

3. Improves your network

Volunteering can be a useful way of expanding your professional network. Get involved and try to participate with any department or team activities, social gatherings, and work meetings.

This is also a good time to look for a career mentor if you don’t have one already. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a senior manager.

It could be your co-worker or a colleague from a different team or department.

Top Tip: Add your co-workers and managers (if appropriate) on LinkedIn and ask them to endorse you.

4. Boosts your confidence

Not only will volunteering boost your skills, but your self-confidence will also benefit. It takes guts and tenacity to get out there and join a new organization as a volunteer.

It’s a positive achievement and something to feel proud of. It will make you feel good about yourself and confident in your capabilities.

Top Tip: Don’t feel undervalued because you’re not being paid a salary, rather see it as a chance to be a fly on the wall.

You’ll get to see behind the scenes which could inspire you to suggest some ideas like for a charity fundraiser or a corporate social responsibility activity for example.

5. Brings you closer to your dream job

Whether it’s your first role you’re chasing or you want to pivot into a new career sector through volunteering, it’s the sum total of all your newly acquired skills and connections that will bring you closer to where you ultimately want to go career or even business-wise (even if they don’t offer you a job at the end of it).

If you are looking for employment, then volunteering with the right organization certainly helps.

Top Tip: Add your voluntary work to your LinkedIn profile with any relevant links to the projects or work you’ve been involved in.

Volunteering shows potential employers you’ve got the initiative to do something constructive about your career path and sets you apart from those who haven’t volunteered. Read more Click To Tweet

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Navshika Beeharry: Adding accountability and value to foreign volunteering efforts in Africa

Navshika Beeharry is a British-Mauritian blogger, speaker, and interculturalist.

She shares her experience of volunteering overseas and advocates for intercultural awareness to be at the heart of charity and aid efforts to improve foreign assistance in the motherland.

In this article, she also provides consultancy for sustainability advice, strategy development and/or content creation.

Shika, as she is fondly called, believes it is important for NGOs to develop empowering stories of self-managed income/resources to challenge the mindset that success derives from external donors as opposed to the people themselves.

In 2015, when she returned home from a volunteer placement in Tanzania, she founded “Becoming Africquainted” as an initiative to candidly recounting the life-changing memories she made, including some difficult observations of when Western intercultural communication goes badly wrong.

Since then, it has grown into a platform of its own that provides discussion and resources to all aspiring volunteers or expats, encouraging them to undertake their service overseas responsibly and respectfully.


Shika on Intercultural Awareness

For Shika, intercultural awareness is an unmissable step that any foreign volunteer must be willing to take to better know their own cultural limitations and how to healthily navigate new ones.

However, this must be reciprocated by host communities within Africa too, by ensuring they take responsibility for their own narrative and how they wish for it to be told and remembered long after any volunteer exchange has ended.

It will take time to help visitors to form new associations of Africa they see, but the benefits to sewing two-way intercultural connections are fruitful and increasingly necessary for the prosperity of the interconnected world we live in.

Volunteer exchanges can be measured by the quality of relationships being built – @Shika_Bee Click To Tweet

To be a successful foreign volunteer, Shika believes it begins with an understanding of yourself / skillset and a genuine desire to be of service to someone. Such a person is often thought to be self-sacrificing with care for their wider community and an unrelenting passion to contribute to a cause bigger than themselves.

However, to be able to add accountability and value to foreign volunteering efforts in Africa, one needs to;

1. Have a good knowledge of the country and organization whose aims you would like to champion.

Each summer in Africa, this ‘higher cause’ has all too often displayed itself as ‘saviourism’, ‘privilege’ and ‘Western ideas’ – to name a few.

What usually begins as a selfless summer trip quickly manifests itself into self-serving behavior when culture shock takes over, conditions become unfavorable to live in and personal expectations are not met.

These circumstances fuel a type of instinctive desire to fix things that do not exist ‘back home’.

Though the intention may come from a good place, the means by which it is executed becomes misplaced and frequently results in misunderstanding and conflict.

Why?

A lack of intercultural awareness. A large number of young people in the West – diaspora included – are conditioned into thinking that volunteering overseas is a worthy extra-curricular life experience or a means of personal development.

These reasons are problematic because they refer to an underlying tone of personal gain that volunteering is based upon.

The emphasis is rarely ever to learn about culture itself – something which really should underpin any healthy volunteer exchange.

2. Acquire traits that enable you to observe, recognize, perceive and positively respond to new and unfamiliar intercultural interactions.

Some markers of intercultural awareness within international development are:

  • Humility – being receptive to, and accepting of, new and unfamiliar situations
  • Patience – in recognizing that positive outcomes take time to reveal themselves
  • Humanity – acting humanely with a trusted concern for the community being served.

These traits are not something we can quantify or expect anyone to learn quickly in a crash-course.

But volunteer exchanges can be measured by the quality of relationships being built, along with their participation and respect for our cultures once they arrive.

One indication of this lies in how well volunteer behaviors are recognized and reciprocated by the communities which they serve.

3. Volunteers should be given guided self-reflection time.

This is to serve like one-to-one inductions in a paid workplace where their observations and experiences are discussed to foster a dialogue which enables them to explain their realities so that they can be better understood.

Doing this not only prevents them from distancing themselves from problems they see by claiming ignorance, but it also provides a space for healthy goals to be set, contributions to be assessed and accountability to take place.

This is important to help redefine the negative African post-colonial perceptions that many foreign volunteers have unconsciously grown up with.

After all, what better way to rewrite the story than if told it ourselves to those who do have a desire to listen, by virtue of visiting the continent first-hand?

A good start for non-profit-organisations is to offer their own guides into standards of behavior that outlines an interpretation of volunteer ideas and expectations during their stay.

This formalizes the process whilst mitigating the risk of volunteers unhelpfully referring back to their (often biased) perception of problems and methods of solving them.


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Grow & Glow: How to find love again after numerous heartbreaks

I still remember one cold January a few years ago, the Harmattan was still yet to fade away after the Christmas and New year celebrations. Everything felt cold and life seemed to be at a stand-still. I couldn’t believe that my adorable relationship of two years was finally over. We had fallen in love and had promised to live happily together. We both used to exchange poems, love notes and surprises. We had the best relationship I have ever experienced. My friends envied us and no other person could understand the same way we felt. Ours was made in heaven and the stars kept shinning at our lovely hearts on a daily basis. There was nothing wrong with us except that I had just started adding some weight. Who wouldn’t? After spending 6 months in my mum’s supermarket during the ASUU(Academic Staff Union of Universities) strike. I didn’t think a little addition could reveal the true intent of our relationship. He loved my slim body and wasn’t ready to accept another. So after some days of deep thought on his side and a big push for me to join a gym, he decided that it was time to take a break. That landed in the wrong place for me. I wasn’t expecting it. Our love was divine, I mean. BTW, this looks like the only reason I can attach to the break up since there was no specific reason he mentioned. But anyway, his mind was made up and after fighting so hard to win us back for close to a year, I decided to accept my new fate and move on but it was hard. I cried for several nights. I wanted him to come back and give me a reason for the breakup but none came. I kept stalking him online to see if he was doing fine without me and yes, he was. I dreamt and imagined a lot but nothing changed. After a few months of tears and regrets, I decided to finally take some chill and give my brain a reset. So what are the steps I took to recover and start again? Let me share some with you and I hope it would make you start afresh again. @NikeFolagbade ‏shares some tips on how to grow and glow from past heartbreaks...Read more Click To Tweet

Admit that it is truly over

This was the hardest phase for me. I was living in self-denial for a long time. I truly loved him and never envisaged that we would break up. I had no alternatives or backup, I simply gave my all and now he was gone without a reason. So I had to start telling my mind daily that it was time to move on. I thought about him sometimes but I didn’t let it ruin my day again. I started taking charge of my thoughts by diverting my thoughts into something else. This took a lot of practice though and I failed many times but I kept rising up.

Divert your time into other activities

I have always loved writing so I decided to start penning down my daily experiences and life lessons. I call it journaling. I tried writing a new book that I ended up losing but at least, that got me productive.

Get some alone time with God

I spent time in prayers and study with God believing for the best for my future. I decided to trust God to pave a new way for me and He surely did.

Go out more

I became more social and open with friends instead of staying hidden and indoors. Try to hook up with new friends or stay connected with old friends and hang out together.

Give back

I started volunteering and giving myself more to service and project done by other people I considered as mentors. I used my skills and passion to serve.

Reflect on the past

I did a sober reflection on all that happened and evaluated how the relationship went so that I could pick my lessons, form new and better perspective and open up myself to new opportunities.

Embrace personal development

I began to work on myself by attending seminars, reading books and making research.

No more regrets

I stopped blaming myself or living in the past. I became positive and less critical of myself. Be willing not to remain stuck in the past. Get out there and allow yourself to experience love again. Now, these are just some of the things I did and you can pick from them but you should also do things based on your unique self. You may love drawing, painting, singing, acting or any other hobby that can keep you busy. There was so much I also did which helped me become more intentional when I finally met my husband. Though I shared most of my experiences in my book which has helped lots of singles too you can start with these tips above for a fresh start. So what phase are you currently in?
  • Denial phase?
  • Moving on phase?
  • Or the recovery phase?
Always remember that your experiences don’t define you, they only make you stronger and wiser. Don’t give up on yourself. It’s time to invest in yourself and upgrade your attraction level.
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5 ways to become intentional about your love life this year

So what really happened in your love life cycle in the past year?

Did you do a proper observation on what has worked or what needs adjustment?

This write up would be useful to you if you are currently:

  • Single (searching or not)
  • In a relationship.
  • Engaged
  • In a situationship (what does that even mean?)

I know that a lot of people like cutting off certain friends they consider toxic in the first quarter of the year, well, that is not the focus here. The focus is on YOU.

If you are going to get any different result this year in your love life, it would start from doing something different this season.

There are two sides of the coin, the positive or the negative or what worked and what didn’t work.

@NikeFolagbade ‏shares 5 tips to help you build more intentional and healthy relationships this year. Click To Tweet

Look into these 5 tips I’ll be sharing below, and seek ways to implement and change your love cycle.

1. Don’t start a relationship until you understand its purpose

In this era where people are moved more by the butterflies in their tummy when they meet a person, it is easy to lose the essence of your season and flow with the tide.

If you are one of those who judges a man first by his physical looks, you may miss the real meat when it comes along.

So why do you want to date? Is it because your friends are all in a relationship or because you want to add value to another person? But how can you add value if you haven’t also recognized your value? A relationship is about two people who have great values to feed themselves, not one-sided but mutual.

Even before you start a business partnership, you would have done a proper investigation into what you’re getting into. Lack of proper caution can lead you to a wrong contractual relationship.

You need to understand the WHY, WHAT, AND WHO.

So sit down, relax and answer the following questions:

  • What kind of relationship/marriage do I really want not just need?
  • What kind of woman do I need to become to create such a relationship? This could mean dealing with some inner battles like fear, insecurity or unrealistic expectations.
  • What kind of man can fit into the values I want in my marriage?
  • How would I know when I meet such a man? What patterns not words or actions (because this can be acted) would I see?

2. Work on yourself and seek to know YOU more

One question I ask a lot of singles is if they know their values since a relationship is also about being with someone who shares deep values with you.

Exposing yourself to personal development is the first way to expose your mind and make you become self-aware. Self-awareness leads to self-mastery hence how much do you know about yourself before growing (not falling) in love?

Sometimes what you need is a friend who you can both grow together to achieve greater things, not just an intimate relationship.

If you are trying to work on yourself, find like minds and smash goals together instead of seeking for a man that cannot mend your broken state.

3. Learn about what a healthy relationship really looks like

If you’ve not been exposed to a healthy lifestyle especially if you grew up witnessing an unhealthy model of marriage, it may be difficult to adequately discern one.

For instance, it is necessary for you to know your deal breakers, deal makers and resolve on how to handle it when you spot one in a potential partner.

Exposing yourself to personal development is the first way to expose your mind and make you become self-aware - @NikeFolagbade ‏ Click To Tweet

If you are not clear on this, you may start defending your partner when the red flags are up.

How do you learn about how to build healthy relationships?

  • Read more books from credible authors and go for training that increases your mental, spiritual and emotional capacity.
  • Learn from people who have built great marriages and find out their ultimate secrets. You need to be able to differentiate between love and lust. Love is selfless, not selfish. Love is patient, not desperate in nature. Love is gentle, not harsh about decisions. Love pays attention to your needs and not force needs and goals on you.

This is the time to also understand and create proper boundaries for yourself. The reason why it’s easier for some people to invade your heart and hurt you is that you haven’t recognized your boundaries and created a line around it.

If you meet a new person and he starts to invade into your emotional boundaries, then you’ll know that something is wrong.

For instance, if you meet a new guy who begins to blackmail you to prove your love or go to certain places when you suspect that something is fishy, you may not know how to say NO without feeling guilty because you think he owns a part of you.

4. Enjoy your life and explore

Sometimes you may think you are missing out in life until you travel to new places or expose yourself to new kinds of people. Some ladies get married and discovered that they never had the time to explore the world or their own personal world.

Learn a new language or skill if you want but make sure you spend your single years acquiring knowledge that your current freedom can permit.

That doesn’t mean that marriage won’t allow you to explore but that will be a time where you need to balance your life well before starting new developments.

5. Be open up to new opportunities to make friends and build committed relationships

Fear can limit you from trying again if you’ve been jilted in the past. Understand that life is a journey to learn and grow, be more open to solid friendships and make yourself socially accepted.

Not all acquaintances should lead to a relationship hence you should allow the number 3 tip to guide you. Trust is necessary to build a wholesome relationship and you should be willing to be vulnerable.

If you are still struggling here, then you may need professional help where we can guide you on creating a new and fresh love.

Cheers to more intentional relationships this new year.

Which of these tips will you start doing right away?


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