Feminisim & Faith With Shingai

Shingai’s self-summary:

I tell stories but I also write other articles as a freelancer *for money, because the hustling college life fam.*  

I have been interviewed on a local station on colorism. Ask me about the topic and I will go into a two minute rant about the stupidity of colorism being acquitted to preference and its roots being founded in colonialism.

I have also been interviewed and asked to perform spoken words live a few times. I get stage fright every.single.time.

One of my biggest regrets (I blame my parents) is not being able to speak my mother tongue, Kikuyu.

I love to sing.

She was also nice enough to talk to Ink Overflow about her life, art, and performance.

Ink Overflow: When did you decide you wanted to be a poet?

Shingai: I always say I feel like poetry just happened to me. I never decided at any one point that this is what I want to do. I just wrote, and sometimes I was like, “oh lemme perform what I wrote and see how that goes”. Poetry found me.

IO: How do you structure your days?

S: Ohh, God. What is structure?  That word does not know the meaning in my messy life. To be honest a lot of the time I just go with the flow, besides class which I have to do lol. Other than that I spend time with friends, watch stuff on ze Internet, try to exercise heh, eat, and read (currently Game of Thrones and Assata Sakur’s autobiography is my reading list)

IO: What would you have done differently if you knew then what you know now?

S: I would have read more African literature growing up. Developed an interest in my national identity earlier.

IO: What is still your biggest challenge?

S: Heh, procrastination. I literally should start a group, “procrastination anonymous” for the likes of me. Also, fear, but like Arya says, “fear cuts deeper than the sword”.

IO: Is poetry full time for you?

S: Nope

Pic. Repost cred (Shira Sozo) What do you see when you see me? Do you see strong independent black woman speaking out for broken humanity? Walking, hips swaying, tongue saying, words speaking self-love, self praising everything about the dark skin? Or do you see me at 16? Criticizing the mirror for being a reflection of God's biggest error? Trying so hard to be other because other is always better… Do you see me then as people pleaser, flimsy paper, floating in the wind of other's destiny? Do you see my piercing eyes? Do you see my curves so well defined? Or do you see my hips and tummy stretchmarks, long and zigzagged like the Zambezi river line? Do you see my online presence, loud, outspoken social media warrior, or do you see me in conversation, soft-spoken listener, afraid of hurting other's feelings… Do you see my pretty or my ugly? My slaying or my breaking? Tell me, what do you see when you see me? Cc: #inkoverflow #april8th #savethedate #theme #beauty #poemsnippet #poetsofinstagram #writersofinstagram

A post shared by Shingai Njeri Kagunda (@shingai_be_like) on

IO: If not what else do you do?

S: I am also a student, currently at Daystar doing a B. A in English Lit.  I have a blog at Shingaibelike.com. I am a babysitter to my little brother. And I’m Wonder Woman on the weekends.

IO: How do you marry feminism and your faith?

S: I love this question. Too many people think they oppose each other when they really complement each other. My faith isn’t traditional or religious, it is more relationship and questioning which means reconciling what I have been taught a woman being an afterthought to God’s nature of love. The two ideas contradict. Jesus is my go to because He is the basis of my faith. The cool thing is if you looked at His interactions with women in a patriarchal society, it’s easy to reconcile feminism with faith. I’d even dare to say Jesus was a feminist.

IO: What inspired the last thing you wrote?

S: The last piece I wrote is called Black Girl Voodoo. It is inspired by a Francophone culture class I’m taking where we learned about the Haitian culture of Voodoo and its part in the Haitian revolution. In my mind, I took the difference between what we have been taught to believe about Voodoo and what it actually is as a possible comparison to the misrepresentation of the black girl. It also has a sprinkle of black girl magic inspo in it as an encouragement to keep her shine.

IO: How do you deal with creative blocks?

S: I consume art. That’s the only way to get back on that train. If you need to social media or be entertained by memes.reate, observe the already created. Or just take a break and go watch trash T.V, stalk your crush on so

IO: Do you identify as Pan African?

S: Yaaaaaaasssss fam!

IO: If so what is your definition of Pan-African?

S: Someone who identifies with collective African successes and African losses, knowing our shared experiences are more than our differences. The spirit of Ubuntu/Umoja. The intense desire to prove those who see us, only, as the dark continent wrong.

IO: What is beauty to you?

S: What isn’t beauty to me should be the question heh. I  strongly believe there is beauty in everything. Some things you have to dig a little deeper to find it than others but if you’re patient enough you’ll find it. (this applies to people as well). If they exist, they have beauty in them.

IO: What advice do you have for other poets?

S: Write. Read. Write. Listen. Write. Repeat.

S: Give yourself a goal. Work towards it. Have people who will criticize you for the sake of making you better and not for the sake of bringing you down.

Come see Shingai perform tomorrow at Art and Poetry, advance tickets on sale!

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