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Prudence Mathubela, Joan Thatiah & Jordan Chanetsa

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Meet The IKONS: Prudence, Joan & Jordan

Three women changing the way we view the world

BY YAZA Team

Mar 14, 2021, 06:49 AM

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Prudence Mathubela, Joan Thatiah & Jordan Chanetsa
Throughout the month and in honour of International Women's Day we will be sharing 100 stories from 100 African women as part of IKON 100. Today, we speak to Joan Thatiah, Jordan Chanetsa & Prudence Mathubela

These women are from different countries, backgrounds and professions but what binds YAZA, them, and you together is the fact that we all fundamentally believe that when women support women great things happen. 

They say the future is female, we say the future is now.

Jordan Chanetsa

Evolution is an inevitable aspect of human existence, because human beings in their own ways are an extension of nature, and nature is constantly evolving and changing.

Being a Black African woman in 2021 means watching the climate around femme bodies and feminism evolve and take a new form. Historically, the African continent has seen the erasure of women’s voices and even more so the voices of Black African women because of how deeply the culture is steeped in patriarchal values. To be a Black African woman in 2021 also means we are finally seeing global platforms being opened up to hear our voices, as well as to consider our various perspectives as Black African women. We are also seeing the rise of content created with Black African women at the center of it, just as we see with this publication. Black African women are being seen and heard in 2021. We no longer require men to approve of us in order for doors to be opened or for our perspectives to be considered as being valid.
Jordan Chanetsa: Zimbabwe
This year I hope to see myself widening the reach of my influence as well as strengthening my working capacity in order to be able to do more of what I am truly interested in, as opposed to doing what’s necessary to survive and get by. This idea of taking things on for the sake of survival rather than desire is something that I feel a lot of Black African women can relate to. Historically and still presently for a lot of Black African women, desire is not something we were or are allowed to pursue. 
"Existing as a trans woman in Africa means to have my experiences erased/invalidated and my existence demonized on a daily basis."
Some of my struggles involve facing gate-keeping, vitriol and discrimination even within feminist or women’s spaces because of my transsexual experience. Existing as a trans woman in Africa means to have my experiences erased/invalidated and my existence demonized on a daily basis, because of our patriarchal, religious, political and traditional/cultural values. This leaves me having to struggle to find spaces where my voice can be heard and respected as well as finding spaces where I am valued enough to receive value in return. I hope to change the way women’s groups/movement interact with the idea of being trans because our voices are valid. In Zimbabwe, trans women do not have access to hormonal therapy which is something I also hope to begin to change in 2021.

Jordan Chanetsa is a LGBTQ+ activist and media personality

Prudence Mathubela

As a Black African woman, I have unintentionally gravitated towards careers that are male-dominated.

As a basketball player, I trained with males after struggling to find female basketball clubs. At times I'd be the only female among men. Generally, men are rough, so I was forced to toughen up because I didn't expect them to give me special treatment. The experience pushed me beyond my limits and revealed a greater strength I didn’t know I had within. It gave me the confidence to participate in the ESPN Celebrity Basketball Showdown, where I was the only female basketball player on the day. At the end of the tournament, I was named the Most Valuable Player (MVP). The experience taught me that as a Black woman, I should tap into my inner strength to achieve success in an environment where outer strength is favored.
DJ PruLuv: South Africa
As an IT Developer, I was the only female in our team, made up of mostly white males. I earned their respect because I didn’t use my gender as an excuse, if anything, I used it to propel me to produce exceptional deliverables. I worked a lot harder than my male colleagues because Black women in the IT sector were under-represented. Additionally, the corporate sector had a reputation of undermining female work ethic and I was very willing to prove critics wrong. 

I felt that my role as a young, Black female IT professional was not only to excel in my work but to leave a lasting impression so that in the future, Black women in the IT sector would be treated accordingly. My activism paid off when my colleagues voted for me to be the IT Development Transformation Forum Deputy Chairperson and again they made me their Health And Safety Representative. I cherish those roles because they prove that my male peers believed that I was fit to lead them. Before long, I was promoted to the position of project management on a number of projects, bearing in mind that I was younger than everyone who reported to me. This was confirmation that I had made my mark as a Black female IT professional.
"I worked a lot harder than my male colleagues, because Black women in the IT sector were under-represented."
As a radio and club DJ, I’ve had to jump over endless hurdles to earn respect and recognition for my work. Unfortunately, the entertainment industry is not as structured and formal as the corporate sector, therefore the success of a female radio and club DJ is constantly scrutinised. As I keep climbing up the career ladder I’ve come across individuals who have asked me “Who did I sleep with to get this far?” Ironically, male radio and club DJs are not subjected to such scrutiny. I am grateful to my mother and my overall work experience, which have groomed me to become tenacious and continue being diligent. I’m not about to slow down.

Prudence Mathubela, popularly known as PruLuv, is a DJ

Joan Thatiah

Compared to a decade or two ago, I would say that 2021 is a great time to be a woman in Kenya. My place, according to the society around me is no longer barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen. Things are changing for me at work. My workmates do not always expect that I will be the one to serve tea or take notes at meetings because I am a woman. When I talk, most people look at my face, not my chest.

I can own land, I do not need my husband’s permission to apply for a passport, and employers and leadership panels will make sure that at least a third of the people present are of my gender because the government dictates so. 

If I am lucky, there is even a chance I could get elected as a Governor or a Senator if I wanted to run in the upcoming 2022 national elections. The presidency is still out of reach for me but I would say I am well on my way.
Joan Thatiah: Kenya
We can’t ignore the strides that the Kenyan woman has made but there still are some struggles. The COVID-19 pandemic set us back a few steps. While there are no hard statistics, going by news reports, the lockdown which had family members stuck indoors with each other accelerated incidents of gender-based violence.

What this means for me as a 33-year-old Nairobi woman is that when I walk in the streets, I need to walk fast and to pretend as if I know exactly where I am going even if I don’t because otherwise, random men on the street might grab my behind or try to spank me. 

What this means for me is that on the days I wear my short sundresses, there are still parts of town that I can’t go to, places where if I go and men see my knees they may strip me naked, take videos of me to share on Facebook and when asked, they will say that I asked for it.
"What this means for me is that on the days I wear my short sundresses, there are still parts of town that I can’t go to."
It’s tough, but there is much more support for me out there than there was for my mother or grandmother. I do not have to stay in a toxic marriage. I can choose to stay at home with my children or to work outside the home, to have children, or to stay without. I have options now. And I am taking every chance I have to make a choice.

Joan Thatiah is a staff writer at YAZA Kenya

Read: Meet the IKONS