Teakisi is a platform whose mission is to challenge and change the perceptions of African girls and women in the world today. Afrobloggers conversed with British-Rwandan Founder Salha Kaitesi to learn more about this space.
How did Teakisi come about?
I needed a place to get my voice across, because at the time I felt that my voice was being drowned by things happening around me. I did a lot of stuff to please people out of duty to culture and sometimes family. Blogging became my escape, a place where I could write my own thoughts and feelings without hindrance.
I started as ElleAfrique which later changed to Teakisi as more women voices joined. The more I wrote the more women reached out to me relating to what I was writing. This made me realize that more stories had to be told. So that’s how Teakisi: Voices of African Women was born.
Why African women in particular?
The mainstream narrative portrays African women as inferior and backward, like second class citizens. I wanted to change the narrative of the African woman. The story that people always share is not the whole truth. There is more to the African woman beyond the babysitters and maids that movies show her to be. We can be anything we want. We have the power to be scientists, editors and mothers If we choose to be.
African women in general need to know that it’s OK for them to be the way they are – to see the way they are as a strength, and to be liberated from fear and from silence.Wangari Maathai
Who can write on Teakisi? What qualifications do you need?
Any African woman with a story can be part of Teakisi. It does not matter if you have written before or not. By African woman I mean anyone who was born in Africa or whose parents were born in Africa.
Teakisi also accepts guest writers. These are not limited to African women but can also be men who want to submit their articles.
Apart from the blog, how is Teakisi reaching out to more women?
We hold coffee meetups, where women and sometimes men come together to interact. I realized that no matter how much you try to help people it will not always be enough because there is bound to be someone who doesn’t fit into your box. A lot of people do not afford to go online for different reasons.
The coffee meetups are our attempt to reach more and more women. We do not want to leave those around us behind. We want to be as inclusive as possible.
Teakisi also marks the Black History Month of October by hosting Teakisi Woman Talk. This talk session is held under a chosen theme, the aim being to involve the public in celebrating the culture and heritage of African, Black and Ethnic Minority communities.
Who is funding Teakisi and what kind of support would you find helpful?
Currently the whole scheme is an “expensive hobby”, that I am funding through my own means. I would welcome any financial assistance. My desire is to be able to pay all the contributors who are sharing their stories with us.
People can also support us by promoting their work though Teakisi, putting up sponsored work and adverts on our site. Find our promotional packages here
What has Salha Kaitesi learnt from running Teakisi?
Patience. Working with a team in different time zones teaches you to wait sometimes for half a day to get a response. The things you want might not always happen the way you want them to.
Being candid is progressive. I have found it so helpful to be straight up about what I want and what I do not accept. Running Teakisi requires everyone to work as a team. I have to be decisive on letting go those who do not pull their weight behind our vision.
Believe in your vision: Blogging is time consuming and sometimes you do not see the results. I do not get feedback from the majority of people who visit Teakisi. I keep on at it because I believe I am helping someone out there even if they are not reaching back.
This generation is turning out to be more open, fearless and daring. They are not afraid to say what they want or how they feel and its really really good to watch…Salha Kaitesi
Who inspires you to be the Salha Kaitesi that we see?
My mother. I would have loved to know her more, but unfortunately she was taken from us while I was young. I am struggling being a mother in the year 2020, I know it was even more difficult in her time.
Wangari Mathaai: She is my beacon. This quote by her is always in my heart: “African women in general need to know that it’s OK for them to be the way they are – to see the way they are as a strength, and to be liberated from fear and from silence.“
My Faith in God. I feel as a person I have overcome so much but there is definitely no way I would have come this far had it not been for my faith in the One True God.
Sometimes people share from a point of vulnerability and distress. Does Teakisi have support structures that help these women?
Teakisi does not have formal structures, but in our WhatsApp group, we get to discuss and comment on each article. We encourage and help each other as a family. Writing itself is also therapeutic and I feel those who share have conquered the hardest part of their experiences.
Where do you see Teakisi in the next 5 Years?
I would like it to be an organization that is recognized for empowering African women all over the world. A place where people will seek trustworthy African women opinion, and perspective. I also want Teakisi to be financially stable, so as to be able to hold our events and sustain our team.