In my first year as a preschool teacher at a private Christian Preschool, I came across a 2 year old boy who would teach me my first eternal lesson as a preschool teacher. A lesson that I had not learnt in any of the other capacities of who I had been. We always prayed together during the morning circle time, but this particular morning, he would ask me, in his rather silent voice, if he could pray. Somewhat sceptical, I nodded and gave him the go ahead. “Dear Lord, thank You for friends, Thank You for teacher, thank You for mommy and daddy…” and just as I thought that he was about to finish up, he continued. ”And thank You for Vhuhosi, Amen.” Vhuhosi was his name, a busy body bright spark who never said much, but would continue to amaze me for the duration of time we would spend together. For the first time in my 20 something years of life, I had heard and experience someone acknowledging themselves and their existence out loud. I learnt that in as much as I pray and acknowledge grace, which I consider to be unmerited favour from our creator, I had never openly acknowledged myself and my existance that intensely.
This prayer would set the tone for how I would carry myself through a lot of my experiences. I would not just acknowledge me, but also how privileged I had been in a given moment, to have been the one chosen to sit at the centre of that particular experience. I imagine that it could very well have been someone else, but it wasn’t, and this realisation overwhelms me with gratitude. Gratitude towards the once 2 year old boy I knew, and how he taught me the ultimate lesson of self-acknowledgement, a lesson I soon would realise is critical to grasp in this day and age, in a world where people would expect you to bend over backwards in order to for them to acknowledge you. This prayer would teach me that I don’t need to be acknowledged by others in order to feel like I matter. It taught me that I can teach and inspire others to acknowledge not just me, but themselves, just in how consciously I do it myself. It would teach me that I am the key to unlocking doors of Education, simply by counting myself on the list of those I thank, because they are responsible for helping me attain it. It would teach me that I hold a key to unlock doors to gender equality, by acknowledging myself, and as a result, carrying myself as an equal to my male counter parts. Showing them how to treat me, instead of simple expecting them to know better, besides, what certainty do I have that they had ever been exposed to a situation where they had been taught or experienced a woman as more than just the gender that she is. So I acknowledge myself so that they can see and learn how to. I would learn that I have a voice, rooted deep within me, that can speak for my heart, an inner 2 year old girl who trusts me to keep alive the brave she gave birth to many years ago, before I became a woman.
Vhuhosi`s prayer challenged me, to challenge every girl I know/woman who finds it difficult to see themselves, to truly see themselves, to take another look in the mirror and SEE themselves. To realise that it’s okay to say “ thank goodness for me” despite the fact that I have no likes on social media, despite the fact that I am not doing well at this education thing or wife thing, of job thing, or mom thing, or woman thing, thank goodness for me because I SEE ME. I see me show up, and I will continue to show up because this is my experience and I have been intended for this experience. It is not perfect but it is mine, it has been purposed for me, so I must have the tools and power to turn things around. I can in no way, be purposed for something that I am not good at, something that is not intended to edify or to highlight the best of me. I could not have been purposed for him to beat me, for me to look like them, to marry at 15, to head a household, to not get educated or whatever else it is the struggle you facing. This prayer has challenged me to urge every single young woman, to arm and empower themselves with self-acknowledgement, to count your vote in your life and make yourself the keeper of your choices. Become the one who counts herself, and teach others how to count you, inspire them to count themselves, how to count themselves valuable. Raise your voice and say ‘ thank You Lord for ME, because I know that I am purposed to move this world, just a little bit more into the right direction, or perhaps even, to move this world a whole lot, into its intended direction.