Updated: Aug 14, 2018

Image by: Ezekixl Akinnewu

(DISCLAIMER: The above image does not reflect that of the narrator)

ME I will never again fear being great, I was perfectly and wonderfully made. I can no longer look back, the future is calling. I must move forward. This is me: RAW, JAS*, UNCHAINED. Oh, you didn't hear the shackles break? Yoh! Sorry. But I didn't ask for my freedom, I took. I'm taking back. I claim. We claim.

*Jas: I know most people recognise this as profanity. However, the word has multiple meanings depending on the context.

I chose the word 'jas' because it describes many aspects of my journey this year. I suffer from depression and anxiety. 'Jas' in that context means 'mad/crazy' and refers to abelist, societal and institutional responses to people with mental illnesses. I also had to learn to find myself without being ashamed of where I come from. I'm born and bred in the Cape flats and 'jas' is arguably, the most versatile word in our vocabulary. 

This year as I started reclaiming who I am, I was met with varying reactions:

1. Wow Tates, you're soooo funny. (But this goose didn't think I was funny yesterday. I'm mos not a joke!) 2. Tatum, what's that word again? Say it! (Plus, I'm standing there thinking, does this bra think I'm a gai or what?) 3. I don't like the way she speaks. 4. She's so rude! 5. She's really harsh. 6. Why does she have to talk like that?

If one is content with superficial interactions, perhaps this is true for some people.

Ma kyk hieso, ken jy vir my? I'm so much more than that.

My community and my family has made me strong. I'm fierce because that's how I love. I am unapologetically raw, because my flaws are a part of who I am. They are lessons learnt, etched in my soul. Despite being told black girls who have opinions and talk a lot (with my accent and kroes hair) are vulgar and won't achieve much in life- I have achieved and I am conquering. I am a proud and beautifully black, female academic.

If you don't like it, then are you jas? Because I am.

By Tatum Joseph

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