OpEd: Womanhood, Literature and the Reservoir of Strength

On international women's day, writer, activist and model Yomi Abiola says that literature gives her the strength to stand up and stand tall - in times like this "there's no room for fear."

By Yomi Abiola

In my native tradition, the Yoruba tradition, we look to our elders with reverence the folds in their skin house pockets of wisdom, serving as a reminder that there is no path we must walk alone.

I often think about ways in which I can fill myself with power? How can I create an internal resevoir of strength when life shows me its darker tones? How can I remember that even in the darkest of moments there is light? I draw upon the reservoir of words I have taken in from my chosen elders. 

Their names are many, but these days Toni Morrison and Bell Hooks give me enough sustenance to move forward on my road of purpose. In her essay " No place for self-pity, No room for fear," Morrison recounts her own fear and despondency after the 2004 elections, "not well," she responds to a friend over the phone. "Not only am I depressed, I can't seem to work, to write; it's as though I am paralysed, unable to write anything more in the novel I've begun." I feel relieved to learn that a great like Toni Morrison also experiences these unwanted feelings that linger and obstruct our creative voyages. Like, the words she writes Ms. Morrison receives advice from her friend that creates an inner reset, words that she processed and shared with the world.

Ms. Morrison reminds us that "there is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilisations heal."

And just like the alchemist I was taught by my elders to be, Toni Morrison takes a moment of weakness and transmutes it from the fragility of fear to the fuel for momentum. Her words give me the courage to face moments that lurk behind the shadow. Inevitable moments. LSP

 Toni Morrison / Wikipedia

Toni Morrison / Wikipedia

 Bell Hooks / Wikipedia

Bell Hooks / Wikipedia