Article written by Ibtihal Ahmed.

Eleanor Roosevelt – one of America’s greatest First Ladies – once said, “A woman is like a tea bag; you never know how strong it is until it’s in hot water.” One cannot help but wonder how well this powerful quote resonates with African women who, according to professor and political writer Ali Mazrui, are not confined to cooking pots and kitchens.

Do African women need to be propelled by feminism? What happens when they’re tested like the proverbial ‘tea bag?’

Consider *Sarah’s words:

I am the enabler – the epitome of society’s failure – the
Blind pedestrian who must cross the road at all costs
Because the engines of society continue to press charges against me.

I am the girl, who must live by the rules of a helpless majority
Which wears the nominal masks of lions to instill fear in me.
I am the woman, the female who works full time both inside and
Outside, yet is expected to project strength so as not to fall undivided.

I am the woman, the female, who must accept society’s labels and
Role play the ideals of true womanhood in utter silence.
I am the giver – the survivor – the basket that collects society’s
Garbage and keeps it to her heart at the expense of her calling.

I am the merchandise, the façade of blame, the cornerstone of pleasure,
The curtain that separates two worlds and is beaten in vain.
I am the hope, the tail end of suffering, the air that is ignored.
I am the symbol of strength that is summoned when others
Are sandwiched in despair, when they are lost in the peripheries of their swollen egos.

In this world full of trials and struggles, what would you choose to do? What would you choose to become? A tea bag forced to be strong and resilient? Or something else; something, or someone, that stays clear of the boiling water.

*Sarah is fictional, her experiences are not.