By Kemiyondo Coutinho
Impostor Syndrome. We all have it, that nasty little voice that tells you that you are a fraud. That the people who are doing the “thing” you so desperately want to do ACTUALLY know what they are doing. You on the other hand have been fluking it and if you dare try to be that filmmaker, solo artist, manager etc then they will find out. That little voice is a lie. A big fat lie, that relies on you to listen to it in order to keep you in your comfort zone. I have started giving that voice a name, a persona, a character, and an embodiment of a person. So when I hear that voice I interact with it as I would a friend and if you know me I have ended friendships for less. You would not tolerate someone else belittling you so why do you allow Izzy (the name I’ve given to my “voice)” to do you a dirty like this. Nope. I tell Izzy to sit the *bad word* down.
That said Izzy and I have long conversations nonetheless. Even though she will sit down she still knows how to sing sweet lullabies that I find myself singing the lyrics too, without even realising it. One of the best comebacks I have for Izzy is that I am an African Woman. Yes, a bit of a cliché but hey I live in the cliché. Izzy does not know what to do with this. So what? She says. So that means in fact that I can do whatever you are saying that I cannot. The African Woman has always gone against the belief system of what can or can’t be done so go ahead Izzy keep singing what I cannot do and I will tap dance my way to success. Izzy keeps quiet.
Why so quiet Izzy? You really think that I do not know how to handle many responsibilities when my whole life has been about managing cultural expectations, new age feminism, success, wanting a child and not forgetting the expectation to thrive all whilst still doing this. You think I can’t do that? I was born juggling, so bring on this film. You think I don’t know how to handle the pressure of filmmaking when I am constantly handling society’s pressure for me to be married, be successful and have flawless bouncy curls when I show up to set while I’m at it? Come on Izzy; hit me with something better than that. Okay – but don’t cause I know you a little too good at hitting me when it hurts.
It’s just the truth Kemi, Izzy says. Whose truth Izzy? Who sent you? I like that one. I say it again. Who sent you? Izzy keeps quiet. I am an African Woman Izzy. I will dombolo over all your disbeliefs and gwara to the beat of your discouragement because in fact you are saying nothing new. And like many other African Women, my success will be nothing new. I am an African Woman Izzy.
Tell your Izzy every morning. You are an African Woman. You can already do the thing you want to do.
Apart from being a kween at telling Izzy where to go, Kemiyondo is an award-winning artist who strives to tell the untold story. A classically trained actress and writer, she has both written and performed her two one-woman shows on international stages. She was the artistic director and founder for NuVo Arts Festival in Uganda, an arts festival geared at social change and is now the creator and curator for A Ka Dope, a collective of events aimed at showcasing Uganda’s talent. She is the founder of Kemistry Klass, a content company geared at producing content for film and TV content that changes the narrative of stories about Africa. Her film, Kyenvu marked her debut as a director and earned the film a Best Short Film award at the prestigious Pan African Film Festival 2018.