Illustration by Dahlia Mahmoud for GenderIT

Annessi, Étemoche, my dear sister,

What is Time? 

Beyond deadlines, timelines, paid time offs, pay dates, moon cycles and anniversaries, what is Time? 

If Time were a person, who would it be? And whose time counts when we talk about Time?

Beyond alignment, divine timing, coincidences, luck and blessings, how does time connect us?

We are racing time and running ourselves straight into a frozen state of chronic exhaustion. 

For what?

What are we trying to prove? Who are we proving it to? And do we, in fact, prove anything? 

Ours was a divinely timed connection born in a time stamped digital space. Still, our times read differently on our screens as we sat on different limbs of Mother Earth both connected to her beating heart in Mama Afrika. 

So really, what. is. time?

We started this journey knowing it is time. For what? We did and dare say don’t not fully know.

In certainty and complete faith we knew it was time for this journey. I messaged you days before a (then) recently scheduled meeting of the Daughters of the Horn and you MADE Time. 

And so our journey began. A journey that continues through time and space, and the spirits of all who chose to equally make Time – outside the boundaries of rigid definitions, time zones and ticking clocks. I remember my humility and how honoured I felt when you invited me to this new turn in our journey. I remember it like it was a few seconds ago. Of course it’s been months, not seconds, and it's been a pendulum swinging along the ebb and flow of our lives as daughters of the Horn and all that entails.

We had no expectations but to receive what this journey held for us. We were not bound by rules we did not create. We signed contracts and sketched up timelines to check a box on a process operating on a unit of something incomprehensible to the infinite souls we are, mirroring the shine of grandmother moon and reflecting the waters that surround and penetrate our Beloved Horn of Africa.

As the tensions rise to meet dates and deadlines suggested as rough drafts, we remind ourselves of the journey. We immerse and anchor ourselves in the web of truths being weaved in the stories we are hearing and reading from each sister bearing stories of millenia encapsulated in words, brush and pen strokes, and voices echoing in videos and podcasts. THIS is what we’re here for.

We agreed we are not here to tell sisters how to write or share their stories. We remained very intentional with this, and still we found ourselves carrying these truths as our own, wanting to explore corners, angles and dimensions of the undeniable resistance and resilience of daughters of the Horn. 

It was inevitable to lose track of time, and indeed sometimes self. So many messages of sorries and apologies for being “late”, for disappearing, for not responding on “time” were exchanged between contributors, editors, submissions and beyond. We are here invited to reflect what is this urgency rooted in? 

We are not the light at the end of the tunnel, we ARE the tunnel illuminating the roads carved by those before us leading us to where time knows no past, present or future.

Something that came up a lot in our conversations with the contributing siStars to this issue, is the overbearing expectation of us being all the titles, wearing all the hats, feeling all the emotions, freezing all the thoughts and a myriad of things that still baffle me as I look back at the many post-it notes, scribbles and doodles from our calls. How do we do it? And more importantly, why? Sure, as extensions of the Divine, we are everything, but who says we must be everything, all at the same time, all the time? – Again, what is time? How about time to breathe and be? How about the ‘we’ in me? If I'm rushing through it all, when and how do I sit to feel all of us, enough to discern that when I wake up heavy, it’s not always my pain but a sister’s on the other side of the globe?

As people of African ancestry, we have been traumatised into survival mode. In this modus operandi, women set themselves ablaze to light the path to our people’s collective healing, and by extension, liberation. We are not the light at the end of the tunnel, we ARE the tunnel illuminating the roads carved by those before us leading us to where time knows no past, present or future. If we’re not careful, however, we will be no more than the ashes left and trampled on in pursuit of a light that will only get dimmer as half the skies begin to crumble.

We hear and read all this talk about radical platforms and radical spaces and organisations emanating the cries of the collective for freedom. How many of them recognise the pursuit of justice as a pursuit of healing beyond the physical and mental? How many integrate spirit into this work recognising that the spirit of liberation knows no time, no excuses, no justification and no requirement to prove anything to anyone beyond the knowing within oneself that all in good time means leaving the definition of time to the creator of Time and space?

In this part of our journey, we hoped to plant a seed not knowing when it will bear fruit, or even what kind of fruit it will bear. I give thanks to the grace we have allowed each other in this experience and the patience by the team of GenderIT in allowing this process to unfold and bloom on its own time, in turn allowing us to sit in our hearts and stare into our reflections long enough to begin reckoning with the quickly re-emerging Truth: 

The unrelenting obsession with defining, manipulating and controlling time, its value and how it is spent is effectively a War on time. In this War, we must know and always remember that we, my beLoved siStar, are Time.

Here’s to our flow.


I acknowledge my dear Khahar (sister in Persian) Tara Vassefi, for our many conversations on the distinction in capitalising words like time/Time, home/Home, self/Self and what each means. I take a moment to raise a digital fist of power and resilience to our sisters in Iran breathing life to their matrilineal legacies while marching for the inevitable rise of the Divine Feminine. #WomenLifeFreedom

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