Creative, Mama, Writer-in becoming
Vanessa truly has a unique, powerful and empowering personality. She is the type of woman who will not only make you laugh out loud with her hilarious sense of humour, eases you with her naturally peaceful behaviour and encourage you throughout her incredible words.
Her creative work, her philosophy, her positive way of life, the way she works for the advancement of herself and her people is something I found to be intriguing and admiring too. However, what strikes me the most about Vanessa was her natural sense of self and her confidence especially in our day and age where insecurities and self-hate have become a commodity.
We talked about confidence, her philosophy, writing, the life’s changes that come with having a child, creativity, and a lot more things. The interview with Vanessa touched me on many levels. Her message is honest, genuine and relatable that I trust it would elevate you too wherever you are in your life’s journey.
Tell me more about yourself! Where are you from? What are you doing? What are you aspiring to?
My name is Vanessa but I prefer to present myself to the world as Anta Keita. Which to me is my affirmation of me being an African woman first, before anything else. I am 28 years old, born in Cameroon, Yaoundé to be precise. I emigrated to Switzerland/Zürich at the age of 13 and I have been leaving there ever since. I am a mother to a beautiful 3 years old little girl. Professionally working for a local insurance company. I am a creative and free spirit who enjoys reading, writing, travelling, listening to music, and adventure. My main purpose in life is to be useful and play a part in the advancement of the African continent, furthermore also to have a positive impact on people’s lives. I believe that Life is about contribution and sharing.
I find in your character a beautiful, strong, sense of self, of confidence, of love that I unfortunately rarely notice nowadays. How did you build your confidence and strengths? What would be your advice to women who struggle with self-confidence?
I believe everybody is unique in their own way. I never had the urge to build or strengthen my self-confidence. Deep inside me I always carry that energy. It may sound strange, but I always had the feeling it is an attribute I was born with. Since childhood, I have always had my own opinion of what I believed was wrong or right. My parents constantly say that I was a complicated child always questioning every single thing with no will to fit into mainstream standards. As I grew up this feeling never left me. I am still trying to stay true to myself, to accept my flaws, learn from my mistakes, as I believe nobody is perfect therefore you cannot seek perfection where there isn’t and challenge myself to the limit. Strong characters run in my family. I think it was the appropriate environment for me to be who I am. Talking of my strength, I draw a large part of it from my family, my close friends and the people who inspire me and motivate me to become the better version of myself.
The advice I would give women with lack of self-confidence is that they are the most perfectly imperfect version of themselves, so it is great to be what they are. You were born for a reason, do not let the world’s standards pollute the perception of yourself. Let the sky be your limit because nobody ever died of failure. Know who you are, your worth and always bear in mind that diversity is a strength, not a weakness.
How did motherhood, raising a little girl, influenced the way you perceive yourself and the world around you?
As a parent, you have to be aware of the change happening in your life forever, and the responsibilities the change comes with it. Your choices, decisions, your behaviour are now adjusted to your new role. Parents are a powerful influence to their children. Raising my daughter has challenged me in so many ways and also helped me to better myself. I realized how little I knew about life before having her. Motherhood has given me a purpose in life and It has made me revise the sense of myself. How I carry and present myself to her and to the world. One example is that I quit wearing weaves/wigs as I didn’t want my daughter to have the wrong conception of beauty, which is being consciously or unconsciously taught in the black community and mainstream for decades. Motherhood made me appreciate my body in a new kind of way. How can I not love my stretch marks when I am proud of having given life?
How do you try and build your daughter’s confidence and character?
Confidence starts with the knowledge of oneself. As for my daughter, she is African and will remain as such. It’s important for me to teach my daughter my culture, to pass the knowledge of my forefathers to her. I am Bulu from the ethnic group called Fang, therefore it is naturally a must for my daughter to speak and understand bulu. I see it as a solid base for her identity and personality. I tell her that she is beautiful and should be proud of her origin especially because she is growing up in an environment in which she is labelled as different. As I am aware of the importance of representation for our children, I bought her a black doll with an afro which should be the definition of beauty to her. We still have a long way to go but I am confident about the future.
You are currently writing a book about your life’s experiences and struggles. Tell me more about it. How did it all start? Why that project was important to you?
I discovered the pleasure of writing back in high school. It all started with a collection of poetry which were part of my academic working paper. Since then my passion for writing has increased. I always had the impression and the urge that I had so much to tell the world so the idea of writing a book was a natural consequence of it. The book is about migration and its multiple aspects positive or negative. I do believe that in our African community we tend to emphasize only the positive sides of migration and ignore the negative ones. The book will also be about life struggles but not specifically personal ones as I also try to find inspiration in the people surrounding me and the stories I have been told. And of course, love. That project upon completion will represent a big life achievement for me, and the pave-setter for the many different future projects. My personal challenge is to release the book by the time I turn 30
In which other ways do you express your writing skills? Why does writing mean to you?
I write poems most of the time. I think writing can sometimes be the reflection of the soul as well as a therapy. The perfect way to free my mind, to escape this world and create a parallel world. With writing, you create something in the people’s mind. I see myself as a multitasking artist, writing happened to be one of those components
What recommendations can you share with someone who is willing to take writing to the next level?
I am still in my beginning. I am also learning by doing but what I would say is If you want to start writing you should bear in mind that it is a risky journey you are about to take. you have to be focused, motivated and most of all constant in your writings. Stay true to your style and keep learning and bettering yourself. You have a story to tell, write it in your own words.
You seem to have a lot going on for yourself, you have a vision and your own personal projects, your activities, your family life, your work and so much more to take care of. How do you effectively balance everything? How do you effectively take care of yourself?
One advantage of motherhood is the ability to do many things at the same time. How I balance everything is that I set priorities. I am honest to myself on what can be accomplished and most importantly I invest time to do things properly. Invest time where there is time needed. Being a mother does not mean you have to be busy 24/7 you have to schedule your life in order to create spare time for yourself. I am a mother but a woman first, therefore, I can’t be overindulged. I still find time to go to the gym, meet friends, taking care of myself. It is all about how well you organize yourself.