As I sat reading articles upon articles on heightened stress levels, parental burnouts, depression, anxiety and fear of loneliness in times of global pandemic and social chaos, I kept reminding myself of our individual and collective capacity to heal but also to love despite it all… and mind you… over time. Of course there are days that are joyful and hopeful and days that are somber and painful. Clarisse Libene, daughter and granddaughter of Senegalese and Malian spirit workers and healers and Congolese customary chiefs knows too well that our energies are as sensitive as they are sensible and the reckoning is not in rejecting what we feel but rather acknowledging and embracing all that we feel. Although she realised early on what her gifts entailed, it took what may seem like a lifetime to come into her own: to listen to her voices, to be guided by her elders and to guide those who seek direction. These gifts bemoaned her to create communal spaces for women – Black women specifically – that tend to and nurture their self-esteem, self-worth, self-love and to rid them of the many fears that have been passed on and that have also (re)surfaced in the wake of systemic oppressions and marginalisation.

Co-founder of one of Europe’s largest cultural gathering of people of african heritage (the Natural Hair Academy in Paris) and creator of a Black Women’s Entrepreneur Summit in the French capital, Clarisse has always shared her lived and professional experiences, collaborated with like-minded experts to coach women and led by example. With great humility and great transparency, she has told her story of heartache, burnout and fear-fueled apoplexy knowing that hers will echo ours. And it is exactly in that echo that lies her recovery and the message that she delivers now to the many who follow, consult and recommend her services. 

Resorting to a plethora of ancient Africa-originating spiritual strategies learned through research and intuition, Clarisse, in the same manner as the phenomenal Brooklyn-based collective, Harriet’s Apothecary, aims at 1. creating and consolidating virtual and physical healing spaces and villages. 2. through her daily work and her remarkable use of social media platforms such as Facebook and YouTube, she provides tangible ways for women to take ownership of their healing journeys through daily videos, cowrie shell readings, newsletters filled with magical mantras and downloadable guides designed to present and pass on ‘DIY’ holistic therapeutic practices.  In her world, abundance is knowledge. 3. by actively combatting the many fears that we, as Black women, take refuge in and normalise and by forcing us to love ourselves wholly, Clarisse hopes to break once and for all so-called inherited curses and thus leave room for intergenerational healing. The beauty in such groundbreaking work is that the healing is mutually felt and growth becomes collective.

When a woman finds power in building her sisters up and ensuring that the words that are being whispered to her daily are then uttered with care and intention, there is no need to question her feminism. That feminism is inherent to her practice. No questions asked, no need to spell it out. It is… obvious… as I jokingly had her admit. Providing safe spaces for our voices to finally be heard, uplifting our spirit for our souls to be freed, healing our wounds for our actions to be radical, appeasing our elders to restore collective balance here and beyond, Clarisse Libene, Black woman healer and organiser, advocates a form of restorative justice that will place our Black womanhood as both anchor and pillar and will set the path for actualised liberation. 

This could neither be more timely nor more needed. For us, firm believers that the revolution is feminised, Clarisse has become one of the leading voices in France who has and will continue to uphold healing as an act of resistance as well as our universal birthright to freedom.

One day our mothers may ask 

Who do you love completely?

May we grow to respond

Ourselves. Ourselves. Our lovely selves”.

Upile Chisala

Ego Tripping

I was born in the congo

I walked to the fertile crescent and built

the sphinx

I designed a pyramid so tough that a star

that only glows every one hundred years falls

into the center giving divine perfect light

I am bad

I sat on the throne

drinking nectar with allah

I got hot and sent an ice age to europe

to cool my thirst

My oldest daughter is nefertiti

the tears from my birth pains

created the nile

I am a beautiful woman

I gazed on the forest and burned

out the sahara desert

with a packet of goat’s meat

and a change of clothes

I crossed it in two hours

I am a gazelle so swift

so swift you can’t catch me

For a birthday present when he was three

I gave my son hannibal an elephant

He gave me rome for mother’s day

My strength flows ever on

My son noah built new/ark and

I stood proudly at the helm

as we sailed on a soft summer day

I turned myself into myself and was

jesus

men intone my loving name

All praises All praises

I am the one who would save

I sowed diamonds in my back yard

My bowels deliver uranium

the filings from my fingernails are

semi-precious jewels

On a trip north

I caught a cold and blew

My nose giving oil to the arab world

I am so hip even my errors are correct

I sailed west to reach east and had to round off

the earth as I went

The hair from my head thinned and gold was laid

across three continents

I am so perfect so divine so ethereal so surreal

I cannot be comprehended except by my permission

I mean…I…can fly

like a bird in the sky…” 

Nikki Giovanni

For all things Clarisse, dive into her resourceful website here. It is highly recommended to sign up to the newsletter (which can be sent to you and yours in either French or English !) and to tune in to her African Therapies Youtube channel as well as her Facebook and Instagram pages.

THE AYA TALKS EPISODE 5: MEET CLARISSE

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