The memory still clings to me. It’s been 34 years since I resided for 12 months in Harare, Zimbabwe. Yet, whenever I’m asked about the experience, I always reflect on the same phenomenon: the women of Africa and their uncanny “center of gravity.” During my sojourn, I spent one night in a thatched roof hut, watched lions roam the dusty savannah and canoed down a crocodile-infested river. But nothing captivated me as much as the graceful strut of my African sisters. I can still picture them — their eyes distant, their rhythms subtle — gliding like gazelles across vast stretches of terrain, oblivious to the massive bundles perched on the crowns of their heads.

These are the women the world will never understand. These are women who can tap into the strength and depth in the center of their being.

How can they tote loads three times their body weight? How do they move with such ease, without tipping their heavy cargo?. Again, their center. Western scientists, including a team of Harvard scholars, have studied their technique. The US military tried to learn it. And a host of cultures have attempted to copy and perfect it.  But very few have been able figure out the hands-free form of transport that is the domain of African women.

Is it a special spiritual awareness, a rare alignment with the heavens? Is it the hue of melanin-saturated skin downloading the UV rays of the sun? Is it wooly tufts of tightly coiled hair, standing erect, defiantly saluting the sky? Are these coils electromagnetic antennae?  Or does the secret lie in an elevated faith and a pure connection with the forces of nature?

Whatever it is, the overworked, underestimated, marginalized women dwelling in villages all across The Motherland have mastered it. Ignore them if you will, but theirs is a powerful, wondrous mystique. In honor of unsung women everywhere, I would like to publicly acknowledge their remarkable gifts and remind the rest of the planet that they deserve our utmost respect. Namaste, Black goddesses! Namaste!


  1. While living in Tanzania, I had an opportunity to witness the strength of their women carrying a variety of things upon their heads. On one occasion, I participated in carrying a bucket of water from the river on my head. I think the secret lies in the culmination of the things that you mentioned.


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