I am very lucky to be friends with phenomenal African women and I constantly come in contact with many.
I have always been intrigued by what makes people who they are and what decisions lead them to where they currently are and how their identity - in this case, as African women contributed to that. In this series, I explore this. 

This week I am in conversation with Ammal, a writer whose inspiration stems from personal experiences and captivates readers by the rawness of her work. 

For those who don’t know you, could you please introduce yourself?

My name is Ammal I’m a 20-year-old uni student. I’m Somali ethnically and Kenyan nationally,
but I study and currently live in the UK!

Would you consider yourself creative? If so how do you express it and what fuels it?

I would consider myself a creative! I have been into writing pretty much all of my life,
filling out countless journals with my thoughts, doodles and think pieces.
I express myself through different forms of writing,
sometimes it’s through poetry and sometimes through some random journaled pieces!
I also write a little professionally but my creative work is 100% filled by my emotions.
I’m a big believer in allowing my emotions to guide my hand and it’s pretty clear to tell from my work exactly
how I was feeling at the time - be it positive or negative!

What does it mean to you to have the opportunity to represent young women like yourself in some capacity?

Being able to represent young women like me is all I can truly ask for. As cliche as it sounds all my life,

I tried to look for people like me who seemed to have had similar or the same talents. In a lot of ways

I was let down in that sense, I didn’t see a lot of girls like me on screen, in magazines - let alone utilising

the same kind of creative outlet like me. That’s why the idea that I could potentially be a representation for

little girls just like me is so encouraging - it’s everything and more.

What sort of connections do you hope to create with people who view your work?

The truth is in a lot of ways I write for me. I don’t really write to forge connections. This is probably because
the majority of my life I’ve written privately and kept that creative side to myself. It’s really hard to now do
it in order to appeal to people. But I hope that if anything gets across, it’s that. The feeling of rawness and
intimacy is what I can only hope would resonate with people.

Have you had any difficulties creatively? - finding your style/ voice and outlet? If so how did you

overcome them?

- Wow, yes! If any one word describes my creative journey perfectly it’s that - difficulty! Like I said growing up it was really hard for me to find people who had the same kind of creative style as myself (not just writing but my kind of writing) so I struggled a lot with finding my style, finding my voice and then trying to convince myself that that voice even matters! Self-doubt has been my single most difficult part of this entire journey. It still is a struggle sometimes but I think overall I overcame that huge hurdle by saying telling myself that in fact, it didn’t actually matter if my voice “mattered” or had some sort of “value” - what matters is that I wanted to get it out there anyway. It’s important to me, and that should be enough.

What does taking care of your mind mean to you?

Taking care of my mind for me is putting myself first. My entire life I’ve been obsessed
with fixing people, even when I wasn’t mentally capable to take on those emotional burdens.
I take care of my mind by shielding myself from those kinds of situations and learning to draw the
line between supporting people and losing myself in the process. Learning to leave things when I feel no
longer capable of helping instead of immersing myself in other people’s issues with no regard of my
own mental health has been one of the best life lessons I have learned in the last few years. Sometimes it’s ok
to acknowledge that some things are out of your hands and you can’t fix the lives of those around you
while simultaneously attempting to fix you’re own - and I learn that more and more each day.

Do you think having African roots has shaped you as a young woman? If so how?

Oh yes! Having African roots is a massive part of who I am and therefore everything I produce. Without my background, I don’t think I’d have nearly the same aspirations, the same interests, the same values. Who I am is very much intertwined with my African heritage and upbringing.

What do you think is the best thing about being a young African woman in 2019?

To me, the best thing about being a young African woman is, hands-down, the community.
Being black and a woman is very much a kind of double jeopardy of social oppression
in this day and age, but what that horrible situation has inadvertently caused is a kind of sisterhood
that very few can rival. There’s nothing like seeing a follow young African woman thrive, there’s
nothing like the kind of support I’ve received from my fellow women. The black women I come across
in my life, social media and wherever else inspire me in more ways than you could ever imagine!

Could you share a beauty secret with us?

Rose water is the most incredible thing I have ever come across for my skin! And I’m not talking
about the Mario Badescu one with its additives, I’m talking about good-old, straight from the plant,
rose infused water! It changed my life!

What is the best advice you have received?

The best piece of advice I have received is probably from a book I read a few years back. It said, “Fate walks with those who will it, those who don’t - it drags”. This is something else I learn more and more each day, do what you can but trust the process. If you feel that everything is against you stop working against what is planned for you. Be one with it and your life with go as it needs to!

Ammal  interviewed by Jasmine