Mbewu Movement has had the opportunity to sit in constructive, collective conversation with the following pioneers: Dr Vuyo Mahlati, Sisonke Msimang, Mandla Msimang, Phuti Mahanyele and Dr Phumzile Mlamo-Ngcuka. The mentors represent important symbols to all of us as Mbewu Movement and to society at large.
In their individual capacities, the mentors symbolize a number of different and similar characteristics. Be it their personalities, their leadership styles and most importantly the stories they shared. The common golden thread with all the stories the mentors shared was ‘choice’. The mentors articulated in different ways that it was in them choosing to pursue their ultimate state of excellence and accepting that this means falling short in some other dimensions of ones life that lead them to where they are in life. At times we let obstacles that come in our paths to be the defining moments in the journey and this need not be the case.
These women are symbols of success, hope, inspiration, love and empowerment to themselves and others. This is an important lesson to learn and remember, particularly in a context as fragile as that of South Africa. South Africa is an extremely diverse society and as a result has an atmosphere of complexity in which all its citizens are expected to navigate within.
South Africa is home to world-acclaimed heroes and sheroes such as: Tata Nelson Mandela, Tata Desmond Tutu, Tata Lucky Dube, Tata Hugh Masekela, Mama Ruth First, Mama Miriam Makeba, Siyabulela Xuza, Castor Semenya, Terry Pheto, Dr Christian Barnard, Mama Gcina Mhlope, Antjie Krog, Tata John Kani, Charlize Theron…the list is endless.
We need not seek the exact same stage and spotlight as the above-mentioned stars but we do have the obligation to be stars in our own right wherever we are in life. The above mentioned South Africans took it upon them to inspire people of all shapes, skin tones, sizes, religious backgrounds and class backgrounds, they used their lives to be symbols; symbols of hope, of love, of unity and any other traits humanly possible within their capabilities.
As young South Africans and as Africans, with all the great stars that have walked the path before us, it is our responsibility to shine even brighter, to be even bigger and bolder symbols, to inspire our own generation, the generation that comes after us and let our excellence be a unified symbol of thanks to those that came before us.
In a country, as it would be in an organisation- it is very easy to lose sight of the big goal. If a colleague upsets you in a meeting, it is easy for you not to communicate with that colleague, hold a grudge for the rest of the day or perhaps even longer. All that does is supress success, it supresses progress, it supresses and stagnates the ability for the work that needs to be done to continue being done. Considering the soil on which South Africa’s democracy is nestled on, it would be a colossal setback to allow people that hold grudges to dictate the spirit of an entire nation.
We are surrounded by symbols of greatness in each and every single sector, field and industry that may be of interest to you- seek guidance and inspiration from the symbols of what you see as excellence and success. Read their interviews, watch their interviews on YouTube, follow their radio interviews, where the opportunities allow, make contact with them.
Then be a symbol yourself.
That is part of the core of what Mbewu Movement espouses- we are a group of friends that respect, admire and are inspired by one another. Young women with very different stories who have been inspired by the many symbols they have come across in their lives and collectively aim to yield their collective symbolic strength.
“My advice to a young female founder starting out today would be to develop a support group of other founders whom you trust and to whom you can turn for advice…”
Campbell, 2014, New York Times
Collective, unified strength is always stronger when shared with others. Seek the symbols that give you life, surround yourself with them as you work on being a symbol to all who encounter you.