On the 16th of August I attended a “Women in Leadership Conference” hosted by the Bertha Gxowa Foundation at the Wits Business School. The aim of the evening was basically to highlight the female freedom fighters of South Africa, the unsung heroines, and to challenge us modern women to take heed of the lessons they left us with and to continue building our societies.
Being an ignorant and naïve young woman I have always detested politics and politicians. However, after the brief time (2 hours) of relearning about the history of our country and the work that female freedom-fighters put in, in order to grant me the freedom of sitting in that chair and sip sparkling wine in the auditorium, I was humbled. Truth is, we may hate politics but it is necessary. It is much like the church – it has a deep and integral importance despite it being flawed and tainted by certain individuals.
What hit me the hardest was that I had to wait 23 years to hear about my fellow ‘mothers’ that stood brave and determined in paving a clearer path for us. Why is it that we do not learn about individuals that will empower and inspire us as women at school? Would the situation of the moral decay and lack of sufficient self-respect of our women in our societies be any better if we at least knew that we came from a place of greatness; a place of courage; one that was driven and sustained by truly intelligent women? As young seeds we should be nourished and taught about our value and the foundation that was built for us years ago when our existence was a mere dream.
I was utterly grateful for the friend that invited me to the event instead of suggesting we ‘go out for drinks’. Now don’t get me wrong, I love a good cocktail and the frequent glass of wine but I love nourishing my mind and building myself equally. To be in the presence of the graceful and intelligent Yvonne Themba (Human Capital Director of Shanduka) and learning about the ‘African Agenda’ – Peace, Prosperity, Stability and Equality – was truly inspiring. We live in a selfish society of greed and envy – who can climb up the highest and flaunt it the most? The issue of upliftment and sustainability is a foreign concept to my sisters and it is a shame. Sure, we could once again blame our education system for not grooming us and instilling the knowledge of the phenomenal females that helped build this country but then again we are intelligent enough to dig deep and question who is in charge of building tomorrow since we have been granted a today filled with so many opportunities.
Gauteng Premier, Nomvula Mokonyane, mentioned something so interesting called the ‘first black woman syndrome’. It has actually just become a race of who can be the first, best and most glorified black woman in [insert industry/profession]. I always bring it back home and tell my close friends that being ‘someone’s big sister’ is one of the greatest things that drive me. I know that I am not working, ‘hussling’, studying, stumbling, learning and trying my utmost to upgrade myself daily just for myself and my selfish needs. I have a younger sibling who needs someone to look up to and most of all build and guide her. How is your journey and the decisions you are making daily moulding and inspiring those around you? It need not be anything majestic that it makes the front page of the Mail and Guardian – the way we carry ourselves, rise from failure, take brave steps and lend a helping hand are important tasks in playing the role of the modern warrior woman.
I believe in the greatness of each female from the little girl to the mature woman and that we need to get over the mentality of shunning and disrespecting each other and begin to uplift, teach and encourage each other. My HR Director told me something that I actually don’t hear often from women: “there are enough opportunities for everyone.” I am truly blessed to be surrounded by some of the most phenomenal women that God created, may you all continue to shine, grow and never give up on yourselves.
As Women’s Month comes to an end may we continue this spirit of celebrating our femininity and most of all celebrating and supporting each other.
You are intelligent, amazing and brimming with potential, Modern Warrior Woman.