The Gift Is You

From a woman who is a living proof of her own words.

The universe sometimes listens to your heart and acts accordingly, and no one can convince me otherwise. It has been a tough year round in all aspects of my life, rendering me somewhat empty both physically, mentally and emotionally.

But something compelled me to attend a women’s gala event despite all my efforts in fighting against going to the event. See, this event was particularly tailored for me and women like me who needed a little lift back to the base of vocation.

There was something magical about being in a room filled with women of colour, looking regal, open, happy, joyous and content about who they are, their place and role in society.

Keynote speaker, Namhla Mniki jolted us into a world of realisation, where active participation is quintessential in the transformation of our world into becoming what we want it to be.

She reminded us that every tool, resource, knowledge and skill needed to turn that into reality is already at our disposal. It is women. And I wholly believe in inclusivity, thus my ultimate conclusion is, womxn at large. It is all of us.

The Gift Is You, she themed her talk. For centuries, women have been completely ignored and taught in many different ways that their place in the world lies only in the duties of a wife and those of motherhood.

Today, women are still undervalued, underestimated and overlooked in the workplace, market place, and in overall society. Misogyny and patriarchy are still heavily active structures operating in the upper echelons of decision-making in all sectors. And so are socioeconomic, political, legal, cultural, and institutional oppression.

Women of today, inspired by the women of yesterday are working hard to “balance the scales that have been tilted for so long.”

There’s a looming shift in how the world is to run in the future. A 2016 study by Harvard Business Research concluded that companies with women in the c-suite (high-level executives in senior management) are more profitable. Mniki, Executive Director of African Monitor, global speaker and activist in issues such as eradication of poverty, government accountability and youth development, says women’s previously soft feminine skills will be key in the future survival of businesses across the globe. And trickling down to the survival of communities all over the world.

You know, the old cliche, ‘give a woman a house and she will turn it into a home.’

Mniki says we are good in the idea of creating. She says we are amplifiers, multipliers, accelerators and nurturers, and that is precisely the reason we are the solution to the problems of the world. The sooner we realise that and unify, the more we will work on fixing the world as a matter of urgency to ensure the future generation live in a different world than how we found it.

We need to stop flourishing in our comfort zones, silencing ourselves and allowing self doubt to exert insurmountable power over us.

We need to stop trying to prove we’re worthy of great opportunities by unnecessarily pressuring ourselves into gaining more knowledge, using quick learning models in order to become what we think is required of us, ahead of the said great opportunity.

Mniki says what you don’t know today, will not be required of you today. “The wisdom you own today is enough for today.”

“There is a mental shift that happens when you realise you are the gift. You start learning the freedom that understands all that’s required is to be yourself and there is nothing to prove.”

Adding that we should allow compliments to energise, motivate and edify us.

Such dialogues are needed, particularly at a time where womxn are at the receiving end of fatal wars at the hands of men. From domestic abuse, emotional abuse, trafficking, femicide, structural oppression and more.

Let’s all heed the strength, courage and fighting spirit of Yaa Asantewaa who lead an army to fight the British in Ghana. That of Queen Amina, who started an Egyptian Feminist Union and a campaign against child marriages. Nzingha who fought the army of the Portuguese in precolonial Angola.

And in recent times, that of the 1956 women who marched to the Union Buildings to demand what they deserve. That of Rosa Parks, who refused to give up her seat for a white man, ultimately violating a segregation law of the time. Mae Jemison who was the first black woman to go into space.

Oprah Winfrey, first black woman to own a multi-billion media empire. Maria Borges, first black woman to walk the Victoria Secrets Fashion Show wearing her natural coily and kinky curls.

Rapelang Rabana, scie-ntrepreneur who owns an education app that aims to improve education and tech access in schools nationwide. Dr. Tebello Nyokong, a scientist who provided a breakthrough in cancer research. Zanele Muholi, a visual artist that founded an organisation that fights for the rights and safety of black people from the LGBTQ+ community. And Mmabatho Montsho, an artist committed to telling the stories of South Africans through film.

The list is endless. In conclusion, it’s time for us to buckle up, unite and create a world we will be proud of.