As I write this piece I am heartbroken at the recent announcement of the shutting down of Ndalo Media. In many ways, Destiny Magazine played an integral role in my writing journey and the birth of PenTheVision. I still remember the first ever article I wrote titled, “I don’t have to know everything and that’s Okay”. I wrote that in 2016 and I recall the first email I received from the then features editor, Fiona Daverns. In her email she shared that she loved my article and expressed her desire to publish it in Destiny magazine. I wish I could fully express my joy that day and something in me knew that, that was the beginning of amazing things in my life.
I guess the news of Ndalo Media shutting down came as such shock to all of us. I mean sis Khanyi Dhlomo is the epitome of black girl magic! It is through her legacy that we are able to dream the impossible dreams! She has taught us that our dreams are relevant and to that sis Khanyi, we salute you and everybody who has played a part in making Ndalo Media a success. This is just a period of testing; you guys are GOLD!
I said to myself this morning, “hold on baby, so you really are GOLD after all, that’s why you are facing so many challenges!”. In the final production of gold, it is often placed in a furnace and this process aims to remove any impurities and ensure that we have 24-karat gold – the most valuable grade!
Fast-forward to December 2018, despite all challenges and uncertainty, I am still in pursuit of making a difference and still writing. We are also on the verge of rebranding PenTheVision to morph into something bigger than just a blog. Thank you to all those who have supported us since our inception in July 2016.
The next time you engage with PenTheVision, you will experience a whole new website and other elements. So, we will not be publishing any articles until the launch of our new website sometime in 2019. We are so excited about the upcoming changes and we will keep you posted.
And remember, even as you go through life’s ups and downs, you are GOLD baby!
PenTheVision would like to wish you and your loved ones a peaceful Christmas and fantastic New Year! Love you all…
A dear friend of mine recently landed back in South Africa after completing her doctoral studies at Pepperdine University in California. The last couple of months have been incredible because we shared a glorious space together. This space became both our home and our office. Our friendship dates back to our university days and I am so blessed at how it has blossomed over the years. She has been one of the people in my life who support my unconventional dreams and allows me to constantly evolve without judging me. Of recent, we have been collaborating and helping each other build our empires and we are excited about the great impact we going to make in the world.
One of the interesting things I have come to appreciate about her the most, are the things she says that are so unique to her and our conversations. I love her use of words in ordinary conversations because they really are ‘doctoral’ 🙂 and no one else says these things but her. Let me share a few examples below:
Me:“Friend I really hate a sink full of dirty dishes.”
Her:“Hmmm buddy, I think hate is a bit of a strong word”
Me: “Friend, should we watch 90 days to wed on DSTV or a documentary on Netflix?”
Her:“Oh, that’s a good question!”
Me:“Friend, I am hungry, and I need food.”
Her:“Hmmm great insights friendy.”
Me: “Friend, my whole heart smells like him, he is solid food.”
Her:“Those are very decent points.”
Me: “I am obsessed with Netflix…”
Her: “Hmmm ‘obsessed’, friend I think you using that word a bit too loosely…”
Me:“Friend, I’m tired”
Her:“hmmm…let’s unpack that a bit more”
Lol, very different from the normal way people respond right?! But this is precisely why I love her, she lives out her uniqueness.
Great friends are rare species and this piece salutes all those friends who allow you to evolve even when they don’t understand. This is to say, thank you for just loving and believing in me even when you don’t have language to make sense of it. Cheers to our unconventional friendship!
All my life I’ve been labelled “the skinny girl” and because of this I suffered from a very low self-esteem. Growing up people would make fun of my weight and height sharing their unkind and unwelcomed comments about how skinny and tall I am. Some people would ask ignorant questions such as “do you even eat?” In my mind I will be rolling my eyes and thinking, “yes genius! I mean how on earth would I be standing here alive and talking to you if I did not eat”. And then there was the torture I endured at school. When I was in primary school I was teased and called all sorts of terrible names such as “toothpick”, “ostrich”, “sticks” and the list was endless. In High school the torture continued as found myself wearing layers of clothing under and on top of my school uniform even when it was 30 degrees outside, just to give the illusion that I wasn’t as skinny as people thought I was.
I recall a particular incident in grade 9, where some kids drew a very nasty comic strip about me, and the contents of the comic strip were disheartening. They drew an image, apparently that image was me, and they said I was HIV positive and ascribed that to be the reason for me being skinny. I have never cried that much in my entire life, the pain was unbearable.
I remember at some point I wanted to end my life because I couldn’t take the constant taunting and ridicule from the other learners. What was even more sad was the fact that I felt like I couldn’t talk to anyone about what I was going through. I thought no one would understand my dilemma and honestly, I’m also the kind of person who doesn’t easily share deep personal feelings and personal information.
I am in university now, and although I do feel like I’m accepting my body a bit better than I did when I was younger, it’s still tough when almost everyone around me epitomises a certain kind of beauty. Sometimes I try to ignore their comments but it is really difficult to do so when everyone is constantly on your case about your weight and pointing out that you are not “woman enough”, because you don’t have curves. People can be so insensitive as they do not realise how much their words pierce through and affect the way I view myself as a woman and particularly as an African woman.
Just because I am thin doesn’t mean that I’m sick. I was born this way and there is nothing I can do about it. We live in a time where society and social media celebrate a particular image of the ‘perfect woman’. This ‘perfect woman’ is someone with a curvy body, a big butt and big breasts, “bigger is better” they say. What message are they sending out to young African girls that are still coming into their womanhood? Are they saying they are not good enough? That they need to change how they look to fit into the standard of beauty that has been idolised by many? Don’t even get me started on the number of young girls that have had plastic surgery to enhance their body parts, just so they could feel “good enough”. Whenever I log onto my Instagram account, in the explorer page I am always bombarded with hundreds of photos and feeds celebrating this one type of beauty with hashtags such as #Bigisbeautiful #curvygirlsonly #thickthighssaveslives etc.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that there is problem with celebrating a curvy body. But all I am trying to say is, let us not view a certain body type as a standard of what a woman should look like but rather we should recognise that all women come in different shapes and sizes. Whether they’ve got a big booty or not, our society should celebrate all body types and no one should feel left out.
I am not only writing this to speak up for myself but also for other young women who have struggled with their body image throughout their lives. I want to encourage you to come out of your shell, embrace who you are and recognise that you are also a beautiful African woman.
Lindelwa Mhlongo loves God, loves family, experiencing new things and is make-up and beauty connoisseur. She is a hard worker and lives each day full of gratitude. She is currently a student at the Durban University of Technology (DUT), and she wants to change people’s lives whilst also pursuing her passions.
Why am I mentioning this? Well, let me share where this came from. I recently assisted someone with something that they needed. In my conversations with this person, they seemed to talk about everything else, even offering their unsolicited advice about my life. But I noticed that this major thing I had done, was not acknowledged at all. Now, I am aware that some people may question why am even I raising this as an issue. I know we have been socialized to believe that when we do things for people, we are EXPECTED not to want any sort of acknowledgement in return. I have the words “EXPECTED” in capital letters because I want to zoom into this a bit more.
The reason I raise the person’s lack of acknowledgement is because I strongly felt the emotion of not being appreciated. To a point that as I drove after seeing them, I actually broke down in the car and cried. It was in that moment that it hit me, perhaps this is how God feels when we ask Him for things and we don’t go back to say, “Thank You”. In a book I was reading recently the author wrote the words, “God has emotions”. I can’t tell you how liberating it was for me to hear that. We often think feeling certain strong emotions is ungodly and that we should contain them. I realized that wanting a sense of acknowledgement was actually a very Godly thing.
When we desire to hear the words “Thank You”, It is not because we want someone to stroke our ego’s, but that we would like to a feel a sense that someone values the contributions we make in their lives, however big or minuscule. I think this is a very powerful thing that makes our human connections even more meaningful.
I was sharing with one of my friend’s that my default mode in life is peace and joy. Part of the reason why that is so, is that I have cultivated a habit of saying “Thank you”. Most mornings when I wake up, I write down three things I am grateful for and that really helps my positive outlook on life.
Back to the short story, the person eventually said the words “Thank You” and other encouraging words, and we are now living our best life 🙂
July has been dubbed Mandela month in honour of South Africa’s first democratically elected president (before you yawn, this post is not about him). On the 18thof July every year, 67minutes are dedicated to charity work to continue with his philanthropic spirit, one of the many legacies he left behind.*sidenote* July is also savings month so get to saving that moola!
I have a 5yr old brat (daughter actually but if you stay with her long enough, you will understand my term of endearment). I’m constantly thinking about what legacy I will leave behind for her and her offspring. This refers to the beliefs, traditions, morals, teachings and traits that will be embedded in her for life. I ask myself- what generational wealth am I leaving?(because wealth could be money, wisdom, life skills, etc, the list goes on but we tend to think it’s only monetary).
FYI: The learned peeps define legacy as “something acquired by inheritance” which is passed down from period of time to another period of time. Had to throw the definition in there since the owner of the blog is an academic!
I think we take for granted the impact our deeds have on the people around us. We take for granted how certain actions can alter not just our lives but generations to come. Little story, my maternal grandad is a self-made man, in every sense of the word. He didn’t complete his formal education (that being high school, his kids think he didn’t finish primary *shrugs*) and he sold peanuts and drove taxis amongst other things to make money. Met my granny and she would save a little money every month and eventually he had enough to buy a taxi and the rest is history. However I think due to his lack of education, he made it a point that his kids, the whole soccer team and reserves completed high school as well as an undergraduate degree (those available at that time to the owners of the land *wink*). They in turn also drilled down the need for education in one’s life and I can attest that as the third generation we are investing in the quality of education we want our kids to have.
My value of education has me dreaming of opening several libraries and science labs in our community schools, I’ll ask you to contribute on another post! However (really wanted to use “but” kodwa ke) it wasn’t only education that was passed on, but also being frugal with money and a proper kick-ass work ethic. It’s those intangible legacies that I am most grateful for. It’s those legacies amongst others that I want my child to know, understand and live out, even while I’m still alive. In reality, a legacy is a powerful life tool that is passed on.
So, next time when we think of legacy or generational wealth, let’s broaden that to beliefs, morals, traditions, roots and not just a trust fund or a holiday house in Stellenbosch (anything to be close to the wine!). Let our offspring inherit the compass that helps them navigate life. I would love for my kid to say “mom left me with a financial inheritance but the greatest inheritance she gave me was knowing the Lord”
So as I close off with a quote (I’m not sure by who, found it on google) “Everyone leaves behind a legacy after they die, but only few people leave behind a legacy worth talking about”
Make yours one where people smile when they reminisce on it.
Image courtesy of: Summitlife.org
About the Writer:
Silindokuhle Chonco is a Management Advisor/ unofficial Project Manager at eThekwini Metro Municipality. She is a lover of wine, life, shoes, pasta/starch and bags… and Phiwo the brat! Found God when she left religion.
I have been so excited about penning this article because I had the opportunity to interview one of the most phenomenal women I know, and I am so humbled that I get to do life with her.
Ladies and Gentlemen please allow me to introduce Dr Siphokazi Joy Ntetha (Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership – Pepperdine University).
So yesterday I had the great privilege of doing an unconventional interview in a Jacuzzi in California Los Angeles with Dr Ntetha. The unconventional nature of the interview is synonymous with Dr Ntetha as she is an unconventional scholar-practitioner who lives life outside the borders of normality. She embodies the true definition of ‘Black Excellence’. As its Africa Month we continuing to commemorate great stories and her life and work gives hope to the global village. This is her first interview since she received her doctorate this past Saturday and it is a great privilege and honour that PenTheVision was first in line for the interview and below we share highlights of the conversation.
Bongeka: Firstly, you’re looking very beautiful, *share laughs* I’m just so honoured that you gave us this time for us to get into your heart and mind. I think your life is real especially to those of us who are close to you. But to other people, they may look at the glamorous pictures on social media and think, ‘Wow, Joy is living it up in L.A’, which you are, I mean we in a Jacuzzi in LA- *share laughs* but I also know that you’ve gone through lows in your incredible journey. So my first question is, having gone through this journey, what is the one thing you know for sure?
Siphokazi: This is going to sound pretty hectic and I don’t know how to say this without sounding very gospel but I think for me the greatest truth is that this was a consecrated journey about divinity, purpose and daring to dream. What I know for sure is that God is real. And that he is everywhere. I know God is real because I’ve had the honour to experience His powerful and fearless spirit alive within me. There’s no way that I could have done this without that divine spirit in me. It’s so phenomenal to actually see the presence of God around the world. I’ve also experienced God through different representations of people that have come into my life. While I am not sure what it will look like exactly, I know in my gut that with this journey I am moving towards my calling.
Bongeka: That is powerful my friend and I was just thinking that you are the epitome of this whole movement around “wokeness” black excellence. But is there a difference between excellence and black excellence? Excellence is excellence right, should we put the word black in front of excellence?
Siphokazi: Yes, because unfortunately we live in a society where race dynamics are still a big social ill. But it’s not just a black and non black thing for me. At the core you know my thoughts around humanity. Yes colour is real, and colour is important, but as a humanity I feel like at the core we are all the same highly dignified human beings. We are vessels of divinity. Am I a representation of black excellence? Absolutely yes! Although, I do get a bit uncomfortable with the ‘hashtag black excellence’ because I feel it can be limiting and alienating, I understand why it’s important. I came in this form, in this beautiful, melanin radiant African butter for a reason (Bongeka- Halleluya sister) *share laughs*. I suppose I haven’t answered the question in a very straightforward way because I think it is a bit of a complex dynamic but it does boil down to a yes, excellence is excellence as you have said for sure, because that’s what I hope we strive for as a humanity. But black excellence is a very important thing for black people as we come into our rise at this point in time particularly.
Bongeka: There’s this book I’m reading titled “Advocates for Change- How to Overcome Africa’s Challenges” which notes amongst other books the crisis of leadership in Africa. This book highlights that Leadership requires at least three capabilities: 1.Capacity to innovate, 2. Ability to implement by mobilising the required resources; and 3. Capability to create followers. Looking at the work that you’re doing with the Connecting Greatness Organisation, would you agree that that’s what we probably need in Africa? And how does your work fit into that definition? if it does fit.
Siphokazi: Your points makes sense and they make me think of what Fred Swaniker of the African Leadership University is doing. The Connecting Greatness leadership definition is about a collective, holistic and inclusive leadership practice. And that is very different from what we have understood leadership to be. In my practice and research, I’ve found that the most important question when it comes to leadership is: What is leadership in service of? Let’s say in this case it’s in service of innovating for African Renaissance. Usually we expect to have that one main and stable leader, e.g. the president or CEO who is the visionary or transformational leader who then delegates to people to execute. But the emerging definition which Connecting Greatness hopes to foster includes a mindset shift from an individual leadership base to a collective leadership base where many people are able to influence the leadership process rather then participate through following commands. It’s about demonopolising leadership outside of formal positions and empowering individuals to participate in social influence.
Bongeka: I hear you and that sounds really good and its relevant, but how do we do that practically, especially in Africa?
Siphokazi: It’s already happening. It’s just that we’re not seeing it in that light and because we not seeing it in that light, we not evolving and growing to the highest potential of collective leadership. It begins with each individual seeing themselves as a leader with innate greatness and power to influence beyond your job title. And if a problem arises and I already see myself as a leader, I know that I’ve been given rights to do something about it, and not wait for commands. This means to some extent dismantling the expectation that someone else is going to do it. I mentioned ALU, because I love the work that they are already doing in this area. Its a developmental space for African Leaders. As students enrol, they’re not being asked what major they want to do, but ‘What’s your life mission? What’s the problem you want to solve in Africa? What’s your innovative idea that you want to implement in Africa? That becomes the major and everything else is in service to that, which encapsulates this collective and situated view of leadership.
This emerging understanding of leadership is referred to as post-heroic leadership, and powerful conversations are beginning to happen around the world about how the individual to collective shift in our understanding of leadership can work together as social influence. But in summary, all three points , innovation, implementation and follower-ship are key parts of creating a systemic view of leadership.
Bongeka: So I had this great privilege of attending the Pepperdine University graduation ceremony. The view of the ocean was magnificent and I so wish South African Graduation ceremonies were like that, * share laughs* Malibu is absolutely stunning…But for me what stood out the most (besides your Winnie Mandela moment with you on stage) was the Key Note speech by Dr Betty Uribe. I loved the simplicity yet powerfulness of Dr Betty’s speech. As a word of wisdom to the graduates she said, ‘You need to surround yourself with people who are kinder, people who are smarter and people who are more knowledgeable so that they challenge you to grow.’Who are the people in your village who challenge you to grow?
Siphokazi: Where do I begin? I love that question because at the core of my dissertation was the finding that I am because we are, ‘Ubuntu’. There are so many people who play such diverse roles in my life. And I love how Dr Betty said that its not only about only being around smartness but also kindness because that is something I learnt through my doctoral process. There are so many smart people around me because I’m such a sucker for smartness. But I’ve realised that the power of kindness is at the core of my village. Its the energy I’m drawn to, and it includes honesty, integrity, and courage.
My village begins at home with my grandmother who bought me my first computer, my mother who is so free spirited and supports my wild visions. The rest of my family also keeps me grounded. I have my two friends who are refer to as my ‘wives’, you and Zama – we challenge each other with a lot of humour and love. I love to laugh. We enjoy music and we just love exploring new things, we’re sitting in the Jacuzzi right now in L.A having this beautiful, intense, and meaningful conversation with a glass of wine. I’m big on work life integration and my ‘wives’ help me integrate my life. Loyalty and authenticity are also important factors of my village. I have the most beautiful friendships stemming back many years of growing together who embody that- unfortunately if you are not growing and challenging yourself, my relationship with you usually won’t last. My newly developed friendships have also been very deep and real – it feels like everything is coming together, and those who are in my life are exactly where they should be, a part of my village.
It’s been an amazing exchange of ideas, cultures, and energies with points of connection and beautiful diversity. And I think at the core of my village is the integration of our greatness.
Bongeka: It’s been such an honour to have you for two hours, my last question is, What is your message to yourself and what is your message to the world?
Siphokazi: I think as weird as it might sound my main message it, ‘Get intimate with your truth and follow it’. This is what my wife, Zama likes to say. I have overcome many of the challenges I have gone through because I continue to choose my truth. I continue to choose my truth because I’ve given it room to be louder than all other voices. The world has many ideas of who and how you should be, but the moment I connect with my truth is when I truly step into my authentic power.
My message to the world is the same message to myself. We are all connected. When we do not move towards actualising our greatness because of fear (or for what ever reason), we halt the process for others who need to connect to our greatness. There is something interesting that one of my professors said to me at the end of my graduation, she said ‘Siphokazi, I know that you are very humble and I can see that the attention is getting too much for you, but this is your moment in time so receive it. Going forward you are a Doctor and a Fulbright Scholar, use that, and don’t try to lessen the power of who you are. This does not mean you are letting it get to your head but you say that because its the truth of who you are right now’. And I just loved that, which is why I am choosing to own fully that I am indeed Dr Siphokazi Joy Ntetha.
To connect with Dr Siphokazi Joy Ntetha and the Connecting Greatness Organisation:
Facebook: Siphokazi Joy Ntetha
We are pleased to announce that the winner of our One Year Anniversary Competition is Vongai Chirengwa. Congratulations!
Vongai was successful in securing a few followers for PenTheVision. For her outstanding support she will receive the book “Democracy and Delusion” book authored by Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh.
The book debunks ten prevalent myths in South African politics, offering solutions to the country’s most intractable problems. The first of its kind, Democracy and Delusion is set to spark a fresh and intense debate about the future of South Africa.
Our next competition begins in early 2018. Get ready, the next winner maybe you