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Inside the Programme

Travelling inwards: the journey to service

Published 2 August 2021

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The flight to South Africa is so fresh in my mind; it feels like yesterday. I was nervous, though from the outside what the world saw was a go-getter lady who never settles until she gets what she wants. The timing was perfect: I was having a mid-twenties crisis, trying to discover myself and my true potential while also balancing the family responsibilities on my plate.

Looking back at that girl on the plane, is there anything that has significantly changed since then? Absolutely. I went through the whole cycle of Mr Mandela’s belief in leadership beginning with inner transformation. This year has had a big impact on my inner self. I have had a chance to reflect, heal, reconcile, transform and connect which I believe has prepared me to be a better leader.

The beginning of the year was a time of self-discovery. Through the Enneagram framework I learnt more about my personality type and how I react to different stimuli such as stress. This enabled me to connect more with the environment and the people around me. Learning about the diverse personality types made it easier for me to respect other people’s space and make them feel comfortable around me.

This was followed by reconciliation. The books Always Another Country and Homegoing drove me all the way back to my childhood, to wounds I had been carrying all my life without being aware of them. I started to unearth the hurt and the questions I had been carrying and how they affected my relationships. It felt good to connect the dots, forgive myself and the people around me and begin the healing process. It was in this phase that the reading spark was reignited and I found myself going from book to book. My Enneagram type is Ennea 2, otherwise known as the Considerate Helper. The helper in me awakened and I started volunteering with Girl Code SA where I taught kids programming during the Covid-19 lockdown.

The next step was embracing my shadow self, starting by acknowledging the side of me that no one likes to talk about: the dark side. While confronting my shadow, the big questions were: Could it be changed? Could I kill it? Could it be left to be part of me? Did it affect me as a person and as a leader? Am I now past the acknowledgement phase? I am taking my shadow work one step at a time till one day I overcome it.

The closing workshop was mostly reflecting and preparing for life after the scholarship. Visiting alumni gave us extremely noteworthy insights. Among those that stuck with me were emphasis on how life is not a linear path and how our journeys are different, balancing one’s career and personal life, and being open minded.

As I enter the alumni community, I am now opening a blank chapter of my life. It is quite thrilling to think that I get to dictate how it will be written. The scholarship gave me the tools I needed. When I see the Mandela Rhodes shield on my wall it reminds me of the noble cause to which I was called: to serve my society and Africa, beginning with me.

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Next up:
Long walk through adversity: a former child bride’s path to education

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