Ndidokunda Mudau – takes us through her journey in trying something new and the benefits that are attached to it.
Let me start by quoting a paragraph from Marianna Williamson’s poem: “We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
I particularly love this part of the poem because I believe that many people are strangled by fear which impedes them from spreading their wings and living life with meaning and joy.
I have been doing a lot of self-introspection regarding 2015; focusing on work, achievements, challenges and disappointments. One of the main lessons I have learnt from 2015 is that if you do not dare to dream, fly, move from your comfort zone and swim deep within the ocean you will never know the extent of your potential. You may fail, fall a few times and get to a point where you are drowning, but it is in those moments that we discover our intrinsic abilities, passion and strengths.
Like the theory of Schrödinger’s cat, until the box was opened, the cat’s state is completely unknown and therefore the cat is considered both alive and dead at the same time until it is observed. Only when the box is opened can one be able to determine the state of the cat. That is the same with life, only when you decide to start taking risks, living, experimenting, travelling and following your heart will you discover your potential, strength, weaknesses, passion and desire that will help you discover your purpose in life.
Towards the end of 2014, I was seconded by the company I work for to one of our offices in Zambia for a period of four months. The thought of going to a new country, meeting new people and learning new cultures was exciting and scary at the same time. The fear of unknown superseded the excitement I had. I started considering all the possible things that could go wrong – weather, food and the living conditions. It was also during the Ebola outbreak, so even support from friends and family did not ease the anxiety. People would ask if I was not scared of Ebola and if I would be able to survive in a foreign country. That made my decision to want to go to Zambia irrational.
Irrespective of doubts, fear and lack of proper support I eventually decided to follow my heart and take a chance. It turned out to be one of the best decisions I made. I didn’t expect Zambia to be the country that it is – I expected a country similar to South Africa in terms of its infrastructure, transport system and other developments. Zambia is very different from the ‘South’ as Zambians call it. Nevertheless, the feeling of being in a new country excited me.
I met amazing people in Zambia, some were from Tanzania and Uganda. I had no friends on my arrival, but I managed to make friends who were amazing to me – they were like a family to me. Without a doubt, I am a good cook today, thanks to my amazing friends I met in Zambia. I enjoyed eating nchima, which is a staple food in Zambia similar to pap. I also enjoyed watching soccer matches.
I stayed at Kalundu which is in central Lusaka few kilometres from the University of Zambia. Kalundu reminded me about my birthplace – Venda. The yard had about three different houses, a pool and a huge fence. We used to call it a compound. During the evenings I would jog in the dusty roads of Kalundu. I think I am a naturalist at heart, so dusty roads and beautiful green trees by the road brought me joy.
With the company of my friends, we travelled to the beautiful Victoria Falls, which turned out to be a breath-taking experience for me. We left Lusaka on Friday evening after work and drove for about eight hours. We arrived in Livingstone Province on Saturday morning. From the scorching heat in Livingstone, walking across the majestic Victoria Falls, crossing the border to Zimbabwe, zip lining and bungee jumping in the Victoria Falls was so magical.
I saw a woman carrying a baby on her back and with groceries whilst riding a bicycle in one of the villages we passed on our way from Livingstone. I was so humbled to see that especially relating to how other African women raise their children. We drove along some beautiful landscapes. Overall, it was a good experience.
My four months stay in Zambia gave me a glimpse of the African continent. I came to the realization or learned that life does not revolve around the nine provinces of SA. There are amazing people out there who experience more or less the same living conditions as we do. I saw challenges that Zambia is facing – poverty, lack of education and lack of better health facilities. Zambia’s living condition is not different from that of other countries in Africa.
Given the passion developed in my heart, I sought to contribute to the development and change in the African continent. I did not know how but it was a flame that was stirred in my heart. I had a conviction in me to rise up beyond my comfort zone and get into the dusty roads of our continent. I want to visit as many African countries as I can; meet people of those countries and connect with them; know their challenges, and Identify opportunities where I can bring change.
For decades and centuries, we have been subdued and robbed of our abilities as Africans to identify and utilise our strength, knowledge and skills so as to improve our communities. We have been made to believe that we are inferior and unable to build our economies. The scars have passed from one generation to another and have diminished confidence in ourselves.
My visit to Zambia brought a new direction in my life. I want to work harder not just for my family but also to build the African continent and see our African fellows achieving more in life. I am excited about the future. I still have more to learn; many countries to visit; strategies and projects that still have to be implemented. However, I am glad that the fire has been started. My responsibility is to gather as much wood to keep this fire burning.
Lastly, dare to dream, travel, take a chance, move out of your comfort zone and discover the beautiful thing called life.
Ndidokunda Mudau is a Director and Vice President: Human Resource and Commercial at Takalani Foundation.