In a feat that we consider well deserved, Musa Sibindi walked away with the Best Female Director Award at the MegaFest Southern Region Business Awards 2019. In accepting the award, she retrospects the present with a motivating submission dedicated to all those who feel 'othered' in a world where there would rather belong!
This Female Director of the Year Award by MegaFest Southern Region Business Awards 2019 presented to me, an opportunity to connect the dots of my life in retrospect, and when embodied in the African that I am, everything symbolically falls in place.
Grounded with self introspecting questions on what motivates and makes me happy, at work, as a Director of an always learning organisation, and at home as a mother, sister and friend, I begin with flashbacks of the young Musa who was born at the peak of the liberation struggle in Zimbabwe and my name, and how it all has shaped the woman I am today.
My name is Musa. This means kind, philanthropy, or maybe, an extra reaching out figure, whatever the meaning you may choose to culturally assign. And to me, that’s where my motivation and happiness stems from. Names in Africa are more than just names, they mold the future of their given persona. They embody history. They also tell stories and it is on this pretext that my name bears a tiding I wish to share with you.
I connect kindness with my desire to improve the quality of life for everyone that I meet. Because ‘ubuntu’ has taught me that ‘I am because we are’. In a world that teaches to centre more on the me, I feel I have been called to find the me in you and hence dispelling the superficial reality of the ‘other’.
Society has ‘othered’ individuals on the basis of their binaries in orientation, binaries in gender, binaries in class, banaries in sexuality, binaries in ethnicity and a plethora of forms of othering the other. However, in realising these narrow paradigms of difference, my quest has been a fight against uneveness of societies, cultures and every structure that gives hiarachies to humanity. As a woman who once was a girl, raised by a single parent, my mother, I speak of marginality from a lived experience of humble beginnings entangled in masculine limitations of being, which might be seemingly pessimistic of a young ‘Musa’ reading this today.
I recall anecdotes of my career, first as a teacher where I taught partly, students with learning difficulties. These were classes that are predominantly unpopular for all the acedemically wrong reasons, chief among them being their serial poor results, to the extent that teachers seldom put effort towards changing the norm.
My goal was however, different, It tickled me and gave me the motivation to wake up every morning to find and nurture the strentgh of those pupils and the lingering question on how that could inturn motivate them to be better students. I sought to connnect with them at their best, and managed to proudly nurture a class that continuosly attained a high pass rates in the subjects that I taught – this feat motivated me to always keep keeping on, and a profound lesson that there is always a hidden, yet profound strength and capability in every individual.
As an infant, I had a big belly that my maternal grandmother whom I lived with in rural Gwanda always religiously and happily attributed to my high appetite. That was the narrative given to my nutritionist aunt who had visited and worringly questioned my belly. She however noted that it was a condition that required me to go with her for medical attention. I was diagnosed with kwashiorkor. Because she felt the need to constantly monitor my health, coupled with her love for me, she elected to permanently stay with me in the city. This availed a lifetime dream for a better school – giving birth to my academic life that I attribute my success to.
I say this epoch of my life with pride today, because, if it wasn’t for the disease and my aunty’s generosity, I could have grown up limited to the physical and ideological confines of a rural life, eventually limiting my worldview. I look back and thankfully realise that sometimes the darkest moments can facilitate a better life. My aunt gave me a lifeline and I forever stay indebted to her. More than that though, is the glow that I get when I give someone an opportunity to better their lives. I desire to touch and positively influence someone in life – just like in my life, it may be the epoch long awaited.
When I look at the world, I see painful inequalities I wish to work towards closing. This perhaps influences my leadership style, grounded by the belief that the greatest leaders lead by example, and not necessarily from the front, but serving in a humble manner.
As I penned this peep into my life, I paused for a second, looked at my nine year-old daughter and asked her to describe me. With no hesitation, she shouted, “sweet, smart, funny sometimes, and loves bear hugs…” after a short pause, and as I was about to continue, she exclaimed, “…and the tough love you give me.” I admit to have uncontrolably, and proudly smiled. But most importantly, just like every parent, my daughter reflects a tiny percent of how I wish the world would be tomorrow. Its tiny because, as an individual, there is little I can do. I play my part with the hope that everyone else does so, and eventually, we will change the world! It may take kwashiorkor or a class of students with learning difficulty, but if it is what is needed to give us a different purview, I wish to write the positive reality some day.
I extend the connotations of my belief in finding and nurturing the best in everyone. I say this as a passionate advocate of human rights, and that being a starting point of understanding an individual, beyond everything that clouds our communities – be it, sexual identity, gender identity, ethnicity and language, or political ideology. When we refuse them the opportunity to be citizens, we also refuse our world the opportunity to be changed by them. I mentioned that I can only do a bit, and as a puzzle of life, it can only make sense if everyone is involved and allowed to be who they are, so they can give the world their best.
This award therefore is dediacted to all that feel minoritated in a world where they would rather fit and be developmental. This award is significant as it is a result of collective effort by SRC team, in its entirety, who entrusted me to lead and sucessfully stir the organisation through effective transition and change management. This ensured an extended warmly environment anchored on peace, stability and professional growth of the organisation.
Your best always matters!