Women should know their place … as leaders

Women shouldCasually typing the words “women should” into my Google Chrome browser yields some very interesting predictive text results: 1. women shouldn’t  2. women should not vote 3. women should not work 4.women should stay at home 5. women shouldn’t vote 6. women should be seen not heard. Thinking this is probably due to some saved cookies in my browser or something else I asked my wife, Otae, to type the some words into her browser and yes you guessed it, it yielded the exact same results. Typing “men should” left me with no predictive results. I could only conclude that not many people are searching for ways to boss men around. However, I am not going to get into Google’s algorithm of sexism or gender bias, I will leave that to the “women should ads”. What I wish to share is the place I feel women can take in society from my experience in various roles.

While, I don’t necessarily believe we need more women in leadership, in whatever spheres of society, what we do need is good leadership regardless of gender: Leadership that has the vision to see a better world and the discipline and resilience to inspire us to get there. There should be no place for winner-take-all views when it comes to the gender debate because everyone takes opposing views depending on where they stand in relation to the status quo. What is important is individual talent and how it can enrich the corporate structures we work in.

What has society lost while the gender debate has raged on? It seems in my view that even when oppressive policies like slavery or apartheid were in place, both black and white men oppressed women at work and at home, which brings us to what goes on in a marriage since it is a common institution. Many men still want to assert some unfounded authority (over women) even if they lack the skills to make certain decisions. So the talents and experience women bring into a marriage become wasted assets as men let their egos get in the way of mutual success.

When I started ES Capital Partners, I did it because I realised that any success in an artistic career depends on a strong corporate structure. But a few years into trying to run my own company and grow as an artist I started spreading myself too thin until Otae joined me. Within six months of working together it became clear that our company and my career as a singer-songwriter would grow faster if she took the reins of the company. I could have been stereotypical and opposed to the fact that my wife is the best person for the job but that would not have taken us anywhere especially when she is wired for leadership and her skill-set and experience position her to be the best person to realise our company’s vision.

A case in point is when she presented a workshop specially for me last Saturday on writing white papers as part of our consultancy offering to organisations and corporates. She was so well prepared and professional it didn’t matter that I was the only one present or that I am her husband. I was highly impressed by her content and presentation style. Since our personalities go to work with us, I believe that the place of my #SmartWoman is right here by side and if she has the desire, skills and determination to lead, then that’s her place.

Till the next time, 
MOONGA

Reposted from www.escp.co.za

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What you write goes around (and comes back around)

Image copyright of ES Capital Partners 2014 - www.escp.co.za
Image copyright of ES Capital Partners 2014 – http://www.escp.co.za

A writer should be known for his or her words. Forgive me for stating the obvious, but it is the written words that qualify a person as a writer and once those words are published, the writer must take both the rewards and the responsibility for the impact of those words. I feel  writers have a ‘moral’ obligation to be honest and faithful in the representations they make in their writing. Yes, this is very utopian of me but this is what I believe and whether it will be the norm one day, time will tell.

I would like to state that any person who undertakes to write while entertaining any notion of someone else reading his or her work does so under one premise: that through that writer’s view or world, the reader sees or experiences an alternative. After all, isn’t learning about amassing alternative views to help us succeed in an ever-changing world? Far too many people want the glory and benefits of titles but none of the responsibility, and the weight of a writer’s responsibility for that matter. This thought dawned on me on 29 October 2013 when Marcus Ampe reblogged my post “Don’t be the weakest link” and cited several of my posts under a post of the same name on the blog “Stepping Toes”. Through my words, he expressed his own own ideas and views which in this case I happen to agree with – I also enjoyed how he curated my words in a way that even I could see new meanings from them!

But what happens when there is a danger of my words being used against me? What happens if my words are used to further an idea I do not agree with? What should my stance then be? I look at it this way: once people begin to use your words, the only assurance you have is how truthful and honestly you wrote (about the things you wrote about). Writers create realities and to borrow Sir Isaac Newton’s metaphor, our words become the shoulders others stand on to look further and it will be a shame if we point them in the wrong direction.

Till the next time, 
MOONGA

WARNING: Explosions come standard

minesweeper
Minesweeper game, when an explosion has occurred. Credit: http://www.npr.org

Remember that Windows game called Minesweeper where you had a set of blocks and your task was to uncover all blocks that were safe and mark all the mines without getting blown up? Sometimes I think life is a lot like Minesweeper: you keep jumping forward from block to block not knowing whether you will land on a mine. Each mine that explodes teaches you something for the next time and the hope is that you keep getting better and that the exploding mines leave you with enough will to fight another day. At these times I wish my father was here to prepare me for the life changing meetings that lie ahead. I imagine him running me through our plan of action and inspiring my confidence with his love and experience. His presence calms me down knowing that he will help me if I detonate a mine: his words of wisdom will help me learn and bridge any relationship my impatience strains.

There is comfort in a sure thing and I think this is the allure of ‘shortcuts’ to success and quick fixes. But difficult as the uncertainty may seem, we need to face it because that is a crucial and necessary part of life. Somehow I believe that our faith in God helps make things sure; He is the Father that promises to be with us through thick and thin and to guide us through life’s decisions and challenges. His word helps us avoid the mines that may blow up in our faces and drag us back a step. So as the week begins, my prayer is that we renew our trust in God’s ability to lead us in our uncertainties. After all, what progress would the world have made if each setback brings us back to zero?

Till the next time,
MOONGA

Walking Tall

Hello all!

It’s great to be back to posting. January is almost over and the few weeks that have passed have already been eventful. A couple of Sundays ago, I was privileged to speak and perform at the International Community Christian Church in Pretoria. Here is a post-event recording of that message which talks about why I started songwriting and I also perform Walking Tall, one of the songs from my anthology of Lyrics, titled Where to Now? Enjoy.

Till the next time,
MOONGA

When Dark Clouds gather, it’s time to Count Your Blessings

Dark cloudsIt’s a sunny day and everyone is happy. We are all gathered by the pool having a lovely braai as we celebrate the summer. The sweet smoke rises as the delicious meat slowly cooks over the fire: we all eagerly wait. Drinks flow as our favourite music plays; the kids jump in and out of the pool while the adults make conversation, form alliances and reinforce deals and ideals. Yes it’s a perfect picture; except that shortly after this scene I could have an episode of melancholy – a deep, dark sadness that comes without explanation.

As a person prone to melancholy, I often wonder where the root of this sadness is lodged. Sometimes it even comes after a successful meeting or event and I begin to berate myself for not being good enough or for being a failure. In those moments, I am not brave and I completely ignore all the good things in my life and just focus on the negative. What is going on? Am I impatient? Am I ungrateful? Have I lost faith?

In my case, these spells last only a few days at most and recently, they’ve become shorter but I still worry about it. What would happen if there was no one around to tell me the truth when these attacks happen? Right before my first live show, I started getting nervous and began feeling like I had made a big mistake and was questioning everything I have worked hard for, but the voices of reason around me allowed a ray of light to pierce through the dark clouds with words like: “No! I will not accept that you are a failure.” “No! I will not let you question what you have built because you are feeling sad and cannot tell your left foot from your right”. “No! Let’s get on with work because we have done some amazing things together”. “No! I will not let you drag me into your pity party”. I couldn’t help but laugh. What happened? Was this harsh brush with love bringing me back to my senses? How do I bottle these words of wisdom for the next time?

In all honesty, I know that it will happen again but this time I feel a little confident that God has used the honesty of people around me to reinforce a song I knew as a child. “Count your blessings, name them one by one. Count your blessings, see what God has done. Count your blessings, name them one by one. And it will surprise you what the Lord has done”.

Till the next time,
MOONGA

Let it rain

Moonga performs at The Fringe, Joburg Theatre on 14 November 2013
Moonga performs at The Fringe, Joburg Theatre on 14 November 2013

Last week was a high pressure week. It started with my first television interview and performances on SABC’s Morning Live and then moved to another radio interview on Channel Africa’s Gateway to Africa on Wednesday. Thursday the 14th of November was the book launch and my first concert. Looking back after all the nerves, I can smile at all that I have learnt and what I looked forward to bringing to my future shows. It all feels like sweet rain that has come to wash the old away and bring in a new start. When you have walked in faith for a long time, the road’s ups and downs can be tiresome. This week I want to share with you a lyric from my book, Where to Now and its accompanying story. I feel it best describes all the emotions that the past two weeks have brought. Enjoy.

Till the next time,
MOONGA

Pula

There comes a time in a nation’s life,
When the healing must begin.
There comes a time in a people’s strife,
When the chains are too hard to bear.
We feel the dawn beyond the clouds,
As the wheel of time spins round and round.

There comes a time, to celebrate.
Forget the past and elevate
The truth that comes from the light within,
As we embrace the winds of change.

Pula, Pula,
Let the river of life
Refresh our land.

Pula,
Let it rain,
Let new life spring forth.

There’s a light that shines on me
Telling me I can be free.
There’s a brother and a sister near
Whose call I cannot ignore,
’Cause I feel the dawn beyond the clouds
And I smell amazing rain.

Pula, Pula,
Let the river of life
Refresh our land.

Pula,
Let it rain.
Let new life spring forth

Pula

There comes a time, to celebrate
The truth that comes from the light within.

Pula

Forget the past and elevate
As we embrace the winds of change.

***

In 2007, I shared a flat with a total stranger who became a close friend and support through our shared space. His name was Brian Mangare, an all-round hustler; one of the most enterprising people I have ever met. His rough exterior masked the fact that he too was an artist, a painter, and he encouraged my song writing. I tested my songs on him and his many guests and he always told me the truth. It wasn’t uncommon for Brian to wake me up at 3am to introduce me to one of his visitors which often turned into some sort of concert.

On one such occasion I was introduced to a band I had never heard of called C-Mon & Kypski. They were visiting South Africa from The Netherlands for the Oppikoppi Festival. After hearing my songs, they encouraged me to explore some of the negative emotions I felt; my songs were too sweet at the time. I started to think about my frustrations and a big one was knowing that I was South African by descent but not feeling like I was part of the citizenry. I resolved to accept – my heritage and it stirred in me a sense of nationalism – the good and bad of South Africa was mine to deal with. For the first time, I did not see myself as an immigrant but as a South African. Pula,which means rain in Setswana is a song about healing and a fresh start. Pula was a metaphor for the healing I needed in my own life and the newness I experienced by embracing my South African identity. Thank you Brian.

It’s deep inside

A carpet of fallen Jacaranda flowers covers a sidewalk in Pretoria. ©O.Mkandawire/ESCP
A carpet of fallen Jacaranda flowers covers a side-walk in Pretoria. ©O. Mkandawire/ESCP

Pretoria is affectionately called the Jacaranda City. One cannot escape the imposing majesty of these beautiful trees when they bloom in early October as spring turns to summer. The carpet of purple on the streets from the fallen flowers is the last marker as we race towards the close of the year and to the wonderful festive summer break. You can almost tell the mood of the city by looking at these trees.

At ESCP, we are calling our October picture gallery, “Purple Rain” and I thought it would be timely to borrow a lesson from the jacarandas for this week’s post. Imagine someone coming to the city in June and getting very disappointed that the jacarandas look barren with their dry leaves and certainly no flowers. Would it be fair on the trees and the city? The certainty of the seasons is reflected in nature; and the beauty of the jacaranda’s bloom is hidden potential that is revealed only at the proper time. One season hides the beauty while another reveals it.

Our own lives are similar in that we are born with an internal compass. Like a line drawn from one point to another, I believe we are meant to be striving towards something; growing and blooming through the seasons of life. Whatever we become, like the jacaranda trees, we leave an impression on the world around us. I am particularly convinced of this by what is written on a person’s tombstone. Allow me to give a fictitious tombstone heading: Jane Doe. Born: 1 January 1980. Died: 31 December 2000. Buried: 01 January 2001. This life can allow us to draw a 20 year timeline for Jane Doe. Viewed in this way, we can see how the quality of the memories she leaves behind will be influenced by the decisions she made in the various seasons of her life. Where are you in your timeline? What season is your life in? How do you want the world to remember you?

Till the next time,
MOONGA