Bless yourself with education

YOUR FUTURE IS HERE: Dr Bayanda Mbambiso, left, presents Nosipho Ramakoena with her ‘fast-for ward’ BSc degree in Medical Microbiology. Picture: IINKUMBUZO PHOTOGRAPHY
YOUR FUTURE IS HERE: Dr Bayanda Mbambiso, left, presents Nosipho Ramakoena with her ‘fast-for ward’ BSc degree in Medical Microbiology. Picture: IINKUMBUZO PHOTOGRAPHY

DON’T rely on “blessers” but rather aspire to be your own “blesser”, and education will give you the tools to do this.

An array of achieving women –many from modest township backgrounds but today leaders in their fields – spoke out in favour of education and self-empowerment at Destined for Greatness, a Vision4Women initiative aimed at encouraging matric girls from underprivileged backgrounds to reach for the stars.

Mercantile Hospital specialist physician Dr Pinky Ngcakani Ncula and SABC regional general manager Nada Wotshela were the keynote speakers at the function at Bayworld in Humewood. Ngcakani slammed “this new thing of blesser and blessee”, referring to the social ill where “sugar- daddies” exchange material goods for a sexual relationship with grasping women.

“There are things that you cannot control – the womb you came from, the name you were given, your address and your parents ’ financial status. “But you can control what you make of what you have been given,” Ngcakani said.

“I am a granddaughter of a kitchen maid. She was earning a pound back in the day and she managed to squeeze that money to get her daughter through school.”

That daughter – Ngcakani’s mother – later became a teacher and then studied further, gaining a masters in education. “It transformed our lifestyles. She went from being a lower primary school teacher to an education inspector.

No one is going to come and bless you. You will bless yourselves. “Do not look at the smallness of your beginnings. That does not count. Growth depends on you, so grasp it and run with it.”

She said the issue of “blesser” pampering was a multi- faceted problem. “It stems from a slavery mentality and not knowing what you are worth. We need to create a sense of self-worth,” said Ngcakani, adding that girls from backgrounds without a suitable father figure in their family were particularly vulnerable.

“The father is nowhere, especially when they reach adolescence, a stage of self-definition. They try to define their values from their mother. ” However, she said, many women had been forced to rely on men in their own lives as parents, “and they grow and give birth to children with similar values”.

This was linked to the objectification of women, where women were expected to look glamorous to attract and keep a man’s favour, and the g r ow i n g culture of instant gratification – “if I can’t get it right now through my own means, then I will get it by other means.

“Women are still viewed as sex objects and the blessers are motivated by greed and power.” The mission of initiatives like Destined for Greatness was to re-instill “those values that we have forgotten. . . from within, not on the surface”.

The doctor, who is i nvo l ve d with clinical research in the cardio- vascular and diabetes fields, was in matric in the turbulent 1980s and knows about delayed gratification.

“I wanted to be a doctor from age three but there were boycotts of note when I was swotting for my exams in 1985 and I could not get the marks that I wanted to be accepted for medicine.

“I was sitting and watching as my dream disappeared literally in front of my eyes because my mother told me I had to go back to school and redo my matric.

This would mean going from courses to subjects, from lecturers to teachers, from civvies to uniform. I was shattered, in tears, but she said ‘it is the only opportunity for you’.

“Matric remains the key to starting your career, so try to get your matric. If you only get this then you can go further.” It did indeed prove to be the springboard she needed, as her marks shot up and she was accepted at the University of Natal.

She urged her audience to develop an “appetite for the intellect. It is the same brain cell in a white brain as in a black brain. “The sky is the limit if you lay the right foundation, so give yourself the best.”

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