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ASA’s graduation crush: Nomzamo Mbatha and Njabulo Ntombela

Hi ASA fam

I decided it was the perfect timing in light of all the controversy around the University of Florida‘s incidents with black students during their graduation ceremony (here). It’s important to understand that graduation for Africans is NEVER a small thing! Not only because we all have a good dose of #Wakandamagic in us, but also it remains an achievement for our ourselves and families esp. if we put things in perspective and look at the stats of people with tertiary education in Sub-saharan Africa. Today’s post is inspired by Nomzamo Mbatha (South African actress) and Njabulo Ntombela (a graduate of the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal‘s faculty of Law) ‘s graduations. Everything about it was amazing, here’s why:

Their story

Nomzamo dropped out of the University of Cape Town (UCT) to pursue a career in acting after she lost close people in her family, which forced her to pursue her dream. Fast forward a few years later, she is 27 and definitely one of the top actresses in South Africa with a few international brands endorsements such as Neutrogena. This is #goals because despite her success, she decided to come back to finish what she started, her degree-a Bachelor in Commerce (BCom) in Accounting.

Njabulo comes from Nkandla (Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa) and was raised by his great-grandmother after both his parents and grandmother passed, in his interviews with News24 he says “he’ll live to honor her”.

Honoring their loved ones

Her dress had pictures of the loved ones she lost (one of whom she lost to suicide), and the depression & suicide helpline for South Africa. In her own words, “I wanted the pictures of my late baby sister, Carla, late older sister, Matu, my late father, Nicholas Nxumalo and the greatest love of my life, the woman who named me Nomzamo, my late grandmother, MamJoli. The many tragedies I had to survive.”

Nomzamo Mbatha in her Vanessa Gouden dress (a South African designer)

 

On the other hand, not only did Njabulo decided to wear his traditional attire to represent his cultural heritage; but he also decided to take his great-grandmother to the podium with him to be capped. His picture was a hit on social media and gave South Africa #thefeelsfordays! What a beautiful act of reverence to honor the person who supported him!  I must admit that I regret not doing this for my parents, and hope to make this up in future (guess I’d better get working on that Ph.D. and/or MBA,lol!).

Njuabulo walking with his great-grandmother to be capped (SowetanLive)

Honoring Ma’ Winnie Mandela

Nomzamo had mentioned in a previous interview that her icon was her namesake Winnie Nomzamo Madikizela-Mandela (former ex-wife of late president Nelson Mandela) affectionately referred to as “the mother of the nation” by South Africans for her contribution and keeping the fight against apartheid alive while her then-husband was incarcerated. Her graduation happened to be at the same time of Ma’ Winnie’s passing and she chose to honor her during her ceremony. She shouted the very popular ” Amandla Awethu!” which means “power to us”-the slogan of the fight against apartheid. In Nomzamo’s own words, ” This was your dream…You fought for the marginalized and was immensely instrumental in the defeat of the brutal apartheid regime. Your resilience ensured that today, we, your children could walk on a graduation stage built off the backs of our fallen people… we assure you that we receive the BATON…”

Africa well represented i.e. Ululations on fleek

You can hear Nomzamo’s loved ones scream at the top of their lungs as she makes her way to the podium in this video (here). If you are African and/or have ever attended an African celebration ceremony, you will be familiar with ululations (those coordinated sounds/screams you hear people make…#thefeels). While these have variations depending on which part of the continent you are from…The fact remains the happier we are, the stronger we ululate!

 

I hope you enjoyed this post. I would love to hear from you about how you and family celebrated your graduation or are planning to celebrate your graduation this year. My own mother did not disappoint for my graduation when it came to ululating…she came VERY prepared with tools (so extra…lol!) but that’s a story for another day :).

Stay awesome until my next post

XxKenaya

Happy Mandela Day i.e. 18th of July!

Hey y’all

Apologies for being MIA, both my personal and work commitments have kept me very busy these last few weeks making it difficult to be consistent. I now walk around with a notebook and write down any ideas/topics/ that cross my mind as potential blog posts. The book is well on its way to being full, except I have not had the time to post: sad reality of adulting, lol! Anyways, today is special and I simply could not allow #Mandeladay to pass without celebrating it with ASA and my readers. If you do not know who is Mandela (hmmmm….not sure where to start, shame on you maybe?! Lol! ).

Mandela-DayAs many people (South African especially) dedicated 67 minutes of their time to doing “something good” to honor Mandela, I could not but ponder on this incredible man: what he sacrificed, what he taught us, what he stood for and what he achieved… and wondered what he would say to us “the youth of today” if he was still around. Would Tata Madiba (how he is affectionately referred to in South Africa) look at us now, and say we were worth the 27 years he spent in Jail? What can we do as a young Africans to honour and live the legacy of this incredible man better?.

The more I pondered, the more I realised how difficult answering the above would be-it is not a straightforward answer. I am comforted by the fact that I know three things for sure (i) Madiba loved Africa and Africans, his love for it has definitely inspired me and others to do the same proudly and boldly, (ii) I hope that looking down on us he would definitely believe that the 27 years in jail were worth it….for all its fault, South Africa is a beautiful country and many MANY people of all races bMandela 5ut especially of colour, women, homosexuals have benefited from the establishment of its first democratic regime that embraced diversity in 1994, (iii) I can almost hear him say to us “I gave you freedom, please use it wisely and take Africa further….I did this for you and I believe in you”.

I don’t know about you but I found that news lately have been particularly difficult: the attacks in Nice (France), the unjustified shooting of black men in America (and the sometimes negative response to #Blacklivesmatter), #Brexit, the war erupting in South Sudan, etc etc. SA news are not particularly any better, with the battle of politicians ahead of the municipal elections-leaving the SA youth  very angry and feeling robbed of a brilliant future they were promised, and trapped in a vicious cycle of helplessness.

As we look up to this incredible man to celebrate him, it is up to us (African youth of today) to learn from his values… the way he carried himself, his relentless faith in a better future and humanity, his incredible optimism even in the face of adversity as well as outspoken support for an educated youth. In the words of Frantz Fanon, “Each generation must discover its mission, fulfil it or betray it, in relative opacity.” If he was still around today, Madiba would be challenging us to look beyond the darkness/ugliness around us, have hope and work towards his dream for a united, economically stable and peaceful Africa.

Mandela 2

I see three things that we, as young Africans can do: (i) strive/lobby for education for all, (ii) work relentlessly hard to solve our continent’s problems (be it through business, hobby,charity, etc) and (iii) get to know our continent’s history better and re-fall in love with it.This is the Africa he fought for, and the one he is challenging us to establish today still.

I hope you enjoyed this post & Happy Mandela Day again! I would love to hear from you on whether you ever met Madiba, read about him and/or key lessons learnt from him…  or going a step further -assuming you did know that today was Mandela day,  what did you do/whom did you spend it with and why?

Lots of love until my next post

XxKenaya

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