When winning Miss Universe in 2019 Zozibini Tunzi said, We should be teaching these young girls – to take up space. Nothing is as important as taking up space in society and cementing yourself.” Such powerful comments; encouraging women take centre-stage because we are the ones who knit communities together and are on the front line, working at disrupting the status quo and improving society at large. Statistically however, fewer than 40% of South Africa’s businesses are women-owned and only 34% of SMEs are women-led. One of the ways we can change this, is to share more stories of everyday women who are making an impact. By amplifying the voices of our fellow African warrior women we encourage more women to take up space.
My mission as Founder of Matoyana Media is to make entrepreneurial knowledge practical and accessible, as well as humanising the stories of the people behind their businesses. In my work and daily life I began to realise how many amazing women I encounter who are the heroines of their own stories. I wanted to share these with the world and so began our journey to make African women more visible and bring their unique wisdom to light.
In 2018 I created the “Fearless Women” video and podcast series, interviewing 23 entrepreneurial-minded women, asking them to share their stories about how they work at being fearless in their businesses and lives. This series made me realise the risk and responsibility which small business owners, creators, change-makers and entrepreneurs take on every day, and how they need a really strong mindset to keep going.
In 2019 I felt a calling to step into my own “inner-warrior”.The initial inspiration came from looking at the constant hurdles I had in my business and those of other women, that weren’t necessarily related to their businesses, but impacted their companies. Such things were:
- Impact of patriarchy and misogyny
- Race and cultural barriers
- Family and being a mom, and;
- Broader social issues.
I reflected back on the warrior women of the past wondering, how can we, as women, get inspiration from historical warriors and step into our inner warrior? Hence, I decided to speak to 10 women from different walks of life – who are not necessarily all entrepreneurs but are creators, change-makers and builders. Coincidentally, towards the end of our Warrior Women production, a documentary was released with Lupita Nyong’o speaking about African warrior women tribes which reaffirmed my vision for enabling women to believe in their abilities to step-up, take up space and be the warriors they need to be.
The end result, which also feels like the continuation of a journey, is Matoyana Media’s modern-day Warrior Women series which has diversity in terms of sexual orientation, representation on the African continent, age, race and career type. The women we spoke to each have such individual stories, every podcast interview reveals gems of knowledge and wisdom which I keep going back to.
Many thanks to the Warrior Women who participated:
- Eugenie Drakes – Creative Change-Maker, Business and Personal Mentor
- Thando Maisela – Property Investor
- Nnedinma Ulanmo – Co-Founder and Director of Programs Women Initiative for Sustainable Empowerment and Equality (WISE)
- Dr Eseza Nambassi – Medical Doctor and General Health Practitioner
- Nosipho Vidima – Human Rights Activist
- Tania Ikedji Mukwamu – Co-Founder of MaxiCash
- YudhikaSujanani – Foodpreneur, Chef, Author and Businesswoman
- Sarah-Jane Boden – Founder/ ECD of SoulProviders Collective and Co-Founder Suketchi,
- Busisiwe Hlatswayo – Head of School for Business Innovation and Technology (BIT) at AFDA and Career Coach for Black Women in the Workplace, and;
- Saray Khumalo – the first black African woman to reach the summit of Mount Everest.
We stand on the shoulders of giants and continue to look to other women who have answered the call to be at the front of the fight – warrior women who follow the light of their own wisdom.While honouring the strength of these women,I think of Clarissa Pinkola Estes’s words: “Do not lose heart. We were made for these times… for years we have been learning, practicing, been in training for…and just waiting to meet on this exact plan of engagement.”
Nokwazi Mzobe, Founder of Matoyana Business Solutions and Matoyana Media and Creator of the Warrior Women Series