Of How To build A Business That Lasts: Vision, Mission & Objectives

More than 60% of all business ideas never live long enough to materialise and of those that do more than 80% do not outlast a single year. This is not to say the ideas are bad, well in some instances they are actually worse than bed, but some really good ideas just seem not to work out as they are intended. The current economic vision shift in most countries and in some instances the lack of economic vision, has led to the growth of the entrepreneurship sector.

Zimbabwe is no exception, one cannot surely ascertain the reason behind the sprouting of the informal sector in the form of small start-up, some allege that it’s an economic vision shifts whilst some suggest that its poor governance.

One thing we can all agree on is there is a steady increase in entrepreneurship, sadly most of these start-ups never get to experience the world outside the owner’s briefcase and if they do well they varnish from the face of the earth in less than a year. One then wonders, what could be the reason behind such massive failures, what can be done to increase chances of survival and who is ultimately responsible for business survival.

In my experience I have noticed that there are so many causes of these massive failures, however the most common one and yet rarely mentioned is the lack of vision by the owners of the idea/start-up or the company. Most start-ups do not have a vision, they just operate without determining where they are going, what is to be achieved or what they exist for. There is a common adage which says, it doesn’t matter which way you go if you have no vision because eventually you have no desired destination and it also happens that failure is the most common destination. If you put your business on autopilot and leave it to curve its own course well do not be surprised when you see it landing on the death zone aka business closure.

In my opinion every business, no-matter how small, needs a business strategy also known as strategic management. For improved chances of survival, one has to know which decisions to make, how to make decisions, have guidelines that dictates how everyone in that organisation ought to behave.

All businesses face money problems, reputation problems and yes intense competition, however, have you ever asked yourself how others survive. Some businesses are born from backgrounds of no finance at all, face unimaginable competition and yet have no good reputation to their name.

Despite all that, they standout and outshine or at least secure their future in the measure of the acquired advantage. But which advantage is this, how do they realise this advantage and how do they choose the route to take. I hear most freelancers in the web development circles crying foul about others charging as low as $50 per site. But with a well thought-out business plan with the elements of a strategy one can choose between low cost business strategy and differentiation strategy.

Knowing how you tend to position your business and how to eventually do it are two different things and they require a lot of commitment to master and ensure that the path you choose will ensure that you achieve that. This is a long road and it requires consistency and determination which starts with the following.

A business strategy is used to make sure that each and every decision made by any member of the start-up has value towards survival and growth of the business if every member of the start-up know what is to be achieved by the company then their decisions will be more inclined towards the interest of the organisation.

Unfortunately this is not the case in most start-ups, they leave the doors to their organisation unlocked and unattended and always act surprised when failure opens their doors and assert its dominance.

Lucky you dear reader, in this article I’m going to walk you through some of the things you need to make sure that exist in your company if you dream of having a company to run a year from now.

The first thing you need is a vision

Vision
Great writers such as Andree De Waal and Grant clearly stated that every excellent performing company has a vision. This is the reason why on almost every company’s website they put their vision. It is the ultimate destination that the organisation would want to achieve in a given time period. Without a vision written down, it doesn’t matter which decision you make because ultimately you have no target, which basically means you have no measure to judge your decisions or your employee’s decisions against. Everything you do in such a case will be right and unfortunately it will also be wrong. Take it from this perspective, how are you going to see if you are moving in the right direction if you do not set the direction you want to go. It is like a plane taking off an airport but has no intended destination, eventually it’s going to crash or disappear from the radar, whichever happens first.
After establishing a vision, then you need to take the next step.

Mission
A mission, just like the word suggest, is what you as an organisation intend to do. If you do not know what your company wants to do them it is going to fail because failure might as well be on its to do list. You can only determine your market size after determining the kind of problem you are fixing by what you exist to provide. Some companies take their mission to be..the best provider of office furniture in the country for SMEs. This forces a business to have focus and know how to best achieve their mission. There is a lot that can be said about the mission, however, in this 1st article I’m going to stick on the basics but I will definitely make effort to produce more detailed content that can help you and your business take the world head on.

Strategic Objectives
This is the next step, it joins the mission and the company strategy, objectives by their very nature are targets that each and every organisation, and individual, no matter how small should have. They help when trying to break the mission of the organisation down into manageable units. Unfortunately we often rush into starting all these business because the idea is so fascinating but never take time to set targets for progress sake. The most common outcome of such an approach is heartbreak and burnout. The idea behind the notion of objectives is to have portions of the mission focused on different sections of the organisation. Some objectives are financial, they solely focus on the financial affairs of the start-up and their contribution towards the mission of the start-up. As you might have correctly guessed, other objectives will be productive related, customer relations focused and so forth. The idea is to make sure that all corners that have an effect on the performance of the start-up are covered. If this is done professionally and well your company’s chances of survival will be improved drastically. The sooner we master these fundamental principles the better least our ideas become history and nightmares that haunts us day and night.

The issue of planning strategically the future of an entity is of great importance, it is surely a cure needed by most start-ups that we have today if the entertain hope of having a meaningful future. Depending on the reception of the first article I will make a more detailed article looking at the issue of managing start-up strategically and ensuring survival of start-ups.

Until next time happy money farming!!

Guest Post written by Douglas Mwanza.

Douglas Mwanza

A business consultant specialising in the areas of strategy formulation and implementation.
Phone: +263 779 947 976
Email: douglasmwanza7@gmail.com
LinkedIn: Douglas mwanza7
Facebook: Douglas Dee Mwanza
Instagram: douglas_mwanza7

Advertisements

Of Sworn To The Depths Of Inyangani

Sworn to the depths of Inyangani

Sworn into the depth of inyangani

is a short novel, a collabowriters project by four authors Lindiwe Dhlakama, Takatso Sibanda, Rejoice Moyo and Banabas Karuma. .

The collabowriters project is a creatively innovative project which brings together different writers who are you doing today then challenged to create a work of fiction one chapter at a time.

Writer A does first chapter, Writer B reads the
first chapter and composes chapter 2, Writer C reads A and B and
builds Chapter 3 and so on……..

Sworn to the depths of inyangani Published in 2018 by Multimedia Box, Zimbabwe and made possible by support from various partners including British Council, Zimbabwe German Society

Sworn to the depths of the Inyangani is an African Fantasy work of fiction based on the myths and folklore of the Inyanga Mountains.

The Inyanga Mountains found on the Eastern part of the country have long since had an air of mystery which this story explores in this YA Fantasy where a young lad Elisha struggles to find balance between his Catholic religion and the mysterious world of the old ways, tradition and the secrets his parents have kept from him, secrets that now haunt his dreams because the past always catches up……

Sworn to the depths of the Inyangani, takes you to the depths of the Inyangani with its sacred healing pools and mermaids who spirit away people, never to be seen again and sometimes a chosen few come back, with healing abilities and a supernatural understanding of the world around, and where a past wrong if not corrected might have fatal consequences….. .

I love this book and read it at a time I have been thinking of how we are losing certain legends and lores from our culture, the unwritten myths that the modern world has no place for, maybe they are only that, legends; maybe they are a more but we shouldn’t let them fade into no more than barely remembered curiosities.

I never did try to figure which author wrote which part but in some chapters the were rather jarring differences in the story telling and some continuity issues where a chapter would begin on a different track leaving empty gaps in an otherwise captivating plot. Well I guess considering it was the work of four different people, it’s not unexpected that sometimes the difference would show.

It’s a short story which I wish could have been a bit longer to do justice to some aspects and flesh out some one dimensional characters that felt a bit rushed.

Still I loved the concept and I am tempted to start a collaborative blog post project… who is up for challenge?

~B

Of House of Stone Book Review

House of Stone

House of stone

House of Stone is a book by Novuyo Tshuma first published 2018 in Great Britain by Atlantic Books.

House Of Stone might be a work of fiction but it’s premise is based on real events from the history of Zimbabwe; the struggle for independence and the mostly untold, unwritten, unspoken and barely confessed about Gukurahundi Massacre……

The main character Zamani, is a young man, an orphan with a desperate need for a family of his own, a father and mother to call him son, and to chronicle the history of his surrogate parents in an attempt to recreate himself with a new past.

As he finds out the past from his surrogate family you get a glimpse of what might have been experienced during the Zimbabwean struggle for independence, the falling out of comrades in arms in the post independence era which led to the Gukurahundi massacre and the infamous farm invasions that dispossessed settler farmers………….

This is the first book I have read which touches on the Gukurahundi killings which were a near genocide decimation of the Ndebele people. For the longest time this dark period of our history has been buried and never outright referred to as if by some collective amnesia it would be like it never happened and even now 35 years later it’s still a triggering topic. When you reading this book you will be able to relate to why the people who experienced these atrocities never got closure nor outright talk about it………

Novuyo manges to capture the essence of the past without turning the book into a dark and heavy read with the story unfolding from Zamani’s perspective as it his related to him and of course you are on a dizzy ride trying to figure Zamani out, since the rest of the characters are spelt out for you but Zamani, Zamani, Zamani, what can I say read the book……

~B

Of Coffee, Pies and Bombs

Coffee, Pork Pies and Bombs

If you were having coffee with me, I’d say allow me to treat you to what used to be the darling of pies, The Colcom Pork Pie.

Tea colcom pie

You can have a cup of herbal lemon tea, while the pie warms up in the microwave. Can you smell that? I hope you aren’t a vegetarian or don’t eat pork for some reason, if so then graciously accept my apologies and you can have toast instead

french toast

Imagine after all that anticipation, you open the package and are greeted with a crumbling pastry product a pale shadow of its former glory with a meat center that’s now barely existent, that makes you wonder what the quality department takes its consumers for, seriously.

Pork Payi?

No wonder people have taken to calling it Pork Payi? Meaning where is the Pork.

#ThisPie

If you were having coffee with me I’d tell you that my vote just might be for sale to the person who can guarantee an economy in which a company can afford to put proper meat filling in its pastries to make a pastry pie I can still afford to buy……

According to a poll conducted by the Orange Door Research via an sms-based survey sent to 1200 people:
48% of all respondents said the economic situation was the most critical issue facing the country,
23% said free & fair elections
17% Corruption, & 12% improving basic services

According to Zimstats 98% of youth are employed in the informal sector. So our graduates have a 2% chance of getting a formal job…..

If you were having coffee with me I’d tell you that our elections are 35 days away and it looks like candidates are pulling out all the stops

From a Minister officially opening a bin;

Minister opens bin

well to be fair he was opening a new sports center nearby but I guess the commissioning fever got to his head, we’ll try not to even think about why the bin already has trash inside……. but the internet go crazy checkout the #chinamasachallenge

And then on to something a little more sobering the bomb attack on the president as he was leaving a rally in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe now that one has me in shock, I never thought we would stoop to senseless violence, I thought we had our problems but at least we never lost our heads and went the route of trying to bomb the President. Fortunately he survived the blast and the were no fatalities although almost 40 people were treated for various injuries.

Various conspiracy theories are flying around from the one about the bomb being a stage managed incident to get sympathy vote and as an excuse to increase military clamp down and then there’s the one about it being a falling out between the president and the army, or that the former president might have had something do with it and a whole lot of other theories ranging from absurd to down right alarming.

There was also a bombing attempt on the Ethiopia’s Prime Minister at rally in the capital leaving scores injured and several critical and a single casualty…..

Violence usually begets violence and here’s to praying that this isn’t the start of a journey down a dark bloody path.

Have an awesome week Stay Classy!

~B

 

 

 

 

Of The Hairdresser Of Harare Review

 

The hairdresser of Harare by Tendai Huchu

hair dresser of harare Tendai Huchu

The hairdresser of Harare is a story about. .. ..well a hairdresser in a hair salon in Harare, Zimbabwe; but not only that, it is also a story that navigates the socio-economic and political dynamics of Zimbabwe set in the hyper-inflatory era of 2008.

It’s strange reading this book 10 years later from when it’s set and seeing how things have changed and yet stayed the same.

The Hairdresser of Harare is peppered with colourful characters whom you experience from the perspective of the main character Vimbai who reigns like a queen in MaKhumalo’s Hair Salon, until a position for a new hair dresser opens up and Dumi enters the picture then everything gets tangled up into an unlikely love story……..

I loved how the book captures the duplicitous nature of society having one set of standards other people expected to live up to and another for yourself, mixed together with the judgement, through whose glasses we peer at the world…….

Chapters in the book end with a predictive statement which is a highlight of what comes next, at first I found it interesting but after a couple of chapters; it stops being cute as it felt at times like a spoiler; the way it forced me to start anticipating the story, aspects of it wound up disappointing compared to how I imagined would unfold, and how it took away the element of surprise as you already have been primed to see it coming and you justing wait for the other shoe to drop……

The book is easy to read although it has a few colloquial phrases and slang words in the Shona language which are relatable to Zimbabweans but jarring for non-Shona readers and without a glossary at the end, well you simply have to figure out from the context of the italicized words that this is probably a greeting or better yet make friends with someone who speaks the language……. I can be your friend 😂 😉

~B

Of A Letter To Africa

Dear Africa

There’s defiance and determination in your depth.

They came, they saw and they conquered. They plundered, as they they convinced themselves they were bringing light to your dark shores.

mad scramble for Africa

They convinced you to believe your darkness was ugly and that your past was shameful and they would teach you real salvation, civilization and sophistication because the things worth striving for could only be found beyond over the seas.

AFRICA

They took bits of your soul, your blood and bones and created a restlessness in you. How can you be anything but restless when the bones of your ancestors lay displayed in museums in foreign lands, when descendants of your blood struggle to relate with you?

How can you prosper when you were taught that the spirits of your ancestors are demons and communing with them is to practice heathen ways and to invite evil into your life? Commune instead only with the Holy Ghost and the One True God

cavorting with evil

How can you advance when they saw all the magic and beauty in your ancestry and called it witchcraft? Parts of it could have been malevolent but it all got heaped up together with the benevolent and cast away like a nightmare bedtime story..

See how they broke you, they taught you how to read but only after they rewrote themselves into your history and all you know about your past is how they wrote it juxtapositioned with how your own tried to rewrite it back and the truth, well, the truth, lies lost somewhere in-between because no one owns the truth.

See how they made you shun the melanin in your skin, the kinks in your hair and how you bleach it out and straighten it out as you weave for yourself a whole new identity.

How comfortable are you in your skin when everyday a struggle to battle the uncertainities that were bred into you when they told you the colour of all things evil is dark and light is all things good.

There’s darkness in your past, a past that fills you with rage and shame, but it’s OK because if it did not it would mean you don’t remember where you came from. The past doesn’t have to define you but that doesn’t mean you should pretend it never happened or it did not change you

You have changed ……

Like a child learning to walk, your footprints are all over the place; neither neat nor straight as you struggle to find your roots and your place in the world.

footprints

They broke you but the cracks are healing, filled with something different, something stronger…….. Divergence

Africa remade

 

You are no longer whom you were nor whom they tried to turn you into, you are different. Find peace with the new you and your divergent flavours, from the dark roasted caramel to the milk rich vanilla and everything beneath all the layers that make you up……

diversity

You were unmade and now you are remade, embrace all your Divergence.

Africa Dawn

 

You have a story to tell, don’t let anyone tell it for you but most of all, don’t let anyone else tell you how to tell it, find your voice…….

All my love
My Africa, My Words

~B

Of Letting it GROW: hair

Hello……

A few questions I get asked fairly regularly include how long I have been keeping my hair, why I have dread locks and if I have any hair care tips for someone wishing to grow theirs too and who my hairstylist is?
Well today you are in luck……

The last time I tried to measure my hair length was a couple of days ago……..

20180412_131651.jpg

I don’t quite remember the length I got from the tape measure, mostly because, well, one was pretending to measure the length, one mustn’t measure their precise hair length one must stay humble…… Just let it grow, let it grow!!!!! 

let it go

Generally it’s somewhere close to Mid Back length MBL or something like that:

mid back length locks

How long have I been keeping my hair?
•hmmm I have been keeping it since the last time I got my hair cut, and to be honest I don’t remember when And I can’t recall what my scalp looks like.

hair (2)
Why do I have dreadlocks?
• correction, first of all they are not dreadlocks as such, what I have going on is called two strand twists…. because well twisted into two strands.

two strand twist dreadlocks twist

• I used to have such a big Afro hair, I loved that huge Afro and I  wore it like that cause I could comb it out. That is, until the breakage during combing started really getting to me, this hair was never designed to be tamed by a comb and that’s why people get regular hair cuts or use hair relaxers and straighteners but I figured it would be crying shame to just cut it off and thus I started to keep it twisted……..

two strand twist

How to get length?

That’s easy don’t cut your hair!!!!!!

That’s the easy part not cutting your hair and then it gets complicated because it takes no small amount of commitment, especially in the beginning, the awkward phase is real when you have the short wriggly larva hair going on…

until one day boom the butterfly emerges

Two strand twist dreadlockss

The number of people you have to defend your hair from, The System; Lecturers, Dean of Students, Vice Chancellor, Employers, Potential In-law’s, Church Folk (because apparently the devil resides in long hair), random strangers, friends and family……….

I have a friend who cut his hair for a job interview and still didn’t get the job….

The closest I got to a hair cut was when a relation literally dragged me to a hair salon and offered, a then obscene amount of money; to the barber to cut my hair and the barber was like “NO, it would be bad Karma.” I have never been more thankful for karma than that day….  .

There’s always that relative whose first words are “I see you haven’t cut your hair……” like you an unrepentant criminal…

You will have to cultivate a streak of stubbornness and yep I am a keeper

Still I love my hair

dreadlocks in the sundreadlocksa crown of hair

If you really like it put a ring on it 😂

dreadlocks in a suit

Who does my hair?
I have this pillow, you go to sleep and when you wake up;  you wake up like this….

I woke up like this with my locks

You can’t keep two strand twists without learning how to self twist your hair….

And sometimes hair strands will break off, it happens;

hair breakage
•like when a baby grips your hair as if all of existence depends on it *snap*
•Your hair gets caught on a Velcro strap *snap*
•Your hair gets caught on zipper as you pull off your jersey. *snap*

don’t panic, grab a needle and thread and just sew it back on, nobody will ever know……….

~B

Of Coffee And The World Cup

Of Coffee And The World Cup

If you were having coffee with me; I would tell you how all conversation leads to Moscow Russia for the 2018 football world cup. Since it happens once every four years, you can see, how people would lose their heads over it…..

If you were having coffee with me, I would ask you what all the fuss is about. I mean what is this World Cup, is it a giant tea cup around which the whole world can sit together and enjoy a warm beverage together, reminiscing the past, sipping the present and dreaming of the future of the free world, I think I would be more interested in it if that’s what it were.

If you were having coffee with me I would ask you what the official 2018 FIFA World Cup logo looks like to you?

World Cup logo

Does it look to you like the vague outline of a person perhaps? When I squint my eyes and look at it with my head tilted at an angle I can make out a silhouette of a bouncy haired beau…..

And then just like that trick photo where one moment you see a beautiful young and later an old hag; the more I look at it though, it resolves into something else and and and and the redness is like like like as the setting sun turns the clouds blood red and and and just like Edvard Mauch I sense The Scream………

the Scream

afroscream-cup

Now you cant unsee that image either can you?

wha the world cup logo looks like

Maybe I watched too many episodes of Stranger Things or maybe my imagination is a fertile place where the seeds of whimsical thought bloom into flights of fancy.’

If you were having coffee with me I would ask you which country has your support in the current World Cup.  I think I would support Wakanda, but since it’s a fictional country I would pick Nigeria because their football jersey looks like its straight outta Wakanda; and the way they were dressed up for the world cup like they are going to a fashion show or a music video…….

Naija football

wakanda forever

naija teamNaijateam

If you were having coffee with me I would tell you that if you did not know this about me, you should know that I am hardly anything of a football aficionado to put it mildly, if set pieces where chess pieces, then CR7 would make more sense to me if it were a chess gambit where The Castle does a Rookie move with a seven move check mate………

it CROWD

Its been a week into the World Cup and already I can see how its going to be a long month. Looks like I have plenty of time to read because the TV is otherwise engaged to an eager suitor; what good books can you recommend so I can update my Good Reads list…..

see no football, speak no football, hear no football

If you were having coffee with me I would tell you that the our elections are drawing closer and we have 23 presidential candidates, 3 of those female, 50000000+ registered voters and 44 days until Zimbabwe Decides.

23 zimbabwe presidential candidates

23 people want to be elected as the next President, that’s democracy for you or maybe the illusion of democracy  as some of those have unrealistic chances of winning and only serve to split votes. *sips tea*

lemon tea

 

~B

 

 

 

Of Clamped

You park your car; pay for your parking space for the next hour and then; this happens, what do you do?

harare parking

Coming back to my vehicular transportation and and and finding its been clamped.

A clamped tyre

A distinctively yellow hideous excuse of a handcuff hugging one of the wheels tightly, like a crazy lover who won’t let you go; forever…..

“What’s this?” I ask the Parking Marshall, kicking at the offending yellowness with the toe-end of my shoe.

It’s been clamped Sir” replies the Marshall; fiddling around with their mobile parking receipt machine.

Parking Marshall

Slowly I count to ten and exhale.

I can see that it’s been clamped” I speak with a calmness that belies the fury by which I punctuate each word with a kick to the clamped tyre.
Why has it been clamped? I paid my dollar for the hour and I still have time on clock too

You have an outstanding unpaid parking bill of $2” replies the Parking Marshall.

May I know when I incurred this parking bill and why you did not inform me of this earlier when I paid for parking? Why did you wait until I had gone to clamp my car, like a thief in the night except its daylight robbery.” I speak gesturing at the midday sun.

Unfortunately Sir, my system doesn’t show unpaid___”

I interrupt before the marshall can finish that ridiculous sentence;
Then pray tell, how did you divine that I had a parking bill

My supervisor from Control called to notify me of the outstanding amount and advised I clamp your vehicle. The system there has access to that information. I can call Control and you can speak to them if you wish” the parking attendant tries to explain.

No!” I quickly respond tersely. After a few second of silence I proceed to raise my points of concerns.

…….And how would I know that the person I am speaking to is from your parking company and not someone you are in cahoots with to swindle me of an easy buck. I am not refusing to pay, I simply want to know first of all when these supposed parking violations occurred and secondly I want to see it on something official. I will simply not just take you or your supervisor’s word alone.

The Parking Marshall then makes a phone call and speaks briefly, I do not catch the conversation but she attempts to hand me phone mouthing the word “my Supervisor“. I refuse I flat out, shaking my head of locks, like a ghost from Macbeth.

I don’t want to talk to that person if that’s your Supervisor, tell them what I told you.

The Marshall converses on the phone and must have come to some sort of understanding with the person on the other end.

My supervisor says he can send you an email statement,” the Marshall relays.

I hand over my business card with an email address at the back and the Parking Marshall passes on the information.

If it’s OK with you I will wait in the car” I say as I unlock the car and sit inside.

It’s a good thing I can check emails from my phone; so I wait and wait, I wait forever boredom begins to set in. I start the car, for fun. The Marshall looks at me in alarm, as if I might be crazy enough to drive off.

Fortunately before I can test the theory of how crazy I can get, the phone beeps an alert, new email notification. Opening the email I scroll through the itemised bill I scroll and scroll till I find the two entries.

parking

October 2017 according to their records the vehicle parked and did not pay; how can anyone verify something from 8 months ago; who was even driving? What if they just randomly pick dates from long ago and claim unpaid parking fees; I mean the car has a steady history of paid parking;  why did they not pick up on the amount due earlier if they have a computerised system but of course arguing with the Parking Marshall is pointless because The System does not negotiate, especially once your car is clamped, The System wants money.

I pay the $2 and the car gets unshackled…. It’s a good thing I have no other appointments or I would have been two hours late………

Where are the City Fathers and what kinda of Mickey Mouse operation is the prepaid parking company running?????

~B

 

 

 

 

 

Of Coffee With Lerato: Wandering Through Africa

 

Of coffee with Lerato: Wandering Through Africa On Faith

If you were having coffee with me I would tell you that I am honoured to have a well-travelled guest with quite the wanderlust; Lerato Mogoatlhe here with us.

Lerato M

~B: Hi Lerato we can call you Lerato right or you have an alias you best known as?

L: I’m so happy about our coffee. There is nothing I love more than conversations with like-minded people, you know, we who are passionate to the point of being obsessed with Africa. My friend Astou Fall nicknamed me Vagabond…and @MadamAfrika, which is my name on Twitter and Instagram. I love them both but MadamAfrika has our continent in there so call me Madam Afrika, please.

~B: Alrighty then. Hello Madam Afrika; first thing’s first because in my world, there’s only two kinds of people: Tea or Coffee?

L: Coffee, buna, kahawa. Sorry tea – I’m not a morning person and you are not known to up an upper!!!

Lipton tea bag

Walk to the grocery store instead of taking a car

~B: How many countries have you been to and where did you have your most memorable cuppa?

L: 21. This question is a trick. You are trying to pick a favourite child among many. None the less, Sudan, Khartoum. I stayed in Al Amarat while there. A short walk from my hotel was an old woman who with a simple coffee stall on the street. Very basic: a small table, a couple of kettles to boil her water, drinking glasses and jars with coffee, ginger, sugar  and cardamom. I’d sit quietly with her and we would communicate with our smiles. It was such a tender and loving way to start my mornings.

Al Amarat

Al Amarat

Coffee spot

Coffee Spot in Al Amarat

~B: I am in awe though, did you just wake up one day and decide “Right; I want to travel!” and upped and left just like. *finger snap*

L: Have you met me? I do not do snaps. It looks like it but trust me, my obsessive mind would never. let me. The moment is always a snap of the finger but the destiny was signed a long time ago. I was around 8 when we were taught about ancient Egypt at school. I still remember the awe, staring at a poster of the Sphinx. I still catch some of the teacher’s words: the great Pyramid, Seven wonders of the ancient world.

This made me realise that the world is far bigger than anything I can imagine, and that history goes waaaaay back to a time that I will only ever know through words and whatever is leftover from its time. I also told myself that I’m going to see the pyramids. I read Things Fall Apart at 13 going to 14 and my mind went to work again: these markets, the traditional wrestling, cowrie shells, palm wine…I wanted to see and taste them and that means going where they are. Around this age I also read a book that introduced me to Jollof rice – and drumroll, there goes my mind. I was blown away to discover that there are other ways to enjoy rice other than plain and boiled. In between there is more African literature and music and it all made me curious.

The backdrop of it is being raised on a steady diet of Black Pride and at some stage my uncle’s Pan Africanism. We are extremists, my uncle and I, so every idea and aspiration was measured against Africa, down to the littlest details and the conclusion I made by the time I hit my early twenties; that the world is great, but Africa is affirming. Listen, I wanted to learn French for the longest time and when I told my uncle he called me out. ”Only an inferiority complex makes you shed yourself” he said, and there is nothing lost than an African who buys into the propaganda of our inferiority…why learn French when I could not speak IsiXhosa, he argued. 

So my life has always Africa first, middle and last.

Then I worked as a journalist and became increasingly unhappy with Africa being written as doom and gloom. I am a doer, so I left to rewrite the narrative.  Africa is my destiny and fits into every component of my life and interests, if you get want I mean. Every time I question and explore my identity, the answer is always Africa.

Jebel Barkal

Now to get to leaving. I went to Accra on a media trip in 2006 for four days, that introduced me to blackness as I will never experience it in South Africa for as long as apartheid is not fully dismantled: pride, glory, power…man…do you know what it feels like to see yourself as a servant all your life when you do not consider yourself one?  So even being in a supermarket in Accra and seeing that everyone from owner and manager to the packer was black was affirming. I made the decision to quit my life in SA while in Accra. I kept it quiet (silence is golden) until November 2007 when I start telling friends that I’m leaving in 2008. The only thing “snap” was going with the 23rd of June. I may not know the moment when it will happen, but the destiny has been sealed.

~B: What was your plan did you have a travelling companions besides of course FAITH.

L: By myself. I roll solo. It is faster. It has focus. I consider myself quiet the Philosoblah, and have always believed that how we come into this life tells you have everything you need to know – even people who share a womb come out of it and into life alone. Company is great but some things can only be done alone. The biggest dream of my life had to be MY moment, not our moment. Gosh. I even broke up with a fling after the mention joining me in Accra – ALL THAT MIGHTY WEST AFRICAN ASS AND YOU WANT ME TO CARRY FOOD FOR THE ROAD. *Claps once*

~B: Where is the weirdest place you spent the night?

L: On a dune in the Sahara. You know how they say the desert is either very hot or very cold. Understatement. After a wild night of lots of vodka (also known as the devil’s juice) I became convinced that I am going to die from the cold so I stayed up to keep an eye on my soul so I could tell it not leave my body – true damn story. I ended up hanging out on a dune….so that I may catch my soul when the cold tricks it into leaving my body.

~B: Lerato has a book coming out in September. Tell us about your book (was it part of the plan too or it kinda just happened along the way)

vagabond by lerato Mogoathle

Vagabond Wandering through Africa on Faith

L: Vagabond was always going to happen. The difference now, I guess is that I am whiling the economic dynamics of being a full time writer than trying to balance it with a full time job that comes with nice cash and managing people.

~B: Briefly; tell us, which was the high point in your travels; what was the one thing you thought if I live through this I will never do; anything this crazy again?

L: High point: meeting and befriending Habib Koite. His album Afriki is how I pray and worship. This journey brought me to my knees many times.  I kept running out of money that wasn’t coming into my account fast enough even though I was earning. The way SA media treats freelancers is DISGUSTING AND DEHUMANIZING. So I wanted to give up and take a break.

 I went back to my place in Abidjan and started packing. I was listening to Afriki, to a song called Nteri, and in this moment I felt Allah saying to me that this bullshite will never end, but He has my back and indeed, for I never lacked even when I didn’t have money to move between Ghana and Ivory Coast, I still made it and it happened without a fuss. I literally showed up at Werewere Liking’s doorstep at Village Kiyi to say I need a place to stay and don’t have money. You know what her son Ben said,? Pity I arrived a day after a troupe they were hosting had left.  I did what needed to be done, the answer was start over. I decide to start over in Mali because Habib, my greatest artists of all time, was headlining the festival of the desert.

I meet him in the Sahara – how fantastical is Africa though? Only here do you get to say things like “we met in the Sahara”.

Mt Sinai

Mt Sinai

Starting over changed my life: I learnt French, I assimilated, I joined a family of vagabonds who had drifted to house number 227, Para Djikoroni in  Bamako. I lost my morbid obesity, among other things. I don’t have anything that I would not do.

LIONS

Hanging out with Lions; Victoria Falls

If it doesn’t kill you it makes a killer story. Crazy: I put a knife on a taxi driver’s neck and threatened to kill him if he didn’t stop driving like he had a death wish. This was in Eastern Ethiopia.

Harar

Feeding Hyenas Mouth to Mouth in Harar; Eastern Ethiopia

 

L:  I thought I had time all along but the reality of thinking I could have a 9 – 5 and still write sunk in. Now I am an author first, journalist and editorial expert second. This is the only way I can possibly write more books, which I want to. I burn a herb called imphepho. It’s an important part of our spirituality in South Africa . Our being black and ancestral. It calms me. I want to be a diva. Nadine Gordimer used to tell people do not bother her with meaningless social calls. It sounds bitchy but it is true, certainly for me, I work best under a rock, with zero distractions so all my energy and thoughts are focused on the task at hand.

~B: If you could pick any Fictional Characters from TV or literary creations to travel with you whom would you pick and why?

L: Tin Tin has been everywhere. He is a trust fund baby and they are very generous with mom and dad’s money. I want to travel with him and let me assure you, I would consider burning through his bank account the least I can do to get back at King Leopold. I take my justice wherever I can create it 🙂

~B: I don’t know how anyone can travel without music, I can’t live without it; what was the soundtrack of your sojourn.

L:  The sound track is the Best of Lucky Dube. This continent loves that man. He was a hero. He showed up amid wars and chaos. He was one with the people. It was such a revelation for me to hear people tell me about how his music saved them or keeps them together still.

~B: Are you done travelling or………

L: Never. When I have been to every country in Africa; I will start over because nothing stays the same anyway.

~B: Would you do it again?

L:  A million times. The five years of living on the road are the most important years of my life.

~B: Any people you would like to give a special mention to for their support in getting your book done and your nomadic life; wave at them like you are doing for TV

L: ***twerk, twerk, twerk, TWERK BOO!!!*** Let’s enjoy the most magnificent continent on earth, our Africa – the one that gives wings to our dreams.

Lerato Madam Afrika

~B: Thank you Lerato; it was a pleasure having you tell us some profound parting words.

L: Never believe news headline and the narrative of doom and gloom. That’s just a business decision because if it bleeds, it leads, as they say in journalism school. Take time to dig into Africa – books, music, food, culture, tech, art…everything, and you will truly see just how magnificent Africa is.

madam afrika

Bio: South African author  and journalist who considers herself a Pan African first and makes life choices from that precious and powerful space.

Insta and Twitter: @MadamAfrika

Facebook: Lerato Amandla Mogoatlhe