Nothemba Kula re­minds us about the im­por­tance of be­ing brave, no mat­ter the cir­cum­stances.

Bona - - Editor’s Letter -

Nothemba Kula on the im­por­tance of be­ing brave

De­cem­ber marks eight months since the death of strug­gle heroine Win­nie Madik­izela Man­dela. One of the most iconic im­ages of her that re­mains vivid in my mem­ory is an ex­cerpt from the Free Man­dela Cam­paign doc­u­men­tary. In a mo­ment of anger and frus­tra­tion, she boldly con­fronts an armed white po­lice man, shout­ing: “What are you do­ing here ar­rest­ing our peo­ple?” That is brav­ery; the courage to fight when you should be afraid. As a South African woman, that image makes me proud. It took brav­ery for women to break free from the po­lit­i­cal and gen­der dy­nam­ics of apartheid.

And, as is the case with Ch­eryl Zondi, al­legedly re­peat­edly raped by Nige­rian pas­tor Ti­mothy Omo­toso, it will take even more brav­ery for us to sus­tain the free­dom we have at­tained. But, chan­nelling your in­ner fighter is not easy. Here are five prin­ci­ples that can em­power you.

1. Break free from the fear of peo­ple – This is the lead­ing fac­tor that hin­ders many from mov­ing for­ward. When­ever we have to do some­thing sig­nif­i­cant, the first ques­tion that comes to mind is: “What will peo­ple say?” The un­for­tu­nate re­al­ity is that many of us sac­ri­fice our dreams at the al­tar of hu­man ac­cep­tance. Brav­ery re­quires that you move be­yond the opin­ions of oth­ers and firmly ex­press your own point of view, how­ever it may be re­ceived.

2. Re­count past vic­to­ries – Noth­ing is more em­pow­er­ing than look­ing back at how far you have come, and re­al­is­ing that you over­came things that seemed im­pos­si­ble. Even as a coun­try, tran­si­tion­ing into the demo­cratic dis­pen­sa­tion seemed im­pos­si­ble without en­gag­ing in a full-scale civil war. But, look at where we are now. Many chal­lenges still re­main. But, we must ap­pre­ci­ate that even though we are not where we would like to be, we are also not where we used to be. Look back at the moun­tains you have climbed, and take courage in the fact that you can also con­quer those ly­ing ahead.

3. Ac­cept the chal­lenge – Be­ing brave must not be mis­taken with de­nial­ism. In the psy­chol­ogy of hu­man be­hav­iour, de­nial­ism is a per­son’s choice to deny re­al­ity as a way to avoid a psy­cho­log­i­cally un­com­fort­able truth. On the con­trary, brav­ery is con­fronting un­com­fort­able re­al­i­ties, and mak­ing the de­ci­sion to face them. Ch­eryl must have known that her de­ci­sion to tes­tify in a pub­lic court was go­ing to be a chal­lenge with mixed re­ac­tions. But, she was will­ing to tackle it head on. When some­thing is im­por­tant, you must be will­ing to pay the price for it.

4. Ex­press your dis­agree­ments – Be com­fort­able with say­ing no as of­ten as nec­es­sary. Vent­ing is a mech­a­nism of val­i­dat­ing your own opin­ions and con­cerns, and deal­ing with neg­a­tive feel­ings in or­der to re­main emo­tion­ally bal­anced. If it is not okay, make it known clearly, quickly and con­sis­tently. Peo­ple who gen­uinely value you will do so even when you dis­agree with them. You must be will­ing to lose peo­ple who only ap­prove of you when you say yes to their de­mands.

5. En­joy the re­sults – Af­ter fight­ing to stand your ground, take a mo­ment to en­joy the ben­e­fits of your hard work. You don’t have to wait for oth­ers to ap­pre­ci­ate you; ap­pre­ci­ate your­self. What is the point of climb­ing the moun­tain if you can’t be brave enough to sit down and en­joy the view?

NothembaKula Founder of King­dom De­vel­op­mentIni­tia­tive

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