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