This week’s contributor to the online sorority is Bonolo Cebe. She is no stranger to South African youth developers and social entrepreneurs. Bonolo,22, was the youngest Fellow in South Africa to be selected for the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) Fellowship Summit 2014. She’s an extraordinary African woman who sees beauty in everything. Her work, passion and cause is to empower the African girl child to dream beyond what her circumstances allow. She is an innovator, speak-lifer and creative soul that is operating under the assumption that everything is possible. I asked her a couple of questions about her experiences in America, being in the White House and Women in Leadership.
SS: What was your motivation behind entering the YALI Fellowship Summit?
BC: The Young African Leaders Initiative for me, presented a unique opportunity to develop and hone my leaderships skills as a young woman on the continent and also meet some of the most incredible young leaders who are working to write a new history for Africa through the tangible contributions they are making. Going into it my aim was to learn as much as possible from these powerful young people and collaborate in addressing some of the challenges that exist.
SS: What thoughts were going through your mind when you realized that you were selected for the programme?
BC: I was excited, but I knew that it was not by my might and that the glory belongs to God alone. More than anything, I was overcome by a deep gratitude because for the journey.
SS: What was the first picture you took in America? Show us!
BC:The first (good) picture I took was at the Fayetteville Market
SS: Besides gifts, what have you brought home with you?
Three key things: A renewed sense of purpose; Strategies for greater impact; A wider network and new friendships
SS: Any challenges faced on your stay?
BC: The ignorance of some Americans pertaining to issues outside of America. The ignorance is real and it became rather challenging to engage with some people.
SS. How did you overcome those challenges?
BC: Sometimes, to overcome ignorance one needs to get informed. I found myself having to invite people to have conversations that stretched and challenged their perceptions towards Africa.
SS: Did you feel there was a strong presence of Women in Leadership in the White House, or just generally?
BC: There is a presence of women in the White House however the nature of politics is still patriarchal. Also there is still a low percentage of women running for office in America. Although there has been some progress, the top jobs in the white house are still occupied by men. One of the sessions we had during the course was on women in public office and one of the key challenges that came up is the fact that the remuneration gap is still quite big between male and females working in the same jobs.
SS: What is the most important thing you’ll teach women of Africa, after your trip?
BC: Dear African woman: Tell your story, tell it well so that it may empower others. Leave a trail, we all got to where we are because someone showed us how they paved their own journey. Share, so that other generations may walk in greatness.
Thank you Bonzolezza Rice! Greater things are yet to come! Keep the light shining and the fire burning!