We had the absolute pleasure of connecting with “soon to be Doctor” Bojosi Gamontle. She is a Botswana-born trailblazer, who has spent time studying in Australia and is now based in Canada with her family. We ask her about life abroad, family and her e-book “Scholarships for Africans”.
Please tell us about yourself.
Firstly, thank you for the inspiring work that you are doing. The time is ripe for Africa to manifest her purpose, and what better way to have young Africans like yourself, hold the reins and create inspiring platforms that can potentially affect and change the lives of other Africans and indeed other people around the world!! Keep up this great work! (blushes)
Briefly, about me. My name is Bojosi Gamontle. I am married to a great Zambian-born man and together we have 3 children. So, I am a mother to 21-year-old, 12-year-old and an almost 3-year-old.
I was born and raised in Botswana, but I have had the chance and privilege to live in 3 other countries outside Botswana. I have lived in Australia – where I did my first degree which was in Occupational Therapy, sponsored by the Botswana government. Following my first degree, I went back to Botswana where I worked for the government as an Occupational Therapist. I learnt a lot, during that time, and got to appreciate how the Botswana health system functioned. I began to develop interest in broader policy issues and decided to search for a scholarship to pursue a Master’s degree. I was fortunate to be awarded the prestigious Fulbright Scholarship in 2006, and went and pursued Master of Public Health with a focus on Environmental and Occupational Health, at the University of Arizona in the United States of America. After that, I went back to Botswana again and worked for about a year, then came to Canada to pursue a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D) in Environmental and Occupational Hygiene, where I am a Ph.D candidate.
We currently live in Vancouver, Canada, but my husband and I remain in constant touch and up to date with what is happening back in our home countries and the rest of Africa.
Outside of my career, my husband and I co-pastor an international church, Faith Impact Ministries International, which also has a branch here in Canada. I also believe in the power of social entrepreneurship, and so I am also involved in designer luxury fashion, and I show women around the world the power of leverage and how they can become financially independent. I run a personal (non-academic) blog which can be found at www.bojosigamontle.com/blog.
I engage in public leadership life as required. For instance, back in Botswana, I was once invited by the then Minister of Health to be a co-master of ceremony for an event where high-ranking government officials, including the country’s vice president were in attendance. This year, I am part of the committee that is organizing the Botswana independence celebrations here in British Columbia, Canada.
Juggling all those hats, how do you achieve a balanced life?
Balance…Hmm! What is that? (Laughs). Basically, I do what I need to do! I have time management tools like a journal, physical – I am old school! I usually write out what I need to do, a week in advance, I then keep updating it daily. My family is such a great support and they take off the pressure as necessary. However, the most central aspect of my life which helps me to be centred is my faith in God! Prayer calms me in a way that nothing else does, and I have seen over the years, an unequivocal power of God upon my life, which helped me to overcome great challenges. Ultimately, I have techniques to keep me balanced, but the centre of my balance is God.
What’s the most important lesson you have learnt from living abroad?
How people in general view Africa and Africans –a monolithic charity case basically. This inspires me to assert my “Africanness” and to support and stand in solidarity with Africans at home and in the diaspora, who refuse to listen to this message of hopelessness and stand firm in the believe that Africa can and will reach a point of ‘glory’ (if we do not give up on ourselves!). Of course, we understand that Africa isn’t one giant country which the late Mandela presided over, but there are over 50 independent states with some doing economically better than others. Yet, we understand that we are stronger together and it would be easier to ‘rise’ together.
What motivated you to write a book?
I wrote a brief e-book and published it on Amazon kindle. The book is entitled; Scholarships for Africans: A guide to successfully applying for admission for Masters and PhD degrees. The e-book covers areas such as: things to consider before searching for a scholarship; different resources where one can search for scholarships; how to write personal statement and research objectives. It also contains sample of personal statements that I have written in the past.Honestly, I did not venture out to write a book for the sake of it! I wrote it out of self-preservation and for a broader reach. As I mentioned above, over the past 15 years, I have been able to successfully apply for different scholarships and grants. In the first few years of my Ph.D, I literally used to receive at least one email per month from someone somewhere within the African continent requesting guidance and/or mentorship as far as searching and applying for scholarships is concerned. It came to me that if I wrote a brief e-book on how to apply for scholarships based on my experience, every time someone requests such guidance, I could just send them a link to purchase the book which costs less than a Nandos meal. Obviously, this method may not be a solution to everyone, but I figured if they truly were searching for a graduate school scholarship, they would at the very least take this first step.
Final words to all the Womandla subscribers and friends…
Dear my African sister: Many of our countries gained independence in the last 50/60 years. Most have been led by men and we know how that story has gone and is going. This is not a call to fight against men, but a call to stand together and do what we know we are capable of doing! Sister, you know of the potential in you. I know of my potential too.
It is our time to “stand women” as Botswana anthem implores. There are many stories within the continent that are a testament to the power of united women in our communities. Imagine, if we could determine that we are going to stand together for our continent…imagine what we could do! It starts in our small corners, doing what we can to uplift one another, then move it to community level, then country level—with determination, before we know it this continent will NOT be known as the ‘dark continent’! Not that our aim is to untangle ourselves from this unfortunate label, because the labellers may not necessarily be persuaded by our attempts. Our aim will be for our great, great grand-children to have a completely different Africa! An Africa where they could easily cross the border to a neighbouring country to receive a high quality Afro-centric education, in any field, right at home, if they chose. An Africa with flourishing economies where everyone will enjoy freedom, and not be a second class citizen.
Follow her @bojosigamontle