Don’t you just love the 21st century and all its beloved “improvements” to life as we know it?
I mean, in the 90’s, and possibly beyond – I wouldn’t know, but I’ve read loads about it – whenever you heard titles that started with ‘head of (finance) department’ of whatever organization, your first bet would be in a man, right?
Well, today, in many organizations such as the Namibia Diamond Trading Company (NDTC), you find female smart-heads like Nonnie Tjitemisa heading the finance department.
These are the women who make all of us look good! She came highly recommended by the Ministry of Finance Permanent Secretary, Erica Shafudha who said; “I bet you your target audience and the rest of the public alike, would love to know how Nonnie manages to wow the local financial sector by keeping NDTC’s books squeaky clean with such impressive figures!” Your guess is as good as mine; for a moment there, I had no idea which “books” she was talking about till I went home and did my homework.
Homework’s done. Now meet the lady who has Namibia’s financial sector’s jaw dropping, year in year out…
Born in Windhoek several years ago (please do not ask a woman how old she is, especially on this platform 🙂 ), Nonnie who is married now and blessed with two beautiful daughters, is the fourth of five children to her parents.
“Essentially, I regard myself as a people person, with a high degree of work ethics and integrity,” she says. With two children – which is actually less by African standards:) – and an admirable career to shoulder, she must be a tough cookie, you would presume; you know, the one who lives by ‘spare the rod, spoil the child’ adage. Typically African, you know?
And she says; “It is important that solid foundations are established in our children from the very early stages of life. My motto as a mother is to reward every kind of behavior appropriately. That said, as you would imagine, I apply positive reinforcement and discourage negative behavior as should be the case.
“Typically, my husband and I reward good behavior and make it clear to our babies that the opposite would attract serious consequences. Therefore, sparing the rod is not part of the way I’ve chosen to raise my children.”
Now this, is an African woman! Sounds like my mother – no-nonsense, yet pretty warm underneath it all. I know – or can only imagine – what my mother would say if ever any of my siblings went home to announce that they’re gay. But what would Nonnie do, seeing as, as mothers, we have dreams for our daughters – to find better men their fathers would be envious of 🙂 ?
“My immediate reaction would obviously be disappointment,” she says. However, “I could never deny the reality that any of my children would be confronted with. This being fairly an unusual ‘status’ in my life and generally in my family’s, I would seek professional help in managing my relationship with my child going forward.”
Sounds like a perfect mom, doesn’t she? Does she believe in such thing as a perfect mom, therefore? “Perfection is possible in the eye of the beholder. In practical terms, however, we’re all flawed. With inert human weaknesses, we can only aspire to become best moms in every way possible. Not perfect. That’s impossible.”
With the local financial sector singing her praise and her children demanding for mommy-time, I couldn’t imagine how she balances her professional, motherhood and marital lives. But as they say; a mother has just as many lives as does a cat :)!
“Time is a finite factor and to create sufficient space for the variable challenges of our lives, we must make that deliberate choice of utilizing the limited time effectively. In my life, therefore, I create time for work, my family and my social life and so far, I’m doing pretty well at it. I can easily say I have a relatively healthy work/life balance.”
What’s her secret to that? Time management, she reiterates.
Sounds like a full-time job on its own, doesn’t it? 🙂 She’s the mom who goes out there, bursts her back off for the sake of her employer and family alike. She’s that kind of mom. Begs the question; what does motherhood mean to her, then?
“I regard motherhood as the way in which we stretch our hearts to others in the best possible manner. It is in how we demonstrate affection during trials and tribulations either we or our family members may undergo. I’m talking about selflessness, unconditional commitment that a woman’s heart bears towards another human being. It is in doing only the best and getting the best for another soul.”
That said what kind of legacy would a mother like this want to leave for her children? “I wish to build a solid foundation for my girls, so they can weather any future storm of life. I would like to be remembered as the mother who instilled a culture of independence, hard work and perseverance in her children’s lives. Girls can be vulnerable without guidance and I hope I’m doing it right at present so that in future, they’ll live by these principles.”
Being a mother of girls sends most of us into the fantasy of a world whose leaders are our strong, independent daughters, right? Or am I the only one who entertains these sweet thoughts? Seems so, because as Nonnie puts it; “The reality is that such a world is a mere fantasy and extremely idealistic.”
But a girl can dream, right? 🙂
She adds; “What we should rather think about is, as female leaders, we should act or be good at it all in the face of whatever challenges life may bring into our lady-universes. I mean, gone are the days when a woman could only excel in life based on her looks. They called it ‘ridding on a pretty face’. The playing field has been leveled for us to acquire every skill, knowledge, and competencies available to our male counterparts, and then upon application of the acquired sets, determine our own destinies. The sky’s the limit.
“Inasmuch as female leaders need to be extremely good at what they do, I believe they should be very firm and consistent in their routines, yet fair, to maintain a requisite credibility in the eyes of many other aspiring female leaders.”
Brought up by a single mom who worked as a domestic worker, Nonnie and her siblings were all dependent on the insufficient income their mother brought home, which most of the time, could not provide for all their basic needs.
“I despised the unfortunate living conditions my family was confronted with and made a deliberate decision to work hard, persevere both in school and at home, without losing focus of what my future goals were – to make something more of myself. I’m a firm believer in ‘one is not a product of their circumstances but of the choices they make in those circumstances in determining their destinies’.”
With that kind of upbringing (and well, mindset), if she had the power to help the less privileged, what would this phenomenal woman do with the help of her daughters and what would she tell the struggling single mothers?
“Given the abundance of the natural resources this country and its people are blessed with, it is absolutely absurd that we even have to talk about the “privileged” and the “less privileged” in the same breathe. If we were to fairly utilize the resources of this country, we would need to eradicate poverty and ensure the benefits of independence are equally enjoyed by all.
“We have taken a conscious decision, as a family, to share what we have with the have-nots. We therefore make regular donations towards the local orphanages and participate in social events aimed at uplifting the life standards of the less privileged. We have taught and are still teaching our children to be willing to share whatever they have with those in need.
“I’m fortunate to be working for a company that is absolutely committed to women’s emancipation. Targeted women’s development programs are in place at NDTC and I happen to be the product of such programs. In these conscious platforms, women are encouraged to celebrate their successes and learn from each other.”
Nonnie is a fellow of the Duke Corporate Education – Women Leading Africa Board Leadership Program – through the facilitation of NDTC. There are lots of women targeted wellness programs in the company, as well; all aimed at supporting the well-being of women at work.
To the struggling single mother, Nonnie says: “Every success comes with hard work, dear. No matter how hard the battle may seem, keep working your back off and believe in your hard work, which will get you where you want to be. Focus on the things that you are good at and never give up until you reach your intended goals.
“Stop believing that you are only worth or better off associated with this or that – believe in your own capabilities as a catalyst of your own eventual success. Stop the dependency syndrome (that as women, we have to be independent on men to realize our self-worth). Let’s not, however, be tolerant of abusive relationships and should never shy from holding our partners/spouses accountable for the contributions they need to make towards the upbringing of the children.”
At home, Nonnie is a full-time mother and wife who performs all domestic chores. Who saw that one coming 🙂 ? And at work, she fully devotes her efforts, dedication and know-how to the requirements or her role at NDTC. As a passionate proponent of leading a healthy work/life balance, Nonnie creates time for fun too!
I’m sold! Are you?