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Grace Ngadze, Ayuma Michelle & Forget Shareka


Meet The IKONS: Michelle, Grace & Forget

Three women changing the way we view the world

BY YAZA South Africa Team

Mar 12, 2021, 11:42 AM

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Grace Ngadze, Ayuma Michelle & Forget Shareka
Throughout the month and in honour of International Women's Day we will be sharing 100 stories from 100 African women as part of IKON 100. Today, we speak to Grace Ngadze, Ayuma Michelle & Forget Shareka

These women are from different countries, backgrounds and professions but what binds YAZA, them, and you together is the fact that we all fundamentally believe that when women support women great things happen. They say the future is female, we say the future is now. 

Ayuma Michelle

To be a Black African Woman in 2021 is to be deliciously relevant as the Face of Promise.

More than ever, the world is hungry for alternative stories from people whose traditional narratives deemed unworthy to showcase or represent with dignity. Yet the same people are the face of promise in a world that now urgently demands our resilience. The pandemic is a great equalizer and we all have to learn how to build from scratch amid great levels of uncertainty. Before the pandemic, who already fought to create her own opportunities from scratch, while the world moved on? It is us, the Black African Women, and now the world gets to learn from our resilience.
Ayuma Michelle: Kenya
I see it in our hardworking African mothers who during tough times walk into almost empty kitchens and magically come out with something to eat. I see it in our women entrepreneurs who create new markets with products and services that serve women just like us, that global markets conveniently ignore. I see it with gifted female creatives like Elsa Majimbo turning seasons of pain like the Covid-19 pandemic into seasons of profitable passions with online humour. Resilience is not something we need to learn. Our very existence in this world throughout generations has wired us to be ready.

And when we thrive, we may come as one, but we come as many across the world who were left on the sidelines. It creates more room for global equity.
"Our very existence in this world throughout generations has wired us to be ready."
But this disruption comes with the discomfort of the once privileged people and so courage is required for us who are taking up new space. Especially in spaces of leadership which were traditionally held by middle-aged white men, we are fast-rising with exceptional leadership. We are the new face of global leadership and we should neither be apologetic nor stuck at being too grateful that we forget the work that urgently needs to be done. All the battles our foremothers fought to get us here have fully resourced us to lead greatly.

And so, a year like 2021 becomes one where we learn to thrive, not just survive. While we may still fight all the false narratives we have for years internalized about ourselves, we will need to create an arsenal of hope within ourselves to believe in the promise that we are. For we are the ones we were waiting for.

Ayuma Michelle is the founder & storytelling coach at LetS

Forget Shareka

The Black African woman is my very own salient identity expressed in natural beauty, unique intellect, transformative power and courage. Being Black invokes power within me and inspires confidence within me to go into the world to conquer, build and lead change across specialisations, cross boundaries, and geographical beliefs.

The colour of my skin portrays resilience, charisma, assertiveness and confidence. Africa’s rich cultural wealth and heritage, enveloped in the spirit of Ubuntu, is my treasure and that of other Black women as well. I am proud to be a Vlack woman. I am clothed in dignity and strength. In the 21st century; I represent diversity in all its forms, shapes, and existence.
Forget Shareka: Zimbabwe
Growing up, I struggled a lot with prejudices and stereotypes. At both the primary and boarding schools I attended, other students would easily label me a poor girl because of my humble background. Only a handful of people appreciated my intellect. I went to Central America for undergraduate studies; I met and interacted with different people and others whose stereotypes and ignorance was colossal hype. Countless times I was asked; "De que pueblo vienes en Africa?" - Which village do you come from in Africa? Some would ask if we tame lions at home. This experience was incredibly astounding. I have learned to embrace myself and my identity in all this, knowing that being Black and African is the way I walk through life every day. Most importantly, I realized that I owe nobody an explanation about who I was supposed to be, where I was born, who I am, and who I should be.
"I have learned to embrace myself and my identity in all this, knowing that being Black and African is the way I walk through life every day."
I have always wanted to reach greater heights in life and achieve excellence in everything I do. I hope to obtain a pandemic earned master's degree and stay healthy throughout the remaining months. I am directing my passion, focus, and energy towards building empowered communities anchored on self-sustenance, peace, love, and sustainability.
I desire to see women, men, and youth working together to make the world a better place. I want to see every man and woman, leading the presentism notion in supporting gender diversity leadership everywhere and anywhere. I believe that it is time for black women to stand up and challenge the belief that women are somehow less than men and 'think senior management, think a male role.' Let us, as women, embrace the power within us, shine and be the unformidable force of change.

Forget Shareka is an agriculture engineer, entrepreneur, founder at LiHFA & co-founder at Chashi Foods

Grace Ngadze

What does it mean to be a Black African woman in 2021?
For me, it means being part of the spine of the human race. Like, take for instance the fact that nothing functions well without the spine in the human body. Being a woman in 2021 means sophistication, power and authority especially in this century where women are starting to be appreciated and recognized. It means evoking emotion of those around you just by existing, that’s what’s being a Black woman in 2021 means for me.
Grace Ngadze: Zimbabwe
2021 is about applying what I learned in 2020. I hope to achieve full naturalization of my mind regarding situations by being pro-active, confident transparent, and silent. I’ve seen what the pandemic has done but the next step is to take initiative and take charge of my finances, education, and my health. I’m talking about holding my head high through the good and the bad, not hiding my failures because the truth behind any success story is the failures in it. Moving in silence because not everyone is supposed to know what your next move is. The version of myself this year, wants to take full responsibility for every action, especially in business. This year is part of what I call the foundation years of all my businesses. 

Last but not least accepting that it’s okay to take a break from the world by excusing myself from my social media. Yes- the platforms are good when it comes to raising awareness of businesses and carrying out market research, but they are also detrimental if overused and can be very toxic as well. I want to learn to manage that. To not compare my story with that of others because by so doing, I’m neglecting my vision and if I do that, no one is going to tell my story. 
"This year, I want to move from this approval addiction."
One thing I struggle with is fear to take the first step. Even with the many things I’ve started up, whenever I’m starting something new, I struggle to lift take the first action. At some point in my business journey, I asked friends around me for approval of everything I needed to do, even when I didn’t always like what they chose, what mattered is approval. And this year I want to move from this approval addiction. So this year, even when I feel unsure, knowing that I’ve prepared myself thoroughly, and done everything, I’m going to go for it and leave the rest to God, because with life, you never know which ones will be the golden ones!

Grace Ngadze is an author, entrepreneur & influencer

Read: Meet more IKONS