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Tumelo Mashile
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An Open Letter to Women

27 August 2013, 07:35

Dear Woman,

As you might have realised by now, the title suggests that I decided to follow the annoying trend of writing open letters to get across my message.  This mode of communication has become fashionable lately, albeit for the wrong reasons.  I chose this particular title in order to get a very important message across to women in South Africa and beyond.  This message is quite simple, so simple that we neglect to make it known to the women of our times.  It is sad that I even had to write this open letter to remind the women of our times how special they are.  The women of our times seem to not be aware or they have forgotten their true value.  Thus, this open letter seeks to remind you of the true value of women.

History is littered with phenomenal women who never allowed their circumstances to hold them back.  These women were audacious to dream and work tirelessly to ensure that their dreams come true.  The likes of uMama Charlotte Maxeke are just examples of such phenomenal women, who despite difficult circumstances managed to get a BSc degree and become the first black woman graduate.  Mama Albertina Sisulu is not referred to as the ‘mother of the nation’ for nothing; she stood in defence of human rights when it was not fashionable to do so.  She, together with other women, defied the apartheid regime and rejected the infamous pass law and Bantu education.

Just imagine being blind and deaf.  Imagine how your ability to communicate would be affected.  Such misfortune would mean giving up for most people; this was not an option for the courageous Helen Keller.  She rose above her misfortune and went on to become one of the most prominent American authors, political activist and lecturer.  I can continue listing women who started with nothing but managed to rise to heights unheard of during their times but the purpose of this piece is not to give you a history lesson but rather to remind you that there are some women who started with less than you, who had to navigate worse conditions than you find yourself in, women who had every reason to give up but didn't, women who played a role in paving the way for us to live better lives.   

Have you realised how special you are as a woman? Do you know your true worth in society? If you do, then why do you settle for less than you deserve? Why do you allow yourself to be treated as a second class citizen? Why don’t you become all that you can and should be? Why do you wait for the men to determine and dictate your future?  Woman-of-today you can be everything if you are willing to work hard enough. The time of being a house-wife and depending on a man are long gone.  This is your time to liberate yourself psychologically, physically, financially and otherwise.  Remember that ‘he who feeds you, controls you’.  You need to believe in yourself and your ability to contribute to a better society.  Without confidence, you are likely to stay were you are or even regress into being less than you are able to become. 

All over the world, the gospel being preached is women empowerment.  There is so much emphasise in giving women a head start so as to deal with the unfair patriarchal nature of society.  Hence I say now is the time for you to shine woman!  Even with progressive policies meant to liberate women, it will take strong women to realise the objectives of this policies.  Nothing will be handed to you on a silver platter; you unfortunately need to work very hard to take advantage of these policies.  Those of you who are waiting for things to happen, waiting for someone to take care of you and improve your socio-economic conditions might need to wait just a little bit longer.  As Abraham Lincoln said, “things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.” Are you willing to be the one who catches the crumps left by those who hustle? Or are you ready to sacrifice in order to be at the main table, creating your own destiny, being a captain of industry, social activist, and/or competent civil servant? 

The choice is yours, you can continue to play the blame game, being affected by the terrible disease called ‘excusitosis’ (sufferers of this disease can be seen by the speed at which they present excuses why they can’t do something rather than coming up with reasons why they must do it) or you can choose to outwork everyone else, including your male counterparts.  Winners in life have immunised themselves against ‘excusitosis’ and are allergic to people who have this terrible disease.  The conditions you find yourself may be hard; doors might get closed in your face, you might be treated unfairly just because you are a woman but if you remain focused and outwork your competition, the world will have no choice but to notice you.  Society will not ignore your excellence even if they try to.  It’s a simple choice, its either excellence or excuses. If you thrive for excellence, doors which you can’t go through alone will be opened.  If you find excuses for not doing what you need to do, then your whole life will just be one big EXCUSE.  Excusitosis is a contagious disease, so it’s only a matter of time before people start disappearing in your life.  If a blind and deaf individual could become a celebrated author, political activist and a lecturer; what’s your excuse?  

*Tumelo Mashile is a Speaker, Writer and an EnGepreneurTM (an Entrepreneurial Engineer)

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