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Happy International Women’s Month. Be kind to each other.

I have always believed that education is the key to success. I worked hard to achieve my goals, obtaining matriculation, a university degree, and a job. However, I was unprepared for the harsh realities of the professional world. Even educated and sensible male colleagues, once in power, could become tyrants. It was even worse when women inflicted cruelty on their women folk. Pain is pain, regardless of the gender of the perpetrator.

Being a female professional in my country does not give me any special rights or advantages. Despite my unquestionable loyalty, diligence, and passion for my work in the English Department of my former school, I never asked for anything in return. I put my school first, but unfortunately, not everyone reciprocated the same level of dedication. When the promotional position of the Departmental Head was advertised, I did not even see myself as deserving of the position since I believed it was too complicated and demanding of a position I was not cut out for responsibility. My former Departmental Head, who had taken the position of Deputy Principalship, encouraged me to apply and stated that I was already doing the job and would do amazing in that position.

My troubles began after the interview when I scored higher than the candidate who was eyed for the position. The male principal unleashed the worst psychological abuse on me. From spreading lies about me, being humiliated in front of colleagues at a staff meeting to inciting the colleagues against me… All that time, he (the principal) believed that since I was a woman I could be easily shoved off to make way for their person of interest, the union affiliate. My refusal to succumb only aggravated the situation. All that time my only escape was to to do what I have always been good at, TEACH TEACH TEACH… I channelled my energies into what I loved the most even though I was dying inside. My learners saved me and they still do not know what I was going through at the time. They were so well behaved as if they knew that  I did not need any added stress.

The situation started in October 2014, just after the interview in 2017 of January, six months before my appointment as the Departmental Head for the English Subject. I am forever grateful to two members of the interview panel who refused to be part of the corruption and flatly refused again to sign a confidentiality form that was meant to gag them from reporting any misdemeanors perpetuated at those proceedings.

It was not easy as there were times when I just wanted to give up and give in and allow the bullies to have it their way. The waiting was traumatic as I had to continue and go to a workplace where colleagues and the principal were scheming against me, and I was left vulnerable. Each day came with its problems and I was walking around with a target sign on my back. It wasn’t pleasant.

That experience taught me about the inner strength I did not know I possessed. I got to know my real friends from my sworn enemies. (The broader their smile the bigger the pit they dug for me).

Whatever the case, I persevered ….until I was granted the independent interview panel I had requested. Yes, it only happened in 2017, around April. I went flat out with preparations for that interview. I pulled out all the stops, more than before. The same year in June I assumed the position permanently. On the 1st of November 2019, I was appointed to the position I am currently occupying. Needlessly, the trajectory of getting here was also marred with more challenges. I was labelled ‘THAT WOMAN’ …Even by those who knew my name. 

I now advocate for more young women to apply for promotional positions and work hard to prove to themselves, first and foremost, that their work ethics will speak for them. I continue to mentor them and to be their mouthpiece.

 I celebrate my struggles because they continue to shape me into the woman I wish to become. Yes, I am still working on myself: It is indeed a work in progress. 

I pray that I am granted the strength, tenacity, resilience, and courage to advocate for those young women who are deserving…

My work continues…

4 thoughts on “Happy International Women’s Month. Be kind to each other.”

  1. You’re such an inspiration Thandi. What you are talking about is experienced by many female teachers. May you be blessed with strength to continue the great job that you do. We are all in the same boat, but I have to that platforms like Teach2030, that have allowed us to have a voice and a space to grow and share our expertise. Keep up the good work, gal. Lots of love.

  2. Essoung epse Nkoa Sandrine Laure

    As a Montessori guide and a kindergarten Cambridge teacher, I resonate deeply with your journey and the challenges you’ve faced in the professional world. Education, indeed, is the key to success, but navigating the complexities of the workplace, especially as a woman, can be incredibly daunting.

    Your resilience and unwavering dedication to your students despite the adversities you’ve encountered are truly inspiring. It’s disheartening to hear about the psychological abuse and discrimination you’ve endured, but your commitment to teaching and mentoring young women is commendable.

    Your story is a testament to the importance of perseverance and inner strength. You’ve faced obstacles head-on, and your determination has led you to achieve significant milestones in your career. Your advocacy for young women and your role as a mentor are invaluable contributions to empowering the next generation of female professionals.

    May you continue to find strength and courage in your journey, knowing that your struggles have shaped you into the remarkable woman you are today. Your work is not only impactful but also serves as a beacon of hope for those who face similar challenges. Keep shining bright and advocating for change. Your efforts are truly making a difference.

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