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Bathabile Mpofu, Setso Fran & Gail Masondo

NEWS

Meet The IKONS: Gail, Setso & Bathabile

Three women changing the way we view the world

BY YAZA Team

Mar 30, 2021, 02:19 PM

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Bathabile Mpofu, Setso Fran & Gail Masondo
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 Bathabile Mpofu, Setso Fran & Gail Masondo

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. 

Gail Masondo

His name was Carl, but somebody in his family decided to give him a nickname calling him Tar Baby. No wonder he was the primary school bully, He hated his nickname!
 
The day I walked into my 4th grade classroom as a new student in the New York primary school was the day that Tar Baby decided I would be his individual  distraction.
Gail Masondo: South Africa
He announced at the midday break on the playground that he was going to get the new girl, me, after school. I had no idea what that meant but it wasn’t good- given the body language of those who moved away from me after the announcement.
 
Needless to say, I was preoccupied for the rest of the day, and the many days to come because Tar Baby would keep his word. When the clock turned to 3:15 p.m. and the school bell rang announcing the end of another school day, I had to prepare myself for the continued showdown.
 
Tar Baby would be waiting for me and I would run for my life to escape. Out of breath and scared to death, I would  finally enter the lift to take me to our 10th floor apartment in the projects.
 
One morning, something came over me unexpectedly. My 9-year-old self decided I would never be running away anymore. 
 
My strut to school became different. I felt confident, almost angry, at having allowed this boy to threaten me at recess, lunchtime and anytime in between.
 
That morning during recess, Tar Baby greeted me with the same promise he was intent on keeping. My confidence dropped and the same fear that gripped me everyday came back and  made it hard to swallow.
 
That day, I waited for what seemed like an eternity for 3:15 p.m. Tar Baby yelled as he always did as he was coming around that familiar corner. “I'm gonna get you! You better run!"
"I held my peace until I could feel him so close I sensed his breath in my face. I opened one eye, looked him straight in his eyes and announced. “I’M NOT RUNNING ANYMORE!”"
I waited for his next move for what almost seemed like an eternity but all he did was shrug his shoulders, say ‘okay.” and walk away. I was filled with dismay.
 
Was he really going to walk away after terrorizing me for weeks on end? Was this it? More importantly, were his actions an indication that this chase could have ended sooner had I found the courage and the nerve to stand my grounds sooner?
 
Four decades later, it  would be my Zulu husband, Sibusiso, living in Johannesburg, who would unpack those male actions. The thrill was in the chase- watching me run and stumble and sometimes fall in the fear of being caught.
 
Tar Baby simply yet profoundly enjoyed that chase until I stood my grounds. Then, it would no longer be exciting or worth his while.
 
Fear never threatened me again. Tar baby taught me a lesson that I was able to use in many aspects on my life journey. 
 
I decided to share this memory because as women of powerful and pride filled ancestors of the African diaspora, the fear of belonging, acceptance and achieving has often taken our emotional breath away and caused us to retreat rather than moving forward in hope and in faith.
 
In the words of my late mother, “make yourself a committee of one and just do your part. Just do your part!" 
 
Do it by calling up the brave in your heart. By selecting like-minded sisters who can and that will encourage your truth. Do it by living well: holistically. With a sound body, mind and spirit. Do it by recognizing  there is a Creator who has given you everything you need for this journey.
 
Do it by looking at the fear demon in whatever form it takes and announcing each day God grants, “I am not running anymore.”

Gail Masondo is an experienced speaker, author, chaplain & life in Recovery Coach

Setso Fran

Fashion in the western world is designed for one mainstream body shape. As a Black woman in Europe you can’t help but be frustrated by the lack of body shape variety in today’s fashion production.

This narrow focused mainstream production is correlated by lack of diversity in leading roles across the fashion industry; this is highlighted by the shopping struggles on the high street and across online stores especially for Black women.
Setso Fran: Botswana
Because of these struggles, I decided to create SETSOFRAN London to design quality styles, perfect fit, fashionable and comfortable outfits for women who are blessed with some curves across the globe. 
"I believe that I am more attuned to what Black women want to wear, more especially the fit. I found the gap in the market and I am leveraging the opportunity to compete with the world’s biggest brands."
As a company we have taken SETSOFRAN London to Europe, USA, Canada, Africa and Australia while building authentic relationship with our fashionistas. In the next five years, with the power of our core values: Trust, Fashionable and Quality, we want our brand to be a household name and a synonym for trust and quality in the African diaspora across the world. 
 
Throughout this fascinating journey, I want to inspire other women to follow their dreams and take advantage of opportunities available to us today, especially the internet and social media platforms. I believe that the world will be a better place with independent women working together and taking their place in the leading roles.

Setso Fran is the founder and CEO of SETSOFRAN London

Bathabile Mpofu

My name is Bathabile Mpofu, I am from Durban and I have been an entrepreneur since 2015.

I started my business while I was studying for my Masters Degree, while still working full time and with a child that was 2-years-old at the time. I managed to do all of this because I am a resilient Black African woman.
Bathabile Mpofu: South Africa
To be a woman means I’m equipped to nurture and build. This is reflected in how I take care of my family but also in the business I started. My business helps young people become the scientists they aspire to be by providing learners with science equipment they can use at home to better understand scientific concepts.

For me, being African means that not only that I was born here, but there is a sense of belonging here: a sense of community. It is where I can first be of service to my people before I can be of service to the rest of the world. I strongly believe that charity begins at home, Africa is my home. My continent still faces a lot of challenges socially and economically. I cannot solve all of the problems my continent faces, but again, I can contribute and make my difference. 
"My vision is that in the future, my company continues to make an impact locally but also to start making an impact in other neighbouring countries and further."
And being Black for me has meant endless opportunities and being recognised. This country has presented me with a lot of opportunities because it recognises the potential I have. I, therefore, must take advantage of those opportunities and ensure that in everything I do, I do it with excellence. Have you noticed how the diamond sparkles on a Black background? This is me when I do everything with excellence.

With the money received from the VW Lionesses Den competition sponsored by Volkswagen South Africa, I found an excellent teacher to record science lessons that I will make available with the science kits to rural schools. I’m looking forward to contributing to this world, even if that contribution makes an impact only to a few people. What matters to me is that I will leave a footprint on earth given the resources I have. VW stands for Moving People Forward, and together with my contribution I believe that is exactly what we can do.

Bathabile Mpofu is the Managing Director at Nkazimulo Applied Sciences