CLUB READERSHIP is on a journey to making Africa great again and what better way to developing this continent to the giant that it is; than to introduce platforms where young people can start talking about African literature? Engaging on the importance of reading is crucial as we are ranked as one of the countries with a staggeringly low literacy rate and the journey that Club Readership is undertaking, seeks to better the state of reading in Africa. In line with this aim, we have introduced Club Readership Magazine to present reading in a more fashionable format. In this issue of our magazine, we saw it fitting to have a discourse on gender roles and how they correlate with the culture of reading, by interviewing Ayanda Allie Paine. Apart from her successful career as a South African journalist -cum- news anchor on the Weekend Wake Up programme which airs on eNCA (DStv 403), Ayanda also defines herself as a mother, a sister, and a daughter. CEO, Morongwa Maifo and CSO, Mahlodi Kgatle of Club Readership spend a lovely Spring afternoon under a glorious Oak Tree at the Wits University; discovering the carats hidden within the African jewel, Ayanda Allie-Paine.
Question 1: Ayanda, if you were profiled by any international magazine, which one would it be and what would the words of the title say about you?
A: It would either be the Oprah or Essence Magazine because they both highlight phenomenal women, exposing the issues that we are challenged with alongside celebrating the strength of women. “Imbokodo”. as we call them in South Africa. These are women who take the bull by the horns in whichever capacity that they are in- which is how I would describe myself. I believe that it is not the boardroom that makes you powerful, nor is it a television set nor the wearing of high heels that defines power. Your power is derived from fulfilling your purpose, wherever it may be. Whether that is in your capacity as a grandmother looking after grandchildren in the unfortunate event that your son/ daughter has passed away. That is power. Whether that is a single mother transporting her children to and from school. That is power. Whether you are a woman who is the CEO or you are the cleaner working to make ends meet. That is power. When describing myself, I would like to fit in there because I am one of those mothers who is working hard to make sure that my children go to school. I am also a sister who loves coming together with other young ladies to chart a trajectory into how we make ourselves better and how we grow. I have chosen these magazines because they also reflect the community. This reminds me of a universal proverb- “Ubuntu”- I am because you are. So I describe myself as a community builder and development practitioner which forms part of my role with Bukho Bami Youth Empowerment Center. I am also a broadcaster who speaks to South Africa about various current affairs which is something that I consider to be of great privilege; to have a voice to speak and also to be heard. I wear the cap of a CEO while running Jacana Media which amplifies what I do as a broadcaster by making content that is socially responsible.
Question 2: What is your strength and how has it propelled you in your various capacities?
A: The greatest thing about me and the golden thread that seams through all my work is ‘love’. What wakes me up in the morning and helps me get my children ready for school, is love. What helps me to fetch them after school and drop them off and go to Dobsonville in Soweto ensuring that the youngsters we work with at Bukho Bami are okay, is love. What wakes me up on a Saturday and Sunday morning to go to work and broadcast amongst the other duties that are bestowed unto me- when people are sleeping in- is love. What inspired me to put together a company like Shekinah Media to speak truth to the various social ills that we have- is love. It is very simple, nothing but genuine love.
Being an entrepreneur is crazy because essentially we are taking our dreams and making them a reality and the journey towards that is not easy because not everyone sees the
Question 3: What are your areas of personal development and how are working towards achieving them?
A: Trying to be a better version of myself by displaying more love to self, to my country and fellow man. This is because we get so caught up in being busy but not necessarily being productive, that we lose out on showing love to each other. In essence, I am working towards channeling my energy in that which matters. This means having and keeping to a schedule every day in order to honor commitments that I have made. I would say this is my biggest weakness because I love to engage with people but I often find that unplanned engagements take up more time which leaves very big room for disappointing those who have scheduled to spend time with me. It is becoming increasingly important for me to remove the distractions in my life to make more time to work, to relax, and to deliver on my commitments- which would be a reflection of better time management. I also need to learn to delegate more efficiently which will help open up more space in my diary. It also calls for a need to develop my team and increase their capacity to fulfill that which has been delegated to them. This also helps me to reflect that I actually have an amazing team- the guys I work with at Bukho Bami, the guys I work with at Shekinah Media- are so incredible. I always say to them if God decided to take me today, I am confident that the work would continue because they have grown to such an extent that they don’t really need me- and that is a sign of a true leader. I thank God that I have been able to have such a strong team around me that makes me look so good.
Question 1: Judging by how big and dynamic your industry is, what do you think your contribution is and what keeps so grounded?
A: The industry is indeed big and has so many platforms and mediums for one to showcase their talents. Women are often being compared to one another which can cause nasty competition at times and if you don’t know what it is that you were created for, then it is very easy to get lost. I quote Dr. Myles Munroe when he said: “Where purpose is not known, abuse is inevitable”. So, when you don’t know who you, why you are and what it is that you contribute, then it is easy for you to try and compete with every fad and trend in every season. But, when you have recognized your calling, it becomes easy to “stay in your lane”. When you get into the industry, you see the likes of Debora Patta- a strong, feisty, formidable and phenomenal woman and you think, “maybe I’m a Debora Patta”. You also see, admire and try to emulate the likes of Jeannie D- spunky and pretty but along the line you realize that it does not necessarily speak to your personal brand. Sometimes it is a case of trial and error but you eventually find your groove, your mojo, and you bring that to the table. I like to deliver news that is hard-hitting, sometimes disturbing and sometimes sad but I always like to bring a glimmer of hope in my delivery which is reflected in my style of questioning. I don’t like to be rude because I don’t believe in destroying the human-being in order to get to the answer. You can get to the truth without destroying the person. This displays itself even in the way that I greet, I will always smile. In the way that I speak, I will try to be polite- which should not be confused for being a walk-over but rather that I remember that you are human first and I think that is what’s missing in a lot of discourse in South Africa. You look at social media and the way in which we speak to and with each other- there is no peace. I ask myself, how can people be so rude to fellow beings when they have actually done nothing wrong to you personally? Essentially, I always try and remember why it is that I got into this industry, what it is that I am trying to do and that’s what keeps me grounded.
Question 2: What can we do as a nation to ensure that the 9th of August- Women’s Day- is not relegated to just an annual celebration of women but that it becomes a daily commission of affirming, celebrating and protecting women?
A: There is a multi-disciplinary approach that is needed for us to win the battle against violence against women. Firstly, the way in which we treat each other as women must never go unchecked. The way in which we have conversations with each other is the point of departure. Sometimes we’re our own worst enemies. You don’t need a guy to tell me that I’ve got cellulite, it’s usually the women who body shame and make snide remarks about each other’s bodies – thereby giving men the permission to ill-treat us. Secondly, the way in which we raise and socialize our children is important. The boy child cannot go unschooled when we talk about women empowerment. Boys also need to understand the value and worth of a woman, that we are equal but different.
Thirdly, we need to get involved with practical exercises that involve women in the economy. One such exercise is challenging the norm for women who do not get equal pay for the same services or jobs that they render as their male counterparts. While we battle for promotions and contracts, we also ha1v0e to tend to our families and our children, so we need to have systems and structures that support us in those roles such as day-care centers at our places of work that can take care of our young to avoid the strain of dropping them off at a nursery at 06h00 am just to make it to the office at 08h00 – it is unacceptable. If we are serious about women and want to promote our abilities we need the necessary support to enable us.
Question 3: Who is your female inspiration and what significant contribution has she made to your life?
A: It’s hard for me to narrow my answer down to one person because I am inspired by so many people who have all impacted my life in different ways. Looking close to home, my sister- who is a Psychologist- inspires me. She is a young Ph.D. candidate from Dobsonville- Soweto, now heading the Psychology department at New York State University in the United States of America. I know her humble beginnings so looking at her today inspires me greatly. I also look up to Redi Tlabi who also happens to be from Soweto- Orlando to be particular- her career moves and everything she has done has inspired me. The list is endless, from Basetsana Khumalo to Khanyi Dlomo, to Carol Bouwer. All that these women have done resonates with me but I still admire even the gogo who sells “ama kip-kip” and biscuits on the township street corner- not because she wants to or because it was the life she chose for herself, but because when life dealt her lemons, she decided to make lemonade. These are women in their twilight years who should be spending their days reclining and enjoying life, but every day, as hard as it may be, they choose to fulfill their responsibilities. These are the kinds of women who remind me that I am in a place of privilege and that I should work harder to achieve my goals. I’m also inspired by my late mother. She took my sister and me to multi-racial schools before they even became popular. She found these opportunities for us in the days preceding the existence of Google. Physically, she went through the laborious task of finding whatever was best for us. She even got her driver’s license in an era where it was not popular for women to drive- let alone black women. My mother is the one who gave us the motivation to pursue our heart’s desires beyond what the then society deemed to be an anomaly. She was a young from a rural upbringing with a very strong will and I can safely say I am where I am today because of her.