My first feature for Celebrating Blackademic Womxn in 2022! Whoop! I am so excited. I love writing these features because I believe that we need more representation. We need to be seeing and celebrating one another as black womxn in academia. I want us to show the world and our children that the fight for freedom and the right to education was not in vain; and it shouldn’t be taken for granted. Our children need to see the possibilities that education opens up, and that it is possible to attain that degree, even while doing life.
I had a chat with Dr Nthabiseng Violet Moraka earlier this month to feature her as a #WCW on The Blackademic instagram page; and lo and behold, the discussion was too long to fit into one Instagram post- hence this here blog.
So, who is Dr Moraka?
Dr. Nthabiseng Violet Moraka is currently the Chair (Head) of the Department of Business Management at Unisa. As the Chair of Department she is responsible for managing and implementing the operational plan of her department with over 55 staff members and her department services over 89 000 students at Unisa. Business Management is one of the largest academic departments at Unisa.
She also supervises masters and doctoral students. She has published and co-published a number of articles in scholarly accredited journals and has presented papers at local and international conferences.
She serves as a reviewer of two international accredited journals and two local scientific and accredited journals. She is a member of the Academy of Management, a Business Consultant, and regularly consults with listed and unlisted companies on strategy, transformation, women on boards and governance issues. All of this, and she is married with three children, two boys and one little girl. (I know, it also blew my mind!)🤯
Her subjects of interest include:
- Women (and men) on boards
- Women in leadership and executive positions in the public and private sectors
- Feminist research in post-colonial countries
- Strategic Planning
- Strategic Implementation & Control
- Poverty and the role of education
In my chat with her, I asked a few questions to get an understanding of how she does it all? I mean, she really is doing it all. Here is how the chat went:
How did you balance work, studies and parenting?
No balance, but strategising and planning around own circumstances. I did what was best for me, my children, and my family and that was working on self-development and my goals. I just believe that to be an excellent mother, wife, sister, and friend, I must be a fulfilled and fully functioning individual.
- I got myself a therapist (I had a psychologist and psychiatrist)
- Signed up for gym and Zumba classes
- Hired a full-time nanny
- Hired a driver to transport the kids to school
- Present wife to my husband – cooking, lunchboxes, family traditions e.g. English breakfast Saturday mornings
- Did what I could do for the kids – lunchboxes, and breakfast on me every single day, lunch dates, attend doctor appointments
A Ph.D. journey is mental, spiritual. A journey of emotion, labor, and politics. It is the pursuit driven by own convictions, unanswered questions, and problems that have societal and sometimes personal significance.
Hesse-Biber, 2013 writes that own belief systems, experiences and emotions contribute to the process of creating knowledge and that is the case with the Ph.D. Thus, understanding and examining my social background, environment, and assumptions can impact the research process. Thus, I took everyone “who cared” through the journey with me and dropped those who didn’t want to be part of this journey.
What would you say was the most challenging part of your postgraduate career?
- Death of academics, burnout
- Explaining why I couldn’t pitch or partake in events and activities
What was the most rewarding?
- Meeting like-minded international scholars who share the same belief systems, convictions, research interests
- Recognition for the work done, citation of my writings
- To legally change the title, the progression of my work
What is the one thing you learned about yourself during this journey?
- Fearless, I interviewed the high-profile members of society and met some incredible persons whom I would have not met despite this opportunity
- All my Ph.D. examiners were international, at my request. I am not scared of criticism and failure.
Would you encourage your kids to pursue a similar path? What advice would you give them?
No, I wouldn’t encourage them to follow a similar path, they must follow their path whatever it is, it must be rooted and journey in deep alliance with God.
Secretly I want them to be medical doctors, but it is their choice after all.
What do you say to people who believe they can’t perform all these roles (being a mother, a wife, a working womxn, and a Ph.D. candidate)?
There is no reason why women cannot perform these duties, I mean first, they are women. Secondly, they are black. We can have it all, but we need a strong support system. You may have to sacrifice a few cents here and there.
What kind of support was the most important for you on this journey? Where did you source it?
Financial – the University awarded me a grant to support my research activities. I applied for every funding opportunity you could think of. NRF rejected my application but I didn’t give up.
Companionship– My husband had to understand my journey and where I could I involved him in the Ph.D. like driving to collect data or editing my work or “unfreezing my computer” after a tantrum.
Prayer – I surrounded myself with people who prayed for and encouraged me.
Shooo! I mean, if this isn’t inspirational, I don’t know what is. I know I sure am inspired by her story, and I cannot wait to walk my own journey knowing it is possible for us black womxn to do it all, and to do it successfully!
Until the next celebration post, keep your dreams alive, keep working on them knowing it is possible!
Yours in glamorous writing,