‘HIV took my mother, not my spirit, we are not our circumstances’

Introducing the inspiration that is Mpumi Nobiva – an international Keynote Empowerment and Motivational Speaker, Brand ambassador, social media strategist, student and founder of #ShareYourStory – inspire courage.

Bontlebame: Welcome to Bontlebame Inspires Mpumi. I bumped into your #ShareYourStory on Facebook a few weeks ago…I was intrigued and wanted to share you with our Bontlebame Family…you and the young women that have been and will be featured in #BontlebameInspires are the type of women we should be reading about in every magazine so that we inspire and pave the way for more and more successful women.

Mpumi: Once again, thank you for nominating me for this feature.

Bontlebame: You now live in the States, what was your life like before?

Mpumi: I was born in Zonkizizwe Township 23-years ago and moved to Rosettenville (JHB South). I’m an only child but I was raised by my grandmother who had 9 children of her own.

I moved to the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls at 13 years old and lived there for 5 years of high school. I now live in the States at High Point University in North Carolina.


Bontlebame: A lot of us black children spend our formative years with our grandparents…I think we are very lucky…

Mpumi: I agree. Being raised by my grandmother came with great lessons. I was raised in a really loving environment and I still cherish those moments to this day, no matter where in the world I may be. I missed moments with my mother, she died when I was nine. So we missed out on a lot of moments together.

Bontlebame: I am sorry to hear that…I have no doubt that this was tough.

Mpumi:  ‘HIV took my mother, not my spirit, we are not our circumstances’

Bontlebame: That is powerful and true. What about your dad?

Mpumi: He left shortly after I was born.

Bontlebame: sadly, fathers abandoning their families is becoming common. We need a special platform for that.

Besides your studies, what keeps your days occupied?

Mpumi: I am completing a Master’s Degree in Strategic Communications with a focus in Health Communications & Public Relations. I travel a lot to share my personal story as an International Motivational & Empowerment Speaker. I also direct the #ShareYourStory – Inspire Courage campaign and mentor 6 young female leaders internationally.

I am also an ambassador for Viktoria’s Hair Boutique which is headquartered in Washington DC in the US as well as for SoulCity Social Justice for Women & Girls Institute headquartered in Johannesburg; South Africa. I have to dedicate some days to strategically manage and promote social media and online branding content.

Bontlebame: phew!!! That sounds like a lot…is this what you’ve always wanted to do?

Mpumi: …I initially wanted to be a social worker, then a lawyer, a president etc. It’s forever evolving in my case.

Bontlebame: But I think #ShareYourStory – Inspire Courage, mentoring young Leaders and what you are studying is not very far from what you dreamt of becoming…the dots connect…they all are related to helping others.

You say your childhood was filled with love …and growing amongst uncles and aunts is guarantee for a pampered or even spoilt child? How did you find the experience?

Mpumi: Yes, there was a lot of love. I was born in a shack, we lived in abject poverty – below breadline. My grandmother cleaned houses from when she was 14 till 70years and my grandfather fixed cars. We could afford very little if anything at all… I have never paid for school fees in my life, I was blessed to have government subsidy for primary school and later a full scholarship to attend the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls. I graduated with 5 distinctions and earned a full ride scholarship to Johnson C. Smith University where I obtained my Bachelor’s with Honors Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies in May this year. I then earned a Presidential Scholarship worth $ 65 000 to complete my Master’s Degree which I am currently working on.

Bontlebame: WoW!! You are living a colourful life…from a shack to the States to sharing the podium with powerful women like Michelle Obama, Kerry Washington, Meryl Streep, Shonda Rhimes and Oprah Winfrey is basically your mom, I bet you never imagined this happening in your life. Growing up, what was your biggest worry or fear?

Mpumi: If I would ever make it out of the poverty cycle I was born into.

Bontlebame: And you have definitely conquered the fear and broken that cycle.

Considering everything else, what has been the one experience that you’ve worked hard to overcome?

Mpumi: Losing my mother to Aids, but I have learnt to turn that and the pressure of existing in poverty into a force that propels me to work even harder towards my dreams. I am relentless in my pursuit for success.

Bontlebame: That is our inspiration at Bontlebame: Realising Dreams and Sharing Life’s Beauty, and you are that in action. Thank you.

You say: I am relentless in my pursuit for success – exactly how do you that? Many would say you’re already successful?

Mpumi: Thank you. I have been successful in reaching the goals that I have set for myself thus far, education is very important to me.

My pursuit for success… I study people who’ve made it, particularly those who come from poverty. I study my own grandmother, to learn her strength and sacred power as an African woman. I study Oprah, Beyoncé, Michelle Obama, Joyce Banda, Leymah Gbowee etc. I am always and constantly learning – striving to grow and defy the odds.

Bontlebame: How do you keep going?

Mpumi: I believe in God. I believe that it is the pain of being you that is also the power of being you. The strategy is always to turn my struggles into my strengths.

Bontlebame: Are you living your dream right now

Mpumi: Yes, gratefully so.

Bontlebame: Thank you so much Mpumi for making the time. You are living proof that we are not defined by our past or circumstances and that Dreams do come true. Thank You.

What is the best lesson you learnt from Mama Oprah?

Mpumi: Mom Oprah has taught me that there really are no excuses in life. We all have the power to turn any dream into a reality through hard work, dedication and focus. She has taught me that living a life that is led by gratitude will always uplift you and those around you.  Her entire life and journey is testament of how any of us can turn our struggles into strength. The key to any great success is a strong inner core that will guide you through pretty much anything in this life…also, your intuition/gut feeling is your best friend. Never doubt that.

Bontlebame: We end all our interviews asking for your favourite religious or spiritual song or any song that touches your spirit and lifts you:

Mpumi: Beyonce, “I Was Here” and “God Made You Beautiful”, Cynthia Erivo & Jennifer Hudson on Broadway “The Color Purple”.

Bontlebame: Thank you!! Be Blessed.

I Hope You are Inspired!!!

Social media contacts:

Instagram: @mpumi_nobiva

Twitter: @mpuminobiva_g

Facebook: Mpumi Lelo Nobiva

Facebook Public Page: Mpumi Nobiva Online

YouTube: Mpumi Nobiva

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