“Avoid Negativity and Self Pity. No One is Interested in That!”- Sebenzile Matsebula, Founder and Executive Director Motswako Office Solutions
I contracted polio at ten months of age in the Eastern part of South African where I was born. I then lived through an era of disempowerment as a black African, as a female and as a disabled person. Therefore I can relate to all forms of discrimination, marginalisation and disempowerment in a real sense.
Yet inspite of rather difficult social circumstances, my experience in life as an adult was of a more positive one resulting from now living in a new political dispensation that promotes the rights of marginalised sectors of the society, the equalisation of opportunities and self representation particularly in decision making processes.
This experience was brought about in my work in my 8 years of working in the highest office of South Africa, in the Presidency of Thabo Mbeki as head of the disability unit.This high level political commitment subsequently enabled me and my compatriots to play a meaningful role in the development of the country at all spheres of governance. It is commitment that is substantiated by an annual allocation of government resources.
After this, I was approached by a company that wanted to up its score points on the Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) score card. I am black, a woman, and have a disability. So they scored 3 different points for the price of one individual. Reading about successful black women in South Africa, who had grabbed the opportunities afforded to them to participate in entrepreneurial activities, also inspired me. I just couldn’t resist the challenge.
In the entrepreneurial space there is no charity and there are no handouts; it’s all about the bottom line and profits. Avoid negativity and self pity – no one is interested in that!
I thrive on challenge, so I convinced myself, I want to move into business. I have always had to work harder than non-disabled people to prove myself in the industry. The perception out there is that if one is disabled, then one is incapable in many ways. They cannot cope with the pressure, they are poorly educated if at all, they are not smart, etc. I had to prove that these were all stereotypes and not true.
I am a mother of two amazing young men aged 28 and 25 years and now the Executive Director of Motswako Office Solutions. Sometimes I get tired, but I am still able to have a full day. It’s important to remember, no-one owes you anything, so don’t expect anyone to do favours for you – take ownership of your life!