Women reaching for stars

Gillian McAinsh

ALTHOUGH only a handful of the women profiled in the uplifting SABC television show The Power Within are from the Eastern Cape, its message is touching hearts both here and across the country.

So much so that the show’s producer decided it was time for a book, titled The Power Within Companion, and it has just been released.

The public face of the show has been Port Elizabeth-based presenter Buli G (Ngomane) for the past three years the series has run. The Power Within has aired weekly on SABC3 to give a platform for women to share their trial and triumph stories, covering a range of issues that affect women and communities at large.

The producers, Spirit Sister Productions, reviewed more than 200 profiles before selecting the 34 stories eventually included in the book.

  • Uitenhage born and raised mountaineer Deshun Deysel’s story is one of them and today she gives motivational talks around the country.

“Climbing mountains is an incredibly difficult thing to put your body through,” she says. “I love the thrill of pushing myself to discover how strong I am mentally, emotionally and physically. Most of us underestimate how far we can take ourselves.”

As she says, “people often associate mountains with challenges or difficulties and so they provide the perfect metaphorical platform to talk about effective leadership, how to motivate people and tap into team dynamics”.

  • Prof Mamokgethi Setati is a mathematician whose mother was a domestic worker who went back to school and qualified as a teacher – after having three children.

As she explains in the book, many people might thought “being a domestic worker or factory worker was where it would end for her but there’s just no telling”.

“Because of my mother’s story, I knew it was possible.”

She joined Wits University and then founded a centre which works towards getting the country more maths and science teachers.

  • Dancer and choreographer Ntombi Gasa teaches movement, despite only coming to this art form at the relatively late age of 18 – and being the largest in the group. “I’ve never been ashamed of my body. I wasn’t intimidated by the other skinny dancers and dancing actually improved my confidence,” she says. “I discovered that my big feet helped me with my balance, a big bum accentuates movement and my breasts made me conscious of poise.

“It’s rare to find a woman of my size that is appreciated for her art rather than being judged for her weight.”

Stories of women who reach for the stars, sometimes despite humble beginnings, are one of the drawcards for Ngomane to have remained with the series over its three-year run.

“All the women featured on the show are inspiring as each of their stories is unique and will touch someone else in need of lift.

“While working as a presenter on the show I was sometimes deeply moved, wowed and teary-eyed over these stories and this book has taken the best of them for women to refer to whenever they need to be inspired.

“Women need to be affirmed for all they do. We have so much to contend with and stories of adversity to triumph certainly do the trick”

  • The Power Within Companion is published by Spirit Sister Productions and retails for R150.

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