Motivational Speaker and author Cynthia Hakutangwi speaks about her passion to motivate people, especially women, to reflect on their contributions to Africa’s development in her recently-published book Can the Whole Woman Please Stand Up!
the style interview by Abigail Matsikidze
Hakutangwi — a mother of five and winner of a number of awards, including the Female Entrepreneur of the Year 2015 award at the Megafest Business Awards and the Female Innovative Business Leader of the Year award at the Women’s Leadership Awards (Wola) — has published a number of books, that include The Wealthy Diary of African Wisdom, Destination Wholeness, Going beyond Brokenness, The Whole You and Vital Keys for Balanced Living and Intelligent Conversations.
The Standard Style’s reporter Abigail Matsikidze (AM) caught up with Hakutangwi (CH), who spoke about her experiences as a motivational speaker, life coach, pastor and author.
Below are excerpts of the interview.
AM: What made you choose personal development?
CH: The fact that l have been through a life journey where l have realised that sometimes people go through things in life and they miss their life purpose and waste a lot of time doing things that are not relevant to their life calling. So, as a result, you then have a lot of regrets. You find that sometimes the executive that leads a large company is at a place where they have been pursuing success going up the corporate ladder but not necessarily living a significant life, so because of my personal journey and what l have been through, l then realised that l have a passion to empower people so that they actually find their significant life purposes, so that’s one of the main reasons why l’m in people development — because l believe in people and l also believe that people are what will make and shape the world into what it should be.
AM: Do you have any experiences that made you realise that language has the power to change people’s lives?
CH: l grew up in the rural areas in Chivhu. I shared some of my experience in my books Destination Wholeness, Going Beyond Brokenness and Can the Whole Woman Stand Up. I have realised that communication happens at several levels and there is communication that is supposed to happen internally where you are supposed to speak to yourself. l grew up in an environment where l was herding cattle and goats and most of the times you would be by yourself with the animals. l was in a disadvantaged environment and l yearned for better things. l spent most of my early childhood with so much in my mind, so by the time I started to write, l had a lot to say. I thank God because l had good teachers who perfected the creative writing in me from primary up to high school and one of my favourite subjects was creative writing. I also read widely, especially Shona and English novels and l wasn’t into the Mills and Boon kind of novels. I enjoyed reading novels by African writers, especially Ngugi Wa Thiong’o and because of my rural background, it resonated well with my philosophy. l also liked music by the late Paul Matavire and in most cases I would sing along to most of his songs to the extent of my sister calling me Mrs Matavire.
Matavire had powerful Shona lyrics and he was expressive. I fell in love with language at a very young age because l felt that there was so much l wanted to express and creatively talk about. As I grew up, I developed a good command of Shona and English languages and later I studied French. After high school, my first job was actually as a French and English teacher. Language to me is a powerful medium that brings about transformation in people’s lives, so today I see myself as an activist who uses language to change people’s lives.
AM: What period of your life do you always find yourself writing about?
CH: I write a lot about my childhood. I do that because l describe that age of my life as my sovereign foundation. I talked about sovereign foundation in my book Destination Wholeness and l said that sometimes, we don’t understand why we go through certain phases in our life. l write a lot about my childhood because most people forget about their childhood, especially the painful ones. l choose to dwell on the memories of my childhood and begin to see how they made me a resilient woman because there are so many episodes l encountered during my childhood.
AM: When are you going to include your adult life in your writings?
CH: At some point, I’m sure l will write about my adult life. The reason why I have not done that is to protect certain people in my adult life. I also want to avoid some of the bad experiences that I have encountered, so I focus more on the foundation. I believe that at the end of the day, whatever we become, is a result of the foundation.
AM: Why do your writings mostly focus on women?
CH: Firstly, I would say because I’m a woman. Let me pre-empty that question and say my message is not only about women even though my latest book “speaks to the whole woman standing up”. Actually, man can read the book and they will realise that the dynamics are the same. I’m so passionate about women because they are uniquely positioned and created to be core creators of God.
As a mother of five children, l went through what mothers encounter and it’s not something to be taken lightly. By being part of the core creation process, you are being intrusted with humanity.
AM: How is your career appreciated by your family, being in personal development and life coaching?
CH: I have a marketing communication background and that is the area where I worked for the longest part of my life. l worked for corporates in the sales and marketing departments and to my relatives and colleagues, it was understandable. However, when you tell people that you are into personal development, they only understand about the training, but when l positioned myself as a voice that provokes people to come out of their comfort zones, it’s a different ball game.
AM: How do you balance your roles as a mother, your career and your purpose?
CH: It’s all about understanding your authentic identity; being able to design your priorities based on your value. The most important thing you need to know is your identity; your role as a mother or consultant is a function role. Most of the time, I put extra time and make sure l spend “quality” time with my children and it’s challenging because they have different needs. l end up involving my children in some of the work that I do.
AM: What about the ministry? Being a pastor, does this mean additional duties?
CH: In the ministry, we have a 3D structure, which means at any given time, you have leadership that you are grooming and developing. We have a synchronised system within the ministry which makes it easy for you to minister and still go on with your life. Yes, l counsel people and l do the work that any pastor would do, but still, I attend to my other duties. It is a challenge, but it can be done if you know your values, priorities and authentic identity. It’s easy for you to achieve your vision.
AM: Are you a role model to your children?
CH: Yes, definitely, in a lot of ways. I have set standards, not only by what l say, but also what l do and I’m grateful to God for that. I have always wanted my children to be unique and discover their own personalities. I used to say to myself, “I would not want a child like me” and believe you me, my children have their own unique talents and passions. I only came in to enhance or nurture them to discover their authentic identity. But it looks like some of them are powerful speakers.
AM: How do you think your writings motivate people?
CH: l believe that when you begin to speak in terms of getting people to move out of their comfort zones, motivation is in two ways. Motivation can be something that inspires someone to pursue or push more to become better, or motivation can be something that causes someone to maintain their status quo, but ideally, to explore beyond their limits. For me, when I write, I want people to feel uncomfortable with whatever I say because that’s the way they can be motivated.
AM: Do you think someone can be a transformational writer without strong emotions?
CH: I’m sure they can still write from an academic perspective. However, for the transformation of people, one needs to be connected to their emotions. l have been acquainted with failure, so when you look at a writer who uses emotions, you can connect with your audience. I love what l do and l don’t do it to get paid, but l do it because it’s really my life calling. Waking up every day knowing that someone out there is reading something you wrote can change people’s lives.