But what seemed clear to me growing up was that more than anything, education was the game changer. This certainly informed my aspirations with a lot of dreams and goals I had linked to being able to acquire a skill or profession to make something of myself that my parents would be proud of.
I’m proud of the richness of my African and Zimbabwean culture. One of the things I love about it is the importance of keeping connection with each other. It sometimes seems like I’m related to everyone, no matter how tenuous the link is! There is great importance given to and a strong tradition of sharing each others’ grief and joy - that’s probably why gatherings are always so big! The zulu term ‘ubuntu’ encapsulates this philosophy so beautifully. It means ‘I am because you are’ and conveys that sense of an individual being able to thrive because they give themselves to enabling others to thrive.
As I look at the world around us and observe the increased conversation around race and diversity. It presents to me a bit of a paradox. Generally there is a sympathetic sentiment with most abhorring discrimination and inequality but yet these still manifest themselves unremittingly. There’s a danger in thinking that just because we think things are ok they are, when that’s not the case.
One of my concerns for us as an organisation is that we shouldn’t come across like we don’t care. Whilst there are challenges that come with being a black african immigrant, I have had many positive experiences here at Next where I’ve felt advocated for and supported. I am passionate about showing that there is a genuine care in the company about ethnic diversity and that it can be proactive.
The reality is that there’s a lot to do, it’s not so straightforward and it will take time. But the journey’s begun. That’s why I am so excited about Unity at Next. It provides a platform to partner with the business and contribute to the progress we need to see.