“Believe in yourself, and don’t ever give anyone the power to determine how far you can go in life – you define that.” – Mpumi Nobiva

Mpumi Nobiva, is Nompumelelo Nobiva, from Johannesburg South Africa. She is generally known as the International Speaker and Communication Strategist who has spoken at the White House, congressional fundraisers, corporate functions and nonprofit initiatives in several countries. Mpumi grew up in South Africa, and, at age nine, lost her mother to HIV/Aids, leaving her orphaned like millions of other children in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Reared in material poverty but spiritual wealth by her grandmother, Mpumi excelled in the first class of the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa before going to the United States to study. She currently holds a master’s degree in Strategic Communications from High Point University and serves as the first alumnus on the Board of Directors of the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for girls in South Africa.

As NationBuilder’s first Leader in Residence, Mpumi Nobiva is developing the digital infrastructure for Share Your Story Africa – an initiative inspired by her advocacy work uniting youth against HIV/AIDS and domestic violence in South Africa, and now unemployment; suicide; and depression – all while sharing her story at events around the world. Mpumi Nobiva is also experienced in hosting events and facilitating workshops. We thoroughly enjoyed our Q&A with the powerhouse that is Mpumi Nobiva, read and be inspired.

What do you consider your greatest achievement in your life so far?Being able to make my late mother, Nonhlanhla Nobiva proud. Before her death, my mother was sick with HIV/Aids for 1 year six months (which is a long time when living in poverty), and she made me promise to work hard in school, which I did, be good to my grandmother, which I have been, and never stop believing in God, which I will always do. She is the reason I have come this far, and I think she’s proud of what I’ve been able to do. 

You are so passionate about sharing your story, living your truth and uplifting people as well. Was this a planned path you set out to take or something you found yourself evolve into?It was definitely something I evolved into, and what’s interesting is that it wasn’t something that was always celebrated the way it is now – even by those closest to me. People fear truth, they fear people who live that truth and believe in its capacity to emancipate others. See, life has taught me to truly work with God. You have to have a spiritual space where no human voice can enter – I don’t care who it is because at the end of the day, only God knows why it was important for you to be created and for you to be alive during this time.

How do you handle your emotions every time you remember where you’re coming from and your current status? I am always filled with gratitude. While I can make mistakes, fail at certain things because it’s a part of life – the one thing I have never been throughout my life is ungrateful. I believe that being able to say thank you for where you’ve been is what unlocks where you will go. So, there is no separation for me because I am what’s constant between these worlds. I will say however that I still have moments where I can’t believe how far I’ve come. It’s unreal, and I have so many people I thank it.

Mpumi Nobiva

What would you say is your purpose in life and how did you come to the realization? I used to think of purpose as linear (like this one truth that is static and never changes) however there are two layers to our purpose and I learned this from Oprah Winfrey’s Podcast with leading spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle. Eckhart talks about an inner and outer purpose, inner is the kind not many of us are aware of and outer is the kind that you’re asking about (the kind that everyone else thinks of when they imagine philanthropists; leaders; icons etc.).

I’d say my outer purpose has a lot to do with what you’re already aware of sharing your story, living your truth and uplifting people as I rise – my inner purpose however is to be true to my own Self, which is very difficult and yet the most rewarding. Being able to know and feel good, deep inside, about the person I am for myself.

When you are not travelling/speaking/sharing your story, you are…? Somewhere in the adventurous realms of Hip-Hop and other forms of music. I enjoy writing music, rapping free expression of emotions I still find very challenging to express because of the trauma I have endured in my early life.

What inspires you?Music. The ability to be raw, honest, afraid, liberated, and truthfully blissful all at once. I was the dusty kid who grew up listening to 2Pac saying ‘Life Goes On’ and believing that it will even when I didn’t know what tomorrow would bring. I would listen to my favorite rapper Jay-Z school me on ‘how to move in a room full of hustlers,’ because that’s where I came from – the streets. I know I could be more when I first heard Jay-Z rap, “I am not a businessman, I am a business man!”

What advice can you offer to young women looking to be as bold and fearless as you are? Believe in yourself, and don’t ever give anyone the power to determine how far you can go in life – you define that. I’ve made this mistake countless times, where I think that just because a person is successful and means well then what they have to say about me is a fact, nope, it doesn’t work that way. We are all here to live out our truths and enjoy the ride – do you boo boo!

What is the most important life lesson you’ve learned? I am my greatest responsibility. I can’t give to others what I deny myself.

Where do you draw strength from when “Life happens”? I am blessed to have a really great support system that is very honest and tough on me – you need that in life. I’d say that, good wine, and great music are my all-time sanctuary.

What is your take on “women supporting women”? Oh, women supporting women is THE most important thing we can ever do for ourselves because we are all connected. Our struggles are the same, hopes are the same, fears one in the same – we’re truly are, in the words of the great-late Maya Angelou ‘more alike than we are different.’

Also, not supporting other women is the most detrimental thing I can do as a woman. It took women before us to create the world of possibilities we now enjoy… It’s sad when we forget that because it really means we forget ourselves. Sad, sad, and very sad.

Time travel or teleportation? Teleportation any day! Although, I truly love all metaphysics.

What would you like to be remembered for? The girl who stunned them all. The girl who had them shook – haha!

Connect with Mpumi on Instagram.

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