LionessMom (Part 1) - Strive masiyiwa

Preparing your children for a future as entrepreneurs and job creators.

I have told you before how my mother encouraged my entrepreneurial zeal when I was a child. She did so many things that I marvel at as I look back, more than 50 years later. She encouraged me to have my own little business when I was about 10 years old. I knew how to market, sell, and bank money (even though she was the banker). She bought me board games like Monopoly when it was so novel. Above all she always encouraged my curiosity.

If I was a child today, I could see my mother getting Kwesé TV, and encouraging me to watch channels like Discovery Science, Nat Geo, and Kwesé Know. She would never have allowed me to watch sports all day or to wander around unsupervised. My holidays were totally structured. Every day I had tasks to complete that she set even when I was at boarding school.

She drove my capacity to read books. She always asked me what I was reading, even though she did not have the same level of education as most of you. My mother was a #LionessMom, and I would not be here today if she had not driven my development with such an insatiable appetite.

She sent me to the best schools. Her sacrifices for me were immense. She was able to do this with minimal education on her own part and using her small business. She never travelled outside Africa until I paid for her as an adult.

Truly, I shudder to imagine what some of you women out there could do with your own children if you set your heart on it, because you are more educated, and more exposed than she was.

This is my next topic. Let’s start...

In this series, I want to focus on the modern #LionessMoms who are helping the next generation of Africa's children to be future world-beaters!

My first story comes from Tanzania where some of you will remember I held my first Town Hall meeting last July. The moderator who interviewed me was Tanzanian entrepreneur, Irene Kiwia, CEO of Frontline Management. I had never met her before the actual interview, but I learnt from my staff that she followed this Facebook platform.

Fast forward: I was in South Africa watching BBC News (Kwesé channel 710) a week or so ago, when my attention was drawn to an amazing story about a six-year old African child called Ethan Yona who had helped develop a computer learning game about a superhero called "EthanMan." (His story has already gone around the world on big media channels like BBC and Africa News).

I almost fell off the treadmill, as I was in the gym at the time!

As soon as I got off the machine I asked my team to do some research on Ethan. Sure enough, first grader Ethan had launched an Android app, a book, and a superhero character (named after himself) to commemorate the Day of the African Child last June in Tanzania.

And in their research, my team also came to realize that Ethan’s mother was the one who interviewed me in our Tanzania Town Hall. We were all so excited!

How did Ethan's "career" get started? Even before he was two, Ethan apparently loved gadgets of all kinds. He kept asking his parents for his own, but they kept saying no. Ethan persisted until finally his parents told Ethan he must first write a book (at age four), before he could have a phone. And he did!

In addition to loving tech gadgets, Ethan also loved all action superheroes, but by the time he was five, he was frustrated and said to his #LionessMom:

"All their superpowers are fake. I can't fly. I can't have laser beam eyes... I want to create my own superhero figure with real live powers! I want to show things that are POSSIBLE and that I CAN do, things that will motivate and inspire other kids to be more responsible -- to dream big and know that they can be anything they want to be, like a footballer, rock star or astronaut...

So what did his parents do? Did they tell him he was too young? No, at age five they introduced Ethan to some edu-tech experts (i-Learn East Africa) who he worked directly with to create his first animated book called "When I Grow Up." (They were fascinated that such a little kid would want to do such a big thing, at age five!)

Then came the EthanMan app and computer learning games, developed together with a digital company (Tujenge Technology) who worked with Ethan to put together the games and make sure EthanMan's character reflected on Ethan himself and his own "super talents," with skills like writing inspirational books and creating learning games by a kid, for kids.

In the next month, I will be looking at other #LionessMoms from across the African continent. Remember Elon Musk was raised by a #LionessMom from Africa!

If you are a #LionessMom already, I want to hear from you. Please comment about what you have done with your own little Ethan. And if you have not done anything yet, today is the day to start working on it.

To be continued. . .

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