Mmakgosi Tau: Choose a cause that is closest to your heart

Mmakgosi Ophadile Anita Tau is a performing, recording and literary arts specialist who recently released her poetry single titled “Popcorns.” She recorded a Jazz ensemble album in Pretoria, South Africa with “It Has to be Jazz,” in 2016.

Mmakgosi is currently a scriptwriter for the ‘Colors’ Drama Series which is in production. Previously, she was the Head Scriptwriter for ‘Property 4U Television Show’.  Mmakgosi also co-founded  Sekei girls and MO Scripts which are both Arts activism organizations.

As a mental health awareness advocate, Mmakgosi fuses performing arts and film to sensitize people on mental health issues and social concerns. She also has an annual show, “Mmakgosi Live,” which raises awareness and funds for her initiatives.

Mmakgosi loves travelling, networking, experiencing different cultures and sharing her truth through film. Her passion has seen her perform across Botswana, Zambia, and South Africa. 


What led you to becoming a poet?

Destiny! My life is a composition of God’s gifts bundled up to serve humanity.

 

Poetry is a medium that has cultivated my oratory skills, boldness, creativity, confidence and mental agility. I perceive poetry as my springboard, a channel that has pieced together the fragments of my purpose in life.

My first poem was published at the age of ten and I have never put the pen down since. Art is the truth that enables me to live through words and create works that change lives.

In art, there is no oppression or grief. There is healing, power and although personal, art has a ripple effect of impacting other people’s lives. I survived and overcame bipolar and depression through writing. It is through writing that I have found my purpose in life.

Art has a ripple effect of impacting other people’s lives - Mmakgosi Tau Click To Tweet

Tell us about the social impact you’ve created through your work.

My art is a healing platform for every unspoken emotion that my fellow countrymen have been subjected to. It’s a collage of different art forms that enable artists to collaborate and generate income as a united front.

Being vocal about overcoming bipolar and depression has catapulted me to platforms that reach masses of people. People from all walks of life can relate to my experiences and draw inspiration to rise triumphantly in the midst of their trials.

This has allowed me to encourage and counsel those I speak to about mental health. It has also sparked conversations about patients, the mental health care system and policy refinement.

Have people been receptive to your art or work?

Yes, I find that the years I’ve spent writing, reciting and dreaming were all building my audience.

My storytelling comes in the form of various art mediums and which have pleased the souls they ministered to. My short films have received positive reviews, so has the “Words Unspoken,” album and my latest single “Popcorns.”

I cherish everyone who has granted me the opportunity to take them on a journey with my mind and words powered by the Holy Spirit.

What challenges have you faced in an industry that is not popular in regards to our context?

Firstly, as a professional poet, I found my art used to cost me more than it made me. Though people love poetry, not all of them consider the depth of its monetary, social and holistic intrinsic value.

As a tool for social advocacy, poetry is an art that attracts those waging wars on social ills. Despite not feeling the gender disparities in poetry, I realized that there were few women writers and directors in the film industry. I opted to study this course because I wanted to bridge the gap and influence more young women to pursue careers in filmmaking.

Thirdly, creating awareness for mental health issues is difficult when there are financial limitations. There are not many corporate social investment policies that fund mental health campaigns and tours.

What fears did you overcome to get into the business?

  • Taking risks, which I now do almost daily
  • Rigorous networking
  • Bearing my scars in their nakedness to the world
  • Not being able to spend time with my family

What were your biggest regrets and biggest achievements?

My biggest regret was not attending the five international invitations I received in 2017 to perform and facilities workshops. It moved me to realize that my work has captivated the hearts of art enthusiasts around the world.

Yet, I learned to accept the things I cannot change, and when I don’t have the strength to do that, it’s God I look to. I am a firm believer in my intentional God and know that my life is ordered by His authority.

My biggest achievement was my first ever live show held on 8th September 2017. For a long time, I organized shows for people, performed for various audiences yet never once held my own exclusive poetry show of this magnitude.

It is my greatest achievement because it signified my evolution from being a poet combating social ills. Botswana’s Minister of Health and Wellness, Honorable Dorcas Makgato, officially launched me as a mental health activist.

The show was a fusion of poetry, film, music, fine art and fashion. I collaborated with various artists of great repute. I also made powerful connections that relayed my intentions to the people I was born to serve.

What advice would you give someone who wishes to venture into creative arts as a business?

Recognize your value, gifts and potential before you expect the world to do that - Click To Tweet

Once you do, never sell yourself short for anything or anyone. Empower your mind, read and research about strategic tools that will position your brand purposively to your target audience.

Don’t ever think like an artist when you handle business deals. I struggled with that for a while, when I had merchandise it always wound up as someone’s gift. Creativity is impulse and spirit oriented. What you give freely with your art is not a trait you need in your business.

As a creative, choose a cause that is closest to your heart. Pour into it with your intellect, resources and as you grow, sow into it financially. Learn from other established creatives but also take the time to mentor those who are rising.

Finally, develop some self-discipline. Take care of yourself with the knowledge that you are the brand, however, do not splurge unnecessarily.


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4 wellness tips for ladies with baby (or not-so-baby) businesses

I know you are strong and independent and all that but babe, you aren’t 007 Click To Tweet

Congratulations on starting your business, feels like a new baby, right? It’s really amazing to finally have the time and resources to start living your dream but with it comes the added stress of taking care of this new baby (assuming that’s the only baby you have. If not, double congrats to you!).

In addition, there’s all the other roles you perform in everyday life as a woman, daughter, sister, friend, wife, mom

Here are 4 wellness tips that can make running a baby business (or any business at all) less stressful on you.

1. Get help

At the start of your entrepreneurial journey, you might be tempted to do it all (like I was). You will most likely be the CEO, the liaison officer, the content manager, the cleaner (yes, cleaner if you run a shop alone), the accountant and so many other things.

I know you are strong and independent and all that but babe, you aren’t 007 (even he has help from the HQ when needed). Please approach friends and family to help with some tasks you are not so good at so you can concentrate on what you know best.ill-be-here-sipping-my-tea-until-you-ask-for-help

You can also try a service swap. If you are a budding fashion stylist for instance, helping a celebrity (or popular) friend with styling tips in exchange for a social media mention or dedicated post can help you with PR.

It can also free up some hours you would have used sitting glued to your laptop sweating over online publicity.

2. Don’t forget to eat

Drowning yourself in work all day and forgetting about meals is just, plain evil! As an entrepreneur, you need energy to function and the only (legit) way to get it is through healthy, nutritious food.

Drowning yourself in work all day and forgetting about meals is just, plain evil! Click To Tweet

Pack your meals or have a deal with a food vendor to drop off your meals if you work outside of your home. If you need to set the alarm for meal time, please do.

girl-get-some-help

I tell my coaching clients at My Figure 8 wellness that If you don’t eat properly, or skip meals, there’s a tendency for you to chomp on unhealthy, sugary snacks all day. Then over eat (most times too late into the night), when you finally remember food or worse still, become undernourished.

3. Get moving

You know exercises are good for you but do you exercise? Exercising is not only good for your body (and that’s a story for another day), it’s also good for your heart, emotions and mental health. People who exercise often are said to be generally smarter, and happier than those who don’t.

Remember what Elle Woods said in Legally Blonde? “Exercise gives you endorphins, endorphins make you happy and happy people don’t kill their husbands, they just don’t!”

Aunt Vivian - Fresh Prince of Bel Air

Start with simple workouts like a brisk walk or jog, aerobics and strength training, skipping, racing up and down the stairs and intense dancing. Doing this for 30 minutes, at least 3 times a week will work wonders in the strength and energy department.

Don’t forget to warm up before and stretch after your workouts.

4. Chill

It’s okay to take a break, seriously! Take one day off work weekly or every other week. An annual vacation to engage in activities that make you feel relaxed and happy is a good investment in your sanity as an entrepreneur.

Go to the movies, a spa, go bowling or skydiving (my dream vacation activity), whatever catches your fancy.take-a-break-09utnz

Drowning yourself in work, taking care of everything and everyone else but yourself will take its toll. Take it from me, I’ve been there done that.

I was recently so immersed in learning all I could from my opportunity as a Tony Elumelu entrepreneur, running my business, home (I have two children who ask 1 million questions per minute) and working on starting another business, being a leader and all, that I totally forgot I exist and girl, did I pay for it?

I had to stay home for more than a week taking some prescription pain and sleeping meds.

Making lemonade out of lemons: How my struggle with depression shaped me into a confident woman

beyonce-lemonade

My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.

-Maya Angelou

Recently, I got to check off something my bucket list —to see Beyoncé in concert! A recurring theme in her phenomenal performance was overcoming the obstacles in life. The message was one of survival even with the odds stacked against you. It was about making something beautiful out of an ugly situation.

It was definitely making lemonade when it seems like all life has served you is lemons! I left the concert on an emotional high while combing through my past experiences and tallying the number of ways my struggles have shaped me into the woman I am today.

Mental health, specifically depression, has had a grave impact on my life. It is one battle I have fought constantly throughout my adolescence and adulthood. I have had more low times than I can recall.

There were times when I felt that happiness was permanently out of my reach. Those times, it felt like this disease would always stand in the way of me achieving my dreams.Now, I know that I can choose to either focus on the negative or pick out the lessons it has taught me. The choice is entirely mine.

So, in the spirit of making lemonade out of the proverbial “lemons of life”, here are some of the positive things I have learnt through my journey with depression.

You become more self-aware

The famous Greek philosopher Socrates said, “the unexamined life is not worth living.” In this age, we see a lot of people eager to emulate the lives of others in the hope of achieving the same level of comfort, wealth or fame they imagine these people have.

I think a lot of people don’t really take the time to truly find themselves. They are unable to decide what makes them happy and what they truly want out of life.

Depression is one of those conditions that forces you to take a deep, long and hard look at yourself. I try to understand the reasons behind my depression, my reaction to certain situations and how I can be more positive in spite of it. These insights, in turn, have come in handy in navigating other aspects of my life.

beyonce_iam_powerfulYou become more empathetic towards others

It’s human nature to sometimes make snap judgments about people we encounter, even when these judgments are made based on very little facts.

Dealing with depression made me realize that you can never really know what someone else’s life is like until you’ve walked in their shoes.

Also, the longer I had depression, the easier and more willing I was to help other people. I took the time to ask questions, listen to their stories and try to support them on their journey as much as possible.

If employers had more empathy towards their staff, governments towards their citizens, individuals towards strangers, the world would be a more tolerant place.

Depression taught me that sometimes, it’s better to ask questions first and save judgment for later, or never.

You become more resilient

There have been many times when I almost threw in the towel because I didn’t think I could ever truly beat this disease. It seemed pointless living a life of diminished quality.

Now, with medical treatment, therapy and the love and support of my family and friends, most times I’m able to go months without having a major depressive episode.

The more I learn about my condition, the more empowered I feel to handle it and not let it control my life. If there’s anything depression has taught me, it’s how to be strong and resilient.

I have fought for years and I’m still standing! I try to apply this same attitude to my personal and professional life. I know that no matter how tough a challenge is, the rewards will be beneficial to my growth and maturity.

Finally, let’s get more comfortable with talking about issues regarding mental health in our African societies.

By being willing to listen and learn about the struggles of others, we give them a chance to express and embrace themselves fully. Our societies will benefit from having citizens that are adequately equipped to cope mentally with the daily challenges.


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