The Spark That Ignites Us All: Embracing Our Connectedness


By Dr. Tererai Trent
2013 ICAN Women’s Leadership Conference Keynote Speaker

Our common humanity and responsibility to each other is what ignites us as it flows from our ability to connect, learn and inspire — it is at the core of our humanity.

One of the sayings in southern Africa is “Ubuntu”, a saying that speaks to the essence of being human. It reminds us that we are not just individuals — we are a web of connections and it’s how we embrace our interconnectedness that makes the difference to our wellbeing and success. While self-discipline plays a critical role in how we achieve our own goals in life, one essential factor can have a huge influence in our development — realizing the power of igniting our connectednessand collectiveness.

Early on, my mother realized my dreams would not have greater meaning if they were not connected to our community. In the journey to achieve my dreams, the road was long, winding and treacherous and many times I wanted to give up. Thank goodness I had many individuals, particularly women, who motivated, inspired and lit a fire within me.

Years ago, I met a development worker by the name of Jo Luck in my small rural village — a woman who became the spark that I needed to realize dreams are achievable. Together with my mother these two powerful women gave me enough strength to believe in dreams despite my ugly circumstances.

We all need each other. Let’s form an intricate web of connections that we all need in order to succeed. Our interconnectedness and collectiveness strengthens our humanity. Every day I stand on the shoulders of individuals who believed in me and helped me realize tinogona — it’s achievable!

‘I am because we are, and since we are, therefore I am.’ It’s our interconnectedness that matters. It’s our “Ubuntu”… the essence of what ignites ICAN women!

I cannot wait to be part of 2013 ICAN Women’s Leadership Conference!

Zimbabwe: Visit by Tererai Trent  to the Matau Primary School

Tererai Trent with her mother Shamiso Mafukidze at her home in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, in October 2011.

Dr. Tererai Trent is the founder of Tinogona (Shona for “it is achievable”), which builds and repairs schools in rural Zimbabwe. She is a senior consultant with more than eighteen years of international experience in professional program and policy evaluation.