Interviewing Nancy Sumari, #WorldMom, Miss World Africa, Miss Tanzania (2005)

Interviewing Nancy Sumari, #WorldMom, Miss World Africa, Miss Tanzania (2005)

Happy Women’s Month!

You may have read some of this phenomenal woman’s posts right here on World Moms Network. One of our own contributors, Nancy Sumari, has agreed to be interviewed for my Phenomenal Women Series, and it comes right on time as we keep celebrating Women’s History Month and women’s excellence (something, I believe, we should do every month)

#WorldMom, Nancy Sumari

#WorldMom, Nancy Sumari

Interview:

Sophia Neghesti-Johnson: So, Nancy, tell us a little bit about your self. Where are you from, do you have any siblings, and anything else you might want to add about your foundation’s details; so to speak.

Nancy Sumari: I come from a beautiful family of Arusha, Tanzania; one of the most beautiful cities of the world. I have 5 siblings – two boys and three girls. We grew up on a small farm house in Mererani, the world’s only known source of Tanzanite gem! It was filled with adventure, animals, and mischief and I loved it! My parents are both hard working middle class folks. My dad is a geologist naturally, coming from Mererani, while my mom loves to cook and runs her own catering business.

S: That sounds like a fun childhood! I know, you wear a few hats, and it seems there is much more to you than meets the eye. What are your favorite hats and why? (I’m referring to business, modeling, etc)

N: Hahaha I was about to say Berets… hahahahaha! (*I love Nancy’s sense of humor!*) I enjoy my family a lot, I am highly fueled by the work we do through our family foundation that promotes literature and technology through children and youth, I enjoy teaching, very much, and more importantly working with the dynamic team of content creators at Bongo5. As you can tell I enjoy service to children and youth because I also have been afforded chances and opportunities that have allowed me the chance to be the best of who I can be. I believe paying it forward is standard procedure for me and I enjoy it so much.

S: You were Miss Tanzania in 2005. How was it to be in such a pageant that year, in Tanzania? Was it much different than late 90s, much different from now?

Nancy Sumari, Miss World Africa, Miss Tanzania, 2005

Nancy Sumari, Miss World Africa, Miss Tanzania, 2005

N: I think it’s a lot different now because pageants are more frowned upon and viewed more as working against the women empowerment movement. In the 90s I think it had more flare and glam and overtime, especially here in TZ (Tanzania), it has not changed with the times and therefore lost a lot of momentum. We however have fresh leadership now and hope that with that we will get a fresh approach to pageantry altogether.

S: What has been your view of the business world, both locally and globally, as a woman and/or an African woman?

N: I try to focus on excellence and what I bring to the table in terms of my business-offering and my work ethics. Of course challenges are ever present in terms of stereotypes against women, challenges of equality and equal terms of pay etc. but I strongly trust and believe in excellence propelling one beyond the walls that man creates. I therefore focus on giving excellence and allowing that to fly open all doors of opportunity.

S: That is definitely a progressive way of thinking! A few years ago you published a children’s book, Nyota Yako, which was such a pleasure to read and own. What inspired you to write this book in particular?

N: I was uncomfortable to not have enough local content tailored to children on bookshelves in Tanzania. We didn’t have enough stories that honored our history and allowed these stories of our culture, color, vibrancy and awesomeness be told to children. I felt it was time to reach out to young girls and boys with stories of their mothers, grandmothers, aunts and women they know of, (or don’t know of,) but are from their communities, to awaken and inspire, and challenge them to rise above and reach their highest potential.

S: Now, you and your husband are both quite active in the community in one way or another. How do you balance marriage, parenthood, the many other responsibilities, and working together in the community?

Nancy Sumari's community, where she works for children's education

Nancy Sumari’s community, where she works for children’s education

N: I think we treat it as a way that we continue to bond and spend time together doing things that we are passionate about and drive us. We don’t always agree but we definitely count our blessings to be able to run projects together that we care about and bring impact. We involve our kids also in the work we do, so it also is very fulfilling to have causes we share as a family and work towards together.

S: If you could streamline the top three things you deem necessary in a successful relationship, what would they be?

N:

1. Unconditional Love
2. Friendship
3. Trust

S: Let’s switch gears a bit. As you have had the chance to travel, tell us, what has been the most pleasantly surprising thing you have experienced?

N: I am constantly in awe of the rich history of the cultures and peoples of different nations and the great effort and steps taken to preserve their history. I am captivated by stories and I think it I may take up anthropology at some point in life. I love traveling in Africa, Europe and Asia. There are many parts of the world I am yet to visit, but I certainly keep a rather long bucket list. I recently returned from Amsterdam which was really beautiful. I rode a bike down a highway and had way too many saucijenbroodjes, patates and poffertjes. It was surreal!

S: Hahaha! They are pretty tasty! With the varied experiences you have, what have you learned about your self?

N: That I am an old soul. I thrive through old stories, cultures, diving into the past with hope that it may inform and build up on my present.

S: If there was anything you could tell young African girls, what top three things would you tell them?

N:

1. Bloom where you have been planted – We don’t have the choice of our beginnings, but if we take charge of our narratives and focus on excellence of self and others, we bloom and consequently others do so too.
2. Trust in your journey – With the rise of social media, we often are enslaved with other people’s lives, their achievements, way of doing things, and often fall victim to questioning oneself. You are unique and so is your journey. Be the best, you can be, and let God do the rest.
3. Serve – in whatever capacity you are, we should all be able to give back. It is good for your soul and good for the world! Do everything in service.

S: The last question I have for you is this: if you could tell your younger self anything, what would you say?

N: Relax and stop worrying so much. Move with the flow of life and not against it. Pay attention, Show up and Show out and enjoy the surprises that await along your path!

~~End of Interview~~

Thank you once again, Miss Sumari, for allowing us in your world.

To the reader: If you’d like to see more of what Nancy Sumari does through The Neghesti-Sumari Foundation, Bongo5, JengaHub, and other exciting things, please click on the links below.

The Neghesti-Sumari Foundation

Bongo5

Nancy’s Instagram

Jenga Hub’s Instagram

Jenga Hub on Facebook

Photos credits to Nancy Sumari

ThinkSayBe

I am a mom amongst some other titles life has fortunately given me. I love photography & the reward of someone being really happy about a photo I took of her/him. I work, I study, I try to pay attention to life. I like writing. I don't understand many things...especially why humans treat each other & other living & inanimate things so vilely sometimes. I like to be an idealist, but when most fails, I do my best to not be a pessimist: Life itself is entirely too beautiful, amazing & inspiring to forget that it is!

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TANZANIA: Eat Pray Love

TANZANIA: Eat Pray Love

IMG_5844 (1)

In the spirit of new beginnings and resolutions, I have decided that my 2016 should be summed in these three words. Eat, Pray, Love.

EAT.

I am not particularly big on experimenting with my food, but this year, I am going all out. I want to have a great relationship with food. I have decided that I will keep healthy, but I will not be hesitant to indulge my taste buds and my heart in some really fantastic food from around the world. And while I eat great food and take my taste buds on a wild adventure, I will do well to remember to learn how to cook these foods, too. I want to be a fantastic cook.

I often look at food in pictures and wonder how it is possible that people make just good looking food. What sorcery! Well, not anymore, I am on a mission. If you can’t find me anywhere, I will be in the kitchen, cooking and eating, HEALTHY, well, mostly ( Life is too short). So dear world moms, do share with a sister all those recipes you have!

PRAY.

Spiritual Connection to source and meditation is high on my agenda. As mothers, we know all too well, how important it is to often release, reconnect and rejuvenate.

We give so much and forget to give ourselves as much as we give others and everything else.

I want to pray everyday, often, all the time and meditate, and truly live in positivity. Often I slip and complain, mope and forget to stop and smell the proverbial ‘roses’.

I also want to do a lot more yoga and a lot more meditation. Through this entire space, I would like to bring my family with me. A family who yogas together…..? That’s right, we will meditate, sync and positively power through 2016.

LOVE.

My 2016 is to be in love, love and surrounded by love. For myself, my family, my community and my country.

I want to fill myself up, that I will fill others up till the cup runneth over. It all begins and ends with love. Every morning of every day will begin with a loving prayer of gratitude to a smile and a deep breath. I intend for these to carry me and sustain me through my days this year, and reflect in my home and through my work. I hope that it radiates through all that I touch and everywhere I go.

As I write, I am taking a deep breath and exhaling gratitude, I am smiling, loving and about to have a beautiful dinner.

This is an original post written for World Moms Blog by Nancy Sumari in Tanzania.

Won’t you join me? What are your resolutions?

Photo Credit: Elizabeth Atalay
TANZANIA: Bringing Up Step-Children

TANZANIA: Bringing Up Step-Children

They call me "MZ"

They call me “MZ”

Never in a million years, did i ever think that i would be in a relationship that meant loving and embracing a child that was not my own, as my own. Not that i felt anything against the idea, its just something i never thought of or considered. But that is just how you see it. You have ideas and make plans and then Life happens.

Where did the term ‘step-children’ come from? Why is there a step?

For about four years, my ‘step’ children and I have been in each others lives. It seems like an easy enough relationship whereby i know my boundaries, in manner of not attempting to be their mother, rather a loving figure in their lives. It was a rather difficult relationship to define at first, because well i am not really ‘Auntie’, but yes ‘Dad’s Companion’ and also their sister’s mother.

Eventually they settled for an abbreviation, which i think is pretty cool, MZ they call , from “Mama Zuri.” Sort of like a superhero type? Or close? It feels like it.

And so on and on it goes – this journey of ours. We sometimes have growing pains. It cannot be easy to have someone around who they did not plan for. And this someone playing a role that they did not expect to see me play. But i am thankful and blessed in many ways. It is easy, when they are good kids. There is an occasional discomfort but we paddle through. Like any relationship, it has its ups and downs. But we work at it and it works out. I do not ask for much, other than respect for themselves and others and self discipline. I guess those are simple standards for children everywhere.

The notion of the evil step mother that is perpetrated in history never helps. So there is hesitation in getting close.

But I am confident that the less I think about it and the more love I give, we will get to where we are meant to be, which is in a space of comfort, ease, trust and love.

Do you have any step-children? How is your relationship with them? Any tips to share with the world?

This is an original post by Nancy Sumari from Tanzania. You can find more of her writing at Mama Zuri.

Photo credit to the author.

TANZANIA: Birthday Week Diaries

TANZANIA: Birthday Week Diaries

Nancy Sumari

I have a birthday this week. An occasion which would usually have me getting excited, prepping for a party or a date night. Or if it were my daughter or better half’s birthdays, you would find me really excited and organizing a party or some sort of celebration.

But this time around, for my birthday, it’s not working out as per usual. I don’t want a celebration or a party. I want something quiet and non obvious, like staying home all day and catching a movie afterwards.  Although it doesn’t look like that will happen if my girlfriends have anything to do with it.

By nature I’m a person who gets pretty excited. I’m known not to turn down a party. But for some reason, as I get older, I’m just not keen about celebrating getting older. Sometimes I can feel the clock ticking in my head, but that’s another story for another day.

A male colleague once asked, “What is with women and their age?” It got me thinking. What is it with women and their age?? For some women, even just asking their age is an unforgivable offense.

The sense of alarm and urgency that has overcome me lately is strange yet it has been happening with greater frequency.

Maybe it has to do with the fact that my daughter is growing up faster than I like. Or maybe it’s because I feel that there’s so much I still want to do right at the age I am. Not to mention that of course my body changing and witnessing it is not very desirable.

I suppose I should embrace it. Take it by the horns and “wonder-woman” style my way through these feelings? But how? How do I get excited when all I want is to do is stay in bed all day and not hear a word about my birthday?

Has anyone else ever gotten weary of growing a year older?

This is an original post by Nancy Sumari from Tanzania. You can find more of her writing at Mama Zuri.

Photo courtesy of the author.
Tanzania: My “One Child” Policy

Tanzania: My “One Child” Policy

Nancy Sumari
I grew up in a family of five children, with a year and a half between each child. I remember our household always feeling crowded, and, of course, privacy was unheard of.

The fact that we were three sisters meant that hand me downs and sharing clothing was a huge part of life, and it also meant that I did not always get to enjoy and appreciate my favorite shirt or shoes long enough. Let’s not even mention how much fighting went on. We basically disagreed on and fought over everything! When I think of how much noise and bickering went on, my head starts spinning.

We were five siblings. I often repeat those words in my head just so that I can try to understand exactly how my parents managed to work long hours to provide for us and raise us. They did this all while still managing to maintain good relationships with all of us.

It was always hard for me to wrap my head around how they handled it all, and, therefore, I ended up never wanting a big family.

Every time I say that to someone, who (impolitely) asks if I’m thinking of having a second child, I get gasps and shocking looks. In many of our African and especially Tanzanian families, having and being happy with just one child is rather strange.  “Why?” “Are you sure?” “Won’t she be lonely?”  Are some of the many questions that come flying at me.

The truth is, I am happy. Yes, with just only one child. It works for us, we are happy, and having a grand time. I am managing perfectly, meshing my schedule with hers. I feel that I’m able to give the best of myself to motherhood this way and in this space.  At least in the meantime, that is. I don’t doubt that in the foreseeable future she will start asking for a sibling. *Laughs*

I must say, though, that I do worry. Is it easier to spoil a child if it’s just her? What about narcissism? Is she more susceptible to it because she is often all on her own? What about being a loner? I even worry about the difference it would make in our relationship if, in fact, I do have a second baby.  *Crazy mom talking*

How many children do you have? What do you think are the advantages and disadvantages of having only one child?

This is an original post by Nancy Sumari from Tanzania. You can find more of her writing at Mama Zuri.

Photo credit to the author.