On Being Fearless: Uveka Rangappa in conversation with Josina Machel
Josina Machel was raised by great fighters and activists. But that life has come with its fair share of tragedy. The loss of her father, Mozambican president Samora Machel, in a plane crash that is still shrouded in suspicion, the death of her step-father, Nelson Mandela, and a brutal attack in a case of domestic abuse that has left her blind in one eye. Yet, she continues to fearlessly stand her ground and champion for other survivors who don’t have a voice!
We’re honoured to share this impactful conversation between Josina and news anchor and journalist, Uveka Rangappa, on how she remains fearless through it all.
What are the events in your life that have shaped you and made you fearless?
Being beaten to a pulp and running screaming for help, was the first manifestation of my fearlessness. Weeks later, I realised that in order to tell my own story and allow other women to tell theirs, I needed to be courageous. In that moment of finding my life purpose, I realised I was fearless!
At what point did you decide to do something about the abuse?
After being beaten, I had injuries, but I did not know I had been blinded in one eye. I decided to report it because I know my “humanness” had been reduced and I couldn’t stay silent. I didn’t know where the journey would take me, but I knew that abuse was not tolerable.
Faced with such tragedies in life, many women become and stay victims. How did you become a survivor and not a victim?
I value life and it’s a privilege to be still breathing. My father, Samora Machel, fulfilled his life purpose and that allowed me to live fully and fulfil my own purpose. That has inspired my work with women who are continually robbed of their dignity in private and public. My fathers (Samora and Madiba) instilled in me the sense of uniqueness, love and respect which every girl in the world deserves.
The guilty verdict against your alleged attacker was overturned. Do you feel let down by the justice system?
In this case, justice has been bought. But its price is not eternal. A state of injustice will never prevail. I believe in justice, if not of men, justice of God.
You were also threatened and intimidated when you reported this attack but you didn’t back down. How did you not crumble?
The truth cannot crumble. My aggressor tried to intimidate and kill my voice, but my truth stood me firm. I was scared into making changes in my life but I could not be scared into lying.
But you must still have moments where you are fearful – how do you overcome?
I spent many nights afraid for my life and I was fearful for what could happen to my children. In the moments when fear grips me, I retreat into the memory of a 4-year-old Josina who believed in the goodness and fairness of the world.
You founded the Kuhluka Movement to help other survivors – how do you empower them?
Victims of gender-based violence can suffer from life-long PTSD. That suffering is ingrained in our DNA and we need to deal with it long term. ALWAYS REMEMBER: There is NEVER an excuse for abuse. If someone is abusing you or someone in your home, you do not have to accept it or protect them.
Do you think fearlessness is something we are born with or something we have to learn?
We are all born fearless. Fear is taught to us from a young age and reinforced throughout our lives. We should live with enough fear to ensure survival, but not fear of being who we are because then we stop living fully!