• Sunday, June 23, 2024
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From corporate executive to consciousness activist, transforming Africa from within

From corporate executive to consciousness activist, transforming Africa from within

The Late Archbishop Desmond Tutu will forever be remembered for popularizing the philosophy of South African origin called “ubuntu”. In one of his essays he wrote, “In Xhosa we say, “Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu”. This expression is difficult to render in English but we could translate it by saying, “A person is a person through other persons.”. The essence of the distinctly African “spirit of ubuntu” is that communities and societies give human beings their humanity. Simply put, we are each other’s keepers. When this concept is introduced in the context of contemporary African tastemakers, it is no wonder that a fellow of the Archbishop Desmond Tutu Leadership Institute is immediately top of mind. A born leader in every sense of the term, Ivorian Swaady Martin’s story is demonstrative of the fact that the more knowledge and influence one gains, the more imperative it becomes to lend oneself to the greater good of society and to Africa as a whole. She continues to achieve this as she exudes excellence, whilst putting out good energy into the world to develop a new generation of conscious Africans.

A former acting CEO of General Electric South Africa Technologies, among several other management and leadership roles she held during her 10 year career in the blue-chip company, Swaady came into her own when she stepped away from the demands of corporate life and handed herself over to the business of building meaningful African ventures that embody our culture and heritage. In 2012 she founded luxury tea company YSWARA, a producer of African tea-blends and tea accessories ethically-sourced from African ingredients. The creation of YSWARA was born from her passion for agro-benefication, and is based on investing in the value addition of raw materials locally and doing her part to reverse the African commodity trap. The brand stands proudly in the world’s premier luxury outlets such as Selfridge’s and Harrods. This process birthed Swaady’s own concept, “luxe ubuntu”.

“Luxe ubuntu is our own special term, it describes our inclusive luxury business model, in which there is economic benefit for everyone who contributes to the production of a luxury product” says Swaady when describing the business ethos behind YSWARA. “We’re changing the perceptions of Africa and its products, supporting conservation of our cultural heritage, and giving Africa a positive, contemporary image”.

Read also: Africa cannot innovate its way out of bad governance

Inspiring change from within is not limited to Swaady’s business philosophy, but is also prominent in her personal evolution and her desire to touch lives beyond the economic value chain. She made a choice to intensify her impact on people’s lives by embarking on a journey to be a leader in the global “inner revolution”, an invitation that calls individuals to remember their right to achieve happiness. Through personal development events and courses, as well as authoring and publishing children’s books created with consciousness at their core, Swaady is now invested in building a more compassionate world.

According to Swaady, “A new kind of heart-based all-inclusive conscious leadership is called upon us to lead the necessary revolution to create a more loving and compassionate world where all can thrive: humans, animals, nature, cosmos.” In line with this, she founded Tounche Global Consciousness Summit and Events to meet this end. A non-profit made up entirely of volunteers, the aim is to encourage individuals to create shifts within themselves through yoga, music, dance, dialogue and art to name but a few. The overall focus of Tounche is transformative leadership.

“Tounche is intentionally designed to create a fundamental shift in all who participate to unite in an increasingly polarized world. It is intended to serve as a safe space to engage in polarizing topics from diverse perspectives, to encourage healing and renewal and to empower ourselves through wisdom sharing and preservation”.

As world events force us all to rapidly turn to a more holistic and balanced life, Swaady is already ahead of the curve and has taken ownership of her role as a leader in guiding Africa through a much-needed wellness revolution, one that focuses on healing and unity. After all, excellence is about much more than bottom lines and profit margins. True African excellence is impossible without the return to ubuntu, an Africa where our people are people through other people.