Fearless, action-driven and a rebel with a cause – meet the compassionate business mogul, traveller, mother and all round do-gooder, Rejoice Kea Nxumalo.
Our interview left me in awe! Rejoice is getting behind the wheel of a 10-ton truck in a week’s time (from the date of our interview) and driving for four (yes four!) days, to Mozambique. On the truck you’ll find food parcels, clothes and other bare essentials that she will be taking to the very desperate, traumatised and starving citizens of Mozambique who were swept away by the devastating Cyclone Idai last month. This will be her fourth trip with a truck-load of goods since the storm first hit them in mid-March. ‘Out of the millions of people now living with nothing but a plastic sheet as shelter, there are about 1,8 million orphaned children with nothing, fending for themselves.
Rejoice spent her last visit, with the help of eight other wonderful volunteers, packing parcels for families and handing out the little they were able to collect to those they could reach.
In essence, this is Rejoice. ‘I wish I could tell you that I grew up in disadvantaged circumstances and this led me to wanting to help and serve others, but that’s not the case.
Look, when I think back now, I realise I grew up tough, but it was my normal. I grew up in a little village in Jericho with my grandparents. I fetched water in buckets from the river and wood from the bush, chased rabbits and played Leg Usha, hop-scotch and tins. We had food on the table, and chicken on Sundays. Life was good … I was simply born with a gift to help others. I have no reason at all. Just emotions and compassion for people that continue to drive me. If I can do something about a situation, I will! ‘
The devastation in Mozambique has hit me hard. These people’s only livelihood was growing plant-based foods and selling fish as an income – now they don’t even have that. They have a sheet of plastic to survive under, no food, no clothes, no blankets, no beds. Some are ill, some are still horribly traumatised by the events of the cyclone, some are mourning the loss of loved ones and many are starving. Slowly but surely, various world organisations are coming to help, but with many people in remote, washed away areas, they can only be reached by helicopter. This means many eat only once every two weeks. It really is bad out there.
‘I am now approaching everyday citizens of South Africa to help where they can. Getting bigger sponsorships and funding from businesses and organisations takes time – a luxury we, and the people affected in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe, definitely don’t have now. We have various drop-off point across Gauteng for people to take any goods they’d like to donate. On the West Rand, our main drop-off point is at the Land Rover retail office at 4 Foster Lane, Weltevreden Park. ‘We are collecting non-perishable foods, basic toiletries, sanitary products, clean drinking water, clothing and basic medication. The harsh reality is that these people, who already had close to nothing, will need to start from scratch – but they don’t know where, and they don’t know when!’ In the meantime, Rejoice continues to do what she can.
Although she resides in Weltevreden Park, Rejoice owns the Rejoice Beach Lodge and Restaurant in Bilene, Mozambique. She is also the chairperson of the non-profit organisation, South Africa Association of Investors, so she’s no stranger to doing outreach projects across South Africa. ‘I spend a lot of time in Mozambique because of my business. In December 2018, we launched a new restaurant at the lodge and a new campsite in March – so there are many things that require my attention.’
Her family says she’s a workaholic – and her only hobby is travelling … something else she’s done plenty of! Clearly sleep doesn’t seem to be at the top of her priority list … ‘I never go to bed before midnight and I have to ‘wife’ and ‘parent’ in between that.’
Rejoice has three children; Kgosietsile (24), Keabonga (18) and Amani (13). She’s married to radio DJ, TV presenter, actor, voice-over artist, music producer, song-writer and singer, Bongani Nxumalo. Having so much to do in a day, Rejoice says balancing her businesses, outreach work and being a mom is tough.
‘So I simply involve my whole family with everything I do, ha ha. If we volunteer, they have to be there. If we’re building in Mozambique, they pick up a shovel. That way, we spend time together. For this reason, we have home-schooled all our children.’
On top of family duties, the lodge and seemingly trying to save the world, Rejoice and Bongani also founded Kamak Productions in 2008. The company does voice-overs, music productions, company videos, corporate event productions and everything within the media industry. Bongani is more creative, while Rejoice heads up the operations.
They also own Black Basket, which was born from a passion to help and develop black SMMEs. ‘I needed a vehicle to propel the work we have been doing with our NPO (SA Investors). This business is mainly a platform to connect local manufacturers to buyers, and promote inter-Africa trading.’ And then there is Afreakan Dream Travel. This company feeds into her obsession for travelling. ‘Afreakan is a travel club I started that allows me to take other travel dreamers along with me, with a particular focus on travelling within Africa.’
She’s been to six African countries, 11 countries and 22 cities in Europe, four states in the USA, four cities in Asia and to Turkey (the only country in the world that lies on two continents – Asia and Europe).
‘I wish to travel to at least 190 countries of the world. There are only four where it’s too icy cold for me to exist. Top of my list is to travel the African continent. My favourite place to be has always been in the sky, on a plane to somewhere … My roaming soul wants to discover places I’ve never been.
‘Who knows, perhaps someday I’ll sit next to Oprah on a plane… I hope when the day comes, whatever she has going for her rubs off on me!’ … Well, we think the West Rand has its very own Oprah – wouldn’t you agree?
To the point:
People don’t know that … I wear mismatched socks and earrings.
I have a habit of … chewing ice.
I unwind with … a good glass of wine.
I cannot stand … a dirty bathroom, the smell of burnt eggs and cheap talk.
The best book I’ve read in a while … Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill.
Details: 081 559 3267 or email [email protected] or get in touch via facebook and twitter, as SA Investors or on her personal Facebook page, Rejoice Kea Nx.