Candice Mama is the author of “Forgiveness Redefined” who started her work in forgiveness, reconciliation and trauma after her story of forgiving apartheid assassin and her father’s murderer, Eugene De Kock, made international news. Having been inundated with requests to show people how to forgive she went on to become an award winning international speaker who’s story has been heard by the Dalai Lama.
What drives you? | My father was a young apartheid activist who passed away at the age of twenty-five. I am driven by the responsibility I feel to live a life of meaning and gratitude in honour of his memory and sacrifice
What is your LIFE-MISSION in one sentence? | “Leaving people more empowered and hopeful than I found them”
What is one talent or strength of yours, which has been critical to your success? | I think my stubbornness and conviction have gone hand in hand with my success. When I believe in a vision I commit to it for the long run. Therefore, when inevitable failures and obstacles do happen to come onto my path. I may take a short breather, but – like a train – I continue to move forward.
What are the most important lessons you have learnt so far, in your career or life journey?| In my life I have learnt that forgiveness is an act of self-love and it has nothing to do with the other person or thing that hurt you. When you choose to forgive you are allowing yourself to take back your power and say “I refuse for this incident/person to continue to control me. I release the emotional attachment I hold to this moment.” What I had not realised before forgiving was that “anger was like drinking poison and expecting somebody else to die” as former statesman Nelson Mandela so aptly said. When we hold onto trauma, it colours every single aspect of our lives and can physically manifest in our bodies. When we forgive, we choose to take back our power.
How do you deal with self-doubt, fear or negativity? Can you share a time in which you either doubted yourself the most, or had great fears; yet faced up to them and conquered them? | I’ve dealt with the “imposter-syndrome”, which is a manifestation of self-doubt, most of my career. Some incidents unfolded when I was twenty-four and was sitting on panels with Harvard professors, who were asking for my opinion on life situations which only the likes of Mother Teresa or Archbishop Desmond Tutu (or other highly educated people) had delved into before me. Yet, I have learned to quiet the fears and do it anyway, knowing that it is simply a part of life to question yourself, but it is critical to always know that if you made it into a room: its because you belong there and it’s up to you to stay there. Now that I’m twenty-eight, I simply acknowledge my fears when they arise – because they will – and set them aside, using gratitude as a tool. Saying something along the lines of “I am grateful to have earned my way to this position and to engage with these people”.
How do you ensure you are always feeling energised and performing at your peak? | By listening to my body and my intuition as to what it is that I need. When one is always on the move it’s easy to get caught up in what’s expected from you and what needs to be done, however it’s important to set aside either twenty minutes in the morning or evening before bed, to check in with your body After doing so in the mornings, it’s important for me to move my body through dance or physical activity coupled with music which uplifts me, in order to get my body and mind ready for the day ahead. Lastly, I always remember to be grateful and realise that I choose my emotional response to every situation that comes my way: will I be reactive (act out of impulse), or proactive (breathe and think before engaging)?
As a high performer have you ever had to struggle with happiness and contentment? | Yes, I suffered with depression for most of my teenage life due to the anger and resentment I carried towards Eugene De Kock: the man who murdered my father. I found that the way I managed to move past my resentment was by choosing to forgive and redefine my own story. Now I may have sporadic feelings of anxiety which pop up in high pressure situations, but because I am so attuned to my body and mind, I find the root of it and deal with the core issue before it grows.
What is the best advice you have ever received? | “Feel the fear and do it anyway” There were many moments in my early career where I attempted to use fear as a justification to not move ahead, because it was outside my comfort zone. Yet those were the moments that yielded the most growth. No matter how far you get in your career, fear will rear its head and you simply have to do it anyway.