BUSINESS SPOTLIGHT: MEET LIFE COACH NABUKENYA MUWONGE
Having spent the last half of 2014 living in Arizona, Nabukenya Muwonge is a long way from home. She is a certified life coach from Namibia–a country located in the southwest region of Africa. Her visit was prompted by the opportunity to visit another part of the world and to network with her American peers, in her chosen profession of coaching. However, she admits that her first time in the United States has been much more than she thought it would be.
Muwonge began her coaching career with her family’s practice, Southern Consultants, in Namibia. Prior to joining the family business, she worked in public health for eight years. Though she appreciated the stability of a steady paycheck, she knew that she wanted something else. “I always knew that I wanted a job where I was impacting others’ skills and knowledge,” says Muwonge. She admits that even as a coach, she is constantly learning, not only about her industry, but herself, as well. “Most of my breakthroughs have been my own life experiences,” she shares. In fact, it was learning and journeying through her own challenges that lead her to become a coach. It was just a brief time ago, while Muwonge was still working a full time job, that she realized that she wanted to coach others in her own practice. So she began her journey. After completing her certification in 2010, she began moonlighting as a coach, while still working full time. In 2012, when her job lost funding for her position, she decided that it was time to step out on faith and begin her journey as an entrepreneur.
Muwonge specializes as an alignment coach. She assists others in discovering how to live their lives and choose careers that align with their life purpose, so that they may live more fulfilled, happier lives. “I really love my work. It’s very rewarding, because it enables me to facilitate,” she happily shares. Coaching others is a very personal experience. As one might expect from the description of her work, alignment coaching is just as, if not more intimate. As she shares, “The thing about coaching that most don’t know, is that it is a mutually beneficial relationship. It is rewarding to connect with people in a very private and internal way.”
While Muwonge’s initial pull was to visit and network in the United States, it has been a much more personal experience for her. She shares, “There have been so many life changing experiences that I didn’t think would happen; I definitely got to know myself very well, out of my comfort zone.” Because of her own experience, Muwonge encourages others to travel beyond their native boarders, if possible. It is a bit of advice that we should consider. Within the Black community, there is a tendency to lean towards one dimensional. We forget how multifaceted and varied we are as a people.
Though she has enjoyed her time in America, Muwonge has also had the “opportunity” to experience what the negative side of being Black in the United States carries–racism. “People have done double takes, when they see me and I know that look–“like oh, there’s a Black person”, she shares. She also shares of the time when she was told by a neighbor–who is not Black–that Blacks in America are considered ” lower class, criminals and uneducated”. While she was appalled by the conversation, she was even more surprised that because of her African nationality, she was privy to such a distasteful comment about a group of people who look like her. “They elevate me once they find out I’m not an African American, but ultimately it is bad, because all African Americans are still Black. The U.S. is like this is my playground, but you (Black citizens) can’t play,” she opines.
In her own home of Namibia, there are many disparities between the races. Less than 50 years removed from apartheid, the country is still growing and developing in many areas. It is not uncommon to find that many Black Namibians are without a high school education. However, Muwonge shares that Black Africans have an advantage of living somewhere where they are not the minority. One could imagine that living in your ancestor’s home land and knowing who you are presents something that cannot be taken away–a sense of self-worth and identity. Though neither are completely absent in the United States. It is much harder to build a family legacy when the first few chapters of your story have been stolen from you.
While living in the United States, Muwonge has taken advantage of the many networking groups–both on and offline–to learn more about her industry. “A Black life coach in Africa does not make a lot of money, whereas my brother does very well because he is a banker,” she admits. As well, the coaching industry is not as strong, as it is in the United States, so she has been very careful to make use of her time while visiting, even working for free. “All of my work in the United States has been pro bono, but the experience has been invaluable,” she says. For anyone looking to gain experience and knowledge she suggests that they do what she has done. It has opened many doors for her in terms of learning and building relationships.
As an alignment coach, ensuring that what she does aligns with her own purpose is paramount. For Muwonge, faith is indeed a very strong part of who she is and why she has chosen her path. Moreover, it is her spiritual faith that has kept her going when things seem bleak. It also helps her to keep her own ego in check, when dealing with life. With this in mind, she is very careful about who she chooses to work with and what type of projects she is willing to accept. As she states, “If my principals aren’t in alignment with what you do, then I cannot work with you.”
When it comes to Minding Your Black Business, Muwonge suggests viewing the community from a more global perspective. She encourages Blacks in the United States to consider opportunities outside of U.S. boarders. Unfortunately, she believes that the media has painted so many negative pictures of Black populated areas outside of America, that it is hard for many to believe that there are any potential opportunities for Blacks in other countries such as her home of Namibia. However, she is encouraged by her own experiences and the people that she has had the opportunity to meet. “I believe that we could teach each other so much,” she says, encouraged by those who are willing to travel, explore and exchange knowledge or ideas. “The world is becoming a global vision. People are learning that they can take their skills and talents worldwide; community now means the world. Never underestimate the power of community.”
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