Academic and all-round fabulous woman, Dr Hundzukani Khosa is the epitome of the immortal words sung by Whitney Houston “I’m every woman”. She understands all too well the importance of grabbing opportunity and living one’s highest vibration. She takes time out of her already full schedule to speak to Ignited Woman editor Kamogelo Seekoei about all her roles and her journey to self-worth.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I was born in Limpopo, Ka-Mhinga, a village in Giyani, we moved to a small town just few years after I was born. I am the middle child in between two beautiful sisters.
What would say are some of the fundamental influences from your family?
My mother is a high school dropped out who later became a business woman. She got married at a very young age as a teenager and had kids also at a very young age but that did not stop her from achieving her dreams. My father joined the military (SANDF) right after completing his matric. He served the military until retirement age, 60. Looking at the pride he carried in serving the SANDF also motivated me to join the military two years after completing my master’s degree. I served it the best way I knew how, the physical training was really hard, it is an experience I will carry with me forever.
Having served in the Military as a senior officer has contributed to both my physically and mental strength. I do not think one can go for military training and return the same. Although I have always known that my stay would not be forever because my first love has always been academia, given. I love serving. I am a single mother of twins (boys) like many women in this country, being a single mother was never part of my plans but after my failed marriage to their father I joined the statics of single mothers in this country and also added a number to the number of divorced women in this country.
Please share your journey into academia; where did it all begin?
I started my undergraduate at the University of Pretoria (UP) in 2008, I stayed at UP until I completed my PhD in November 2019. My career in academia started in 2013 January, I started working at Unisa as an academic research assistant, and in 2015 January I started working as a Lecturer also at Unisa. I have worked as an external marker at Theological Educational by Extension College (TEE) for about three years. I am currently a researcher at North-West University and lecturer at Cornerstone Institute.
You hold a PhD and are also a researcher at the NWU; can you share details about what your research is in?
My research interest is mostly focused on African rituals, practices and beliefs, I am also very passionate about gender studies. I am currently studying clinical psychology so my research also includes a bit of psychology. Among other articles is one I recently wrote with Dr Wonke Buqa who is a research associate at the university of Pretoria, titled ‘suicide as a sin and mental illness: a dialogue between Christianity and psychology’. I also recently published another article with Dr Peter White a senior lecturer at Stellenbosch University titled 'Restriction of burial rites during Covid-19 pandemic: An African liturgical and missionary challenge”. These two articles best summaries my research interest.
You are also an adjunct Lecturer at Cornerstone Institute; how are you able to juggle all of these roles?
I have never been much of a sleeper, that’s one of my bad habits I guess, I discovered this habit during my high school days and I always say “ I will sleep when I am dead” hence they say RIP when you die so one is not supposed to rest in peace while they are still alive. I took up this role after completing of my PhD, any PhD journey is demanding so finding a balance between my research roles at North-West University and lecturing at Cornerstone comes naturally but of course it means less time with family and friends.
You are not only an academic but a clergy person too; can you tell us how you balance these?
Ministry is not just something I do it is who I am but it can be demanding especially now during the pandemic one had to do more funerals than ever before, it gets really hard and emotional at times but the Lord is my strength. There are also so many challenges that clergy women face in the church that many do not talk about, such as sexual harassment and abuse from our fellow male clergies. Personally I have experienced this throughout my ministry which has been over 10 years, I spoke about these challenges 10 years ago and I was ignored when I speak about them then but now, they blame it on my education. “now that she is a Dr she is questioning the church” but beside those challenges it is such an honor to serve. I have two friends, and they are busy too, and I try to spend as much time as I can with my family but there are a number of occasion I have had to miss with family due to work, In my 10 years in ministry I have only spent Christmas with my family twice but they understand.
When did you become a pastor and what drove you to this direction
My ministry began January 2011, I didn’t choose ministry it chose me, I wanted to be a lawyer, I shared this in my book, how I wanted to be a lawyer but God wanted me to be in ministry and I went where he wanted me to be and that is my greatest gift in life, to be trusted by God this much.
Your book: When was it published?
My Book “From Miss to Mrs. to Ms. to Dr: Tears on the pulpit” was published in August 2021
What should readers expect in the book?
Well, this book should have an age restriction. Jokes aside though, one should expect laughter, tears and life lessons. The title of the book says it all, it is the different titles I carried throughout life and how I cried behind the pulpit before and after preaching not because I was moved by the holy spirit but because I was hurting, my life felt like a nightmare, a nightmare I just could not wake up from. I wrote about my first sexual experience, my failed marriage and how I dated a married man without knowing this detail because we lived together in the same house and his family adored me, so one can imagine the shock.
What can you tell women who feel stuck in life and need inspiration?
I would tell women who feel stuck in life to keep on pushing and moving forward and to always remember that life is not about being better than the next women. Life is not about getting married at a certain age, graduating at a certain age or having children at a certain age, it is about waking up every morning and giving the best of yourself to yourself and the rest will follow. I always say ‘ do not aim to be better than others aim to be better than the person you were yesterday’. Never stop dreaming now that I am a Doctor I want to be a professor and I Know that when I am a professor I will want more, so always want more for yourself and work for it even if it means doing in on your knees and with tears in your eyes, you are not dead until you are dead.
Having been through so many stages of life you must know a thing or two about being true to oneself; what does self-worth mean to you?
Self-worth for me means not being apologetic about whom and what you are, it means knowing that you are enough. Personally to me it means I’m not perfect but I deserve greatness. If I did not know my worth the world and opinions of others would have killed me a long time ago. I am often told “you do not look like a pastor” I don’t want to look like a pastor I am happy looking like me and serving as me and that for me is self-worth.
Still on the topic of self-worth; what would you say has been a defining experience for you?
I was considered to be the ugliest among my sisters by society and my relatives while growing up because I always had a darker skin complexion compared to them and I believed that I was ugly but as I grew older and my self-esteem grew I became very comfortable in my skin and grew to acknowledge that all women are beautiful, myself included.