Samukele Ncube is a Digital Marketer and most recently, the author of a collection of poems, Things You Need to Hear the Most. In her own words "Things You Need to Hear Most is a collection of poetry, rooted in self-love. It is a powerful reminder of the fact that you are more powerful than you know. You are a gift, and your existence helps to shape the world in a way that is so magical and can only be brought about by you alone. All you need to do is be yourself." Samukele and I have known each other since high school, last week, Samukele and I met over zoom to discuss her first offering, Things You Need to Hear the Most.
Sue-Shane: Where did you grow up?
Samukele: In a couple of different places! I grew up between Harare, Gaborone and briefly, Bulawayo. I spent my first 10 years in Harare, then I moved to Gaborone, Botswana in 2005 with my mom. I had a brief stint in Bulawayo when I was a boarder in Grade 6 for a term. I then spent the next few years in Botswana and then from 2010 -2013 I was between Gaborone and Harare as my family was in Botswana while I attended boarding school in Harare.
Sue-Shane: What is your first memory of writing something?
Samukele: I remember writing stories in primary school I don’t remember what exactly they were about, but I remember I LOVED to use the word “Alas” in all of my stories! I was definitely influenced by childhood fairy tales so that is probably where that came from, especially the story of Ali Baba and the 40 thieves. I had a big story book with stories for each day of the year and, for some reason that was one I kept going back to over and over again and my early writings definitely drew inspiration from there. Growing up, writing was also my way of processing emotions, especially anger. I’m one of those who cry when I get really angry or upset, so I used to write everything down to try and understand how I felt.
Sue-Shane: Was creativity encouraged in your family?
Samukele: I think it was. My mom used to be an English teacher when she was younger, so she definitely encouraged my writing. For a long time, it was something I took for granted because it came so easy, so I thought it wasn’t anything special, but people always told me I was good at it. One of my uncles is an author and he was always encouraging me to write. I remember there was one time my grandmother came to wake me up early, but my male cousins were allowed to sleep as long as they wanted, so I was complaining about how unfair it all was, and my uncle just said “Write about it”
Sue-Shane: I’ve watched your YouTube video where you talk about this, but do you mind sharing what your writing process was like for this book?
Samukele: I’ve watched your YouTube video where you talk about this, but do you mind sharing what your writing process was like for this book?
My health really took a dive earlier this year, shortly after the lockdown started. It was a very difficult time for me, I had low energy, I was suffering from chronic infections, my skin kept acting up and my hair was falling out. On top of it all, I was extremely depressed, and I felt like I was losing touch of who I was. So, to help myself get through things and to rediscover myself I looked back into my childhood for my gifts. My mom kept all of my report cards since I was in crèche and I asked her to scan them and send them to me so I could figure out who I was as a child. While I was looking at all of the reports, writing stood out. So, I started journaling to process my thoughts, and for some reason I started asking myself “What do I need to hear the most right now” and the words would just flow. Over time, on the health front, I got better – I was working with a therapist, a naturopath and I started seeing a black African doctor who helped me identify the problem as a vitamin D deficiency, which was the cause of all of the health issues I was experiencing. And as I got better, I found my writings started to flow a lot more. I was spending a lot of time outdoors, in the sun and by the water (I’m a Cancer sign and I love being by water). I noticed I was starting to create a collection of poetry and I’d read stuff I’d written a while before, and it would speak to me, and that was when I decided to create the book.
At first I was really shy about it and I didn’t believe it myself, but as I shared what I was doing with my closest friends, they really encouraged me to keep going and gave me confidence in myself, especially at times when I didn’t believe in myself. The whole process has really been a lesson in allowing other people to show up for me and also in trusting myself and my process.
Sue-Shane: That’s beautiful, and I’m happy you decided to trust yourself. Are you self-publishing?
Sue-Shane: What is that process like? Did you try and get a publisher first?
Samukele: When I first thought about it, I reached out to Alex Elle, she is actually one of the people who inspired me to get back into writing. I reached out to her just asking her what her process was for her first book. Would she recommend a publisher? She went the self-publishing route because it’s a lot of work to get a publisher, going forward she uses her successful self-published book as a resume for publishers. That’s what she recommended to me, and it felt right so that’s what I’m doing.
Sue-Shane: I also struggle with self-love. There’s a part of me that feels like I’m lying to myself when I say affirmations. How do you balance this idea of being positive but also allowing things to be even if they are not or can’t be transformed into positive things?
Samukele: In terms of the affirmations, I totally get that. I tried it the first time and I said this feels stupid. Over time, find what’s been happening is, my self-talk whenever it becomes negative, automatically there is something to combat that negative thing. It’s no longer me saying, this is so bad, I suck at this or whatever and automatically my mind is like there is this other good stuff.
Sue-Shane: How do you deal with your inner critic/ inner perfectionist?
Samukele: I have suffered from perfectionism and when my self-esteem was at its lowest, my inner critic was so loud in my head. I have been working on self-compassion, talking to myself as I would to a close friend of mine instead of being overly critical and mean, tips my therapist gave me helped me a lot with that! I’ve also been doing affirmations, and when I first started, it felt stupid, and now I’m seeing that when a negative thought about myself starts to peek through, automatically I combat that with positive thoughts and examples to support it, which is great improvement.
I think what fueled my inner critic before was comparison and not feeling good enough compared to what others were doing, especially now in the age of social media where you see what everyone is doing all the time. I’ve had to set boundaries for myself on my social media consumption and one of my mantras is “stay in your lane”. Over the past few months I have been intentional about spending a lot of time with myself, so I could uncover my gifts and become firmly rooted in them. I’ve come to understand that we all have our unique gifts and talents, and I’m always constantly reminding myself is that my superpower is I am me, just like your superpower is you are you.
Sue-Shane: I know your focus is probably on the upcoming book, but what’s next? Do you think you’ll expand beyond poetry? Is writing something you want to pursue full-time?
Samukele: Yes! My plan is to start with poetry, grow into short stories and eventually get into novels. I love fantasy and my dream is to write a series of fantasy novels that are rooted in African mythology. Right now, the idea of a novel scares me, so I am starting with poetry so I can prove to myself that I can write and then grow from there.
Sue’s Stokvel wishes Samukele a successful book release, and we look forward to reviewing her collection. Here’s how you can connect with Samukele on social media.
Samukele has graciously agreed to share one of the poems in the collection, An Ocean of Dandelions:
An ocean of dandelions,
Some have just begun life, sprouting freshly from the ground,
Others are fully-grown and proudly bare their yellow petals for all to see.
Still, others have matured into fragile white clouds
Which could blow away into the sky without a moment's notice,
To start their lives anew as little seeds
In lands afar.