My name is Bertha Mukodzani. Born and raised in a small town
called Chinhoyi, Makonde District, Zimbabwe. I qualified as a Primary school
teacher from Masvingo Teachers’ College where I graduated with Infant Specialization
and a distinction in Theory of Education for which I was awarded the
Makahamadze trophy. 
 

At present, I work full time as Advanced Nurse Practitioner
(Recovery Rooms) at an NHS Foundation Trust, England. I am a published author,
blogger, and vlogger. My first novel, A Life Steered, is a semi-autobiography
which I wrote mainly for cathartic reasons, but I am pleased to say my story
has touched and inspired many and it continues to do so. I have just completed editing
my second manuscript entitled A Family Portrait which I hope to publish very
soon. I also put together an E-book called Through Barbed Wire which is
essentially a compilation of motivational articles.
My articles, including the ones drawn from my hands-on nursing
experience, have been widely published in my town’s local newspapers, The
Reading Chronicle and The Reading Post, UK. In October 2015, I was a finalist
in the Zimbabwe International Women’s Awards (ZIWA) in the best author category
in recognition of my authorship of A Life Steered. In May, 2016, I was awarded
the Royal Berkshire Hospital Award in recognition of the publication of my
nursing article to mark Nurses International Day which was published in The
Reading Chronicle.
I also maintain a motivational blog and whenever I can, I do
follow up YouTube videos. All my writings are aimed at encouraging, reassuring
and raising awareness as I feel that there is so much strife going on around
and that, we as a society, could sure use a dollop of that every now and then. Whenever
I can, I volunteer at my local church to participate in community health
screening programs. It is through her passion for writing, her hands-on nursing
career as well as helping others in the community that I find the most
pleasure!
WHAT FUELS ME?
Faith – Life hasn’t always been easy for me, ever
since I was a child. But, it is my unwavering faith in God which gives me the
resilience and the determination to keep going despite the odds. Of course,
there have been times that I have questioned God’s intentions for my life. But,
I know now that the challenges that I have faced and overcome were all for a
purpose. Had I not walked in the path that I have walked, I do not think I
would have discovered my passion. Something had to happen to kick-start me into
my journey here on earth. At the time I thought it was unfair, but, I am
grateful now for all that has shaped me to be the kind of woman that you see
now.
Passion – Certain events in our lives can kill or
ignite passion in us. For me, I found my passion after the passing of my
husband and you can read my novel for more. I believe that having a passion in
life is what keep us alive. It could mean the difference between spending the
rest of your life on anti-depressants and maintaining your sanity. Because
there are times when life will challenge and test us to the very core. You sit
there and wonder, ‘what is the bloody point?’ But, it is when you have a
passion for something, that drive in your belly, that you are able to hold on.
There is simply no way for you to quit because you realize that despite what
you’re facing now, the world still needs you. Passion also means you believe in
yourself and in what you are doing. It’s the difference between those who
achieve their goals and those who do not. You cannot chase a dream that you’re
not passionate about. You will soon quit at the first hurdle. Doing something
purely for the pleasure and drive it gives you is what gives you the
perseverance, the determination and the resilience. You won’t care whether you
get the recognition or the money. You just carry on because your passion is who
you are as a person.
Unique -In the writing business, agents and
publishers are always on the lookout for those writers that stand out. That
unique voice. For example, you may write a romance novel. There have been many
love stories told. What matters is being able to tell the same kind of story in
a different way. To inject that freshness that readers are desperate for. To
tell it in a way which makes someone pause and say, aha, I never looked at it
in this way before. Being unique is embracing who you really are to the core.
No one in this world is exactly like you. The way you look, think and view the
world is different and you can use that to your advantage. When you stop being
afraid, remove the mask and show up with confidence, as your true, authentic
self, people who matter won’t be able to resist you. Flaws or no flaws. They
will buy into your story. Believe in you. Come into your life and stay. 
MY GREATEST INFLUENCE:
My
dad. He is the one person who always believed in me. When I was a child, he was
always hammering into me how important education was. He also used to tell me
that I can be whoever I want to be as long as I work hard. I was a daddy’s girl
and I know now that at times he exaggerated things so I could believe in the
possibilities. And I am glad he did. He also had a sense of humor and a
childlike side to him. I believe I inherited that too. My biggest regret is
that he is not alive to see me today. I know he would’ve been really proud.
MY TOP THREE ROLE
MODELS:
Ben Carson – I admire his story. He was believed to be not so
bright and yet he went on to become one of the greatest surgeons in the world.
Malorie Blackman – She is the epitome of
perseverance. She wrote 9 books and was submitting for 2. 5 years and got 82
rejections before her first book deal. She then became Children’s Laureate. If
that’s not the definition of perseverance, I don’t know what is!
J.K. Rowling – She too has a story and I like her approach to
trolls. She has been through the worst, so, some things simply do not faze her.
She tells it like it is. Recently, Forbes removed her from their billionaire’s
list because she spent her money on charities, and she said, she believes it to
be her responsibility to give back. Luke 12: 48 comes to mind.
IN THE NEXT FIVE
YEARS…..
I
see myself having published at least 3 novels by then. My main goal is to write
as many books as I can. At the moment, I have a very dear friend who encourages
me and challenges me when necessary. Whenever I feel discouraged, he is the
first person I turn to because he understands me. He always says, ‘Bertha,
you’re not a quitter!’ Sometimes that is just what you need to hear. We discuss
ideas and he devotes his time to helping me with my project when he can. I
believe it’s important to always have someone who sees your potential and who
is there to remind you.

THE AFRICAN WOMAN’S CHALLENGE:
As
a writer, I feel we haven’t fully developed a culture of reading. There is this
saying that I like, ‘readers are leaders’. The future belongs to those who
read. And, one of the ways in which we can understand our world, our past, our
culture, is through reading. Any book has a message, regardless of what genre
it is. I also feel as African women we are not trusting of one another. The
moment we are blessed with something, we automatically assume that those who
are not quite there yet are jealous and that they are trying to pull us down.
This is what blocks the support that we are always crying about. You will
notice I have deliberately not said that we as black women do not support each
other enough. We do, but those who are supported repel others by making the
wrong assumptions about other women. This is the reason why I write my
articles/books. My aim is to address some of these issues that I see
circulating among us through enlightenment, dispelling some myths/misconceptions,
educating, motivation and so on. As a writer, I see it as my responsibility
because my writings will still be there long after I’m gone. My words will be
my legacy.
WHAT
I DO TO RELAX:
I
enjoy watching a good murder. I am addicted to Columbo and anything to do with
murder and detection (don’t ask me why!). I enjoy my music. I sometimes dance
like a mad woman in front of the mirror. I pray. Go to church. All that helps
me to relax and deal with life’s tensions.
MY   –  
I.C.E. [INSPIRE|CELEBRATE|EMPOWER] VISION
We, as African women have come a long way. We deal
with a lot in the society. It’s hard enough being a woman let alone a black
one. We are strong, beautiful and influential creatures and that alone should
be enough to celebrate. The black woman had the power to make or break our
community, therefore, it is crucial to recognize those that are doing their part
to make this world a better place. The more we do that, the better our chances
of eliminating the negatives.
MY
AFRICAN UNION PLANS:
I would want to take part in initiatives aimed at
developing the culture of reading within our community, especially the younger
generation.
FINAL WORDS OF ADVICE:
As a woman and as a black woman, I know it is so
easy to come up with all kinds of excuses as to why it is so hard out there. I
am not saying it isn’t hard because it is. Develop the kind of resilience which
enables you to just show up as you are. You develop this resilience by dealing
with your situation one hurdle at a time. I believe that despite our
backgrounds, circumstances, and location, we possess some unique qualities,
talents and gifts that we can tap into in order to make a contribution. If you
haven’t figured out what those are yet, do not worry. Sit still. Take time for
silence and listen to that inner voice. Sooner or later, you will know what it
is that you’re meant to be doing. Lastly, whatever you do, please, let it come
from the heart!