“From Pain to Noble Purpose” with Dr. Thabo Ncube in Canada


Many of us look up to our parents, who are often our anchors, protectors, and guiding North Star. We do not contemplate losing them – which can be devastating and emotionally crippling. Dr. Nothabo (Thabo) Ncube lost her mother at the young age of fourteen. Amidst the shock, pain, and loss at her mother’s deathbed, a promise was born. She promised to become a medical doctor (MD) and used this newfound purpose as her guiding light. In this episode, she joins host Anne Pratt to share her story of transforming pain, tragedy, and despair into purpose, triumph, and hope. Now, Dr. Thabo is living out her promise and purpose as an MD.  She is an inspirational TEDx speaker, a coach, and a mentor. Join this inspiring conversation as she takes us across the milestones in her life that made her who she is today, impacting multiple lives. A journey from a humble village in Zimbabwe, in Southern Africa, to meeting Oprah Winfrey, to discovering why your personal story matters, Dr. Thabo tells it all. Join her to find the courage, and hope to step into your purpose despite your circumstances. 

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From Pain to Noble Purpose with Dr. Thabo Ncube

Transform Tragedy into Triumph and Despair into Hope with Dr. Thabo Ncube

Our bold young leader joins us from the dynamic metropolis of soaring skyscrapers in the City of Toronto in Canada. She is a young African woman who shares an inspirational story of Hope, Faith, and Grace. From her humble home in Zimbabwe in Southern Africa, she stepped onto the TEDx stage and met the media mogul Oprah Winfrey. At a young age, she is a Coach, a Millennial Mentor for young girls, and a qualified Medical Doctor. She is a global media guest, a keynote speaker, a recipient of the 2020 Woman of Influence Award, and one of the top four Immigrant Inspiration Awards, both awarded in Canada.

You won’t want to miss these spiritual awakenings and how she turned her young life struggle into strength and transformed pain into purpose. How her fourteen-year-old childhood promise to her mother became her guiding light in the world, why meeting Oprah Winfrey awakened her power of self-belief, and why your story matters because ‘we are what we think.’                                                 We warmly welcome Dr. Nothabo Ncube.


LBF 13 | Pain To Purpose


Nothabo, what a great joy to reconnect with you. I’m happy you are coming on to have this conversation with us. Thank you for being here.

Thank you, Anne, for having me. I’m humbled.

The first time I met you, I was ‘taken.’ I remember we connected on LinkedIn. I read your story, and we reached out, connected, and conversed. You have such a remarkable journey. In your own personal life, you have a pretty significant crucible, a turning point. Can you share a moment of promise with your mother? Share with us when it was that and what happened. What was the promise you made? What was the difficulty at that moment?

Thank you, Anne, for taking me back to the moment. In 2003, I was in boarding school, and we were in church. The boarding master came into the church, and they asked the pastor to call me out. That way, I could go outside of the church. The boarding master told me, “You have to go home.” He didn’t say why. He just said I should go back into the dormitories, get my toiletries, and go to the school gate.

As I was walking to the dormitories, for some reason, I felt that something big had happened because the boarding school that I attended would not let me go home, especially on a Sunday. It was considered to be a day of worship and the day when we surrendered to God. Nobody was allowed to leave the premises of the school unless there was something important that would have been happening at home.

As I’m walking towards the gate of the boarding school, in my mind, I don’t know why this thought came to me. I said, “If I see my mother’s car, it means she is alive. If it is not my mother’s car, it means she has died.” As we approached the gate, I noticed it was my uncle’s car. That pointed out that chances were high that my mother had passed away.

When I got into the car, the energy in the car was weird. I could tell my uncle was trying to be calm and positive, but I knew something was wrong. He greeted me and asked me how school was going. I expressed to him that school was going okay. He said, “Your mother was involved in a car accident. She is experiencing an injury in her brain. She requested that she wants to have a conversation with you in case she doesn’t make it.” That was my uncle’s way of preparing me for the tragic news because she died on the spot.

When I got home, that is when I found out through my brother that my mother had passed away in a tragic accident. There were roughly 16 to 20 people in that car, and she was the only one who died. At fourteen, you don’t imagine that your mother would die. You don’t imagine that your mother would endure so much pain to the point that she would die on the spot.

My mother was full of life, energy, and zest for life. She was one of the least expected people to die when she died because everybody felt that she still had so much more to give to her community and society. She was a great teacher. She loved to teach. She brought out the best in kids to the point that the kids she taught would come out number one in the city where I grew up, which is Bulawayo in Zimbabwe.

When her day of burial came, we were in the church, and everybody was doing body viewing. I was one of the last people to go. Sitting close to me, my aunt asked me if I wanted to see my mother. I hadn’t seen her. I said, “Yes.” When I was doing the body viewing, I joined closer to her coffin to see her as I watched her lying down. The spirit allowed me to say a promise to her. The words that came out of my mouth as a promise to my mother were, “Mama, ndinethemba,” which means, “Mama, I’m hopeful.” I continued and said, “I will try by your means and strive to be a doctor.” Those were my last words to my mother. That was my promise to my mother.

Looking back at the moment, I often ask myself many questions. “How could a fourteen-year-old child in that moment of pain have summoned the courage to make a promise to her mother but even say, ‘Mama ndinethemba,’ which means hope? What hope was I talking about when I was in pain and my life was falling apart before me?” The irony is that my father was already in Canada at the time. We were alone in Zimbabwe with my mother, brother, and me. The goal was that my dad was going to apply for us to join him.

It is true that out of pain, something beautiful can emerge. That promise to my mother has served as a guiding light in my journey, allowing me not only to fulfill the promise I made to my mother but also to unfold the spiritual journey, which has led me into a position of giving back to society and the community through leadership.

I thank the forces that were the voices of my ancestors and the voice of my destiny that allowed that moment to manifest in the way that it did. I could stand in the truth and pain of my story as inspiration is empowerment for that girl child who doesn’t know if they are going to make it to the other side or that boy child who doesn’t know if he is going to make it to the other side, or that single mother and dad who needs hope. That is why I’m here, Anne, to use the pain of my journey to remind others that there is light in the tunnel. If you are strong enough to channel that pain and make something more out of it, you will find your way back home to your true self.



First of all, I’m deeply sorry about your loss, and in discussions, your mother sounds like she was a remarkable human being who played such a significant role in your life as many of our mothers do. I was curious to know what was the light bulb moment. What was that point of revelation for you when you understood that despite this pain, there is this statement of hope?

It was that moment of making a promise to my mother. When I made a promise to my mother, I didn’t realize how that promise would serve as a guiding light in my journey. I remember that when I went back to boarding school, the boarding master said to me, “It is part of growing up. Ukukhula.” Meaning it is part of growing up. Sometimes we are faced with such pain, but life must continue. You have to do your best.

Immediately, I went to class. I remember standing outside when I was attending one of my classes. At the time, I was going through one of my darkest periods. It was right after my mother passed away, and I had exams coming up. Being young at fifteen years old, the only thing that I could have possibly held onto at the time was that promise. I remembered the promise I had made to my mother. I said, “I must keep going because I made this promise to her.”

For some reason, I also believed that she was guiding me. I don’t know why I believed that, but I believed strongly that my mother was with me every step and was guiding me. I have experienced a lot of light bulb moments as it connects to that promise I have made to her. Those light bulb moments have come on me, especially when walking through my darkest period. I need something to anchor me. I need a voice to anchor me. I need a hand to hold me together and keep me together.

What are the anchors?

The anchor is, “Ma, ndinethemba. I will try by your means and strive to be a doctor.” That is the anchor. Those words have never left me. As I shared with you, those words have taken me on a spiritual journey and a path I hadn’t imagined before. The work that I’m doing now connects to the promise. I do what I do. I’m a voice. I speak coach and mentor because of that voice that spoke in and through me as God at fourteen years old. That promise is my anchor. That is why I always tell people that your pain is your launching pad. Your pain, trauma, and struggles are your greatest gift.

Your pain is your launching pad. Your pain, trauma, and struggles are your greatest gift. Share on X

How did you transition out of that moment of pain, and what were the key steps you followed to get to the point where you graduated as a medical doctor and fulfilled the promise? What key steps helped you transition from that moment of pain as a fourteen-year-old to your graduation day?

It was staying focused, believing in myself, and surrounding myself with the right and positive people who could encourage, empower, inspire, and push me. That way, I could become a medical doctor. When we arrived in Canada, we lived in community housing. In that catchment area, many kids came from single-parent and low-income homes. There is a program that I got introduced to because I lived in that catchment area, and the program is called Pathways to Education. That program was my saving grace.

They became that mother I didn’t have in the sense that they provided me with a mentor, tutor, and mental support as I unfolded that path. Through Pathways to Education, I got a full scholarship to McMaster University. It was through them that I could go through my pre-med sciences. That way, I could make it into Windsor University School of Medicine.

You must surround yourself with the right people and organizations to support you. The truth about it is that when you are true to yourself and work hard, the universe has a unique way of aligning you with the right people, voices, and opportunities to catapult you from where you are and where you are supposed to be. It works together. I always say, “The power of your voice makes room for you in the world.” That has been true for me.


LBF 13 | Pain To Purpose


Was Pathways to Education an organization that was brought in to help people who were living in this community housing environment in Canada?

Yes, it was. Pathway to Education is a program that caters to low-income homes. They try and close the gap that exists in those homes where there is one parent. They provided us with tickets to high school and with scholarships and bursaries. That way, we could attend an education. You have to recognize that when you come from a low-income home, it is hard to even sometimes ask for certain financial assistance because you don’t often meet the requirement.

Pathway to Education was that bridge of hope. It gave us the tools we needed because we were from a low-income home, even the work they are doing now. They are national all over Canada. They now have many different locations where they cater to kids like myself who want to go to school but don’t necessarily have the financial means to do that.

Here is a question. How do you define hope?

Hope for me is what keeps me going, inspired, and positive, and what keeps me seeing something that is bigger and greater than my circumstances. That is what hope means to me. If I, through all these defining moments, having been down to nothing, having lost my way, and my voice was still managed to get here and still was invited to be a part of Oprah Winfrey’s Life Class, that means there is hope, and there is something.

Hope means being positive and inspired to continue forward despite your current circumstances. Share on X

Can you briefly take us back to what led to the moment of being part of Oprah’s program? When did you meet her, and what happened?

It was on the 12th of October 2011. That is when I met her. I went on the Oprah Winfrey website because I didn’t have money to go to medical school. I was talking to one of my friends at the time who suggested I go on the Oprah Winfrey website to look for any scholarships and bursaries available to kids like myself who wanted to further their studies.

When I went on the Oprah Winfrey website, nothing was related to scholarships or bursaries. The first thing that popped up was, “Tell us your story. You become what you believe.” To be honest, Anne, I knew I had made a promise to my mother, but I hadn’t evolved to a place where I thought I had a story to tell. I was an African child who grew up in Africa and didn’t know or understand the power of storytelling.

Having grown up in Africa, I was conditioned to believe that there were only about 3 or 4 career choices: becoming a medical doctor, lawyer, engineer, and accountant. I had never been exposed to speakers, coaches, mentors, etc. I didn’t realize that people can have and create a lucrative career by using their gifts. At this point, I didn’t even know I had a story. I didn’t even know I had a gift.

You went on to Oprah Winfrey’s website and told your story.

That was because of the fact that Oprah Winfrey said, “Tell us your story. You become what you believe.” That is what led me to dig deep. I said, “I might have a story. You become what you believe. I made a promise to my mother when I was fourteen, and I’m studying medical school now. You become what you believe.” It seemed aligned with what they were looking for.

You become what you believe. Share on X

I quickly typed in my short story about how my mother passed away at fourteen, how I had promised her to become a medical doctor, and how I was studying to attend medical school. They called back. The irony about them calling back was that I had put down my cousin’s phone number. They kept calling. They were calling my cousin.

My cousin thought it was a prank call the first time they called. She didn’t even ask me about it. The second time they called, they asked me, “Did you send anything to them?” I said, “Yes, I did. I didn’t think they were going to call back. I didn’t let you know about it.” She was like, “They called.” I was like, “I hope they call again.” Fortunately, they were able to call again. That is when my cousin was able to transfer my number to them. I was able to have two series of interviews with them. That ultimately landed me the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of being a part of Oprah Winfrey’s Life Class on You Become What You Believe.

How long was the class, if you can share with us for that? I don’t want you to lose your train of thought, but I’m curious about that. How did that unfold?

The class was an hour long, and it was on the 12th of October 2011. They had invited roughly about 30 to 40 accomplished women. I was the youngest in that room on that day. I was 22 years at the time. For me, being in that room in the class, listening to the story of Oprah Winfrey about how she came from rural Mississippi and immersed herself to develop as a voice of hope and inspiration for that time.

Also, listening to stories of other incredible women and other incredible voices who were in that room on that day. It served as a reminder to my 22-year-old self that I had a voice and gift. Life had dealt me with leading up to that moment and was preparing me for something more significant than myself. That is when I truly experienced a spiritual shift in my understanding of my mother’s death.

That led me to recognize that I had a story to share. Leading up to that moment, I knew I had made a promise to my mother. Still, I didn’t recognize that there was a story, that it was unfolding a beautiful story, which one day I would use to inspire people, give people hope, empower humanity, and help people rise in consciousness. I didn’t recognize that until that moment.

Going there, what I truly needed was money to go to school. I ended up not getting any money from Oprah Winfrey but what I received from her was the gift of enlightenment, the gift of going out into the world and tapping into your unique power to manifest whatever it is that you need. That has remained in and with me since that opportunity when I met her, leading up to this moment. I continue growing and evolving into my highest yet-to-be. As we discussed earlier, I’m considering moving to South Africa, where I can do more work with (youth) centers around empowering the next generation.

What words did Oprah say that day, Nothabo? What are the keywords that stood out that lasted? What lives with you?

For me, it would be, “You already are that which you see deep within yourself.”

Can you share with us briefly the significant strategic challenges you see for leadership in the world nowadays?

The big challenge that leadership experiences now is that we lack authentic leadership, accountability, authenticity, truth, courage, power of service, and heart. Being able to give to people from a place of pure intention, service, love, grace, and humility. I find that leadership nowadays is self-absorbed. I have been in many different rooms.

God has positioned me in one of the most prestigious rooms where I have met women who work with the United Nations. I have been on some of the biggest stages in the world. One common thing, as I’m being critical of what I see and experience in those rooms, is that most leadership we see is not about the people. It is about them and their name. It is about me, not we. Anne, it is hard when you show up in those rooms and see that the intention is not aligned in spirit.

That is a good point regarding how people exercise their leadership, and there is a lot of depth in that. If we think about some of the significant challenges in the world, they are calling us all to lead. In your mind, Nothabo, what are the significant factors you think need to be addressed for your generation? When I say the significant factors, what are the big challenges? What keeps you awake at night? Is it climate change or a massive disparity between rich and poor? What are the three biggest significant issues that keep you awake at night? 

For me, it is a vast disparity between the rich and the poor. How are we showing up for people who don’t have what I have? People always say, “I’m one of the few.” It shouldn’t be that way. One of the things about leadership that we have to be cognizant of is that when we see leaders standing on a podium or stage, we have this false mentality that they are perfect. Nobody is perfect under the sun. We want somebody who will be accountable, authentic, transparent, and stand there with the intention of helping the (people) masses. That is what we truly want.



There is leadership in all different facets of life to inspire everybody and show up at their best, in their true, authentic power. That is the world that I dream of. I don’t like the disparity that exists between the rich and the poor. I don’t like that much of the society we live in is controlled by titles, money, and power. Can we get to the crux of who people are and inspire people to operate in the vain of helping and serving? That is the world that I dream of.

Those are some critical thoughts about leadership quality and how we show up. Moving back to the world of work. Can you share with us a brief account of a moment in work that was difficult? What was that moment? What did you realize at the moment regarding how you could show up authentically, and how did you pivot out of that?

The moment for me was with one of my mentors at a time. I met through Pathways to Education at that time, I was applying for an opportunity, and I felt that I wasn’t being considered because of my skin color.

Was this a medical doctor?

No, this was when I was still in medical school and had an opportunity to work in the hospital over one of my summers. It was such a great opportunity. I was going to work at one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world, Sanofi Pasture.

In Canada?

Yes. It is the largest pharmaceutical company in North America. The opportunity was coming in through the organization. Everywhere you go, people are going to narrow down the number of people that are applying. Every organization has criteria that they are going to use. At the time, I felt that I wasn’t being considered because of my skin color.

I approached my mentor. He was transparent about what I thought. He said, “Thabo, I don’t believe that is the reason why you were not being held.” I didn’t feel I was being supported at that moment. He was clear on it. He said, “I don’t believe that’s why the lady was not forthcoming in helping you. She recognized that you are a gifted student and could do it independently.”

He had a different perspective and perception.

He did have a different perception. That is usually the case with life. People usually have different perspectives about different incidents. At that moment, he felt that I was wrong. The way he went about it is what inspired me. He called me into his office and called the lady who was supposed to be helping me into the office. We had an open discussion. That conversation led me to recognize that sometimes I can easily play and use the racism card when it is not necessarily the case.

What was that moment when you realized that you had drawn this conclusion of the racism card being made, and that wasn’t the case?

It is because the lady could share why she wasn’t helping me at the time.

What was the reason?

Her reason was that she knew that I had what it took to do it on my own

Where did you go from there? What was the outcome?

I ended up being the selected one and getting the position. She didn’t even help me. I did it on my own. They submitted my application. I was the applicant that was selected for that role, which worked out.

How did you feel? Did her response give you that reassurance?

It did.

What was the takeaway? What did you learn from it?

The takeaway was to approach old situations in life with an open heart and not to judge certain people because they don’t look like you. That woman meant what she was saying because, even up until now, we were still connected. She helped me even after the fact with many other speaking opportunities and so forth. I know for sure that she meant what she said at the time. She celebrated with me when I got invited to the Oprah Life Class. She was sharing with everybody.

Approach old situations in life with an open heart, and do not judge certain people just because they don't look like you. Share on X

That was the take-home point: never judge certain situations and overthink. Let me speak for myself. Just because we are used to experiencing and facing racism doesn’t mean that everybody is necessarily racist. My awakening moment was having that open-ended conversation with her, where she could take me in and explain why she was not helping me then.

There was something about how he facilitated the conversation that enabled you. What was your brief takeaway from him?

It is essential that we don’t assume. Allow ourselves to talk and have conversations to let people know when something doesn’t feel right to you. Give people an opportunity to explain themselves. Sometimes the way we are guided, act, and behave is also informed by our personal experiences. Sometimes what I may read as that may not necessarily it can be something else. I needed that conversation with my mentor and the lady. That helped me to see that situation through different eyes.

Moving across the continent, you visited South Africa in 2017. You had a speaking engagement there. Zimbabwe is North of South Africa’s borders. Nelson Mandela has also been the leader you alluded to earlier. He has been a great Icon for many of us in the world. What was your specific Mandela Moment? Can you take us back to a moment when the gift of Mandela, or Madiba as we call him, touched your heart and struck a chord? When was that?

It was in 2017. I had a speaking engagement at Sandton Convention Center, and afterward, the host decided to take us on a tour of South Africa. One of the places that we are going to go and visit is Robben Island in Cape Town. When we arrived at Robben Island, we wanted to visit the cell that Nelson Mandela had been in for 27 years since he was in prison.

When we got there, the tour guide was in prison when Nelson Mandela was there. It was being there and listening to him, narrating the stories that led them to be in prison at the time but also explaining and sharing eloquently and powerfully how Nelson Mandela was different from everybody else.

What did he say?

He said, “When they were put in prison, it was a lot of them, but Nelson Mandela was treated differently than everybody else.” I asked the question, “Why was that?” He said, “Nelson Mandela was different. He wasn’t angry. He was calm. He was fighting for justice and truth. He wasn’t angry at a White man. He was fighting for justice and equality. That is all that he was fighting for.” Even with his aura, energy, and presence there, they could feel that it wasn’t a fight against another human being.

It wasn’t a personal issue between him and the prison warden. It was bigger than this.

Powerfully put, Anne, it was bigger than that. They felt it. They knew it. It was in the way that he carried himself while he was there in prison. He kept on emphasizing that. He was not angry. He was at ease with himself. That was also demonstrated by his presence, even after being out of prison. He wanted togetherness. He wanted people to come together as one. That was his message of hope.

We are one. We are the same. He didn’t want a situation, a country, or the world to treat a Black man any lesser than a White man or anybody treating a White man in any lesser way than a Black man. He wanted justice. That stood out to me about who he was as a person, and the people who had put him in prison could see that.

It sounds like your guard was a fellow prisoner. What did he learn from Mandela? Did he share anything about what other prisoners learned from Mandela and whether they shifted their way of being?

The truth about it is that he explained that other people were not yet where Nelson Mandela was. Initially, many people didn’t even understand how he was calm about everything that was happening at the time and how he was willing to listen and be anchored in that spirit of oneness. With other prisoners, they didn’t want to hear that. They were angry, but he wasn’t angry.

They didn’t receive him in the vein we see through now. It is only now that they can look back and discern the power of his character, humility, love in him, and purpose that was invested in him. That, indeed, was the connecting thread. His message of hope and oneness is spread all over the world. There is a school here in Canada called Nelson Mandela. All those things go on to show that his impact was huge. It transcended what we could have possibly imagined at the time. His purpose was more significant than life.

Is that what you took away from that moment?

That is what I took away from that moment. His purpose transcended what we could have possibly imagined. His purpose, spirit, and energy were more extensive than life. He was indeed called to be that voice of hope that would bring humanity together as one.



When you came back from Robben Island, how did you feel?

I had mixed feelings, Anne. Seeing his prison cell and imagining that he had spent 27 years in prison was painful to receive and recognize that there is a prize that some people have had to pay so that we could get here. That prize was paid by people like Nelson Mandela, who fought hard, were willing to put their lives on the line, and be in prison for 27 years but still embodied that spirit of love, calmness, and oneness. It takes an extraordinary human being to have and be that.

Do you think people would do that?

It takes a unique human being to embody a spirit of love, oneness, and hope after you have experienced 27 years of being in prison. He did what he did in the spirit of love and humility. Recognizing his soul and who he was, has inspired me to do everything I do in the spirit of love and, most importantly, to serve and fight for what is correct and suitable for all of humanity. I believe that is what he would have wanted all of us to do. That moment inspired me beyond words.

Nelson Mandela did what he did in the spirit of love. He did everything that he did in the spirit of humility. Share on X

It is a moment of truth being in that environment and that prison cell. It had such a profound impact on him and his transformation. What a wonderful gift, Nothabo, to have been there. I know that you have some exciting news. The circle of life will be happening soon. You are going to be moving back to Africa. You are returning to your medical world and soon becoming a practicing medical doctor within the South African medical services. I’m curious. What motivated that decision? You have been in candor for a long time. You have traveled to different countries in the world. You had this international experience. What precipitated this decision to move back to Africa and particularly South Africa?

I have done it all. I am thankful to God for the opportunities that I have had. I shared with you earlier that I have engaged in Zimbabwe, South Africa, Kenya, Canada, the US, and the UK. All these places I have managed to travel to have brought me to this place of recognizing that my gift, my voice is valid. I have also been highlighted on many different platforms like Global News TV and the international stage, TEDx. I was selected as top four Immigrant Women of Inspiration all over Canada. I have also met Oprah Winfrey.

As I was looking at my portfolio and having that honest conversation with myself, I’m grateful I have reached all these beautiful defining moments, but there was still something missing. I can share with everybody that I have been here. I am this, and I’m Dr. Thabo, but what triggered was missing was the impact of my voice. I started asking myself the big question, “Where are you most needed? What is your ‘why’ at this point moving forward? What do you want to do? How do you want to be remembered? Who needs you the most?” It grew on me that it was Africa that needed me the most.

Why South Africa? South Africa went through apartheid but not just that. I feel that South Africa will be the leading African country to help all of Africa awaken to a more profound truth about who we are, the power of our voices, and the powerful gifts of the talents of our papers. We can connect with our power and gifts more profoundly and richly by seeing another representation of ourselves.

It is usually through seeing another representation of ourselves that we're able to connect with our power and gifts more deeply and richly. Share on X

That is what Africa needs now. Whatever way I can contribute positively in my small way, which is sharing the gift of my enlightenment, story, and wisdom. That has transformed me leading up to this moment. I felt strongly that is what Africa as a whole needs. South Africa became the most logical location for me to take.

I’m excited for you, Nothabo, and South Africa is lucky to have you. I’m sure that is another beautiful new chapter in your journey. I wish you well. It is going to be exciting. I can’t wait to catch up with you once you are in South Africa and discuss some of your experiences with the need medical services sector, which is lacking in many places in the world. We need good doctors that are serving the broader masses of people. A couple of fun facts, you have lived in many different places. What has been a happy memory for you in Canada? A moment that has been particularly happy for you in Canada.

My happy moment has been through Pathways to Education. One of the things that I also didn’t share with you earlier was that Pathways to Education still works with me moving forward. I’m an Ambassador for Public Education now. The role centers on empowering the next generation of youth, being a voice for them, advocating for them, and sitting at different tables to figure out ways to support youth like me from low-income homes. It is the role that they have played in terms of helping me position myself. That way, I could share that message and speak on different platforms.

It is a reminder that God can dream a bigger dream for you than what you see and imagine for yourself. You have to recognize that when I moved to Canada in 2006, that is when I was introduced to Pathways to Education. In 2006, Pathways to Education was about three years old. Now it has evolved into a national organization, where a lot of multimillion-dollar companies are invested in that organization. There I am, an Ambassador.

I recognize the divine synchronicity in that. Life already knew who I was. This is not a relationship that started now. I’m a Pathways to Education program alumni, but the fact that divinity shows it fit that I would be aligned with Pathways to Education. At the time that I was aligned with them, I grew and evolved with them, leading me to this moment when I’m also able to give back to the program to the youth that I enrolled in the program also how Pathways to Education has propelled me as well in the space that I’m in now.

That is consciousness manifesting in the unconscious because I wasn’t aware that Pathways would grow into everything it is now. I came in the alignment of Pathways to Education because of how I lived. That reminds me that even coming from that poor environment and catchment area was a gift, which has helped me to awaken to who I am because of that alignment to Pathway to Education.

For you, that is a particularly happy moment. Let’s go back to Zimbabwe. What is one thing about Zimbabwe you would like people to know?

I know there is a lot of negative talk surrounding Zimbabwe, but my impression of Zimbabwe is different. Zimbabwe is the country that helped me grow and evolve. Let me put it this way Zimbabwe has served as the foundation for all that I am and all I’m yet to become.

What is it about Zimbabwe? I get that because that is where you grew up. You have had these remarkable childhood experiences. What is unique about Zimbabwe that you want people to know in a sentence or two?

It is their culture. The spirit of “Ubuntu, I am because you are.” Zimbabwe embodies that in many beautiful ways. If I don’t have enough salt in Zimbabwe, I can go to my next-door neighbor and ask for salt. Whereas in Canada, I don’t feel comfortable doing that. Something as small as that but is big in a different way. It is the sense of community and the sense of I am because you are that exists in our culture.

I have traveled to Zimbabwe a lot. I have spent quite a lot of time there. I can certainly talk about that. The comfort of people is embracing, warm, and kind. I have experienced that there too. Final thoughts, you talk about being an ambassador for the youth. If you could share in our final closing thoughts, what do you think the youth of now would like to say to our generation?

They want to tell this generation that all they need is an opportunity to lead and bring the news they bring to the table that is solid and good enough to serve. All they need is an opportunity to be seen and heard. That way, their gifts and talents can fully manifest. That is what I think they would want.

All the youth of today need is an opportunity to lead, to be seen, and to be heard. Share on X

Dr. Nothabo Ncube, thank you so much for sharing your story. I can’t wait to hear about the next chapter as you travel back to Africa and practice medicine again. Thank you for coming. You, indeed, are an embodiment of hope.

Thank you so much for having me. It has been such an incredible honor to be here with you.

Thank you.

Dr. Ncube’s conversation struck a nerve. Death and dying are a tough topic, a difficult concept, and a harsh reality. How many of you, like me, falsely believe that we will live forever and that we are immortal until there is that big wake-up call, that life-shock moment? As a cancer survivor working through surgery and chemotherapy, I personally know how surreal and unreal that moment can be.


LBF 13 | Pain To Purpose


Dealing with grief and loss, which comes with death and dying, extends beyond the physical loss of a loved one. It could be the breakup of a friendship or relationship. It could be the loss of a financial fortune, a job, a career, a sense of cultural identity, or even a set of personal ideals. The American psychiatrist, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, published a popular book called On Death & Dying. Despite the critics, it was not intended to be prescriptive. Instead, it was descriptive of different emotional and mental states that her terminally ill patients went through, not necessarily all of them, and not necessarily in a particular order.

The gift of her work helps us identify these different emotional and mental states. In so doing, we can define them, work through them, deal with them, and process them. These states include denial, “Is this real?” Anger, “Why me?” Bargaining, “If I eat a little better, can I live a little longer?” Depression, “Why bother?” Acceptance, “It is the way it is,” is a powerful statement of reality.

Additional work revealed six mental states finding meaning, turning, grief, and loss into purpose. Dr. Ncube’s fourteen-year-old promise at her mother’s deathbed to be a medical doctor helped her lift out of a state of despair, grief, and loss. It gave her life meaning, and it inspired hope. You, too, can turn pain into purpose or tragedy into triumph and despair into a future of hope. Until next time, remember that leading boldly is about making clear, thoughtful choices, and bold leadership is about taking bold action, one small step at a time, one step for you but together, one giant step for humanity. Take care and take thoughtful, bold action.


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About Dr. Nothabo Ncube

LBF 13 | Pain To PurposeNothabo Ncube (Dr. Thabo) is an Inspirational TEDx Speaker, Coach to Women and a Mentor to Young-Girls. Dr. Thabo’s story led her to meet The Media Mogul, Oprah Winfrey and she recently shared her life journey on the TEDx platform. She has been spotted on Global News TV, African Women’s Leadership Network and on the cover page of the Canadian Immigrant Magazine/Top 4 Immigrant Women Influencers 2019. Through her dedication to make global impact, she was nominated by Women Of Influence and Royal Bank Of Canada for the 28th Annual RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards/Inspiring Group for the 2nd year in a row. Dr. Thabo is the recipient of The Canadian Universal Women’s Network Award – Woman of Inspiration 2020. She is now on a mission to use her voice and story to inspire hope, empower the girl-child and women and to raise consciousness for such a time.

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