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Strive to feed the mind: Mary Bosiu

LAWYER, author and motivational speaker, Mary Bosiu, says she is on a mission to help people improve their lives and reach their fullest potential. Bosiu recently released her fourth book but bemoans the dearth of the culture of reading. She opines, just like feeding the body with food, people should always read and feed their minds. Weekender (WK) reporter, Seithathi Mphatsoane, this week sat down with Bosiu and below are the excerpts of the interview:

WK: Please tell us who exactly is Mary Bosiu?

Mary Bosiu is a simple woman on a mission. One may ask what my mission is. My mission is to help people to be the best they are meant to be and I totally love doing that. You can’t help unleash somebody’s potential and not prosper yourself. It is like lighting a torch for somebody and holding it, you will not walk in darkness yourself, and I am that type of woman.

WK: Then there is Mary Bosiu the author. Tell us where it all started.

Bosiu: I grew up as a shy girl, nervous and a little bit confused, which was very painful because when you have that challenge, most people don’t think you’re shy. Instead, they think you’re full of yourself, so that was painful for me. But there is something that I had in me which helped me, I always loved to excel. For me it’s either I do something well or I don’t do it at all, so the fact that I loved to excel helped me to do well in school. My primary years in Thaba-Tseka were the most disadvantaged.

At one point, I used to be in a place where four classes were cramped in one room. Now when I look back, I consider myself strong because I managed to make it under those circumstances up to tertiary level. This is one of the stories I tell people to inspire them because I want to give them hope that they can also do it if I have done it. At one point, when I had to go to high school, I slept at a cattle post because the rivers were full and to get home using the footbridge, the route was too long.

When I went to high school, I discovered that everyone there was up to date with current affairs because they lived in the lowlands, and I had come from the mountains. But my love to do well came in handy because I did so well that I did not have to supplement any subjects at the end of the year. I then went to university where I did not even know what I wanted to study. I had to advice from someone. I found a lawyer who also came from a disadvantaged background like me. I said to him, “I want to study law, but I am shy. Do you think I’ll make it?” He replied, “I know a lady who is shy, but she has done law and she is now a magistrate. If she can do it, then I know you too can.” That is how I landed in the legal profession. I have a profession and a call. However, most people have professions only and most land in the types of professions that don’t fire them up.

WK: Tell us about your journey in law. When did you graduate?

Bosiu: I went to university in 1977. I started off prosecuting criminal cases in 1982. I did that for four or five years. I later applied for a post at the Lesotho National Development Corporation (LNDC) and to my surprise I got the job. I started being a commercial lawyer and that is where I am now. I own a consultancy agency, Bosiu Consultancy which deals with commercial transactions only. As I was working for LNDC, which converted me into the commercial lawyer I am today, I did fairly well, and I was promoted to be part of the executive. Despite my good performance, the shyness didn’t go away. You can’t be a leader and not be confident, so I thought of reading more on leadership. I had seen that some of the things we did as leaders were inappropriate. The more I read about leadership the more I got fascinated.

I am the type of person who is not an information junkie.  Rather, I’m a revelation junkie; when I read something there is revelation. I ask myself, “What does this say to me?” After reading, I also summarised what I learnt. This continued for a long time until I realised that I had so much information and it created hunger in me to share what I had learnt. I remember preparing myself to write a module and looking at the information I had gathered, I asked myself why I couldn’t write a book.

WK: Speaking of books, you now have an interesting story to tell because you were reading to beat your fears, I suppose…

Bosiu: I did not read to beat my fears. Instead, I read to know things that I did not know about. I wrote my first book in September 2009 and in less than a year I was given an award by Vodacom through their project called Vodacom Wall of Fame. The company honoured people from different sectors. I was the new kid on the block then. I continued from there and went on to win several other awards.

Mark my words, all the awards I’ve received had nothing to do with what I had learned at the National University of Lesotho. I have been honoured for my passion. I have been invited to a number several countries to give motivational speeches.

WK: You have a new book; please tell us about it.

Bosiu: It is called Ignite the Power in You. I feel it should have been the first one because the main purpose of this book is what I have just advised, “Do what makes you tick”.

Identify your purpose. We have many people who landed themselves in trouble because of making wrong choices. I have one in mind who was a hardcore criminal and served a 10-year prison term, yet he managed to bring himself out of that mud and today the world knows him as an author. Whenever I see his book, I pick it because I know I will find something useful in it. All he keeps on saying is, “I will never do crime again”.

He continues to say while other prisoners were planning for their time after prison, he would be in the library reading books. As we speak, he has his own publication company.

I remember after reading one of his books I went out of my way to find his cellphone numbers to congratulate him.

WK: You are obviously a torch bearer for many Basotho and many young women. Tell us what principles you subscribe to daily. 

Bosiu: My number one principle is integrity. Don’t give up easily on your dreams, but at the same time, don’t sell your soul. What you do today will be your past but one day it will land in your future. If you do something messy it will mess you up, so be in the habit of doing something that you are proud of. Somebody once said fame without character will turn into flames.

WK: We are in a space where integrity is a rare commodity. Looking at our politics, our leaders have done so well in destroying integrity, what can young Bosotho do?

Bosiu: I really have no answer to that but what I can say is as my motto says, “Excellence blended with integrity.” Integrity is an important principle for success. What’s the point of having success when you have cheated someone, you can never have peace with yourself. My second principle is humility, it does not matter how successful you’re, if you are arrogant who cares about you. You repel people, yet you need people. Lastly, hard work. The last time I checked hard work still worked.

WK: Tell us about your family, where you were born, siblings, and so on.

Bosiu: I was born and bred in Thaba-Tseka district in a place called Lesobeng. We are a big family of nine children, five girls and four boys. Whenever I talk about my father I get emotional. He was a father, a businessman, a partner and a friend. He was a prominent person in the community because of the services he provided. Just being around him was something special. My mother on the other hand, was a little bit shy but I have learned generosity from her, she is a giver. She is also a forgiving person and I have taken that from her. We were many in my family and we have struggled a lot. My mother was not working and my father was a teacher.

We are six girls; three boys and I have my own two boys who didn’t follow their mother but both did Accounting. I also have four grandchildren and I adore them.

WK: Where does one get a copy of your book and how are the sales?

Bosiu: I have two outlets in Maseru, one at Pioneer Mall and another one at the NRH complex, but I sweat to sell this book. I prefer to bulk sell, so I do go to cooperatives, schools and offer them. If the buy like a few books let’s say ten the offer is that I come to school to do free motivational talk. Which is a good deal because if we do one hour is not a small amount.

WK: The culture of reading is dying I’m sure is something that you think of as a writer. What do you think we have to do because there is just no substitute for reading? What must be done to encourage young people to read? 

Bosiu: That’s a tough one. The little I can do is to continue doing what I am doing by encouraging schools and corporates to buy a few books so that I can do free motivational talks and I call it “feeding the mind”. I tell people that every day, you have a feeding programme that feeds your body, your physical wellbeing. You go to church, and you feed yourself spiritual wellbeing, but you need to feed your mental wellbeing too because the mind appreciates or depreciates depending on what you feed it. If you are feeding it with daily gossip, it will not help you much. Your mind generates ideas. In schools, I have seen posters which say: “small minds discuss people, average minds discuss events; great minds discus ideas”. If you don’t feed your mind with information, how on earth will you progress in life?