Remember that adage: “Fake it till you make it?” Well, forget it. It no longer applies. In today’s world people can’t just “make it.” They need to be authentic not fake. 

Authenticity is not a complex idea; it is a decision to be more honest in everything you do. Authenticity by definition can’t be faked.

In our community we have adopted a culture of recreating other people’s lives trying to prove a point either on social media or places we hang out. We are at most times good actors, only if we are paid to do it. Social media and Peer pressure have gotten the best out of us, with bad consequences though. Most are drowning in debt, while some have become enemies of progress. It’s really cold and sad when we are not popping bottles at hang-outs we really can’t afford. I mean to some, not all.  

There are influential people that have gone through the above-mentioned experiences and have been a light in the dark. These are inspiring stories from different people, from different backgrounds.  All the people we regard as influential people come from good and/or traumatising experiences. However, their contribution to society renders them the title of “influential “. To be influential means to build a legacy and a succession plan. An influential person influences to better the lives of others.

When we talk about influential people we are talking about habits, the things they do that inspire us. People teach us about resilience, and to keep going regardless of our situations. There are various issues in terms of how people influence us, for example how they have risen from wherever they are coming from. They share information that inspire us online and in person. These people continuously stand convicted to their truth. They may not even be famous, they are people who drive something, it could be a product, it could be issues around role modelling, leadership and messages that they carry.

I am personally influenced by the late Shona Ferguson, how successful he was, his love of God, how hard he worked, that he wanted to be a black entrepreneur who is successful and never poor. Also, how he carried many people on his shoulders. To me that’s a person of influence. 

When you are raised under the wings of a person who is influential, that in itself may even open doors for you, even bring a different kind of thinking for you because you learn from that person. You are able to get their blessing and honour to be able to do other things with such excellence. 

We are influenced uniquely by the individuals we feature in this issue. We are influenced by their leadership, work ethics, their principles of how they work with people and we just want to be like them if not more. They are influencing us that as queer people we can do it and aspire for greatness rather than just the minimum. It is what they exude out of them when we see them. When they speak, we go “Wow!” These people show us and speak their truth of who they are.

Influence is spoken, it is seen and it is shared. I give you Leveraging Authenticity, and thank you for choosing EXIT. 

Dumisani Dube


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