The annual Toastmasters event, renowned as the pinnacle of public speaking competitions, draws participants from across the globe, spanning over 100 countries.
In the illustrious 85-year history of this prestigious competition, Africa has achieved victory on only two occasions, highlighting the extraordinary accomplishment of Verity Price from South Africa in 2021 and Cyril Junior Dim from Zimbabwe in 2022. Now, it is with great honor that I follow in their footsteps, proudly representing Namibia as the first semifinalist from our nation, taking my place among the distinguished top 28 contenders at this year’s World Championship, scheduled to be held from the 16th to the 18th of August in the enchanting setting of Nassau, Bahamas.
For those unfamiliar with Toastmasters International, it stands as a nonprofit organization with a noble mission: to nurture leadership skills, refine the art of public speaking, and foster effective communication abilities. In Namibia, our Toastmasters community flourishes, encompassing numerous clubs that stretch across the country, extending a warm welcome to individuals with a shared desire to bolster their confidence and embrace personal growth through the power of effective communication.
My personal journey with Toastmasters commenced in 2019 within the heart of Windhoek, at the headquarters of The First National Bank, located along Independence Avenue. This transformative experience began within the confines of a well-organized and effective club. The camaraderie and shared commitment among members, all striving to conquer the fear of public speaking and evolve into impactful communicators, have been truly remarkable. We empower our voices, share our stories, and enhance our presence, fueled by the rich diversity of our backgrounds and life experiences—an embodiment of the core values of Toastmasters.
Fast-forwarding two years, I have expanded my Toastmasters engagement by joining a virtual club based in Canada. The marvels of modern technology have dissolved geographical barriers, enabling individuals to find the perfect club match regardless of their location. The benefits I’ve reaped from this global network extend far beyond the initial goal of enhancing my speaking skills. I have uncovered welcoming Toastmasters communities in far-flung corners of the world, and together, we have collectively grown and learned from each other.
The journey leading me to the World Championship of Public Speaking has resembled the mastery of an intricate art form, a sort of speech choreography taken to an extreme level. I’ve painstakingly crafted 50 distinct versions of a single speech, passionately delivering it to over 10 Toastmasters Clubs around the world. Virtually transcending continents, I have shared my message in places as diverse as Saudi Arabia, India, Canada, the United States, Dubai, and Pakistan. Each audience has woven a fresh tapestry of perspectives, expanding the horizons of my perception and understanding of the global human experience. This process has imbued me with the confidence to connect universally, to find a message that resonates across borders and cultures.
Through an arduous 8-month odyssey, I have arrived at a pivotal realization: it all begins with mastering the fundamentals. A solid foundation opens the door to boundless achievements; it elevates your aspirations to the heights supported by that very foundation. The mastery of these basics constitutes the most challenging yet rewarding aspect of both learning and unlearning.
The initial hurdle is often overcoming imposter syndrome, an obstacle that begins to fade with each practice session before an audience. The more I practiced, the more I felt celebrated, validated, and deserving of my place. The next crucial step is the liberation from fear. Fear becomes more manageable when one’s “why” is firmly understood—when the motivation is rooted in growth, readiness, and openness to being coached. This journey has been an exercise in personal growth, embracing vulnerability, resilience, and persistence. It’s not merely about being ready; it’s about the perpetual process of getting ready and the profound impact it has on both the messenger and the message.
As I prepare to represent Namibia on the grand stage of the World Championship, I carry with me the spirit of growth, the power of connection, and the transformative ability of effective communication. The path I have traversed, full of challenges and triumphs, has shaped me into a stronger, more confident individual, capable of reaching out to a global audience. This journey, though demanding, has been a remarkable odyssey of self-discovery and empowerment, and I am humbled by the opportunity to share it with the world.