We wanted to check in on someone we admire for her achievements in the world of dance, entertainment and personal development. Read her own words and catch up with Tulimelila Shityuwete – Ed.

About a year ago, I launched a consultancy with my friend and mentor, Patsy Church. We believe that a magic exists when you bring groups of people together for a shared purpose and so we named our consultancy Alkimia, for alchemy. We started the consultancy after writing a workshop for women and realizing that we really wanted to focus on working with issues of gender, equality and well-being for women. In our first two weeks of running the consultancy we landed our first client BRAC, who have been the Number 1 NGO in the world for four years running.

This led us to writing an 18-month sexual and reproductive health and rights curriculum for adolescent girls and young women living in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Tanzania. Our clients now include Unicef, the Gender Innovation Lab at the World Bank, IntraHealth and ARASA, among others. Our work can be found in over 24 countries around the world but with our primary focus always being Africa. This work brings great meaning to mine and Patsy’s lives and we often find ourselves reflecting on how lucky we are to do this work both Internationally and in Namibia.

Our curriculum methodology centres around positive psychology and is underpinned by the belief that each of us has the capacity for our own healing. In this we offer an opportunity for groups to surface and begin to process trauma while building resilience and providing tools for successful and healthy navigation through the world.

We are currently in the process of establishing a Gender Core in Namibia that can respond pragmatically to consultancy calls on gender work in the country and in the SADC region. Our other great focus is on race and identity, particularly in Namibia and South Africa. In January we wrote and piloted our inaugural curriculum on Race and Identity which is now in high demand in schools and businesses both in South Africa and Namibia as institutions understand the need for honest conversations and real attempts to lessen the divide that seems to be ever widening between us. This is integral work towards creating safe and conducive working and learning environments in countries whose history is complex and fraught.

At Alkimia, we have been on the front lines of Covid-19 responses in several organisations and providing social and emotional skills have been integral in establishing pathways towards coping in these difficult times. It is important when things feel overwhelming to focus on what we can control rather than feeling powerless when faced with all that we cannot control. It is also important for us to find ways to deal with our negative emotions in healthy ways (exercise, talking to close friends, listening to music) in order to avoid a build-up of emotion that can engulf us and lead to conflict with those around us.

Some days my body misses dancing but ultimately, I am the luckiest person in the world to have found two careers that give me such joy.

*Tulimelila began her career as a professional dancer after graduating cum laude from the University of Cape Town School of Dance in 2009. Her career took her to London where she danced with several professional companies including Descarga Dance and Ballet Nimba as well as gaining popularity on British TV shows Got to Dance and So You Think You Can Dance. She performed for Queen Elizabeth alongside Hugh Masekela and Rufus Wainwright in Westminster Abbey.

In 2014, Tulimelila made history with her dance company First Rain Dance Theatre when herself and her co-director Haymich Olivier presented ‘Anima’, an African ballet.

In 2015 Tulimelila and Haymich opened a dance studio in Windhoek that gained quick popularity and rose to prominence as a centre for all arts and artists.

In 2016 Tulimelila was selected as a Mandela Washington Fellow and completed a summer internship on social entrepreneurship and human-centred design at Dartmouth College in the United States.

In 2018, Tulimelila was one of a team of four consultants who undertook to write and revolutionise Namibia’s National Plan of Action on GBV.

As well as gender, Tulimelila and Patsy also work with a strong focus on race and identity work. Outside of her formal work, Tulimelila is working with the Coalition Against GBV in Namibia and the Voices for Choices and Rights Coalition towards legalizing abortion and enabling a greater environment of choice, autonomy, agency and rights for Namibian women.

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