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My Fellow South Africans: Dot Bekker

My Fellow South Africans: Dot Bekker is on a countrywide tour promoting her book "Going Home to Africa". The book chronicles her solo 20 000km journey from Europe to her home country of Zimbabwe, via 18 West African countries in her 20-year-old Ford Transit minivan. Her mission in selling the book is to raise funds for scholarships for girl's education in Zimbabwe. Photographed by David Ritchie (African News Agency/ANA)

My Fellow South Africans: Dot Bekker is on a countrywide tour promoting her book "Going Home to Africa". The book chronicles her solo 20 000km journey from Europe to her home country of Zimbabwe, via 18 West African countries in her 20-year-old Ford Transit minivan. Her mission in selling the book is to raise funds for scholarships for girl's education in Zimbabwe. Photographed by David Ritchie (African News Agency/ANA)

Published May 26, 2022

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Dot Bekker is not one to rest on her laurels.

The Zimbabwe native has lived in six countries on two continents, wearing many hats, with more than 20 years of experience as a business coach.

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“Dorothea Bekker,” she pauses after we ask her her full name, “…but no one calls me that, everyone calls me Dot.

“I’ve been a business coach for over 20 years, specialising in small businesses. I love the overall pride, confidence and advancement people feel when they succeed at their own enterprise.”

The life she found herself was not the life she had envisioned as a girl.

“It is strange to recall as it is so far away from where I am now. When I left school, I really wanted to become an interior decorator but in the small town of Bulawayo no one knew what that was and the only shop in town that came close wouldn’t take me on, so my mother forced me to go to secretarial college because that is what my sister had done.

“Well, my life would certainly have been very different as an interior decorator but I don’t regret the course that life took me on as I doubt I would have ended up as a business coach.”

Bekker’s advice to her younger self would be to have a lot more self-belief.

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“Believe in yourself more than you hope anyone else will. I think learning our self-worth is one of the most important foundations to build our lives upon.”

Bekker certainly has had an interesting life, and has travelled extensively.

“Oh so many things!” she exclaims when we ask her if there’s anything most people don’t know about her.

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“Having lived in six countries on two continents I have lived several incarnations of my life and many people know different bits about me. Most people find it hard to believe now, but as a child I was very shy.

“I often have to push myself beyond my comfort zone to do certain things, particularly anything to do with bureaucracy just brings out the procrastinator in me.”

One thing she has managed not to put off is the writing of her book, documenting her 20 000km solo journey from Europe to Zimbabwe through 18 African countries in her trusty van.

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Bekker hopes to use the profits from the sale of her book to fund scholarships for girls in Zimbabwe.

“Coming from Dutch parents, being the first generation born in Zimbabwe and having lived among so many cultures has resulted in a unique world view of people and culture, including religion.

“I don’t conform to a religion but I have learnt to seek the Divine in people and in myself.”

“I don’t conform to a religion but I have learnt to seek the Divine in people and in myself, this helps me follow more closely the concept of ‘love thy neighbour as thyself’”.

My Fellow South Africans: Dot Bekker’s mission in selling her book “Going Home to Africa” to raise funds for scholarships for girl's education in Zimbabwe. Photographed by David Ritchie (African News Agency/ANA)

Bekker was a little disheartened with the Zimbabwe she found upon her return to her beloved home country.

“Having returned to Bulawayo 38 years after being away, I found that not much had changed and yet so much had. I regret that the growth of corruption has seen the destruction of community and civic pride.”

And her favourite thing about South Africa?

“Having lived in South Africa, Cape Town for 16 years and having most recently done my book tour, I can say that it remains a most magnificent country, full of diversity in landscape and people.

“There is much that can be learnt from African culture and so much the rest of Africa can learn from South Africa.”

“Having experienced so much of Africa, I can clearly understand why it is a shining beacon of hope for the continent. I only hope that South Africans decide to retain that and instead of turning inward, they seek to collaborate more with the rest of the continent, there is also much that can be learnt from African culture and so much the rest of Africa can learn from South Africa.”

* My Fellow South Africans is an editorial campaign powered by IOL which aims to build a more inclusive society by introducing South Africans to one another.

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