Growing up we are taught that the sky is the limit, which means that opportunities are endless and as people we should aim higher from our dreams. But a lot of people forget to stay grounded. Noluthando Ntaka had big dreams but she always wanted to keep her feet on the ground because to her even the ground wasn’t the limit, but a sea full of opportunities.
“I have been always a dreamer; I was born in 1960 in Durban as the first child. I was quite a tyrant and when my sister was born, I had a partner in crime. My dad was Zulu while my mom was Xhosa, so you can imagine there wasn’t ever a dull moment at my house and I got my big personality from them,”
Noluthando was raised in Kwamashu in Durban, KwaZulu Natal (KZN), in a small one-roomed house. Her father lived in Joburg working for a gold mine, while her mother stayed back in KZN working as a domestic worker. They were struggling financially because her father never sent any money home.
“My mom always made sure we didn’t go to bed hungry but I will never forget her tears when she found out that our father had a family in Joburg. I grew up really resentful towards my dad, because I saw how his poor choices affected not only him but two different families,”
During her high school years, Noluthando ran away from home to East London after her family arranged marriage for her with an older pastor from her church.
“I knew I was a beautiful young lady but I didn’t want to be tied down, I was still young and I wanted to live my life and continuing my education was no longer an option for me. But I wasn’t ready for what was waiting for me in East London, ironic because I met my future husband there,”
At the bus station, sitting by the side walk with no money and food to her name, Noluthando met a gentleman called Mityani. He was a taxi driver, who offered to help her. He took her in and they ended up falling in love and getting married.
“I had my first child when I was at the age of 21, I was married and happy. But I felt stuck, I was being supported by a man and I didn’t have anything to my name. I wanted more for myself but I just didn’t know where to start. When I had my second child, I decided to start a creche for the kids that were in my community, I started it out as a way to pass time.”
Noluthando’s creche started booming, which was a surprise to her as she never saw it as a business that she could make money from, but it helped a lot. She hired about three people to help while she started to work as a domestic worker. By then she had three kids who were in high school.
“My husband started getting sick, he was an alcoholic as well. He was sick for most of the time that our kids were finishing high school, our youngest was 10 years old when my husband started being sick and he was 16 years old when he died. That is six years of your childhood watching your father dying. Losing my husband made me lose myself, he was my love, my best friend and my biggest supporter,”
After losing her husband Noluthando decided to move her family to Cape Town and start a creche there. She says it was one of the most challenging things to do but she felt like East London kept reminding her of her loss.
“I was never passionate about anything other than knowing that I wanted a simple, quiet life with the love of my life and our kids. I never aimed high because I felt so grounded by the love and the support of my family. Seeing my creche survive years with a move to a different province, showed me that God had a plan all along.”
Noluthando says that she feels like everything that happened in her life was meant to happen. She encourages people to live their lives to the fullest, loving the people that mean the most to them, because you never know when you will lose them.
“Death changed me, to this day with the money I make from my creche, I am not planning to expand. Young people need to realise that chasing dreams is okay, but at your own pace. Or else life will move on without you. Dream big but never sacrifice your happiness for a hustle that won’t make you feel fulfilled,”
A passion can be anything, it’s okay to not prioritise materialistic success, success means different things to different people. Noluthando is an example of setting realistic goals that are not shaped by society but her personal happiness. Go at life at your own pace.
Want to know how a single mother overcame adversity? Read more here.
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