My name is Kudzi. I’m from Mozambique, born in Inhambane on island Guidwane. That’s how my village is called.
I grow up in a very big family….19 brothers and sisters, mommy, dad and stepmother. It was actually fun because we are a united family.
There are no jobs where I come from. All we used to do is to go to sea, catch some crabs, fish in daytime.
At night we used to catch prawns. Here is how it’s done: it all depends on tides….sometimes we had to pack up in the middle of the night and go to sea. We use a net that has poles on each side so it needs two persons. We walk along the shore while carrying big baskets where we are going to put the prawns on our heads. We must use our heads because we hold the net with two hands. I just love this part so much, that is why I make sure I tell all the details.
We dry the prawns – in 5 days we could have like 3 containers (60 litres) of prawns. We take the prawns to a very big market in town and sell it and that’s how we could make life. Also, my father has coconut trees and we could sell coconuts, coconut beer, coconut biscuits and go house to house and sell them. After we sold things we could go to the grocery.
But, never forget the casava! We all grow and love cassava at home. It’s like rice but you don’t cook it, it’s ready as it is. You can eat it with fish, with tea, it goes with everything!
So this is where and how I grew up. Not that I didn’t enjoy this, I really enjoyed every second of it, but I wanted to do something different. I decided to go places and look for job.
That’s how I ended up in Tofo Beach, where I live now. The very first day I got here I went to the beach and there were all these people dressed in skin suits (that’s how I used to call wetsuits) and pushing the boat into the wave, and getting into it and go out! I said to myself….WAW…that is so cool…I didn’t know what they were doing but to me it looked awesome. And inside my heart I knew I wanted to do that.
But it was too early for that. I had no idea what to do to be able to wear the wetsuit and go out on a boat but it was my dream, my mission. I got job as a waitress. It was nice, I could support my family, but I wasn’t really satisfied. Something was missing, something I really wanted to do.
Then, after 5 years as a waitress Bitonga Divers was created! So there was the opportunity for Kudzi.
It wasn’t as easy as you think it was. It was so difficult because nobody believed I could do it! But I never give up. I just kept trying and trying and trying and trying. So they say to me “we’ll let you try and see how it goes.”
So when you learn something practical, you like a baby. You don’t know what to do and they expect you to be perfect and when they don’t believe in you (no one) that is the biggest challenge.
I don’t know how other people think of Black woman on scuba. Some people seem not to like the idea so much. Not gonna mention any names. I think it’s “amazing.”
Well it took me a year to get my divemaster. Bitonga Divers paid for all my courses but I still had to work everyday at the dive shop with tanks and gear and sweeping dives for no salary. Lucky Bitonga Divers paid us minimum wage instead of the shop.
Two things kept me there: I believed I could do it and there is nothing in the world that could make you feel more calm, out of all thoughts, just feel relax than being underwater.
At the start it was all about wearing the “skinsuit!” but now, it’s different. I learned a lot. New skills: guiding and leading dives (these are my favorites) and I can conduct some of the PADI courses independently and am meeting new people everyday.
I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve this: my being surrounded by intellectual, inspiring, positive, kind, fascinating, and encouraging people. It seems more often I get along like a family with everyone. Parting ceremonies often involve blessings, hugs, promises of emailing and hopes of seeing each other again at some point in this crazy roller-coaster ride we call life in this hugely amazing park we call the Planet.
Stating my two principal values by which I make all decision (in no particular order): gratitude and connections with people (relations). Without these connections we make in life we would be truly mortal and more insignificant than our potential.
I get this a lot: stranger turned friend, turned family, Truly how blessed I am. I put my hand over my heart, close my eyes, and look up to the sky and say thank you.
This is the exciting part. I am a role model for other Mozambican women who look at me like “WAW, what is she? What is she doing? WAW that’s so cool. I’d like to be like her.”
WAW it’s true, it happens with me and I feel excited every time this happens. I want to teach my brother and sister Mozambicans how to dive. I keep thinking what it would be like to share these magnificent species we have in our ocean.
I would love to have more Mozambicans involved in the diving industry (they say when there are more brains there are more ideas come out). That way we’ll help each other share ideas together to save our sea.
Nothing describes me more than grateful, so very honestly exploding with gratitude from my gut, to my heart, to my smile, my teeth, my words, my fingers, this pen.
Gratitude for inspiration, for discovering distant and close relatives and new family members in my life. For hugs that span the universe, for skype, facebook, g-mail, maps, self-awareness and discovery for adventure.
Peace, love and smiles of gratitude always. Eternally yours and eternally grateful