Chef, Entrepreneur, Divundu, Namibia

By the time we reached northern Namibia we were exhausted from the six+ hours drive and darkening skies. Our final destination for the day was a riverside camping grounds which we read about "somewhere online". After driving thirty minutes on the sand road towards the river we were greeted by an oasis in the jungle. The woman running the whole show is Meke Namutenya. Without saying too much before you read her profile, I'll say that when Meke looks at you, she really seems to see you. It's hard to explain but most of the time people asking "how are you?" don't seem to really want to know the answer. When SHE looks at you, you feel this urge to blurt out whatever honest is on your mind, even if the answer is less than positive. She draws it out of you and truly wants to... This quality I admire greatly in people. And that's why I was excited to have her join the WOW Woman crowd. Real conversations were had over a glass of wine, and I learned a great deal about this young entrepreneur who has a business in Namibia's capital and has a problem when folks don't believe her when she lets them know that "SHE IS the manager" ...Strong, black, boss lady.

1. Name(s)

Meke Naemi Namutenya - My Dad is yet to explain to me why I got 3 names.

2. Where is your hometown?

I was born in Endola, a village in Northern Namibia.

3. What is your profession/career/title/self-label/designation?

I currently co-manage a Camp in the unspoiled Northern East of Namibia. While doing this, I cook. :) I own Meke's Food Parlour which I officially launched in February 2016. I started with cooking and delivering lunch packs in the city center and now I am happy to say I have quite a few big events under the belt and will not be stopping here.

4. What was the journey like to get where you are (career wise)? When was the mental shift to start the journey?

What a loaded question! Everything I have done in my life has in some way contributed to landing me where I am. From running kiosks and supervising a call center to teaching school and dropping out of law school, and so many life events, all of it has played a part. Most of it, would be me wanting to make peace and love more. Whether its peace within myself or with those I had wronged, I had a desperation. A desperate need to love more, and hug more, and be at peace. So I found My Paradise (riverside camp I currently work in).

5. Biggest accomplishment since making the (physical/mental) move?

I would have to speak to speak to myself a tad bit more and ask myself that question a few more times. Please notice how many times I use the term "more" At this point, believe me when i say, I have accomplished nothing and yet so much. And that should be enough.---

6. What was biggest disappointment and plan to overcome it?

It is disappointing to know that human 'has' beings also have a place in paradise. Perhaps all they need is more love right? (I can't give you too many details at the moment. Too soon)

7. Advice for other women?

You are enough Lioness!!

8. Where in the world do you feel “tallest”?

In my bed. Yup!

9. What extra-curricular activities/hobbies are you most proud of? Why?

Cooking- What an amazing feeling it is to see the joy on people's faces when i feed them? :)

Reading- The escape and the chance to explore in someone else's work, and mind is beyond me. I am eternally grateful for this.

10. What is the future goal/challenge (career and/or life goals in 5-10 years)?

I am planning on having bought my first car and modifying it to be able to turn into a food hub on wheels. In less than the coming 5 years. I also have to save enough to go to culinary school in the next 10 years because I AM READY!

11. What fears are you still hoping to overcome?

Commitment. Settling. My biggest fears at the moment.

12. Anything you'd do differently (if you had another go at life)?

There is one thing in my past that had caused a chain of misfortune for me and for people I love dearly. I would take it back without batting an eyelid.

13. What inspires you?

I am inspired by genuine strength. Strength to over come hurdles and the worst things in life and still rise. I am inspired by courage. Not store bought courage but courage from she who was almost broken. She who had no hopes of standing up and yet has the strength and the courage of the unspoken. That, inspires me.

14. What are you reading now? (what books do you gift most and what are your favourite reads?)

I am currently reading Stefan Zweig's, Impatience of the Heart.

I have probably bought the most copies of Paulo Coelho and Chimamanda Ngozi Andichie to gift people. I have lists of guilty pleasures. Too long. Haha.

15. Who is a “WOW Woman” in your life who inspires you (and why)?

This is another difficult question for me to answer. I am surrounded by so many amazing women in the world. Great moms and aunts, sisters- blood or not, friends from all spheres of life, writers that I would LOVE to meet, CHEFS! Women Chefs overcoming troubled backgrounds and making waves in the culinary world! And then a woman, I met recently, who sat down with me and spoke about immigrants. Who wore her passion on her sleeve and just left me wanting to pick more of her brain, or share a sneaky ciggy while we had tea in the rain. Need I say more?

16. Where can others find you/your work (links to websites, blogs, etc.)

I am on Facebook, Meke Shingenge and on Instagram as Meke_black or Mekesfood. I do write and share little something's on a blog. Link on Instagram bio.