Asaman sits down with 29 year old Thando Vokwana. A Forex & Fixed Income Trader and an avid fitness enthusiast. Here is his story
Define manhood in a short paragraph
Our lack of proper education on manhood and credible role models has led to the deterioration of manhood. Which has created a deluded image in our modern youth of what a “real man” should be; “Always be strong. Never cry.” It’s as simple as this for me.
Taking responsibility for everything in your life. That’s what it is, that’s all it is. Taking responsibility for where you are, good or bad.
Tell us a bit about your childhood
I was born in PE, in a single parent home for the majority of my life and had the experience of an absent father – who passed away when I was 7. My mother is and was truly my everything. She fulfilled the role of mother and father quite admirably – sacrificing a lot on her part to groom me into the person I am today. Unfortunately she passed away in my teen years. I’ve always been very active and highly competitive and my mom gently nudged me into playing a lot of sport. This is where I met my best friend who has become my brother. His parents ended up adopting me when my mom past away and in some way my life has come full circle in knowing what the normality of a home where a mother and father are present and very involved feels like.
Who are the men that most influenced you and continue to do so? Please share how they have groomed you
As I mentioned earlier that I never really had a male role model till the later years of my life where my adopted father has had the biggest influence. Coming from being an extremely angry young man he has really guided me in finding peace within myself. He has really sacrificed a lot for me – taking me in as one of his own children and loving me as his own child, enhancing my spiritual journey. He has also taught me to see beyond colour and find value in people. Coming from a black home and moving into a white family was a difficult adjust but one I’m glad we got to experience as a family but that’s a story for another day.
You recently made the choice to get married,could you share what such a commitment means to you and what it would mean for your family structure if you chose to have children.
I find that commitment is something that’s lacking in modern society- we’re quick to call it quits when things get rough, look at the high divorce rates. Commitment for me is even more profound having the background that I have, growing up without a father and knowing the struggles my mother had to go through . It was an easy process for me to commit knowing that I genuinely found someone who’s happiness mattered more than mine, someone who you can see yourself growing as a person with and someone who’s not afraid to call you out even under the toughest circumstances. Being committed means being able to sacrifice – whatever my family needs – putting their needs ahead of mine. I hope one day to be able to pass this knowledge onto our kids.
How is fitness integrated in your life,and what does it mean to you?
I work under very stressful circumstances and I find it very difficult to switch off since my mind is always at work. Crossfit, the gym and instructing Movement X classes are where I find I can turn off and finally forget about. It’s a stress reliever for me. I’ve always been an active person – played tons of sport – so it’s been a seamless transition and it helps keep me young (healthy mind – healthy bond). I also embarked on competing in fitness & bodybuilding shows for the first time this year.
Professionally you are, in a more simpler term,a trader. What does your job entail?
A lot of stress, sleepless nights and more stress (just kidding). Most people think that trading is like playing roulette. You’d be very surprised. Any trade I put on my trading book involves a lot of analysis – understanding market trends, factors or news stories that could possibly sway market direction and knowing exactly where to cut your losses. I love the fact that my job gives me worldly knowledge, has taught me to be more disciplined in other areas of my life and challenges me everyday.
Is what you do professionally what you always wanted to do or are there other prospects you would have liked to explore?
I always thought I’d be a doctor growing up until I discovered how squeamish I was in my first year at university. So the plan changed and I explored the world of finance. As a black man I’ve always had a dream of opening up our community’s eyes to the world of finance – giving ugogo ePeddi access to hedge funds and educating her in the process. I plan on opening a hedge fund in the next couple of years that will focus on utilising resources in the lower to middle income classes.
Morality wears thin in today’s society, what do you feel could be done to remedy this?
Mindset is everything. I liken it to the competitive world of sports where you can do anything if you win. The same thinking can be applied to someone who thinks they’re winning in general and tell themselves, “You know that girl? She’s my trophy. I deserve that girl. In fact, she doesn’t even want to be with me, but I don’t care. I’m going to take it.” That type of mindset should never ever be tolerated. I guess in some way it’s about being mindful of others, respecting yourself and those around you. It requires a lot of introspection and really discovering who you are – something that we’ve become unaccustomed to doing as a soceity – since a person’s worth is more closely defined by their material possesions and the amount of bravado they exhibit.
How was your experience with the Asaman campaign?
It was an unusual experience being in front of the camera but the campaign as a whole is refreshing as it gives a platform for young men to share their thoughts and ideas and inspire the next generation of young men.
Thando’s fiance is a good friend of mine, this is how we met. There is a simple lesson Iv learned in the time Iv spent with him; Never judge a book by its cover. And the application of this simple proverb would do us much good. We we learn so much more about not only others but ourselves.
Another story that speaks to the insignificance of circumstance at the face of determination and will.
In today’s fast paced lifestyle where instantaneous gratification is the norm, endurance no longer exists. Endurance to stomach the rough patches we go through in our personal relationships and everyday life in general.
Photography by Aaron & Hur