Success in foreign land needs determination Ketina, her husband Christopher and children Brandon (15), Kylie (6) and Kayden (3)

Tadious Manyepo

Ketina Masomera (36) wept as she exchanged vows with her sweetheart exactly 18 years ago.

As some ululated and feasted at the mega-function, Ketina was in her own world. She knew she was probably too young and immature, but then who doesn’t want to tie the knot?

After all, marriage, at least, provided her with comfort out of her hard upbringing. Her mind was swimming in an ocean of hope as she walked down the aisle.

Little did she know that she had jumped from the frying pan into the fire.

She grew up under the care of her late abusive stepmother after her parents had separated.

So sad was her situation that her deceased father, despite being a successful businessman with ventures in Harare and Murambinda could not let her proceed to Advanced Level even after she had posted impressive results at Ordinary Level in Highfield.

It is actually her own mother who had to fund for her schooling out of the measly income she was getting from then hard-to-come-by piece jobs.

“You know how it is growing up under an abusive stepmom,” recalls Ketina. “It was so difficult. Sometimes, you know you would go for days without having a proper meal. My father had the means to make our lives decent, but somehow he couldn’t and it was as if I was an orphan.

“Sometimes I would go for terms without paying school fees and it is my own mother, who had been dumped into desperation, who would pay the school fees with the little she got from menial jobs.”

Nevertheless, Ketina managed to do well at Ordinary Level, scoring high-grades, even surprising her stepmother.

Predictably, her request to proceed with her education was always going to be shot down ostensibly because there were no sufficient resources to see her through.

Desperate and apparently without proper guidance, Ketina sought comfort in marriage when she was barely 18 years.

Despite her age, the marriage seemed to be working well, especially in the early days but, the holy matrimony would soon end in quarrel after Ketina decided to free herself from the persistent abuse at the hands of the one who was supposed to sooth and care for her.

“We only had one child and in two years, the marriage collapsed,” she said.

That was to be the beginning of Ketina’s journey to entrepreneurship.

Motivated by her father’s success in his ventures, though she didn’t benefit much from that, and her mother’s never-say die spirit, Ketina would soon cross the border to South Africa where she got employed by Charma Unisex hair salon owned by a Cameroonian, Tala Fanue.

“Tala (Fanue) motivated me to be a hard worker. His advice was invaluable and I have carried his word up to this day. I didn’t have a hairdressing course in my life, but I learnt the art while growing up. The salon I worked for was once voted the best in Bloemfontein and that spurred me on as I was one of the best performers,” she said.

After working for six years under Fanue, it was time for Ketina to start her own business.

She teamed up with some friends and flew to Ireland.

But in the European country, things were tougher and Ketina came very close to wipe out her entire savings on rentals and food before meeting her Polish husband with whom she has since sired two children.

Months of toil in the European country would soon open her eyes and she saw opportunities in the cosmetic industry, though initially she had, with the help of her new husband, trained as a nurse.

“I would soon establish a hair bar and a salon,” said Ketina. “I saw several opportunities. There were so many entrepreneurs in the beauty industry with Nigerians, Cameroonians as well as Europeans owning different shops.

“But there was no Southern African flair, although there are plenty of people from this part of Africa in the country. So, I just told myself that I was going to fill that gap.

“Now, I supply wigs to several people from as far afield as the United States, Canada, Poland, Netherlands, Sweden, Australia, among other countries.”

Expectedly, there were so many humps along the way, but Ketina’s hard upbringing has always been her source of motivation.

She often donates goodies in rural areas back home in Murambinda, as well as in Hwange.

Her mother and her child from her first marriage have since joined her in the European country, so has Fanue, who is already doing well after being cushioned in his early years in Ireland by Ketina.

Ketina’s goal is to eventually establish salons and hair bars across Europe.

She has had footprints in South Africa already, where she owns two salons in Bloemfontein and Johannesburg, which are run by her sisters.

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