Exclusive Interview: Discover Ocean Icon, Londy Ngcobo (Black Mermaid) Africa’s First Female Ship Navigator, as she discusses life, career and breaking barriers.

​​​​​​“So with time my voice got noticed and I was able to claim my existence and power hence brand myself the Blackmermaid how do you then expect a mermaid to survive outside the ocean? You just have no choice but to live with it haha.”
1. Tell us more about yourself.

The name Londiwe which means protected/saved came about after my parents had lost a child before me only few days after she was born through pneumonia. I lived, I was protected and I think the name continues to live up to it’s meaning in my life. I am a wife to my best friend of 15 years and a mother to a 4 year old princess and I love the ocean.

2. In a nutshell, what are three words that describe you.

Dreamer, motivated and a Blackmermaid.

 
3. When did you decide you wanted to become a navigator?

My high school adopted Maritime studies as a new subject back in 2002, I was and in grade 10 with good maths and science. The subject grew in me and later became my first and last choice for varsity, I got accepted at the Durban University of Technology and further got employed by the largest container shipping company Maersk.

4. What was your journey like to get to where you are?

My journey started off on a very interesting footing in a sense that, most of the onboard activities I had imagined and couldn’t wait to experience before joining an actual ship became nothing like I had dreamed of when I finally joined my first ship, however I later realized that my gender and skin colour were the reason behind this. So with time my voice got noticed and I was able to claim my existence and power hence brand myself the Blackmermaid how do you then expect a mermaid to survive outside the ocean? You just have no choice but to live with it haha.

5. What are your top most values and how have they helped you?

Ubuntu is a spirit that I was raised with and continue to live by, my career started at age 18 and I am now 33 years old, Ubuntu has carried calmed the roughest seas and turning boardroom tables for me. I recently did a speech at the Forbes Leading Women Africa where I best translate why I hold Ubuntu in high regard

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iM0hvBRO9Zk&t=452s

6. What opportunities do you see for youth in the ocean economy?

The African Continental Free Trade and the growing appetite for African ship ownership claims the sky as the limit for the Youth. Becoming Africa’s first female in my field shook me up in so many ways and challenged me on how I can embrace being first while ensuring I’m not the last as topic that is closest to my heart which I had to unpack on my TEDX talk https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m1KnfFNo7-Y&t=182s th  this also gave birth to the Global Maritime Youth – Foundation.

7. What things are you into outside work?

I’m a speaker it’s a passion of mine that I discovered when I was still in school as an SCR president but I finally worked on the talent when I came back on land and after being recognized as “the first” besides speaking, I mentor a lot of Blackmermaids aspiring to be like Sis Londy.

8. How do you keep learning and up to-date with ever changing world?

Podcasts have helped me a great deal in staying abreast with my topics of interest. I’m subscribed to so many shows.

9. Who do you consider your biggest inspiration(s)?

Intercontinentally I’m inspired by Chimamanda Ngcozi Adichi, what a bold feminist. Internationally I’m always intrigued by Brene Brown’s authentic approach towards leadership and life in general.

10. Any book recommendations?

My current read is by my fellow African sister Amanda Dambuza – Baked In Pain and I’m literally dragging the last chapter. Resilience personified and inspiration overload I tell you.  

11. When all is said and done, how’d you like to be remembered?

My intention is to see more black youth fully associated with ocean related careers and that image being fully accepted by all kinds of societies just like they do for land based jobs. If that is what I’m remembered for than the Blackmermaidwould have lived up to it’s title.

Londy Ngcobo (The Black mermaid) – Ship Navigation officer | Africa’s First Female Dredge Master and Director of Womaritime Experts.