June is Youth Month in South Africa, a country where young people face more challenges than most. If you’re a young person who is struggling to find employment, or battling to overcome difficult circumstances, then take some inspiration from these remarkable South African youths.
1. Michaela Mycroft, disabled activist
Michaela Mycroft was born in 1994 with cerebral palsy, a movement disorder which confined her to a wheelchair from a young age. When Michaela was 9, she joined her sister and a few friends in starting the Chaeli Campaign in Cape Town, to raise money for a motorised wheelchair. The Chaeli Campaign turned into a much bigger organisation, which now runs a number of charitable programmes that benefit thousands of children with disabilities.
In 2011, Michaela won the International Children’s Peace Prize, and won the Peace Summit Medal for Social Activism the following year. At the age of 21, she became the first female quadriplegic to summit Kilimanjaro, and has also completed the Comrades ultramarathon no less than three times!
2. Shekhinah, musician
24-year-old music superstar Shekhinah is the perfect example of someone taking advantage of any opportunities that come her way, and never giving up. She entered the Idols competition in 2011, reaching the Top 32. She decided to enter again in 2012, and this time came in the top 6. Unlike the many Idols competitors who vanish off the radar, Shekhinah has risen to become one of South Africa’s best-selling musicians. Shekhinah has used her existing talents and followed her passion, something that all youths can be inspired by.
3. Mkhuleko Hlengwa, politician
Hlengwa made waves in 2012, when he became South Africa’s youngest ever member of parliament at the age of 24. Growing up in poor circumstances in KwaZulu-Natal, Hlengwa performed excellently at school and began showing exceptional qualities of leadership, ambition and dedication. He became a member of the Inkatha Freedom Party, and is today the National Chairperson of the IFP’s Youth Brigade, as well as representing his party in the National Assembly.
4. Nozipho Dlali, attorney
Dlali (33) was raised in the small town of Fort Beaufort in the Eastern Cape, where she saw how scholars were forced to stop schooling to pick oranges during harvest season. After seeing this injustice and becoming aware of inequality in South Africa, she decided that she wanted to be a lawyer. She worked hard at school and gained entrance to the University of the Free State, where she achieved her LLB law degree. Several years after graduating, she formed Nozipho Dlali Attorneys, which seeks to make quality legal services accessible to those who wouldn’t normally have access. She is one of only 700 young Africans participating in the Mandela Washington Fellowship in the United States.
5. Lulo Rubushe, entrepreneur
After finishing school in Cape Town, Lulo Rubushe realised that he didn’t need a university degree to be successful. Instead, he and a few friends followed their passion, starting a clothing business called RNDM streetwear. The business has since evolved into the RNMD Network, which offers media, lifestyle, events management and music services. Rubushe was named as one of Forbes Africa’s top 30 under 30’s to look out for in 2017, and also guest lectures students about entrepreneurship and life skills.
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