In commemorating Youth Day, let’s take a look at the youth leaders in South Africa today and the contributions they are making. Here are 4 game changers who are courageous, determined, and inspirational. They are breaking barriers and creating a better and brighter South Africa.

The Activist – Thando Hopa

From being labelled intellectually deficient because of her short-sightedness (which is due to her albinism), to becoming a prosecutor, closing a fashion show for Gert-Johan Coetzee, and now being named the face of the Audi Q2 SUV, Thando Hopa is definitely a force to be reckoned with.

Thando uses her modelling career as a way to fight the discrimination and stigma associated with albinism and is also an aspiring poet who writes about the many injustices of the world. This activist is not only inspirational, but smart and courageous too. She is definitely someone who embodies the fighting spirit to make a difference.

The Doctor – Dr Ncumisa Jilata

Mthatha-born Dr Ncumisa Jilata is Africa’s youngest neurosurgeon at the age of 29, and one of only five black female brain surgeons in South Africa. She celebrated her Fellowship graduation on 18 May 2017.

Dr Jilata wants to pave the way for other females to enter neurosurgery, which is still a very male-dominated specialisation in medicine. She looks up to Dr Coceka Mfundisi, who is the fourth female neurosurgeon in the country, and received a lot of support from her. Dr Ncumisa Jilata is someone who is determined and goal-oriented – a definite leader.

Read: The 5 Leadership Skills that Will Help You Stand out at Work

The Innovator – Sir Stuart Ntlathi

Sir Stuart Ntlathi is in the business of nurturing big ideas. At the age of 13, he developed a microwave-griller combo using recycled appliances, and today he runs the Stuart Ntlathi Science, Engineering & Technology Institute. His goal is to inspire South African children to follow science-based careers.

This innovator is scheduled to be venturing into space on Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic mission. His plan is to retire from SNSETI at the age of 33 and to get involved in space tourism, which he feels is the future of science.  He is definitely an inspiration to many young people to dream big.

The Social Entrepreneur – Ezlyn Barends

Ezlyn Barends runs the South African chapter of the DreamGirls International Outreach and Mentoring Programme. She was given the opportunity to start this venture through The Dad Fund – which was started by her father, Lyndon Barends, in honour of Daniel Arthur Douman, who was a community leader.

The work done by DreamGirls “aims to increase the number of girls who complete high school and enter tertiary education.” Through DreamGirls, this social entrepreneur has created a sisterhood that consists of female professionals, entrepreneurs and women in leadership who help to guide the girls in the programme. Ezlyn Barends is passionate, selfless, and a role model to young women.

Also read: Do You Have What it Takes to Be an Entrepreneur?

The youth of 1976 paved the way to liberation for South Africa. We admire the sacrifices they made as we commemorate Youth Day in their honour. Today, the youth are building on that legacy by standing up and being game changers for a better future. May their contributions inspire other young people to follow their dreams, and to work hard for the kind of future they want.

What are your goals for the future?

Let us know in the comments box below!