Zimkhitha Mlanzeli – Writing her future

AUTHOR: Ndibulele Sotondoshe

PUBLISHER: FunDza Literacy Trust


  • smaller
  • larger

This has been rated:

Relocating from Motherwell to the Mother City may not be a walk in the park, but it sure is a step in the right direction. Even a herd-boy has to emulate his cows at some point in life and go seek for greener pastures. Zimkhitha embarked on a journey to Cape Town in search of her talent and calling, not knowing she had it all in her palm all along.

Zimkhitha Mlanzeli (30) now works at FunDza Literacy Trust as an author and an editor. She mentors young aspirant writers in a bid to give back to the reading community that made her. Just like her writing, Zimkhitha has gone through rough stages in her life that polished and nurtured her. “I studied Electrical Engineering at NMMU but dropped out because I had no love for it. Later I worked as a sales rep and that landed me in Johannesburg where I lived for two years, but I longed for a better life,” says Zimkhitha.

Zimkhitha’s rich imagination means that she can escape into the world of fiction when reality is harsh. She had to watch her mother struggle to raise five children and two grandchildren single-handedly. “She’s the pillar of my strength, she’s one person that makes me strive to do better every day. I shall make her a proud mother one day,” she says. Seemingly her craft is not the only thing that she treats with love and tender care, she once served as a nanny in her sister’s crèche.

Zimkhitha proves that it doesn’t matter how long it takes you to reach your destiny, what matters is your desire and determination to get there, “As long as your heart still beats and that desire still burns, there’s still hope for that dream you keep putting off. It’s never too late. I mean look at me, I’m 30 and I just got started.”

Even from an early age young Zimkhitha kept a diary and wrote short stories. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that children always loved her stories and good command of English, her childhood friends gave her pet names for that, “They called me coconut & cheese girl. They couldn’t understand how a township girl could speak fluent English.”

It is often said that people who are too weak to follow their dreams will always find a way to discourage yours, but you can build steps from the stones they throw at you. “I had to kill all the stereotypes that were associated with going to a public school. I drew my courage from their negative remarks.”

Zimkhitha currently stays in Mfuleni and says the biggest challenges in the community are alcohol abuse and lack of motivation. She believes that reading can cure a great deal of the illness that is spreading in her community. “Talent is there but there’s lack of resources. If you want to take children off the street then give them something to them keep busy,” she says.

She also blames parents for giving their children too much money and not enough guidance. This is where FunDza comes in as they have a beneficiary programme that donates exciting teen books in the Harmony High series to under-resourced schools and reading groups. FunDza also has a mobi site available on Mxit and on the web, where students can publish their work and read stories and novels. Zimkhitha edits the ‘FunDza Fanz’ stories that come in before they are published, and gives the young writers guidance with their writing.

People often say don’t let anyone hold the pen when you’re writing the story of your life, never let the obstacles you face in life decide your fate. Zimkhitha’s story took a turn for the better under the FunDza stable, she now has a novel to her name titled Blood Ties, one of a series of fiction teen novels called the Harmony High Series.

For a diamond to shine it goes through a thorough process of being polished. “If there’s still breath left in you then you can still achieve whatever you want to,” she advises the youth.


Tell us what you think: What challenges do you face in your community?

Ndibulele Sotondoshe is a final year journalism student at Cape Peninsula University of Technology/CPUT

24 Responses

  1. Wow…my editor your experincial is touching me so deeply, that witness to me how our parents go that far to make our future better even though their levele of academic is low but their rich with intellectual and passionate love to see their children growing well.

    #BIGUP my sister.

    In my community i face the challenges of offens, illiterate, not enough resources when comes to books, since i am the social person would love to open a book Club for children and adult reading and just to make reading popular because i am staying in the community of Southern Ndebele speaking people where there are not enough resources especially for Ndebele that is why you found 80 percent of Ndebele people can’t read or write Ndebele fluently even their prounounsation so since i am passionate about IsiNdebele would love to see most of Ndebele adopted reading culture.

    5 Feb 2017 at 14:53
  2. Its really awesome and extremely difficult to understand.Like Themba,i recommend its indeedly afierce battle when you are following your passion.For afemale,stepping out of college,its like ingesting alump of capsules at once.Congrat for making it!
    As it is the fact,”whenever you want to do something extraordinary,expect challenges and setbacks to be there”,likewise in my community,the biggest challenge is immorality.Though its normal for immorality to be everywhere but in my community i think it has passed over its climax since youths are murdering their time studying and ‘googling’about how to make love instead of doing something that can transform their wellbeing.Another big challenge is lack of educational opportunities.Many youths in this comm.are struggling with farming just because they are unable to pursue there varsity studies probably cos of financial problems.To cover up,i think it is just lack of motivation and determination,to change that negative mentality which bounds their limitation…

    joseph mhone
    24 May 2016 at 14:04

Leave a Reply