It’s not often that a 16-year-old could boast about having a book of their own published but Aphiwe Magida was fortunate to realise his dreams early in life. Now at 23 years of age, Aphiwe is a third-year student at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), doing a teaching course in Senior Phase and majoring in isiXhosa, Natural Sciences, and Life Sciences. FunDza caught up with him to find out about his life journey.

Ndibulele Sotondoshe: Please tell us more about yourself.

Aphiwe Magida: I’m a 23-year-old young man from Port Elizabeth, in the Eastern Cape. I come from a big spiritual family that is religious and traditional at the same time. My biological mother left me when I was very young, to be raised by my paternal grandparents. My father was still a young bachelor then working in hotels coming occasionally to visit me from time to time.

NS: Please tell us more…

AM: As a child I was a very sensitive and observant boy, I used to wake up early in the morning before everyone just to listen to the birds. I was close to my grandmother who was a prophet. She predicted her death to me the day before she died. I couldn’t take this news, it was heart-wrenching and it meant I was about to lose my best friend. My grandmother’s fate arrived the next day. She had been diabetic. The family took her to the hospital and she never returned. Having to bury my grandmother at 8 years old devastated me for many years. I had many promises of making me and my grandmother proud of me.

NS: How did your love for reading begin?

AM: The first time I learnt to read words was when I read an old ripped bible. I couldn’t understand the message of the words, but I just loved the way I sounded when I read out loud. I wanted to finish the whole bible before the year ended but that goal never prospered. I fell in love with reading kids’ library books. I would come back from school and go straight to the library, just to go and read my favourite books. My love for reading books developed into reading newspaper articles.

NS: And you developed a love for poetry…

AM: I’m a multiple Poetry Slam winner. I started writing poetry when I was doing Grade 7, and this passion unleashed other talents within me. Now I’m a poet, story-teller, short story writer, composer, and performer. For me, poetry is different from other forms of writing. It helps me reveal my emotions and feelings while hiding the true message through metaphors and other figures of speech. Poetry is like fixing a puzzle, drawing imaginary pictures in people’s minds, letting them interpret the poem without being straight up or clear about it.

NS: Please tell us about the competitions you’ve won.

AM: I have won first position in the Naked Word Festival Poetry Slam 2018 and second position in Kraaifontein Art Competition at the 2018 Poetry Slam. I’m under a poetry youth club that is facilitated by Javier Parez known as CYPHER. Under CYPHER, I performed for the first Naked Word Festival Poetry Production in 2017, and again in 2017 I performed for Imbewu Book Club at the Open Book Festival. I was one of the finalists in the Cape Town Poetry Slam, which was organized by the Inzinc Poetry organisation under the Open Book Festival in 2018.

NS: And then you had your book published…

AM: I published my first book in 2013 when I was 16-years-old doing Grade 10 under the mentorship of Mzi Mahola, a multi-published and award-winning South African poet. It’s an anthology of short stories and poetry titled ‘Intinga Journal’ that was published under Nelson Mandela University. I got published again under CYPHER, in a poetry anthology titled ‘Ukombela’ in 2019.

NS: What’s ‘Back 2 School’?

AM: Back 2 School is an organisation I founded that educates young artists about the business side of art, building their brand as an artist, and educating them about the art they are in. We hold monthly workshops at the Central Library of Cape Town, whereby we invite young Cape Town-based artists to attend and perform on our platform. During the workshops, there is a guest speaker that specialises in the art field, which educates, motivates and advises young artists about the industry, and a guest artist that performs and shares their life story with the attendants. We also call artists for media interviews to come and promote their art on the media platform while also promoting the organisation and its programmes.

NS: Any other plans for the near future?

AM: I’m looking forward to initiating my tutoring program under the organisation that will tutor high school learners in subject content through the ICT integration form of teaching and learning, and also help to apply for matrics in different tertiary institutions, advising them about what is available.

NS: Any last words before we go?

AM: I believe that dreamers don’t sleep, which means dreams don’t die. But hope does! I believe that the more a person strives for excellence, the more they come closer to achieving their dreams. “Remember a volcano burns underground for many centuries, but when it erupts, its eruption causes changes.” One must not stop trying, for when the time comes for one’s dreams to come true, everything will fall into place and the effects of our past trials will come in handy; they will structure the foundation of our achievements.


If you enjoyed this, read about one man’s journey from being homeless to becoming a university lecturer here.

Tell us: What is one step you can take today to start making your dreams come true?