Parents have always been wary when naming a new baby, because it is believed that children grow up and follow their names – whether good or bad. Of course in real life some have become the complete opposite of their names, while some have lived up to them. ‘Zamokuhle’ loosely translates to ‘Try good deeds in your life’. And the Zamokuhle we are introducing here is one person who has done precisely what his name requested of him.

Zamokuhle Buthelezi is thirty-five and hails from the capital city of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg. He is a trainer with the Vodacom Youth IT Skills Development Programme, an initiative that helps tackle skills development and job creation within the information and communications technology (ICT) sector.

Vodacom aims “to train unemployed youth in ICT skills and to further develop them into ICT entrepreneurs,” says Vodacom Chief Officer: Corporate Affairs, Maya Makanjee. The programme “is premised on the concept that the more skilled the youth are, the greater the opportunity for employment.”

Zamokuhle started out as volunteering for the Vodacom Youth IT Skills Development Programme in 2012. It was only two years later that he was registered to receive formal training and a stipend. “The youth shouldn’t opt for short cuts in life. Acquire the right experience first and make a name for yourself, then you will gain exposure to potential employers,” he says.

Some people do have the talent and eagerness to follow their names – but not the resources and means. Zamokuhle was no exception. “My parents struggled to make ends meet. In Grade 7 I had to go find a job so I could put food on the table,” he recalls. “Even after matric I couldn’t go to tertiary due to financial constraints.”

He maintains that seizing the Vodacom volunteering opportunity was the best call he has ever made, because it helped him network with the right people. “It’s not only about what you know, it is about who you know. The Vodacom opportunity exposed me to many people. I encourage the youth to perform more voluntary work. Nothing beats experience and exposure,” says the determined computer skills trainer.

Zamokuhle knows the importance of education and encourages the youth to acquire more knowledge. “I obtained a Diploma in Human Resources Management from Oxbridge Academy. I’m currently studying towards a Diploma Information Technology Management Diplom through Alison online courses.” He has also completed other courses through Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University and Schoolnet SA.

Zamokuhle says what he has learnt from the youth is way more than what he could ever teach them. “They made me realise there is no ‘jack of all trades’. I’m learning new skills from them. They are different people with different personalities. I’m teaching using experience I acquired from them.”

He may be working full days for the Vodacom Youth IT Skills Development Programme but his energy is one thing that does not run out like airtime.

“After hours, I still conduct other computer trainings in my area. The aim is to equip young people with the right skills and so take them off drugs.” He adds that skills however are not enough – experience has shown him that more counselling is needed for recovering drug addicts.

Zamokuhle says he could do even more ‘good deeds’ in his life and really live up to his name, but there is a lack of awareness of these kind of programmes. “The media must be used effectively to announce such initiatives. Some people claim that they didn’t know that Vodacom is training people, so more awareness is needed.”

His tireless work has been recognised and honoured. “In 2007 I was awarded the Youth in IT Award by Ukhozi FM in a project called Amaqhawe Okhozi . This was the beginning of my journey.”

His journey didn’t end there. In 2013, on behalf of his team at the KZN Vodacom ICT Centre, he accepted The Cisco Best Newcomer Award at the University of Pretoria. “That was the biggest highlight ever and I’m looking forward to winning more awards this year,” he says.

Zamokhule plans to use the business skills he has learnt from Vodacom to start up a small business that will go some way to tackling the issue of unemployment in his community.

Zamokhule – a young man surely living up to the promise of his name.


Find out more about the Youth IT Skills Development Programme