Content Partner: Activate! Leadership for Public Innovation

Let me start with a line from one of my favourite movies: Night at the Museum, “Some men are born great and some have greatness thrust upon them”. I would like to think of myself as the latter. For as long as I can remember, I have always been able to command attention. I have a big voice and a colourful personality, add my love of people and you have me pretty much sussed. My love of knowledge and people is what has made me who I am today.

I was born in Khayelitsha and moved to Kraaifontein when I was 10 years old. It was quite a transition but I adapted quickly. My English teacher at Simonsberg Primary, now the principal of the school, requested that I do him the honour of supervising the school library. I took to the role like a duck to water.

Two years after that I was on the first school newspaper team. I couldn’t believe what was happening. I always wondered what it was that they saw in me. In high school, I was elected class leader, then senior student council member and I was on the first team again for the school newspaper.

My love of reading and writing was greatly influenced by my mother, Nonzame. She bought me my first book at the age of six when all my friends were reading Kathy and Mark I was going home to Briar Rose or what some call Sleeping Beauty. I have a distant memory of my mom bringing home a box of books and in there I remember distinctly there was a book of bedtime stories. My young life was spent brushing Rapunzel’s long hair, eating porridge with Goldilocks, and accompanying Red Riding Hood to visit granny amongst others.

After finishing Matric I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but my love for self-development pushed me to do things that other people in the same situation wouldn’t really do. I would apply for a course not because I wanted to work in that field, but because I wanted the knowledge, the skills, and the know-how.

Everybody thought I was confused, but I was content with knowing that I was growing as a person and expanding my horizons. I ended up collecting certificates and eventually applied for a National Diploma in Human Resources. During my stay at CPUT, I witnessed young people who were confused and didn’t know where, in the bigger sphere of things, their fields of study were of relevance.

I wanted to do something but I didn’t know where to start. I am the first of two kids at home, so standing up for others came naturally to me. I was fortunate enough to attend good schools and have a healthy home environment. Not everyone is as fortunate as I am, and this bothered me a lot. I had to do something.

I came to the realization that we, as youth, need a lot of guidance when it comes to career choices. This motivated me to start Ayaphi with my friend Phiwe Mphahlwa. The main aim is to assist youth from currently disadvantaged schools in getting that much-needed advice on how to choose a career. We do this by hosting workshops and expos where we provide information on financial assistance (bursaries and NSFAS), invite tertiary institutions to give brochures, pamphlets, and application forms; explain all the entry-level requirements etc.

I then joined the Activate leadership development programme. Now that I am an activator, I feel driven to make my life and my project a success. Activate is opening my eyes and my mind is being constantly challenged to think out of the box. I am exposed to diverse methods of realising my own potential and leadership competencies. I have initiated productive relationships and networks with other like-minded and passionate young South Africans. It is an amazing experience to be an activator.


Activate! Leadership for Public Innovation is a national network of young people committed to social transformation. United across race and class, they will develop the perspectives and skills of innovation needed to tackle some of South Africa’s most challenging social issues.
To find out more, contact Activate! on: or