Profile: Nobuhle Khumalo
Content Partner: Activate! Leadership for Public Innovation

I was born premature on the 11 April 1990 in Baragwaneth hospital. I was named Nobuhle (beauty) Princess Nomalanga (sunshine) Khumalo. My names have a special significance to me, but that is a story for another time…

I was raised by a beautiful strong women who passed on in 2000 and Amanda Ndambe (aunty). My father also played a short-lived role. People came in and out of my life but they all played an important role .My mother was a loving and caring person – I inherited some of my character traits from her.

My life was difficult for me. I had an abusive father, who took out his frustrations on my mother and myself. My mother was constantly sick. I hated my father for all he put us through. He made my mother feel worthless and useless, he spoke death to her ears. At that time men were dogs and evil creatures to me, what made me feel like this was the environment I lived in where I constantly heard men beat down their women. Especially my own father.

In 2005 I lived with my aunty in Lyndhurst. My favourite subjects were English and Geography because the teachers challenged my way of thinking which taught me to be opened minded. I love things that have a lot to do with interacting with people, so I joined a group of people who taught me how to counsel people who have lost their loved ones it was called ‘Compassionate Friends’.

In 2009 I worked hard. I just thought of money all the time, looking for ways to get rich quickly, but I knew that would not really make me happy at all. When I moved to Cosmo city in 2009 I worked at Cappuccinos and MacDonald’s in Northgate. At that time I always had a question lingering in my mind: What do I love? What are my passions?

In 2010,I heard of ‘Oasis South Africa,’ that was running a school leavers course that focused on developing the youth. It really empowered me as a young person to acknowledge the things happening around me and help kids from different schools in Cosmo city. It made it clear that I did love working with people.

In 2011 someone facilitated my learning, now it was my turn to be courageous and listen and speak to my peers. We learned through each other, shared our obstacles, victories and dreams. A girls’ group was born…

I would love to have a stable girls group that speaks about every aspect of life and enables the girls to get resources to empower themselves, to be able to fight for what they believe in, help each other to go through the obstacles of this life, and learn how to deal with them. Everything has beauty in it, but not everybody can see it. Young girls deserve to show the beauty that is in inside them.

My passion for empowering women comes from my past life experiences and the way I was bought up. I want to use my life story and experiences to empower women to believe in themselves and know their worth. I believe that if women do not know their self-worth they won’t be able to achieve a lot in life.

Before the end of 2011 Adrie Marie Van Heerden told me about a programme called Activate. She believed it would challenge me to be a good leader and learn about things out there. On the 18 February I embarked on an unknown journey to Mpumalanga with people from different walks of life. I have always judged a book by its cover but when everyone presented their past collage it changed my way of thinking. It was also amazing to meet young people who are doing things to transform their communities and South Africa as whole.

I learnt a lot of things that made me think out of the box and challenge myself. While I was there a certain individual stood out for me her name is Lesego. I was impressed by her work, how she travelled Africa andhow motivated she is. She inspired me to believe that I could do anything if I put my heart into. My journey with Activate has changed my life and mindset. It is teaching me ways to tackle issues (object cards) to think outside the box. Now I am ready to set higher standards for myself and transform and empower young women.


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.
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