40 South Africans Under 40 – Part 2

Forty years ago South African youth influenced the way today’s young South Africans wield their own historical impact on the country. In this series of profiles, we highlight 40 South Africans born since 1976 who have changed South Africa, or even the world, in their own way through politics, culture, business, sport and public service. CONTINUED…

11. Adriaan Strauss – rugby player

It was hard to miss the hulking presence and undeniable passion of Adriaan Strauss during 2015’s Rugby World Cup. The 30-year-old Springbok and Bulls hooker has seen a steady rise in his playing career, and has now been named the Springbok captain under Allister Coetzee. The new coach has a game plan to inject more level-headed consistency and a bit of power into the team. Strauss has 55 caps for the national team. He scored six Tries, including two match-winning Tries, against Scotland at Murrayfield in 2013. Coetzee calls Strauss’s leadership a potential watershed moment for South African rugby. “(Strauss) enjoys the respect of all the players and he has always fulfilled a leadership role wherever he played, since coming through the junior national structures,” Coetzee says.

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12. Buti Manamela – deputy minister in the Presidency

As a former youth leader, issues effecting young South Africans are embedded in Buti Manamela’s DNA; being close to Minister Jeff Radebe and the president himself, he is able to put those issues front and centre for the good of the country. Manamela has had a wide-ranging career for someone as young he is. He was a prodigious student activist in his Limpopo province in the early 1990s, and he has been a community journalist and trade unionist.

A member of parliament since 2009, he has had positions in the Economic Development, Trade and Labour portfolios. He also has extensive experience in pan- African and global economic partnerships. As one of the government’s new generation of grassroots politicians and agents of social change, Manamela is poised to be even more influential in determining policy that strengthens the country’s democracy.

13. Sihle Tshabalala – tech entrepreneur

Sihle Tshabalala’s story is one of powerful transformation: a reformed convict and prison gang member, he now runs one of most successful prisoner rehabilitation and support organisations in South Africa. Tshabalala began his Damascene journey while incarcerated in the Brandvlei Correctional Centre in Western Cape. He joined the Group of Hope, which helps prisoners complete their basic education and develop sellable skills.

After his release in 2013, he wanted to continue the good work he had started, and he created Brothers For All (B4All), an organisation that trains reformed prisoners and the youth in computer programing and coding.

Speaking to the Mail & Guardian newspaper in 2015, Tshabalala said his time behind bars drove his need to help society. “I believe with deep conviction (we all have the ability to) end the cycle of poverty and crime. (With B4All) offering technology skills to youth at risk, offenders and ex-offenders (it creates an opportunity to change mind-sets and offer realistic hope).

“With programming skills much in demand and an employment boom in the IT industry, the work done by Tshabalala and his organisation offers hope beyond a life of crime and his own experience is living proof of that.

14. Simphiwe Dana – singer

As one of South Africa’s most successful musicians, Simphiwe Dana epitomises young South Africa’s message to the world: young, proud and beautiful. Not only a great singer, whose lyrical blend of modern jazz, soul and African rhythms has set her apart from others, Dana is also an outspoken social activist for feminism and the rights of the youth. “I wish I didn’t feel so strongly about social injustice,” Dana told radio and television personality Gareth Cliff earlier this year. “I wish I could just write music… (but) I like to fix people.

“Called the new Miriam Makeba when she released her first album in 2004, Dana’s lyrics draw strongly on her upbringing in the Transkei. She remembers the influence of her mother and her singing voice as a key motivator in her own career and her life. While she has become a mother herself, letting her music take a backseat (for now), Dana is still very much in the public eye and vocal on social media on topical local and global issues. She has more than 200 000 followers, with the appropriate handle of @firebrand.

15. Angela Larkan – HIV/Aids activist

For almost 10 years, the non-profit organisation Thanda.org has helped to fight the destructive impact of HIV/Aids and poverty on rural communities, particularly on children. Thanda, begun by Angela Larkan on KwaZulu-Natal’s rural South Coast, supports more than 300 orphaned children in the area. It works in early childhood development, education and other community services.

Larkan and her work were featured in a 2011 Levi Strauss ad campaign, Go Forth, which highlighted pioneering NGOs. That campaign also featured actor Matt Damon’s Water.org safe sanitation project. Larkan and Thanda continue to work in unison with local people to build rural communities that are self-reliant, healthy places where residents respect one another and live sustainably, all while keeping the education and health of children as priority.

The organisation has won numerous awards for its work, including the 2010 Brand South Africa Mzansi Soul Award and a Southern African Drivers of Change Award in 2011.

16. Musa Manzi – geophysicist and educator

Dr Musa Manzi grew up poor in a rural village in KwaZulu-Natal, where poverty and God inspired him to become the man he is today. A natural-born teacher with a passion for knowledge, he starting teaching maths and biology to fellow students while still in matric.

He always knew his destiny lay in education, and promised himself that when he could, he would give back to the next generation. “It is a lesson to all (students),” he told the Mail & Guardian in 2014. “They shouldn’t let the troubles of their past prevent or limit them from reaching their potential.

“He became the first black South African to obtain a PhD in geophysics, and is currently doing ground-breaking work on seismic reflection data from the Wits Basin that has opened up new ways of understanding the distribution of methane gas along underground faults. It goes a long way to improving mining safety and resource evaluation. Manzi is also the first African to win the international award for the best research paper published in geophysics of the Society of Exploration Geophysicists.

He is a lecturer at the University of the Witwatersrand, but also donates his time as a science and maths teacher in Alexandra schools, giving back opportunities that he often never had himself when growing up.

17. Sanelisiwe Ntuli – poet and educator

Inspired by her storyteller father, who regaled her as a child with traditional African fables that had a rich history and strong identity, Sanelisiwe Ntuli was determined to keep those stories alive for the next generation. She believes that even in this modern technological age, stories have the ability to change the world. “By telling a story you can heal someone or change somebody’s life because we are surrounded by stories,” she told the Mail & Guardian in 2015.

Mentored by South Africa’s doyenne of African storytelling, Gcina Mhlope, Ntuli is using stories to educate and promote literacy in the country’s poorest areas through her Funda Ubhale project. She is also a published poet and has performed spoken word monologues at literary festivals in South Africa and around the world. Funda Ubhale is presented in more than 15 schools and focuses on teaching children to read and write through the art of storytelling, and inspiring imagination.

18. Sivu Siwisa – gender activist

Sivu Siwisa is the creator of the Ikasi Pride initiative designed to raise awareness and understanding of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and intersex (LGBTI) experience, particularly in townships and rural areas. The movement aims to advance understanding of the constitutional rights of LGBTI people by making information, support and resources readily available to combat their marginalisation.

“What keeps me inspired is the knowledge that someone before me worked tirelessly to push LGBTI rights in South Africa,” Siwisa told the Mail & Guardian in 2014. “It is then not only my duty to guard those rights, but my responsibility to ensure that everyone else in the LGBTI community, regardless of gender, race or geographic location, enjoys those rights too.”

19. Bruce Dube – tech entrepreneur

Bruce Dube creates and owns a number of highly influential digital media platforms, including youth portals, ecommerce sites, video platforms and online magazines, including the hugely popular education platform EduCan. In 2013, he was named one of the British Council’s top 60 Global Change Makers; he has also been recognised as one of the World Bank’s five most prominent young people from Latin America and Africa, as well as one of UNAids SA’s Youth Movers and Shakers.

Inspired by young people who have positive attitudes despite their circumstances, Dube knew that technology was key to giving go-getters better access to developmental information that could enhance their education and employment prospects, and inspire their entrepreneurship. In addition to offering these mobile and internet portals, he also invests in youth start-ups across Africa when he sees the potential for making Africa a fully connected continent with the rest of the world.

“It’s okay to be different,” is Dube’s life philosophy. “Do what you can, use what you have, where you are and you can go far.”

20. Pippa Tshabalala – tech journalist

The multimillion-rand local gaming industry grows yearly, and it is important that critical voices stand out to guide the consumer base, dominated by the youth, on the ins and outs of the industry, not only in game technology itself but also in the social implications of technology.

Pippa Tshabalala has been a writer, TV producer and ardent gamer for more than 10 years and is one of the most respected journalists in her field. An outspoken critic of sexism in the gaming community, Tshabalala encourages more females to get involved in all aspects of the industry to change the status quo.

She was a presenter on The Verge, South Africa’s first locally produced show dedicated to gaming and technology, and has written for a number of local and international publications on gaming and the local game design industry. She has given talks at TEDxSoweto, highlighting the importance of gaming and technology in social change. Tshabalala also undertakes consumer education for Vodacom.

Source:  SouthAfrica.InfoMail & Guardian Young 200 South Africans, Wikipedia, South African History Online and other online sources