At just 23, Karabo Mokgonyana has a very clear idea of who she is, and where she’s going. She’s one of those people who makes doing it all look easy: while studying, she balanced full-time study with side jobs, running a nonprofit organisation and advancing an international leadership career.
“I knew that I was a great leader and aspired to change lives. Ambition and internet access kicked off my career — the minute I understood what I wanted, I researched. It didn’t matter that I was a village girl from Limpopo or that none of my parents had experience within the field I wanted — I certainly knew that I wanted to be a change-maker.”
The hard work paid off, and she was appointed an African Youth Ambassador for Peace by the African Union. She originally applied during the extended submission period thinking she wouldn’t succeed, but she put so much effort into the interview and assessment that she walked away with an appointment.
Mokgonyana may just be starting out, but she is tireless when it comes to advancing the causes of social justice and representation of marginalised groups in society – from womxn and children to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people as well as those living with disabilities. She also advocates for the socioeconomic freedom of previously disadvantaged people in South Africa.
“The continued existence of social injustice and the lack of socioeconomic freedom within our communities drives me. Being a young black woman means that I walk through communities that experience poverty, sexual and gender based violence, racism, huge levels of economic disempowerment, harsh effects of corruption and other social issues. This is a huge reason to wake up everyday and push the work that I do.”