Thirty-two-year-old Kwezilomso Mbandazayo is the women’s programme manager at Oxfam South Africa and has dedicated her life to fighting for the equality of women, eradicating the patriarchy and ensuring that women are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve. She is passionate, dedicated and willing to go the extra mile for what is right. For many, Mbandazayo represents hope that things will change and get better for women all over the world.
“I am inspired by creation, creativity and Black women, especially Black women who misbehave,” says Mbandazayo. “I am also inspired by my father, Mahlubi Mbandazayo, as he affirmed me and everyone around him with his relentless undying spirit. He is still one of the leaders in my life 16 years after his passing.”
Mbandazayo works in a variety of different roles, all focused on contributing towards a strong, Black feminist movement. Her goal is to create a movement that is agile and capable of solving practical problems within a strong emancipatory vision.
“I want to contribute to the ultimate defeat of violence, in all its manifestations, and I believe that we all have the capacity to do better, to lead better lives,” she says. “I want to tie together Black families and I want our daughters to walk free and thrive.”
For Mbandazayo, Black women face a world that is essentially at war with them and she is focused on bringing about tangible change in society. She is committed to becoming even more deliberate in her teaching work and in her activism so as to embed this message deeper into society.
When asked what piece of advice she would give to young South Africans looking ahead to the future, looking to how they can bring about change, she says: “Always excite yourself with possibility and plan on doing better tomorrow.” —Tamsin Oxford