Noxolo Ntaka (25)

////Noxolo Ntaka (25)

2019 Mail & Guardian 200 Young South Africans

Civil Society

Noxolo Ntaka (25)

Noxolo Ntaka (25)

Project Manager, Democracy Works Foundation


Coming from a disadvantaged background, I have witnessed the power of debating and how it has transformed me into becoming a critical and engaged leader.

Noxolo Ntaka has not only landed a managerial position straight after her graduate studies at the tender and exciting age of 25, but she has also served as the as co-chair of the 2018 Oxford Africa conference while completing her studies at the acclaimed institution.

Prior to joining the Democracy Works Foundation, she worked at the South African Institute of International Affairs while completing a second masters degree at the University of the Witwatersrand. Her research focused on chairing Model United Nations (MUN) debates and providing training to high school learners in MUN debating style.

“Coming from a disadvantaged background, I have witnessed the power of debating and how it has transformed me into becoming a critical and engaged leader,” she says.

As project manager at the Democracy Works Foundation, she is tasked with the important responsibility of implementing and managing the democracy works academy, an annual initiative launched by the foundation in partnership with the in-transformation initiative.

The Academy offers a seven-month civic education and dialogue programme centred around increasing youth participation in South Africa’s democracy and it is geared towards youth across the country, between the ages of 19 and 25. It consists of three five day residential seminars throughout the year and an online learning curriculum.

Each year, a cohort of 30 fellows is selected from rural, township, semiurban and urban areas to engage and capacitate young people with the vision that they will go on to contribute to a more transparent and accountable society in whichever field they find themselves in the future.

This Academy comes at a crucial time, considering the low levels of voter participation amongst young people in the May general elections and the recognition that not enough is being done to ensure that youth have a seat at the table.

Ntaka considers herself a product of two Black women who gave her the opportunity to thrive despite her dire circumstances: Oprah Winfrey and Apie Ntaka, her mother.

“Twelve years ago, I did not really know what would become of my life in terms of what high school or university I would go to and who would pay for my fees. The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls shifted the trajectory of my life in more ways than I could imagine. I am now a young Black girl with the permission to dream without constraint and have been affirmed of my dreams” she says. —Welcome Lishivha

Twitter: @ntaka_noxolo