When asked what drives her to excel, Zilungile Zimela says: “I am driven by the rural, marginalised and segregated child who does not see beyond the grazing farms and marriage as an immediate attainment of a goal for a girl child.” Zimela was a founding member of the Invoked Debating Consortium, the first debating society at Walter Sisulu University’s East London campus. The team went on to win a number of championships, including the Provincial Debating Championships, and, after pushing for isiXhosa to be a category language, she went on to coach the first team to ever win in that category. She was also exceptionally proud to be the first queer woman to receive the Advanced Leadership Silver and Advanced Communicator Silver awards. To have a positive effect on South Africa’s youth is her goal, and she wants them to know that anyone can be a person of consequence, regardless of their background.
Technology is the key to unlocking all sorts of opportunities for the youth, and no one knows that better than Noluvuyo Gqadu, founder of CodeNgwana, which teaches children from disadvantaged areas how to code. “I’ve also written stories about technology for kids and have published three books, including a coding encyclopaedia that has been translated into isiXhosa and Setswana,” she says. Gqadu is involved in numerous initiatives that close the digital divide. Most recently, she helped translate the Massachusetts Institution of Technology Scratch Junior curriculum into isiXhosa. She’s also a mentor at the Miller Center of Social Entrepreneurship at Santa Clara University in Silicon Valley. She contributes to the food security space in Nigeria and early childhood development in Kenya, where she mentors organisations and helps them scale. Gqadu is also a board member for Waves for Change, which teaches surf therapy to kids.
Our South Africa can become self-sustainable and we can create projects for job creations for our youth