The history behind Youth Day is familiar to all South Africans. The Soweto Uprising that sparked controversy during the apartheid regime has been a painful wound for South Africa to bear. Yet every year on the 16th of June, South Africans are reminded of the positive role that the youth of South Africa has played in the liberation of our country. Even in 2016, after 22 years of democracy, the youth of South Africa continues to make an impact. Read these stories of five inspiring young South Africans under the age of 30 that have already made a difference and are on their way to shaping the future of our country:
- Tshidiso Ramogale, age 23
This passionate young man is a law clerk at the Constitutional Court of South Africa, the founder of Change SA, an advocate for social justice, as well as an Allan Gray Orbis Foundation fellow. He believes that social change can be achieved through entrepreneurial innovation. His devotion to the Change SA initiative exemplifies his generosity in giving back to the community.
- Previn Naicker, age 24
Naicker is known as the youngest Wits student to graduate with his PhD in Biochemistry at only 23. Now he is a post-doctoral researcher at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). From skipping grades in school to tutoring students who are older than him, this intelligent and humble young man is a force to be reckoned with.
- Malaika Wa Azania, age 26
This fiery young lady is a political essayist, blogger, commentator and columnist. At the age of 22, she published her first book titled The memoirs of a born free. In this book she describes the life of her grandmother, mother and herself while structuring it as a letter to the ANC.
- Siyabulela Xuza, age 27
This amazing young man is an energy-engineering graduate at Harvard University, has a planet named after him, and presented his science project to the King and Queen of Sweden in 2006. It doesn’t stop there though. In 2010, he was elected as a fellow of the African Leadership Network and in 2011 he became a fellow of the Kairos Society which focused on strategies that can solve the energy crisis. Deemed one of the best scientists in South Africa, he is truly one to look out for.
- Taskeen Adam, age 25
A Chevening Scholar (Chevening is the UK government’s international awards scheme aimed at developing global leaders), Taskeen is currently doing her MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development at the University of Cambridge, bringing together two of her passions: her love for technological innovation and her love for community development. She was the Chairperson of the School Council for Electrical Engineers at the University of Witwatersrand and was an executive member of Engineers Without Borders South Africa, an organisation that focuses on human-centred design. This dynamic young woman also founded Solar Powered Learning, an initiative that helps deliver low-cost, energy-efficient educational resources to underprivileged learners (a solarpowered classroom, for example). Her current research focuses on educational technologies and teaching practices in Rwanda.
These five youths sure know how to make their mark. At such a young age they are set to become leaders of South Africa. Their strength, determination and willingness to learn about the world can teach us that anything is possible and age is just a number.