From the time that Ntokozo Mchunu started working as a radio presenter at the young age of 12 years for Radio Khwezi and then won awards as best presenter and best overall winner after her first show, her name had been written in the stars.
Since then, she has been a marvel to watch as she continued to excel in all that she does and has dreams of prospering even further. “I appreciate that you think I have achieved much already,” she says humbly, “But there is still a very long way to go. I believe that I have a particular mandate to fulfil that comes from God and like one of my favourite authors, Nobuntu Webster, says: ‘it has a lot of tasks, tests and assignments.”
Her biggest dream is to have a foundation that funds schools in rural and township areas to enable them to run and operate smoothly. “Lately, I’ve been dreaming of building a school of entrepreneurial and academic excellence in either my community or any other community God has called me to. My short-term dreams include being a TV drama director and talk show host.
With all of these dreams being made bare, her focus right now is solely on completing her Master’s degree and engaging herself with the community of Grahamstown. “The plan is to stay here for as long as God wants me to serve this community through documentary storytelling and other things.”
She speaks passionately about serving her community and doing so with integrity. “Serving with integrity is something I believe Christ did. He was a man who was extremely selfless and all about God’s people. I want to live a life of love and selflessness as much as I can. No matter how difficult it may be, I just want to do things that will serve the community God has called me to.” She adds that: “If this idea of ‘success’ and pursuit of education and excellence does not serve my community then it is pointless. So, I want to use the skills that I have to empower the youth and disempower the victim mindset.”
As a woman who feels so strongly about integrity, she encourages each of us to also tap into our own sense of integrity. “Our nation is full of corrupt leaders, our industries are managed by people and gatekeepers who have no integrity, no compassion and are all about themselves. It has to change, and it can only start with each individual making a deliberate decision towards that change.”
To do this, one can start with the little things- talks and prayers with the youth. “I have a special fondness towards young people in high school as I believe that is where our future lies. I would love to give talks that empower us spiritually and mentally because that will determine our economic empowerment as well.
And on the note of empowerment, Ntokozo’s message to young girls is simple: “Dear young girl, dare to be the difference you want to see around you. May you be spiritually empowered.” With empowerment, spread love as well. “There is no empowerment where there is no love. Women’s Day is a day where we are reminded of how empowered we always have been as women and how much love we carry and still need to give out.”
South Africa is a long way from having equal rights and opportunities for both men and women, but when it comes to the science world, Nomvelo Shandu and more women are taking up that space and closing in on the gap.
“Being a female hydrologist in a male dominated field is very challenging, as is the case in any other career. You have to prove that you are just as knowledgeable, well rounded and practical as any other male hydrologist. But trust me, it is possible for women to make a name for themselves and that is evident by the fact that there is a growing number of female hydrologists.”
Growing up in KwaDukuza, the 26-year-old that double majored in Science (Hydrology and Microbiology) did not know that she would become a hydrologist but considering her love for science, it was a no-brainer. “Growing up, I was always an inquisitive person, and I would question how and why things function this way. I then learned about hydrology when I was 16 years old at a career guidance expo.”
As much as Nomvelo is a hydrologist (a person who studies water science), there are different types, and she predicts floods. She is a firm believer of exercising opportunities to their maximum. “In life, opportunities don’t always present themselves, you have to create them yourself, even in the most unpleasant situations.”
In those unpleasant situations, she advises women in particular, to be kind to themselves and each other. “My message to women is to speak kindly to yourself and use a kind tone. August is Women’s Month- something that is very important, and I am someone who is easily inspired by women around me, regardless of their field. I am inspired by drive and ethics. Women’s Day serves as a reminder of where we come from and where we are going.”
Nomvelo now resides in Cape Town and works as a Hydrologist in one of the leading insurance companies in South Africa, she conducts geoscientific research and gives Geotechnical advice for them. She is also currently pursuing her postgraduate studies in Hydrology at the University of Stellenbosch.
Modelling was never part of the plan for 22-year-old Lindelwa who is a professional model based in Stanger.
The young beauty took some time before realizing her striking looks and with a few nudges from friends and family, she was able to embrace her stunning features. “It all started when I was doing my Matric at Stanger Secondary School in 2016, I entered Miss Winter Fair but sadly, I did not do well. I didn’t even make the top 5 and that devastated me.” After vowing not to walk on a runway again, the now less shy Lindelwa tried her luck again at her first year at DUT. “People from my residence convinced me to enter a competition called Miss Green and I made it to the top 20 out of 85 contenders. I felt great about myself”
Shortly after that she met photographers Denzel Sibanda and Bheki Mthembu who were both instrumental in helping her gain confidence. “We would take pictures and post them on Facebook and the feedback was amazing. They told me that I was a natural in front of the camera and I was inspired to do more. In my heart, I wanted to do it for the next dark-skinned girl who was also living in a shadow and didn’t think that they were beautiful enough.”
Growing up, Lindelwa was a very quiet girl with a low self esteem because of how beauty was presented. “We were made to believe that only light skinned people are beautiful.” Modeling played a huge role in helping her regain her self esteem and since then, she has been a leading light in the town of KwaDukuza.
Lindelwa has also started her own doughnut zone business. “Growing up, I always wanted to become an entrepreneur so with my small business, it is just a step away from making my dreams come true. My main purpose is to create job opportunities for young people,” she says. Her big break was with Mr Price in Durban, that gig opened many doors for her including working with Author Ford and being in an international billboard.
Lindelwa hopes to be an inspiration and the reason why young black girls believe in themselves and do not conform to society’s beauty standards. She admits that the industry is very tough and advises that if one is not true to themselves then the journey is less likely to be enjoyable. “Most female models always inspire one another, and, in my case, I have met a bunch of lovely ladies.”
This women’s day, our model stresses just how important this day is. “Women’s day is very important as we celebrate the strength and resilience of women and their contribution to society. It keeps me motivated and gives me courage to be able to overcome any obstacle because the women before me were able to do the impossible.”