LINDELWA VEZI

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.”

 

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.

NTOKOZO MCHUNU

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.”

Thabiso Mbatha is a passionate agronomist and Candidate Natural Scientist who has worked in public, civil and private sectors within the agriculture industry. From trainee to an Agricultural Advisor, Thabiso is now responsible for providing farmers with crop protection solutions that are environmentally, economically and practically safe.

He is still regarded as someone who is new in the industry, but his achievements say that he is definitely growing to become a force to be reckoned with. Thabiso has conducted agricultural work in 4 provinces in South Africa and hopes to tap into the agricultural potential of all 9 provinces. His most memorable professional achievement was conducting, monitoring and evaluating crop production projects within the North-West Province that were awarded financial support. This was when he was still with the Department of Agriculture. This process allowed him to understand the critical aspects that lead to agricultural success and failure, as well as allowing him to contribute to curbing irregular spending of public funds.

Thereafter he “jumped into the deep-end” of entrepreneurship by establishing an agricultural consultancy and learnt vital lessons on how to go about conducting business with farmers. He is currently managing the agrochemical requirements of about 49 farmers, spanning an approximate area of 3174 Hectares, producing macadamia nuts, sugarcane, bananas, vegetables and herbs amongst others. When he is not out on a farm, Thabiso can be found jogging and reading. He also spends his time with his monthly study group that he organises for young farmers that he services. His plan is simple- to facilitate the synergistic formation of commodity-group production leading to the formation of a youth-led African agricultural supply franchise. This will be a vital step in the right direction in efforts to make farming more attractive to the youth by lowering input cost.

“When life gives you lemons, plant the seeds, select the genetically superior types and make a business around it. Remember to give some seeds back.” - Thabiso E. P. Mbatha

Mandlenkosi Nkosingiphile Shandu, popularly known as uKilla K is a 26-year-old who was born and bred in KwaDukuza, Melville. He describes himself as a huge people's person. “I believe I'm an extrovert and it’s easy to be around me because I make other people comfortable to be around me.”

He strongly believes that the town of KwaDukuza is filled with talent that just needs to be unearthed and thus, took it upon himself to do so. In 2017 he came up with this brilliant idea to start his own YouTube channel that would be a voice of the artists within the town. A first in KwaDukuza, it is called The 4450 Online and focuses on artists, creatives and influential people from all over town. On the channel, you would get an insight into the lives of the various artists that are profiled while also providing them with the right exposure. “You hear how it’s like to come from a town like KwaDukuza. I was trying to shift away from the small-town mentality that we are always subjected to because we are from KwaDukuza.”

The portal hosts 5 segments:

  • The 032s Hottest MC List (hosted annually)
  • 10 Minutes Sit Down with uKilla K (features various artists)
  • 032S Brand Alignment Show (includes different brand owners)
  • Creative Hopping (covers influencers)
  • The Monthly Round Up (round up of the events in town)

The man behind unearthing young creatives is also a creative in his own right and a genius one at that. A jack of all trades- he directs, produces, edits, curates and presents everything that is seen on the channel. Currently residing in Johannesburg for work reasons, uKilla K is Journalism graduate who obtained his qualification at the Tshwane University of Technology. The young pioneer who steered the media industry of the town into the right direction is so passionate about his channel that he never misses an opportunity to record. “Every time I come back home, I make sure to do an episode or two.” 

His dreams of running a channel came to life at university and even chose to major in broadcasting over print. At the moment he is a Video Editor for a production company based in Rooderpoort, Gauteng called 32Done Productions. He specifically edits promos for Starsat, a South African direct broadcast satellite television service.

He has been involved in script writing and video editing for the SABC 1 Edutainment TV Show TOMZ and edited for the SAFTA Nominated 2020 AFI International Fashion Week. “The love for TV never stopped, I’m just glad it grew with time. The 4450 Online helped me grow. It is who I am- uKilla K. Don't forget to say the K”

“Dream big” is one of the simplest and most used quotes. When one dreams, they are able to escape their harsh reality and look forward to a better future. When Phakamile Judith Zondi was growing up in the back room of her mother’s workplace in Ballito, she had dreams of protecting lives and now, at the age of 28 she is doing just that and so much more.

Her mother was a domestic worker and now she is a Constable at the KwaDukuza South African Police Services, who also has a daughter of her own and might I add, a beautiful one at that. Phakamile was born at Etete and was raised by a single parent. She completed her Matric at Shakaskraal Secondary School. Gone are the days where Phakamile would daydream about becoming a cop, now she is enforcing the law and making the streets of KwaDukuza much safer for all of us, one case at a time. . .

“Ngiytholel’ umunt’ oFresh, umuntu onjengo Nurse…”

When Mampinsta sang this line in Big Nuz’s 2011 hit single, Wayilamula, he certainly had Londiwe Minenhle Khumalo in mind. Londiwe is a 23-year-old nurse from KwaDukuza. She is one of the few people that were able to identify their purpose from an early age. “I’ve always been one person who has chosen to embrace their innate need to nurture and heal people in which ever capacity life has allowed me to.

All the choices that I have made in my life have sort of revolved around that.” She obtained her Bachelor of Nursing (Hon) Degree from the University of KwaZulu-Natal and has served the community of KwaDukuza since graduating in 2019. The story of her upbringing is that of a typical African child, raised by the powerful prayers of two strong black women eTete. Londiwe believes that her grandmother’s (uGugu) prayers have launched her far further than anticipated. Although serving her community as a nurse has always been her dream, it doesn’t mean that there are no challenges. It is not all sunshine and roses. “There are days where it gets tough, and I feel like pulling few hairs but that one, “Ngyabonga mntanami” from patients makes me feel like all those sleepless nights at UKZN were worth it and keeps me going.

When former Miss Universe, Zozibini Tunzi won the pageant in 2019, she had a very clear message for girls all around the world- take up space! Dabbling in being a radio DJ, MC, media personality and model, Minenhle Alungile Linda Jr Ntuli is certainly taking the advice of Zozi.

Born in KwaMaphumulo, the all-round entertainer needs no introduction. Minnie (as she’s popularly known), first made her claim to fame in 2017 when she auditioned for Idols SA and although she did not win, she made it all the way to the top 16 and is grateful for journey. “Idols was a whirlwind of emotions- it was challenging yet memorable and unforgettable, even life changing because honestly, how many people leave the competition and be blessed as I have been? I work with so many brands and organizations and that opportunity was because of my time on Idols so I am very grateful.” Adjusting to life after Idols proved to be smooth sailing for the bubbly personality and she does not think it has anything to do with working hard, but rather carrying out her purpose. “If I’m being honest, I don’t recognize it as working hard when you are aligned with your purpose. You want to do more of it because nothing else makes sense.” Her passion lies in cooking and radio and making her choose either is nearly impossible. “Imagine someone asking you to choose your favourite child,” she laughs. “I can’t choose one because they serve a different purpose in my life that is fulfilling. But just so you know, cooking gave me access to radio and to people’s hearts and in turn, that same radio saved me from depression.” As it is youth month, we couldn’t let the former UKZN student representative council member go without picking her brain on youth issues. Just as all quotes go, she emphasizes the importance of education. “Education, education, education. Education gives access and enlightens. There are so many gaps in the access to the “free” education that people think exist and mostly affects the black child in this day and age...imagine! education will always be number 1 to me.” She goes on to say that: “Documented history will always make the current generation look less than. So if you ask me if we are as brave as the youth of 1976 then id say no. but if you ask, are we fired up then yes because we have social media and that is our power.” The youth of 1976 died physically for what they believed in, and today’s youth dies emotionally and I cannot tell you which is worse.

Durban has Ricky Rick, Nelspruit has Costa Titch and the small town of KwaDukuza has uMshayi. Sakhile Melusi Mdletshe popularly known as Mshayi is a multi-talented 23-year-old from Groutville.

He went to Dr B Vilakazi primary school, Ashram Primary and Stanger ML Sultan where he did his Grade 12, but unfortunately did not pass. Mshayi believes that not every everyone needs education to be successful. He describes himself as a non-conformist, “I have always believed that my talent is what will make me successful, not school.” He started making music when he was eighteen years old and has consistently worked on his craft, earning him the opportunity to meet with a lot of musicians that are currently making waves in the music industry like Big Zulu, Blaq diamond, Mampintsha, Dladla Mshunqisi and Ricky Rick who happens to be his role model. “One thing that I have learnt from them is the importance of working hard and doing things by yourself without expecting any favours, independence is what they always preach.” Mshayi is an all-rounder of an entertainer that sometimes dabbles in being an event organizer, content creator, a fashion designer and sometimes even an MC. He even has his own brand called (COMBO). In this time that Mshayi has been an entertainer, the one thing he has noticed is that it may seem like it is easy to be in the industry but it’s not, one has to continuously work hard, put in your all and remain focused. “I have achieved a lot; my achievements may not be tangible things that I can wave at someone’s face as proof of my hard work but deep down I know that I have done a lot and I am proud of myself.” His one wish is to create a better life for his family and become someone that the youth of KwaDukuza look up to.

Born and bred in Mandeni, Sundumbili, Nongcebo Khumalo is a qualified journalist and digital strategist. She describes herself as a young and driven woman. She went to Mandeni Academy and Stanger High School, completed her studies at the Durban University of Technology and Vega School.

Over the years, Nongcebo has worked in the media industry as a production assistant and a producer for a number of sport shows on Super Sport. Now residing in Durban, she is also an entrepreneur spear heading BlackNinetyOne - an agency that provides businesses and brands with digital strategies for social media. Fuelled by passion and the drive to be successful, she is also a freelance researcher, working for a travel show called Shay’iround that airs on SABC1.

July 2021

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