Celebrating South African Youth
June 2019 is Youth Month in South Africa, with the focal point of the observance falling on 16 June in commemoration of the 1976 youth uprising which saw several youths give their lives in their fight for equality.
One of the greatest motivations for emigration is seeking a better future for our children, which makes it even more noteworthy when South African youths gain international recognition for their skills or achievements.
Rand Rescue wants to honour the South African youth of today and highlighting some of the achievements of which you may not have been aware. Let’s take a look at some of these South African youngsters who are making a difference or waving the SA flag on the international platform.
There’s not much that gets Megan Werner down. With a motto like ‘It’s up to me’ it’s no surprise that Megan and her team of fellow teen aviators are journeying from Cape to Cairo and back on their self-assembled Sling-4 aircraft using ordinary motor fuel.
Not only is Megan a pilot at the tender age of 17, but she is also a published writer and motivational speaker and founded the U Dream Global Foundation to uplift, empower and transform the lives of African youths at the age of 14.
Bahiyya Khan, a student game developer, and her team — Claire Meekel, Abi Meekel, and Tim Flusk — won the Best Student Game award at the Independent Games Festival in San Francisco, USA in 2019. In addition to their best category prize they also received an honourable mention for ‘Excellence in Narrative’.
The game, After Hours, is a full motion video game exploring themes such as borderline personality disorder and gender-based violence.
When one drives through the township of Refilwe near Cullinan, one may be tempted to think that there’s not much happening there. Of course you would be wrong. Tshiamo Shawa is a perfect example of rising above one’s means.
The student competed in the international Novasad Dance Festival in Siberia last year and walked away with top honours. At 13 years old, Tshiamo competed against high school students from other countries and took first place in Junior Hip Hop dance, First place in the Open Junior championship and was named Overall Street Dance Champion at the international championship.
Not all youths excel in sport and academics, some saffas find their skills best applied in other fields, which is exactly what Abdul Fredericks did.
The young chef was one of only five finalists competing in the competition. Mentored by Stuart Cason, executive chef at the Radisson Blu Gautrain Hotel, Fredericks proved he had the culinary skill to achieve greatness. He walked away with top honours and a R50 000 culinary experience in London.
Martin Wierzbicki is a graduate at the University of Pretoria who is one of three global winners of the 2018-2019 Blue Sky Young Researchers and Innovation Award from the International Council of Forest and Paper Association (ICFPA) in Canada this year.
Wierzbicki’s research was focused on genome-based biotechnology for designer wood. He aims to find ways in which the extraction of biopolymers can be maximised through changing the genetic makeup of trees. His work is considered some of the most advanced in the field and will improve the utilisation of resources in the forestry industry while making it more sustainable.
Not only has Mfundo Radebe received a full scholarship to study Political Science at Harvard, but the South African student also walked away with top honours in the My Magna Carta essay competition organised by the English-Speaking Union (ESU).
The brief for the essay was a rewriting of the Magna Carta (sealed 800 years ago) into a modern document which safeguards and promotes the rights, privileges and liberties of the entrants’ own countries or the world.
Radebe also founded the Dlulisa Initiative which collects books, textbooks and other resources from affluent private and public schools to be reused and repurposed in less-privileged schools in South Africa.
South African archer Danelle Wentzel became the first South African in history to win a stage in the Hyundai Archery World Cup in the USA, claiming the final with a three point lead. Her win snagged her a place in the 2019 Hyundai Archery World Cup Final in Bangkok this September.
With sports like rugby, cricket and netball taking precedence in South Africa, it’s truly magnificent to see our country represented in other sports around the globe.
Pheladi Venda Tlhatlha
Pheladi Venda Tlhatlha is one of 25 academics who was honoured at the Green Talents international forum for High Potentials in Sustainable Development at the end of 2018.
Her research entry was one of 736 applications from 100 countries submitted to the German forum. Moreover, she also does work with Greenpeace to further sustainable energy.
Pheladi’s focus fell on renewable energy technologies and implementation strategies to overcome barriers to available energy in low income and remote areas of Africa in particular.
16-year-old Skye Meaker claimed another win for South Africa at the international Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition hosted by the Natural History Museum in London.
Skye had captured the winning shot of a young leopard waking from sleep by waiting patiently just a few metres from his subject for the light lighting conditions and perfect moment to take his shot. The judges lauded him for his perfect timing and composition. Skye’s photography beat more than 45 000 entries from around the globe.
North West University student Emilé Coetzee wowed the judges at the World Exhibition for Incentive Travel, Meetings and Events (IMEX) 2019 in Frankfurt, Germany.
The judges stated that her concept deserved top honours for being both innovative and simplistic. Coetzee was awarded the MPI Foundation/Maritz Global Events Student Scholarship and sent to New York to present her idea at a gala dinner.
South African kitesurfer Ross-Dilon Player was one of but 16 sports stars invited to compete in the Red Bull Megaloop in Zandvoort, Netherlands this year. The competition requires the perfect conditions (force nine gale winds) and is only confirmed should the correct wind conditions be forecast.
Player went on to claim the title against competitors from France, Netherlands, Spain, Denmark, Poland and other fellow South Africans.
Adults tend to brush off children’s creativity and respond to their elaborate tales with retorts like “that’s nice dear”, but Michelle Nkamankeng reminds us that we should pay attention when youngsters concoct their stories.
At the tender age of 7, the grade 2 learner had become the youngest published writer in Africa and simultaneously became the first African to make the World’s Top 10 List of Youngest Writers.
But Michelle didn’t stop there. As an agent for change and empowerment, she wants to teach other girls to reach their full potential with her second publication, The Little Girl Who Believes in Herself. She is currently writing her eight book and is featured on UNICEF’s Tiny Stories — a showcase of writers who unite for children’s rights — among veteran writers like Paulo Coelho, Christina Lamb and Michael D. Higgins.
Her motto: “If you can read, you can write, and when you can write, you can change the world.”
Martin Vorster became but the second teenage winner of the East of Ireland Championship golfing tournament in the history of the competition. The first teenager to take the title? Well, none other than his friend and fellow South African, Louis Oosthuizen. His final score placed him at 279, with the closest competitor achieving a score of 283.
Not only did Vorster win the East of Ireland Championship, but he also claimed the Junior British Open at St Andrews in 2018. This youngster is set to take the world by storm with his golfing abilities.
Celebrate our youth!
There are thousands more South African youths we can boast of, and Rand Rescue is proud to showcase just a fraction of these South African youths and their achievements around the globe. We encourage all youngsters to reach for their dreams and excel in their individual skill sets.
If you’re planning on immigrating to give your children a shot abroad, be sure to leave your details below and Rand Rescue can assist with your financial immigration.