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6 July 2018
UWC’s Young Nelson Mandelas: Visionary Leaders Honoured For Their Efforts

(Published - 6 July 2018)

Former South African President Nelson Mandela left some big shoes to fill. Through his great vision, his big heart, and his ability to inspire, he changed the world - and left a legacy few could live up to.

In celebration of what would have been Mandela’s 100th birthday on 18 July 2018, News24 is honouring 100 Young Nelson Mandelas, South Africans who embody that legacy - and five of those young South Africans come from the University of the Western Cape.

“At the University of the Western Cape, we believe in producing global citizens - people who see what’s wrong with the world, and do what they can to fix it,” says Professor Tyrone Pretorius, UWC Rector and Vice-Chancellor.

“Every new graduate has the potential to become a great leader and change agent in our society. And in this centenary year of Nelson Mandela’s birth, that’s more evident than ever. We want our students, staff and alumni to seize the most exciting opportunities and address the world’s biggest challenges - and we’re extremely proud of our five Young Mandelas for doing just that.”

The young change champions come from every walk of life, and are honoured for everything from their skill with a drumstick to their advocacy for LGBTIQ rights.

They include:

Mmaki Jantjies - Visionary

Dr Mmaki Jantjies, 33, is passionate about using technology to enable children from disadvantaged backgrounds to, not only get access to online resources, but also learn programming skills and gain exposure to high tech such as robotics. The head of UWC’s Department of Information Systems, and one of the most influential young black academics in her field,  has used her education and influence as a leader to create access to education for young South Africans. Her current research focuses on the use of mobile applications to improve learning in South African schools. She also runs an NGO that works in such schools to expose teachers to technology infused teaching.

Learn more about Mmaki Jantjies:

Gavin Fortuin - Leadership

After becoming addicted to tik and mandrax at 16 and overcoming that dependence many years later, Gavin Fortuin, 33, is using his experience to prevent youngsters in Cape Town from falling onto the same path. Since giving up the drugs, he realised that his calling was to empower others. He went on to study substance abuse related courses at the University of the Western Cape.  The Kuils River-born motivational speaker has been clean for seven years and speaks to young people, using all available platforms of media, motivational workshops and leadership camps where they are taught leadership and practical skills.

Learn more about Gavin Fortuin:

Ricardo de Vos - Leadership

Ricardo de Vos, 23, is an advocate for the LGBTIQ community and a tutor for young people, through the Western Cape government’s Game Changer programme. The chairperson of the Community Youth League in Khayelitsha, a member of the Khayelitsha Khulani LGBTIQ HUB and a tutor leader at Game Change, he was the president of the Representative Council of Learners at Grassdale High School for three consecutive years, between 2012-2014. He flew to Johannesburg to represent the Western Cape at the South African Schools Moot Court Competition in 2014, finishing third. De Vos is studying Law at the University of the Western Cape.

Learn more about Ricardo de Vos:

Daniel Petersen - Creativity

Daniel Petersen, 15, is a musical prodigy and became South Africa’s youngest university student when he enrolled to study music at the University of the Western Cape’s Centre for Performing Arts at the age of 11. Daniel has been playing drums since he was just a one-year-old. He has travelled the world, playing music, and is the recipient of the prestigious Barack Obama Lifetime Achievement Award. He became the youngest Yamaha-endorsed drummer at the age of four. Daniel has started the Daniel Petersen III Foundation, which makes it possible for hundreds of underprivileged children to receive their own instruments and share the joy music brings.

Learn more about Daniel Petersen:

Sivatho Rigala - Compassion

Sivatho Dira Rigala, 26, is a teacher in Cape Town who helps train aspiring artists in disadvantaged communities across the Western Cape. He started the Dira Foundation while studying at the University of the Western Cape, and spent his bursary money to fund the training of artists - now, as a teacher, he donates 10% of his salary to the foundation. He has helped several musicians through training camps, workshops, and recording their music. He has also started a fund to get a group of poets on the Cape Flats published.

Learn more about Sivatho Rigala:  

Want to know more about how these young champions are carrying on Nelson Mandela’s legacy? Interested in finding out who else made the list, and is making a difference? Go to Media24’s 100 Young Mandelas of the Future.