Many young South Africans begin their day answering a simple question. Whether its Twitter’s “What’s happening?” or Facebook’s “What’s on your mind?”, the way they respond can be the beginning of a digital conversation.
In celebration of Youth Month, several professionals give insight into how they use social media.
Siyabonga Sesant – journalist
Sesant, currently working as radio journalist at Eyewitness News in Cape Town, has more than a decade of experience in print, television and radio. “It has by no means been an easy journey, and I really had to fight to where I am now.”
Siyabonga Sesant says despite the fact that he had to face challenges, his drive has brought success and made it possible to support his family. (Image: Siyabonga Sesant, Twitter)
Sesant was raised by his single mother in an impoverished Port Elizabeth community. “I’ve always had the drive to look out for my mother and my family.”
He was attracted to journalism because it allowed him to give a voice to people who were not heard. “My focus of late is to tell Eastern Cape stories which I feel have not gotten the national scope they deserve.”
And he is making an impact in the media industry and the country. In 2014, Sesant won the regional features category at the Vodacom Journalist of the Year Award and in 2015 he was the competition’s winner of the regional news category.
His work, he believes, has, “made a difference. National government has [now] taken much more of an interest in the Eastern Cape”.
Sesant added: “Twitter is great for [spreading the news]. Because for me, as reporter, I tweet on stories like real-time to keep them updated.”
Nompumelelo Nobiva – motivational speaker and graduate from the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls
Nobiva was one of the first young women to graduate from the Oprah Academy in 2012. Nobiva, better known as Mpumi, is currently a Master’s scholarship student in strategic communications at High Point University in the US.
On 14 June, Nobiva, who grew up in an impoverished community, told her story at the first United State of Women Summit. Nobiva refers to this White House hosted event as an extraordinary experience. “It’s really cool that a young woman of my age could represent South Africa and to a large extent be the voice of Africa on a huge international platform.”
Nompumelelo “Mpumi” Nobiva says hard work and commitment can make your dreams come true, especially if you are humble and you find a way to be of service. “You need to be driven,” she urges. Here she is with Oprah Winfrey. (Image: High Point University, Twitter)
Nobiva’s mother died when she was nine-years-old and she was raised by her domestic worker grandmother. She learnt from her grandmother the value of hard work. “My grandmother would wake up at 05:00am, clean three houses – two of which had two storeys – and she would sweep the streets in front of those houses. And she would never give any sort of excuse.”
Nobiva uses her life story to inspire young people, especially on social media. “I tweet every day about my life. Firstly it has been a tremendous journey, growing up in poverty and being an Aids orphan. I found a narrative, not to break people nor to discourage them, but to empower people.”
She says she also uses social media to share literature, quotes and broadcast the views of people that inspire her. “I share every bit of my experience in the US [on social media] so that young people and people who are struggling, particularly those who are where I was, can know that anything is possible, provided that you work hard and you do the right thing to the best of your abilities.”
Sipho Xungu – junior mechanical engineer
Twenty-seven-year-old Sipho Xungu works in the material science and manufacturing unit at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).
He says he loves being around young people. “They are the future leaders and engineers of this country. I enjoy sharing information about my career as much as I can. I do not wait for a special event to tell young people about my profession!”
Sipho Xungu enjoys sharing information about his career as a mechanical engineer. Here he is with learners at a Career Day held in Pretoria. (Image: Supplied)
Xungu says he uses social media not only to socialise, but to exchange information and mentor young people. “I use WhatsApp as a tool to educate and guide individuals especially those who are in high school and tertiary institutions. I also share opportunities that are available on Facebook and WhatsApp.
“I have an account on LinkedIn where I can always interact with other professionals in my industry. This helps me deepen my own level of knowledge in my field.”