Young South Africans making a meaningful change in their communities and the country were honoured for their contributions at the inaugural South African Youth Awards in Midrand, Johannesburg on Saturday.
The event was hosted by the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) to recognise outstanding achievements by South Africans between the ages of 14 and 35.
The awards were divided into nine categories: academic excellence, arts and entertainment, entrepreneurship, extraordinary champions, health and wellbeing, science and technology, social cohesion, environment and the Presidential Award.
“The winners are examples of what can be achieved when one is dedicated,” Deputy Performance Monitoring Minister in the Presidency Obed Bapela said at the ceremony.
“It’s also proof that it’s not always about what the country can do for you but rather what you can do for your country.”
INSPIRATION TO ‘SOAR BEYOND THE SKY’
It was the Durban-born Nolwazi Pinkie Madlala who stole the limelight on the night, as she won the the Extraordinary Champion Award and Overall Award – known as the Presidential Award. The disabled Madlala is currently working on her thesis for her Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology.
The NYDA said Madlala is an inspiration to others to “soar beyond the sky”.
Other winners included Peter Malati, who won the Academic Excellence Award. He runs a Chemistry project in six high schools in Nokaneng Circuit in Mpumalanga, mentoring rural learners in science and engineering.
Ross McReath received the Health and Wellbeing Award for running a cricket club that provides diversion for youth in Nolukhanyo Township in the Eastern Cape. The club gives youth in the area access to professional trials and also gives them a chance to experience life beyond township boundaries.
The Social Cohesion Award went to North West-born Lebogang Bogopane, who works as a volunteer at a 24-hour centre for abused and abandoned women and children.
BUILDING A BRIGHTER FUTURE
Also among the winners was Ntombomzi Tsotetsi, who was honoured for her contribution in environment. Tsotetsi is a farmer and hosts workshops in her community about the environment, climate change and how to grow organic vegetables.
The Science and Technology Award went to 25-year-old Sir Stuart Ntlathi who invented a 15-in-1 microwave oven, an electronic Vuvuzela and an automatic shoe polisher.
Ntlathi will be joining Richard Branson in the Virgin galactic space trip and said education is the key to success. “Geniuses themselves don’t talk about the gift of genius, but hard work and long hours.”
The Arts and Culture Award went to Paul Modjadji, who has also won the Global Youth leadership Award from the Global Youth Leadership Congress in Washington, DC for his contribution to the dance community.
The Hammanskraal-born Modjadji believes that he is an agent of change through his dancing – which has seen him receiving standing ovations on world stages, including Denmark and New York.