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Where did you grow up?

Judith Maphalala

The first place that was home to me was 7950 Tshiruruvhela Street Ext. 9, Marimba Gardens, Vosloorus. Located in the south of Boksburg. My family and I moved around a little after that finally settling in the suburb of Montgomery Park, Johannesburg, where the better part of my childhood was spent.
What were your dreams as a child?

The first thing that I remember wanting to be as a child was a soldier in the army. I think I was captured by the idea of stalking an enemy through a dense forest, war paint on my face and donned in green and black army gear.
This dream was quickly laid to rest when my mother told me that soldiers in the army actually kill people. It was a thought the 6 year old version of myself simply could not bear!
For the longest time after that I had dreams of becoming an investigative journalist. Going to bed at night, I remember having visions of making headlines with stories that exposed uneasy truths and groundbreaking realities. Along life’s winding road the dream changed again, and a few years ago I finally settled on pursuing a career in commerce.
My dream now is to become a qualified Chartered Accountant. 

What are you currently doing now (work)?

At the moment I’m still studying. I’m in my third year at Wits studying towards my BCom degree. In addition to that I’m working for a branding solutions company.
How did you get into your line of work (career)?

I love being a student but I also find the value in new experiences. This philosophy led me consider a job at a branding company. It’s an industry I had never before considered. I applied and got the job.
What have been some of your career highlights?

I’m still very new at this! I will say though that it’s not until you’re working in this environment that you realize just how significant branding is to the identity of any business. Consider the little embroidered logo on your golf shirt, the printed words on the pen you absent mindedly accept from a promoter, and perhaps the backpack that houses your textbooks – A whole industry has been created around them. It’s exciting to be involved in that.
What dreams do you still have for yourself?

Outside of any professional aspirations, in the short term, I would love to learn how to play the saxophone. In the long term, I’d like to own a production company.

Who are the people who have influenced you or that you admire?

I believe that if you want to make out somebody’s character, take a look at where they’ve been. It’s for that reason that I’ve always regarded the people in my family as a source of inspiration.
My grandmother is a formidable woman. In what was for her then, a foreign city in a foreign country, she survived an abusive marriage, among other challenges, and went on to raise 5 children completely on her own. In her story I find inspiration in that despite the overwhelming challenges life throws at us there is always a way through it. We are the product of our past but we’re not prisoners of it.

What is your dream for today’s youth of South Africa?

Of late, we’ve been swept up in what looks to me like a torrent of suppressed racial tension. Personally, I’ve never felt a strong, all-consuming, devotion to the colour of my skin. I wasn’t raised that way. I was brought up to paint the picture of my Identity with a host of colours that make up my character. That’s not to say that I can not identify with what it means to be a black South African in this country, I would just prefer to be recognized as someone who is more than just ‘a black girl’.

One voices these thoughts out loud and these views are simply cast aside and relegated to some sub-category of the human understanding of what it means to be a South African living in this country. It’s almost as if Racism is a large part of our culture as South Africans, I’ve just never had it in me to grab ahold of idea’s that can only serve to create more distance as opposed to unify us as a people.
I respect wholeheartedly the struggles of my forefathers and from where I’m standing, my second hand knowledge of the past doesn’t even begin to paint the bigger picture of the atrocities generations have had to live through, but our inheritance cannot be the recycled hate of the past.

My dream for today’s youth is to learn from one another. To step out of our comfort zones and learn to grow together, as a united people, against the many less obvious struggles we’re surrounded by each and every day. Let’s continue to pay homage to the past, but let’s not be burdened by its shortcomings. There’s too much to live for.
What does June 16 mean to you?

June 16 serves as a reminder to me of the fact that my youth doesn’t render my contribution to society as ineffectual and inconsequential.
I can turn the tide.

The one Truth I hold onto is …

“If I can walk I can go anywhere.”
The world, my dreams, are mine for the taking. I am the only thing standing in my way.


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