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Where did you grow up?

Zamantungwa Khumalo

I was born, bread and mostly buttered in Emndeni Soweto.

What were your dreams as a child?
I grew up wanting to be president of SA.  I had an interest in politics from a fairly early age.  My aunt, who’s a teacher, made us read newspapers and keep in touch with current issues.  She’d ask us about what we had read and our thoughts about what we had read.  I think that’s when the political seed was planted.  I recognised the impact certain decision-makers had in shaping our country and I could see myself assuming that role when I was older.  I once (very briefly) wanted to be a gynaecologist.  It would’ve never worked.  Ever.
What are you currently doing now (work)?
I’m currently studying a BA majoring International Relations and Political Studies as well as forming part of a youth run think tank called Youth Lab
I have a talk show on VoW FM.

Zamantungwa Khumalo and her fellow team members outside The White House in Washington, USA.

What have been some of your career highlights?

Three weeks ago I represented South Africa at the first ever Y20 summit in Mexico and I am currently in Washington DC representing SA as the Head of State of the SA delegation at the 2012 G8/G20 Youth Summits.
In the past, I’ve represented SA and Wits at the One Young World Summit in Zurich Switzerland and in Matric I was part of the SA Delegation at the United Nations Association of the United States of America Model United Nations (UNA-USA) debates at the UN headquarters in New York (2007).

How did you get involved in your line of work?

When I was in high school, I liked debating and public speaking but I went to a strictly academic school so debating was a bit of an issue.  A few of us were selected to be part of the team that would represent our school at a Model UN debate.  Long story short, we ended up being selected to be part of the SA team that would attend the international MUN debate in New York.  That’s where I got exposed to international relations and the work that the UN does.
What dreams do you still have for yourself?
I want to live out my potential.  I don’t want to look back at my life and say, “I had so much potential” but rather say, “I realised my potential and stretched my limits more that I anticipated”.

Who are the people who have influenced you or that you admire?
A number of different individuals have had an impact in my life, in one way or another.  The biggest person is my mother.  Her tenacity has made me think twice, every time I feel like throwing in the towel.  Another individual is one of my friends Nomonde Ndwalaza.  She’s taught me that you are not defined by where you come.  She comes from a very humble background and has had to overcome a number of challenges throughout her life, yet she’s risen above those challenges. 

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

Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Zamantungwa Khumalo.

That we play a bigger role in driving conversations about the future of this country.  That we realise that our generation will, in the not-so-faraway-future assume top leadership positions.  We need to already be playing an active role in shaping South Africa and where we’d like to see it going.

What does June 16 mean to you?
Every June 16 my mother shares the story of where she was on the day in ’76 and the events leading up to the day. I am always in awe of what young people did back then and the impact it has had in our history. Youth Day is not only about remembering what the youth of ’76 did, but also a time I think about what we as young people can do today. I always wonder if the youth of 2012 would do what the youth of ’76 did.  I always ask myself if we’re an apathetic bunch who aren’t active enough to ‘fight for what we believe in’.

The one Truth I hold onto is …
We have more potential than we could possibly ever imagine.

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