November 29, 2018

Catching up with Inkanyezi’s Bright Young Stars by Doctor Mahlaule

Developing young people from disadvantaged backgrounds has been the nub of Zenex’s learner support programmes for the past ten years. These learners are primed to enter tertiary education and contribute to scarce skills.

We caught up with Jonathan Banza and Laila Bera who were both part of the Zenex Inkanyezi Project. After successfully completing matric, they secured scholarships at the African Leadership Academy (ALA). This is residential academic institution which offers two-year courses to exceptional students from across Africa. It is aimed at producing future African leaders. Laila and Jonathan are currently doing their second year at the academy. Jonathan and Laila have risen above their challenging backgrounds through resilience and hard work.

Jonathan is currently studying Economics and Mathematics. In 2017, Jonathan founded a non-profit organisation (NPO) called ‘Project Phambili’. This is a youth led organisation which assists learners from underprivileged backgrounds with university applications, career pathing and preparing for university. Jonathan and his team of five mentor these learners.

When asked about his role model Jonathan said,

My parents are my role models. Just watching how much sacrifice they made to ensure that I become the best at what I do, and how hard they work to provide for my family is something that motivates me. I look up to my parents and their lives inspire me.”

Laila is passionate about sports and public speaking. She is the captain of the volleyball team, plays soccer for the first team, and was part of the basketball team which made it to the semi-final in the ALA sport competition. Laila is studying genetics and its relationship to sporting performance. She does work to raise awareness about the gender stereotypes associated with women playing sports.

These two exceptional young people have faced challenges of being away from their families while they study. This shows grit and resilience. They both practice selfless living in that they take time to focus on others needs despite their own challenges. Our young democracy needs such leaders.

The project may be complete, but its impacts are long-lasting. Jonathan and Laila are testament to this. Zenex is proud to see the alumni doing well. Like Nelson Mandela said “What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.”