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Young people are the future of our nation. We need to honour their dreams and achievements, as they are the innovators and creators of tomorrow. They have the ideals and the courage to question harmful or outdated social norms and to inspire others in their communities with their energy and fresh vision. They need to feel connected and valued for their contributions.
To celebrate Youth Day this year, we focus on the inspiring 22 year-old, Rebecca Mqamelo.
Not many women of 19 have sat in a boardroom surrounded by men twice their age, advising them on business strategy, but Rebecca Mqamelo is not your average young woman. She would be the first to tell you “I don’t settle”. Rebecca grew up in a biracial family in Mthatha, with its daily challenges of potholes, blackouts and water shortages.
Education was immensely valued in Rebecca’s home and her family has made huge sacrifices to provide this for her. Her confident voice and insights took her all over the world in her teens, where she performed brilliantly in public speaking and debating events.
Rebecca is now a travelling economist and Minerva student which gives her access to global work experience whilst studying, as her courses are completed in different cities of the world. She is also a respected writer and researcher, focusing on technology, travel and culture, challenging what’s “normal”.
Rebecca calls herself a “global African” and has shared her African heritage with others whilst living in the USA, Japan, South Korea, India, Kenya and now Germany. She views South Africa as her “anchor,” her “history” and her “state of being.” She describes the essence of “African-ness” as what makes Africans “beautiful, intelligent, bold, optimistic and spiritually gifted.”
“It doesn’t matter how young you are or where you were born,” says Rebecca. “If you have something valuable to contribute, you deserve a seat at the table.”
Although it sounds glamourous to be studying and travelling widely at the same time, it is extremely demanding, and Rebecca needs to cope with the challenge of making ends meet while she pursues a double major in Economics and Computer Science. She also speaks about the importance of being comfortable with failing as a valuable life experience that can develop in you a “Maker Attitude”. This is the belief that we are all creators, and that failure is an opportunity for growth and a “stepping-stone towards mastery.”
She believes if the goal is worth it, so are the hardships needed to get there. If we always choose to play it safe, believing we are inferior, we deny ourselves the opportunity to truly live and ultimately succeed.
Learn more about Rebecca on www.rebeccamqamelo.com