In Conversation with: Malesedi Shabangu
Malesedi Shabangu is an 18-year-old student at Dundee high school, with a heart of gold who has a passion for writing and performing arts. She is the presenter and the producer of her high school news team. In her spare time, she spends it visiting orphanages and empowering young people in tough situations.
How did you get involved with SWIFT?
Well there was a time I was going through my Facebook looking for opportunities in film and television and finding ways to get connections or in groups/Organisations that dealt with people in film and television and it happened that the Organisation Sisters In Film& Television (SWIFT) appeared and I went in depth to find out what was it all about .I was really amazed when I saw that there was a meeting coming up in the next two months and it was at AFDA Auckland Park JHB. It was hard to at first since I stay in a small town in KZN. but thank God! I made it to the Swift meeting even though on that Thursday I had to help with the school matric farewell, but this meeting was important to me. Trust me I learnt a lot I didn't regret going there, though I was the youngest there, but I didn't feel pressure. So that meeting that took place it was the screening of Marikana by Aliska Sargas and after the screening people got to network with everyone and with well-known people on the film and television industry just like Tendie Chitima an amazing actress and soul sister I have grown to build a bond with and Tkaula one amazing human being and actress.
Where did your passion for performing arts come from?
My passion for performing arts came about when I started writing my own plays and when I started being involved in school cultural activities such as debating, public speaking, the school play MacBeth and the school news team. I'm the presenter and the producer of the DHS news team. Since I stay at a small town there aren't many opportunities therefore I had to think of things that would build my craft. I noticed I loved being on stage and interacting with the audience and the more I wrote and acted on stage the more I fell in love with performing arts.
What inspired your love for poetry?
My love for poetry started when I read books of black consciousness movement, about feminism and when I joined the poetry club at school. At first, I didn't know what I was getting myself into, but the more I understood poetry I couldn't stop writing. Most of my poems are about historical events, the fears of the youth, Black consciousness moment and about the socio-economic issues we face in our community/ country. My poems speak about stories that people are afraid to tell and I am here to tell them without fear.
How do balance your school work and all your interests?
Balancing school and my interest hasn't been easy because at some point my mother thought I would lose focus, but fortunately, I didn’t. So, what I do is most of the times I check my emails, texts and get back to intercontinental calls during the weekend or sometime during the week if I have time but most of the times I work on weekends and holidays towards my craft and on week days if I don't have a lot of work. To take time off from what I do, I spend time with my family and friends, I go shopping, sometimes I go out alone and just take time off to distress, I normally go for camps and hiking with an awesome bunch of people. I hardly have time off with juggling both, but I have told myself that one day the hustle and the hard work will pay off.
What prompted you to become a child advocate?
At some point during my early teenage years I went through a lot in life. There was never somebody to talk to about what I was feeling, so that I could express my thoughts of anger and sadness. So, I would keep things inside that lead me to facing depression at the age of 16, lucky few months later I got myself out of that, after I helped myself emotionally by finding out more on how I could heal. Art was the answer, the more I wrote, the more I spoke to young children going through challenges I found some of the little stories in me. That’s how the idea of being a child advocate started. Now I am 18 years old I know where am heading to and what I want. I have grown to helping children who have given up on themselves, on life, that have dropped out of school and that are in forced marriages and abusive homes. I want to give them their dignity back by reminding them of who they are and that they are powerful and worthy. I am doing what I would have loved to receive and hear from someone when I was going through depression.
Why is so important that you help to empower other young people?
It's important to empower each other as young people and grow to celebrating each other’s achievements because we the future. Our future depends on us. We must work together, so we will take our unity to another level. In my language isizulu there is a saying that says umuntu kuMuntu kabantu meaning a person is a person by other people. If we don't lift each other up how will we grow as people because we are who we are by others. Therefore, I want to people to notice that am not helping the youth because I want to benefit from the praises no! but I'm helping the youth so that we can create a better space of success for all of us. Then we can come for everything in life that we thought we can never get, by working together and clapping for each other’s successes.
What is your proudest achievement in life?
My proudest achievement was when I got the spot for being the school’s presenter and producer for the News Team. A lot of people at school had auditioned and I was one of the 5 people that got chosen out of 57 people, so I was shocked and till today am grateful for that opportunity because I have grown.
What is your vision for the next 5 years?
My vision for the next 5 years is graduating at AFDA. Already on international movies and screens and furthering my studies at New York School Of Arts and building a home for the less fortunate children and building an art school for the youth who can't afford to go to expensive arts schools, but would wish to go to one where they won't have to pay and I will build one which will have free education for the young children who desire to study performing arts.
What drives everything you do in life?
My drive to what I do is to prepare me for the woman I am becoming. It gives me the push and determination to better myself to becoming successful and not look back, but to keep going and pushing even when times get tough. I will fall and get up because I won't stop until I am that woman I want to become.
Who is your inspiration in life and why?
My inspiration in life is Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. She's everything I want to become. Her quotes and tweets inspire me. She speaks the truth and fears nothing! She’s an amazing writer and poet. One of my favourite quotes of hers "Let us remember that dignity is as important as food”. When I feel like my crown is falling I keep it on my head remembering these words. I have become unmoved and unshaken by worldly comments or rejection because of the strength I have found in Chimamanda Ngozie 's quotes and inspirational tweets.
What keeps you motivated during the low moments in your life?
It's where am heading to in life that's what keeps me going because I know that what am going through is shaping me for where am going in life as they say, " No pain no gain". I have finally understood that at a young age. I'm thankful for the worst days because those are the days that make me and that's where I rediscover my strength.
What are you most fond of about being South African?
Being a black South African child is such a blessing. I get to learn more things about our diverse culture and people & most importantly beautiful cultural attractions in our country and historical attractions which I would recommend to tourist such as the Drakensberg, the SanParks and Vilakazi street in Soweto. We have unique and friendly people in South Africa and I always feel welcomed and loved by many of those people that's what makes me fond about being South African.
Describe a typical day in your life
I wake up, I go to school, I come back home and do my homework and study for 2 hours. After that I do some recapping of my day and think what I can change about my day or improve on the following day. I then do a bit of writing and watch so motivational videos on YouTube.
What is the soundtrack to your life?
The soundtrack to my life is, You Made a Way by Travis Greene. God opened doors that I never thought he would. I am where I am because of his unfailing love and grace so this soundtrack reminds me of God's glory in my life.
How would you like to be remembered?
I would like to be remembered as a young powerful woman. Who loved her craft not because of fame, but to tell stories and to showcase her talents on stage and on television. Also, who wrote stories and poems to uplift and tell stories that are not told and that were hidden from us. A woman who lived a her to become the best traveller in her own journey in life.
What is the biggest lesson that you have learnt in your life, that you wished you knew sooner?
The biggest lesson I wished I had learnt sooner is to know exactly what I want in life and the right people to associate myself with. back then I didn't have much knowledge about life I didn't care about my goals and dreams I didn't even know where I was heading to. I just lived for the sake of living and not for the sake of knowing why I am living and I surrounded myself with people who really didn't care what tomorrow held for them. Now I know better at times I wish I could turn back the hands of time but, I can't beat myself up for that, but hey we learn and grow for our mistakes.
What advice would you give to other young entrepreneurs trying to make their mark?
The advice I would give young entrepreneurs is that there will be times when they will feel like giving up because they feel like the process to success/ being successful is "slow". They must remember that good things take time therefore they must always preserve. Young entrepreneurs should ask old people for guidance or even leaders they look up to guide them in what they are doing and working to achieve. They should do more research to have information, insight and knowledge of what they are getting themselves into and to not rush the process, but to take things step by step because God’s timing is better than our timing.
Social media links
To see some of my work you can go to YouTube @Dundee High School news team and you can find me on Instagram @hope_Shabangu and email Malesedi.Shabangu224@gmail.com