The transformative power of the Ruta Sechaba Foundation01 September 2023
Ah, the promise of untapped potential – what a thrilling concept! At the heart of this potential lies the remarkable work being done by the Ruta Sechaba Foundation (RSF), an institution that has seamlessly woven itself into the narrative of South Africa's future. If you're keen on unravelling how exactly RSF crafts a vision of empowerment and innovation, then look no further. Let's explore the transformative journeys this foundation creates, not only for the learners but also for our communities and our beloved nation. And what better way to do this than through the eyes of those affected directly?
Three top scholarship learners were invited by the Ruta Sechaba Foundation (RSF) to create extraordinary visions for South Africa’s future. Using AI technology, the selected learners were encouraged to envisage and artistically represent their ideal South Africa using iconic landmarks across the cities of Durban, Cape Town and Johannesburg.
‘The images that spring forth reveal the untapped and almost magical potential hidden within the minds of our youth when given the proper care and encouragement. Our ‘investing in potential’ manifesto, isn’t merely a programme but a catalyst, sparking the creative fire in learners to imagine and sculpt a grand future for their nation. Watching their visions transform into something concrete and inspiring is not just a success; it’s a thrilling journey into what could be, a vivid illustration of the incredible things that can happen when we believe in and harness the power of youthful dreams and aspirations,’ says Natasha Mkhize, Executive: Strategic Relations at the Ruta Sechaba Foundation.
For star scholarship learner Onwabile Ndlebe, who is maintaining an A average in matric at Curro Heritage House in Morningside, Durban, the dream is to serve a South Africa of freedom, opportunity and hope. It is this vision of a rainbow nation repaired that shaped the aspiring diplomat’s bold, futuristic vision of her hometown, with the help of artificial intelligence (AI).
Onwabile’s futuristic Durban is a prosperous place of pristine beauty, with sustainable and open public spaces, where citizens can enjoy a safe, healthy and peaceful lifestyle.
‘When I am a diplomat, I will ensure that South Africa becomes the land that was once promised to us. The land of opportunity and hope – a rainbow nation. I wish for freedom. Freedom for women walking home on the streets. Freedom for children who fear a raised hand. Freedom for families who go hungry for several days,’ she says.
The foundation’s vision and support mean a great deal to Onwabile. She is acutely aware of the potential the foundation sees in her and the future she now has within her reach.
‘With this scholarship’s support, I aim to explore new horizons, engage in innovative research, and give back to the community that has shaped me. The weight of this honour is not lost on me, and I am determined to make the most of this opportunity to not only better my own life but also to contribute positively to society. I am beyond fortunate to be a recipient, and I will forever be indebted to the Ruta Sechaba Foundation for this life-changing opportunity. With every achievement, I will carry the spirit of my ancestors – of the oNdzabe, oGantsa, oDudumash clans – and the unwavering support of this scholarship, ensuring that I pay it forward by empowering others to pursue their dreams and aspirations.’
Onwabile plans to study a Bachelor of Laws, with International Relations and Political Science, in order to become a diplomat. ‘Becoming a diplomat has been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember. As a diplomat, I would have the opportunity to stand up for the voiceless, to defend human rights, and to promote peace and justice. I believe that diplomacy is a powerful tool for change, and I want to be a part of that change. I want to represent my country and work towards building bridges between nations and promoting understanding and cooperation. Being a diplomat is not just a job, it’s a calling.’
She is deeply inspired by her favourite lyrics from Michael Jackson, ‘if you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and then make a change’.
What happens when you invite a star matriculant from Johannesburg to re-imagine his city using artificial intelligence (AI)? For aspiring tech entrepreneur Katlego Bogashu from Kempton Park, it was the chance to create a bold and inviting Afro-futuristic vision for the city he calls home.
The Ruta Sechaba Foundation (RSF) scholarship learner is a Grade 12 learner at Curro Serengeti in Kempton Park and a member of the school’s leadership council. He maintains an A average in Grade 12 and obtained five distinctions in his previous report.
Katlego’s vision for Johannesburg is one of safe, green, and boldly futuristic public spaces lined with canals and trees, where the residents of the city can stroll together, breathing in clean air. He imagines a city focused on cleanliness, embracing high-end technology and world class service delivery.
An avid supporter of local and international soccer, Bogashu noted the importance of sport in shaping his journey and teaching him valuable life lessons that he applies in his academic career. ‘We have so much potential, resources, passion and hunger to succeed but we have minor elements that hinder our growth as a nation. My dream for South Africa is a high functioning economy, where a spirit of excellence is ingrained in everything that we do, where ubuntu grounds us as a country to help eradicate issues of poverty and unemployment.’
It was this scholarship that has set Katlego on the path to becoming a tech entrepreneur one day. ‘I would like to study Computer Sciences as well as Accounting, and further down the line find a way to combine the two into an entrepreneurial venture.’
‘The scholarship is the door that is opening up this opportunity of a lifetime for me. Many children don’t get the chance to achieve success in such a nurturing environment, but Ruta Sechaba and my school community have given me just that,’ he says.
Asked to envisage a bold futuristic vision for Cape Town using artificial intelligence (AI), academic star learner Dashayin ‘Dash’ Gilbert designed the Formula 1 supercar circuit that dreams are made of, set against the backdrop of majestic Table Mountain.
Dash is a Ruta Sechaba Foundation (RSF) scholarship holder and was head boy of Curro Durbanville in 2022, where he achieved a 89,42% average and seven distinctions in matric. He aspires to be a motorsport aerodynamicist and has been accepted into a university course in England which could set him on the path to becoming a real F1 engineer.
‘My motorsport career goal is to make F1 predictable. I want to design the most dominant cars in F1 history, alongside which I would like to develop my existing aerodynamic research toward reducing energy demands and carbon emissions of road cars through aerodynamic concepts.’
Born in Chatsworth in KwaZulu-Natal, and raised in the Western Cape, Dash’s Ruta Sechaba scholarship enabled him to attend Curro Durbanville, which led him to finding his passion for aerodynamics. In addition to being head boy, he also captained the soccer team, founded and led a digital media team, joined the school’s diversity committee, participated in community outreach programmes, and was Mr Curro Durbanville 2022.
‘I was able to be involved in multiple extramural activities that all related to what I enjoy doing. Most of my spare time was spent developing my F1 aerodynamics research, which has thus far received a full scholarship award and third place in Physics and Astronomy at the largest pre-collegiate science fair in the world in Atlanta in the USA.’
Dash has been accepted to study at the leading F1 recruitment university for aerodynamicists, the University of Southampton. Gilbert was offered the opportunity to combine the master’s programme with an industrial placement this year, which means he could be working in F1 as early as 2025.
‘We believe our youth have the capability and the drive to shape the world positively, and this project is testament to that. Who says it can’t be? We believe the vivid imaginings of our brightest minds have the potential to ignite and unlock new hope for the country,’ says Natasha.
‘In today’s rapidly evolving world, talent is everywhere, but opportunity isn’t. The potential of our nation’s brightest young minds often remains untapped due to the lack of quality education. But you have the power to change that. By supporting the Ruta Sechaba Foundation, you are not just investing in a learner’s education; you are shaping the leaders of tomorrow, moulding future innovators, and creating brighter prospects for our entire country.’
‘Access to education is just the beginning. By investing in potential, we can provide the right support and resources learners need to succeed in academics and sport. We are dedicated to empowering young people to reach their full potential, in turn, building future leaders, innovators, and changemakers who will drive progress in our communities and the world,’ says Natasha.
In conclusion, RSF isn’t merely a scholarship foundation; it's a future-building enterprise. Through its multifaceted initiatives, the foundation nurtures the young minds that will one day lead South Africa. It’s time to look beyond the classroom walls and acknowledge the transformative power the Ruta Sechaba Foundation holds. Their work serves as a vivid illustration that when you invest in potential, you're not just building careers; you're constructing the future of a nation.
So, if you're in the business of building futures – and let's face it, as teachers, we all are – then the Ruta Sechaba Foundation is where you can see that philosophy in action.
For more information, visit rutasechaba.org.