Mandela of the Future - Olwethu Mxoli

BY Administrator

Congratulations to Olwethu Mxoli, Class of 2013, who has been selected as 1 of 100 Mandela's of the Future by News24. Riebeek makes a difference.

We nominated a few of the superheroes of the Riebeek family in the News24 100 young Mandelas of the Future search. We are thrilled that Olwethu Mxoli has been selected. This is the email she received and the link to her profile on News24, followed by a profile of her work. We are so proud of our Riebeek superheroes who are making a difference. 
"Congratulations, you have been chosen as one of News24's 100 young Mandelas of the future. We have been inspired by your unbelievable efforts to make a difference in the lives of others and your persistence to achieve your dreams against all odds. You truly embody the spirit of what Tata Madiba stood for and make us all proud to be South Africans with the leadership, creativity, resilience, vision and compassion you show.
In honour of your achievement, your profile is being featured along with the other Mandelas of the future on News24's special homepage for this. You can find it here.
You are also eligible to participate in, and help shape, a new Naspers youth-focused social impact project that leverages the power of technology to find solutions to some of the most pressing issues youth face in our country. Please expect an email with more information during the coming months.
Until then, keep up the good work and continue to make us proud.
The News24 team"


Olwethu is a published poet who also works with the Helenvale Poets and New Generation Poets Project is a creative writing project run by SADRAT (South African Development, Research And Training Institute) and the Bay Creative Writing Development Project. She works with under privileged children in the poverty and gang ridden Helenvale area of Port Elizabeth. The group meets once a week to write poetry about their lives, the hardships they are experiencing and their hopes and dreams. Sometimes under gunfire. She is involved in trying to put together a poetry anthology of their work and fundraising to get them to the Mac Gregor Poetry Festival in August. This will give people who do not know the hardships of the Helenvale community a small glimpse into the lives of these bright, funny and beautiful young lives. In 2017 Olwethu co-facilitated writing workshops for the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum to commemorate the centenary anniversary of the sinking of the SS Mendi. The workshops were offered to schools in under privileged arrears in Port Elizabeth including Helenvale Primer, Hillcrest Primary and Jarvis Gqamlana Primary. The workshop culminated in a book The Cold Sea (Mendi Poems). Olwethu was a co-facilitator of the School @home Chatty Winter School Program, the project run by the Nelson Mandela University offers extra classes during the school’s winter break. She wrote “I think if people took the opportunity to look beyond their circumstance, if for a moment they paused to see the people in Helenvale and other disadvantage communities instead of seeing the gangs and the violence, they would be surprised by the humanity and the kindness there. I chose to do my bit with writing because it’s what I’ve always done best but also because poetry is the true expression of the what it is to be human.” Olwethu has offered poetry workshops at her alma mater too. Her own writing is thought provoking and opens individual’s hearts as she touches on contemporary issues such as women abuse in her writing.
The 11 o'clock train 
By Olwethu Mxoli
On Tuesdays I take the 11 o'clock train
it's a twenty two minute walk
the last two minutes,
the short jump from the corner of Spar
to the station.
And I know
that no matter how bad my week has been
I will smile
and pretend not to notice him stare
at my breasts
and pretend not to be scared
when he insists on walking me
the rest of the way
I do not want to offend him
I do not want him to think I am rude
I do not want him to think that I think I am better
than him
because then he might grab me
by my hair
drag me behind the corner
kick me so hard I forget how to scream
then they'll take turns
his friends...
I don't want to sit in a police station
for half an hour
while the man behind the desk fills out paperwork on stolen cellphones
certifies identity documents
while I replay it
over and over and over
How he shoved his fist down my throat
and I couldn't breathe
and I thought I was going to die
and I didn't want to die
with him inside of me
I don't want to sit in a courtroom
and listen to him say he didn't do it
listen to his friends say they weren't there
listen to the shopkeeper say he didn't hear me
even as my vowels ripped the paint
from his walls
I don't want it to be
my voice vs his
because my skirt will always be too short
I'll always have had too much to drink
be too stuck up
I should have just said hi...
on Tuesdays I take the 11 o'clock train
it's a twenty two minute walk
the last two minutes I hold my breath
and pray he leaves me alone

 July 06, 2018
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