I was at the Mail&Guardian Top 200 South Africans launch last Tuesday afternoon (7 June 2011). It was held at Randlords – down town Jozi – I love that place, it really feels like the top of the world, you get a sense that you are in the heart of Joburg’s hustle and bustle. In my opinion this is the best venue of its kind in South Africa. I was there because I was fortunate enough to make the list in this year’s business category. I’m an avid reader of M&G so I’m honoured to be on it. This however, is not about me, it’s about the incredible people I met that day. I mean what else could I ask for? 200, young, bright minds in one place. I set out to meet as many people as I could, it was only a matter of time before I ran out of business cards but I still managed to get in touch with loads people.
Here are some of the super individuals that I met: Melita Steele, twitter: @Melita_Steele, is the face of Greenpeace in South Africa; quiet and unassuming but you could tell that she was on a mission. She said to me “What could be better than waking up everyday to save the world?” What could? Being green is the big fad today but here was someone who leads an organisation that’s been doing it before it was the in thing to do.
I also met Jema Grobbelaar, twitter:@Jemmasa, a 20-year old Kite Surfing Champion from Cape Town – well not really since she also lives in Wales and Joburg. Jema won the British Championship in 2008, 2009 and 2010. She is an ambassador for Woman’s rights and looks like a supermodel – wow!
Then I met royalty – two Chiefs to be exact, Chief Tebogo Motheo Mamogale from the Bakwena Ba Mogopa and Chief Moefi Edward Mabalane of Baphiring Ba Mabalane – I may run a business but these guys run nations; while I concern myself with sales and pitches and they worry about sanitation and water.
I met another young lady, Amanda Sevasti, twitter: @AmandaSevasti, who reignited my belief in social media, she also introduced me to Sipho Hlongwane, twitter:@Comradesipho who writes for the Daily Maverick and has over 3500 followers on Twitter.
I met Sithembile Mbete, twitter:@sthembete, the force behind the Right2Know campaign which has made a strong stand against the Protection of Information Bill and then I met Humairah Jassat, twitter:@humairhjassat, the founder of Pink Hijab Day – her initiative, where women wear pink hijabs on a specific day to raise money and awareness for breast cancer – she won the 2010 African Leadership Academy Innovation Prize for her amazing work.
I could have stayed in that place forever, there was just so much to learn. So here is my question: with so many incredible young people in that room and countless more out there – why don’t you have faith in Africa?