By Jonk wa Mashamba
Oyama Tshazibana (18) helped clean up her community following recent civil strife that resulted in the looting of large, medium and small businesses.
On Mandela Day, she also spent her time cleaning up the heritage corner at 17th Hofmer in Alexandra.
Oyama is Miss Teen Southern Africa Finalist, from Alexandra. This future leader feels that things have intensified and gone as far as looting because of clashes in leaders and corruption by some of them.
She believes that if the leaders had defended the truth and taken no sides when former President Jacob Zuma was imprisoned, no chaos could have occurred.
“The looting could never have taken place because everyone would know why the former president was jailed. Our leaders failed us. The truth is that the looting started small and our government could have acted quickly and deployed soldiers to avoid further damage.”
Oyama believes that the looting, which even young people participated in, shows how people have become impoverished since some have been retrenched as a result of COVID-19.
“It is a sign that our government is failing its people by not ensuring that the unfortunate get financial support from the government.
“I do not approve of looting, for now our families are suffering. It is even difficult to get bread and milk because of the plundering.
“Even though some people were already out of work, the truth is that the stores allowed our family members to work and brought food to the table. But now we took that from our family members.
“I am sad that all this unrest is destroying our ecosystem. I was watching the news and it said that the ecosystem is in jeopardy due to the oil spill in KZN. Mind you, all waste resulting from plundering will soon end up in our waterways,” says the UJ student.
She is fond of pageantry because she always wanted it when she was young. She wants to touch lives, give and be an example to all around her.
“I advocate for youth empowerment and education. I believe that if we can empower the youth, we can overcome gender-based violence (GBV), crime, unemployment and all of the other challenges that youth and our communities face.
“Once an individual is empowered and educated, they reflect critically and logically before acting. They become innovators and motivated to do better and to be better people, not just for themselves, but for the people around them.
“I believe that if the youth are empowered, they will feel valued in their communities, and that is one way to end gender-based violence. I believe so much in education because it made me become the person I am…I am well-mannered, humble, determined, passionate and optimistic. Through education, I’m able to teach other people, that’s one of the things I like… haring information.”
Her love for pageantry began while she was in primary school. “I remember each time that after watching Miss SA, I acted like the reigning queen and walked around the house in heels and behaved like a queen.
“I knew that was what I wanted to do. But I always came up with excuses like ‘it’s going to destroy me from my school work or I’m still young’ and I didn’t start competing until last year.”
She says no one really inspired her, but watching the other girls compete pushed her out of her comfort zone and into a challenge. “I believe growth is uncomfortable.”
In the near future, she will be working with many organizations whose purpose is to assist disadvantaged communities. “I see myself in charge of my own NGO. I see myself as a well-established pageant model as that will be a symbol of growth and hard work.”
HER ADVICE TO THE YOUTH
“Believe in yourself. All your dreams are valid, but can be realized once you begin to work toward them. Circumstances should not be a hindrance to your success, but a driving force to your success.
“Stop wanting to take shortcuts in life and the quick way to get things in life because if that comes easy, it can easily go.
“Drugs and substance use kill our dreams and we all know that, but we choose to ignore reality. Education is something you gain in life and no man can take it away from you; it is essentially your ticket out of poverty.
“Yes, I know unemployment is a problem even after graduation, and then I say create jobs at a young age.”