Candidate Allan Gray Fellow, Tshidiso Ramogale, was recently identified by the Mail & Guardian as one of their 200 Young South Africans. This initiative by the Mail & Guardian is in its 9th year and celebrates young men and women under 35 who, in the words of Editor-in-chief, Chris Roper, “are people who can do whatever they put their mind to … [and] inspire us to do stuff that’s out of the ordinary, even if it’s based on the ordinary.”
Of his selection as one of 200 Young South Africans, Tshidiso says, “My first reaction when I heard the news was to reject it as I truthfully do not think I have done enough to deserve such an honour. However, I have accepted it as a sign from God to continue on the journey.” He explains that while many see themselves drowned in circumstances beyond their control and use that as an excuse to not do anything, he has chosen to see things differently. “My life has come to mean more, it is no longer about me but about the people I am surrounded by. It is living my life cognisant of the influence my decisions [have] on the next person. I believe in the power of humanity.”
Tshidiso’s life began a little more than 21 years ago when he was born in Johannesburg. At that stage his mom and dad were still together, but in Tshidiso’s Grade 9 year his father walked out on him, his mom and his sister. He cut all communication with them and left the family to fend for themselves. In addition to his mother losing her job, their home had been unlawfully sold in execution. Despite all these difficulties encountered Tshidiso still managed to matriculate with six distinctions. As a result he was granted an entry scholarship to the University of the Witwatersrand where he is now in his final year of LLB studies.
During his first year at Wits he also applied to the Allan Gray Fellowship opportunity and was granted a Fellowship. His choice in joining a community of young people, Candidate Allan Gray Fellows, set to become a generation of high-impact, responsible entrepreneurs is linked very likely to his initial decision to study law. Says Tshidiso, “I chose law because I see it as an instrument that could bring about change. I believe in promoting social justice.”
It is no wonder then that the Constitution and giving people the life of dignity it promises is something he is very passionate about. It angers him to see people being treated inhumanely sometimes to the point of shedding a tear. But instead of remaining angry he finds himself moved to act. “I have dedicated my life to social justice, education and youth development.”
That he is a man of action is especially clear when one considers what made the Mail & Guardian sit up and pay attention. He founded Change SA, a marriage between entrepreneurship and education that has helped a number of learners gain access to the country’s best universities. Fatima Asmal of the Mail & Guardian also cites him as having “played a role in the litigation that enabled informal traders evicted by the City of Johannesburg to return to their lawful trade.”
When a young man is excited by the idea of accomplishing his goals and when those goals are centred on promoting social justice, we as a country and we as the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation cannot but celebrate and cheer him on.