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  • Writer's pictureRuth First Trust

Influencer, observer, human rights advocate

Updated: Sep 6, 2021

Ntando Manana likes to think on her feet, inspiring and influencing others with her observations. As a school councillor, with a love of History and a passion for social justice, it follows that she is interested in studying Law at Wits or UCT, with a view to representing the unrepresented in the courts. Her interest in this field comes from personal experience, social awareness (she and her family watch the 7pm news every night, and she reads The Star newspaper and News 24 on a daily basis) and disillusionment with the status quo: “People in power don’t care about ordinary people. They use their positions for self-gain and to get rich.”

The Ruth First scholarship provided a gateway for her to the privilege of being educated at Jeppe Girls, which she describes as ‘a diverse oasis – a little haven of everything good. A place where you can forget about what’s happening outside and focus on your development. Jeppe opened up my views on the world – and made me question “what I get fed?” in terms of media consumption and social awareness.’ Her favourite poem is Maya Angelou’s “Still I Rise” reflecting her interest in feminism and the struggle to overcome prejudice and injustice.

Her favourite memories of Jeppe include falling down the stairs!, finally getting 70% for Physical Science In Grade 11 and being exposed to women breaking conventions – through poetry and presentations in assembly.

Being a Ruthie exposed Ntando to a range of different perspectives, from enhanced body consciousness, to holistic growth in all aspects of her life. She relished the opportunity to explore career options with Professor Zac Nel, and the life coaching interface with Caroline da Costa, whose wise words about the centre of control enabled her to let go of that which she couldn’t influence. She is a strong member of the Grade 12 group and thrives on being a role model for the younger girls.

She’s looking forward to her next chapter, but will miss the structure of school. She leaves me with the words: “We become the products of the realities we choose to believe and accept. Radiate the positivity.” We will miss her too – and wish her well for her future endeavours.

Ntando is pictured above with her family, in the Media Centre at school.

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