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  • Ruth First Trust

Ready for the big stage

Updated: Sep 30, 2021



“(Wo)Men make history and not the other way around. In periods where there is no leadership, society stands still. Progress occurs when courageous skilful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better.” This Women’s Month, we have taken licence with Harry Truman’s quote as we profile Tshaamano Mabuba, our current Head Girl and proud Ruth First scholarship recipient.


After a long cold Covid-racked winter with the world seemingly lurching from one leaderless crisis to the next, it is a beacon of light to spend time with Tshaamano reflecting on her high school years at Jeppe Girls. A tall girl, she fills the room with confidence, energy, insight and enthusiasm.


Fresh from a zoom interview for an Allan Gray scholarship to study Actuarial Science at UCT in 2022, she bubbles over with comments and observations on this process: "difficult, challenging, enjoyable, unexpected, made me think."


On being Head Girl: "it has exceeded all my expectations. I have experienced the power of delegating to a trustworthy team – and the exponential outcomes which this can achieve."


On Jeppe Girls: "so much to say. Where do I start? Drama and public speaking were new to me when I came here – they unlocked my whole world. I have learned not to limit myself."


On Covid: "yes, I was unable to direct house plays or play netball these past two years, but we have inter-house netball this week, and I taught myself Calculus during lockdown when I was studying from home."


Tshaamano’s extraordinary leadership skills and presence have been apparent since she arrived at Jeppe Girls. Back in 2017, a teacher commented to Mr Tait that this Grade 8 should be appointed head girl with immediate effect! Leading the school in 2021 has not been without challenges, and she has stepped into a mediating role on a number of occasions. Negotiating common ground and mutually acceptable outcomes, seeking peace – these are the words she uses to describe these complex and testing interactions. Pragmatic and practical, she is aware of the dynamics between following due process and the millennial desire for change, now! This is demonstrated by the permission granted to wear tracksuits as a uniform alternative while discussions go on about wearing trousers as school uniform.


One of her role models is Tafadzwa Makhuza, a 2013 Ruthie and Deputy Head Girl who arranged the ‘bags for books’ initiative in 2017. Inspired by the memory of Taffy’s dedication and enthusiasm for this cause, Tshaamano and her fellow councillors have arranged a stationery drive across the school, to equip other young learners at selected schools with resources to enable their learning. “You don’t need to be rich to give back” are her words.


Tshaamano has warm praise for the role our scholarship has played in her development and growth. “The consistent support and faith you have had in me from the beginning have given me confidence in my abilities.” She remembers speaking at the annual Ruth First Memorial Function at Wits, and then to a full auditorium at the Linder for the inaugural Fiesta while in Grade 8. She recalls her appearance on morning TV, the camping trip to Nylsvley as part of her President’s Award participation, annual theatre outings, mentor days, and end-of-term lunches with appreciation and gratitude. She sparkles remembering her participation in a session at GIBS with the team from Schmidt Futures, workshopping and modelling what an international scholarship programme should look like. The opportunity to interact with scholars from all over the world was an outstanding highlight.


Tshaamano’s enthusiasm for life and her willingness to make the most of every opportunity available are signposts to her future success. A top academic achiever and aspirant Protea netball player (before Covid, that is), we have every confidence that she has a role to play on a bigger stage than Jeppe Girls – and we will follow her path with interest and pride.

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