How Athol Williams defied the odds to help inspire others to thrive

Lead SA Hero, award-winning writer and social entrepreneur Athol Williams has been through tremendous hardships but he continues to push on - and give back.

Williams is the chairman of Read to Rise, a youth literacy nongovernmental organisation that he co-founded.

He is also one of the first people to earn Masters degrees from five of the top universities in the world.

But how did a young man from Mitchells Plain, living in Apartheid South Africa come to achieve so much?

Williams says he always dreamt about receiving education from leading international universities - and focused on this dreams throughout his life.

I had a dream, and I tried to hold on to my dream as closely as I could.

Athol Williams, writer and award-winning poet

He says he understood early on that education would be a powerful driver in his life.

I loved read and loved learning. My parents instilled in us the drive to learn.

Athol Williams, writer and award-winning poet

In the midst of the apartheid era and student uprisings, Williams taught himself a lot the subjects and went to school during the day while also attending night school, and extra classes on weekends and holidays.

My parents didn't buy me anything else other than extra books. It became my mission to make sure I got through high school.

Athol Williams, writer and award-winning poet

He then went on to face other challenges at Wits University and later as one of the first black engineer in the country.

Life isn't about the boulder, it's about the dream on the other end.

Athol Williams, writer and award-winning poet

Williams has studied at Harvard, MIT, London Business School, the London School of Economics and is currently at Oxford.

He recently published his inspirational memoir _Pushing Boulders _and tells Pippa Hudson about his journey.

Take a listen to the inspiring story:

702 welcomes all comments that are constructive, contribute to discussions in a meaningful manner and take stories forward.

However, we will NOT condone the following:

  • Racism (including offensive comments based on ethnicity and nationality)
  • Sexism
  • Homophobia
  • Religious intolerance
  • Cyber bullying
  • Hate speech
  • Derogatory language
  • Comments inciting violence.

We ask that your comments remain relevant to the articles they appear on and do not include general banter or conversation as this dilutes the effectiveness of the comments section.

We strive to make the 702 community a safe and welcoming space for all.

702 reserves the right to: 1) remove any comments that do not follow the above guidelines; and, 2) ban users who repeatedly infringe the rules.

Should you find any comments upsetting or offensive you can also flag them and we will assess it against our guidelines.

702 is constantly reviewing its comments policy in order to create an environment conducive to constructive conversations.

Read More
Child spanking outlawed as court scraps use of 'reasonable chastisement' defence

Child spanking outlawed as court scraps use of 'reasonable chastisement' defence

The defence of reasonable chastisement of children has been declared unconstitutional in the Johannesburg High Court on Thursday.

SPCA expected to probe illegal bush racing in WC after Carte Blanche expose

SPCA expected to probe illegal bush racing in WC after Carte Blanche expose

The sport, which appears to be popular in the province, forces retired racing horses to run on tar roads for gambling purposes.

SA crew finishes second in Cape Town leg of round-the-world yacht race

SA crew finishes second in Cape Town leg of round-the-world yacht race

The Clipper Round the World Yacht Race lasts 11 months and sees over 700 crew members taking part from over 40 countries.

Dad left super proud after young violinist (14) wins gold on national stage

Dad left super proud after young violinist (14) wins gold on national stage

14-year-old Gilah Kellner has bright classical music career ahead of her and her father can't help but gush over her achievements.

Why low sexual desire is not 'abnormal'

Why low sexual desire is not 'abnormal'

Low sex drive is common and non-sexual relationships can also be fulfilling, explains clinical sexologist Dr Eve.

Ramaphosa responds to rumors that he will pushed out of office next

Ramaphosa responds to rumors that he will pushed out of office next

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the growing rumors that he might be the next to be booted from Pres. Zuma's executive.

Popular articles
Dr Mbuyiseni Ndlozi opens up about his thesis

Dr Mbuyiseni Ndlozi opens up about his thesis

Ndlozi explains the significance of the the first chapter of his thesis: 'Trauma in the archives'.

Sassa cards will be functional beyond expiry date

Sassa cards will be functional beyond expiry date

Sassa says text messages making the rounds asking beneficiaries to come and renew their Sassa cards is a hoax.

Mashaba moves to insource security guards come Jan 2018

Mashaba moves to insource security guards come Jan 2018

Mashaba is also on a mission to identify owners of buildings in the city centre that he says are harbouring criminals.

Why Sisulu and Dlamini-Zuma aren't suitable Presidential candidates: analyst

Why Sisulu and Dlamini-Zuma aren't suitable Presidential candidates: analyst

ANC branch in the Eastern Cape, Z.R Mahabana, has launched a campaign backing Lindiwe Sisuslu as an ANC presidential candidate.

It's not the end of the road... Top tips to improve your matric

It's not the end of the road... Top tips to improve your matric

"Recognise that it’s not the end, it’s the beginning." Expert advise for school-leavers who want to improve their results.

‘I started my thriving business with R5000 (and made a profit in the 1st month)’

‘I started my thriving business with R5000 (and made a profit in the 1st month)’

After 3 years there are 3 Nic Harry stores (incl online) that sell 100 000 pairs of socks in over 20 countries around the world.

3 easy questions could bag you R2000!

3 easy questions could bag you R2000!

WIN R2000! But only if you can prove you're a whiz of the MTN Biz Quiz by answering the following three questions...

Blesserfinder: Matching you with a sugar daddy near you

Blesserfinder: Matching you with a sugar daddy near you

Is social trend Blesserfinder, where girls are allegedly matching up with rich 'benefactors' in exchange for sex, a real thing?