Was it luck, or destiny? Blessing Ngobeni could never have predicted his path to
becoming a revered artist. Raised in an abusive household, Ngobeni ran away as a child
and made it to Alexandra, where he joined the wrong crowd. At the age of 15, he was
arrested for robbery and spent nearly six years in prison. It could have been rock
bottom. Yet it was here that Ngobeni discovered his talents. Out of boredom, he started
sketching fellow inmates’ portraits. Realising he could improve his capabilities and
make a life for himself, Ngobeni began an astonishing journey to liberation.
The class can’t wait to see what they’re making next. They intently follow their
woodwork teacher’s precise motions, noting each manoeuvre. But not everyone was
always this trusting of the instructor. Philile Shabalala is the only female teacher in
Hodisa Technical Secondary School’s technical department. Today, Shabalala is all
about building skills and shattering stereotypes.
After studying civil technology, Shabalala decided to try her hand at woodwork.When
Shabalala began teaching in the town of Mangaung, it reinforced her love for the craft.
She shows learners how to make furniture from coffee tables to drawers, as well as
models of roof trusses and skirtings. In doing so, Shabalala is opening up avenues for
them to be successful entrepreneurs in the construction industry.
Chief Petty Officer Dudley Malgas
Chief Petty Officer Dudley Malgas starts every afternoon with a bang. Dapper and
distinguished in his naval uniform, he’s held the charge of Cape Town’s Noon Gun for
more than 20 years. The ritual of firing a cannon from Signal Hill at exactly 12pm dates
back to 1806. Today, it’s still a routine interruption to the city centre’s midday hum. But
while most Capetonians are well acquainted with the thunderous sound, how many
know the person behind it?
Originally from Mossel Bay, Malgas joined the South African Navy in 1988, and procured
the position of cannoneer at Lion Battery in 1997. This is the location of the two guns
which are fired alternately. One of Cape Town’s oldest traditions, this practice was
initiated for sailors and locals to reset their watches and chronometers. Like clockwork,
the custom continues and has become a popular attraction among tourists. Malgas
welcomes the hubbub. He loads each cannon with more than a kilogram of gunpowder
and informs the surrounding crowd of its significance. After raising a flag to signal
danger, Malgas ensures that everyone is out of harm’s way and commences the
countdown. With a boom, another afternoon begins.
School is stressful. Learners have to attend lessons longer than their attention spans,
absorb a profuse amount of information, complete research projects, take tests,
participate in extracurricular activities, shine at sport, make friends, be leaders, and
succeed. It’s a lot to expect of a child. To be the best version of themselves, they might
just need a breather. Nokuphiwo Jada is introducing children in Khayelitsha to the
philosophies of yoga to help them slow down and reconnect with their inner self.
Jada leads yoga classes for over 700 primary school children. Developing different
perspectives and mindsets is as important as the physical aspects of yoga. By also
running art classes and teaching music and drama, she reveals their potential across a
How can we grow food without water? Between 2015 and 2018, dams in the Western
Cape came close to rock bottom. When farms in the province had no produce to
harvest, 30 000 jobs in the agriculture industry were lost. While water levels have
increased since then, the fear of the drought’s return is ever-present. But Ben Getz has a
sustainable way to keep South Africa in full bloom.
Through his company Urban Harvest, Getz constructs edible gardens which align
communities and food production with conservation. He’s worked with schools and oldage
homes in under-resourced areas such as Bonteheuwel and Hangberg. After laying
out the terrain, he employs and upskills locals to tend to the crops on the plot.