We live in a world that forces us to constantly prove ourselves as an indication that our lives are moving forward and that we are headed for “success”. The word success has deliberately been enclosed in inverted commas because it does not have have a universal definition,as far as I’m concerned. I probably sound like a philosopher-wannabe that’s trying too hard,don’t I? But that’s besides the point.

Just like most black and impoverished boys who lived in the dusty rural areas of the Limpopo province, I too had a dream. But my dream has been through a series of amendments(some cute word I learnt in law class) in relation to my circumstances as well as my personal values. I have wanted to make myself and my family proud,most especially my grandmother who has been my rock. I wanted to achieve so many things which her parents and great grand parents would have never imagined possible for a mere black boy with a round nose and course hair.

Fast forward from my matric year to where I am today. I have always been applying for leadership development programs.I go for interviews or final selection stages. But at the end I never make the final selection.These are leadership programs which are very competitive and for the most part, some of them would’ve necessitated that I move to a foreign country for at least three years. This was great for me because I wanted to learn as much as I could and to make lasting networks which will enable me to effect change and move our people forward here in South Africa and in the rest of Africa. I encountered a lot rejections so much that I even began to wonder if the dreams I had for myself were realistic or even possibly attainable. I began to think to myself “bafanas,you’re good-cool. But you’re not good enough”.

But deep within me was the conviction that I run my own race and like my high school headmaster;Mr Bouwer used to say to us; “I will not be defeated and I will not quit”. I clothed myself with those powerful words.

Last year SAWIP alumna told me about SAWIP and that she thinks I must apply. I was skeptical and I forgot about it until I remembered on the closing date that I was yet to consider applying. I took the leap of faith and I applied. Luckily i went to the final selection camp but once again,like in other programs I didn’t make the final selection.

I was mad at myself and had so many “what ifs”. But the camp introduced me to a variety of awesome and inspiring young people so I felt attending the selection camp wasn’t all in vain.

I was sure I’m done with this whole SAWIP thing. But this year started on a good note for me. I made Top45 of the One Day leader program. Although I didn’t make the ideal Top6 I found solace in the fact that Top45 spot wasn’t easy to attain so I felt a level of achievement and confidence in myself. That gave me courage to go and apply for SAWIP 2017.

Fortunately I made selection camp. However, this year’s selection camp was more intimidating. There was about 16 candidates from our university competing for a spot in the top4. I was hoping I can make the team but at the same time I had to be realistic;it wasn’t going to be easy to make the selection. I mean all the other candidates were good and very well deserving of this opportunity. But you know the universe and the higher power which I call God,decided this year it was my turn.

Its a Monday afternoon and I receive a phone call from Cheri at SAWIP that I made the final selection. She subsequently sent me a confirmation email.Now I’m excited but worried that what if they made a mistake and that they actually dialed the wrong candidate. My happiness was coated with disbelief and poignant anxiety.

It was after flying to the western cape for orientation camp that I started believing that I actually made the SAWIP team 2017.

I’ve come to realize fully that SAWIP is a learning journey that seeks to develop me as a young leader in a post apartheid SA. It’s been showing me that there are things which I will unlearn and that there is so much which I wasn’t aware of until SAWIP came through. It is a lot of fun but I can already tell that by the end of the program I shall have been stretched and won’t be the same as I am right now.

This is one opportunity I don’t take for granted.If there is one thing I have learnt is this; rejection is not an invalidation of your dreams and aspirations. And as such, one needs to keep it moving and knocking on all doors which can potentially grow you in your dreams and leadership endeavors.

I am eagerly excited for what lies ahead on my SAWIP journey and ever so grateful for this opportunity