APN YOUTH OF THE MONTH

FEMALE YOUTHS CHOOSING TO CHALLENGE: SINIKIWE KADEMAUNGA

Sinikiwe was born with a condition that stopped the growth of her limbs, but the Zimbabwean is not letting her physical limitations hold her back. Sinikiwe is a blogger, youth philanthropists, life coach and social worker on a mission to change negative stereotypes around disability.

BACKGROUND STORY OF SINIKIWE

Sinikwe is the last child in a family of five children. As she narrates her childhood story, she painfully explains how her deformities were an unexplainable cultural abomination that brought nothing but trouble to her family. Given the patriarchal nature of most African societies, Sinikiwe’s mother bore the brunt of such an “abomination” and was accused of being the reason behind Sinikiwe’s disability. In the end Sinikiwe went to stay with her grandmother who was more than willing to look after her

“My grandmother was a life-transforming blessing. She was strong woman who saw nothing abnormal about me. She treated me with love but was sure not to let me believe that I was different. To her, I was not disabled. I was differently able. I was able to do anything. I just did everything differently!” Sinikwe fondly shared memories of her grandmother.

Sinikiwe attributes the person she is today to the foundation and upraising she received from her grandmother. While she dotted around her, Gogo Annie Mukome was wise enough not to “spoil” Sinikiwe. She had to do chores like any child. It is therefore no surprise that Sinikiwe attended grade 1 at St Faith Primary School at the age of six like any child would. According to Gogo Mukome, Sinikwe was going to be a successful lawyer who would shake the world! Such conviction to success was to be the basis of the confident and driven young woman Sinikiwe has become years after Gogo Mukome passed on.

GENEROSITY & GOODWILL

Where we see hardship, Sinikiwe is quick to tell us that when she reflects on her childhood all she sees is generosity and goodwill. Though she was not showered with luxuries, Sinikiwe appreciates that she had enough of the basics that a human being would need as a spring board to success. Through the generosity of doctor Chimbadzo, Sinikiwe had a wheelchair that helped immensely mobility wise. Thanks to the Swedish foundation, her primary education fees and requirements were all paid up and she lacked nothing. Even after the foundation closed operations in Zimbabwe, Sinikiwe’s education was always paid for right through to A’ Level thanks to the goodwill of anonymous Samaritans. Her mother’s sister was one pillar that oozed of unconditional generosity throughout her childhood as she has continued to do in her adult life. The groceries and money she often sent to Rusape often made a huge difference between hunger and wellness.

“So often, people get caught up in the hardships and ugliness of life so much that they do not stop to notice the abundant blessings that cloud their grey clouds. When I look back at my life, much as it wasn’t easy, I chose to recognise and build on the generosity I experienced. Life is better that way” she says with a content smile.

GROWING PAINS, HARD TIMES & SELF-DISCOVERY

Sinikiwe chuckles at the recollection of her teenage years which she is quick describe as the hardest in her life. Not only did she have to deal with the ball of confused and raging hormones, she had to deal with a number of deaths of significant people in her life.

The very core of her foundation, her Grandmother, passed on when she was doing her form 1 on her birthday on the 15th of July. She lost her biggest cheerleader and moral campus! She felt alone and did not know who else to turn too. With her grandmother gone, all she saw when she looked into the mirror were deformities and she did not feel pretty at all. Her mother and father also died later in 2001 and 2005 respectively. Though she had not been particularly close to them, she felt that like death was in love with her. Our hearts cried as she narrated how she too had attempted to take her own life twice overwhelmed by the abyss that surrounded her. As if she was speaking from the grave, Sinikiwe explained how recalling her Grandmother’s dream for her to be a successful lawyer was what made her pull herself from this abyss that threatened to engulf her into nothingness.

A PURPOSEFUL LIFE

With a new found resilience and drive to a successful life, Sinikiwe turned her life around. With such determination, she believed that all her heart’s desires would come true only if she herself was resolute. One such desire which miraculously turned into reality at the eleventh hour was her wish to study for an undergraduate degree outside of Zimbabwe. Through the generosity of the Kellogg Foundation, she studied Social Work at the University of Cape Town. Though it had always been a shared dream to study law, Sinikiwe says that she did not regret studying social work because it is during this time that the process of self-realisation began.

The journey of self-discovery has made her realise that her purpose in life is to help others by instilling a sense of hope in anyone she meets. Using her own life story, Sinikiwe is establishing herself as a life and personal development coach. One of her proudest moments was when a stranger got in touch with her on of her social media platforms to tell her that she had been on the brink of suicide when she read Sinikiwe’s story. The story shifted something in her so much that she did not commit suicide but instead started counting her blessings and discovered she had much to live for!

“Everyone has a giant within destined for insurmountably great things. One just needs to awaken that giant. The giant is awakened by self-belief, self-drive and resilience. With self-belief, having different abilities from the rest becomes not an issue. With self-belief and drive, what matters is getting things done!” Sinikiwe establishes.