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RYLP | A leadership story

“I want young people to know especially that we need you to challenge us to do better by you. It is my abiding belief that young people are not the leaders of tomorrow‚ but the leaders we need here and now.” Kumi Naidoo – Secretary General of Amnesty International.
As the sun rose on the morning of the 16th December 2018, the residents and friends of KwaShushu B were preparing for a very important event. A milestone in the leadership story of Abongile Zaza – The Rural Cancer Awareness Fun Walk and Run, in loving memory of his late mother.
Abongile joined the Find Your Voice Rotary Leadership Programme in March 2018. Working as a technical assistant at Isringhausen, Abongile Zaza was encouraged by his line manager, Greg Thompson to apply for the leadership programme.
When he looks back on that day, Abongile says:
“I was really not ready, like the timing was very bad for me cause my mother was in and out of hospitals at that time. She was in the last stage of cancer. But on the application form they had a very powerful slogan which says “Find your voice” and that was exactly what I was looking for and I said yes and I applied.”
He joined 21 other delegates on a crazy adventure that culminated 9 months later in the race that he organised in KwaShushu, supported by his leadership class of 2018. The rural areas are without adequate information to detect early warning signs of cancer that could save their lives.
“In the process of trying to find my voice, I actually found myself, my vision and the purpose of life. Its now been 11 years shifting/drifting around trying to find myself, my vision.”
Our experience so far suggests that successful leadership takes more than just the skills from a course or a programme. Leaders need followers and to enable a leader we need to support them in becoming that leader. They need a platform, in the form of a network of caring people, that show up for them and contribute to their success. The Rotary Club of Gately and the Leadership Development Institute (LDI) Trust are committed to providing the network, the tools and the skills for young adults to not only meet the challenges of the future, but the immediate challenges of our province.
In his final presentation Abongile says : “Special thanks to facilitator Guy Rich for not forcing me to talk, you’ve been awesome. To Marc Morrel for rescuing me and Rooks Moodley for empowering me to chase my vision even though it was so big.

To Chris Ettmayr, my mentor, thanks for the guidelines and support. And to my workplace sponsor/mentor Greg Thompson, thanks for this wonderfully opportunity. And thank you to Gately Rotary & Rotarians.”
The 7 month course forms part of the greater Find Your Voice Program. We measure two critical aspects of leadership. The first is individual growth of the delegates, through assessment of cutting-edge leadership methodologies known as Leadership Fluencies. The second is the number of initiatives led by these young people, either in their respective businesses, or in the community.
Although he is committed to this journey, he realises it is not going to be without obstacles. “Now I know what I want to be, but I have to give myself a chance to go back to school, I need to invest in me, unfortunately I can’t quit work so I’ll have to do it part time.” As he joins the newly established Alumni group under the leadership of Rotaractor Nitesh Harry from Class of 2017, we hope to continue to strengthen the support base. We are continually looking for leaders in the East London community who are willing to mentor the young adults that are selected for the programme. Abongile’s Rotary mentor, Chris Ettmayr reflects on how rewarding mentoring is . “It’s been a real privilege for me to be involved in Abongile’s time on this program and he has given us inspiration, instead of us just imparting knowledge to him. He had some challenges that he has handled in a very mature manner and now with the new leadership skills and techniques that he has picked up from this course, I am sure that he will thrive to even greater heights. Abongile is self-motivated, which made it very easy for him to take up new opportunities. I am very keen to see where he moves from here onwards as a solid alumni of the course and a leader in his respective areas of business and home life.”

There are 5 things that I’ve learned on this program – Abongile Zaza
1. Find your vision, and follow it
2. Never ever think small
3. Ignore the Naysayers
4. Work hard, no pain no gain
5. Don’t just take, give back

More information on the leadership programme and application forms can be accessed at :, or email on [email protected]

• Carey-Lyn Kurten | Rotarian & Programme Co-Ordinator & Sbu Ngalwa | Rotarian