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Mlondi Mkhize, a third-year Public Relations & Communication Sciences student at the Durban University of Technology (DUT) is ecstatic after his bold move of nominating himself in the Mail & Guardian Top 200 Young South Africans has paid off.

Mlondi (20) from Gamalakhe township, South Coast of KwaZulu-Natal, is a human rights activist and radio content producer. In the Mail & Guardian Top 200 Young South Africans, Mkhize was recognised in the Rural Development Projects category, for the remarkable work he has done for his community.

Speaking about the competition, Mkhize said he read about it in his student email inbox and questioned if his work qualifies to be part of this prestigious list as there are millions of youngsters in South Africa that are making a difference. He said the Mail & Guardian clearly stipulated that they were looking for young people who were making a difference in their respective fields of work or community.

“I decided to nominate myself. Fast forward, I got an email informing me that I was shortlisted and then boom, just like I was listed, under the newly added category Rural Development Projects. Being part of the Mail &Guardian Top 200 Young South Africans list serves as a reminder that there are people always watching and ready to honour the work you do. The positive change that one is making contributes to a better society and one that will be safe for the next generation. The thought that there are millions of youngsters in South Africa, but I was chosen to be part of 200, has reaffirmed me that I am on the right path. Yet again, it goes to show the calibre of students that DUT breeds: absolute and epitomised excellence,” said the elated Mkhize.

He added that it helped him to not wait for other people to nominate him as he felt he had done a lot for his community.

“In 2019, I established a platform called the ‘Youth in Conversation’ which facilitates conversation around socio-economic issues, mental health and hosts activities that contribute to the development of townships. In 2020, I hosted the first ever LGBTQI+ event in the township of Gamalakhe, with the aim to penetrate spaces that are the hotspots for killings of queer people. I hosted a Uniform Drive that donated uniform essentials (from shirts to school shoes) to several underprivileged schools in the South Coast. I am in the process of completing a campaign on sanitary towels, that is aimed at educating on periods and donate 1000 sanitary towels to underprivileged schools,” said Mkhize.

He said he recently hosted a queer engagement for Pride Month and invited the KZN Legislature for a progressive conversation and finding practical solutions to the brutal killings and hate crime.

His journey at DUT began in 2019 when he was admitted for his first year, where he was privileged to join the Radio DUT family as one of the presenters. This period exposed him to distinct people from the various corners of life, who carried with them life perspectives that were different from his. A particular experience that made him lean more towards queer activism, he was a conversation that his then Station Manager, Matt Tsolo, who is a DUT alumnus, hosted with star actor from the movie Spud, Bless Xaba, in the boardroom, where they were so passionate about queer matters.

“It made me realize the difficulties that queer people are subjected to and inspired me to be the beacon of light for the next generation of queer people. Additionally, DUT has been the key role player for most of my victories, considering the nurturing lecturers that have walked me through the past three years. At the beginning of high school, I started public speaking and debating, spoke on several platforms such as being a valedictorian, master of ceremonies etc. When I got to DUT, I was thrilled to learn about the DUT Union and I later joined it. It enabled my writing, public speaking, and engaging skills. Most importantly, DUT has made me fall in love with academics, pushed me to want to learn and acquire more skills. Being a student at DUT must be fate. The journey has, still is, one for the book,” said Mkhize.

As an emerging Public Relations and Communications practitioner, Mkhize said this accolade carries weight in branding him as the credible philanthropist that is not only driven by material things but also cares for the community and well-being of people. It is a great idea that more students and youngsters enter these kinds of campaigns because that means more people are laying a brick to creating a better society.

Looking at where he is in life at the moment, Mkhize said he sees himself as a world-renowned philanthropist, radio mogul, on Forbes Africa Under 30 list and a millionaire in the next five years.

Pictured: Mlondi Mkhize

Simangele Zuma

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