With textbooks turned to ash, this man is ensuring Khayelitsha students excel

 
 
 

A blazing fire has swept through Khayelitsha again. Hundreds of homes have burnt to the ground, and thousands are now homeless. Having just begun their end-of-year exams, pupils are left at a loss, as uniforms, books, and study notes turn to ash. With their futures on the line, Athenkosi Nzala is stepping in to make sure learners can still excel. “Young students need help now more than ever,” he says.

As the founder of the AfrikaCan! Foundation, Nzala mentors youth in under-resourced communities. Passionate about education, he hopes to inspire people to learn and think creatively. His efforts to help others in the classroom began while completing his degree in Civil Engineering at the University of Cape Town. Actively involved in numerous societies, Nzala tutored younger students and led them through the transition to university. Even after he finished his studies, Nzala never lost sight of the importance of giving back. When the fires ravaged Khayelitsha, he recognised the urgency of writing the exams, as many students don’t have the means to repeat their final year.

Nzala has rallied people together to provide study spaces, textbooks and transport for learners, ensuring that in the face of trauma they can focus on the final stretch. His selfless actions are part of a national effort to restore hope in a time of disaster. “I am just doing what I can to uplift the quality of life for my people,” Nzala says. His goal is to continue supporting the youth every step of the way, from completing school to choosing careers. As students sit to write their final papers, Nzala’s dedication is guiding them towards a brighter tomorrow. We can all take a page out of his textbook.


Footage by Justin Sullivan and photographs by Brenton Geach were used in the creation of this film.