Everyone can see my scars. But I know my purpose


“I just find you so beautiful.” Those words changed Itumeleng Sekhu’s life. With a third of her body covered in severe burns and her right arm missing, low self-esteem had been her companion since childhood. But knowing that she could be seen differently helped her find the confidence to share her story with the world.

Her recently released autobiography, What do you see?, challenges society’s acrimony towards people who look different. Reflecting on school days marred by bullying and isolation, she asks her readers to investigate their subconscious beliefs about disabled people. Intertwined with this humbling line of thought, Sekhu’s humour and wit lighten her story’s heavy subject matter. She has learned to live with her scars, and understands her purpose – something that many people with unblemished skin cannot say.

As a social activist she implores other South Africans to accept themselves, whether their wounds are external or internal. “I believe that we were all born for something,” says Sekhu. “It’s just unfortunate that most of us allow our circumstances to define who we become.” She has discovered the strength and resolve to overcome her personal barriers to happiness. That fortitude is in each of us. It just needs to be found.