The martial arts master propelling township kids to prosperity


South Africa’s health statistics are… out of shape. Over half of the adult population is considered overweight by the World Health Organisation. A quarter is obese. These are shocking figures. The solution should be simple, right? Eat better. Exercise more. Drink less. It’s not that easy in a country with an unemployment rate of 26%. Healthy living can be expensive, an obstacle that Monwabisi Njomba has challenged himself to confront.

When it comes to fitness Njomba is a virtuoso – martial arts his preferred method for demanding sweat from skin. His education in the ancient art of karate began when he was a teenager living in Uitenhage in the Eastern Cape, where he took lessons from a master. By the time Njomba moved to Cape Town in 2010, he too had risen to the level of teacher. The change of environment not only beckoned a new chapter in his life, but presented him with a challenge, as the sight of children on Khayelitsha’s street corners tugged at his heart. Having developed the virtues of self-discipline and focus through karate, Njomba began to nurture young bodies and minds through the physical art form.

The Njomba Fitness Academy first grew out of informal gatherings. Within two months attendance at his lessons had grown dramatically. Although his starting point had been the young, people of all ages flooded in with the hope of improving their health and well-being. Njomba has adapted to the insurgence of energy from his community towards fitness, now offering karate and aerobics classes to all and hosting the occasional endurance marathon. The success of his efforts is based on bridging the knowledge gap between problem and solution. By championing this cause in townships, he’s making South Africa a healthier place.