WRITING since the age of 14, Thandokuhle Sibanda, a Mzilikazi High School pupil, turns to her pen each time she wants to influence her peers.
With at least 60 poems under her belt, the 18-year-old writes about her emotions and life experiences, as well as what she sees in the world around her.
Her explicit dream is “to write and speak for the rest of my life and influence the lives of young people.”
Such is the clarity the gifted bard has regarding her writing and speaking talent.
The teenager has even identified her source for content and vows she can only get better.
“I’m inspired by people and everything else that happens around me and sometimes just conversations I have with people,” she says.
The two-time Starbrite finalist has taken it further than just reciting verses. She has embarked on a fundraising drive to renovate her school’s library. The Upper Sixth student intends to facilitate the refurbishing of the building as well as bringing in new books before her November final examinations.
“It’s all because of the exposure and challenge we got through Starbrite. It pushes one to be a responsible member of society. They would give us assignments for every round and after the boot camp, they tell us to identify a library in our community and get books for them,” she explains.
The youngster, who has bagged several poetry, debate and public speaking awards, says she did not have to look far when asked to identify a library needing an overhaul. Her school’s library is in a deplorable condition.
“My school’s library needs a bit of attention. So I decided to do more than just look for books. I would like to re-paint the library, get new furniture, get new and up-to-date books and refurbish the floors and the shelves,” she says.
Her older sister, Thandekile, is proud of her sister over what she describes as a “self-sacrificing, noble cause” she is pursuing.
“She’ll be leaving the school at the end of the year and practically won’t benefit from any improvements that may be made yet she’s pushing aggressively to make it happen. It gives me joy to see her pursue such a cause at her age.
“It’s selfless and I’ve no doubt she’ll achieve this and much more through her poetry gift,” says Thandekile, who is an accountant.
Beyond the refurbishments, the gifted youngster is clear she wants to perform at world stages to inspire her peers to aim to be better people. Despite her love for the art, she is aware it is practically an unrewarding job in this part of the world and will pursue a career in economics or business administration.
“I’m so much in love with economics so I might major in that or just go with business administration. All this is for the money since I’ll need a few dollars here and there to support my art.”
Sibanda is studying Economics, Business Studies and Accounting at Advanced Level, which are miles apart from her artistic gift.
She sang praises of how her family has tirelessly supported her craft.
“My mom and sister make sure they give me everything I need for my gigs. I’m talking data, transport and the outfits. My cousins are my audience during rehearsals and they always give me the second opinion, which is very important,” she says.
Sibanda singles out her former accounts teacher, Sithandazile Dube, as a mentor. Dube is also an outstanding poetess and her teenage fan credits her love and momentum in the art of poetry to her inspiration.
“I want to be able to impact my peers’ lives the way she did on mine,” the teenager says.
Interestingly, Dube believes her protégé has a bright future.
“Thando is a well gifted young lady who really knows how to play with words and her rhyme is out of this world. I had the privilege of seeing her talent sprout and grow into something amazing,” Dube says.
She picks her poem titled:The Heart of the Matter as the closest to her heart. Without a doubt, the sky is the limit for the determined poetess.