Social Entrepreneur, Educator, Speaker, Khayelitsha, South Africa

Like so many experiences here in Africa, meeting Sinesipho was a culmination of several serendipitous events. I am thankful for the time I had with her, and where it led me - to one of the best experiences in the township of Khayelitsha, having privilege of dining with young group of locals all while carrying out in-depth conversations about societal injustices, need for local government representation and involvement of young people in politics of change. This fantastic young woman is the reason South Africa's future is bright. Any country can only hope to have daughters as driven, eloquent, thoughtful and hungry for more as this WOW Woman. Please have a read and learn more about Sine's involvement with her community and her strive to be better (at everything).

1. Name

Sinesipho Njeza

2. Where is your hometown?

I grew up in Khayelitsha, a township just outside of Cape Town. My mother is from Butterworth and my Father is from Mthatha in the Eastern Cape.

3. What is your profession/career/title/self-label/designation?

I currently hold an Undergraduate degree in Psychology and Organisational Psychology. I have further adopted titles such as Social Entrepreneur, Educator and Speaker.

4. What was the journey like to get where you are (in life and career wise)? What are some accomplishments you’re most proud of?

I just completed my undergraduate degree and I decided to take a break and focus on building creative ideas geared towards social change together with friends. My service journey began at a very young age. My grandmother (married into my family) ran a preschool and I would assist her with administrative tasks. I then started helping another preschool close to where I lived and assisted in the playground and sometimes during lessons. I was that kid who assisted other students with their academics throughout my schooling career. It transcended to University where I became an outreach representative for my residence. There I started a pad initiative where we collected then donated sanitary towels to people who were in need.  There I also met a good friend of mine, Sinethemba Makoma, who introduced me to the business side of social responsibility and that is essentially how I became a part of Dine With. Dine With is a platform that bridges the gap between townships and cities through hosting conversational dinners accompanied by African cuisine in different households.  I’ve hosted many dinners and played an integral role in fundraising for the organisation thus strengthening my confidence and speaking abilities. I am currently working on Sibanye, an incredible immersion programme that integrates both local and international students. We have created a wonderful curriculum and have partnered with various organisation to enrich the programme. This is what I am most proud of. It is a project I get to build from the ground up, to watch it grow. I am excited.

5. What did you study in school?


6. How is your life different from what you pictured at 20?

Well I had imagined that I would be currently doing my Honours degree and simultaneously interning at a major corporate. However, I have now taken a gap year to explore what life has in store for me. I am building a company from the ground up. I feel the work I currently do is greater than what I had imagined for myself. However, I am still planning to further my studies.

7. What was your biggest disappointment and plan to overcome it?

I strive to be kind to myself. I understand that failure is a part of my growth process and with that I overcome my disappointments by being kind to myself. Unfortunately, many of my disappointments have been academic related.

8. Advice for other women?

I would advise women to define their journey for themselves.  You must relentlessly fight for what you believe in.

Take care of your mental health.

And lastly, to black women, suffering is not what makes you who you are, let us stop feeding the narrative that a strong black woman must endure atrocious amounts of pain to be considered strong. Do not be afraid to take up your space in society.

9. Knowing what we know now in current political climate, can women be "all that we can be" in today's world? What is the way forward, as you see it for "feminist values"?

There are still structures hindering the up mobility of women. There still exists limiting beliefs about women that stands in the way of progress. Society forgets that the precious time wasted vetting whether a woman is fit to take up a position or if they should be paid equally to the man could be used productively. Women can be whoever they put their mind to becoming.

A de-gendering of positionality is a way forward. Individual performance should be judged solely on the performance of an individual. The factoring of social structures should come to an end. The tax becomes heavier for black women. You are taxed based on your position in society as a woman and as a black person although you are just if not more qualified and capable.

10. Where in the world do you feel “tallest” (i.e. where is your happy place)?                            

I feel tallest when I serve, whether it be through listening, working on social initiatives or simply making tea for my grandmother.

11. What extra-curricular activities/hobbies are you most proud of? Why?

A friend of mine asked for my assistance to be a part of the making of his documentary. I am a production assistant, it is completely out of my comfort zone. I am most proud of this because it is a skill I would have been reluctant to learn a few years ago. My area of expertise lies within human interaction and I now use videography as a way of telling peoples stories. It is an incredible experience.

12. What do you want to be when you grow up? Future goals/challenges?

There’s a need for black female psychologists to take control of their narrative. Representation is important because I have heard many people complain that psych practitioners do not understand or relate to their narrative and thus are unable to meet their psychological needs. My aim is to bring forward the narrative of those who identify with into the academic space. I want to connect with likeminded individuals using our various training to solve social issues, more importantly around mental illness awareness within my community. I am more interested in education and skills development. However, I personally want to travel, connect and create with individuals who share a similar vision; learn as much as I can and bring my knowledge back home.

13. What fears are you still hoping to overcome?

I self-sabotage by procrastinating and it hinders my potential. I plan to overcome this gradually. This feeds to my biggest fear, my biggest fear is not realising my full potential or not having my hopes and aspirations realised. I want to look back and feel that I actively participated in creating a fulfilling life, I tried and failed. I do not want to have to wonder about what could have been.     

14. Anything you'd do differently if you had another go at life?

I would learn to prioritise my mental health. I am giving of myself and at times I find myself sitting with various projects and in addition academic work which takes away from time I need to rejuvenate my mind and spirit. I would choose to be disciplined in my writing and reflecting.

15. What inspires you?                           

Life inspires me. The fact that I am still breathing and I have a perfectly functioning body inspires me.

16. What are you hopeful about?

As generic as it may sound, I am hopeful about the future. I believe that I my aspirations will be realised in due time. I am trusting the process.

17. What are some ingredients to a good life?

The best ingredient is having a sense of humour. Its therapeutic.

I was once given the advice, ‘”begin with an end goal, draw a line and make sure whatever you immense yourself in is aligned with your end goal”. Be kind to yourself and others. We are often hardest on ourselves due to the high expectations we set for ourselves. Trust in the process. Everything will work out for your good.

18. What advice would you give your 14-year-old self?

Go make friends! Build relationships!

I grew up without any connection to popular culture and hence I felt I could not relate to many of my peers. I was often alone with a book at 14 thinking about the universe, spirituality and my future. I would spend most of my time in my head and as a result I would pass up the opportunity to build tangible friendships.

19. What are you reading now? (what books do you gift most and what are your favourite reads?)     

I’m learning to be intentional about my consumptions. I’ve vowed to only consume material from African writers this year. I am currently reading Period pains by Kopano Matlwa.

I love transformational books, I often always gift The Alchemist, The Seven Habits of highly effective people and Conversations with God when I am unsure about the reading preference of the receiver. These were also my favourite reads growing up. I recently gifted Beloved by Tony Morrison. 

20. Who is a WOW Woman in your world who inspires you and why? Can you nominate three women you know who perfectly fit WOW WOMAN description?

I draw inspiration from various women. I was fortunate enough to be raised by 3 powerful women. My grandmother has to be the wow woman in my life. Coming from the Eastern Cape alone to start a life here in Cape Town under the horrid circumstances black people were put under by the apartheid regime. I always admire her strength and courage. She inspired my curiosity by constantly encouraging me to question and challenge the knowledge I consume and spaces I occupy. I can honestly say that I would not be who I am without her guidance.

There were many women that come to mind. A few wow women for me would have to be Dr. Shose Kessi (lecturer at UCT, an academic voice on transformation at UCT), Phuthi Mahanyele (Business leader), Dr. Despina Learnmoth (Heath Psychology Lecturer at UCT).

21. Where can others find you/your work (links to websites, blogs, etc.)?

Instagram: sinesiphonjeza