“It is better to die for an idea that will live, than to live for an idea that will die.” — Steve Bantubonke Biko

Kenneth Mokgatlhe


Civil Society

Organisation / Company

The Citizen, The Star, Rapport


Kenneth Mokgatlhe, 34, is a freelance journalist for a number of South African publications, but one of his greatest achievements was the tangible outcome of his journalism. He published a story in The Citizen about the plight of the Letebele family of seven who had been living off their grandparents’ social grant. He was asked to help build a house for the family, and subsequently got the community involved in the project. He coordinated the entire project, and he says through that experience he learnt that people could initiate and institute any kind of change they want when they are committed. Despite financial hindrances in his academic career, Kenneth preserved. He is currently completing two degrees: one in education at Unisa and the other in African Studies at the Ben Gurion University of the Negev in Israel. He says he is also in the process of registering a nonprofit organisation that will focus on environmental affairs. Kenneth considers himself a change-maker in the housing, education, cultural, entrepreneurship and environmental space and is motivated by the under-developed communities in South Africa, which he wants to improve. He hopes to pursue a PhD in political science or development studies.



Bachelor of Education (completing)  in University of South Africa

Master of Arts African Studies (completing), Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Israel

Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies, University of Limpopo 

Bachelor of Arts Honours in Political Science, University of Limpopo


While I have been involved in multiple projects, I believe that my greatest achievement was building the Letebele family house. I wrote the story and never thought about changing the situation, but I received direct and indirect calls asking me to lead a project to build a house for the poor family of seven who relied on the old lady’s social grant. 
The community came together to build the house. They stopped complaining or expecting the government to do things that they could do for themselves. I coordinated the entire project and I inspired confidence among the community through ethical leadership which I demonstrated by being open, accountable and transparent.
I learnt that people could initiate and institute any kind of changes or choices they want when they are committed. We determine our own fate. All communities in South Africa have a role to play in developing their own livelihoods rather than waiting for the government. It is our commitment to the developmental cause that will encourage the government and private sector to complement the work that the communities are already doing.


My late maternal grandfather was my role model. He raised many of his children and grandchildren without earning a big salary. He worked as a gardener for a family in Johannesburg which kept him away from us, but he sent the money to feed us and send us to university. It is not common for someone who works as a gardener or low-paying jobs to even see education as a necessity, but he did because he had seen successful, educated people.