/ 26 April 2005

Palesa Mohape – Speaking from the top of the world

How old are you and what grade are you in?

I am 18 years old and currently in Grade 12 at Lyttleton Manor in Pretoria.

When and how did you first realise your passion for words? Have you always been a good public speaker?

I have always been interested in languages and even studied French for a few years. I think I’ve always been able to express myself well, but I only started public speaking in Grade 8.

How has winning this competition affected your life?

Winning the competition has completely changed my life. Suddenly everybody knows me and I’m always busy rushing from one interview to the other. But it has also made me realise how wonderful South Africans really are and how supportive our nation is.

What is your understanding of the concept ‘African Renaissance”?

My understanding of the ‘African Renaissance” is that it is a process of change from a struggling Africa to the mighty continent it ought to be.

What do you think is the role of women and youth in the revival of Africa?

Women have always carried the continent and I think that the youth should take up the challenge of staying in Africa and using their skills for the betterment Africa.

Has your school played a part in your success?

Yes, my school has supported me from the beginning and all the public speaking teachers I’ve had over the years have given me the skills to achieve my goals.

Is there still time for romance in your life?

There’s always time for romance! I don’t see my ‘better half” as often as I used to, but he’s been great from the beginning.

Who do you look up to as a role model?

Nelson Mandela is my role model as he gave 27 years of his life so that children like myself can have the opportunity to have a great future.

What’s your favourite TV programme?

My favourite TV programme is Recess, a cartoon on YO.TV. Everybody needs a break and it’s really funny.

If you were to change the world’s view about Africa, what would you change?

I would change the stereotypical notion that we are ignorant and barbaric. Africa has so much to offer.

What message would you like to send to other youngsters and teachers?

To the youth: carpe diem — sieze the day. To the teachers: Go the extra mile for the children and when they can return the favour, they will go 10 000 miles for you.