At the age of just 20, Ziyanda Dludla is already the author of a book, and is spearheading her sustainable development movement across schools in SA. Read on to learn more about how this CellCgirl’s leap of faith paid off.

Who is Ziyanda Dludla?

Ziyanda Dludla was born in a Ulundi, KwaZulu-Natal. She attended boarding school, where she got serious about leadership and community projects. Her passion led to her becoming head girl in high school, where she represented her peers at various meetings with her school principal. That’s when she realised that her voice, and that of the youth she represents, matters.

What inspired you to write your book?

Ziyanda wrote a fictional book titled “Letters to my rainbow kids: It takes a village”. This book is aimed at children, and discusses “racism, gender equality, climate change, bullying, peer pressure” and other topics related to social issues and development.

She tells us her book was inspired by visits to different schools in South Africa for various projects she was working on. She was surprised to see that so few students and even teachers knew about sustainable development and the goals highlighted by the United Nations.

Ziyanda took the self-publishing route when she realised that publishers take very long to respond and she was too passionate and driven to wait. Her book sold 61 copies in 3 days, and soon local primary schools were interested in purchasing copies for their students as well.

As for the future of this movement? Ziyanda hopes to “take it global” and involve more kids in sustainable development. When asked why it’s important to speak to children about these issues, she explains that, “It’s much harder to change adults”. We agree- developing communities in positive ways has to start with teaching children from a young age!

What does CellCgirl mean to you?

Ziyanda see the value in the CellCgirl platform because when she was in high school, "such platforms didn’t exist". She explains that CellCgirl gives girls a great support system and a unique opportunity to join a “community of women who are trying to build something”.

“It’s our turn to carry on the movement of powerful women. They’ve led the way, now it’s time for us to carry the bastion,” she enthuses. We couldn’t agree more!

Ziyanda also points out that what sets CellCgirl apart is that we interact with our community, reply to comments and messages and are active in helping out our CellCstahood.

What’s next for Ziyanda?

Ziyanda is working on some exciting projects with the department of basic education. She’s involved in initiatives focussing on early childhood development education. Her Politics and International Relations studies are also going well, and she’s considering heading doing her Honours degree next year.

What’s your advice for young girls, who are struggling to find motivation and strength?

“Its been a tough journey,” says Ziyanda when looking back on her study experience. Her varsity years especially have had their ups and downs, with periods of depression as well as anxiety. She even thought of dropping out at one point. “I used to have a hard time understanding that my voice matters,” she recalls.

So, what advice would she give young girls who are struggling to find strength? “Your voice matters. Sometimes, your voice will shake but it still matters. Stand up for yourself because you matter at the end of the day.”

What words do you live by?

“Just go for it.”

She’s seen many of her peers from her home town fall into negative cycles and unhealthy lifestyles. But for Ziyanda, life is less about waiting for someone to give you an opportunity and more about taking action, and being proactive in your own life. That’s exactly the kind of energy a CellCgirl has, and we’re stoked to have her as a part of our #CellCsistahood!

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