Desmond Kegakilwe translates his favourite quote as: “Being a man is a very long, difficult career; many die without being a man.” Appropriately, the original comes from Ernesto “Che” Guevara. In 1998 Kegakilwe left Mafikeng for Cuba to study medicine. In the midst of “the most exciting and challenging time”, he found a health system he admired. Returning home as a doctor in 2007, Kegakilwe began his life’s mission to improve rural health, often travelling 300 km a day on the worst roads as a medical officer for the North West health department. It was also here that he first started to engage tirelessly with government on ways to improve care. Last year Kegakilwe took his fight to the next level, becoming vice-chairperson of the Rural Doctors Association of Southern Africa, and joining the Wits Reproductive Health and HIV Institute to provide HIV/Aids instruction for 29 clinics near Mafikeng.
— Ian Macleod