Nkosinathi Freddy Ndlovu

Imagine not being able to go to school because deaf education doesn’t exist in your province. Imagine going to a hospital only to discover that the staff can’t assist you, or trying to make yourself heard in a meeting where no one speaks your language: sign language.

These are just some of the challenges Nkosinathi Ndlovu has faced and is fighting to change for future generations. With an ironclad resolve to advance the rights of youth with disabilities — particularly deaf youth — Ndlovu is a 26-year-old deaf activist with fingers in many pies. He is deputy chairperson of Deaf Youth SA, founder and executive chairperson of the Ehlanzeni Deaf Youth Development Project, which provides services to the district’s deaf youth, and the Mpumalanga provincial coordinator of the Kha Ri Gude mass literacy project.

As proof of his leadership skills, Ndlovu has represented his province as a youth ambassador in the Parliamentary Millennium Programme’s Bokamoso Ba Rona national youth campaign since 2009. These duties, including being a member of the ANC Youth League and Mpumalanga Youth Economic Forum, all fall outside his nine-to-five. As a deaf counsellor for Inclusive education and social support within Mpumalanga’s department of education, Ndlovu provides one-on-one educational counselling and support to deaf learners, while liaising with inclusive education curriculum implementers and school principals. He also teaches basic sign language.

In his “spare time”, Ndlovu is studying towards a national diploma in public management through Unisa, which he hopes will bring him one step closer to his ultimate goal: to become South Africa’s best deaf politician. Already shouldering great responsibility for the plight of deaf youth in South Africa, there is little doubt that this lion-hearted leader, in addition to campaigning for equal rights, will be the best role model deaf youth could look up to.

Lu Larche