Irma Titus

In her 27 years Irma Titus, a community activist on the Cape Flats, has defeated death on a number of occasions. Irma was diagnosed with kidney failure when she was four years old and her body rejected three transplanted organs before it accepted a kidney in 2002. Her experience of the fragility of life fuels her drive to change her environment for the better. Her intimate experiences with the public healthcare system prompted Titus to form Zeal4Life, an organisation that aims to rally support services for young working-class people living with chronic illnesses. A child of Bonteheuwel who lives in Hanover Park, Titus is most passionate about the role community media plays in collective action. Her participation in the African Canadian Eco-Leadership Programme in 2005 afforded her the opportunity of a six-month internship with a Canadian community newspaper. With her passion for media confirmed, she completed a National Diploma in Journalism at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology. Titus derives inspiration from the valiant contribution her community made to the struggle against apartheid and works with the Bonteheuwel History and Cultural Society to ensure that the memories of the past serve as a guiding light for her generation and those to come. Last year she was at the forefront of the formation of the Concerned Education Forum, a civil society group that successfully resisted the closure of 27 schools in the Western Cape. She continues to facilitate a twice-weekly after-school arts and culture programme at Protea Primary School, one of the schools that had been marked for closure. Because she is constantly aware of how precious time is, activism for Titus is a true labour of love. She asserts: “If we all learnt to be kind, loving, caring and nurturing, even to ourselves, we can live to see a new world and better society.” — Taryn Mackay