Naledi Chirwa

Media and communications officer, EFF Students’ Command

Naledi Chirwa (23) is an activist who’s not afraid to stand up for what she believes in. Driven by her love for black people, black women and for South Africa, she has a burning desire to see the wrongs of the past set right.

To achieve this, she plays a bold role in student politics, and is serving as the EFF Students’ Command media and communications officer. Born in Vosloorus and brought up in the dusty streets of Mamelodi under the care of her grandmother and mother, Chirwa says: “I was introduced to student politics in 2010 when I served as deputy president of the SRC at Tshwane North College. During my term in office, I was exposed to the debilitating circumstances of black people, black students and black women.

It was then that speaking out with them, and for them, became my life’s purpose.” Her activism reflects her motto in life: to be deliberate. From initiating a sanitary towel campaign and other programmes that aid the liberation and dignity of black women, writing and directing plays, and implementing transformative programmes in institutions of higher learning that address the inequality prevalent in academia, her focus remains constant — she believes there is suffocation in so many spheres, and that to truly live one must resist the abuse of power.

“Above all, my efforts interlink activism with politics and governance, ensuring the work has a collective energy,” says Chirwa. “My greatest challenge is being a woman in a male-dominated space. Patriarchy is the order of the day in all spheres — academic, religious, cultural, corporate, even in the entertainment industry. Being suffocated and constantly erased as ‘black girls’ means our efforts get little or no recognition.”

— Linda Doke

Twitter: @naledichirwa