THE YOUNG ACHIEVERS

WINNERS: Reatlehile Jankie, 
Khanyisile Vilakazi, Mnelisi Gasa and Rorisang Thandekiso at the Birchwood Hotel in Boksburg. Pic: Vathiswa Ruselo. 21/06/2009. © Sowetan. 


Reatlehile Jankie (1st runner up) , Khanyisile Vilakazi (Young communicator 2009), Mnelisi Gasa (2nd runner up) and Rorisang Thandekiso (Young communicator 2008) at Birchwood Hotel in Boksburg.
WINNERS: Reatlehile Jankie, Khanyisile Vilakazi, Mnelisi Gasa and Rorisang Thandekiso at the Birchwood Hotel in Boksburg. Pic: Vathiswa Ruselo. 21/06/2009. © Sowetan. Reatlehile Jankie (1st runner up) , Khanyisile Vilakazi (Young communicator 2009), Mnelisi Gasa (2nd runner up) and Rorisang Thandekiso (Young communicator 2008) at Birchwood Hotel in Boksburg.

BREATHTAKING was the word on everyone's lips at this year's prestigious Young Communicators Awards at the Birchwood Conference Centre in Boksburg onSaturday.

BREATHTAKING was the word on everyone's lips at this year's prestigious Young Communicators Awards at the Birchwood Conference Centre in Boksburg onSaturday.

After months of gruelling groundwork by schools all around the nine provinces, the national finals of the yearly Anglo-American-Sowetan Young Communicators Awards were nothing less than spectacular as nine of the country's top young communicators took each other on, speaking on issues such as "Being African", "Empowerment" and "Coconut-ism".

"I'm actually a first-language English-speaker but I'm not sure I can match up to the English speaking that I've heard from a bunch of second-language speakers," joked Thandi Lewin, chief director of the Department of Education.

The competition, which is part of the Aggrey Klaaste Nation Building Foundation portfolio, is a public speaking competition as well as a leadership development and personal growth initiative taking Grade 11 and 12 pupils on workshops and provincial public speaking contests culminating in the national competition that took place on Saturday.

Lewin said the voices of young people were incredibly powerful and the government would do well to pay attention to them.

Sowetan's Victor Mecoamere, manager of the Nation Building Projects, described the day as richly rewarding and a blessing.

Beginning her speech with the famous line: "Are you free or are you dom", competition winner Khanyisile Vilakazi from Lowveld High School in Mpumalanga tackled the pothole-riddled topic of freedom and responsibility.

Titled "Emancipation", Khanyisile's speech displayed her calm confidence and the rich emotions that won the judges over to give her the top prize, a R30000 study bursary as well as a R10000 cheque for her school.

"I just feel blessed," said Khanyisile. "It's been a very nerve-racking but incredibly fruitful experience for me."

She gives her loud mouth and desperate need to express her opinions as reasons for her triumph over the best pupils in the land.

First runner-up, Reatlehile Jankie, from Bloubergrand High School in Western Cape, said: "This has been a wonderful experience.

"I've made new friends and we have this unbreakable bond with the other contestants and I believe that all of us will go far in life because this competition is a key that has opened doors for us."

Reatlehile walked away with a R20000 study bursary and R7000 for his school.

KwaZulu-Natal's Mnelisi Gasa, from Port Shepstone High School, rounded off the top three winners as he walked away with a bursary worth R15000 and a R5000 cheque for his school. Being frank and a little controversial about what he thinks is what he attributes as his winning formula.

"I thought most of the questions weren't hard except the one that came from the panel of adjudicators," he said confidently.

X