By Alulutho Guzana
Images supplied by Karabo Nyalungu
Karabo Nyalungu gave herself the stage name Dynamite during a public speaking event at Nellmapius Secondary School, her former high school. “I did not want to be that girl. I wanted something to be remembered by.”
Nyalungu mentions that the name was unintentional. However, when looking at the definition of a dynamite as ‘something that is explosive’, she noticed that she has “lived up to the name but … I did not know it would be this significant”.
From her teenage years, Nyalungu has beaten the odds by bringing unconventional topics, advanced knowledge, motivation and charisma into her high school learning community. This is something learners her age were not exposed to. Her extraordinary spirit has continued into her university life as she is now a young author, student leader and aspiring broadcaster.
Nyalungu grew up in Nellmapius, a township in Pretoria, with her parents and siblings. She had a very close relationship with her father who was a mechanic. But a very complicated one with her mother, who worked at a health institution and was hardly around because of the shifts that come with being a health worker. Unfortunately, her parents divorced.
The era of dance battles in Nellmapius influenced her love for dancing while growing up. During that era, Nellmapuis had produced many amazing dancers. If you were from there, you were most likely to be a dancer.
Life changing decision. Nyalungu danced for a few years, but had to make a life changing decision at the age of 15 that would shape the rest of her life. Whether to be a dancer or an academic. She chose academia. Prior to her decision, she had noticed that dancers are boxed into only being good for dancing and nothing else.
“When you were a dancer at school, you were ruled out of many academic opportunities that would advance your academics,” explained Nyalungu. It was choosing the academic life that propelled her to actively start being a leader and evoked her aspirations of being a writer.
In grade 9, her school was invited by the Agape Youth Movement to a leadership seminar that was paired with a book launch. During her attendance, one speaker encouraged women to start writing their own stories. Those words sparked Nyalungu’s passion for writing.
“I started writing during the seminar. As a result when I left, I had no idea what the rest of the seminar was about,” she recalls.
Even though she wrote her first book at 15, it was never published. She believes the content of the book is no longer part of her life’s purpose.
During her times of struggle, Nyalungu started taking her writing seriously and eventually became an author. She recalls receiving support from outside but never from family or relatives. Her ability and passion for writing were questioned at home.
“A gentleman by the name of Sanele Zulu, bought me five leadership books before I even started writing,” she says. The books were very influential as they sparked writing ideas. They were the foundation that led to her publishing three books on leadership.
Purpose and Dominance 1 to 4. All her books are titled Purpose and Dominance and they are differentiated by the number sequence.
Purpose and Dominance 1 was published on 02 March 2020. The book explores subjective leadership that focuses on the writer’s high school life, personal experiences and decisions she had to make to get to university.
She acknowledges that not many young people in townships make it out. She felt privileged that she did. “I felt it would be great to leave a mandate for those following, hence the book dedication.”
Purpose and Dominance 2 came out on 16 June 2021. It focused on the transition from high school to university. The book tackles mental health, challenges of socially fitting in, financial decisions and overall issues university students face on a daily basis. “This book is a good start up guide for a first-year student,” adds Nyalungu.
The third book, Purpose and Dominance 3-4 was published on 10 October 2021. It is more versatile with its target audience as it connects everyone in society. The book explores topics such as the unspoken side of a leader, the wellbeing of a leader, their unconventional home background, their daddy issues or complicated mother/daughter relationships. All these parts in the book incorporate realistic life challenges of a person whether they are a leader or not.
“In this book I wanted to talk to everyone in society: the cleaner, the unemployed uncle, the CEO,” she adds.
Juggling school and being an author. The final year BCom student in Philosophy, Politics and Economics is not only an author of leadership books but also practices being a leader. In 2021, she was part of the First Year Experience Mentor Programme at the University of Witwatersrand. This programme gave her the opportunity to mentor and be an older sister to first year students transitioning into university.
Her leadership at university did not end there, it extended to her residence life. In 2021, she was part of the house committee at her residence, which afforded her the opportunity to be selected as the Chairperson of Yale Village Student Accommodation.
These roles have given Nyalungu more reference to the stories in her books, as she is practising what she is preaching.
Nyalungu highlights that at times it can be very difficult being a student and an author because there are days you have a submission due but also a burning desire to write.
She laughs and says, “I unfortunately always choose to write in the moment because even while doing an assignment I will not concentrate. Ideas run away if you do not act on them at the moment.” She does prioritise her academics but her ideas are sometimes too good to ignore.
Broadcasting. The author is versatile: she has not only tapped into writing but also has explored her love for sports broadcasting. She got an internship at the Bidvest Wits academy.
Nyalungu laughs, “There was no open position for an intern, but I saw an opportunity to bridge the gap between the lack of Wits students’ knowledge about the Bidvest team as well as improving the team’s social media pages interaction.”
During her time as an intern, she would attend Premier Soccer League (PSL) live games. At the live PSL games, she would sell the Bidvest Wits merchandise and through those sales, she would earn an incentive. This came with the privilege of interacting with the players closely.
“At the time, Thulani Hlatshwayo was the captain of the national team and not everyone gets the opportunity to sit with a captain,” she says beaming with joy. These interactions with such recognised people encouraged Nyalungu to want to be someone recognisable someday.
She also got the opportunity to become a sports broadcaster as she was given the chance to interview coaches such as Kaizer Chiefs assistant coach Dilion Sheppard after the Multichoice Diski Challenge.
Nyaungu believes that the opportunity helped to solidify her sport interest. But unfortunately, covid cut her passion short due to restrictions and the team was sold.
The young author believes that everything in life has its time. In her life, she had a season of writing books but now that is over.
Nyalungu has shifted her focus into sharpening her broadcasting skills by interviewing young people that are examples of ‘Purpose and Dominance’ via Instagram lives.
She is determined to be the best at everything. She smiles and adds, “Everyone has a different purpose and when you do find yours, excel and have an unforgettable presence while doing it.”
In the far future, she mentioned the desire of having a Purpose and Dominance Foundation. Nyalungu would like the foundation to be very impactful by being a legacy project that would benefit generations to come. “I want the foundation to start with Karabo but end with so many other young people,” she says. YC
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