This Youth Month we kickstart celebrations with UP's Student Representative Council (SRC) President Njabulo Sibeko.His advice to youth is simple: “There are opportunities out there – you need to take them.” Learn more about him.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Njabulo Emmanuel wa kwa Sibeko. I am a born-free 23-year-old. I was born in the East Rand and grew up in the Vaal. I am a final-year LLB student at UP, and am SRC President – a title I am proud of.
What was life like growing up in the Vaal?
My mom is a single parent and as a result, I was raised by my grandparents because she had to work and be able to provide for me. Being the only child in the house, I had a wholesome childhood. I grew up with so much love and support.
Life as a young boy with big dreams was tricky. You can get stuck in the hood or you can go out there and chase your dreams – I chose my dreams. I had a big squad of gents who played a huge role in my teenage years in the Vaal.
What were your dreams growing up?
I wanted to become a lawyer, which was influenced by the types of shows I used to watch. I also dreamt of becoming a doctor. One common thing about the two career choices is the helping people aspect. I enjoy helping people. However, mathematics was not my strongest point, so I chose the LLB path, which is the right path for me.
Why did you choose UP?
UP is a leading, internationally recognised African higher education institution. The University’s Faculty of Law produces highly skilled and agile law graduates that go out there to become bigshot lawyers, attorneys and judges. Graduates from UP thrive in their respective areas of expertise, which gave me the confidence to know that I will do well career-wise once I graduate.
UP is also rich in diversity and inclusivity. No matter who you are or where you are from, you will find your people within the University. So much still has to be done to improve UP’s culture, but we are a work in progress and we have come so far in becoming a university that embraces everyone.
Tell us about your university experience thus far.
In first year, I was a social butterfly. I used to attend all the social events, music festivals and so on. I was literally on the move all the time. In my second year, the pandemic hit and everything came to a halt, including my social life. I had to seek other avenues of socialising and I tapped into my leadership side – that is when I first joined the SRC. In third year, I participated in political organisations at UP, fighting for youth rights. Now in my final year, I am back with the SRC and I am continuing to bridge the gap between students and the executives at UP. I am a voice for the students in meetings; I speak for the voiceless student who experiences hardships while at varsity. Basically, my whole university tenure has been about student leadership.
What is your favourite thing about being SRC President?
Helping fellow students get access to essential resources that they need to be able to complete their studies comfortably. It always makes me so happy when I engage with students who have been helped by the SRC and have nothing but smiles on their faces.
What advice would you give to South African youth?
“Take up space,” as our former Miss Universe Zozibini Tunzi says. Especially as young people. There are opportunities out there – you need to take them.
Where to from here?
The next step is to find a job. I also want to be part of a civil rights organisation one day. I want to continue to make an impact in people’s lives and support young people as much as I can.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I enjoy watching TV shows, movies and chilling. I also like hanging out with friends, going to social events and music festivals, and trying out different restaurants.
Describe yourself in one word.
Music: Deep house and hip-hop
Artists: Frank Ocean and Maglera Doe Boy