How a jobless young man became a world leader.
Fred De Vries | October 2007 issue
Lucky Madonsela grew up in an illegal settlement near Duduza township, east of Johannesburg. He had been unemployed for three years when he applied to CIDA in 2004. Once in school, he developed into an exemplary student. His grades were the best in his class and when guests visited the school, he was often chosen to give them tours. “One of the most unforgettable moments,” he notes, “was a lunch with Oprah Winfrey.”
Earlier this year he won the Goldman Sachs Leadership Award, competing with students from five top South African universities to be named one of the “Global Leaders from South Africa.” It wasn’t just his grades and leadership qualities that landed him the award and accompanying $3,000 grant, but his extracurricular activities. At his old secondary school, he gave students instruction in economics, math and bookkeeping as well as skills in communication, team building and group dynamics. He started a soccer team in Duduza that gives players a sense of purpose and lessons about team spirit.
Madonsela is also involved in an organization in Soweto township that helps AIDS orphans who suddenly find themselves the family breadwinners with the death of their parents. Madonsela mentors three of them. He says, “Because they always have others who depend on them, it’s great for them to be able to fall back on someone else, someone who believes in them.”
He will graduate in two years and hopes to become a financial analyst at a major investment bank. But he vows he won’t forget his social ideals. “I want to be an entrepreneur later and start my own foundation to give scholarships to people who have no prospects.”