Zanele Ngcobo is many things, but one dimensional is not one of them. Born and bred in Zone 7 Meadowlands, Zanele grew up with good role models and an upbringing she believes moulded her into the dynamic young woman she is today.
"Growing up I was greatly influenced by my sisters. They believed that I could do anything, so I believe that's why I feel like I can be and do anything. I was taught from a young age that you can be that person that you dream of being."
Getting to know Zanele
In 2017 Zanele was crowned Miss Teen Soweto. "This was my very first pageant and therefore wining was very overwhelming because I was in Grade 11 and I still had to prepare for Matric." But despite the challenges Zanele took on the title with awe-inspiring grace, even graduating with three distinctions from Letsobogo Girls High in 2018.
"Brains do count with Miss Teen Soweto its not just about beauty or your walk. The peageant takes one on a journey to explore what's on the inside and outside."
Zanele is also the founder of the Flower Vision Foundation, an organisation she initiated to create confidence and instil the very same self believe she grew up with among youngsters from her community. "I realised that many children from disadvantaged backgrounds grow up thinking very little of themselves and most don't give themselves permission to dream big enough. We want them to be extraordinary. We want to offer them hope, despite where they find themselves now."
The first initiative the Foundation held was in October last year when they held an event at Nkone Maropeng Primary School for Orphaned children ahead of Christmas. We expected around 50 children but over 60 showed up," recalls Zanele. "We gave them presents, played games and had a fun day. This year we plan to host a camp where we invite both young boys and girls and encourage them to express how they feel and give them space to voice their dreams."
Stepping outside your comfort zone
"I wasn't comfortable at first after winning Miss Teen Soweto because I thought people were probably asking themselves who is this girl. But I realised that I had to be comfortable with who I am. Trying to imitate someone wasn't going to help me. Being myself was the most comfortable thing I could do. I realised I won't be the next Bonang, but I will be the next Zanele Ngcobo."
Building lasting positive relationships
Zanele believes that it is very important for women and girls to build positive relationships with each other as at the end of the day we understand our struggles. "It's important that we connect with each other, that we don't throw shade towards each other and that we rid ourselves of all negative vibes," adds Zanele. "I made a very good friend through Miss Teen Soweto and even now we still talk and help each other. I wouldn't say all platforms do this, but this is definitely possible through Miss Teen Soweto.
Plans for the future
Zanele is currently completing her IIE Higher Certificate in Information Technology (IT) in Support Services at IIE Rosebank College. Her goal is to combine IT and medicine and to also bring coding to her community. "In the next 5 years I would like to have my own APP which enables children 6 years and older to design websites, code and learn programming, so that they too are ready for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. I would also like to have my own computer centre where children can broaden their perspective and learn how to code and therefore use their time more constructively during school holidays.
Written by Karabo Keepile