Olavi Hangula (20) of Namibia is a man on a mission. His ambition is to unite young people across divisions of nationality and socio-economic standing to build a better and prosperous African continent.  

But how do you eat an elephant? Hangula draws from ancient Namibian wisdom, passed on to him by his father, to answer this lingering question: One bite at a time.

He started out by inspiring change and a positive mindset amongst young people in his own community of Windhoek. He encouraged youth to involve themselves in community projects and participate in meaningful conversations about the future. He is passionate about creating employment opportunities for the youth, particularly young graduates.

Tapping into his talent as a writer and social commentator, Hangula shares inspirational stories with the youth on how they can be the best version of themselves. He draws inspiration from his role models Nelson Mandela and Sam Nujoma.

His social activism soon spread beyond Namibia’s borders. Hangula is a director of Lift Up! Namibia, whose primary goal is to mobilise support for education in the country and help respond to natural disasters.

In 2014, then aged 15, Hangula was elected Junior Tourism Minister by the Regional Tourism Organisation of Southern Africa (RETOSA). tough essay contest involved representatives from all 15 SADC countries. His duties also entailed motivating young people to join the tourism movement. By leveraging social media platforms, Hangula and his colleagues were tasked with encouraging young people to have an active input into the regional agenda on tourism development.

He is studying International Relations and Business, and is a student leader at the University of Rochester in New York, serving as the executive director of international student affairs. He is also Vice-president of the Pan African Student Association and a Namibian National Students Organisation US representative.  

“My main goal is to encourage young people across the African continent to think out of the box. This is particularly true for youth leaders. I want them to understand that they represent the whole continent and not just individual countries. They must know that whatever they do should reflect the aspirations of the African development agenda where opportunity is determined not by birth, but by ability, education and hard work,” Hangula says.

His personal mission is to complete his degree and study law further before he ventures into the diplomatic fraternity.

His advice to young people, “Never let society rule your life by letting the negativity of people affect your decisions. You are superior in your own way and society can never be satisfied. Put Christ first because without Him you are not complete.”