For youth empowerment activist, Thabile Buthelezi, social change has always been a top priority.

The University of KwaZulu Natal graduate founded the Thabile Buthelezi Foundation, which provides opportunities to South African youth in the arts and culture field through seminars and workshops.

The foundation provides community empowerment initiatives through information dissemination platforms in the townships and rural areas of South Africa.

The foundation’s main focus is to make sure that the safeguarding of South Africa’s intangible cultural heritage is realized through preservation projects and initiatives.

(c) Instagram

“I always say that if you are in a position to help people then do that, do not keep information that could help others to yourself, share it with others,” she said.

Buthelezi is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Public Administration – Peace Studies at the Durban University of Technology, under the International Centre of Nonviolence.

The 27-year-old was the first South African student to receive the prestigious Choreomundus: International Master in Dance Knowledge, Practice and Heritage Scholarship.

Buthelezi, who has been performing for more than 10 years, started her career at the Kwa-Mashu Community Advancement Project (K-CAP) in 2000.

“I grew up in KwaMashu and regardless of my circumstances I had dreams and I knew I had to pursue them,” she said.  

(c) Instagram

Buthelezi has travelled abroad as part of the international cultural exchange programmes and is involved in various activities in the performing arts sector.

Her advice to other performing arts students is: “The geography of your existence does not determine your future, young people should never let their circumstances determine their future. I don’t come from a wealthy background and I knew from a young age that I had to change the narrative and follow my dreams.”