Tembisa-born Gospel Singer Reaches for the Stars…
Born and bred in the dusty streets of Tembisa a township in Johannesburg, Siphosethu August Sihlangu- a young urban gospel singer, actor, speaker and aspiring author shares his journey and testimony with us during an interview.
“The township was and remains a huge part of my upbringing. It’s where I found and natured my artistic gift”, he exclaimed with a smile on his face.
At the age sixteen when puberty hit, his voice changed and he struggled for years to find his confidence back in terms of singing, but he never could bring himself to stop singing because music kept him company and reach deep inside him where friends, family and sports couldn’t reach. Through music his relationship with the Lord continued to grow and his songs brought healing, hope and restoration to his broken spirit.
After graduating from Wits University with his degree in Dramatic Arts majoring in performance and writing at the age of 23, he joined the cast of Disney’s Lion King musical, where he was part of the ensemble singers and covered the principle role of Mufasa. This young man who is no stranger to making history, since back in his Highschool days where he became the very first Black deputy head boy in the history of the school, to being the first to graduate with an honors degree in his family from a University, to being the youngest Mufasa cover while he was in the German Disney’s Lion King cast and now finally having his very first Urban Gospel Album available on all digital stores.
The album is titled “Mbilu – the heart of the writer”. It consists of 10 original songs, one only hymn but with modern twist and a breath taking poem speaking about the Love of God. The 12 track album was recorded in Germany Hamburg by the talented Thomas Bostleman who dared to believe in this young man’s dream and dedicated his time, money and talent to help make this dream a reality.
Siphosethu is the youngest son to his two amazing parents Mr and Mrs Sihlangu, who though they have been unemployed for most his his life, they have always supported him and his dreams. He attributes his success and his all things are possible attitude to his amazing parents and siblings. He believes he was born to touch, impact and transform lives beyond his own, and over the years he has continued to mentor and inspire other young stars to dare to live a purpose driven life.
Coming from a country full of amazing young talented people but who continue to ask why me, he’s chosen to ask himself why not me. He has chosen to be the change he knew lived in him, and the results continue to amaze even those who thought nothing good could ever come out of a township born and raised young man. He is a beacon of hope, a light to the nation, a visionary who through daring to live has inspired many to do likewise, he indeed is a man on a mission and we can’t wait to see what the future holds for such a talented and loving soul that he is.
REFINED BY FIRE
Itumeleng Sekhu was only eleven months old when she got burnt, an accident which claimed part of her right arm while leaving her left ear completely burnt off. Asleep in her bedroom one evening, a burning candle fell on her. Resulting to her being severely disfigured by the fire even after having undergone over a 100 surgical operations since that time.
Growing up with the what most people then grew to label as a disability, it was not until she was nine that she started realizing that she was not like other children in her school, teased mercilessly and being called by all sorts of names she attempted suicide several times and unsuccessful at it she would feel disappointed that she hadn’t died and as a result became angry at God.
When she became a teenager, she struggled with dating. She often refrained from doing things that girls her age did, like going to movies, shopping at malls and even going to church. She had completely lost all faith in the Lord and often her mother would tell her just how much God loves her but she never believed it. Until one appointed day when she took the chance, not knowing what to expect attended a service and in it the pastor preached a message that changed her life forever. “No matter what has happened in your life, God has a purpose and He wants to turn your past into a testimony,” the preacher exclaimed, and these words resonated with her spirit and led her back to the Lord’s arms. In welcoming Jesus Christ back into her life purpose began to unfold and doors started opening.
Fortunately, even in all her trials she had always managed to excel in her studies, attaining good marks and claiming countless academic awards.
After completing matric, Sekhu enrolled at the University of Johannesburg for a BA in Audiovisual Communications, then after leaving varsity, she gained practical experience as an intern for ONE Gospel channel. Since then, there has been nothing stopping her.
She is a dynamic powerhouse in the media amongst many other things that she does, which include an organization that she started called Healing and Hope, an initiative aimed at Inspiring and empowering school children from grades 8-10 to dream and to be driven that they might accomplish great things by living out their purpose. It has long been a passion of hers to see learners reaching their full potential.
“My purpose is to enable others to recognise their own beauty and use it to become their best selves” she said. “Because beauty comes from within and resonates on the external. Your soul is the one that is beautiful and your external is reflective of your soul.”
Sekhu has most certainly grown to become a confident young woman who from having accepted her accident learnt to live her life with great purpose. On a regular basis she goes around encouraging young people to look past the negative circumstances that they might have undergone, further building them up and helping them improve their self-esteem.
TEACHER CHANGED MY LIFE
Written By: Noluthando Buthelezi
At some point each of us has had a teacher whom we still remember to this day because of the seed that they planted during our school years, whether good or bad. We all remember little things like your favorite or least favorite subject and your greatest class achievements, but more than anything, we all remember the defining moment when a teacher said something to you that stuck and managed to turn your thinking around. Something that you are almost certain that it has led you right into the arms of your destiny.
For little Darren August, this defining moment was when his grade two teacher gave him a thirteen out of ten mark for a class presentation- solely on the fact she could recognize that he had an above average ability to stand and speak in front of an audience. Little did she know that this would be exactly what he would end up doing for a living. An author, motivational speaker, life coach, entrepreneur and corporate trainer- August has grown to be a highly influential young man who is passionate about life, people and education.
He strongly believes in maximizing every opportunity to impact the lives of others with his words, so by also being a radio presenter on Rainbow FM 90.7, he further extends his purpose to inspire to millions of listeners on a daily basis.
In 2014 Darren August wrote his first book “A Teacher Changed My Life,” a title that trended on social media and grew into a movement which shook the country and stirred people to start appreciating teachers for the work that they do in molding the future of the children in our world. This is where he relates the story of how this particular teacher and many others changed him and made him who is.
More than the shock at the success that the book has had however, he is more motivated whenever he thinks of what more he can still achieve; the more teachers he can reach in order that they may be challenged to play a critical role in the lives of the children that they teach “because changing the world begins in the classroom“ he said.
Growing up in the crime and drug stricken community of Ennerdale, it seemed almost impossible to defy the odds with August having formed a large part of the statistic of children who grow up in broken homes and dysfunctional families. Recalling of his childhood, he opens up to us about a time when he said a prayer that changed his family forever. It was on Christmas day, a day usually met with celebrations and family gatherings for him was one usually filled with strife and drunkenness as his parents would constantly fight with each other.
“Lord let this be the last Christmas I spend like this and I promise I will live for you forever” he pleaded with God, having learned how to pray from a Sunday school that he used to attend with his sister and by the very next year, his parents had turned their lives completely around and followed Jesus. This is a testimony that he holds dear to his heart to this day, particularly when looking at how his love grew for the work of the Lord and how everything he does today is for His glory.
His life experiences have shaped him and led him to a purpose that is greater, one that he could not have imagined for himself at that time. Because of that, he has an ability to connect with audiences from all backgrounds, making him a highly sought after conference speaker with keynote talks that are inspiring, interactive and leave people feeling challenged and empowered with the practical steps that are necessary to take action.
“Never allow anyone to tell you that you’re not good enough and even if they say it, refuse to believe it.” he says. A motto that he himself lives by and is evident in the approach he has to challenges and how he has managed to overcome all circumstances in order to be where he is today.