Mongi Mthombeni’s pen name, Mongiwekhaya, means protector of the home and, true to his name, he believes that theatre and puppetry are tools to empower and liberate young people.

In light of Youth Month, TYI – Independent Media's youth-centric digital platform – will be sharing stories of hope that serve to inspire our young generation of leaders.

Here's Mongi Mthombeni story:

"To be successful you must work hard for 10 years with no one listening or looking to become an overnight success. You have to be ready when people turn their gaze upon you," said Mongi Mthombeni.

Mthombeni was challenged to write about something that scares him when he started at the Royal Court Theatre’s South African writing workshops in 2015.

So he wrote about a traumatic encounter he’d had with police who beat and tortured him.

The result was I See You, which was chosen for production at the Royal Court Theatre in London, the first South African play in 40 years to be staged there.

“I chose to create something out of a destructive experience. I chose to fight back with my pen,” said Mthombeni.

Scriptwriting is just one weapon in his arsenal.

He is also involved in puppeteering, production, directing and writing for screen and stage.

He has acted in, written and directed a number of plays for the National Arts Festival, including Fallen and The Feather Collector. A puppetry piece he directed, Qhawe: A Xhosa Fairtytale, won a Standard Bank Ovation Award.

Mthombeni’s pen name, Mongiwekhaya, means protector of the home and, true to his name, he believes that theatre and puppetry are tools to empower and liberate young people.

He works alongside more than 200 of them with the Magpie Art Collective and the Handspring Trust to put on the annual Barrydale Parade.

* #StoriesofHope is a partnership between TYI and TPA, The President’s Award for Youth Empowerment.

Comment on Mthombeni’s story of hope by following @theyoungindy on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

** For more #StoriesofHope, visit www.tyi.co.za or submit your story to TYI Editor at [email protected]